Carlos Bocanegra, Randolph Hillsworth Burton

Carlos Bocanegra to retire at the end of MLS season

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After 15 years in professional soccer, a career that includes 110 appearances for the United States, former captain Carlos Bocanegra will retire at the end of the 2014 Major League Soccer season. The 35-year-old defender, who has battled concussion symptoms this season, announced his decision Thursday afternoon.

“I’m still hungry for the game and I want to play, but unfortunately you can’t play forever,” Bocanegra said, in a statement distributed on U.S. Soccer’s web site. “I was thinking about this in the offseason, and it took me about six months to come to a final decision. The timing is right for me.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/BocaBoca3/status/507666037924323328]

That announcement comes toward the end of his first full season with Chivas USA, who the former UCLA Bruin joined after returning to Major League Soccer last season. On his way back to a league he called home from 2000 to 2003 with Chicago, Bocanegra spent time with Fulham (England), Rennes, Saint-Etienne (France), Rangers (Scotland), and Racing Santander (Spain), accumulating 266 league appearances across four European competitions.

Despite that club résumé, Bocanegra will be best remembered for his time with the U.S. national team, with whom he debuted in 2001. Across an international career that ended in 2012, Bocanegra appeared in two World Cups (2006, 2010) and won two Gold Cups (2002, 2007). In 2009, he helped the U.S. to a second place finished at the Confederations Cup, calling the team’s semifinal win over Spain one of the highlights of his career. With 14 international goals, Bocanegra is the program’s all-time leading scorer among defenders.

“Throughout your career you play for different clubs and have different experiences, but there has been one constant in my life and my career, and that’s the U.S. National Team,” Bocanegra said. “I’m just so proud that I got to represent the country for so long and play at the highest level I could.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/sunilgulati/status/507667892775948288]

According to U.S. Soccer, Bocanegra retires as the U.S.’s all-time winningest captain, the team having won 34 times with the defender leading them out of the tunnel. Starting with the team’s June 24, 2007 match against China, Bocanegra spent the better part of six years in the role, bridging the gap from Claudio Reyna to Clint Dempsey.

“One of the most special moments was being able to captain the National Team,” Bocanegra said. “It’s a huge honor and it’s something I didn’t take lightly. It’s something that when I can look back on my career I’m very proud of. It’s just something that I’ll cherish forever.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/J_Klinsmann/status/507676747329196032]

Bocanegra is one of 15 players to make 100 appearances for the men’s national team, with his 110 caps tied for seventh all-time.

If healthy, Bocanegra’s final game with be Sunday, Oct. 16 against visiting San Jose.

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.