Landon Donovan says another Everton stay highly unlikely

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Landon Donovan says he is highly unlikely to join up with Everton for yet another loan spell during the MLS off-season. He won’t be going anywhere else in January, by the sounds of it.

The L.A. Galaxy man and U.S. national team all-time leading scorer said so Saturday morning on the Soccer Today radio show/podcast.

“The chances of me playing again this off-season are very slim,” he said. “I’ve had, not since this January but last January [2011], a total of two weeks off. My soccer enthusiasm is not as high as it was two years ago. I’m kind of ready for a break when this [MLS] season is over.”

The rest of the interview is here. Donovan’s interview begins around the 34-minute mark.

Donovan made the comments on the show and podcast that that I co-host along with ESPN’s Marc Stein.  When I heard Donovan talking about it, a lot of things suddenly made sense.

The Galaxy attacker keeps scaring everyone with retirement talk. More than once this year, U.S. Soccer’s all-time leading scorer has said the competitive fires simply do not burn with the same white-hot intensity as before.

U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann says it’s natural for a player to have these ebbs and flows in professional enthusiasm over a long career, and likes to remind everyone that Donovan signed his first professional deal when he was just 17. And fair enough.

But how about this as a theory: Maybe Donovan just needs a break. Perhaps the man just needs some time away from the game to re-supply the competitive stores. Could that be it, I asked him?

“It’s possible. That’s why I’m really focused on doing my best this year and finishing up the year and then reevaluating. It could very well be. I’ve been out the last 10 days with this [hamstring] injury and I’m already chomping at the bit to get back on the field again, so that could very well be the deal.”

Donovan also revealed:

Due to that injury, he’s still iffy for tonight’s contest at the Home Depot Center against FC Dallas. (That match kicks off at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network).

Also, as Donovan evaluates everything and considers his future, he will, indeed, think about his chance to become Major League Soccer’s all-time leading scorer and all-time assist leader. If that happens, there’s a reasonable chance that Donovan could be the only person to ever hold both titles – and wouldn’t that be something?

(MORE: Tracking Landon Donovan’s career record pursuits)

Report: Newcastle’s Clark knocked out on Spanish dance floor

Scott Heavey/PA via AP
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A wild story out of Spain says an Englishman knocked Newcastle United defender Ciaran Clark unconscious at a night club.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

Clark was on vacation in Spain, where he was spending time at Crystal’s Bar in Punta Ballena, Magaluf very early Sunday morning.

Clark and a man “in his 30s” got into an argument that saw the Irish defender knocked out, according to the BBC.

Clark was left unconscious and taken to hospital after an argument between him and the suspect broke out on the dance floor.

The 28-year-old suffered cuts and bruises to his face.

Clark, 28, scored twice in 20 Premier League appearances this season, his second at St. James’ Park.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 9 — Iceland’s next step, Brazilian bounce back?

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Brazil is one of the favorites of the 2018 World Cup, while Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for the world’s biggest tournament.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

On Friday, both enter their second match days feeling quite different after 1-1 draws.

They won’t face each other, of course, but the contrast is striking nevertheless.

Brazil opens the day’s action when it squares off with Costa Rica, who fell to Serbia in the opener. For Serbia, a dark horse of the tournament, it will be a meeting with Switzerland.

Then there’s Iceland’s bid to climb into the Group D driver’s seat by knocking off Nigeria. A win from Iceland would make Lionel Messi and Argentina’s task of qualifying for the knockout rounds extremely unlikely.

Below is Friday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group D
Nigeria vs. Iceland: Volgograd, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group E
Brazil vs. Costa Rica: Saint Petersburg, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Serbia vs. Switzerland: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Sampaoli defends Messi, blasts Argentina

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Jorge Sampaoli is lambasting his team after a 3-0 loss put Argentina on the edge of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup’s knockout rounds.

“The reality of the Argentina squad clouds Lionel Messi’s brilliance,” Sampaoli said. “The team doesn’t gel as well as it should.”

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Sampaoli said his players could not find a way to get the ball to Messi, and that the introduction of Boca Juniors youngster Cristian Pavón was aimed at opening up the field a little bit.

And Sampaoli is not shying away from the long-discussed comparison between Messi and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. From the BBC:

“Cristiano is a great player and he has achieved a lot with club and country. Right now it is hard to compare these two players because of the ability in the Argentinian squad clouds the judgment. Leo is in a difficult position because the squad doesn’t gel with him. As coach I have to accept that. I don’t feel shame but I definitely feel pain. It has been a long time since I have gone through this experience as a coach and obviously it is more painful when I’m wearing the colours of my country.

“We have no alternative but to give it our all in the final match. We have not performed at the level the country expects. We were ambitious ahead of the game but now it is harder for us as a group. We did think this would be the match we can take off as a team, but it wasn’t in the end. I think this is an excellent squad but we didn’t gel or come together. We need to take advantage of the next match, when the pressure will be on, and hope to progress.”

Now, of course Sampaoli is going to defend Messi, but Argentina’s team is not chopped liver. The side certainly isn’t as deep or solid as Croatia, but 1-1 with Iceland preceded this one.

That said, Argentina’s performance once Croatia essentially decided to surround Messi was unacceptable. If favored Nigeria doesn’t handle its business against Iceland, the World Cup finalists won’t have a prayer of going back.

Modric urges humility after big win, stunning goal (video)

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There are few teams who’ve looked as strong as Croatia at the World Cup in Russia.

[ RECAP: Argentina 0-3 Croatia ]

Zlatko Dalic’s men now have a pair of shutout wins against decent competition, topping Nigeria 2-0 over the weekend before hammering Argentina 3-0 on Thursday.

The nature of those performances will have many, us included, debating just how far Croatia can run in this tournament. Veteran midfielder Luka Modric is hoping his team doesn’t do the same.

Let’s not be euphoric or get ahead of ourselves,” Modric said. “Of course this win will boost our confidence for the next game, and we have shown we can create opportunities, but let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

Modric noted that Willy Caballero‘s howler “was a shot in the arm,” but added that they had played a “perfect game.”

That’s true. And while so much focus will be on Messi’s struggles, don’t sleep on the terrific performance of Vatreni. 

Modric also seemed to bristle when asked about shutting down Messi.

“I don’t want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player.”