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Landon Donovan is back; What it can mean to Leon, USA

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Saying “I don’t believe in walls,” United States men’s national team legend Landon Donovan came out of retirement (again) this weekend to join Club Leon in Mexico.

Donovan, 35, scored one goal in nine matches during his first comeback bid with the LA Galaxy in 2016, and was an MLS Best XI member as recently as 2014.

There’s little to no risk for Donovan, who’s not the sort of character who’d care about public perception, anyway. Again, he’s a legend whose name is on the MLS MVP trophy (which does seem an honor that could’ve waited given recent news). And the potential rewards are high, but there is a question of why.

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We imagine that this past season had to have Donovan frothing for several reasons. Clearly there’s political impetus given his aforementioned “walls” line, but there’s likely so much more to it.

Donovan was mentioned as a potential candidate to run for the vacant United States Soccer Federation presidency, and the American legend was steamed when his Yanks failed to qualify for the World Cup.

He’s also watched Clint Dempsey join him atop the USMNT goal scoring charts, his Galaxy struggle for the first time in ages, and a number of longtime friends — Bob Bradley, Tim Howard — return to MLS (Pure speculation but maybe, just maybe, Donovan will use Leon as a buffer before another MLS stint with LAFC? He has, after all, played for both of the Cali Clasico rivals).

And the Swansea City advisor now has two sons who can enjoy ‘Dad’ back on the playing field. For Leon, the decision is easy, as there’s more depth in salary south of the border and the American is going to sell enough jerseys and garner enough buzz to justify the move before considering his potential to do special things on the field.

Donovan will be teammates with USMNT-capped backstop William Yarbrough on Los Panzas Verde, as well as longtime Houston Dynamo attacker Giles Barnes and Mexican national teamer Luis Montes.

Largely, though, it’s likely Donovan just missed playing the game at a high level, and will welcome a new challenge. He’ll also give us a bit of a measuring stick for the gap between MLS and Liga MX, although that’s fraught with analytical challenges.

Liga MX is the fourth domestic top flight for Donovan.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Sanchez to Man United; Chicharito to leave

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There are some monster transfer reports around on Thursday morning.

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We’ve already heard the news that Manchester United will reportedly battle Liverpool to sign USMNT star Christian Pulisic in the summer, but there’s more. Oh yes.

According to reports from Sky Italy, Manchester United are also said to be making a move to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in January with a fee of $35 million reported, plus Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be offered up in any deal.

With Manchester City thought to be the firm favorites to sign Sanchez, 29, from the Gunners as his contract running out in July, it appears that Jose Mourinho is making a big move for the Chilean star.

Per the report, Sanchez has been offered a bigger contract at United and the Red Devils have well and truly joined the race to sign the forward ahead of their crosstown rivals.

Sanchez has scored just seven goals in 20 PL games for Arsenal this season and their gamble to not sell him last summer to Man City for over $75 million and instead try and persuade him to stick around and sign a new deal has well and truly backfired.

Wenger and Arsenal will surely sell Sanchez this month to try and recoup some cash with the Chilean free to agree a move to a non-English club right now, and free to join any PL club from July 1 on a free transfer.

Would he be better suite to United? He would certainly play a more prominent role, you would think. At City he would have Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero to compete with for a starting spot but at United he would surely start above the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.

Given the fact that Sanchez hasn’t played in the UEFA Champions League this season, he is also very valuable as he isn’t cup tied for the UCL knockout rounds.


A report from Sky Sports states that West Ham are ready to listen to offers for Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who they only signed for $21.5 million from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer.

The 29-year-old has scored four goals for the Hammers in 21 appearances in all competitions this season, a campaign which has seen West Ham embroiled in a relegation battle and the man who signed Chicharito, Slaven Bilic, was sacked in November and replaced with David Moyes.

Moyes didn’t see eye-to-eye with Chicharito while he was manager of Manchester United in the 2013-14 season and it is believed that the Scotsman is eager to offload the El Tri star, as well as Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew to reshape his attack.

Simply put: this move hasn’t worked out well for anyone.

Where could Chicharito go? There have been suggestions that a move to Major League Soccer could be on the cards and with LAFC having one more Designated Player spot open, could Hernandez be heading to LA to link up with Bob Bradley for their debut season in MLS which kicks off in March?

Stranger things have happened even though Chicharito has said in the past that he isn’t keen to join an MLS club right now. With his international teammate, Carlos Vela, at LAFC, maybe that will persuade him to make the move to the exciting project in the City of Angels.

If not to MLS, there will still be plenty of interest in Hernandez from the PL and elsewhere in Europe in January.

Feilhaber headed to LAFC for $400k in TAM, GAM

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Well, this is something.

Sporting KC has traded playmaker Benny Feilhaber to expansion side LAFC for $400,000 in allocation money.

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The move reunites the 33-year-old Feilhaber with former USMNT coach Bob Bradley as well as Sporting KC striker Latif Blessing.

Feilhaber will be expected to cue up Designated Player attackers Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi for goals. From LAFC.com:

“Benny and I shared some good days with the U.S. National Team,” LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said. “I am excited to work with him again. He has an attacking quality and an excellent understanding of the game. We welcome Benny to LAFC.”

He posted 32 goals and 37 assists in 180 appearances for KC, but nabbed just five and one last season. Does he still have it? Bradley’s betting on it, though the move represents a significant risk.

For KC, they had seemingly found their attacking midfielder in the form of 25-year-old Yohan Croizet from KV Mechelen in Belgium.

Watford 1-2 Swansea: Carvalhal gets shock comeback W

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  • Swans win Carvalhal’s debut
  • Watford led 1-0 into 85th
  • Ayew, Narsingh score late

Luciano Narsingh was on the doorstep to poke home a late rebound as Swansea City came back to beat Watford 2-1 in Carlos Carvalhal’s first match as Swans manager.

Andre Carrillo put Watford ahead at Vicarage Road, but the Hornets found another way to lose when Jordan Ayew and Narsingh both scored in the final five minutes.

Swansea is in 19th place with 16 points, just two back of safety, while Watford’s 25 points have them 10th.

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It didn’t take long for new boss Carlos Carvalhal to feel what Paul Clement, Bob Bradley, and Francesco Guidolin have felt: concession.

Richarlison forced Lukasz Fabianski into a save, but Carrillo was right there to deposit the rebound for 1-0 after 11 minutes.

 

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Molla Wague looked to have a goal in his second-straight match, but his headed goal was nullified by a borderline foul in the 18.

And Richarlison cued up Andre Gray for a late 1v1 that he cranked directly at Fabianski.

That’s about when Swans started Hornets heads spinning, with Ayew tapped in from Oliver McBurnie‘s assist and Narsingh passing a rebound home four minutes later.

Swansea City appoints Carlos Carvalhal as new manager

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Just days after he was sacked by Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City has hired Carlos Carvalhal as its new permanent manager, the club confirmed on Thursday.

The 52-year-old Portuguese manager has formerly been in charge of Besiktas and Sporting CP, but has never managed in the top flight of a Big 4 league. Carvalhal brought Sheffield Wednesday to the Championship playoffs in each of the past two years, but after failing to achieve promotion either time, he was fired on Christmas Eve with the club in 14th in the table.

The official release did not explicitly say if Carvalhal will be ready to take charge of the team for Saturday’s match against Watford, but it hinted that h will take over for player/interim coach Leon Britton immediately, saying “The Portuguese agreed the deal late last night and travelled straight to Swansea overnight to meet his new squad and take training this morning.He replaces Paul Clement, who left the club a fortnight ago, and takes over the managerial duties from Leon Britton, who had taken caretaker charge for the last two games.”

Clement reportedly was on hand to watch Swansea take on Liverpool on Boxing Day, getting a first-hand account of the issues he faces in their 5-0 defeat.

“We felt we needed to get the managerial situation resolved as soon as possible and while the timing is not always perfect, we can look forward to the second half of the campaign with renewed optimism,” said Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins in the official release. “Carlos’ time at Sheffield Wednesday, which included securing two consecutive play-off places, highlighted that he has great character and personality to lead the squad and the football club, which is vital at such a crucial time.”

Jenkins admitted Carvalhal has a “big challenge ahead of him.”

Carvalhal becomes Swansea City’s fifth permanent manager in the last two years, following Garry Monk, Francesco Guidolin, Bob Bradley, and Paul Clement.