ProSoccerTalk daily soccer re-set

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Birthdays of Note: Go through the top strikers from the beginning of the century and there are few who put together better careers than Henrik Larsson. The former Sweden captain averaged over 30 goals per season for Celtic from 2000-01 to 2003-04, eventually moving to Barcelona, where he won a European title. Internationally, Larsson participated in three World Cups and accumulated 37 goals in 106 appearances, guiding Sweden to a third place finish in World Cup 1994.

Along the way, Larsson accumulated a reputation for being one of the classier strikers in the world, a term that served as a short hand for there are so many things that make him great – from skill to production to attitude – we’re just going use a single word and pretend everybody knows what we’re talking about.

Larsson turns 41 today.

Big Important Story of the Day: Although we’ve got MLS and CONCACAF Champions League tonight (as well as the start of Europa League), most of today’s big stories are going to look back to Wednesday: Digesting UEFA Champions League, and reflecting on Pia Sundhage’s impact on the U.S. women’s national team.

Twitter Daps: The Pia edition:

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What we should all be watching on TV: DC United is in Philadelphia today, ESPN2 having the broadcast honors. Still adjusting to life without Dwayne De Rosario, points like tonights’ are crucial if Ben Olsen’s squad’s going to claim a spot in the East’s top five.

A little later, Houston will be welcoming FAS to BBVA Compass Field Stadium Arena. FOX Soccer has the honors.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Mark Dodd

If the MLS playoffs started today (after Wednesday’s results):

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston vs. Columbus (D.C. United dropping out)

(Second round)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
  • Chicago vs. New York Red Bulls

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Seattle vs. L.A. Galaxy

PST background noise while blogging today: I keep replaying this weekend’s Saturday Night Live (host Seth McFarlane and Keenan Tompson, pictured), but only three sketches: Lids, puppet class, and Weekend Update. We’ll see if the show eventually misses Kirsten Wiig and Andy Samberg, but after one week, so far, so good. (And please, spare everybody the obligatory Saturday Night Live used to be good, but now it’s not comment. That critique has literally been around since Season 2. It’s now Season 38.)

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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