West Brom to West Coast: Can Liam Ridgewell save Portland’s back line?

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Make no mistake about it, Liam Ridgewell plans to stabilize a leaky Portland Timbers defense and shut the door on Major League Soccer offenses.

The 29-year-old Premier League veteran signed a Designated Player contract with Portland a couple weeks back and spent his first training session with the team on Friday. He likely won’t play against Seattle on Sunday.

West Brom’s defense wasn’t exactly a fortress last season, as the Baggies allowed 59 goals and finished just three points ahead of the drop. Their goals allowed mark tied with Newcastle for sixth-worst in the PL.

And the club’s surprising eighth-place finish in 2012/13 still included 57 goals allowed. Despite playing 2800 minutes, Ridgewell’s advanced stats Squawka score was the lowest on the team.

But he was a mainstay on a Premier League backline, so perhaps he’ll come in and solidify things for head coach Caleb Porter:

“Hopefully I can bring a bit of experience and hopefully I can help that backline,” Ridgewell told the media. “I’m not coming in here to take people’s position and things like that. I’m coming in to help people and slot myself in and make sure we keep a clean sheet in a lot of the games and make sure we win some games.”

Ridgewell says taking in a home match helped tip the scales in Portland’s favor, as its rumored there were plenty of teams looking for his services. The Timbers have scored 30 goals, tied for second in the league, but their 30 allowed is also tied for second in MLS. It’s worth noting they have played more matches than all but four other teams, but that also makes their standing as four points back of a playoff spot more desperate.

What do you think: Will Ridgewell be a marked improvement over Norberto Paparatto, Futty )(traded), Rauwshan McKenzie and Danny O’Rourke?

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.

WATCH: Snazzy Sargent goal leads U.S. U-17s past Mexico

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Josh Sargent scored a pretty goal as the United States Soccer program had another banner day against Mexico.

Nearly two months to the day after the U.S. U-20 side beat Mexico for the first time in 31 years, the U.S. U-17 topped El Tri for the first time ever. That win snapped Mexico’s 25-match unbeaten streak.

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The goal is the first of Sargent’s two goals, as the 16-year-old latched onto a long diagonal ball and used his right foot and head to move the ball into position for a strong shot.

The U.S. clinches a spot in the next round of U-17 World Cup qualifying with one match remaining in group play.

Sargent is from St. Louis and plays with Scott Gallagher-Missouri. Former Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth coaches the U.S. U-17s.

Heads of South American soccer sent $128M in bank transfers

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) The leaders of South America’s soccer confederation transferred $128.6 million between 2000 and 2015 to personal accounts, suspicious accounts, or unauthorized third-party accounts, according to an audit released Wednesday by Ernst & Young.

According to the audit presented to the annual CONMEBOL congress in the Chilean capital, the confederation’s former president Nicolas Leoz transferred $26.9 million to his personal accounts. Leoz was the president for 27 years until resigning in 2013 for what he said were health reasons.

The audit also found $58 million in payments “to third parties without adequate documentation,” payments of $33.3 million to “unidentified accounts,” and $10.4 million to “suspicious third-parties.”

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“We had said that we would have four pillars, and the first two pillars were clear accounts and accountability,” said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL who commissioned the audit last year. “Today we are accountable to the leaders and the whole world of football.”

Leoz, 88, is one of three ex-presidents of CONMEBOL accused on corruption charges by the United States Department of Justice. He is in Paraguay fighting extradition to the United States.

The South American body has been plagued by corruption, which was exposed two years ago during the FIFA scandal. Leoz’s two successors, Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout, were both arrested on corruption charges.

“I’m here, I’m the manager” – Moyes will not quit Sunderland

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This has been one horrible stretch for David Moyes.

The Sunderland manager probably thought he’d been through the worst once he left Real Sociedad, where he went 12-15-15.

But he’s managed just seven wins and seven draws in 38 matches in charge of the Black Cats — an 18 percent win mark. He’s also been charged for threatening to slap a female journalist.

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And after Wednesday, Moyes has lost both of his derby matches against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland is 12 points back of safety with five matches left. The odds the Black Cats are headed for the Championship are somewhere north of 99 percent, and fans are calling for his job.

Well, he isn’t quitting. From the BBC:

“No, I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose.

“There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”