“Name” schmame! Tim Cahill the perfect “get” for RBNY

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I keep hearing how Tim Cahill isn’t a big name. How he’s a signing less flashy and more ordinary.

And then I keep saying, “So stinkin’ what?”

Red Bull Arena is chalk full o’ the pretty, the preening and the preeminent. If there’s not sufficient star power in names like Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, then I have no idea what people must think of the rosters in about 14 MLS markets.

Buncha snobs!

(MORE: Cahill set for MLS debut tonight in Houston)

Name recognition has always been oversold in MLS as a ticket driver. Yes, David Beckham moves the attendance needle. The big name Mexican stars can to a point.

After that? Name schmame. Soccer fans here are more sophisticated every day; talented players draw crowds (eventually), recognized name or not.

Besides, show me a team that wins and I’ll show you a team in position to score big at the gate.

That, in my mind, makes Cahill worth his weight in gold, simply because he’s such a good fit and can potentially be the proverbial “last piece” for the Red Bulls. He’s also the kind of player who thrives in MLS, an energetic midfielder with plenty of pace and strength, and lots of fire in the belly to match his experience and intuition.

Think, “Joel Lindpere, but with larger stores of skill and athleticism.”

But don’t take my word for it. Dig, if you will, what Henry said about Cahill after Tuesday’s friendly against Tottenham in Harrison:

You saw a little cameo of what he can do. He’s clever. You saw Teemu and Tim not running a lot, just putting yourself playing where you should be. Football is not only running, going up-and down without playing the ball…They were putting themselves in the pockets where they knew maybe Tottenham was going to hurt us. That’s what they were doing. He made one run: one penalty. You’ve got to be clever (to do that).’’

Cahill’s good work in the attacking half led to the Red Bulls only goal. He played just a half in the 2-1 loss. More from Henry:

You saw how he can jump, hold the ball, go into contact. Tim Cahill is going to be – you’ve got to let him get in shape, because this is his preseason – but especially in New York, people are going to love how he plays. He’s committed, gets in your face, great headers. He’s clever on the field…. I know people are expecting a big name, but you want somebody who is clever, adapts well to what you need on the field. You’re going to get that with Tim Cahill.’’

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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