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La Liga: Barca goes top after six-goal effort, Ronaldo rescues point for Real

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A roundup of Wednesday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Barcelona 6-1 Sporting Gijon

Carlos Castro gave the visitors a brief glimmer of hope, but MSN and co. ensured Barcelona a spot at the top of La Liga on Wednesday. Barca got out to a quick start after Lionel Messi continued his hot goalscoring form in the ninth minute, before an own goal from Juan Rodriguez doubled the lead two minutes later.

From there, it was all Barcelona. Luis Suarez, Paco Alcacer, Neymar and Ivan Rakitic each found the back of the net, including Neymar’s phenomenal free kick just minutes after the hour mark.

Following the match, manager Luis Enrique revealed that he won’t return for the 2017/18 season. Enrique’s contract is due to expire in May at the conclusion of the current campaign.

Real Madrid 3-3 Las Palmas

The league leaders suffered a setback at the Santiago Bernabeu with a draw against Las Palmas. Despite going up early by way of an Isco finish, Gareth Bale‘s second-half red card changed the complexion of the match for the hosts.

The former Spurs attacker was dismissed in the 47th minute, prompting Jonathan Vieira and Kevin-Prince Boateng to put Palmas in front early in the second half.

Cristiano Ronaldo managed to pull a goal back in the 86th minute after a controversial penalty kick was awarded. Then, the Portuguese international scored again three minutes later to give Real a share of the points on the day.

Real sits one point behind Barcelona following Wednesday’s draw, however, Zinedine Zidane’s side still holds one match in hand.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Osasuna 1-4 Villareal
Granada 2-1 Alaves
Celta Vigo 2-2 Espanyol

Thursday’s La Liga schedule

Deportivo La Coruna vs. Atletico Madrid (2:45 p.m. ET)
Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao (3:30 p.m. ET)

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

[ MORE: Go behind the scenes at NYCFC’s new training facility ]

Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.

Report: USMNT likely to face Brazil, Mexico in September friendlies

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The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t have a busy schedule throughout the summer, but Dave Sarachan and his side will get a tiny taste of the World Cup in September.

[ MORE: Chivas’ Almeyda exhales after CCL title win ]

ESPN FC is reporting that the USMNT will likely face Brazil and Mexico — both of whom will travel to Russia in June — later this year, as the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of finalizing both friendlies.

The matches are set to be played during the September international window, which runs from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11.

Both fixtures will reportedly be played in the United States, although venues haven’t been determined yet.

The U.S. has already begun booking a slate of difficult matches to round out 2018, with England and Italy already confirmed opponents for the Yanks in November.

The Yanks are 1-17-0 all-time against Brazil in all competitions, while the U.S. hasn’t faced Mexico since its 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca in June 2017 during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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