MANHATTAN BEACH, CA - JANUARY 18:  MLS soccer player Tim Howard attends MLS Media Week - Day 2 at Manhattan Beach Marriott on January 18, 2017 in Manhattan Beach, California.  (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for TAG Heuer)
Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for TAG Heuer

Tim Howard talks quality of MLS with Merseyside paper

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Tim Howard was caught off guard by the quality of MLS in multiple ways.

The longtime Premier League and USMNT goalkeeper left MLS at age 23 and returned after a decade and a half.

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Howard, 37, was surprised that the quality of play in the league was so good, while also finding the know-how to be a bit off his expectations.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“I thought that tactically the league would be really good, but technically it would be down. I found it to be the opposite.

“Tactically each team needed some work, which I thought was a good thing if we could get the Rapids organised. That was true.

“We’ve got to a point now where people are no longer looking at MLS as a retirement league. Players are coming here to work, to perform, to be a part of a culture. That’s a good thing.”

Howard also admitted that he’s been keeping former teammates Phil Jagielka and Ross Barkley up to date on the quality of the league, and says he still misses walking down the tunnel at Goodison Park. Read it all here.

Sunderland using week without matches for NYC bonding trip

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Jermain Defoe of Sunderland (R) celebrates scoring his sides first goal, and his 150th preimer leauge goal with Victor Anichebe of Sunderland (L) during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Hull City at Stadium of Light on November 19, 2016 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
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The Black Cats are headed to the Big Apple to try to fix what ails them.

Sunderland is out of the FA Cup and isn’t competing in Europe, giving the club some time to itself before returning to Premier League play for a tricky Feb. 25 trip to Everton.

It turns out David Moyes is calling upon a tactic he used back when he led the Toffees, and will be sending the Black Cats on a team bonding trip to New York City this week.

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It’s causing some backlash amongst Sunderland supporters, who think their players should be grinding it out on the training pitches of England, but Moyes said they’re still working on the pitch (So keep an eye open, NYC).

From The Newcastle Chronicle:

“But sometimes going to a training camp can just be more of the same. I want us to build a real good team spirit here, to have a togetherness on and off the field, to help us in this situation. Not just now but for the long-term.

“A few days together will do them no harm.”

Instead the club will be bringing its accents to the shores of the U.S. (Except for Lynden Gooch, who may be bringing a Californian accent anyway).

Sunderland is coming off a 4-0 waxing at the hands of Southampton, about a week after pasting Crystal Palace by the same score. The Black Cats sit 20th in the Premier League, two points back of safety. Anything that puts them in a better mental place is a good idea.

The club’s Twitter background claims “Unity is Strength” and urges fans to “Keep the Faith”. Perhaps this trip can help the guys tighten up on both counts.

Middlesbrough 0-0 Everton: Stalemate on Teesside

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  • Boro without a win in 8
  • Everton unbeaten in 8
  • Gestede denied by Robles

Middlesbrough and Everton played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at the Riverside Stadium.

Ben Gibson and Rudy Gestede both went close for Boro but the lowest scorers in the Premier League were denied by goal-line clearances and a fine stop from Joel Robles.

With the point Boro move on to 22 points for the season, while Everton lost ground on the top six.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Middlesbrough started bright enough in an even encounter on Teesside, with Everton defending well and looking dangerous on the break.

Ademola Lookman had numerous chances as the talented teenager was tough to handle for the usually stingy Boro defense.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Before half time Romelu Lukaku had a good chance as he broke free following a mistake but Victor Valdes raced off his line to stop the big Belgian striker in his tracks.

Lookman then had a shot blocked at the back post with the Toffees getting on top as the half time whistle blew.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Adama Traore surged towards goal and spanked an effort wide just after half time as Boro came flying out of the traps.

Gibson thought he had given Boro the lead as he met a corner at the back post but his header was cleared off the line by Leighton Baines.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Lookman was denied by Valdes as the Boro goalkeeper raced off his line, while the Toffees pushed hard for a potential winner.

Robles then made an incredible save late on as Callum Chambers’ cross found Gestede but his powerful header was denied.

Romelu Lukaku set to sign new deal at Everton

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Fresh from scoring four goals in the 6-3 win against Bournemouth last weekend, Everton’s Romelu Lukaku is ready to extend his stay at Goodison Park.

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Lukaku is still just 23 years old but he now leads the Premier League scoring charts with 16 this season and he has 136 goals in his career so far, that’s more than the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney had scored when they were 23.


Given his good form in recent weeks, Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola has spoken about his clients future and has revealed the Belgian striker is close to signing a new deal with the Toffees.

In an interview on talkSPORT, Raiola was crystal clear about Lukaku staying at Everton.

“There are no problems right now between the player and the club,” Raiola said. “Talks are ongoing. He will sign.”

That will be music to the ears of Ronald Koeman as the Everton manager has previously stated that he needs to hear Lukaku and his agent commit their future to his side. There you have it, Ron.

With Koeman previously saying that the bustling Belgian forward should also move on to the likes of Barcelona in the future, such is his potential, it seems like for the time being he will remain on Merseyside.

Lukaku has scored 78 goals in 152 appearances for Everton signing joining from Chelsea in 2013. He joined on a season-long loan initially and then signed permanently in the summer of 2014 for $35 million.

Right now, that seems like money very well spent as Lukaku is hitting some consistency in his game. That factor, or lack of it, has always been a big question mark against him and was one of the reasons Chelsea didn’t give him a chance to flourish in their setup.

At Everton there’s no doubting Lukaku is the main man and Koeman’s side play to his strengths with balls into the box and plenty of runners from midfield supporting him in attack.

This is a very wise decision from Lukaku and his agent to remain with Koeman at Everton for the next few years. A club of Barcelona’s caliber will always be the aim but Lukaku is only 23 and given the promise of plenty of investment in new players at Everton, he can achieve great things at Goodison before one day moving on.

VIDEO: Everton loanee Deulofeu nutmegs defender in improbable AC Milan win

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 05:  Gerard Deulofeu of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 5, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
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Everton sent Spanish winger Gerard Deulofeu on loan to AC Milan with the 22-year-old failing to put up consistent performances.

On Wednesday, he showed the Toffees exactly what they let go.

With AC Milan down to nine men thanks to second yellow cards for Gabriel Paletta and Juraj Kucka, Deulofeu created a chance out of nothing and delivered the winning moment to send AC Milan through with all three points in an improbable 1-0 victory over Bologna in Serie A play.

The Everton loanee got free near the right corner flag and saw Emil Krafth close him down before sending the young Swedish defender to an early and shameful death squirting the ball through the young Swedish defender’s legs and handing Mario Pasalic a tap-in winner on a silver platter in the 89th minute.

Deulofeu has made his mark immediate in the Milan side. Hardly able to complete a full 90 minutes during his time in the Premier League, the Spaniard has already completed two full 90’s in three matches in Italy, and today’s assist was his first.