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Andrija Novakovich: “It’s a good feeling” to earn USMNT call up

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As the U.S. Men’s National Team continues its transition towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, a new face has emerged for the Stars and Stripes ahead of its upcoming friendly against Paraguay.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of Paraguay friendly ]

Striker Andrija Novakovich earned his first call up on Sunday when U.S. manager Dave Sarachan named the Telstar player in his squad, which will play the South American side on March 27 in Cary, North Carolina.

The 21-year-old forward has been nothing short of brilliant in his first season with the Dutch second-division club, scoring 18 league goals for Telstar — who sit fourth in the Eerste Divisie.

“It’s a good feeling to get the call-up and hopefully it will be a very good experience,” Novakovich said. “They [the U.S. national team] sent the club and myself an email saying that I was on the preliminary roster and we were just waiting, and then this week I got another email saying I was on the final roster.

“I called my Mum right away and she’s proud, she’s happy.

“I’m just there for the experience — of course I want to play, of course I want to get the opportunity and hopefully that will happen, It’s an honour to be called up and I’m very proud and very happy.”

Novakovich, a Wisconsin native, is currently on loan at Telstar from English Championship side Reading.

The young USMNT player moved to England back in 2014 to join Reading’s academy, despite originally planning on playing for Marquette University following high school.

Despite this being his first senior-team call up, Novakovich is familiar with the U.S. national team setup. Novakovich has previously represented the Under-17, U-18 and U-20 national teams.

MLS, Liga MX announce partnership

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It’s good to be friends.

Major League Soccer and Liga MX are coming close together, with the top flights of Mexico and the USA/Canada announcing a strategic partnership on Tuesday.

The deal will see the Campeones Cup created, with a match each September between the reigning MLS Cup champs and the Liga MX champs, while the MLS All-Stars will also play against the Liga MX All-Stars.

Per the announcement, the leagues will also share “platforms for business practices and social responsibility across North American borders.”

MLS Commissioner Dan Garber had the following to say about building a closer link with Liga MX.

“Major League Soccer is proud to come together with Liga MX for this unprecedented partnership,” Garber said. “Together, we have a vision to elevate the popularity of our game to even higher levels in North America. We are excited to have the MLS champion take on Liga MX’s top club in the Campeones Cup this year and build further programs in the years to come.”

The first-ever Campeones Cup will be held on September 19, 2018 at BMO Field in Toronto, with 2017 MLS Cup champs Toronto FC to play against the winner of the Campeon de Campeones match in July which will see the winner of Liga MX’s two seasons (Apertura and Clausure) square off.

This announcement is all linked in with the joint-bid for the 2026 World Cup between the USA, Mexico and Canada, and it also comes at an intriguing time as three of the four MLS teams facing Liga MX opponents in CONCACAF Champions League play are leading in the first leg of their quarterfinals.

NASL cancels 2018 season; teams move on

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The North American Soccer League (NASL) announced on Tuesday that it has canceled its 2018 season.

After U.S. Soccer revoked the NASL’s second division status in September 2017, the league filed an antitrust suit in Federal Court which was denied by the Eastern District Court of New York in November and that decision was confirmed last Friday.

The NASL, which was relaunched in 2011, had already canceled its Spring season for 2018 but planned to return to action for the Fall season.

NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal issued the following statement:

“The focus of the antitrust suit to date has been obtaining a preliminary injunction to save the 2018 Season. Unfortunately, with USSF’s decision and the loss of the preliminary injunction, playing the 2018 Season is no longer a possibility. The focus of the antitrust suit now shifts to securing the long-term advancement of soccer in this country, not only for the NASL, but for all soccer fans, clubs, and communities impacted by the USSF’s restrictions on competition.  Also, the NASL is prosecuting a breach of fiduciary duty action against certain USSF Board members for conflicts of interest and derelictions of duty which have harmed the NASL and countless other constituents in U.S. Soccer. The NASL and its clubs will look at all avenues to return to the field for the 2019 Season.”

The NASL also confirmed that three of its six remaining teams, the Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC, and New York Cosmos, will play in the National Premier Soccer League (unofficial fourth-tier) from April 15, 2018.

It is not known what lies in store for the future of Puerto Rico FC, San Diego 1904 FC and California United FC, with the latter two clubs set to join in 2018.

Given the expansion of the USL to 33 teams and it being handed second-tier status by U.S. Soccer for the 2018 season, the NASL’s rebirth is in serious jeopardy. USL have aligned themselves closely with Major League Soccer and house several reserve teams from MLS franchises, while also have an affiliate rule where MLS clubs have to send a certain number of players on loan each season to their USL affiliate.

Since the 2017 NASL season ended four of their teams have jumped ship and joined the USL, with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Indy Eleven, North Carolina FC and Ottawa Fury all moving over, plus the San Francisco Deltas and Edmonton FC both folding to leave the NASL with just six teams remaining.

NASL bid for injunction against USSF denied by appeals court

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NEW YORK (AP) The North American Soccer League has failed in its appeal of a federal court decision that denied its attempt to maintain second-tier status.

The NASL held second-tier status in the U.S. Soccer Federation from 2011 through last year, and when its status was not renewed, it filed an antitrust suit against USSF.

A federal judge in November denied the NASL’s application for a preliminary injunction against the USSF, and the league announced last month it would not play a spring season. It planned to start its season next Aug. 11, but said that was pending the outcome of the appeal.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the judge’s decision.

“We cannot say at this point that NASL has shown a clear likelihood of its success on the merits,” U.S. Senior Circuit Judge Richard C. Wesley wrote in a decision Friday for a unanimous panel that also included Circuit Judge Denny Chin and Senior Circuit Judge Barrington Daniels Parker Jr.

The 2nd Circuit sent the case back to District Court in New York for further proceedings.

Cordeiro, U.S. Soccer world react to his election as president

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Pledging unity, new U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro kept his remarks short and sweet after winning nearly 69 percent of the third vote on Saturday.

[ MORE: How Cordeiro won the vote ]

“I’d like to thank Sunil and our board for their tireless service. Sunil for introducing me to the game 10 or 11 years ago. For those of you who didn’t vote for me, I’m going to work to earn your support and trust over the next four years.”

Others reacted… differently….