Vancouver sends Nigel Reo-Coker to Chivas USA for Mauro Rosales

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Because Vancouver needed more attackers, right? The team is embarrassingly deep, with the likes of Darren Mattocks, Erik Hurtado, Sebastian Fernández, and Kekuta Manneh benefitting from the playmaking of Pedro Morales. Add in talents like Russell Teibert, Omar Salgado, and Nicolas Mezquida in reserve, and the Whitecaps may not need any more firepower, even if that firepower is Mauro Rosales.

Then again, Vancouver didn’t need Nigel Reo-Coker anymore, either, which is why the opportunity to swap the former Premier League destroyer for one of the league’s most creative wide players may have been too enticing to refused. The Whitecaps may not have a need for Rosales, but from their point of view, the swap’s like giving up nothing for something.

That something is a 33-year-old right winger who had eight assists in 21 appearances for Chivas, who became the newest Whitecaps with the announcement of this afternoon’s trade. In 107 career MLS appearance, the Argentine midfielder has scored 12 goals and set up 42 others – the second-most assists in the league during that time.

Hard-working, experienced, and capable of delivering some of the league’s best crosses, Rosales could pile into that assist total while playing beside Mattocks and Morales. He could also find a talented team difficult to break into.

“If you look at Mauro’s history, he’s constantly creating goals,” head coach Carl Robinson said, via a statement released by the club. “He’s experienced, bright, and has a super football brain. His delivery on crosses is fantastic, and I know he’s a good guy. That’s important in this locker room.”

That presence will be particularly important as playing time gets sorted out. Robinson may see Rosales as somebody who can slot into the starting XI, bumping one of Mattocks, Hurtado, or Fernández to the bench. He may also view him as a complementary piece, one whose ankles need to be monitored on BC Place’s turf.

That’s a significant problem with this trade. During his three seasons in Seattle, Rosales would become worn down by the end of the campaign, with life on CenturyLink’s turf forcing the veteran to don some of the more heavily-taped ankles in Major League Soccer. Come the postseason, Rosales’s health seemed to be a constant issue, something that limited his value to the club.

Given what Vancouver had to give up, however, that fit is worth the risk. Though Rosales takes up the team’s final Designated Player spot, he does so at the expense of only Reo-Coker, a touted import who has had trouble wrestling a spot in midfield away from Matías Laba and Gershon Koffie. At times pressed into service in defense, the 30-year-old Reo-Coker made eight starts this season, albeit only one since June 28.

With Teibert capable of playing a deeper role and Mehdi Ballouchy providing depth, Vancouver has four  other players capable of manning their double pivot. Reo-Coker was expendable. While it’s unclear how much of an impact Rosales will have with the Whitecaps, the dice roll alone makes him more valuable than Reo-Coker.

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

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“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

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Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

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In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

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Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.