concacaf

US, Mexico, Costa Rica through: CONCACAF demands your respect

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If the FIFA rankings came out today, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football would occupy three spots in the Top 20.

Think about that. Even if you hate the FIFA rankings system, it’s a remarkable advance for CONCACAF.

The United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras entered the tournament at positions 13, 20, 28 and 33, respectively. If the rankings were calculated today, only Honduras would drop a bunch and the US would fall a little thanks to the play of France, Chile and the Netherlands but remain in the Top 15.

Mexico would have jumped almost 70 points to 952, while Costa Rica’s leap is even taller: almost 160 points to 927. The United States performance in group play actually cost the nation some points, as the US is down to 1018 points.

Put into perspective, all three nations will pass England, whose FIFA points, for the record, will drop to 911. I’d say make your own jokes, but they use a different three-digits for police emergencies across the Atlantic.

[ MORE: Talking points – Ghosts of World Cup qualifying finally fade for Mexico ]

[ MORE: Convinced? Klinsmann’s personnel moves keyed US advance to knockout round ]

[ MORE: Costa Rica wins Group D after stalemate against England ]

Honduras is going to drop for days, but let’s face it: their return to the Cup was a significant success for the nation that plays its home games under barely any lights and uses tactics that could make Luis Suarez blush.

Will the ride last any longer for CONCACAF? Perhaps that will be the biggest test, but as we told you to start the tournament, the confederation needed a run like this.

source: APWould you rule out Costa Rica beating Greece, a UEFA nation that has looked meager at best?

Would you rule out the US topping Belgium, whose last World Cup Round of 16 experience was in 2002?

Or if Belgium fails to win the group, Algeria, slain by the US in 2010?

Would you rule out Mexico over the Netherlands, give their guile under Miguel Herrera and the play of Ochoa?

Maybe you would. Maybe they’ll all lose, as certainly no one will be favoring any. But the fact remains that CONCACAF teams have risen above the following nations in their groups: Portugal, Italy, England, Ghana, Uruguay, Croatia and Cameroon.

Not too shabby for an also-ran.

Ex-Guatemalan soccer chief pleads guilty in FIFA bribe case

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) A former Guatemalan soccer federation president has pleaded guilty in New York to charges related to a sprawling corruption investigation of world soccer.

[ MORE: Christian Vieri ready for return, pursuing Chinese Super League ]

Brayan Jimenez pleaded guilty Friday to federal racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear when he’ll be sentenced.

The 62-year-old Jimenez is among 40 people from around the world charged in a FIFA bribery scandal over lucrative broadcasting rights.

Prosecutors say Jimenez accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Florida-based sports marketing company. They say in exchange for the money Jimenez awarded the company media marketing rights to the Guatemalan soccer team’s World Cup qualifying matches in 2018 and 2022.

Jimenez’s attorneys haven’t returned a message seeking comment on his guilty plea.

D.C. United acquires Igboananike from Fire in trade

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MARCH 06:  Andrea Pirlo #21 of the New York City FC looks to pass against Kennedy Igboananike #77 of the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on March 6, 2016 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The New York City FC defeated the Fire 4-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With the playoffs still very much in sight, D.C. United is making another attempt to boost its struggling attack.

[ MORE: NYCFC, Rapids meet in Bronx on Saturday ]

After recently trading for New York City FC forward Patrick Mullins and New York Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam, D.C. has completed a trade for Chicago Fire attacker Kennedy Igboananike in exchange for target allocation money and a third-round draft selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.

In over a season-and-a-half in MLS with the Fire, Igboananike notched 11 goals and four assists in 49 matches. The Nigerian forward is a Designated Player, and is due to make over $900,000, according to the MLS Players’ Union website.

[ MORE: Christian Vieri trying to make comeback in Chinese Super League ]

D.C United is currently eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, sitting on 20 points through 21 matches. The team is four points behind the New England Revolution for the final playoff position.

Report: Atletico set to offer $52 million for Chelsea’s Costa

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Diego Costa of Chelsea shoots past Thiago Silva of PSG to score a gol to level the scores at 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, second leg match between Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain at Stamford Bridge on March 9, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Already with one of the world’s most dangerous attacks, Atletico Madrid is prepared to add another dimension into the mix.

[ MORE: Man City makes final bid for defender John Stones ]

Daily Mail is reporting that the Spanish side is prepared to offer Chelsea over $52 million for striker Diego Costa, who joined the team from Atletico back in 2014.

While the Blues have maintained their position that Costa isn’t for sale, Atletico looks to boost its already strong offense with the 27-year-old Spaniard. Diego Simeone’s group already features talented attacking duo Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres.

During his previous stint in La Liga, Costa netted 56 goals across all competitions in two seasons with the Rojiblancos.

[ MORE: Christian Vieri trying to make comeback in Chinese Super League ]

Chelsea is reportedly pursuing former striker Romelu Lukaku after signing Belgian Michy Batshuayi this summer. Antonio Conte’s side also features young forward Bertrand Traore, who has made a strong impression during the preseason.

Report: Manchester City makes final bid for John Stones

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16:  Diego Costa of Chelsea and John Stones of Everton compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on January 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Take it or leave it.

Manchester City has made a final push for Everton defender John Stones, and has set its last offer at $52 million. Last month, the Citizens made the same exact bid for the 22-year-old, which was rejected by Everton.

[ MORE: Italian legend Christian Vieri looks to join Chinese Super League ]

City is said to be looking to avoid overpaying for Stones, after compensating Porto over $55 million for centerback Eliaquim Mangala two years ago.

While Stones has gone on record saying that he wants to play for manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, it remains to be seen if Everton will part ways with its prized defender.