Circling back on Kris Boyd’s place under Caleb Porter

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Despite missing eight games last season, Kris Boyd was the Portland Timbers’ leading scorer, albeit with a modest seven goals. And while that status is augmented his place as the club’s highest paid player, the former Rangers star finds himself out of his team’s plans before his first training session with new head coach Caleb Porter, the situation creating a quandary for both player and club.

At least, that’s the situation the sides find themselves in after a surprisingly blunt assessment during Porter’s introductory press conference.

The 29-year-old striker was signed as a Designated Player during last year’s preseason, his $1.5 million total compensation dwarfing the salaries of a team whose next-highest 2012 earner made $356,250 (Danny Mwanga). For that, the Timbers expected a player who would be among the league’s leading scorers. Instead, they got a striker who failed to have a consistent impact on games, head coach John Spencer unable to forge a connection between his countryman and Darlington Nagbe.

By the time Gavin Wilkinson stepped in for Spencer at the beginning of July, Boyd was losing his place in the team. Bright Dike started seeing the bulk of time as the Timbers started auditions for Porter’ eventual arrival.

With their formation shifting from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3, Boyd no longer fit. He finished the year injured and out of the team.

In that respect, it’s not surprising Boyd doesn’t seem to be in Porter’s plans. What is surprising is the nature in which the news was revealed.

During his Tuesday introduction, the tone seemed to change when a reporter asked about Boyd. Porter paused, seemed to consider how blunt he wanted to be, and then offered a euphemism before laying the truth bare, providing a startlingly frank assessment that gave the room pause.

Here’s the full question and response:

Q: Coach, can you tell me how Kris Boyd fits into your plans?

A: Kris Boyd is obviously contracted to be a member of the Portland Timbers. But what I will say is after watching him play quite a bit — and I have watched this team play quite a bit — Kris Boyd is a player that I think will have a hard time playing the way that we want to play.

That’s no knock on Kris. He would fit in a lot of different systems, but with what I want out of my strikers, it’s going to be very difficult for him to offer what I’m looking for in that position.

At the same time, if he comes back and proves that he can offer those things, then certainly he’ll be given the chance to play like anybody else. But based on what I’ve seen, based on certainly what he’s shown as a player, it’s going to be difficult for him to fit in.

Later, Porter was asked to describe what he looks for from his strikers:

Q: What do you need out of your striker?

A: I like … (my strikers) to score goals.

Q: But there are things that lead to that, obviously.

A: Yes. The striker, to me, is more than that, actually – than (just) scoring goals. They need to fit into the team. They need to be the first line of pressure when we’re defending. They need to be obviously a guy that can also be a linking player when we’re playing through them. They help with our connection with the midfielders in combination play. They need to be a guy first and foremost who’s threatening to the back line.

Ultimately, I prefer a bit more pace-y, athletic, powerful, presence in the striker position. But ultimately, they need to score goals, too.

I’m of two minds about how this went down. There’s no doubt Boyd doesn’t fit in Portland. He didn’t fit under Spencer or Wilkinson, and he’s even less likely to fit under Porter. He hasn’t contributed anything beyond his modest goal total, has none of the qualities Porter wants in a striker, and seemed an inferior option to Dike, a player who spent part of the summer in USL Pro. Boyd just wasn’t very good, and with one of Major League Soccer’s few million dollar salaries, he’s practically untradeable.

Still, there is an element of message-sending to Porter’s response that’s disconcerting. An introductory press conference seems a poor venue for singling out spare parts, particularly considering Porter has yet to meet or train with his full team. The coach said he has been in touch with almost all of his players, but he’s still a week away from his first practice.

source: Getty ImagesThis hugely expensive asset, this player that’s “contracted to be a member of the Portland Timbers” – Porter hasn’t evaluated him in person, yet. While Portland’s new coach eventually said Boyd will have a chance to impress him, the comment seemed more a concession than legitimate opportunity.

But judging Boyd is not the problem here. Porter has also passed judgments on Will Johnson, Michael Harrington, Ryan Johnson, and Diego Valeri – the new Timbers who will to help where Boyd could not. Nobody can begrudge a coach’s right to evaluate somebody outside of practice, regardless of whether those evaluations are positive or negative.

How that judgment was delivered is the problem. Whether he was effective or not, Boyd put forth effort for the Timbers last year. Even at the end of the season, when he’d been out of the team for some time, Boyd was reportedly willing to come back an help the team play out a string of inconsequential games. That willingness may seem obligatory given his lucrative contract, but the attitude underscored Boyd’s commitment.

In time, we may see this kind of honesty as one of Caleb Porter’s virtues. Perhaps he is intent on being open and forthright while trusting us to process the information correctly.

Even by that standard, there was still something strange about how Porter’s comments. He made it very clear the Timbers organization wants to move on from their expensive mistake. While that’s an understandable position, an introductory press conference may not have been the right platform for that message.

Reports: Mata agrees to stay with Manchester United

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Manchester United and Juan Mata are going to stay an item.

The 31-year-old has reportedly found common ground with United just days before his contract expired at Old Trafford, having been linked with Barcelona and Newcastle United should he have reached free agent status.

[ MORE: Latest on Rodri, Man City ]

Mata, 31, may be a key piece for a United team which is set for massive turnover this season, and had six goals and four assists in just under 1800 minutes last season.

He’s an extremely consistent player, scoring 50 Premier League goals with 60 assists between the Blues and Red Devils. He’s won the FA Cup and Europa League with both clubs, winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the League Cup with United.

Mata also has a Copa del Rey from his time with Valencia, and is a World Cup and EURO winner with Spain.

At least this way, Mata can be almost completely sure he won’t face a third stint under Jose Mourinho. Mata was sold by Chelsea after Mourinho lost interest in the midfielder, only to see United hire the Portuguese manager.

Watch Live: 2019 Women’s World Cup – Group C finale

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup continues on Tuesday, as the final two games take place in Group C with some heavyweight nations still not assured of a last 16 spot.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news

Italy have won both of their games so far in Group C, and a point against Brazil in Valenciennes will see them top the group and set up a more favorable path through the knockout rounds. After they let a 2-0 lead slip to lose to Australia last time out, Brazil really need a big win to set them up for the knockout rounds and to guarantee their place in the last 16 but a point will be enough.

Australia are heavily favored against Jamaica but the CONCACAF nation have shown plenty of spirit so far in their debut tournament as they’ve dug deep defensively. The Matildas know a draw will guarantee their spot in the last 16 of the tournament but a morale-boosting win for Sam Kerr and Co. is what the doctor ordered.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game ]

Here is your full schedule for Tuesday, June 18 at the Women’s World Cup.


2019 Women’s World Cup schedule

Group C: Jamaica v. Australia – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group C: Italy v. Brazil – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Transfer rumors: Bale will not be loaned; Justin to Villa, Leicester; RSL winger to PL

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL and Europe…


Gareth Bale‘s agent has said his client is not going out on loan, after reports linked him with a temporary move to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking to Sky Sports News from Royal Ascot as he took in the horse racing, Jonathan Barnett had the following to say when asked if Bale, 29, would leave Real on loan this summer.

“There’s more chance of me winning at Ascot than him going out on loan. A loan move is not going to happen,” Barnett said. “I don’t think he wants to go out on loan. He’s got a lovely life and home in Spain. I think it would take something exceptional for him to leave and loans are not on the menu. Obviously, Gareth’s situation at Real hasn’t improved.”

Barnett added that Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Bale around but didn’t rule out the possibility of him staying at Real beyond this summer and although he didn’t shut down talk of a move to Man United when asked, it doesn’t seem likely to happen given United’s new transfer policy of buying young talent.

“He could fit in there. I think he could do very well – he is still one of the best players in the world. But it is very unlikely,” Barnett added.

Back to the drawing board for Barnett and Bale as they try and figure out a good solution for him for next season, as the player who has won four UEFA Champions League titles with Real in his six seasons in the Spanish capital is far from a fans favorite at the Santiago Bernabeu. With Eden Hazard and others arriving this summer, Bale is being nudged towards the exit door at Real.

Having three years left on his $700,000 per week contract is the major sticking point in any move, as Bale is in no hurry to be forced away to take a huge pay cut.


Aston Villa and Leicester City are battling to sign Luton Town’s James Justin, according to the Daily Star.

The 19-year-old right back was sensational in Luton’s 2018-19 campaign as the won the English third-tier title and promotion to the Championship. Per the report, Villa and Leicester are willing to pay $13 million for Justin with Villa saying he would be challenging for a starting spot right away but the Foxes see him as a player for the future.

A versatile attacking full back who can play across midfield and defense, Justin came through Luton’s academy and made his debut in an EFL Cup win against Aston Villa back in 2016. There are plenty of gems across the lower leagues of English soccer, as the likes of Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Harry Maguire have proven in recent years.

Taking a punt on an exciting full back for $13 million is the way to go for teams like Villa and Leicester who have smaller squads and are more than willing to take the time to develop young talent.


A report from our partners at Sky Sports says that West Ham and Newcastle United are interested in signing Real Salt Lake star Jefferson Savarino.

Savarino, 22, is currently on Copa America duty with Venezuela and the report states that he could be available for as little as $8 million. Per the report, both the Hammers and Magpies have sent scouts to watch him play against Brazil at the Copa America on Wednesday.

Savarino has had a decent start to this season with RSL, scoring three times and adding an assist in 13 appearances. He scored for Venezuela against the USMNT in their 3-0 friendly win in Cincinnati on June 9 and given the relative success of Miguel Almiron after his move from MLS to Newcastle, North America’s top-flight is being looked at more regularly by PL clubs.

Is Savarino ready for that step up? He has steadily improved since joining RSL from Zulia in 2017 and has scored six and seven goals in his two previous MLS campaigns. With a transfer fee so low, if he plays well for a dangerous Venezuelan side at the Copa America he could edge close to a move to Europe and it would be tough for RSL to stand in his way.

For USMNT, Gold Cup finally brings chance for revival

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BLAINE, Minn. (AP) The overarching goal for the fledgling U.S. men’s soccer team, as frequently stated by new coach Gregg Berhalter, has been to improve the perception of this sputtering program within the cutthroat hierarchy of global soccer.

Though a strong performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup probably won’t move the needle much, the Americans surely would benefit, simply, from winning.

Their opening game against Guyana on Tuesday night at Allianz Field in St. Paul, the new home of Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United, will mark the first competitive match for the U.S. since the infamous defeat at Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10, 2017, that kept the team for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. It follows a stretch of 18 consecutive friendlies.

“There will be some nerves, but for us it’s just about continuing to make progress throughout this tournament,” Berhalter said last week after a training session at the National Sports Center in Blaine, a suburb of Minneapolis. “I think part of our profession is playing under pressure, playing in big events, and this is a great opportunity for us to learn.”

The 20-month gap between competitive games is the longest for the Americans since a 38-month span following a loss to Costa Rica on May 31, 1985, their final qualifier for the 1986 World Cup. Their next match that counted was a draw at Jamaica on July 24, 1988, their first qualifier for the 1990 World Cup.

The U.S. won the biennial Gold Cup in 2017, a sixth title in 14 editions of the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. Mexico, the clear favorite, has won seven such crowns.

Before any mental energy can be spent on assessing the ability to compete with their border rival to the south, though, the Americans, who are ranked 30th in the world, must advance from the group stage. On the surface, Panama (75th), Trinidad and Tobago (92nd) and Guyana (177th) don’t appear to be daunting competition, but the way the U.S. team played this month in exhibition losses to Jamaica (1-0) and Venezuela (3-0) there will be no guarantees of automatic wins. The Americans are missing injured players DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks and Tyler Adams, all first-choice starters.

“If it doesn’t go well you can just feel that more pressure is going to build, more questions will be asked, more scrutiny will be on Berhalter and the federation, and the outside noise is only going to get louder,” said former U.S. midfielder Stu Holden, now a Fox analyst. “That’s why it’s really important that this team has a really good showing in this tournament.”

With the U.S. women leading their side of the world rankings and off to a dominant start this month in France at the Women’s World Cup , the men’s team won’t be able to avoid the comparison game. The Americans can’t mute the fan angst that has followed them for nearly two years, either, but they can at least take a meaningful step forward in the Berhalter era by displaying some potential within the pressing, possession-prioritized style he has rolled out .

“We want to progress. Of course that also means winning the games, but we want to develop our style,” midfielder Weston McKennie said. “Our goal is to make people see U.S. Soccer as something different as what they see now, probably.”

McKennie is one of the 20-year-old up-and-comers the program has staked itself to in the quest to not only return to the World Cup in 2022 but do some damage on the sport’s biggest stage. The other, of course, is Christian Pulisic , who is joining English Premier League power Chelsea from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund for a $73 million transfer fee. That is a record price for an American player.

Veterans of the national side like Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are still around, among just six holdovers from the roster that went to Trinidad. They are joined by Pulisic, defenders Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream, and forward Paul Arriola on what has become a youngster’s team. Getting this team in sync, socially and psychologically, might be just as important of a task for Berhalter as with the technical implementation of his system.

“In warmups, they have to give each other high-fives,” Berhalter said. “We do team events off the field, like going to movies together and going to restaurants together. I think that’s really important to build that team chemistry.”

Now more than ever.

“Everyone right now outside has their opinions about us, and the past couple of games, and that’s perfectly fine,” forward Paul Arriola said. “For us the message stays the game, and it’s staying together as a team. That’s how you’re going to win an international tournament.”

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