U.S. Soccer issues statement on U.S. Open Cup incidents; Will Dempsey’s punishment include Gold Cup?

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Clint Dempsey’s fate is in the hands of Major League Soccer.

That’s the main thing to take away from Friday’s statement on USSoccer.com, and it’s also pretty clear Dempsey faces a ban from future Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup appearances, too.

[ MORE: Sounders owner on incidents: “Maybe overboard” ]

Dempsey slapped referee Daniel Radford’s book out of his hands during a 3-1 loss to Portland on Tuesday night in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, and then proceeded to tear up the pages of that book.

He earned a red card for that, and then needed to be held back from Radford by players from both teams. It’s the sort of thing that would land a lesser player in loads of trouble, and Major League Soccer’s response to his incident will be an example to players, one way or another.

From USSoccer.com:

At this point, the Panel has gathered evidence, including the report of the referee and the Match Commissioner, video of the incident, as is currently conducting interviews with the relevant parties. Any decision made by the Panel on further sanctioning will pertain only to future Open Cup tournament competition.

In addition, per the U.S. Soccer Policy Manual, any incident of alleged Referee Assault or Abuse by a professional player during a Professional League Member activity is governed by the Professional Leagues Policy Against Referee Assault as outlined in Policy 202(1)(H)-2.

In this instance, MLS has jurisdiction and is reviewing the incident as required by U.S. Soccer policy.

Under the policy, should the League suspend the player from competition with his club, the player would not be eligible to compete in any soccer competition while serving that suspension.

That last part is just as tricky as it sounds, as it isn’t entirely clear but reads like a suspension would count for international play. Could an MLS suspension keep Dempsey from this summer’s Gold Cup? Luis Suarez’s bite earned him a four-month ban from both club and country, but that came directly from FIFA.

Simply guessing here, but we think he gets banned from next year’s Open Cup, a month of MLS (whether it includes the time he could miss for Gold Cup is interesting), and perhaps one USMNT game (conveniently up next: a friendly with Guatemala).

MLS needs to tread carefully here. On one hand, Dempsey’s punk move wasn’t going to hurt anyone, but given some of the horrible stories of ref abuse we’ve seen — including the tragic death of referee John Bieniewicz in Michigan — it’s important to keep a no-nonsense standard and protect the official (regardless of your opinion on their work).

How long will he get? What do you think?

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

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Swansea City’s bid to slow down steamrolling Liverpool begins at 3 p.m. ET Monday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The rampaging Reds are coming off a 4-3 win that ended Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season, and will hope to avoid a let down against desperate Swans.

The Welsh hosts are six points adrift in the race for Premier League safety, and look set for a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew the only forward. Wilfried Bony and Oliver McBurnie are on the bench along with attack-minded Luciano Narsingh.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Fer, Clucas, Dyer, Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Narsingh, McBurnie, Bony.

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Kevin De Bruyne commits to Man City through 2022-23

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Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, and he’s committing his prime to the club which has taken him to the next level.

[ MORE: How will Arsenal, Man Utd line up? ]

Manchester City announced a new deal for the Belgian wizard, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium through 2023.

De Bruyne, 26, has posted 31 goals and 38 assists for Pep Guardiola‘s men since returning to England from the Bundesliga, and appreciates being given a lot more money. From ManCity.com:

“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one. Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

De Bruyne is in the discussion for a Ballon d’Or finalist spot this year, along with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and others (Hot take: This does seem to be year Ronaldo possibly knocked off, barring a remarkable run in the Champions League or World Cup).

After the swap: Alexis, Mkhi-infused XIs for Man Utd, Arsenal

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The deal is done: Henrikh Mkhitaryan has moved to Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way in a monumental January move.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

How will it look for each side once the shape’s settled?

Arsenal

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at his very best — for Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 — he was deployed as a left or right wing. He contributed 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 matches during his final season at the Westfalenstadion, and predictably saw those numbers drop as Jose Mourinho consistently moved him toward an attacking center midfield role.

He’ll get the chance to go out wide again at the Emirates Stadium, though perhaps not always to the extreme flanks. Expect Alexandre Lacazette‘s numbers to explode with this move.

Arsene Wenger used a 4-3-3 to batter Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with Ozil on the right wing and Alex Iwobi on the left. The club still needs better at center defensive mid while Aaron Ramsey is out, so that will likely keep the lineup similar until he returns (at a minimum):

Cech

Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Montreal

Elneny (Ramsey, eventually)

Xhaka — Wilshere

Ozil — Lacazette — Mkhitaryan

By the way, a lot of Arsenal supporters aren’t feeling great about this (understatement alert):

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez prefers left wing, too, and Mourinho has a trio of in-form players who like that side of the field. Anthony Martial is red hot but plays wider than Jesse Lingard, and it seems one of them will take the slot of Juan Mata to the right of Paul Pogba in a 4-1-4-1. Marcus Rashford could also see the far right positioning.

But against top competition — continued apologies to Burnley — it’s usually a 4-2-3-1 for Mourinho with Pogba dropping next to Nemanja Matic a little deeper in the formation. Lingard has been getting the run as CAM here, usually to the detriment of Juan Mata. With Alexis as the clear-cut left wing in this formation, it causes real combat for the two other slots between Mata, Lingard, Rashford, and Martial.

So while it’s likely we’d see something like this in a big game for Manchester United…

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Pogba

Martial — Lingard —  Sanchez

Lukaku

… We’d love to see something more like this:

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Herrera

Pogba

Martial — Lukaku — Sanchez

How do you think Wenger and Mou will run ’em out?

Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap official (video)

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Arsenal and Manchester United have completed their American-style trade, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez on board the Red Devils’ train.

Both 29 years old, the playmakers arrive at their new homes with plenty to prove.

More to come…