Manchester United topped Liverpool in final; Did it raise ICC profile?

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A trophy was kissed after a championship match played between Liverpool and Manchester United on Sunday in Miami, a title tilt played as part of the two clubs’ preseason tours of the United States. United claimed a 3-1 decision in the final game of the 2014 Guinness International Champions Cup (Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard scored for Manchester, while Steven Gerrard scored for Liverpool).

And despite 51,000 fans in attendance at Sun Life Stadium, the question remains: how far away is the tournament from having relevance outside of big names and big crowds?

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There’s no question the tournament itself was a success in terms of attendance and promotion of the clubs branding in America. And many of the matches were a good watch, as fans got to check out superstars plying their trade for major clubs.

And, as mentioned, on the one hand, there were the championship photos and celebrations…

…but on the other hand there are the post match comments like these:

The tournament is by invitation, not qualification, and features managers trying to try out new faces while be limited in selections by transfers, international duty and fitness. And certainly a major tournament for van Gaal doesn’t include subbing out Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Jonny Evans.

Manchester United: De Gea, Evans (Blackett 45), Smalling, Jones, Valencia (Shaw 8), Herrera (Lingard 78), Fletcher (Cleverley 45), Young, Mata (Kagawa 69), Rooney, Hernandez (Nani 69).

Liverpool: Mignolet, Kelly, Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho (Toure 74), Gerrard (Lucas 62), Allen (Can 62), Henderson, Coutinho (Peterson 77), Lambert (Ibe 62), Sterling.

It’s enough for the tournament to be a fun summer run-up for fans and a showcase in America, but wouldn’t it be neat if we were talking about the first notable trophy of the new club season being won in America? Is this possible within 10 years? 20? Perhaps not, as managers make snide comments about their preseason scheduling, but it’s fun and easy to imagine the significance growing.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.