Former D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen apparently returning to MLS – but as a coach

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I have to admit, I’ve long hoped that Ryan Nelsen would rejoin MLS.

He could be the perfect partner, I believed, for a mentoring role, presiding with all that knowledge and professionalism alongside some talented young center back. Imagine where Tim Ream might be today, for instance, if the New Zealand international could have been alongside the emerging U.S. international back in 2011 with the Red Bulls.

Or how about partnering with Matt Besler at Sporting Kansas City, or George John at FC Dallas?

Or even in Los Angeles, where Omar Gonzalez benefitted so greatly from Gregg Berhalter’s tutelage back in 2009?

Nelsen, now 35, was a standout on the D.C. United teams of the early 2000s, including the 2004 MLS Cup championship sides. He captained that team, in fact.

Well it appears Nelsen (pictured, in center) will re-join MLS – only not in the capacity I (and probably everyone else) had imagined.

Reports out of England this morning say Nelsen is set to leave Queens Park Rangers this month to accept a coaching position in MLS.

If it’s a head coaching position, it has to be New York or Montreal.

(MORE: Montreal signs a player, but really needs a coach)

More likely, however, is that Nelsen would begin his coaching days as an assistant, perhaps to Paul Mariner at Toronto. There, he could be groomed as an eventual replacement, allowing Mariner to return to the front office position he held prior to replacing failed Dutch coach Aron Winter.

VIDEO: Tunisia equalizes on controversial penalty kick

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England centerback Kyle Walker put his arm up to halt the forward progress of Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Unfortunately for Walker, Ben Youssef was in the box and Walker’s elbow caught Ben Youssef’s face.

Referee Wilmar Roldan quickly whistled for a penalty kick and despite the protests from a half-dozen of England players and a check from the VAR, the called stood. Ferjani Sassi’stepped up to the spot and found the lower-left corner, just barely beating Jordan Pickford to tie the game in the 35th minute.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

How will England respond?

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.

VIDEO: de Bruyne delivers gorgeous assist on Lukaku goal

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It took a little bit of patience, but Romelu Lukaku finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, thanks to a delicious assist from crosstown club rival Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City playmaker delivered a spectacular outside-of-the-boot cross into the box, where Lukaku’s head met it and guided it towards the far post for Belgium’s second goal of the day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news