Here’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic being the most entertaining player in the world. Again.

1 Comment

This isn’t close to being the best goal he’s scored this year. It’s just the best goal he’s scored this winter, which is only one day old.

Ellie Arroway has no words.

Of course, here is the actual goal:

Granted, it’s the only goal he’s scored this winter, but with Ibrahimovic, you never know when a try like the first will go in. As was pointed out when he scored against England, the audacity of the attempt alone is to be admired.

Even as we become increasingly used to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s special effects, it’s impossible to grow tired of them. And it’s impossible to be sanguine about somebody who can Nigel de Jong a goalkeeper one week only to overshadow it with headlines of “Ibrahimovic completes four-goal day with 30-yard bicycle kick.”

Just think about the insanity of that headline. It’s practically passive. The bicycle kick is overshadowing a four-goal day. Nobody does that.

MORE: Lionel Messi scores a more conventional Playstation goal

He may merely be one of the best players in the world, but at this point, there’s little doubt Ibrahimovic is the most entertaining. From the litany of chances he sets up for his teammates, to his dominance of Paris Saint-Germain’s attack, to an 18-goal haul that has turned Ligue 1‘s goal scoring race into Serie A, Ibrahimovic has made PSG (and by extension, France) into must see soccer TV.

It’s part of the reason you don’t hear more complaints from France about PSG’s open wallet. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulus has articulated this best, but there is a feeling from other clubs that the Parisians are capable of lifting the whole league. Teams like Lyon and Marseille just have to figure out new ways to keep up as PSG, thanks to acquisitions like Ibrahimovic’s, raise the profile of the entire circuit.

Just consider how often you’re heard about PSG since Ibrahimovic moved from Milan. Thanks to “Ibra,” PSG is a constant feature on this blog. Granted, we did cover France last year, but the coverage has been amped up. Last week, there was both preview and post-match coverage of PSG-Lyon. If Ibrahimovic wasn’t involved, the coverage may have looked more like this morning’s Arsenal analysis.

MORE: Late Barry goal saves Manchester City

Ibrahimovic is the most entertaining player in the world. It’s not even close, and given his goal against England came too late to qualify for this year’s Puskas Award, I propose we create an award, nominate one player, and throw a huge party so we can listen to Zlatan Ibrahimovic talk about how is by far the most entertaining player on the planet.

Because after yesterday’s almost-goal, I’m willing to listen. To all his ideas. Forever.

Oh: PSG went on to beat Brest 3-0, they have a five-match winning streak, and Carlo Ancelotti’s probably not going to be fired.

Atletico Madrid roster for MLS All-Star Game includes Felix

Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer fans will get a good luck at one of the hottest prospects in world soccer when the MLS All Stars take on Atletico Madrid in next week’s MLS All Star Game.

Joao Felix, the $142 million 19-year-old, is among the roster announced by Diego Simeone for the match.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

Felix scored 20 times with 11 assists in 40 matches for Benfica before moving to Atleti in the summer. Those numbers include a hat trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals first leg.

The other stars will be there, too, provided no transfers happen in the interim. Koke, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Saul Niguez are in the squad.

New Atleti defender Kieran Trippier and longtime El Tri hero Hector Herrera will also be sure to help drive attendance in Orlando City.

The full roster is here.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.