It’s piling on for Reign FC, who may permanently lose Megan Rapinoe to Lyon

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That cloud on the horizon – the huge, Nothing-esque presence that started to form the day Megan Rapinoe left for Lyon – has finally been blown over Starfire Sports, imposing itself on Reign FC’s season just as it seemed things couldn’t get worse.

The team’s off to a 0-6-1 start, worse in the new NWSL. They’ve lost their last three games by a combined 9-2. Amy Rodríguez is out, pregnant. Hope Solo’s four weeks away from returning to the team. And Rapinoe, the person the team’s counting on to provide some scoring punch, won’t be back from france until late June.

Now comes news that Rapinoe’s upcoming half-season stay may be her only time with Reign FC. While speaking with Sports Illustrated, the U.S. international confessed talks are ongoing about a return to Lyon. According to Grant Wahl, “she’s also leaning toward coming back to Lyon for 2013-14.”

From the piece:

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m definitely thinking about coming back and playing another season here,” she said, noting that the pay is better in Europe, especially with the exchange rate. “There’s interest from both sides, from me and Lyon. It’s worked out well mutually.”

The pay difference is huge. According to league director Cheryl Bailey, the high-paid player in the NWSL is making $30,000 for their five-plus months service. Players of Rapinoe’s stature can make six-times that, albeit over a long season.

It’s an opportunity more players should explore. If it weren’t for the allegiance most stars feel toward the league — the sense of responsibility toward creating something at home — players beyond Rapinoe and Paris Saint-Germain’s Tobin Heath (allocated to Portland) would be playing in Europe.

All this doesn’t necessarily mean Rapinoe will be completely done with Seattle after this NWSL season (as, in fairness, I hint above). Not only is her deal with Lyon not done, but even if it was, she could still conceivably return to Seattle next summer, even though you’d think Lyon would like to avoid that type of arrangement.

And who knows if Rapinoe would even want to return. It’s no secret that she wanted to be allocated to Portland, where she lives and went to school. She was effusive about the possibility of playing in her hometown before allocation game. Dispersed to Seattle, the charm of the NWSL may have worn off. If she’s not playing at home, might as well play in Lyon? Or perhaps the money and team are just too good to turn down.

Regardless, Seattle’s bad luck continues. Rodriguez is out for the year. Solo’s still recovering. Rapinoe’s coming back, but by the sound of it, it may not be for long. The club’s first months have turned into a storm Reign FC must ride out.

Rapinoe and Lyon play for a third-straight UEFA Champoins League title on Thursday, with the French champions taking on German titlists VfL Wolfsburg at Stamford Bridge.

FIFA: Insufficient evidence of doping by Russia’s World Cup squad

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says there is insufficient evidence any players in Russia’s World Cup squad have previously doped.

The governing body has been assessing information from the World Anti-Doping Agency, samples recovered from the Moscow lab, and information from its former director Grigory Rodchenkov.

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Russia last week named a provisional 28-man squad, plus seven reserves for the World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14.

After investigating the players, FIFA says “insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation. FIFA has informed the World Anti-Doping Agency of its conclusions, and WADA in turn has agreed with FIFA’s decision to close the cases.”

FIFA did not provide information on the status of investigations into players who are not in the World Cup squad.

Why Pulisic could be more likely to stay at Dortmund

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short of potential suitors this summer as he ponders his future.

Without a World Cup, Pulisic has plenty of time to recover from another full season of European football, one where he fully experienced the harsh realities of soccer at the highest level – two managers in and two managers out.

[READ: Emery set to replace Wenger at Arsenal]

With Dortmund hiring another coach, it seemed there was a chance Pulisic could decide to leave Dortmund and reunite with former manager Jurgen Klopp, or head elsewhere for a more stable situation. But Tuesday’s news that Dortmund has hired Lucien Favre may change all of that.

The 60-year-old Swiss native signed a two-year contract Tuesday, and his preferred style of play fits perfectly into how Pulisic performs best on the field.

The Bundesliga recently posted a detailed look at Favre’s tactics from his time at Nice, where he led the club to finishes of third and sixth the last two years, while re-juvinating the careers of Mario Balotelli and Younes Belhanda as well as unearthing young gems in Jean Seri and Allan Saint-Maximin.

In Favre’s 4-3-3, you could easily see Pulisic lining up on the right of the forward trident, running to the byline and dishing out assists, with Marco Reus on the left, cutting inside and firing shots home with his howitzer of a right leg. Or we could see the pair switch.

One thing that is currently missing is a dynamic No. 9, but with the whole summer transfer window ahead, Dortmund could easily re-sign Michy Batshuayi or find a new powerful center forward (Balotelli, anyone?).

In short, while Pulisic may have had a reason to leave Dortmund had another Peter Stoger-type manager been hired, Pulisic now has no reason why he can’t be a wild success at Dortmund for years to come. The 19-year-old (he’s still a teenager!) American star will have plenty of chances to bend in crosses or cut in and score goals himself, as well as the opportunity to play in the UEFA Champions League.

Kane named England captain, set to break record

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Call him captain Kane.

The FA confirmed on Tuesday that Harry Kane would captain England at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he’ll break a record for being the youngest England captain at a World Cup. At just 24-years of age, Kane appears wise beyond his years and has over the past World Cup cycle developed into arguably the best striker in the Premier League, if not one of the top center forwards in the world.

The previous youngest England captain was the late, great Bobby Moore, who was 25-years old at the 1966 World Cup – hosted of course by England.

Considering the overall youth movement within the England ranks, this comes as a smart decision from manager Gareth Southgate. Though strikers aren’t usually made captains, he leads the line by example and has displayed great leadership for Tottenham over the last two years. In addition, should he remain consistent in his club and country form, he could be an England captain for another eight years or so.

In the last two World Cups, England has gone with the veteran hand for captain, with Steven Gerrard wearing the armband for both. But England was knocked out in the Round of 16 in 2010 and didn’t make it out of the group stage in 2014, which, combined with the shocking defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016, necessitated a change in management and culture.

Arsenal, Puma drop new kit for upcoming season

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Arsenal will have a new home kit next year, but there’s a bit of a twist compared to the old reliable we know and love.

Puma and Arsenal released the club’s 2018-2019 home kit on Tuesday morning, featuring a red and white top with a “pulse” design through the center, which displays different shades of red to symbolize the heartbeat of the club, and lighter red on the white sleeves. White shorts and socks will accompany the home outfit.

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Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang all modeled the new kit, giving a hint that the quartet could be in Arsenal colors next season.

The uniform also uses Puma’s “seamless evoKNIT” technology, making it easier for players to play in while running across the pitch. The club has picked the marketing campaign “#WeAreTheArsenal” to drive sales.

Will the new kits bring Arsenal more success next season? Time will tell.