Colombia make first-ever World Cup quarterfinal, dump Uruguay out

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Colombia have reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first-time in their history after comfortably beating Uruguay 2-0 at the Maracana Stadium on Saturday.

The team of the tournament so far set up a mouth-watering tie with hosts Brazil in Fortaleza on Friday July 4 at 4 p.m. ET, after James Rodriguez stole the headlines once again for Jose Peckerman’s men.

[ VIDEO: Rodriguez scores wondergoal ]

Rodriguez, 22, scored a stunning volley just before the half mark to give Los Cafeteros the lead, then the AS Monaco striker bagged another just after the break to seal the win. Rodriguez is now the top scorer at the 2014 World Cup, with five goals in four games. He is also the leading World Cup scorer in Colombian history, as Rodriguez’s excellence dispatched a lackluster Uruguayan side who badly missed Luis Suarez.

La Celeste struggled to create chances throughout and with their star man banned for the rest of the tournament, Oscar Tabarez’s side looked disjointed and unable to break down a confident Colombia.

Cheered on by thousands of fans in Rio de Janeiro, Colombia now face the partisan home crowd in an all-South America tie vs. Brazil for a spot in the semifinals.

Plenty of tough tackles flew in early on as these two nations aimed to stamp their mark on proceedings. A long-range free kick from Cuadrado was deflected over the bar by his own player as Colombia began to get on the ball and pin Uruguay back.

source: AP
Rodroguez’s stunner opened the scoring, as Colombia’s tremendous tournament continues.

Juan Zuniga made several pacey surges forward at the center of Uruguay’s defense and in the 11th minute he smashed a shot at goal which Muslera gathered at the second attempt. As the first half wore on, Colombia looked the more likely to go ahead as Uruguay sat back, soaked up the pressure and tried to play it into Edinson Cavani with hopeful long balls.

All of that early pressure finally paid off in the 28th minute as Abel Aguilar nodded the ball toward Rodriguez 25-yards out and the Colombian hot-shot chested the ball before volleying an unstoppable effort onto the underside of the crossbar and into the net. It was one of , if not the best, goals of the World Cup so far, as Colombia went into the break ahead.

Less than five minutes into the second half it was 2-0 to Los Cafeteros, and Rodriguez bagged his second of the game and fifth of the tournament after a wonderful team move. A cross from the left by Pablo Armero found Juan Cuadrado at the back post and he nodded the ball down for Rodriguez to sweep home and put Colombia firmly in the driving seat.

Uruguay then brought on attacker Christian Stuani and Gaston Ramirez to try and get back into the game, but Colombia looked comfortable in possession and eager to score more on the counter. Cristian Rodriguez did have a good effort for La Celeste as his well-struck effort from 20-yards out was palmed away by David Ospina as Uruguay piled forward. In the 70th minute Cavani whipped in a delicious ball to the back stick and substitute Stuani just missed the ball as he crashed towards the goal. Cavani then had an effort tipped wide in the 84th minute

To their credit Uruguay kept plugging away, but failed to break down a stubborn Colombian defense as Los Cafeteros made it to the last eight of the World Cup for the first-time in their nations history.

LINEUPS

Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Yepes, Zapata, Zúñiga; Aguilar, Sánchez, Cuadrado (Guarin, 81′), Rodriguez (Ramos, 85′); Jackson, Gutierrez (Mejia, 68′)

Goals: Rodriguez (28′, 50′)

Uruguay: Muslera, Godin, Pereira (Ramirez, 53′), Rodriguez, Forlan (Stuani, 53′), Gimenez, Pereira, Arevalo, Gonzalez (Hernandez, 67′), Cavani, Caceres

Ajax reunion at Palace as De Boer signs center back

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Crystal Palace has added much needed depth and youth to its corps of center backs with 20-year-old Ajax man Jairo Riedewald.

The left back in Ajax’s UEFA Europa League loss to Manchester United, Riedewald completed better than 92 percent of his passes in Eredivisie play. He also nabbed 2.2 interceptions per match.

[ MORE: Russia’s straw stadium ]

Fellow Palace center backs James Tompkins, Scott Dann, and Damien Delaney average age is 31.3.

Riedewald played for Palace boss Frank De Boer at Ajax. From Palace’s official site:

“He will be an excellent addition to our squad, Jairo is a young player but already has a lot of experience. I know he is looking forward to playing in the Premier League.”

Riedewald played the majority of his Eredivisie matches at center back, but has 18 appearances as a defensive midfielder and another 12 at left back.

He’s Palace’s second addition of this summer, the other being a loan of Ruben Loftus-Cheek from Chelsea.

Russian farmer’s straw stadium pokes fun at World Cup costs

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KRASNOYE, Russia (AP) Russia is desperate to control its spending on the 2018 World Cup, and a farmer might just have the answer – straw.

In a project straight out of the “Three Little Pigs” fairytale, Roman Ponomaryov has built a straw replica of the 43 billion ruble ($700 million) stadium in St. Petersburg which will host World Cup semifinals.

His arena made of 4,500 straw bales comes with tiered seating for 300 and flagpoles. It hosted its first tournament – for local teams only – last weekend using modified soccer rules.

[ VIDEO: Man United beat Real Madrid ] 

“It’s good to get people excited and create a sports atmosphere ahead of the World Cup,” Ponomaryov said in a recent interview.

The real St. Petersburg Stadium has drawn ire for its cost, corruption scandals, delays, and workers’ deaths.

Ponomaryov is a fan of the Zenit St. Petersburg club and says he modeled his straw stadium on Zenit’s new home in a gentle dig at the problems around the construction.

“It seemed pretty strange … how the cost of the stadium and its construction timeframe were increasing,” he said. Russia’s total World Cup budget is around $10.7 billion.

Zenit has accepted the straw stadium with good humor, offering Ponomaryov a ticket to a game at the real thing.

The harvest will keep him on the farm for the next few weeks, though, and he has in mind another project – organizing a Straw World Cup.

Spain’s sports court opens disciplinary procedure vs. Villar

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Spain’s administrative court for sport has initiated disciplinary procedures against Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar after he was arrested and jailed in a corruption probe.

The opening of the disciplinary procedure on Monday clears the way for Spain’s sports authority, the Higher Council of Sport, to rule whether it will temporarily suspend Villar when they meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

The court’s decision had been expected since Thursday, when the Higher Council of Sport asked the court to act against Villar following his arrest.

Villar, his son Gorka, federation vice president Juan Padron, and Ramon Hernandez, the secretary of the regional football federation of Tenerife, were arrested last Tuesday when police raided the national federation’s headquarters and other properties.

The four were arrested on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz ordered last week that the Villars and Padron remain in jail without bail after questioning them. Hernandez’s bail was set at 100,000 euros ($116,000).

The elder Villar is FIFA’s senior vice president and also a vice president of UEFA. He’s been president of the Spanish federation since 1988.

Judge Pedraz said the 67-year-old Villar is suspected of misappropriating private and public funds received by the federation “at least since 2009.”

MLS rejected $4 billion deal which wanted promotion/relegation

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Major League Soccer has confirmed it brushed aside a $4 billion TV deal which insisted on promotion and relegation coming into place in North America’s top-flight.

A report from the Sports Business Journal stated that the owner of NASL side Miami FC Riccardo Silva gave a presentation to the league and owners on June 26, offering a 10-year deal for the domestic and international TV rights from 2023 with one clause: promotion and relegation had to become commonplace in MLS.

Of course, Silva, who founded the media company MP & Silva who put in the bid, would love for there to be promotion and relegation in MLS as his team cannot currently rise above the second-tier NASL.

Jeff Carlisle from ESPN has the following statement from Dan Courtemanche, MLS executive vice president of communications.

“As was stated to Mr. Silva both in person and in a subsequent letter, Major League Soccer is prohibited contractually from engaging in discussions about our media rights with other distributors. We are not in a position, nor are we interested, in engaging with Mr. Silva on his proposal.”

“It is also important to note that since its inception, MLS, like the other North American leagues, has dealt directly with its domestic broadcast partners, rather than through agents and brokers. This ensures that the league and its partners can structure an agreement that addresses all elements, such as scheduling, marketing and digital distribution, that are required for a successful partnership.”

This deal would quadruple the current annual TV deal MLS has with Fox, ESPN and Univision, but it has been stated that no new deal can be discussed until at least 2021.

With cities across the U.S. and Canada lining up to pay the $150 million MLS expansion fee, league commission Don Garber has stated multiple times that promotion and relegation is not needed in the U.S. Soccer pyramid.

With USL and NASL now both second-tier, the only way they can become a top-tier franchise is by buying into MLS with two markets set to be selected later this year from 12 current expansion bids, plus David Beckham’s franchise in Miami still pushing ahead with plans to join the league.