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Keller says Pulisic could command $100M transfer fee

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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) As Christian Pulisic warmed up for training ahead of Friday’s critical World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, retired goalkeeper Kasey Keller marveled at the young American star who might wind up the country’s best ever.

“I’m truly blown away with where he’s at, where he can go,” Keller said Thursday at Red Bull Arena. “I could see Christian being bought for $100 million by a Barcelona, a Real Madrid, a Manchester United, a Chelsea, a Bayern Munich. He has an opportunity to be that first kind of marquee U.S. national team player that’s been bought for a ton of money and starred for one of the biggest teams in the world for a long time.”

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Even Pulisic acknowledges his ascent has been a whirlwind.

He left his Hershey, Pennsylvania, high school in February 2015 to join Borussia Dortmund’s youth program. He made his first-team debut in January 2016 at age 17, and two months later was called up to the U.S. national team. At an age when most American soccer players still are establishing themselves in youth programs, he has seven goals in 16 international appearances, including five in World Cup qualifying.

“For me, everything happened a little bit too fast. Of course, the past year’s been a roller coaster,” Pulisic said. “Being able to play at a club level, at a high level, and then getting called into national team, it’s amazing. But I’m just trying to stay as level grounded as I can, you know, finding the balance. I’m just honored that I’m here and so quickly I’m able to represent my club and country.”

By April he was a cover boy for an American soccer gear catalog, status usually limited to greats like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Of course, I hear about all this stuff. People talk about, you know, this kid. There’s hype, whatever, but I just try to keep it out of my mind as much as I can because that doesn’t really matter to me,” Pulisic said. “I put enough pressure on myself. I don’t need all this outside attention or whatever like that, so I just try to do the best I can for myself and the people around me.”

Able to dribble past defenders with speed and cleverness rarely before displayed by an American, Pulisic was given the national team’s No. 10 jersey – usually assigned to a top star – for the first time last September at 17 years, 349 days.

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Used primarily as a flank midfielder at first by Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, Pulisic took on a more central role in the second half of last season when Marco Reus injured a knee. Pulisic had two goals in 12 appearances during his first senior team season, becoming the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, then added five in 43 games last year.

He scored against Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup to start the new season, then added a goal and assist in Dortmund’s Bundesliga opener under new coach Peter Bosz, a 3-0 win at Wolfsburg.

“He handles everything in the right way,” said U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who replaced Jurgen Klinsmann last November and has given Pulisic a more prominent role.

“I think he respects the senior players at his club, on the national team program. He just goes out and plays and enjoys himself and gets the job done. He’s pretty impressive for a player his age.”

After losing 2-1 at home to Mexico and 4-0 at Costa Rica under Klinsmann in the start of the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, the U.S. has climbed the standings under Arena. The Americans won home games against Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago, and earned draws at Panama and Mexico.

Mexico leads with 14 points, followed by Costa Rica (11), the U.S. (eight), Panama (seven), Honduras (five) and Trinidad (three); the top three nations earn World Cup berths, and the fourth-place team meets Asia’s No. 5 in a playoff.

There is a scenario that allows the U.S. to clinch its eighth straight World Cup berth on Tuesday at Honduras. But it is more likely the Americans will need points from their last two matches, at home versus Panama on Oct. 6 and at Trinidad four days later.

The U.S. is 9-0-5 under Arena, two shy of the team’s record 16-game unbeaten streak (11-0-5) set under Arena in 2004-05.

“It’s been hard work to put ourselves in this position, to turn things around, and the foot can’t come off the gas now,” U.S. captain Michael Bradley said. “We’ve got to have this ruthless mentality that says in these last four games, when everything’s on the line, we’re going to use our good position and finish things off.”

NOTES: The Americans are missing two of their top defenders because of injuries: center back John Brooks and right back DeAndre Yedlin. Arena said he did not pick Eintracht Frankfurt’s Timmy Chandler because the oft-injured right back had not been with the team for any matches since he took over. “All the players that are on our roster for this competition have been with us this year, so I think it makes it easier for us to transition the team into these two games,” Arena said. … Six Americans enter the game with yellow cards and with another caution would be suspended for the next game: Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron.

AP freelance writer Scott Orgera contributed to this report.

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli banned for 1 year

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Juventus president Andrea Agnelli was banned for one year by the Italian soccer federation on Monday for his role in selling tickets to hardcore “ultra” fans that encouraged scalping.

[ MORE: Mourinho escapes ban after sending off ]

The court also fined Juventus 300,000 euros ($350,000).

The ban comes less than three weeks after Agnelli was elected to chair the 220-member European Club Association.

“Having taken note of today’s decision by the FIGC’s National Tribunal, Juventus preannounces its appeal to the FIGC Court of Appeal in the full conviction of its own good arguments, which have still not found adequate recognition,” the Serie A club said in a statement.

“The club expresses its own satisfaction because today’s sentence, even though it inflicted heavy bans on the president and other people involved, has “after extensive evaluation of the evidentiary material” (page 11 of the sentence) excluded all alleged links with representatives of organized crime.”

Federation prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro also said he would appeal for a harsher sentence. Pecoraro requested a 2 1/2-year suspension, a fine and an order to force Juventus to play two home matches behind closed doors.

“I am partially satisfied because we managed to prove everyone’s guilt but the facts are so serious that I think they should be punished more,” Pecoraro told Italian news agency Ansa. “The judgment of another court would be useful, taking into account that the resources coming from the ticket scalping went to a criminal organization, and that is very serious.”

The ban means Agnelli remains Juventus president but cannot represent the club in any official matter governed by the FIGC. He cannot, for example, go into the dressing room during matches or have transfer dealings with players’ agents.

However, the ban has not been extended to UEFA and FIFA – and there is no chance of that happening until all the appeals have been heard. Agnelli’s position as head of the ECA is not at risk for now.

Agnelli allegedly authorized the sale of season passes and other tickets. He has acknowledged meeting with Rocco Dominello, an “ultra” fan linked to the Calabrian `ndrangheta crime mob who has since been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for scalping.

But Agnelli said the meetings came only with large numbers of other fans at celebratory occasions and that the club never intended to engage in illegal activity.

Juventus security director Alessandro D’Angelo has been banned for 15 months while ticketing director Stefano Merulla and former marketing director Francesco Calvo have also been handed one-year suspensions.

Each of the four has also been fined 20,000 euros ($24,000) for violating sporting integrity and illicit relations with fans.

The 41-year-old Agnelli has led Juventus, the club his family has owned for nearly a century, since 2010. Agnelli has also been a non-voting member of the UEFA executive committee since 2015. He received full voting rights last week at a UEFA meeting in Geneva.

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Dominello’s father, Saverio Dominello, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a court in Turin in June for his role in the scalping case.

Anti-mafia prosecutors said the `ndrangheta was involved in scalping among Juventus ultra fans for at least 15 years, guaranteeing order in the stadium in exchange for open ticket access.

Juventus has denied any wrongdoing.

Report: NYCFC seeks stadium project near Belmont Park

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New York City FC has found its feet pretty well in MLS, and the club could finally be closing in on a location for its own stadium moving forward.

Newsday Sports is reporting that NYCFC is prepared to bid on land at Belmont Park as the club continues its search to find a permanent stadium for its future.

[ MORE: Which players should be up for MLS MVP honors? ]

The report also states that Belmont isn’t NYCFC’s preferred destination to play matches, with the stadium in Elmont — roughly an 18-mile distance from the club’s current venue, Yankee Stadium.

In the past, Flushing Meadows has been one of many sites discussed as a location for NYCFC to build its own venue, which would make sense given the fact that the land currently houses the New York Mets as well as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

NYCFC has shared Yankee Stadium with MLB franchise, New York Yankees, since the MLS side entered the league in 2015.

A move to Belmont could hinge on what the New York Islanders of the NHL do moving forward as well because the hockey team is reportedly looking at options outside of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where they currently play.

UCL Tuesday preview: Dortmund hosts Real; 3 PL sides in action

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Round two of the UEFA Champions League is back on Tuesday, and while clubs cannot book their place in the Round of 16 just yet it’s just as easy for them to put themselves out of contention.

Three Premier League sides will be action on the afternoon, including Tottenham — who has the chance to start Group H play with six points.

Meanwhile, Liverpool and Manchester City will also take the pitch in Group E and F, respectively.

The day’s biggest clash of the day though comes in Germany as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid meet in the other Group H fixture. Dortmund will be looking for a positive result after falling to Spurs in their opening day loss in the competition.

[ MORE: Who is the most complete striker in the Premier League? ]

Here’s the full rundown of matches on Tuesday’s UCL docket.

All games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

Group E

Spartak Moscow vs. Liverpool
Sevilla vs. Maribor

Group F

Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Napoli vs. Feyenoord

Group G

Besiktas vs. Red Bull Leipzig
Monaco vs. Porto

Group H

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid
APOEL vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints take in Arsenal match

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The New Orleans Saints will be playing a different sort of football on Sunday at historic Wembley Stadium, but the NFL franchise took in Arsenal’s match today during their trip to London.

[ MORE: PL playback — Who is the most complete striker in the PL? ]

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees posted a picture on Instagram with several of his Saints teammates taking in the Arsenal-West Brom fixture at the Emirates Stadium six days before the NFL team plays the Miami Dolphins.

The Saints-Dolphins matchup is the second NFL game to take place in England thus far in 2017, after the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 44-7, on Sunday at Wembley.

Headed to the Arsenal game in London. Our first Premier League game! Pumped

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