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Sunil Gulati slams US Soccer narrative in scathing speech amid upcoming election

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Asked to speak at the US Youth Soccer Hall of Fame dinner in Philadelphia, outgoing U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati spent 17 minutes absolutely slamming a number of presidential candidates and those critical of the organization in the wake of missing the 2018 World Cup.

Gulati cautioned against lofty promises candidates have been making by saying “all that glitters is not gold” and lamented attacks against the organization and its current leadership, saying “it’s ok to have opinions, but that’s not discourse.”

The 58-year-old began by taking specific aim at a van parked outside the event that apparently attacked himself, presidential candidate Kathy Carter, fellow candidate and current vice president Carlos Cordeiro, and MLS commissioner Don Garber, calling it “absolutely disgraceful.”

“The facts don’t get changed by calling people names, or saying they’re not competent, or having trucks outside,” Gulati said. “There’s ways to have elections with a positive tone, and the tone in this election is far from that, and to me that’s very disappointing.

The overall tone of his speech centered around the idea that things in US Soccer were trending upwards for many years until one loss, referencing the loss to Trinidad & Tobago that eliminated the United States from World Cup contention, seemed to change the entire discussion. “We lost a really big game in October in Trinidad,” Gulati said. “But we sent the most successful coach in the history of American soccer with a virtually healthy squad and we lost a game.”

He continued looking to diminish the one result among the relative growth of the sport in the United States. “Where we are today is in pretty damn good shape,” Gulati said. “We have done a pretty damn good job of getting the sport to where it is.”

Gulati attacked promises by candidates to end pay to play, saying that the U.S. Soccer surplus wouldn’t come close to being enough to end the practice. “I did economics as an undergrad, not math, but that math does not pencil out, and it doesn’t pencil out for any of you, just do the math – pretty simple. It’s billions of dollars. So when you hear things like that, challenge it. Think about it. Ask questions.”

He also slammed presidential candidates who attacked the federation’s bid for the 2026 World Cup, “Why would anybody seeking to stand where I am standing now…in any shape or form criticize our World Cup effort or think it’s in jeopardy? All 8 of the candidates and everybody in this room should be unified in that.”

Gulati also attacked ideas of promotion and relegation, changing the substitution rules, television revenue, compliance with the FIFA statutes, moving the MLS season, making the presidential position a paid position, and the discussion of electing “a soccer person.”

Gulati summarized his speech by quoting former New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. “And then I heard that the federation is out of compliance with 13 FIFA statutes, which is false. That’s not an opinion. The great senator Moynihan from New York said, ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion’ but he also said ‘not everyone is entitled to their own facts.’ These are facts.”

You can watch the full speech here.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”

Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup

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Manchester City’s quest for the historic quadruple is over after Pep Guardiola‘s 10-man side was shocked by League One side Wigan Athletic in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the DW Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Will Grigg scored the game’s only goal, a late winner after the home side had been thoroughly outplayed and out-possessed for 78 minutes. With 45 places currently standing between them in the English football pyramid — and Man City garnering “best of all time” consideration — “upset” doesn’t even begin to describe Monday’s result.

On the other hand, City represent the third Premier League side knocked out of this season’s FA Cup at the hands of Wigan: Bournemouth, in the third round; followed by West Ham United, in the fourth.

City were reduced to 10 men during first-half stoppage time, when Fabian Delph went flying in on Max Power as the two contested a 50-50 ball inside Wigan’s defensive third. Referee Anthony Taylor initially withdrew his yellow card from his pocket, but protests from the aggrieved party appeared to change Taylor’s mind, and Delph was off.

Prior to Deplh’s dismissal, Wigan had done well  enoughto hold their own against the runaway PL leaders. The Latics had a pair of half-chances, most notably through Grigg in the 12th minute, that could have easily gone their way. Much of the play, though, as is to be expected, was controlled by City (first-half possession: 82 percent), though Guardiola’s men were unable to break through before going a man down.

Still, the share of possession remain unchanged throughout the entirety of the second half, as City patiently probed and used possession as their best means of defense… until the 79th minute arrived.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

The ball was played back to Kyle Walker, into space; rather than receiving the ball at first opportunity, Walker let it run on as he prepared to play it back to Claudio Bravo; Grigg saw his opening and pounced quickly; his first touch used his body to shield Walker from the ball, and his second set up the shot; Grigg went for the far post, curling the ball around Bravo and nestling it just inside the post.

Wigan will now host another PL side, Southampton, in the quarterfinals.

Barry Bennell jailed 30 years for abusing young players

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) A former English youth soccer coach was jailed Monday for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers after the judge called him the “devil incarnate.”

Barry Bennell, a former coach at Crewe and scout for Manchester City, was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of 50 child sexual offenses committed between 1979 and 1991.

“Your behavior towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil,” Judge Clement Goldstone told the 64-year-old Bennell.

Bennell looked at the floor and nodded as the judge sentenced him. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.

Goldstone said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God.

“In reality, you were the devil incarnate,” the judge added. “You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.

Bennell has already served three jail terms, totaling 15 years, for similar offenses involving 16 other victims in England and the United States.