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Roma’s Moreno happy as Mexican ambassador to Serie A

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Hector Moreno knows his move to AS Roma is a big deal for him, his club, and his country.

That may seem like a bit too much aggrandization, but Moreno joins the biggest club of his accomplished European career. That club nearly ended the scudetto reign of Juventus last season, coming as close as anyone in recent history.

And he’s the first Mexican to play for Roma, a club a bit higher in the pecking order than the homes for previous El Tri members in Serie A (Carlos Salcedo went on loan to Fiorentina last season, while Miguel Layun spent time at Atalanta and Rafa Marquez played three seasons at Verona).

[ MORE: Strootman loving life at Roma ]

“I know what people expect from me, and the people in Italy will look back at Mexico as a place to find good players if I do well,” Moreno told ProSoccerTalk ahead of the club’s second Stateside match of the International Champions Cup, Tuesday versus Tottenham Hotspur at Red Bull Arena.

“Football in Mexico is lived with so much passion. It’s so important.”

What they’ve seen from the 29-year-old center back gives them every reason to be proud. Moreno has won the Eredivisie with two clubs (AZ Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven) and was Espanyol’s Player of the Year during his first of three campaigns in La Liga.

Moreno’s offensive acumen shone through his second stint in Holland, and the center back who also plays some left back scored seven goals last season.

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When Roma came calling, he had little hesitation.

“It’s something I have wanted my entire career, for an opportunity like this,” Moreno said. “It’s an amazing challenge to keep going forward in my career.”

Moreno captained El Tri in a 1-1 draw against the United States in World Cup qualifying on June 12, and the Roma signing was announced on June 13. Five days later, he was pushing Mexico over the line with a stoppage time goal against Portugal at the Confederations Cup.

[ MORE: Pallotta’s Roman vision ]

Again, this was about a statement for both him and his country, especially with Mexico in pole position to finish first in CONCACAF World Cup qualification and the desire to make it past the Round of 16 for the first time in seven tournaments.

“It was a great moment and the feeling was amazing because we fought so hard and we didn’t expect to lose,” Moreno said. “It looks easy to say but with Ronaldo, Ledesma, Pepe, at the end we got a result that we deserved.

“And this will probably help the team to know where we stand because in CONCACAF qualification for World Cup we are almost there and in all due respect it’s a different quality of play than CONCACAF. You can see where you stand and what you have to improve to be on the level. It is the dream forever that we can go to the fifth game, and we can do that in Russia. We’re going to work hard and I hope we can make it.”

[ MORE: Conte names Gary Cahill new Chelsea captain ]

It may surprise some to hear that Moreno also hopes El Tri’s heated rivals in the U.S. qualify for Russia as well.

“I hope so,” Moreno quickly replies. “It would make a good tournament. They always make it through and they have such a good team. It’s always (the hope) that Mexico and U.S. can meet in the World Cup, because they have such good talent as well.”

Roma faces Spurs in New Jersey on Tuesday before a July 30 battle with Juventus at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Reports: Advocaat tabbed to steady wobbly Netherlands

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It was less than two months ago that veteran manager Dick Advocaat said he’d be retiring at the end of Fenerbahce’s season.

Now reports say the former Sunderland boss is going to take charge of the Netherlands national team as early as this week.

[ MORE: Kante earns another Player of Year award ]

Advocaat, 69, has twice helmed the national team and thrice served as assistant manager, so his return is not a big surprise despite his retirement talk.

The manager inherits the side midway through World Cup qualifying, and the Dutch are six points out of an automatic qualifying spot — three points behind second place Sweden — in the race to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Netherlands has lost to Bulgaria and is yet to keep a clean sheet through five matches.

A former Chicago Sting player, Advocaat also led Belgium, Russia, Serbia, UAE, and South Korea, and has plenty of experience in club soccer as well. He has managed PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar, Rangers, and Borussia Monchengladbach in his long career.

AZ Alkmaar agree to sell USMNT forward Aron Johannsson to Werder Bremen

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AZ Alkmaar have announced that they have reached an agreement in principle with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for the transfer of U.S. national team striker Aron Johannsson.

It is believed that a transfer fee of around $5 million has been accepted by AZ, with previous reports suggesting Johannsson was mulling the idea of moving to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Season previews of all 20 PL teams

The Icelandic-American forward, 24, played for the USMNT at the Gold Cup this summer, scoring once in six appearances for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, which takes his overall tally to four goals in 17 U.S. appearances. The forward was born in Mobile, Alabama but switched his international allegiance from Iceland back in 2013. Although his lack of goals didn’t impress many this summer, Klinsmann did make a point of saying that Johannsson had progressed over the summer months with the U.S. national team.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

After returning to his club AZ and featuring in their Europa League clash against Istanbul Basaksehi last week, Johannsson will not travel with the Eredivisie side for the second leg of their third qualifying round clash and has instead gone to Germany for talks with Bremen.

Here is more on the situation from AZ’s website:

AZ has reached an agreement in outline with Werder Bremen over the transfer of Aron Johannsson. The club has given the 24- year-old striker permission to come to a personal agreement with the Germans. Johannsson will not be traveling Wednesday with AZ to Turkey .

“If AZ and Werder’s agreement works out completely, and Johannsson also reaches a personal agreement and passes the medical examination, the American International will sign a multi-year contract with Werder Bremen.”

Johannsson has scored 39 goals in 71 appearances for AZ since joining the Dutch side in January 2013 and even though it would mean giving up Europa League action, this move to Bremen would undoubtedly be a step up as the German outfit finished 10th in the Bundesliga last season.

If the move does go through, as expected, then Johannsson will join U.S. teammates John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Alfredo Morales, Julian Green, Joe Gyau and Timmy Chandler in the German top-flight this season.

Report: AZ Alkmaar speaking with Werder Bremen about Aron Johannsson

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According to local Bremen publication Weser Kurier, Werder Bremen is in talks with AZ Alkmaar about the transfer of Aron Johannsson, and a move could be surprisingly close.

The report states that Werder Bremen sporting director Rouven Schröder attended the June USA friendly vs. Germany in Cologne which the USMNT won 2-1, and Johannsson started and played 74 minutes.

American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta has confirmed this report, saying the two sides are just around $1 million off in valuation, with Bremen’s initial offer of $4.4 million being rejected with AZ asking for $5.5 million.

Although the switch from the Dutch Eredivisie to Germany’s top flight would be theoretically considered a step up, moving from AZ to Bremen would see Johannsson lose the ability to play in the Europa League, at least for next season. Bremen finished 10th in the Bundesliga last year, below a European place.

However, a move to Germany would be smart for Johannsson in the sense that the Bundesliga style of play translates well to the Eredivisie, and he would likely thrive. The 24-year-old had an injury-plagued campaign last year, managing nine goals in 21 league appearances for AZ, but the season before he was prolific, leading the club with 17 league goals and 26 across all competitions.

Johannsson has already begun his new season with AZ, coming on as a halftime substitute in a 2-0 win over Turkish club Medipol Basaksehir on July 30 in a Europa League qualifier.

Report: Aron Johannsson wants MLS move, but clubs hesitant to meet salary demands

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How much is Aron Johannsson worth to a Major League Soccer team’s win-loss record, and how much will he affect people coming through the gates?

Those could be the questions that keep MLS clubs away from the Icelandic-Alabaman USMNT striker, who wants to come to the States’ top flight for between $2 – 2.5 million in salary.

[ MLS STADIA NEWS: Orlando City | Miami ]

Johannsson had already said he wants to play Stateside in “his prime”, but a Yahoo Sports report said his desires have obstacles.

From Yahoo Sports:

No MLS team seems quite ready to pay Johannsson his wage demands, the source said, perhaps indicating that clubs are just now beginning to reign in their willingness to overspend for U.S. national team stars. Since last year, American standouts like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley andClint Dempsey have returned to MLS for big-money offers.

If a Johannsson move to MLS ever comes to fruition, it would be yet another indicator that North America’s top domestic flight has gone from being a selling league to one that buys.

The 17-times capped USMNT player has four goals for the Yanks, most recently netting the third goal in a 6-0 win over Cuba. He’s also scored at Denmark and Panama, as well as home to Azerbaijan.

For club, the AZ Alkmaar man has 36 goals in his last two seasons in the Eredivisie. The free-flowing league has launched the club fates of stars like Luis Suarez and Bas Dost, but also those who didn’t adjust to their new leagues (see: Altidore, Jozy).

Would you drop $2 million on Johannsson? And what sort of transfer fee would he net after extending his deal at AZ through 2017-18?