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)

CCL wrap: Atlanta United, Cruz Azul advance

CONCACAF Champions League
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The underdogs did not have their days on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League.

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MLS side Atlanta United and Liga MX mainstays Cruz Azul cruised to second legs win at home to clinch places in the quarterfinals.

Cruz Azul 4-0 (6-1 agg.) Portmore United

Bringing a pair of away goals from Jamaica, the Liga MX hosts just needed to put this one on ice early.

Orbelin Pineda did that in the 22nd minute, and Cruz Azul struck thrice in the second half to win in a landslide.

Atlanta United 3-0 (4-1 agg.) Montagua

It was all about the Martinezes in Georgia, as Pity sandwiched a pair of goals around Josef’s 61st minute tally to send the Five Stripes into the next stage.

All the goals showed calm under pressure, but Pity’s first was gorgeous football. He also assisted Josef’s goal in Honduras during the first leg.

Remaining Round of 16 second legs

NYCFC v. San Carlos (5-3) — 6 p.m. Wednesday
Montreal Impact v. Deportivo Saprissa (2-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tigres UANL v. Alianza (1-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Club America v. Comunicaciones (1-1) — 10 p.m. Wednesday
Seattle Sounders v. Olimpia (2-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday
LAFC v Leon (0-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

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MILAN (AP) The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

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“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.

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

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

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The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

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So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…