Who is Houston’s new World Cup mid? Reports say it’s this Honduran

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Bless you, Chris Canetti.

The Houston Dynamo president earns our praise for the latest MLS storyline that is DaMarcus Beasley’s return to Major League Soccer, but also for giving us soccer sleuths the task of uncovering which other World Cup starter he’s bringing to Texas.

To recap: at the end of the press conference unveiling Beasley as the latest Houston player, Canetti dropped some major hints on the next player tabbed to join the team.

[ RELATED: DaMarcus Beasley in Houston: “I see myself as a left back” ]

To recap, from Dynamo Theory:

Glenn Davis asked Chris Canetti to comment on the rumor the Dynamo might be adding another player that has World Cup Experience.

Chris Canetti’s reply was golden, “It is real. We are indeed in late stages of discussions with another player. That ties into the Warren Creavalle trade. We didn’t just trade Warren to move up and get the allocation slot for Beasley. We cleared him because we needed salary cap room for a secondary move. The player we are talking about would be a midfielder in the center of the park where we would’ve seen Warren playing minutes for us going forward.”

He continued, “we’re trying to finish it off, Glenn. He’s a player that is on his country’s national team. His country was in the World Cup, and he started all three games for that country in the World Cup.”

He also mentioned they would be working all through the night to try and get the deal done as quickly as possible.

Alright, so three starts in the middle means the player likely, though not certainly, comes from a team that flamed out in the group stage. Who could it be? Well, there could’ve been a theory that Houston could bring in a Honduran to pair with Boniek Garcia. How about bringing Roger Espinoza back this side of the Atlantic? The midfielder is 27 and has played 30 matches in 1.5 seasons at Wigan.

Or maybe there was a way Canetti could’ve been tricky with American fans: Nantes mid Ale Bedoya played in all four games for the USMNT at the World Cup, but only started three. And while he’s not a center mid, perhaps ‘center of the park’ was a purposefully vague?

As it turns out, the Honduran tip may work out, just with a different player (who did not start in three World Cup matches. Thanks for nothing, Chris).

Garrido, 23, would be likely coming on loan for the third-straight season of his career. A member of Olimpia in Honduras, Garrido was loaned to Deportes Savio (Honduras) in 2011 and Red Star Belgrade in 2013. He’s an aggressive, physical defensive center mid.

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.

Sparta Prague signs France midfielder Rio Mavuba

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PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.

The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.

He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.

Mexico 1-0 Honduras: Pizarro strikes early to put El Tri in Gold Cup semifinals

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Mexico had little trouble dispatching Honduras as El Tri won 1-0 in Glendale, AZ and eased into the Gold Cup semifinals.

Just four minutes into the game, Mexico took the lead as they got Honduras on its heels, with Rodolfo Pizarro sticking the ball in at the far post at the end of a scramble. Jesus Duenas carved a ball through the defense, and while Elias Hernandez whiffed on the tap-in, Pizarro was right behind him to finish the chance.

Mexico settled in after scoring, while Honduras tried to out-muscle El Tri, with the latter receiving a pair of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. There were precious few other chances throughout the first half, with Honduras completely incapable of creating anything in the attacking half.

Mexico continued to dominate out of the halftime break, but they lost Monterrey midfielder Jesus Molina in the 65th minute with discomfort, replaced by Chaka Rodriguez. The best moment for Honduras as they chased the game late came in the 78th minute as Jose Corona made a spectacular save when substitute Alexander Lopez nearly scored directly from a corner. They came close again in stoppage time after a set-piece as Alfredo Mejia scuffed a shot agonizingly wide.

Honduras ended their Gold Cup without a single goal scored. They technically defeated French Guyana 3-0 in the group stage, but that came on the typical forfeit scoreline, whereas the actual game played ended in a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Mexico will take on Jamaica in the semifinal in a rematch of last tournament’s final.