ProSoccerTalk’s preseason picks for: Rookie of the Year

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ProSoccerTalk’s Noah Davis says …

Walker Zimmerman

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Walker Zimmerman takes home the award. The biggest reason is the Draft Day slight that saw him fall from a potential No. 1 pick to No. 7. Professional athletes need motivation during the dog days of summer and the times when they don’t fell like picking up another weight or running another sprint and there are few motivating factors better than plummeting on draft day.

I’m already on record saying Zimmerman will have the best career of the 2013 SuperDraft class, and I think he’ll start in 2013. The big question, of course, is playing time with Matt Hedges, George John, and Ugo (though still injured) presumably ahead of him on the FC Dallas center back depth chart. But if Zimmerman can find the field, and I think he will, he’ll be the second-straight center back to take home the hardware.

ProSoccerTalk’s Richard Farley says … Andrew Farrell

Like possession to the law, playing time is becoming nine-tenths of this award. That, along with his talent, is why I’m going with New England’s Farrell, though I’ll admit this is as much process of elimination as my affinity for his skills. There aren’t a lot of new faces that project to get as much playing time as Farrell (pictured, above). I suppose I could get creative and project an unexpected breakout, but Farrell’s a talented guy that will likely play from day one. His positional versatility doesn’t hurt.

I’ll take the easy choice and hope it’s the right one.

(MORE: full roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

ProSoccerTalk’s Steve Davis says … Andrew Farrell

It’s so hard to watch Andrew Farrell and not be impressed. As I’ve said before, he just looks like a guy who has been policing an MLS back line for years. The guy’s composure on the ball and the ability to start the attack from the back looks nothing like a fellow fresh out of college, one about to land his first professional minutes.

I will say that Revolution manager Jay Heaps can help by getting Farrell comfortable in one position, whether that’s right back, center back or holding midfielder. If I’m guessing, he’ll wind up at center back. I’m telling you, the guy looks like a center back – and a classy one. He’ll get playing time, and I’m betting he’ll get the award.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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