ACF Fiorentina v Calcio Catania - Serie A

Rossi misses out on Italy’s World Cup squad again; regrets over US snub?

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Giuseppe Rossi will not be heading to the World Cup this summer, as the American-born Italian international has yet again been left out at the final hurdle.

In 2010 Rossi was cut from the Italian roster by Marcel Lippi after making the initial 30-man squad and lighting has struck twice as the New Jersey native will again be sitting at home watching the biggest soccer tournament on the planet from afar.

Bemused. Bewildered. Disappointed.

Rossi is feeling a little aggrieved to have been left off the final 23-man squad this time around after he battled back from another serious knee injury in January. On Monday he said the following via Twitter after his recovery from injury following his red-hot start to the 2013-14 Serie A season proved to be not quite good enough for head coach Cesare Prandelli.

“Everyone is saying I’m out of shape: ask anyone the results of the tests from last week and from the match,” Rossi said. “You will be surprised. Challenges? Fear? What a laugh.”

Prandelli had been praising Rossi in the build up to their warm up game vs. Ireland at Craven Cottage on Saturday but has opted against taking him in the squad.

Now that 27-year-old forward has missed out on a third-straight major tournament for the Azzuri (he missed Euro 2012 after suffering yet another injury), this is a good time to ask if he should have played for the U.S. national team at international level.

There’s no doubt about it, looking at the strength of the USA’s roster up top right now, you’d have to think that a player who scored 16 goals in Serie A for Fiorentina this season would have made Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad. Rossi has his reasons for selecting the country of his family’s heritage over the country of his birth and the striker from Teaneck, NJ made that decision a long time ago.

However it’s hard not to think of ‘what could of been’ if you imagine Rossi playing for the USMNT. Yes, he moved to Italy at the age of 12 to play in Parma’s youth academy but he still has ties to the U.S. and could have become one of the greatest goalscorers in U.S. history. There is no doubt about that.

Many would argue that getting into the provisional 30-man squad for the Italian national team is harder than breaking into the USA’s final roster but at the end of the day, those 23 players from the U.S. are going to the World Cup. Rossi is not.

As harsh as that sounds, when you become a professional player (or just growing up as a kid playing the game) your dream is to play at the World Cup. If Rossi would’ve selected to play for the USA over Italy, he’d now be heading to this second-straight World Cup.

Instead he will be watching at home on TV, once again.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

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Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

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The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

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Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

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In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).