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Cameron embraces groundbreaking role with Sporting KC

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Meghan Cameron didn’t go out looking to break barriers. Instead, Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes came to her.

Cameron is settling into her job as assistant director of player personnel with Sporting, the first woman to manage player contracts, salary budget, and acquisitions for a Major League Soccer team.

Her role will move into another uncharted area for a woman in MLS: She’ll evaluate prospective players for Vermes, as well as for the Swope Park Rangers and the organization’s academy.

“Peter Vermes just called me,” the longtime MLS front office executive said about her new job’s genesis. “Obviously it’s humbling to be the first. But for me it doesn’t matter if I’m the first or the last or the 101st. Peter called me to do a job, it wasn’t because I’m a female. He knew what I could bring to the table. I do hope this opens the doors for others moving on, but I don’t consider myself a trailblazer. I’m just doing a job.”

Like all coaches, Cameron said Vermes has specific ideas about player characteristics and qualities. Cameron will be working with Director of Player Personnel Brian Bliss.

“The plan is that I’ll be learning what it is in each position that they’re looking for in players so that I can assist in the scouting side as well,” she said.

Cameron’s new job with Sporting – she started last month – comes as women are taking on greater roles in pro soccer in the United States and abroad. And not just with women’s teams.

Two women – Kathy Carter and former national team goalkeeper Hope Solo – are among the eight candidates running for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Only four countries – Liberia, Turks and Caicos, Burundi, and Sierra Leone – have ever elected a woman to head their soccer federation.

Chan Yuen-ting became the first female coach to lead a men’s team to a title in a top-flight league in 2016 when she guided Eastern Sports Club to the Hong Kong Premier League championship.

Corinne Diacre served as manager (coach) of a second-division French men’s team, Clermont Foot, for several years until becoming head coach of the French women’s national team in the run-up to the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

And last year the Bundesliga’s Bibiana Steinhaus became the first female referee in a top-flight European league. There were a record seven female officials at the men’s under-17 World Cup in India last year.

Carter, who is on leave from her position as president of Major League Soccer’s marketing subsidiary, Soccer United Marketing, had high praise for Cameron. Carter noted that there aren’t all that many women in the sport’s boardrooms, but they’re even rarer on the technical side of the sport.

“I think Meghan is going to get out there and build on uncharted territory, but I think she’s up to the task,” Carter said.

Cameron’s current job has been the culmination of a life in soccer. Cameron was a standout at Rutgers – Vermes is also an alum – and was on the 2002 Scarlet Knights team that reached the Sweet 16.

“I played soccer since I was 3, so it’s always been a passion of mine. It’s been kind of a piece of who I am. I played soccer at Rutgers but unfortunately my career was cut short and I only got to play three seasons because of injury,” she said. “So at that time I kind of reevaluated and thought, there’s a different way for the sport to be a part of me, and that was working in the front office.”

She worked for eight years as senior manager in player relations in the MLS league offices. Her job was to help teams manage rosters and budgets, while also approving player acquisitions and trades. But she also had a hand in non-financial duties, like youth coaching initiatives and the league’s Rookie Symposium.

“For a long time I’ve been the only female in the room. And it has never been an issue for me. I’ve had the respect of everyone around me, and I respect them. I think as long as you can handle yourself, and it doesn’t matter that you’re female, you’ll get the respect that you deserve,” she said. “As more women move through the ranks and into positions like coaches, it won’t be, `Oh, they’ve got a female coach,’ it will be, `Oh, they’ve got a new coach.”‘

Bayern signs Germany midfielder Goretzka from rival Schalke

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.

Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.

Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.

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“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.

“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.

The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.

Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”

Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.

Pele hospitalized overnight in Brazil

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The most famous soccer player in the world had a scare last night as he was hospitalized in Brazil for “severe exhaustion.”

Pele, 77, was set to travel to London this weekend to be honored by the Football Writers Association, though it looks like that trip has now been postponed.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,” a FWA statement said. “He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.

“Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.”

Here’s to hoping Pele makes a full recovery.

[MORE: USMNT centerback heads to Championship club]

USMNT centerback Carter-Vickers heads to Ipswich Town on loan

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Cameron Carter-Vickers has a new club to call home for the next five months or so after a rough first half of the season.

Tottenham announced Friday morning that it had loaned the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback to Championship club Ipswich Town for the rest of the season. Carter-Vickers spent the first five months of the season at fellow Championship side Sheffield United, starting 17 times though he struggled recently as Sheffield won just one game he played in during the month of December, losing three and drawing one.

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Carter-Vickers was then recalled earlier this week and now has a new home with a mid-table Championship club, with a new chance to impress. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can recover his form and continue to grow, potentially latching on to another Premier League side next year or breaking into the Tottenham first team.

There’s another interesting American tie-in to this. Carter-Vickers appears to be a short-term replacement for Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith, who the club states is headed to join the Colorado Rapids ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

Sanchez, Mkhitaryan transfer still up in the air

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The player-swap/trade/transfer between Arsenal and Manchester United still appears to be heading towards completion, but it was further delayed Friday.

Multiple reports in England state that while Alexis Sanchez seems set to move to Manchester United, Henrik Mkhitaryan has yet to agree to move the other way, as talks between the player’s agent and Arsenal continue. Mkhitaryan was seen training at Manchester United’s practice facility on Friday, and because the latest delay, both players would be unable to debut for their new teams this weekend after missing the Premier League registration deadline.

[MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks]

Arsenal hosts Crystal Palace Manchester United travels to Burnley, both on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Watch Arsenal live on CNBC, Manchester United live on NBCSN, and both live on NBCSports.com)

The London Evening Standard reports that Mkhitaryan would command a $242,000-per-week salary but that as of Friday morning he had yet to undergo a medical for the transfer. Arsenal reportedly still wants a transfer fee included for Sanchez, while Manchester United would prefer to just swap the two players.

It’s also looking as if that won’t be Arsenal’s only business in the transfer market. While it seemed like a far-fetched rumor at first, the links between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal have only grown stronger in the past few days, and the Gabon international appears to be in the Gunners sights. It appears that Bordeaux’s young striker Malcolm is now off the table.