Dutch fitness expert blasts Wenger and Moyes coaching techniques

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Raymond Verheijen, author of The Complete Handbook of Conditioning for Soccer and former assistant manager of Wales, is on a tirade.

The Dutch fitness expert (pictured, right) is known for being openly critical of English managerial techniques on and off the pitch, and he’s at it again.

Yesterday, Verheijen described Arsenal’s handling of Theo Walcott as “Russian Roulette” and told Goal.com that his injury was a disaster waiting to happen.

Walcott, who tore his ACL on January 4th, had returned from a two-month injury layoff in the end of November thanks to an abdomen issue.  He returned during a time of serious fixture congestion for the Gunners, playing the full 90 in five straight matches over an 18-day span.  This, Verheijen believes, is what led to Walcott’s knee injury.

“Walcott’s injury is not bad luck, it is the logical consequence of the approach at Arsenal,” said VerheijenThey made a big gamble. It is Russian roulette with a player’s career.

“Walcott went from nothing to everything. If you haven’t played for a while you are not totally fit. Then, when you play a game when you are not top fit you will need more recovery time than normal. A top-fit player recovers from the game after 48 hours. But a player who is not top fit takes 72 hours to recover. So a less fit player is more susceptible to injury. So, in December when you are playing all these games while needing more recovery time than the average player it is common sense that you are accumulating fatigue.”

According to Verheijen, because of the fatigue that the 24-year-old built up during this conjested, his knee’s normal response to trauma was slow to react, thus late with its usual protection of the fragile ligaments.

However, the coach failed to mention that after Walcott’s abdomen injury, he made five substitute appearances for the Gunners before actually playing a full 90 minutes, accumulating just 73 minutes over the course of those five appearances.

The Dutchman went on to single out Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for his lack of adaptation to the uptick in tempo that has swept across the sport.  “What Arsene Wenger did 15 years ago was revolutionary for the UK,” Verheijen said. “But he kept doing what he was doing for 15 years so, basically, he stood still.”

In order to avoid reinjury after returning to the pitch, Verheijen says Walcott must not just concentrate on his knee during rehabilitation. “Theo Walcott has to rehabilitate his career, not only his ACL.”

It isn’t just Arsenal the 42-year-old Dutchman is concerned about though.  In a scathing Twitter rant yesterday, Verheijen blasted David Moyes and his young Manchester United career.

He called David Moyes a “nobody,” called his backroom staff “clueless,” labeled his training techniques as “prehistoric,” and tabbed his tactical knowledge as “superficial.” The 42-year-old said no matter who United sign, “these new players will either get injured or play in the wrong position with this manager.”

It’s not the first time Verheijen has said such negative things about Moyes.  When Robin van Persie first began to struggle with fitness at the end of last calendar year, the Dutchman called Moyes “prehistoric” and was highly critical of the way Moyes handled the Dutch striker’s training.

This man may know his stuff, but he sure didn’t hold back when talking about some very big names in the world of soccer.

It’s also not the first time Verheijen has ruffled feathers above him. During his time at Wales, after the death of manager Gary Speed in December 2011, the Dutchman threw his name in the hat for the open job, tweeting that he would like to “lead the team to Brazil.”  It didn’t go down well with some current and former players.

He resigned from his position at Wales just weeks later in February of 2012, less than a week before Speed’s honorary match with Costa Rica.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

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

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.

Uruguay tops Russia & Group A with perfect record

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The host nation looked strong in its opening two matches, but they ran into a far superior side on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Uruguay finished atop Group A with a 3-0 win over Russia in Samara, behind goals from Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and an own goal from Russia’s Denis Cheryshev.

With the victory, the South Americans win Group A with nine points, while Russia finishes runners’ up with six points.

Suarez gave the Uruguayans the lead after just 10 minutes, when the Barcelona man struck via a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.

The goal for Suarez is his second of the World Cup, which leads Uruguay.

The lead was quickly doubled in the 23rd minute, when Diego Laxalt unleashed a shot from distance that took a wicked deflection and went beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Laxalt’s effort hit Russia attacker Denis Cheryshev before gliding towards the near post for the own goal.

The fortunes for Russia just got worse as the first half wore on, and the hosts were reduced to 10 men just beyond the hour mark when Igor Smolnikov was sent off after picking up his second yellow card.

Meanwhile, it had been a disappointing start to the World Cup for Edinson Cavani, but the PSG man finally got a goal for his country in the late stages of the match to extend the lead to 3-0.

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

Uruguay will face the runner up in Group B, while Russia will await the Group B winner in the Round of 16.

El Tri star Lozano staying focusing amid Barcelona rumors

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Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was a player everyone needed to pay attention to heading into the 2018 World Cup, and through two matches, the El Tri star has been every bit the price of admission for his country.

[ MORE: Group scenarios heading into the final group stage matches ]

Mexico sits atop Group F with six points at the moment, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to Lozano’s endless motor and creative attacking vision when he finds space down the wing.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker has been linked with various big clubs, including La Liga giants Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted Lozano’s pursuit of guiding Mexico to an unprecedented run at the World Cup.

“The important thing is to focus on the next [Mexico] game, do as well as possible and go step by step,” Lozano said.

Despite winning their first two games, El Tri needs at least a point in its final Group F match to ensure qualification without any complications.

Mexico will take on Sweden on Wednesday, as Juan Carlos Osorio’s side aims to remain perfect in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Guardado — who has been a mainstay of the Mexican national team for years — only confirmed the work ethic of his teammate and hopes that a dream move becomes a reality for Lozano in the near future.

“It makes me very proud to say he is a kid that is very centered, despite everything he is going through,” said Guardado after Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea. “He is conscious that he has to continue like he’s not achieved anything.”

“He’s the same kid I met the first time he came with us,” continued Guardado. “Hopefully he stays like that and the rumors about a possible transfer to a big team become reality. It would be marvelous, he’s a great teammate.”