Tim Howard’s heroics not enough in “heartbreaking” US World Cup exit

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Tim Howard didn’t deserve to be on the losing side in Salvador on Tuesday.

The U.S. national team ‘keeper put in one of the best goalkeeping displays the World Cup has ever seen. He made 16 saves, which is the most in a single WC game since 1966 and since records began.

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Howard was immense. Time and time again he thwarted the Belgian attack with save after sprawling save. The Everton goalkeeper elevated his status from one of the world’s top 10 goalkeepers, to perhaps in the top three. Maybe even the best.

He was that good vs. Belgium.

Speaking to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on the pitch moments after the U.S. crashed out of the World Cup, Howard reflected on a brave effort from his U.S. teammates.

“It is heartbreaking,” Howard said. “We couldn’t have given any more. We left it all out there. We got beat by a really good team. They took their chances very well.”

Howard, of course, was low-key about the his performance but U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was full of praise for his heroic ‘keeper.

“Tim was phenomenal, he kept us in this game” Klinsmann said. “He had an amazing match tonight. You have to give him the biggest compliments in the world.”

As for Howard, he said it’s his job to play like that.

“It is what I signed up to do. It is part of it,” Howard said with a smile on his face. “The levee is going to break at some point if we continued that way. Hats off to Belgium, they were fantastic but we gave a valiant effort.”

Speaking about the overall performance of his team and how they fought until the end, they almost snatched a late draw after being 2-0 down, Howard put this U.S. effort into context.

“When you are in the game you always believe you can do it. What an incredible group,” Howard said. “Sometimes you give it your best but it doesn’t come off… When we changed things over, we just tried to get a goal. At 2-1 we did, but the dream falls short and this is an incredible group. We will never forget this night.”

The final word comes from Belgium’s captain Vincent Kompany. This Tweet says it all…

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

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The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.