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La Liga & Serie A: Sevilla ends Real streak; Fiorentina tops Juventus

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

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Sevilla 2-1 Real Madrid

Chances were hard to come by for the two top-tier sides during the early portion of the match, but Sevilla pulled off a massive victory to halt Real’s 40-match unbeaten streak. Stevan Jovetic scored in the final minute to hand Sevilla all three points against the league leaders on Sunday after a late Sergio Ramos own goal pulled Sevilla back level. Cristiano Ronaldo had confidently given Real the lead in the second half when the Portuguese attacker converted from the penalty spot in the 67th minute to give Los Blancos the lead.

Valencia 2-1 Espanyol

Valencia picked up a huge victory on Sunday, snapping an eight-game winless streak, to create some separation above the relegation zone. Martin Montoya and Santi Mina each scored for the hosts, while David Lopez pulled one back late for Espanyol. Valencia currently sits 17th in La Liga, four points above the bottom three.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sporting Gijon 2-3 Eibar
Celta Vigo 1-0 Alaves
Granada 0-1 Osasuna


Fiorentina 2-1 Juventus

The gap has just narrowed significantly at the top of Serie A thanks to Fiorentina’s effort on Sunday. Goals from Milan Badelj and Nikola Kalinic helped pace the Viola against the league leaders, who have seen their advantage over second place Roma dwindle down to one point. Gonzalo Higuain managed to pull one back for Juventus in the second stanza, but the club’s 10-match win streak in league play has come to an end.

Napoli 3-1 Pescara

After a quiet opening 45 minutes, the goals started to flow through the Stadio San Paolo. Four to be exact in the second stanza. Napoli scored twice inside the opening four minutes of the second half by way of Lorenzo Tonelli and Marek Hamsik, while Dries Mertens added a third for the home side in the 85th minute. The visitors pulled back a late consolation when Gianluca Caprari scored in stoppage time but it wasn’t enough to give Pescara a share of the points.

Udinese 0-1 Roma

While Juventus continues towards another Serie A title this season, Roma won’t make it easy for the reigning champions. The Giallorossi remain hot on the heels of Juventus after picking up another victory on Sunday, courtesy of Radja Nainggolan’s first-half finish. Roma has now won four of its last five Serie A matches, with their only defeat coming against the league leaders prior to the holidays.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Cagliari 4-1 Genoa
Lazio 2-1 Atalanta
Sampdoria 0-0 Empoli
Sassuolo 4-1 Palermo


Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

AP Photo/LM Otero
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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

[ MORE: Everton wins Europa opener ]

Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).