Canada v Unted States

Solo’s club will allow her to play while legal process unfolds

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If Hope Solo’s legal problems are going to lead to a professional hit, it won’t come until after the courtroom drama plays out. At least, that’s what the Seattle Reign said today, confirming the National Women’s Soccer League club’s concern won’t lead to action until the state of Washington has drawn its conclusions.

U.S. Soccer, Solo’s main employeer, could decide to go in another direction, but with World Cup qualifying taking place in October, the federation can take a wait-and-see approach pending Solo’s August trial.

The Reign were in a tougher situation, with the team scheduled to host Sky Blue FC on Saturday. According to a statement posted to the team’s Facebook, Solo will be available for selection when the NWSL leaders go for their 12th win in 14 games.

From the team’s Facebook:

Like many of you, last Saturday we awoke to the news that a member of our team, Hope Solo, had been arrested. Since that time we have been gathering information about the situation and have engaged in many discussions in an effort to determine the best path forward.

This investigation, which has included multiple conversations with Hope, made it clear that there are differing perspectives on the events that led up to Hope’s arrest. As such, we feel it is fair and prudent to await the outcome of the legal process before making a final judgment about the incident.

That being said, it should be understood that we hold all of our players, coaches, and employees to the highest ethical and moral standard. In the event any Seattle Reign FC player is convicted of a serious crime the consequences will be significant and swift.

At first blush, it’s the obvious move. It’d be unfair to suspend Solo when there’s a chance her two domestic assault charges won’t hold up. As strong as some people feel about what her arrest implies, those feelings could yet prove ill-founded.

Seattle, however, has made it clear. If Solo’s found guilty, she’ll likely be suspended, a decision that could result in couple of potential twists:

  • Seattle’s regular season ends on August 17. The league’s championship game is August 31. Would the Reign be prepared to suspend Solo for the post season, if she’s found guilty?
  • Solo turns 33 on July 30. There’s already talk she might walk away if the U.S. wins the World Cup next summer. If she is handed a significant suspension by the Reign, what’s her incentive to continue her club career? Particularly if the U.S. calls an early camp next spring?

If Solo ends up being found not guilty, she plays in this year’s playoffs, perhaps wins a title, and stays on a normal course for next year’s World Cup. If she’s found guilty, a few other dominoes could fall.


VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast

Kroenke: “Very high” on Wenger who is “very hard” to replace

Jeff Fisher
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LONDON — Arsenal remains “very high” on Arsene Wenger and it will be “very hard” replacing the manager who is in the final year of his contract, owner Stan Kroenke told The Associated Press on Monday.

Wenger this month celebrated 20 years in charge of Arsenal and has offered no indication whether he wants to sign a new deal into next season.

The 67-year-old Frenchman became the Premier League’s longest serving manager when Alex Ferguson retired from Manchester United in 2013. United is now on its third manager in three years and has not competed for the Premier League title since Ferguson’s departure.

In a rare interview about Arsenal, Kroenke noted the tricky post-Ferguson succession at United while discussing the challenge of eventually replacing Wenger.

“You see it (at United), you bring up a comment like that,” Kroenke told the AP after Arsenal’s annual general meeting. “It’s very hard. He’s a great manager.”

Wenger signed his last three-year contract extension in 2014.

“We will sit down and discuss the future at the appropriate time,” Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick told shareholders at a meeting where Wenger didn’t address his contract situation in his speech.

Although Wenger has won the Premier League three times, the last success came in 2004 – a drought which frustrates fans.

“He’s been a wonderful influence on the club,” Kroenke said. “We are all very high on Arsene. We are (joint) top of the table right now.”

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are only separated on goal difference at the summit. Despite Wenger only winning the FA Cup twice since 2004, the team is in the lucrative Champions League for the 19th successive year thanks to its runner-up finish last season. Wenger is yet to win European football’s top prize.

“I know a number of (sports team) owners that are very successful that say the same thing – the hardest thing to do is be consistently competitive at the top of the league,” said Kroenke, who also owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. “Arsene has always done that and Arsenal has always been in that position. We have always been competitive.

“We may not always win the things we want to win. We are very focused on winning for sure the league. Arsene’s been consistently at the top and I will tell you – it’s very, very hard to do if you look around sports.”


2016 MLS Cup playoffs bracket in full

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Michael Bradley #4 and Jozy Altidore #17 of Toronto FC celebrate a goal by teammate Tsubasa Endoh #9 during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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With Major League Soccer’s Decision Day 2016 in the books, we now know who will battle it out for MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Who will win MLS Cup? ]

Up first on Wednesday and Thursday are the four knockout round games, then the Conference semifinal first legs kick off this weekend.

We get into it thick and fast.

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The PST crew already selected their picks for the postseason and filled out their bracket. You can see that by clicking on the link above. FWIW, I have Toronto FC beating the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup…

[ MORE: Ranking MLS playoff teams ]

Below is the MLS playoff bracket in full so you can make your picks and let us know who you went for in the comments section below.


MLS Playoff bracket, 2016

MLS Playoff bracket, 2016