US forward Aron Johannsson signs new contract with AZ Alkmaar

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The last few days have gone well for U.S. international Aron Johannsson. Very well indeed.

On Tuesday he jumped off the bench to head home just his second goal for the USA against Azerbaijan and now before he jets off to the World Cup this summer, the Icelandic-American striker has just signed a new deal with AZ Alkmaar.

Johannsson, 23, has been banging goals in for fun over the past 12 months and last season he scored 26 times in all competitions for the Eredivisie club. The Dutch club aren’t daft and have immediately tied the ice-cool finisher down to a long-term deal.

According to the clubs website Johansson’s prolific form earned him a new deal at AZ until 2018. The Alabama born forward only arrived at AZ last January from Danish side Aarhus but has made an instant impact for the Cheese Farmers.

All of this is good news for the U.S. national team, as Johannsson continues to impress whenever he’s given the chance to shine off the bench. So far he has appeared eight times for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side and although Jozy Altidore is clearly the USA’s first choice striker, Johannsson will push him all the way to try and nab a starting spot in Brazil.

Most likely Johannsson will be used as an impact sub off the bench this summer, as his pace in behind can catch teams out and as we’ve seen for the U.S. and AZ, when given the chance the blonde haired boy from Mobile, Al. can finish. He is better with a partner up top and if Klinsmann was to go with two forwards and push Clint Dempsey back into midfield, pairing former AZ teammates Altidore and Johannsson together would cause plenty of problems for opposition defenders.

The USMNT will be hoping Johannsson is full of confidence after signing this new deal, as the Nats will benefit at the World Cup from a man in the form of his life domestically and internationally.

Johannsson deserves the chance to show exactly what he can do from the start in the final two games of the sendoff series against Turkey and Nigeria.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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MLS: Higuain extends with Crew, Royer gets new deal with Red Bulls

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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.

The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.

Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.

Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

UEL: Griezmann nabs crucial away goal vs. Arsenal, Marseille cruises

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A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.

The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.

The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.

Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.

The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.


Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Europa League, LIVE: Arsenal, Marseille host first legs

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Diego Costa brings a solid career record against Arsenal back to London in a bid to ruin Arsene Wenger‘s farewell season at the Emirates Stadium.

[ FOLLOW: Arsenal vs. Atleti ]

The now-Atletico Madrid forward returns to England on Thursday as his La Liga outfit aims to stop Arsenal from reaching next month’s Europa League Final in Lyon.

[ FOLLOW: Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg ]

That’s a 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff, the same as Marseille’s date with Red Bull Salzburg in France.

ARSENAL-ATLETICO MADRID LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Atleti: Oblak, Lucas, Godin, Gimenez, Vrsaljko, Saul, Thomas, Koke, Correa, Griezmann, Gameiro. Subs: Werner, Savic, Gabi, Vitolo, Olabe, Torres, Costa.