Associated Press

MLS Roundup: Dempsey, Morries lead Sounders to season’s first win

Leave a comment

Clint Dempsey is back, and not a moment too soon.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

With his first USMNT call-up in nine months just days away, the American veteran bagged his second goal of the 2017 season to give Seattle its first win of the campaign, a 3-1 victory over the visiting Red Bulls of New York in the Sounders’ home opener. Fellow national teamer Jordan Morris got the winner in the second half, as the two added to their tallies at the right time.

Sure, Dempsey’s hit came from the penalty spot, but with Bobby Wood injured, US fans will take anything they can get to hope Dempsey can up his role in the absence of the Hamburg frontman.

In the 28th minute, New York goalkeeper Luis Robles came off his line to challenge Jordan Morris on the ball, arriving just a split-second too late, conceding the penalty with a trip and earning a yellow card in the process. Dempsey stepped up and calmly slotted the ball inside the right post past Robles who had guessed right but just couldn’t reach it.

New York briefly had it back level when a stroke of luck went the visitor’s way. Bradley Wright-Phillips headed New York level just before the hour mark. The header appeared to be traveling wide, but a touch off the head of his defender Gustav Svensson guided it into the back of the net – barely – clipping the inside of the post and in for the equalizer. Somehow, Wright-Phillips was given credit for the goal, despite it clearly being initially wide before the deflection took it just enough on the kind side of the post.

Seattle restored its lead nine minutes later as Jordan Morris – also called up by Bruce Arena for Friday’s Hex match – headed in from point-blank range. The move started with Joevin Jones who sent Sal Zizzo to an early grave and cut back to Nicolas Lodeiro, who lofted the ball to Morris at the back post and the finish was there for the taking to put Seattle 2-1 up.

They’d get a deserved third via Harry Shipp – intentionally or not – to put the game away with 11 minutes to go. Jones had a go from long range, and his low shot cannoned off the foot of Shipp and wrong-footed Robles, tucking into the bottom left corner. The goal is Shipp’s first of his Sounders career.

Seattle’s victory ended an 18-game unbeaten streak for New York in MLS regular season action, a streak that dated all the way back to July of last season.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

(more…)

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

Getty Images
Leave a comment

At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.

Sparta Prague signs France midfielder Rio Mavuba

Getty Images
Leave a comment

PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.

The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.

He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.