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NASL adopts international calendar, cancels spring season

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The North American Soccer League may be on the verge of collapse, but it’s sticking with it’s M.O. to be different than Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League.

The NASL announced on Monday morning that it would be adopting the “international calendar,” with a league season running from August 11, 2018 through June 1, 2019, while at the same time stating that the upcoming NASL spring season was cancelled, due to ongoing litigation between the league and the U.S. Soccer Federation over U.S. Soccer Division 2 sanctioning.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The NASL’s announcement is short on details, other than the start and close dates of the season, about whether (surely) there’d be a winter break and how the season would be formatted, with a fall and spring season again or not. While one can imagine soccer being played through the winter in California and Florida, it would be hard to imagine fans in New York or Indiana attending soccer matches outdoors between late November and March.

One long-time complaint from American soccer fans is that for the league to be truly competitive, it needs to adopt the international calendar, so that players in Europe won’t have to leave their clubs in the middle of the season or join an American club in the middle of its season. Brazil has similar issues, though most of South America operates like the NASL, with a opening and closed season and breaks in between both.

It appears that this is a big public relations statement. With the NASL teetering on collapse after the departures of North Carolina both San Francisco and FC Edmonton folding, the league is on its last legs. Even one of the league’s most ardent supporters, Indy Eleven, appears ready to move to MLS based on recent reports.

It remains to be seen whether the NASL will make it to August. With no spring season, many of the team’s players will start to look for new homes, as MLS and USL teams now get to pick from the best of a large pool of players available.

Video: Fekir’s brilliant free kick has Lyon leading PSG

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Paris-Saint Germain has established itself as one of Europe’s best sides, but their opponent on Sunday isn’t playing scared against Neymar and Co.

[ MORE: Spurs, Saints play to 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s ]

Lyon has taken a 1-0 lead inside the opening two minutes against the Parisians after a stunning free kick by Nabil Fekir caught PSG keeper Alphonse Aréola off his line.

The hosts could move all the way up to second place today with a victory over PSG, who holds the league lead in Ligue 1 with a nine-point advantage.

The 24-year-old Fekir has been a revelation for Lyon in his fifth season with the club, scoring his 19th goal in all competitions on Sunday.

That total has already surpassed his career-high from the 2014/15 season, when he eclipsed 15 goals.

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie injured in Schalke draw

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Look away, U.S. Men’s National Team fans.

American and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie was forced out of Sunday’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw against Hanover 96 after the 19-year-old collided with Felix Kraus.

McKennie, who entered the match in the 62nd minute for Leon Goretzka, managed to stay on the field for nearly 20 minutes before being substituted out.

To this point there has been no indication that the young USMNT player’s injury is serious.

More to follow…

Watford announces Gracia as Silva replacement

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Watford’s replacement for fired manager Marco Silva is indeed veteran Spanish boss Javi Gracia.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

The Hornets announced the 47-year-old’s hiring on Sunday, hours after firing Silva and blaming Everton’s pursuit of the manager for the club’s fall from European contender to the fringe of a relegation battle.

Watford is still four points clear of the drop following Southampton’s draw with Spurs on Sunday.

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Pochettino on sloppy Spurs draw, dismisses Malcom “rumor”

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Mauricio Pochettino knows St. Mary’s well, and the ex-Southampton boss has managed a rainy, sloppy match or three there in the past.

[ RECAP: Saints 1-1 Spurs ]

So he knows it’s possible to play well in those circumstances, leaving him feeling like Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday was a wasted opportunity against a struggling Saints side.

“It is temporary that Southampton are in the relegation zone, for sure they will push up the table,” Pochettino said. “It is two points we are going to miss at the end of the season because it is so tough between six or seven teams.”

[ MORE: Bertrand reacts to draw ]

So why couldn’t Spurs find their foothold? Well, aside from sickness keeping Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris out of the lineup, a bug that may’ve affected more on the team, Spurs just weren’t up to snuff.

“We struggled to play,” Pochettino said. “It was in possession, we made mistakes which allowed them to play. To win the game we should do better and play better. It wasn’t great.

Pochettino was also asked about Spurs’ reported pursuit of 20-year-old Bordeaux star Malcom, who has seven goals and five assists in Ligue 1 this season.

“That is a rumor and I don’t want to speak about it. I am happy with our squad. We are open to quality players but you know very well it is difficult in this transfer window.”