Building preseason knowledge: Union draws 1-1 with Orlando

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Talented as young Philly Union forward Jack McInerney certainly is, the Union’s 1-1 draw Saturday with Orlando reminds us: he’ll have to fight and scrap for the minutes.

McInerney was Philadelphia’s leading scorer last year (8 goals) and clearly has good things ahead. But in the Union’s starting 11 Saturday in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Florida, Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey were the preferred forwards in coach John Hackworth’s 4-4-2.

A couple other points from Saturday’s contest:

  • Newcomer Jeff Parke paired with Amobi Okugo centrally in defense, with Sheanon Williams and Gabriel Farfan on the outside and Brian Carroll protecting from midfield. None of that sounds too bad, does it?
  • Hackworth praised the conditioning efforts of Saturday’s Union goal scorer set-up man Roger Torres; last year, Hackworth called out the young attacker for flagging fitness.
  • That 4-4-2 is interesting, considering Le Toux’s pace gives Hackworth the opportunity to deploy the Frenchman a little wider in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. McInerney could conceivably play wider, too. Michael Farfan, who had such a breakout year in 2012, would set up as the offensive string-puller in whatever formation Hackworth chooses.

The Philadelphia Union’s starting lineup: Zach MacMath, Gabriel Farfan, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Michael Farfan, Danny Cruz, Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey.

Oxlade-Chamberlain back in Liverpool training

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in Liverpool training, nine months after a horrible injury cost him the chance to appear in the UEFA Champions League Final.

Initially ruled out for the duration of the 2018-19 season following an ACL year, “The Ox” is giving the Reds a boost in Dubai.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The 25-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain posted five goals and seven assists in his first season at Liverpool.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has 32 England caps and 283 senior appearances between Southampton, Arsenal, and Liverpool. He left the Gunners in part because of a desire to play a more central role in the midfield.

Oxlade-Chamberlain detailed his recovery late last year. There’s yet to be discussion of when he might be fit to return to match play, but Liverpool will be careful with its industrious playmaker.

Montreal owner Saputo hands presidency duties to Gilmore

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Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo is giving the reigns of his club to a new president.

Saputo announced Tuesday that he’s handing over presidency duties to Kevin Gilmore, the former chief operating officer of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The Saputo family founded the Impact in 1992, and Joey Saputo shepherded the club into Major League Soccer.

The Impact is coached by Remi Garde, the former Aston Villa boss, and has Designated Players in Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taidir. The Bleu-blanc-noir just started training camp.

Cardiff “very distressed,” “praying for positive news” regarding Sala

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Cardiff City executive director Ken Choo has released a statement on the missing flight from France to Wales which carried new signing Emiliano Sala.

Crews in Wales continue to search for the plane, which disappeared from radar late Monday night.

UPDATE: The Guernsey Police say the search and rescue operations have ceased for the night, with “the current plan to resume at sunrise” on Wednesday.

Fans have flocked to Cardiff City Stadium and Nantes town square to lay flowers in hopes of a miraculous recovery for Sala and his pilot.

From Cardiff City’s official site:

“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

“Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

“All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

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MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo has pleaded guilty to tax fraud and received a two-year suspended sentence.

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, was in court for about 45 minutes and signed an agreement which will cost him nearly 19 million euros ($21.6 million) in fines.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

Ronaldo arrived at court in a black van and was wearing a black sports coat and black pants. He walked up some stairs leading to the court house and even stopped to sign an autograph.

Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.7 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

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