Gonzalez, Keane, Marshall out, Boswell, Edu, Franklin in for MLS All-Stars

1 Comment

Major League Soccer’s squad for Wednesday’s All-Star Game underwent a minor makeover on Saturday, with the withdrawal of three players forcing Caleb Porter to call in reinforcements. In place of Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane, and Chad Marshall, the Portland head coach, who will lead MLS’s stars against Bayern Munich this week, has called on Bobby Boswell, Maurice Edu, and Sean Franklin.

Though Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan is still scheduled to take part in Wednesday’s game, Gonzalez and Keane have been excluded, with Los Angeles scheduled to host the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday. Marshall, who missed Monday’s game against LA after a car accident, has also been withdrawn from the squad.

“Given the limited minutes that Omar and Robbie would need to play due to having a game on Friday and the injury to Chad, I felt we needed to bring in Sean, Bobby and Maurice to provide us with more cover in the back,” Porter said in a statement released by Major League Soccer. “This will also allow us to manage the other players’ time so everyone is ready for their matches on the weekend.”

In their first years with United, Boswell and Franklin have solidified a defense that’s helped D.C. to second in the Eastern Conference. Edu, in his first year back in MLS, has split time between defensive midfield and center back with the Philadelphia Union.

The Marshall injury couldn’t be helped, but with Gonzalez and Keane excluded because of scheduling, it’s worth asking if there were alternatives. Could MLS had done a better job of scheduling the All-Star Game? In a World Cup year, probably not. The league already pushed back the mid-season event because of Brazil 2014. With European seasons quickly approaching, this date was one of the last opportunities to play the game.

The better question is whether Porter’s replacements are the best available, but at this point, I don’t have much patience for the discussion. Boswell wasn’t the best center back missing from the roster, but who knows if players like Drew Moor, Chris Schuler, and Giancarlo Gonzalez made plans after being excluded from the initial squad. Franklin’s had a good year, but picking a left back (Justin Morrow) would have been nice. And whether Edu is being brought in as a midfielder or defender, he’s a justifiable choice, even if you don’t think he’s ideal.

I would have been fine if they named Frank Lampard. Or tried to get David Villa or Kaká to make an appearance. It’s an exhibition, it’s a showcase, and after the initial roster is named (and the non-dressed All-Stars are picked), might as well play to the spectacle.

At this point, though, bring on the game. Need to fill some spots? Let’s see who can show up. Sure, try to be fair about it, but hell, Michael Farfan was an All-Star two years ago. Boswell, Edu, and Franklin are certainly worthwhile picks, given the circumstances.

Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.