Sounders loss not only surprising, but awfully timed

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No one likes to lose their home opener – most especially not the club that keeps obliterating attendance records.

But the Montreal Impact did the smash-and-grab thing last night to Seattle, downing the Sounders before 38,000-plus at Century Link Field.

Here’s why the Sounders throwing down a clunker will particularly resonate:

  • It added misery to what was already a bit of a bummer day in the Sound; just hours before the kickoff, the club announced that it had bought out Christian Tiffert’s contract. The move was no stunner; the club is attempting to make room for Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins. They needed the cap space, the Designated Player slot and have ample midfield depth to cushion the blow. Still, no one relished seeing the German midfielder go.
  • The loss, a shutout at home, adds pressure on the club’s ability to finalize the Martins deal. Sounds from all accounts like it will happen, but nothing is done until it’s done.
  • Montreal is a team the Sounders should beat, especially at home. The Impact was great at home last year, especially for an expansion outfit, but just 2-12-3 away from Montreal. Plus, if there was a time that coach Marco Schallibaum and his men are vulnerable, it should be now, before the Swiss manager (an MLS newbie) gets more familiar with his team and the league.
  • Finally, the Sounders have to get right quickly. Over the next 10 days they will decide their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against one of Mexico’s best of the moment, Tigres. First game in the home-and-away set is Wednesday in Monterrey.

Here is the goal that undid the Sounders, from Montreal captain and longtime MLS man Davy Arnaud:

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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.