Sigi Schmid’s comments, and Seattle’s 2013 roster strategy

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There is no perfect roster formula in MLS, with its restrictive salary cap. Teams attempt to plot a wise course and then hope for the best.

Last year, Seattle leaned into depth. They wanted a team that could compete for multiple trophies (while also performing at top rev in a few lucrative, high-profile friendlies), and wanted the cushion for potential injuries. So they assembled a team about 20-or-so strong in genuine starting candidates.

Management made the choice for 2013 to adjust the Sounder way in player personnel, bracing the roster’s front end, desiring to put the bulk of the money in the top 14-15 roster spots.

Again, there isn’t a right or wrong way – there are just ways that work out or don’t, somewhat contingent on fate.

Well, Seattle may be fine as the league’s longest regular season yet stretches forward, but they are starting out a little stretched due to injury. That, of course, is the danger to thinning out the roster a little.

Here is the whole kit and caboodle from Seattle manager Sigi Schmid’s post-game chat last night as he talked about the surprising loss, courtesy of Seattle Times’ always-on-the-job writer Joshua Mayers. And here’s an excerpt on him talking about the player availability issue:

Leo [Gonzalez] has been playing left back for us, so [Marc] Burch being out, it wouldn’t have changed our lineup. [Pat] Ianni being injured, [Adam] Johansson being injured, Estrada being injured, Neagle not being available. Those definitely affected things in terms of our lineup and our lineup choices. This group has played together. They played together against Veracruz, as well.

“I think they know and we know we have to be better. Our quality of crossing wasn’t very good today. We hit too many people with crosses. Every time we were looking to cross the ball, it seemed we hit somebody instead of getting the ball around them or past them. Against a team like Montreal that likes to pack the middle, you have to get behind them and you gotta have quality service in behind them, and we didn’t do that often enough. Finally at the end, Sammy Ochoa slid into one, and that was one of the few balls that got behind their back two.”

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.