Whitecaps stay in-house for new head coach, tabbing Carl Robinson

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There’s a Welshman running the Whitecaps.

Carl Robinson has been named the new head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps, taking over for the fired Martin Rennie. Having retired from his playing career in 2011, Robinson had been an assistant coach for Vancouver since 2012.

“This is a very proud moment for me to sit here today,” Robinson said during a Monday afternoon press conference. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”

Robinson was emotional at times during the press conference. He called himself “soft” as he mentioned his late father “watching” from above.

“He’ll have the support of the front office,” said club president Bob Lenarduzzi. “He’s established great relationships with them as well. This has been evidenced by the amount of feedback we’ve received.”

It was a five-week interview process, and Lenarduzzi admitted that the team spent a weekend with Bob Bradley before the former USMNT head coach turned down the opportunity to guide the club. Bradley’s openness to the opportunity caught the interview process off-guard, happening after they had spoken with their remaining pool of candidates.

“When we started the coach search, we interviewed a select group,” Lenarduzzi said. “We were happy with the quality of that group. Bob Bradley became available as a result of Egypt not qualifying for the World Cup. We contacted his agent to see if there was interest in Vancouver or MLS, expecting the answer to be, ‘No.'”

Robinson spent most of his playing career in England and the United States, where he manned the midfield for Sunderland, Norwich City, Toronto FC and Wolverhampton before finishing his career with a 12-game stint for the New York Red Bulls. He was capped 52 times for Wales.

He said he wants to play an attacking style with “good footballers” and while his job is one of evaluation, his objective is the playoffs. Robinson called them a “must” for their club on an annual basis, as well as the Canadian Cup.

Robinson said the status of captain Jay Demerit is one of his top priorities.

Vancouver was the only team to miss the MLS playoffs despite having a positive goal differential (+8).  They were one of only six teams to score more than 50 goals, but also were in the bottom half in goals allowed.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

Ronaldo’s early tally gives Portugal win over Morocco

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It was far from a convincing performance, but manager Fernando Santos and Co. came away with their first win at the World Cup and now sit in the drivers’ seat in Group B.

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Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early header proved to be the difference.

Santos’ group now sits atop Group B with four points, while Morocco is eliminated after losing its first two matches.

It took just four minutes for Portugal to break the deadlock, with Ronaldo once again at the center of the Portuguese attack.

The Real Madrid man brilliantly latched onto a header at the near post off of a corner kick, giving Ronaldo his fourth goal at this World Cup (seventh goal overall).

Morocco did well to insert its presence in the match following the early goal, but various chances from Medhi Benatia and Hakim Ziyech weren’t enough to break past Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

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The African side also had a legitimate appeal for a penalty kick in the first stanza, however, referee Mark Geiger opted to play on despite the Moroccan protest.

Morocco continued its pressure in the second half, and Patricio was forced to make an incredible save in the 57th minute when Younes Belhanda headed a cross towards the far corner.

Portugal will close out Group B play on June 25 against Iran, while Morocco takes on Spain

Arena says there’s no reason for Pulisic to leave Dortmund

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Christian Pulisic has been the subject of transfer talks for some time now after becoming an instant star at Borussia Dortmund, but one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s former coaches says it might be wise for him to stay put; at least for now.

MORE: Ronaldo scores fourth goal in World Cup ]

Former USMNT boss Bruce Arena spoke about Pulisic, who has had rumors of moves to Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United surrounding him recently.

Arena cited consistent playing time as the main reason why Pulisic may want to consider holding off on a transfer for now.

“I think Christian is in a great place. Dortmund has a very good reputation for developing players.

“In his couple years there with the first team, he’s done very well. Hopefully, he can continue to do that, be consistent at the club level, and if he does that, he’s going to be a real plus for the national team program.

“Any move Christian makes in the future, it’s important he goes to a club where he plays on a regular basis. There’s no point in him leaving Dortmund and going to a club where he doesn’t get the kind of minutes he needs to continue to develop.”

Pulisic has spent three seasons at Dortmund, scoring 12 goals in all competitions during that span.

Video: Ronaldo scores fourth goal, gives Portugal early lead

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He has four goals in less than two matches, and Portugal is off to another flying start courtesy of their star forward.

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese a 1-0 lead against Morocco in the fourth minute after brilliantly heading home a corner kick.

The Real Madrid star gave Portugal a similar spark at the beginning of their 3-3 draw against Spain in their first Group B match when Ronaldo drew, and scored a penalty kick inside of the opening three minutes.

Is there anything this man cannot do?