Van Gaal: Welbeck did not meet Manchester United’s standards

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The sale of striker Danny Welbeck to Arsenal raised eyebrows of a few Manchester United legends (most notably, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville), but according to the Red Devils’ manager, the decision to sell a player who’d been part of the club since he was nine years old came down to something obvious: Welbeck’s not as good as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, or Radamel Falcao.

That was Louis van Gaal’s explanation when he spoke to the media on Thursday, saying both Welbeck and Real Madrid loanee Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez had their chance to win a place in the squad. Ultimately, neither could meet the standards of a loaded United attack.

From The Guardian:

“I have given all the players a chance to convince me of their qualities,” Van Gaal said. “Yes, Danny Welbeck was here from when he was nine. He has played, after [his 2010-11 loan at] Sunderland, three seasons at Manchester United but he doesn’t have the record of [Robin] Van Persie or [Wayne] Rooney and that is the standard. That is why we let him go – because of Falcao but also the youngsters who can fit in.”

That Welbeck would have struggled for playing time, nobody questions. The implicit concern (beyond selling to Arsenal) is expensive attackers from outside  being prioritized over a useful player on the books. And doesn’t the Manchester native’s 14-year history with the club count for anything?

More from van Gaal:

“We spoke with Danny Welbeck and also Chicharito before there was the chance we could get Falcao. We have to be fair about that because, for example, I see in that part [of the pitch] we have a lot of youth that can fit in. That is the policy and that is why I am here – to do that transformation, in this new process.”

Let’s assume van Gaal’s right in his assessment, and young players can fit in. Even if Welbeck is better than them now, he’s still waiting for van Persie and Falcao to fade out before getting more playing time. And once that happens, United’s younger players may be ready to take that time from Welbeck.

If that’s the case, Welbeck’s place at the club comes down to loyalty, and while that’s an admirable trait, there’s a point where that becomes harmful. With Welbeck just entering his prime and Arsenal willing to pay top dollar, neither side would have been served by forgoing the sale.

In the face of other needs, should United have made Welbeck expendable in the first place? Well, that’s a different discussion. Given how the summer unfolded, Welbeck’s move made sense, for all involved.

Lodeiro brace gives Seattle’s faint playoff hopes a lifeline

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In Major League Soccer’s forgiving playoff structure, there’s almost always a way back into the mix.

When your team has a talent like Nicolas Lodeiro, your chances get magnified quite a bit.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez bags 3 more ]

Lodeiro scored twice, once from the spot, and Seattle debuted its new Designated Player in a 2-0 Cascadia Cup win over Vancouver on Saturday.

Seattle is now eight points back of the West’s final playoff spot with 15 to play in its season. And the Sounders join Portland on three Cascadia Cup points, with the Timbers beating Seattle in the other cup match of the season.

Raul Ruidiaz came off the bench for the Sounders, and showed early glimpses of why Seattle wanted the World Cup participant from Peru.

The ‘Caps finished the match with 10 men thanks to a red card on Efrain Juarez, who saw yellow and then made contact with the referee.

The second goal took a vicious turn on its way to making goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic look capital-A awkward.

MLS 3 Things: Unstoppable Martinez grills DC in surge toward record

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Josef Martinez bagged his MLS record sixth career hat trick, and moved to within five goals of the single season goal record as Atlanta United battered DC United 3-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Caps’ Davies nears Bayern move ]

1) The MLS record book better get used to his name: Martinez now has 22 goals in 22 matches this season, and he’s going to break the Major League Soccer single season goal record if he’s at least half as productive over the final 12 matches.

Martinez has goals in nine of his last 10 matches. He got luck to set up his third, but look at this composed finish.

2) Another American milestone: 18-year-old USMNT prospect Andrew Carleton made his first MLS start and helped set-up Martinez’s second goal, which gave Atlanta United its first lead.

3) Rooney fails to find score sheet: England hero Wayne Rooney couldn’t find a goal or assist after picking up one of the latter in his debut. This time it was a start for Rooney, who went 66 minutes and earned a yellow card to go with his second shot.

Premier League friendlies: Saints undone by Lampard’s Rams

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Nine Premier League clubs were in action Saturday, none of them at home.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

An ex-PL star, however, thrilled his home fans in a Pride Park debut, facing top flight competition.


Derby County 3-0 Southampton

Frank Lampard is the new Rams’ boss, and his first home match was a win over Premier League competition.

“Lamps” got two goals from Tom Lawrence, and another from Mason Bennett as Saints fell by three. It was Southampton’s first match since returning from a China trip which saw a draw with Schalke and a defeat of Jiangu Suning.

Notts County 1-4 Leicester City

The visitors went down 1-0 before rebounding with vigor to hammer the Magpies behind four different scorers: Demarai Gray, Wes Morgan, Islam Slimani, and Hamza Choudhury.

AFC Wimbledon 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

The Gulls slipped to defeat, going down two before Ollie Norwood converted an Aaron Connelly-won penalty

Oxford United 1-3 Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha, Jeffrey Schlupp and Sullay Kaikai scored as Roy Hodgson‘s men collected an easy enough win away from home.

Real Betis 2-0 Huddersfield Town /  Roy-Weiss Essen 1-0 Huddersfield Town

The Terriers lost a pair of 45-minute friendlies in Belgium.

Elsewhere

Lille 0-0 (4-2, PKs) Everton
Lyon 4-0 Fulham
Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-3 Watford
Preston North End 2-2 West Ham United

Neymar: I get the diving jokes but “you will never understand”

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Neymar proved himself not above a laugh at his own expense this week when he posted a video regarding the Neymar Challenge, the phenomenon in which people writhe around in agony at the slightest touch.

The 26-year-old wants the world to understand his reasons for play-acting — or at least his perceived exaggerations — following some fouls, and the keyword here is apparently “some.”

[ MORE: Neymar staying at PSG ]

Neymar is consistently fouled by teams, and there’s little doubt that the majority of Brazil’s World Cup opponents were aiming to disrupt his love of the game if not outright injure the magnificent talent.

He implies, frankly enough, that he’s extra sore and feels injuries more closely than the next guy.

There’s no question Neymar made some ridiculous theater in Russia with his rolling and grimacing, but take a look at his logic and let us know if you buy the “complications” of his antics.

From Sky Sports:

“Do you think I want to suffer tackles all of the time? No, it is painful, it hurts. After the games I stay back for four or five hours putting on ice, it’s complicated but if you haven’t experienced that you will never understand. I saw [the jokes], but I took them with a humor. Even yesterday I posted on Instagram a joke with the children about it.”