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Tibet women’s soccer team denied US travel visas

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A Tibet women’s soccer team has been denied U.S. visas to participate in a tournament in Dallas.

Cassie Childers, a coach and executive director for Tibet Women’s Soccer, said that 16 members of the team were told at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, that they “have no good reason to visit the U.S.,” during their visit on Feb. 24. They were seeking travel visas to participate in the Dallas Cup soccer tournament scheduled to take place April 9-16

Childers, who is from New Jersey, said in an email from India that embassy officials did not glance at the documents nor provide any other reasons or explanations.

All but two of the 16 who visited the embassy hold Indian Identity Certificates, which are issued by the Indian government for Tibetan refugees. They function as passports even though they do not represent citizenship to India. The other two, which includes the head coach, hold Indian passports.

Four players, who live in Nepal and have Nepal passports, had interviews in Kathmandu on Feb. 4. Childers said those cases were put under administrative processing and they have not heard a final decision.

“There is no opportunity for them to defect, and the thought of shaming themselves, their team, and their country in that way sickens them,” Childers said. “This is not an anonymous soccer team that no one would notice if they never came back.”

A State Department official said they do not discuss the details of individual visa cases. The records are confidential under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The official did say that the U.S. Government’s position on Tibet has not changed under the Trump administration and that they recognize Tibet to be part of the People’s Republic of China. Tibet is not one of the seven countries affected by the administration’s travel ban on Muslim-majority nations.

The team participated in a tournament in Germany two years ago without any issues obtaining visas.

Dallas Cup’s organizing committee was sponsoring the tour, including flights, accommodations, gear and activities. The team was scheduled to lead the procession during the opening ceremony at the Cotton Bowl, then play three exhibition matches against local teams during the week.

The trip was also scheduled to include sightseeing, visits to Southern Methodist University and local high schools.

In the past, the tournament has staged similar events for an Israeli-Palestinian team, a mixed South African team, a mixed Protestant-Catholic Irish team, and a team from Iraq. Childers said they were set to become the first sports team of any sex to represent Tibet in the United States.

“This is an event of historical proportions for Tibetans throughout the diaspora. This is the biggest opportunity of these young women’s lives,” Childers said. “It’s an even bigger opportunity for the United States to play host to one of the most inspiring teams in the world, who have overcome so much just for the right to kick a ball.”

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.