Hope Solo appears in court, pleads not guilty to domestic assault charges

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While the rest of us were watching Brazil and Mexico secure places in World Cup’s knockout round, a player who will be front-and-center at next year’s women’s tournament was appearing before a judge in Seattle. After being arrested this weekend, United States national team goalkeeper has pled not guilty to charges she assaulted her sister and nephew.

In custody since early Saturday, the 32-year-old has been released but barred from having contact with the two alleged victims. Reportedly intoxicated at the time of her arrest, Solo has also been instructed to avoid alcohol as one of the conditions of her release.

From reporting by Reuters:

Entering a not guilty plea on her behalf in Kirkland Municipal Court, defense lawyer Todd Maybrown said Solo was the actual victim in the incident. “She was hit over the head with a broom handle,” Maybrown told the judge…

Solo, who is charged with two counts of domestic violence in the fourth degree, said little during the proceedings except to state her name for the record.

Police said that during the incident she appeared to be upset and intoxicated, while her adult sister and her 17-year-old nephew had visible injuries. Solo was hosting a party at her home when the dispute took place, the Seattle Times reported.

[ MORE: Solo arrested early SaturdayUSWNT coverage ]

With the case currently at the she-said, they-said point of its arc, it’d be inappropriate to speculate as to how things are likely to transpire. What we can do is assess what damage has already been done and think about the potential scenarios.

Solo, who missed Thursday’s U.S. women’s national team game with France for personal reasons, was also absent for her club as the Seattle Reign defeated the Western New York Flash on Sunday, 2-1. Though some have speculated there could be repercussions to her playing status as a result of this incident, both U.S. Soccer and the Reign have declined comment on the case. There’s nothing that guarantees she will be sanctioned.

In that respect, we are in uncharted water. Though we have plenty of examples of athletes paying a professional cost for criminal activity in their private lives, we haven’t seen this scenario play out at the senior level for U.S. Soccer, be it on the women’s or men’s side of the equation.

There’s always been a trail-blazing aura to Solo’s persona, but this is one path she’d assume stay covered. If she is eventually found guilty, U.S. Soccer and the NWSL will have an opportunity to set a precedent. The question is whether they want to do so with a star like Hope Solo.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.