Vancouver sends Nigel Reo-Coker to Chivas USA for Mauro Rosales

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Because Vancouver needed more attackers, right? The team is embarrassingly deep, with the likes of Darren Mattocks, Erik Hurtado, Sebastian Fernández, and Kekuta Manneh benefitting from the playmaking of Pedro Morales. Add in talents like Russell Teibert, Omar Salgado, and Nicolas Mezquida in reserve, and the Whitecaps may not need any more firepower, even if that firepower is Mauro Rosales.

Then again, Vancouver didn’t need Nigel Reo-Coker anymore, either, which is why the opportunity to swap the former Premier League destroyer for one of the league’s most creative wide players may have been too enticing to refused. The Whitecaps may not have a need for Rosales, but from their point of view, the swap’s like giving up nothing for something.

That something is a 33-year-old right winger who had eight assists in 21 appearances for Chivas, who became the newest Whitecaps with the announcement of this afternoon’s trade. In 107 career MLS appearance, the Argentine midfielder has scored 12 goals and set up 42 others – the second-most assists in the league during that time.

Hard-working, experienced, and capable of delivering some of the league’s best crosses, Rosales could pile into that assist total while playing beside Mattocks and Morales. He could also find a talented team difficult to break into.

“If you look at Mauro’s history, he’s constantly creating goals,” head coach Carl Robinson said, via a statement released by the club. “He’s experienced, bright, and has a super football brain. His delivery on crosses is fantastic, and I know he’s a good guy. That’s important in this locker room.”

That presence will be particularly important as playing time gets sorted out. Robinson may see Rosales as somebody who can slot into the starting XI, bumping one of Mattocks, Hurtado, or Fernández to the bench. He may also view him as a complementary piece, one whose ankles need to be monitored on BC Place’s turf.

That’s a significant problem with this trade. During his three seasons in Seattle, Rosales would become worn down by the end of the campaign, with life on CenturyLink’s turf forcing the veteran to don some of the more heavily-taped ankles in Major League Soccer. Come the postseason, Rosales’s health seemed to be a constant issue, something that limited his value to the club.

Given what Vancouver had to give up, however, that fit is worth the risk. Though Rosales takes up the team’s final Designated Player spot, he does so at the expense of only Reo-Coker, a touted import who has had trouble wrestling a spot in midfield away from Matías Laba and Gershon Koffie. At times pressed into service in defense, the 30-year-old Reo-Coker made eight starts this season, albeit only one since June 28.

With Teibert capable of playing a deeper role and Mehdi Ballouchy providing depth, Vancouver has four  other players capable of manning their double pivot. Reo-Coker was expendable. While it’s unclear how much of an impact Rosales will have with the Whitecaps, the dice roll alone makes him more valuable than Reo-Coker.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”

Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

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Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.