MLS Re-Entry Draft: D.C. United add Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell at the back

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The only team to make two picks in the first phase of Major League Soccer’s Re-Entry Draft, D.C. United double-dipped to help a defense that allowed the league’s second-most goals. With the day’s first pick, the U.S. Open Cup champions took Sean Franklin from the LA Galaxy, and once their second pick came around, the Black and Red brought back one their down, tabbing now-former Houston Dynamo Bobby Boswell for a return to RFK Stadium.

Franklin was one of the most notable names on the Re-Entry Draft’s list, the 28-year-old’s $248,333 salary ($225,000 against the cap) making him expendable on a team that can move A.J. DeLaGarza to right back. Also able to play in midfield, Franklin looks like the likely starter to Boswell’s right, allowing Chris Korb to return to left back. For the first time in his MLS career, Franklin will be playing with someone other than the Galaxy, a team with whom he won two MLS Cups.

[MORE:  MLS Re-Entry Draft: As predicted, Portland find a way to get Steve Zakuani]

Boswell started his career in D.C., where he was Defender of the Year and Best XI selection in 2006. The three-time U.S. international moved to Houston in 2008, eventually making 177 regular season appearances for the Dynamo. In 2011 and 2012, Boswell anchored defenses that helped Dom Kinnears’ sides to MLS Cup finals.

Together, the duo made$445,000 against the cap last season, prompting us to ask: What is D.C. getting for their money? With Franklin, they may not be getting the type of player who will challenge for All-Star (and national team) spots again, but they’ve picked up a consistent presence at right back – somebody who can fill the void created when D.C. sold Andy Najar. Franklin’s not the same kind of player, but he is somebody who can contribute in both facets of the game, something that will give his new, attack-starved team more options.

Boswell’s impact wil depend on which version D.C.’s acquired. If they get the player who was a standout in 2012, key to a defense en rout to a second straight appearance at MLS Cup, United will has addressed one of the team’s greatest lingering concerns. If, however, 2013 was a hint of what’s to come for the 30-year-old, Boswell’s return to D.C. will prove two years too late, his name adding to a growing list of solutions which really aren’t.

With only three wins last year, there’s lots of room for improvement in D.C., but for a team that only scored 22 goals in the regular season, it was interesting to see United go defense, defense. While there are number of other holes throughout Ben Olsen’s team, defense is often a place you can coach your way into solutions once you hit a talent threshold.

Today, D.C. United’s thrown at least $445,000 of their cap room at the problem. Whether the money would have been better used in attack will depend on what else happens this offseason.

Here are the full, first stage results of the Re-Entry Draft:

Round One
1. D.C. United – Sean Franklin, RB, LA Galaxy
2. Portland Timbers (from Chivas USA) – Steve Zakuani, LW, Seattle
6. Philadelphia Union – Corben Bone, M, Chicago
13. Colorado Rapids – Marc Burch, D/M, Seattle
Round Two
20. D.C. United – Bobby Boswell, D, Houston Dynamo

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.


Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.


Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?


Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).


Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.