Add Daniele De Rossi to your MLS wish lists

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For the second year in a row (and, the second coach in a row), AS Roma icon Daniele de Rossi is having trouble fitting into his club’s new scheme. Despite a new five-year contract signed last season, those troubles have led to renewed transfer speculation, with the 29-year-old even throwing out a tease to Major League Soccer fans.

“I hope someday [to maybe play] in the U.S.A.,” de Rossi recently confessed to the New York Times. “I’ve spoken a long time with Michael [Bradley] about it. I would love to come to the U.S. to play.”

Last year under Luis Enrique, the former midfield cornerstone was shuffled between a Sergio Busquets role and central defense in the former Barcelona coach’s system. This season, under new boss Zdenek Zemen, de Rossi’s started only eight of 18 Serie A matches.

The selection issues leave the assumed future captain of Roma with a dilemma. The Rome-born icon has a fierce loyalty to the club, but having gone through last year’s ordeal (one which included the added complexity of a contract negotiation), de Rossi has likely envisioned scenarios where he have to leave the Giallorossi. Now one of those scenarios may be coming to fruition, with acquisitions like that of Michael Bradley’s putting de Rossi’s selection in doubt.

For his part, de Rossi seems focused on his Roma future. “I never tried, or really wanted, to play outside for another team,” he said, optimistically predicting, “I’m sure I will soon have more time on the field.”

When asked about rumors of a potential move, specifically to Manchester City (a long rumored link), de Rossi’s coy. He initially denies hearing them before relenting: “Well, O.K. I’ve heard this rumor. I’m sure my future will be a good experience no matter where I play.”

Among his possible destinations, the U.S. is the first place he mentions. He learned English at a young age, and with a residence in England (where he spends time with his English/American girlfriend), cultural adaptation wouldn’t be an issue.

But as he notes, De Rossi is still young. He’s 29, still able to playing at the highest levels, and (as important for his immediate MLS future) still capable of making huge sums at a place like Manchester City. He has his Italy career to consider, too.

De Rossi seems one contract away from playing in MLS, but if he comes, he’d be another jewel for the league. A rugged but skilled defender, de Rossi would have no trouble adapting to the physicality of North American soccer. With both playmaking and goal scoring skills that are better than almost every MLS midfielder, even an older de Rossi should be able to put up some numbers.

But check back in 2016. For now, de Rossi’s future seems to be at Roma. Probably.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images
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We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

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In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

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

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

Atlanta United on Twitter/@ATLUTD
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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.