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Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.

World Cup field set: Here are your groups

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Before Friday morning,the 2018 World Cup in Russia knew the hosts would take the seeded spot in Group A but little else aside from the pots from which the other 31 teams would be selected.

That changed at 10 a.m. ET with the drawing of Portugal as B1 at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow

That same nation got a quick dose of how hard the tournament will be when Spain joined Group B, putting nearly any other team to join the group at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the group stage (Iran and Morocco would join them).

GROUP A

1: Russia

2: Saudi Arabia

3: Egypt

4: Uruguay

GROUP B

1: Portugal

2: Spain

3: Morocco

4: Iran

GROUP C

1: France

2: Australia

3: Peru

4: Denmark

GROUP D

1: Argentina

2: Iceland

3: Croatia

4: Nigeria

GROUP E

1: Brazil

2: Switzerland

3: Costa Rica

4: Serbia

GROUP F

1: Germany

2: Mexico

3: Sweden

4: South Korea

GROUP G

1: Belgium

2: Panama

3: Tunisia

4: England

GROUP H

1: Poland

2: Senegal

3: Colombia

4: Japan

CONCACAF announces League of Nations, replacing friendlies

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We may be seeing a lot more of the U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico and less of the USMNT vs. Portugal in the coming years.

CONCACAF on Thursday announced the creation of a “League of Nations,” taking a page from UEFA’s idea to replace friendlies with matches against similar-ranked opponents, with promotion and relegation across three separate divisions. Matches are expected to begin in September 2018, with the schedule released in early 2018.

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The League of Nations was an idea championed by new CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, declaring a focus back on soccer after too much focus on making money in the past.

“This is a watershed moment for CONCACAF.  By focusing on football to provide all our teams with year-round, quality competition, the League of Nations platform means everyone wins,” Montagliani said.  “This new tournament is highly beneficial to all our Member Associations and fans everywhere, since it provides significant opportunities to play important competitive matches with increased regularity throughout the year.”

While this looks like it will have a great effect for smaller CONCACAF nations like Aruba, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, giving them more regular games to grow their national teams, it could hurt the USMNT, Mexico and Costa Rica in the long run, with no international dates available to face European or South American sides that could provide great challenges and tests to up and coming players.

Perhaps with the UEFA League of Nations snapping up any of the European nation’s available friendly dates, CONCACAF figured they may as well ensure that the big nations play each other more often, but it could hurt the overall growth of the national teams.

Jurgen Klinsmann once said he’d rather play Belgium one time than El Salvador 100 times, and he’s probably right if U.S. fans want to see their players test themselves against some of the best in the world.

CAS rules FIFA wrong to fine Mexico for fans’ gay slur chant

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that FIFA was wrong to fine Mexico’s soccer federation for fans chanting gay slurs at opposition goalkeepers at World Cup qualifying games.

The court says although the chants are “insulting words,” FIFA had helped create a “wrong – but legitimate- understanding” that cases would not be punished.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA’s disciplinary committee did not pursue the chants by Mexico fans at games.

However, when the 2018 World Cup qualifying program began, FIFA prosecuted what it called “homophobic chants.”

Mexico appealed against fines totaling 35,000 Swiss francs ($35,250) for the chants at games against El Salvador in November 2015 and Canada in March 2016.

CAS says it cancels those fines while upholding warnings imposed by FIFA.

Javier Hernandez denies West Ham transfer request talk

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has denied reports that he has requested a transfer from West Ham United.

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Hernandez, 29, only arrived at West Ham in the summer from Bayer Leverkusen for $21 million but with manager Slaven Bilic fired and David Moyes hired during the international break, reports were rife that Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer had requested a move away from east London in January.

Taking to social media, Hernandez has issued a statement saying he is “100% committed” to the Hammers (who are currently in the Premier League relegation zone) after reports linked him with a move to his hometown club Chivas Guadalajara.

“Completely false. I am 100% committed to helping improve the situation we are experiencing all at West Ham. And as always I say this I am #chivadecorazon, but I have not asked to leave West Ham at any time,” Hernandez said.

Okay, so why is this any different than regular transfer talk?

Well, David Moyes’s appointment as the new West Ham manager led to many believing that Chicharito would be out of the team after Moyes’s arrival at Manchester United led to Chicharito being reduced to a role as a sub.

Moyes has already moved to end any debate about Chicharito’s role at West Ham, stating that he had many attacking options at Manchester United when Hernandez was on board with Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck ahead of him in the pecking order.

With Hernandez suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty for Mexico against Belgium over the break he may have to wait to play for Moyes at West Ham, but at least he seems to want to play for the Hammers and for Moyes and vice versa.

Chicharito has had an indifferent start to life back in England and the Premier League, scoring four goals in 13 appearances in all competitions so far. That said, he’s still West Ham’s top goalscorer in the PL this season and in a struggling team he’s often been left isolated in a central role up top or pushed out wide.