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Lukaku warned about increased pressure at Man United

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Romelu Lukaku is about to face a “massive jump” in dealing with pressure as he settles in at Manchester United.

[ MORE: Auba a good fit for Chelsea? ]

Lukaku, 24, signed for United last week in a massive $96.5 million deal and club captain Michael Carrick had a warning to the Belgian.

Speaking to the Guardian in Los Angeles following United’s 5-2 victory over the LA Galaxy in a preseason friendly, Carrick discussed the step up facing Lukaku.

“The jump is massive,” Carrick said. “I found that myself coming from Tottenham. It’s a massive jump. You can’t really explain to people until they’ve gone through it. I’m sure he’ll find the same. But having Premier League experience is a massive bonus. He’ll know how things work week to week. It’s just about dealing with the pressure…

“He’ll be judged like anyone else: on what he does through the season and I’m sure he’s ready for that. The scrutiny will go up a level from what he’s used to. I’m sure he’s prepared for that and I’m sure he will do well.”

Can Lukaku handle the pressure?

It’s only July and he’s only had 45 minutes in a preseason friendly, plus a handful of training sessions, but it’s safe to say the jury is out. His first touch in a training session has already been scrutinized and his every move will now be analyzed by everyone.

Yes, he has scored consistently at West Bromwich Albion and Everton in the past four Premier League seasons, but when push came to shove Chelsea didn’t feel he was ready (at least at the age of 21) to lead their line and handle the pressure from a top club challenging for trophies.

That’s the same challenge which is facing Lukaku now and although the last few seasons as Everton’s main man have readied him for the next step in his career, Carrick’s words are a gentle reminder for both Lukaku and fans around the world that transitioning from a big fish in a small pond to a single, key cog in a multi-level machine is not easy.

The team at Everton was set up for Lukaku. It won’t be at United. Unless he scores 25 goals next season he will deemed a failure. And there’s a notion lurking in the background from last season which suggests Lukaku can’t quite cut it when facing the best defenders in the league.

Well, in 12 games against the top six last season Lukaku scored four times which is more than Harry Kane, Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, and Alexis Sanchez. So, he does do it in the big games and it appears he can handle the pressure, most of the time.

Now he has to handle the pressure all of the time. That is what Carrick is talking about.

Aside from some lackluster performances against some of the best defenders in the PL (which aren’t confined to Lukaku alone) it will be intriguing to see how Lukaku handles the added pressure and expectation.

Everything in his career so far has led him to this point and as we have seen from his summer interactions with Paul Pogba and his interviews before this, he’s not short on confidence.

He will need lots of that, and focus, to not let the expectancy of one of the biggest clubs of the world become a burden.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.