ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays:

Former French national team manager Laurent Blanc, a member of Les Bleus’ World Cup winning side in 1998, turns 47 on Monday.

Los Angeles Galaxy assistant Curt Onalfo turns 43 today. How about what happened Sunday in Seattle as a fine B-Day “How Do You Do?”

Big Important Stories of the Day:

The 17th MLS Cup is set. A season that began back in early March will conclude Dec. 1 outside Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center, where the Houston Dynamo will surely play the underdog role against the Galaxy. (FYI: It’s a Saturday night final for the first time in MLS history.)

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

*Ahead on the blog today:

More discussion about the two conference final, second-leg closers. And we can surely squeeze in the popular Monday “Meh” list of the slightly overrated.

About the photo (top right):

Thanks to D.C. United’ Sarah Lerner, who snapped this late Sunday on her way out of RFK Stadium.

Twitter daps:

source:

What you should watch on TV today:

Roma meets Torino in Italian Serie A action at 1:45 p.m. on beIN Sports. (If you have it, can we come over and watch?)

Background noise while blogging today:

We’ll put Sunday’s Fulham-Sunderland match on before it disappears from the DVR. And maybe that neglected Ajax match from last week, too. In fact, I’m not sure how many unseen matches are taking up room on that menu.

We’ll leave you with this:

I know everyone isn’t 100 percent excited about a repeat of last year’s MLS Cup final. Same doggone stadium and everything. On the other hand, Houston will have its best player this time, Brad Davis. That’s something  … right?

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

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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.