ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays:Ah, to have it all in front of you! Let’s talk quickly about Mesut Özil (pictured). Dude plays for globally big-shot Real Madrid. He’s a valued member of the German national team, one of the better sides in the world right now. And he’s just 24! And barely that. Ozil turns 24 on Monday.

Longtime French international David Trezeguet, who recently took his fine career to Argentina, turns 35.

And for Manchester United man Andy Cole – he had a lot of career stops, but truly made his bones in big-boy soccer at Old Trafford – turns 41.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

Jurgen Klinsmann and Co. need a draw Tuesday. If they stumble, they could well be out of the World Cup hunt for Brazil 2014. Out!  What could possibly be more big and important than that?

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Desmond Armstrong

*Ahead on the blog today:

What will U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann have to say on the day ahead of his team’s meeting with Guatemala at Livestrong Sporting Park? We’ll be there, and we’ll be at Livestrong to check out the scene at the park as the team prepares to face Guatemala on Tuesday.

So, plenty of U.S. national team material ahead, plus some thoughts around the marketing of the park where Tuesday’s contest will happen.

Twitter daps:

source:

What you should watch on TV today:

Just keep the darn thing off today and load up on the viewing hours tomorrow, when there will be some juicy choices from abroad during the day, followed by the CONCACAF qualifiers in the evening. (Tuesday’s U.S. match kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Telefutura.)

PST background noise while blogging today: Travel day, which means I’ll be listening to airport announcements and watching for rental car signs.

We’ll leave you with this: Tuesday’s matches will be kicked off simultaneously in each group. Pretty good idea, eh? Fair and all? … You are watching, aren’t you, MLS?

*Always subject to change; you know how it is

CONCACAF qualifying: If the final round started today

The top two teams from each semifinal round group advance into final round qualifying. With one round of matches remaining (Tuesday), here are the teams currently “in.”

  • Guatemala
  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • Canada

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

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
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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

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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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.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.