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Who is John Anthony Brooks? A primer on the USMNT’s 86th minute marvel


He was such an unknown entity in the United States’ World Cup plans that the best close-up shot we could find for John Anthony Brooks’ pre-tournament player profile was in his club uniform.

The 21-year-old has had an interesting year to say the least. Playing his entire career, youth to senior, in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin, the center back performed extremely well at times. He also enraged his coach by missing practice due to a major back tattoo, and previously caused his coach to describe him by saying, “We’re in the Bundesliga. Brooks needs to grow up.”

So perhaps that describes why Brooks’ celebration after boosting the States to a 2-1 win over Ghana was to flop face first on the ground; It’s been a crazy year for the youngster.

Born and raised in Berlin but eligible for the United States thanks to his father being an American serviceman, Brooks took his US bows with the U20 team in 2010. He progressed to the U23 team in 2011 but gave some consternation to US Soccer by playing with Germany’s U20 team in 2012.

At 6-foot-4, Brooks made his full US debut in summer 2013 against Bosnia and Herzegovina, but had played under 300 minutes for the States before his memorable Monday appearance.

Now Brooks may face the daunting task of stopping Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the USMNT potentially losing Matt Besler after the Sporting KC man subbed off at halftime against Ghana. The honor could also go to Omar Gonzalez, but Brooks came on Monday to heroic results.

[MORE: After gritty win, can US morph its style to challenge Portugal?]

This was not supposed to be his World Cup, rather he’d be there for the experience. Well, through 45 minutes… it kinda is his World Cup (for at least the next six days).

What’s next for the youngster? Maybe more tattoos. Here’s a shot from that shows his elbow (ouch) ink of Berlin and Illinois.


Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?