Even Edson Buddle caught off guard by his USMNT call

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Let’s all be honest about Edson Buddle and his recent U.S. national team call-up: it caught us off guard – like getting hit in the head with a sandwich thrown from across the room.

Whoa! Where did that come from?

Buddle did not have a good season with the Galaxy, marginalized through some stretches and mostly ineffective when he was on the field. In 261 playoff minutes, for instance, Buddle had no goals, no assists and just two shots on goal.

So we weren’t too surprised when the veteran forward was shipped one time zone east to Colorado in one of the first MLS off-season swaps.

Given all that, who saw the call-up coming, as Buddle found his way into Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp?

Perhaps the injuries to Alan Gordon and Chris Pontius had something to say here. But Kenny Cooper (18 goals in 2012 …) was available. Heck, C.J. Sapong and Chris Rolfe, for that matter. So, yes … color most of us surprised.

Buddle, too. Here’s what the Rapids striker told Adam Serrano as the L.A. Galaxy Insider blogger circled back to talk to the former Galaxy man:

It’s kind of random that I got the call, but that’s how it is in soccer and with the national team. I was just trying to be as professional as I can in the offseason in case I do get a call like this. Jurgen has worked with me and I’ve worked with Jurgen, and it’s always a privilege for me…I wasn’t expecting it. I had planned for my offseason with rehab and seeing where my knee was so I can get ready to go to Colorado.”

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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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

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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.