Will Giuseppe Rossi make Italy’s final 23-man roster?

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The next few days will be an anxious time for international players across the globe.

FIFA dictates that the final 23-man rosters for all of the national teams competing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil must be submitted by June 2. For players such as Italian international Giuesppe Rossi, that means one more game to impress the coach before the finally cuts are made.

Fans of American soccer know all about Rossi. The New Jersey native divides opinion after snubbing the country of his birth for the nation of his heritage, Italy. Moving to Italy at the age of 12 to pursue his dream of playing professional soccer, he has played for Parma, Manchester United, Villarreal and Fiorentina. So that is fair enough, I suppose.

Your feelings about Rossi aside, the predatory striker has spent most of the last four months on the sidelines after suffering yet another knee injury. Rossi, 27, has been plagued by injuries since 2011 when he tore his ACL but this season he was on fire for La Viola as he led Serie A in goals scored after racking up 14 by January. Rossi managed to return to fitness from his MCL sprain and played three times for Fiorentina at the end of the season. This Saturday Italy face Ireland in their final friendly before head coach Cesare Prandelli names his final squad for the tournament. Rossi will be hoping to make one last impression as he sits behind the likes of Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano, Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci in the pecking order.

The Italian-American does have one thing on his side: Prandelli is obviously a big fan. Take a look at what he told reporters as he makes his mind up on the 23 he will take to Brazil.

“He [Rossi] is a talent with great quality, one of the best in Italy,” Prandelli said. “He is determined, hungry and made a thousand sacrifices to be here in the running for the World Cup. He is the proof that champions need to have character and he can set the example for everyone. Clearly, he has to be in good shape and that’s what we want to see. His determination, his desire to make all the sacrifices to be here is a demonstration that even the great players have to put in effort. This is a good lesson for the whole group.”

Rossi has never been to a World Cup, as he was cut at the final stage by Marcelo Lippi before the 2010 tournament and his career was in its infancy when the Italians won the World Cup in 2006. He also missed the 2012 European Championships (where Italy lost in the final) through injury.

It could be Rossi’s last chance to play in a showpiece event for Italy. Does anyone begrudge the forward from Teaneck, NJ the chance to play on the biggest stage?

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 3-5 Montreal Impact (video)

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The match in about 100 words: Well, here’s a formula for ending Toronto FC’s 11-match unbeaten run –

  1. Hope they don’t use Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Victor Vazquez.
  2. Have your best player ball out of control.

Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti did just that, scoring twice and adding an assist in the first half alone. A 42nd minute own goal from Montreal opened the door to home hope, but Anthony Jackson-Hamel continued his breakout campaign with two goals in four minutes. Tosaint Ricketts scored a pair of late headers to complete the score line.

Toronto FC’s home crowd didn’t see arguably its three top performers of the season, and did see something it hadn’t this year: a home loss. That it was a derby loss won’t feel good for the Reds, who also gave oxygen to their rivals’ flickering playoff hopes.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

12′ — Michael Bradley clears TFC’s runway — Not the finest moment for Captain America, as Marco Donadel opens up his laser and fires.

24′ — “When defenders fall down” — …And when they do it in front of Nacho, inside the 18.

47′ — AJH puts it to bed — It wasn’t Toronto’s night, and a bad back pass met tepid decision-making and one of the sleepy breakout players of MLS in Anthony Jackson-Hamel.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Piatti

Goal scorers: Piatti (10′, 24′), Donadel (12′), Boldor (o.g. 42′), Jackson-Hamel (47′, 51′), Ricketts (77′, 79′).

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 4-0 LA Galaxy (video)

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The match in 100 words (or less): Somewhere, Atlanta United is still scoring now with 19 goals in its last five outings. The “Five Stripes” fired at will for the second-straight game, leading 3-0 before Jermaine Jones made it academic with a silly red card. Yamil Asad had two goals and two assists in the first half, while Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez also scored. For Martinez, it’s seven goals in seven days. LA has quit, and Tata Martino’s Atlanta may just pose a threat to Toronto FC’s presumed MLS Cup Final spot.

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]


Three moments that mattered

13′ — Maaaaayyyybe defend, LA? — It’s one thing for Rafael Garcia to back off and back off and back off and back off Yamil Asad. It’s another thing to fail in any attempt to mark the hottest scorer in MLS: Josef Martinez.

20′ — Three goals in seven minutes — About that “defending”… woof. This is a straight-up passing drill for ATL.

39′ — Jermaine Jones rolls back the years (not in a good way) — The combustible midfielder showed that vibes haven’t settled in LA despite Sigi Schmid’s presence, taking an easy red considering VAR’s abilities for dragging his cleat in the direction of a fellow human’s spine.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the Match: Asad

Goal scorers: Martinez (13′), Asad (16′, 20′), Almiron (43′)

Atletico Madrid to host 2018-19 UEFA Champions League final

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The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League Final is headed to Madrid.

Atletico Madrid announced that next season’s final will be played at the recently-opened Wanda Metropolitano, making Atleti the fourth Spanish club to host a UCL final (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla).

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational goal ]

Atleti raves of its new home, “The Wanda Metropolitano can seat 68,000 spectators and is at the technological forefront due to agreements with top companies in their sector.”

This season’s final will be played at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, the home of the Ukraine national team and Dynamo Kiev.

The UCL Final was last in Madrid at the home of Real Madrid, the Santiago Bernabeu, for Inter Milan’s triumph over Bayern Munich in 2010.

Mourinho: League Cup “important to” Man Utd, but asks if it’s necessary?

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Marcus Rashford‘s heroics helped Manchester United cruise past visiting Burton Albion, 4-1, in a League Cup third round match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Mourinho said the League Cup is important to Manchester United because it’s an official tournament, and United wants to win everything it can as a club.

[ WATCH: Rashford’s sensational second ]

Yet he stopped short of endorsing the Cup’s long-term future, a tournament which his side won last season but is perhaps the major obstacle towards the Premier League joining other European leagues with winter breaks. From ManUtd.com:

“If the competition is an official competition then it is important for Manchester United and for me as a manager. If you ask me could the English football survive or even be better without this competition? Maybe, maybe we would be fresher for European competition for example. But we have this competition, we have to respect the sponsors, we have to respect the opponents and a lot of us are trying to do our best.”

[ MORE: Bundesliga wrap | La Liga | Serie A ]

United drew a trip to Swansea for the fourth round, and is certainly among the favorites to win the whole thing with their solid depth (See their Starting XI below).

Would you miss the League Cup if it went away?