Watford 0-1 Stoke City: Adam header sends Stoke into top half

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A match with little flow and plenty of whistles saw an early Charlie Adam header earn three points at Vicarage Road in an otherwise uninspiring match with little goal action.

Adam’s first half-hour finished as he put a header off the goalkeeper into the back of the net, technically an own-goal but Mark Hughes will take it nonetheless.

The visitors started the brightest, and had the best early chance on six minutes as Mame Biram Diouf had an acrobatic go, but his bicycle kick plowed into the face of Etienne Capoue. The rebound fell to Bruno Martins Indi just inside the top of the box, who ripped a good effort on goal, but it was straight at Heurelho Gomes, who saved comfortably.

The game was quite open through the first 20 minutes, but with no goals to come, it devolved into a foul fest with a pair of yellows shown before the half-hour mark. Watford was forced into a change, as Christian Kabasale had to come on in place of Younes Kaboul, who went off injured.

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Just before the 30-minute mark, Stoke had a deserved lead. A corner from Xherdan Shaqiri swing in to Charlie Adam, and his precise header struck the left post, pinged across the line and pinged into Gomes, and into the back of the net for an own-goal off the goalkeeper.

Through the rest of the first half, there was less action on net than with the referee’s whistle, as Bobby Madley was forced to earn his paycheck for the day. Jose Holebas sliced through the Stoke penalty area incisively in first-half added time, but a pinpoint tackle by Glen Johnson ended the chance and the half.

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In the second half, Stoke continued to have the better chances. Holebas pulled up lame on the ball just two minutes after the break, which began a 2-on-1 counter for the Potters. Shaqiri charged down the left on the ball, and his great cross to the far post was just inches out of reach for Walters, who for some reason didn’t even give the effort a chance despite appearing to be potentially within range.

The hosts were forced into a second change, as Holebas limped off in favor of Odion Ighalo. The game plodded on through the second half with little action to show for it. Watford had its best chance of the second half with a spell in front of net with 10 minutes remaining that ended as Daryl Janmaat fired over.

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The second half ended without a shot on target for either side, and a disappointing finish for Watford left them still in a promising eighth in the table but without any points from a game that begged to be won. In the dying moments, Miguel Britos was sent off with a minute left in regulation after pulling down Shaqiri to earn his second yellow card. In addition, a yellow card to Valon Behrami in injury time means he will be suspended next time out, as Watford could be dangerously thin next weekend against West Brom.

For Stoke, the three points sees them slide into the top half of the table, moving up to 10th on 16 points.

Landon Donovan unveiled by Club Leon

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Landon Donovan was unveiled to Club Leon fans at Estadio Leon on Monday night.

The former USMNT star and longtime LA Galaxy forward came out of retirement for the second time to sign with the Liga MX side this past weekend. Leon finished 7th in the Apertura table, losing to Tigres in the first round of the playoffs. They currently have a perfect six points through the first two Clausura matches, sitting second in the table with a +3 goal differential.

Fans were allowed into the stadium for free, and they packed the lower stand on one end, waving USA flags and holding large “L” and “D” cutouts, and the fans faced a massive board on the field that read “I DON’T BELIEVE IN WALLS.” Chants of “U-S-A” rang out through the stadium before the unveiling.

ESPN reporter Tom Marshall pointed out that the last time the club had such a large event to welcome a player, it was in January of 2013 when the club brought Mexico captain Rafa Marquez in from the New York Red Bulls.

Donovan will don the number 20 for Club Leon.

Report: Rimando to return to RSL

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USMNT veteran and current MLS free agent Nick Rimando will reportedly return to Real Salt Lake for a 12th season with the club, according to a report by Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep.

The report states he received interest on the free agent market from both Los Angeles clubs, but the 38-year-old will return to the club he has made 350 appearances for.

Rimando came to Real Salt Lake from D.C. United in 2006, and has made at least 24 league appearances in every single season since. He has also made 22 playoff appearances for the club across eight playoff campaigns.

He last received a USMNT cap in January of 2017 in a friendly against Serbia, but was part of the 2018 World Cup qualification squad throughout 2017 backing up Tim Howard. Overall, Rimando has played 22 times for the US national team, with 14 goals conceded and nine clean sheets.

The report also states that Kyle Beckerman will return to Rio Tinto Stadium, with the veteran also testing the free agent waters but deciding to re-sign. The pair will be two of just four players left on the roster from the 2009 MLS Cup winning team.

Report: Aubameyang hands in transfer request at Dortmund

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According to German publication Bild, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has handed a transfer request to the Borussia Dortmund hierarchy.

Arsenal is the latest club linked with the Gabonese striker, with reports earlier this month of a deal to send Aubameyang to China. He has reportedly asked to leave Dortmund multiple times this January, and has been turned down thus far, and it’s causing problems. Aubameyang was suspended by the club for one match for missing a meeting last week, a match that ended in a goalless draw with Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Man United, Chelsea battle for Alexis Sanchez ]

“We had a very heated discussion,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc after the suspension was announced. “He hasn’t behaved like this for years, he’s always been very professional. What has happened is very tolerable, there will be some fines, too. It’s not necessary to talk about a transfer, but it’s clear that things can’t continue like this because some important things are in jeopardy, and that there is tension inside the squad.”

The price tag, according to recent reports, would be around $76 million, and he would be purchased with money from the likely outgoing transfer of Alexis Sanchez.

Arsenal transfer guru Sven Mislintat is reportedly driving the deal, having signed Aubameyang at Dortmund during his days as a scout from Westfalinstadion. However, there is buzz among the British media that Arsene Wenger is unimpressed by Aubameyang’s recent insubordination and has expressed his concerns.

Emre Can says new Liverpool contract still a possibility

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Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is out of contract this summer, but says he could still sign back on at Anfield despite heavy rumors of his departure.

Still just 24 years old, the German came over from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2014 and has improved in each of his four years at Liverpool, flourishing under Jurgen Klopp as a strong passer and versatile player who can be used in midfield or defense. With that, he has reportedly turned down a number of new contract offers, and Juventus is reportedly in the lead to sign him to a free transfer.

[ MORE: Arsenal should follow Liverpool’s rebuilding example ]

Can is eligible to sign a pre-contract agreement with anyone from now until the end of the season, but he says that doesn’t mean he will leave.

“My agent is looking after everything but I am here until the summer,” Can said. “I haven’t signed anything with anyone. I am talking with everyone. Of course I am talking with Liverpool. Why not? I still have a contract here. It is an amazing club. What can I say? My agent does the rest. I just concentrate on the scene, on my performance and the football. I will give everything for this team.”

The loss of Philippe Coutinho this winter is an obvious blow to the Reds, but an argument could be made that the loss of Can would hurt just as much if not more, as stout defensive midfielders are hard to come by. However, the arrival of Naby Kieta this summer could ease the blow of the German’s potential departure. Should Can stay, partnering with Keita in midfield could prove masterful as Liverpool looks to continue building towards a title challenge. Currently, Can has paired with Giorgino Wijnaldum in Liverpool’s midfield in recent weeks, and the club is on a five-match win streak that has seen them shoot into third place in the Premier League table.