MLS news roundup: Jamison Olave re-signs, LA Galaxy adds a midfielder, LeBron James talks soccer and more

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Just as New York escapes the Super Bowl frenzy and the cold from back home, trading it for sunny, overly strip-malled Florida, the club made its most significant announcement of a quiet off-season: that commanding center back Jamison Olave has extended his deal at Red Bull Arena.

Olave was easily the team’s top defender, and they apparently got creative in giving the big Colombian a salary bump over his $325,000 guaranteed in 2013.

Across the country, the LA Galaxy added some veteran midfield talent Thursday with the signing of Swedish international Stefan Ishizaki. He’s hardly a star in the making. Then again, he doesn’t have to be.

They’ve got Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez for that. In salary capped MLS, it means a lot to have a stockpile of solid, reasonably priced performers mean who know how to do their part. Effectively, he replaces Sean Franklin.

Speaking of Keane: It’s still “easy does it” as the Irishman rehabs slowly and cautiously from off-season Achilles surgery. He expects to be ready by opening day.

Sporting Kansas City announced that it has re-signed right back Chance Myers. Myers just got back from an extended January national team session under Jurgen Klinsmann. While Myers may not quite be international level, he’s probably Top Five in MLS right backs, and his aggressive, no-nonsense style fits right in at Sporting Park. So keeping him happy and motivated is a solid move by the champs.

LeBron James (pictured above) talked some soccer ahead of next week’s big announcement out of Miami. He didn’t say much. But, you know, it’s LaBron James. And he’s talking soccer. So it’s worth a mention.

Look at Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin! The man’s got a writing career in him if he gives up this soccer thing. He wrote a nice article about his initial reaction and subsequent reconsideration of Richard Sherman’s much discussed moment. It’s a good, solid piece of work.

Finally, no movement on the Marco Pappa front. Remember, Seattle is on the clock and has until Friday at 1 p.m. PT to make a call on the Guatemalan winger, who just re-signed with MLS. Richard Farley guided you carefully through the ins and outs of that one yesterday.

If Seattle passes, Toronto FC is on the clock but certainly may not have the money to take Pappa. That would leave Columbus with a decision to make. In fact, here’s the entire allocation selection order as it stands tonight, with Pappa up for ordered grabs.

  • 1          Seattle Sounders FC
  • 2          Toronto FC
  • 3          Columbus Crew
  • 4          FC Dallas
  • 5          D.C. United
  • 6          Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • 7          Chicago Fire
  • 8          San Jose Earthquakes
  • 9          Montreal Impact
  • 10        Colorado Rapids
  • 11         New England Revolution
  • 12        Chivas USA
  • 13        LA Galaxy
  • 14        New York Red Bulls
  • 15        Houston Dynamo
  • 16        Portland Timbers
  • 17        Real Salt Lake
  • 18        Sporting Kansas City
  • 19        Philadelphia Union (Edu)

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.


Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

Premier League social media
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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.

 

Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.