Eden Hazard advises Kevin De Bruyne to leave Chelsea

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Chelsea winger Eden Hazard claims fellow countryman Kevin De Bruyne should leave Stamford Bridge so he can play more in the build-up to the World Cup.

“For sure, playing at a World Cup without having been in action for a year, I think that’s very difficult,” Hazard said on Belgian TV.

“I think for [De Bruyne] that leaving and playing, that would be good,” Hazard continued. “If we want to get the best out of Kevin, I think that it’s best if he leaves.”

Bold call by Hazard here. If he and De Bruyne played for different clubs the quote would simply feel like a slap on the behind. A call for motivation. Encouragement.

But the fact that both men play at Chelsea makes one wonder what the heck Hazard was thinking when he uttered these words.

First, it’s a cardinal sin to pass judgment on a club teammate’s future. There’s never a good reason to do it, even if the player also happens to be your international teammate. A player’s future will be decided by one man, the manager. By hypothesizing that De Bruyne won’t be a factor in the second half of the Premier League season, Hazard assumes he knows Jose Mourinho’s plans. And if there’s one thing about Mourinho, no one has a clue what he’ll do next.

Second, Hazard, of all people, needs to avoid Mourinho’s wrath. Two weeks ago the winger lost his passport while on a trip to former club Lille and was forced to miss training. Mourinho did not take kindly to the negligence and benched the playmaker for the 3-0 Champions League win over Schalke. If that was Mou’s reaction to an honest mistake, how will he react when Hazard voices his opinion on personnel decisions?

Third, these quotes can’t bode well for De Bruyne’s ego. Nothing quite like a teammate telling public television that you’re not good enough and should leave. Granted, it came from a good place in Hazard’s heart but what a backhanded compliment.

Fourth, even assuming it’s kosher to talk about the future of your teammates, which it clearly isn’t, it’s never a good idea to trash a player who plays the same position. Hazard and De Bruyne are both attacking midfielders. And while the former prefers the left and the later the right, neither would have a problem playing as an inverted winger on the opposite flank. For Hazard to come out and say De Bruyne should leave is essentially the same as Hazard saying that he’s better than De Bruyne. And while most would agree that’s true, nothing good comes from putting that on the record.

Again, there’s a 99.9% chance that Hazard’s words came from a good place. De Bruyne has already admitted he would be open to the idea of going out on loan and Hazard clearly he wants his friend and countryman to be in prime condition for the World Cup. We get it.

But beyond providing your support for the player’s situation, there’s not much else to say. Because doing risks so much, like here where Hazard impliedly threatens the decision-making of Mourinho while simultaneously kicking De Bruyne in the junk. Simply unnecessary.

Mute button. Eden Hazard. Now.

Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

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Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

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England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

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KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.