Sigi Schmid to remain as Seattle head coach

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They teetered on the brink of pushing the panic button, but the Seattle Sounders decided to stick with their man.

“After a thorough evaluation, there is no question that Sigi Schmid is the right man to lead our club,” said Sounders owner Joe Roth.

Obviously if it required a “thorough evaluation” there was a question whether he was the right man, but point taken.

“While we are not happy with the way we finished, Sigi’s resume and accomplishments speak for themselves. We have been to the playoffs five straight years, one of just three teams to have done that. Once you make the tournament you give yourself a chance to win the MLS Cup. Sigi has won two MLS Cups and it won’t be long before he does it here in Seattle.”

It’s a resounding statement from the club, and while Roth may be contradicting himself a few times in the quotes above, Schmid will have another go.  From the sounds of it, he’s on a short leash.

The move is the right one though.  How many times in the sports history book have we seen teams make knee-jerk reactions to losing in the playoffs earlier than expected to hated rivals?

Firing Schmid would only serve to hand an experienced, quality manager to another club.

However, there is no arguing that the Sounders must do better.  The club flamed out in the stretch run, winless in nine of their last 10 and no good enough for Portland in the Western Conference semifinals.

The talented roster put together at CenturyLink Field should no question do better.  There are definitely signs to point to looking back as possible contributors to the late-season demise, but ultimately performance is needed.

With rumors of offseason movement in Seattle already flying, it’s clear the club is going to do everything in its power to challenge next season, which is all supporters can ask for.  After that, it’s Schmid’s contractual duty to squeeze the best of what he’s given.

For the 2-time MLS coach of the year, he’s got another shot.  One more shot, one more opportunity, to seize everything Seattle fans ever wanted.  It’s MLS Cup or bust for Sigi Schmid.  He remains the only coach in their history for at least the start of next year, with a lot to go in between.

LIVE, Man City-Real Madrid, Juventus-Lyon: How to watch, team news, updates

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Manchester City – Real Madrid should be an absolute classic in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg on Friday (start time, 3pm ET) at the Etihad Stadium, while Juventus – Lyon should be a beauty too as the Italian giants must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in France.

Both games are locked at 1-1 at half time and set up for classic second halves.

Pep Guardiola and Man City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid back in late February before the coronavirus pandemic paused play, as Kevin de Bruyne put in a masterful display in the Santiago Bernabeu to give City the edge. Since then Man City have had their Champions League ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Real have won La Liga as Zinedine Zidane’s side were in imperious form after the restart.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

With midfield and attacking stars set to dazzle on both teams, this is not a game you want to miss as the quarterfinal stage onwards will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. Man City are favorites to win the Champions League, their holy grail, but the most successful team in the history of the competition stands in their way.

Check out the latest Manchester City – Real Madrid team news, betting odds, how to watch and stream, score prediction and more below, as live updates on both games will be available by clicking on the link above.


Team news

Man City are without the injured Sergio Aguero and the suspended Benjamin Mendy is suspended, as Fernandinho starts at center back with Phil Foden starting ahead of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and David Silva.

 

Real Madrid are without Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez who are in Madrid, while captain and legendary center back Sergio Ramos is suspended from the first leg and is replaced at center back by Militao.


What they’re saying

Man City midfielder Rodri is full of confidence ahead of facing Real: “I am really confident. They are a great team and they can beat you, because they are Real Madrid, but we have to show them we are a better team. We showed them at their home, but we need to be ready because you never know what is going to happen. We have to be focused. They are the greatest team in La Liga and they have shown that this year. We need to do our best to get to the next round.”

Raphael Varane on Real’s big-game experience being key: “We’re aware of the excellent work we’ve done over the past few years. It doesn’t happen often. We try to remember those days to keep working hard and try to take something out of that experience. We know that little things can make a difference in games like this. We’ve got a lot of experience in these big matches, so we can feel confident. We’re just as determined as before. Our goal is to win, and that’s partly due to the DNA of this club. We always want to put the past aside, move on and win.”


Odds and ends (full Champions League odds)

The bookies believe hosts Manchester City (-139) are the favorites but beware of a Real Madrid side (+320) with nothing to lose and everything to gain, especially with Hazard, Benzema and Rodrygo looking so good in recent weeks. The tie at +340 looks like the best bet here.


Prediction

This is a really tough one to call. Man City were superb after the restart in the Premier League but lost to Southampton and Chelsea, plus lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. Defensive issues remain the key problem for Guardiola and Real’s star attacking lineup could expose that weakness. Real Madrid have been better defensively and ground out wins galore on their way to winning La Liga, but Zidane’s boys have to go for this and that will leave plenty of gaps at the back, especially without Ramos. I’m going to go for a 2-2 draw which will just see Man City squeeze through.


How to watch, stream Manchester City – Real Madrid

Date: August 7
Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester – Round of 16 second leg (Man City lead 2-1 from first leg)
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Chelsea reveal Pulisic injury update

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The latest Christian Pulisic injury news has arrived and it is not as bad as it could have been, but not great either.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the FA Cup final last Saturday, Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but injured his right hamstring and was in agony before he took a shot.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich on Saturday (they trail 3-0 from the first leg), Lampard confirmed that the latest Pulisic news is that he’s expected to be out for six weeks with his hamstring injury.

“We will get him fit and ready, if he misses the first one or two games, then we can wait for a firing Christian like he was from restart,” Lampard told reporters.

The latest Pulisic injury news means he will likely miss the whole of preseason and the opening few weeks of the 2020-21 Premier League season, as the new season kicks off on Sept. 12 due to the quick turnaround and the delays following the coronavirus pandemic.

When Pulisic came off injured against Arsenal, Chelsea missed him badly as they ended up losing the FA Cup final and the USMNT star being injured was a big reason for that defeat.

Right now Christian Pulisic is the first name on the team sheet for Chelsea and he was named as one of the nominees for the Premier League young player of the season during his debut campaign in England, plus he was one of the best players in the league since the restart.

It is good to hear Lampard said he will not rush Pulisic back, as it was clear for all to see how much more impactful and dynamic he was after having a few months rest. Before joining Chelsea he had played for many years straight as he played for the USMNT during the summers and with Borussia Dortmund.

Chelsea need Pulisic to be fit and firing if they’re going to improve on their fourth-place Premier League finish this season.

Fulham’s U.S. owner reveals plan for Premier League return

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Fulham are back in the Premier League and their US owner, Shahid Khan, has discussed his plan for the Cottagers being back in the big-time.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Due to travel restrictions American billionaire Khan, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL, wasn’t present in the UK for Fulham’s 2-1 Championship playoff final win against Brentford earlier this week.

However, he released an open letter on Fulham’s website outlining his delight, as well as the plan for transfers and how the west London club will look for the 2020-21 season.

“Be assured that we will be a team, in its truest sense, moving forward,” Khan said. “We will be unafraid to improve and add pieces to our lineup, but not at the expense of the spirit and soul of a squad that bled, battled and sacrificed to return Fulham to the Premier League. Building a squad can be a tricky proposition for a newly promoted club, and that is especially true this year with the start of the season already nearly upon us. Turnover in football is inevitable. But, this club has Premier League experience and our players, as well as our young and promising head coach, love Fulham Football Club. There is a lot to like in this team today, and just as much to like in our future.”

That seems like Khan will not be sanctioning big-money transfers like he did two summers ago when Fulham were promoted to the Premier League. His son, Tony, oversaw a huge squad overhaul as the Cottagers reportedly spent close to $150 million on new players.

Fulham brought in 15 new players (nine permanently and six on loan) ahead of the 2018-19 season and gutted their promotion-winning team. They were relegated after having three managers in charge during the campaign, as Scott Parker became the caretaker head coach for the final few months and then took over permanently and led them to promotion straight back to the Premier League in his first full season as a manager.

It’s safe to say Fulham will do things a little differently this time around and add a few key players here and there, while try make the loan deals for Harrison Reed and maybe Harry Arter permanent ones. The main area they need to strengthen is in defense and if they can do that, they will be much better equipped to take on the Premier League than they were in 2018-19.

As for possible funds to spend this time around: Remember, Craven Cottage is currently being renovated and it will be spectacular when finished, but given the money spent to do that and the financial uncertainty around the game right now, very few clubs will be splashing huge sums of cash this summer. Fulham are better off adding extra quality where they can to a stable, committed squad of players, instead of wholesale changes.

Given the shorter turnaround time between winning promotion and kicking off in the Premier League, staying in the top-flight will be even tougher than last time. But ahead of the 2018-19 season you had a ‘this big spending could go one of two ways’ feeling about Fulham. Now, it is more predictable. They will likely be competitive and it is easy to see them staying up, although a top 10 push would probably be out of the question.

It will be fun to see if Fulham have learned from their last spell in the Premier League and this message from their owner seems like they have.

Transfer news: Arsenal agree Auba, Willian contracts; Soyuncu to Barcelona

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The latest Arsenal transfer news and rumors: the Gunners have reportedly agreed to contract terms with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and free agent-to-be Willian.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are in hot pursuit of Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu; Liverpool have a hurdle to clear in their pursuit of Thiago Alcantara; and Edinson Cavani could be headed to a few different continents…

[ MORE: League One, League Two clubs vote to introduce salary cap ]

Arsenal agree contract terms with Aubameyang, Willian

According to multiple reports out of the UK, Arsenal are set to retain star striker Aubameyang by way of a new three-year contract which would keep him at the club until the summer of 2023. The new pact will reportedly pay the Gabonese international more than $325,000 per week.

In slightly less expensive Arsenal transfer news, Willian has reportedly accepted a three-year contract offer of $130,000 per week. The Brazilian, who will turn 32 on Sunday, will likely be announced as an incoming Arsenal player upon Chelsea’s exit from the Champions League.

Barcelona to bid for Soyuncu

A report out of Turkey claims that star Leicester defender Soyuncu will be the subject of a $47-million bid from Barcelona. The 24-year-old has been nothing short of a star for the Foxes in his two seasons at the club, but that means clubs around the Premier League and Europe will have certainly taken notice.

[ MORE: Report: Lille agree record fee for Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Thiago pursuing Liverpool?

Thiago is said to be desperate for a move to Liverpool this summer, but the Reds will have to sell at least one player to raise the funds to sign the 29-year-old Spanish midfielder, provided the interest is mutual. The squad is full of sellable assets, no doubt about that, but ones that Jurgen Klopp is willing to let go as he prepares to defend the PL title? That could be a different story.

Cavani has offers all over the world

Free agent Cavani has reportedly already received contract offers from PL-bound Leeds United, MLS side Inter Miami and Portugal’s Benfica. Now, you can add Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro to the 33-year-old Uruguayan’s list of suitors.