Record cold and nasty on the way! So, FIFA calendar change for MLS, anyone?

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Perhaps we have our regular “Should MLS switch to FIFA calendar” debates at the wrong times. Seems like we speak of this coming transition – men on high keep saying it’s a matter of “when,”  after all – around FIFA fixture dates or around MLS All-Star game.

And plenty of those dates occur in far more pleasant weather, in times when we may sip cool beers beneath starry skies in scenes Vincent van Gogh himself could best appreciate.

But let’s poke this bear once again – because I do so love poking this calendar bear:

Anyone want to go see some MLS soccer this weekend?

This is the question that MLS officials must answer as they consider a realignment to a season that more or less follows FIFA’s annual calendar: How in the world would an MLS season work in this weather?

Have you seen what’s coming to our poor friends in the Northeast? Or the preposterously cold weather

Yes, MLS commissioner Don Garber has told us that a realignment – Major League Soccer currently kicks off in March, runs through the spring and summer and ends with MLS Cup roughly in the first week of December – would require a winter break. And, yes, we would be presumably be smack in the middle of the winter break right now.

But our land of less predictable weather can get this kind of cold, nasty unpleasantness anytime from November to early March. Remember what was going on last February?

source: APEverybody remember the MLS playoff game postponed for a day at New York’s Red Bull Arena (pictured below)? That happened in November. Or how about the unforgettable Snow Clasico, the United States vs. Costa Rica match in World Cup qualifying? That happened in March. Late March!

Bottom line here: the window of bad weather in this country stretches further than any reasonable “break” could possibly extend. Anything longer than six weeks or so is not a “break,” it’s a stinkin’ off-season!

And let’s be clear about this: the argument that “NFL goes on” or that “NHL’s Winter Classic” happens just won’t fly. Fans will bundle up to brave dangerously cold weather for special happenings (like the NHL’s greatest annual moment) or NFL playoff games. They certainly did in Kansas City for MLS Cup 2013 – and here’s to ya, heartland faithful!

But a regular season game in MLS? Too many fans will play it smart and take a pass.

The alternative is worse: it only takes a couple of postponements in the tightly packed soccer calendar to seriously screw up the entire scheduling works.

I’m not saying this thing is never going to happen: just saying MLS has a ton of work ahead to make this thing even possible.

Enrique has rare brain tumor removed, faces battle

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Former Newcastle and Liverpool defender Jose Enrique is now an agent, but the headache that came with a manager meeting had nothing to do with the conversation.

[ MORE: Lozano to Barcelona? ]

Enrique had a “brutal” headache following a meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton, his former manager, and tests revealed a rare brain tumor (Spanish language link).

Enrique underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor and now faces 35 sessions of radiotherapy, only available in two European cities.

He lost more than a dozen pounds in a single week, calling it “the toughest time of my life.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kluivert junior leaves Ajax for Roma in $21m transfer

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ROME (AP) — Roma signed Justin Kluivert, the son of former Milan and Barcelona forward Patrick, from Ajax on Friday for a fee that could rise to 18.75 million euros ($21.8 million).

The 19-year-old Dutch international forward has agreed a five-year contract with Roma.

“I’m very happy. I’m at an incredible club,” Kluivert said. “I cannot wait to start. I believe that Roma is the ideal team for my growth, which will allow me to play at the highest levels.”

Kluivert junior made 56 appearances and scored 13 goals for Ajax. He has one cap for the Netherlands.

He joins Roma for an initial 17.25 million euros ($20.1 million) and performance-related clauses could see the price rise by 1.5 million euros.

Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, interested in purchasing AC Milan

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The Ricketts family, who purchased a controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs back in 2009, have interest in further pursuing ownership in financially troubled Italian club AC Milan.

According to a family statement, “The Ricketts family brought a championship to the Chicago Cubs through long-term investment and being great stewards of the team … They would bring this same approach to AC Milan.”

First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the news of the Tom Ricketts’ interest in the team comes on the heels of news that current owner Li Yonghong had failed to meet a Friday deadline for a $37 million loan payment. According to reports, the missed payment means that Li will cede control of the club to Elliott Management, who loaned the Chinese businessman the money to complete his initial purchase of the club last April.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported the family’s interest in the club, and quoted their source as saying, “The Ricketts put together the management team, resources and training facilities [for the Cubs]. [They did] everything you need top to bottom to be successful.”

Ricketts has plenty of history in soccer ownership, having previously been a part of the group that owned English club Derby County before selling back in 2015. This May, Ricketts also announced he was leading an investment group that is looking to bring a USL expansion team to Chicago.

Forbes values AC Milan at $612 million – a massive 26% 1-year decline – and ranks them the 17th most valuable soccer club in the world. That valuation could be further on the decline, as the storied club missed out on Champions League qualification for the fifth straight year, although they qualified for their second straight Europa League appearance with 6th place finish in last year’s Serie A table, eight points behind Lazio in fifth.

AC Milan also faces heavy sanctions from UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play, although those fears could be eased with the financially-troubled Li selling the club.

The Ricketts family’s wealth comes largely from investment banking, with Tom’s father J. Joseph Ricketts having founded Ameritrade back in 1975. Tom is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, while his father has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.