ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays:

ESPN reporter Monica Gonzalez (pictured), an All-American at Notre Dame and Mexican international, turns 34.

U.S. women’s goalkeeping backup Nicole Barnhart, who has two Olympic gold medals, turns 31.

And Mexican international Ramon Morales, who was practically an institution at Chivas de Guadalajara and retired only a year ago (after a year at Tecos), turns 37. His 64 caps for Mexico were all earned between 2001 and 2007 – a.k.a. the time of major discontent in Mexican soccer when it came to the border battles with the United States.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

Let’s hope there are no more big important stories coming out of Miami, where the United States has one more training day before traveling down to Antigua. No more injury drama (like yesterday’s) is needed, thank you very much.

FYI, the weather forecast for Antigua on Friday calls for scattered showers (60 percent chance) and a high of 86. Sounds sticky.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Chris Gbandi

*Ahead on the blog today:

We’ll look at whether Jurgen Klinsmann has any options to add some width to his current roster, which is currently looking about as narrow as a cover model waist.

While we’re speeding down those U.S. national team tracks, Richard Farley will roll out more depth charts, looking at the current positional condition of the player pool.

Plus, we’ll start looking at news emerging from other national team camps ahead of two big days of World Cup qualifying.

Twitter daps:

source:

What you should watch on TV today:

Slim pickin’s during this international FIFA window. If you haven’t seen the Kop-centric “Being Liverpool,” it really is worth checking out.

Otherwise, maybe you have that DVD of The Damned United, Once in a Lifetime (the story of the Cosmos) or The Two Escobars. Those are easily three of the top soccer movies / documentaries you’ll ever see.

If the MLS playoffs started today (following 31 rounds):

Eastern Conference

(Wildcard round)

  • Houston at New York

(Second round)

  • Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
  • Chicago vs. D.C. United

Western Conference:

(Wildcard round)

  • Vancouver Whitecaps at L.A. Galaxy

(Second Round)

  • San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
  • Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle

PST background noise while blogging today:  It’s soccer podcast day … except that I always hear something that makes me take notes for later reporting / blogging. So, then it’s not really “background” noise, is it? Or maybe I’m over-thinking that one.

*Always subject to change; you know how it is

Video: Ronaldo scores fourth goal, gives Portugal early lead

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He has four goals in less than two matches, and Portugal is off to another flying start courtesy of their star forward.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese a 1-0 lead against Morocco in the fourth minute after brilliantly heading home a corner kick.

The Real Madrid star gave Portugal a similar spark at the beginning of their 3-3 draw against Spain in their first Group B match when Ronaldo drew, and scored a penalty kick inside of the opening three minutes.

Is there anything this man cannot do?

Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

[ MORE: Russia races past Egypt, likely en route to next round ]

Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.