Should Jay DeMerit have played for Vancouver last night?

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Major League’s Soccer’s All-Star contest is a worthy event, but one that is undeniably flawed in plenty of ways.

Ben Olsen found himself in a real pickle when an early injury to one center back forced the All-Star coach to leave his other starting central defender, Jay DeMerit, on the PPL Park field for the full 90.

Vancouver officials have commendably taken the high road, but they surely are not pleased – and for good reason. Among all All-Star performers, DeMerit had the toughest haul. He played Sunday night in Vancouver, flew all the way across our big land into Philly, faced down Chelsea’s array of A-list attackers, flew back across our big land into Utah on Thursday (with significant airport delays!) and then faced one of the league’s top teams Friday.

That’s where the glaring imperfection comes in. A game on Friday, two days after an All-Star contest? That just should not happen.  Period. Probably not the match on Sunday night, either, but that’s a lesser offense.

(MORE: Drilling down on last night’s 2-1 RSL win over Vancouver)

But all that is water under the Commodore Barry Bridge now. The question soon became, should DeMerit have played at Rio Tinto on Friday? It’s a tough call, because it really is such a big match, third-place Vancouver vs. second-place RSL.

The answer seems clear now: it was probably a mistake, just too much to ask of a stand-up guy who was never going to say “no” if asked.

So Vancouver manager Martin Rennie should not have asked.

DeMerit is among the top MLS center backs, a clear notch above anybody else Rennie could have stationed next to Martin Bonjour. But DeMerit’s fatigued state hurt the Whitecaps in last night’s 2-1 loss.

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It wasn’t just the first-half handball, where fatigue, faulty timing and sluggish reaction time all may have contributed. And it wasn’t just the under-hit back pass that led to Joe Cannon’s ejection, effective finishing any chances of a late Whitecaps’ rally.

DeMerit wasn’t at his best throughout, doing little things here and there that we usually wouldn’t see from a World Cup veteran, like giving away an unnecessary corner kick.

It’s not his fault. It was a tough call, but in hindsight, Rennie (pictured, right) leaned the wrong way.

What the coach told The Province late last night: “I think we’ve taken the high road on the situation with Jay and the All-Star game, but it didn’t help us tonight. I think Jay being 100 per cent would have helped. As would a number of other little things.”

Mane undergoes hand surgery

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The “FIFA virus” is hitting Liverpool hard this month.

Sadio Mane, who reportedly broke his left thumb on international duty for Senegal, underwent surgery on Wednesday, Liverpool confirmed. The club did not include a timetable for Mane’s return in its press release, only saying, “Mane’s recovery will be monitored over the next couple of days ahead of the Reds’ return to action at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.”

With the injury, Mane joins Mo Salah, Naby Keita and Virgil Van Dijk as Reds to be injured during the international break.

As an attacker, it’s unlikely Mane really needs the use of his left hand other than to protect himself on aerial challenges on bumps from defenders, but depending on the recovery, it may just be a decision of how much pain Mane could tolerate. With matches against Huddersfield, Red Star Belgrade and Cardiff City to come, maybe this is a good time for Jurgen Klopp to rest some of his starters, including the walking wounded like Mane.

Fulham owner withdraws offer to purchase Wembley Stadium

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Wembley Stadium is set to stay in the FA’s hands.

[READ: USMNT 1-1 Peru: Player Ratings]

The FA announced in a press release Wednesday that Fulham owner Shahid Kahn had withdrawn his offer of $790 million to purchase Wembley Stadium. Kahn first became interested in buying the stadium in February 2017, when he and FA CEO Martin Glenn met at the Superbowl. What followed was an informal offer to the FA Board of Directors before a formal offer was made.

The offer has been valued at anywhere from nearly $800 million to nearly $1.2 billion. In a statement, Kahn said that his goal to purchase the stadium was to provide the FA with a large amount of capital which it could use to improve grassroots soccer around the country.

“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them,” Khan said. “Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.”

The FA council was set to vote on the sale next week.

Although it cost the FA and British government more than $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation) to renovate and rebuild Wembley Stadium, the arena hosted 33 events between July 2016 and June 2017 and in its latest published financial records, the FA recorded an after-tax profit of $21 million. So it seems that along with the sponsorships and broadcast deals, Wembley Stadium is a money maker, which makes it important for the FA to hold on to.

That being said, it’s hard to turn down a deal worth close to $1 billion, even if that’s a lump sum and they won’t receive further investments from stadium revenues in the future. In the future, maybe Kahn or another owner may make another offer, one that the FA council could accept.

Report: La Liga chief going to court to compel U.S. based games to happen

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The head of La Liga is considering taking extraordinary action to ensure that a planned match this year in the U.S. goes off as expected.

[READ: What did we learn about the USMNT?]

According to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, La Liga president Javier Tebas is set to bring a lawsuit against the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and its chief, Luis Rubiales to compel the federation to approve Barcelona’s match against Girona on January 26, which has been scheduled to be moved to Miami, Fla.’s Hard Rock Stadium.

In a way, it makes sense that Tebas and the Spanish league is considering every possible avenue to ensure that their 15-year marketing rights agreement with Relevant Sports, including league matches played abroad, can move forward as expected. However, it was clear after the announcement in August that all parties involved – especially La Liga, had not thought this through. FIFA, the RFEF, local fans and the Spanish league’s player’s union have all opposed the news, and on Wednesday Real Madrid formally sent a letter of it’s disapproval in moving La Liga matches abroad.

Tebas and La Liga would prefer for this to be resolved legally sooner rather than later, so they can market the Barcelona match in Miami and begin negotiating with the other federations that need to approve. But there’s a decent chance that the other parties – FIFA, and U.S. Soccer – could fail to rubber stamp what would be a first-of-its-kind event. In any case, watch this space.

What did we learn about USMNT during international break

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The U.S. Men’s National Team finished the October FIFA international slate with a somewhat demoralizing loss and an uplifting draw, if there is such a thing.

The young U.S. core continues to show flashes of great talent, but overall the team still seems to be stuttering along under caretaker manager Dave Sarachan, who just managed his 10th game and could likely finish out the calendar year as USMNT boss.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Below is a look at the key takeaways from the USMNT’s October friendlies:


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