2015 MLS SuperDraft: Orlando City takes Larin as No. 1 overall pick, forwards go first

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The 2015 MLS SuperDraft took place on Thursday, as Canadian national team striker Cyle Larin was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by Orlando City SC.

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After 23 goals in 39 games at the University of Connecticut, Larin signed a Generation Adidas deal with MLS and was projected to be the No. 1 pick. Larin was not present at the SuperDraft, as he is currently on international duty for Canada’s U-20 side.

With the second overall pick New York City FC selected Khiry Shelton, a striker from Oregon State University, while with the third picked the Montreal Impact selected Generation Adidas striker Romario Williams who hails from Jamaica and played at the University of Central Florida.

Rounding out the top five picks, Fatai Alashe was the fourth pick overall from Michigan State University as the San Jose Earthquakes picked him up, while Nick Besler from the University of Notre Dame (U.S. national team defender Matt Besler’s brother) went fifth overall to the Portland Timbers.

[ RELATED: Assessing each MLS team’s SuperDraft needs ]

Surprisingly only four Generation Adidas players (they do not count towards the salary cap) were taken in the first round, while just trades were made as Colorado traded up to pick up Swedish defender Axel Sjoberg and the Seattle Sounders grabbed highly-rated midfielder Cristian Roldan in a trade with Real Salt Lake. Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City both had three selections, with TFC going for two Syracuse University products in U.S. national team ‘keeper Alex Bono and Canadian defender Skylar Thomas, along with NC State’s French defender Clement Simonin.

The draft continues to take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, as 42 players will be selected from college soccer over the first two rounds.

Below are the first round picks, as ProSoccerTalk will have you covered on all the latest news from the SuperDraft right here.

First round

1. Cyle Larin, F, University of Connecticut – Orlando City SC
2. Khiry Shelton, F, Oregon State University – New York City FC
3. Romario Williams, F, University of Central Florida – Montreal Impact
4. Fatai Alashe, MF, Michigan State University – San Jose Earthquakes
5. Nick Besler, MF, University of Notre Dame – Portland Timbers
6. Alex Bono, GK, Syracuse University – Toronto FC
7. Matt Polster, DF, Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville – Chicago Fire
8. Zach Steinberger, MF, Butler University – Houston Dynamo
9. Clement Simonin – DF, North Carolina State University – Toronto FC
10. Connor Hallisey – MF, University of California, Berkeley – Sporting Kansas City
11. Skylar Thomas – DF, Syracuse University – Toronto FC
12. Saad Abdul-Salaam – DF, University of Akron – Sporting Kansas City
13. Tim Parker – DF, St. John’s University – Vancouver Whitecaps
14. Axel Sjoberg – DF, Marquette University – Colorado Rapids (traded w/ Columbus for 2016 pick, future considerations)
15. Otis Earle – DF, University of California, Riverside – FC Dallas
16. Cristian Roldan – MF, University of Washington – Seattle Sounders (traded w/ Real Salt Lake for 27th pick, future considerations)
17. Miguel Aguilar – F, University of San Francisco – D.C. United
18. Leo Stolz – MF, University of California – New York Red Bulls
19. Sergio Campbell – DF, University of Connecticut – Columbus Crew
20. Amadou Dia, F/MF, Clemson University – Sporting Kansas City
21. Ignacio Magnato – F, Iona College – LA Galaxy

Second round

22. Conor Donovan, D, NC State — Orlando City SC
23. Connor Brandt, M, San Diego — New York City FC
24. Andy Thoma, D, Washington — Portland Timbers
25. Akeil Barrett, F, Tulsa — Orlando City SC
26. Joseph Greenspan, D, Navy — Colorado Rapids
27. Boyd Okwunu, D, North Carolina — Real Salt Lake
28. Kingsley Bryce, F, St Louis — Chicago Fire
29. Wesley Charpie, D, South Florida — Toronto FC
30. Oumar Ballo, D, Maryland-Baltimore County — Houston Dynamo
31. Dzenan Catic, F, Davenport — Philadelphia Union
32. Christian Volesky, F, SIU Edwardsville — Portland Timbers
33. Tyler Miller, GK, Northwestern — Seattle Sounders
34. Kharlton Belmar, F, Virginia Commonwealth — Portland Timbers
35. Sagi Lev-Ari, F, Cal State-Northridge — Columbus Crew
36. Rob Lovejoy, F, North Carolina — Houston Dynamo
37. Edwin Rivas, F, Cal State-Northridge — Toronto FC
38. Kay Banjo, F, Baltimore-Maryland County — Vancouver Whitecaps
39. Stefano Bonomo, F, California — New York Red Bulls
40. Oneil Fisher, M, New Mexico — Seattle Sounders
41. Eric Bird, M, Virgina — Philadelphia Union
42. Dan Metzger, M, Maryland — D.C. United

Transfer news: Thiago to Liverpool; Gabriel to Man United

Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool
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In transfer news there’s an update on Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool, while Gabriel to Manchester United seems to be moving to the next stage.

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Starting in Liverpool, talk of Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool has been gathering steam over the last few weeks and a new report states that Jurgen Klopp’s men are now the favorites to sign him.

Bayern Munich expect the 29-year-old Spanish international to leave this summer and according to Mundo Deportivo Liverpool have jumped ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and are ‘very likely’ to sign the former Barcelona star.

Bayern want $35 million for Thiago who has one year left on his current contract.

The deep-lying playmaker is a totally different central midfielder to what Liverpool currently have as Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are all hard-working more defensive minded players. And then there’s Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who provide a bit more attacking intent with forward runs from central midfield.

Thiago Alcantara would help Liverpool control games better when opponents sit back and don’t allow them space to operate in-behind. He is a silky pass-master who is wanted by PSG, Liverpool, Manchester United and others, but it appears he will be heading to Anfield to give Liverpool a totally new dimension to their play. If this happens, it will make an already strong Liverpool side stronger.

Gabriel to Manchester United
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Switching to Manchester, a report in France states that Gabriel Magalhaes could be heading to Manchester United.

The Brazilian defender, 22, has been a star for Lille over the past few seasons but has been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea, Napoli, Everton and Man United consistently in recent months.

A report from French outlet RMC states that Man United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has met with Gabriel’s agents about his availability.

Lille want $35 million for Gabriel and although the report says that Man United haven’t made an offer directly to the Ligue 1 club, it is believed talks are ongoing.

Man United are said to be in the market for a winger, center back and central midfielder this summer and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to be given cash to spend after securing Champions League qualification for next season.

It is believed Solskjaer wants a left-footed center back, which Gabriel is, as Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire are often too similar at center back. Those two have developed a decent enough partnership but it appears that Solskjaer wants to replace Lindelof and adding Gabriel will also give him an option to switch to a 3-4-3 system which he likes to do to match up against  more attack-minded opponents.

Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are very much on the outside looking in at Man United in terms of their other center back options.

With Jadon Sancho reportedly on his way to Old Trafford, Solskjaer needs to bolster his center back and holding midfield options and then he is good to go for next season.

Gabriel is a young, talented center back and seems ready to make the next step and this is a good price for a player who can develop over the next few seasons.

How long of a break will Premier League clubs get?

Premier League break
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How long of a break will Premier League clubs get? That is the big question during the significantly shortened offseason between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season.

In short: not long.

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When Premier League clubs all agreed that the 2020-21 season would kick off on September 12, there was an understanding that clubs in European action will be handed extra time off and could start the season late.

Manchester City and Chelsea are in Champions League action and if they reach the quarterfinal stage (Man City are looking a lot more likely to do that than Chelsea) it is expected they will start next season one week late and if they reach the semifinals and final they will start two weeks late.

The same rule is in place for Manchester United and Wolves who are in Europa League and are both in Round of 16 action this week.

If Chelsea lose to Bayern Munich on Saturday, their season will be over and they will have a 35-day break before the 2020-21 season. That is longer than the 30-day limit but Frank Lampard wants longer.

As for the other 16 Premier League teams for the 2020-21 season, the clubs who finished on the final day of the  2019-20 Premier League season on July 26 will have had 47 days off until the new season begins.

So, there you have it.

A staggered start to the 2020-21 season seems likely as the domestic campaign begins in a few weeks with the Community Shield final at Wembley between Liverpool and Arsenal on Aug. 29.

Premier League teams will have shorter, more intense preseason campaigns and are unlikely to travel for friendly games, so it will be interesting to see how much rest players actually get over the summer and if teams who get a 2-3 week longer break benefit compared to those clubs in European action.

Christian Pulisic issues injury update

Pulisic injury news
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‘Pulisic injury news’ is probably trending worldwide at this point, and Chelsea and USMNT star Christian Pulisic has an injury update after he damaged his right hamstring in the FA Cup final against Arsenal on Saturday.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Pulisic, 21, scored a superb goal early on and was arguably the man of the match even though he pulled up abruptly in the 46th minute when sprinting free (once again) of the Arsenal attack and then hitting a shot wide.

After being helped off the pitch while clearly in pain, Pulisic was seen hanging around the tunnel area after the FA Cup final and was at least walking on his own.

Posting a message on Instagram following the final, here’s what Pulisic had to say:

“Gave it everything we had. Wasn’t our day. Thank you guys for your support I’ll be back in no time,” Pulisic said.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The fact Pulisic went off injured early in the second half of the FA Cup final severely hampered Chelsea and gave Arsenal the impetus to go on and win the final at Wembley. He has become that important to Chelsea.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard previously confirmed that Pulisic would not be fit enough to play at Bayern Munich on Saturday in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg (Chelsea trail 3-0 from the first leg) and would have a scan to assess the damage.

Pulisic’s 2019-20 season is now done and both Chelsea and USMNT fans will be waiting with bated breath for the next injury update as hamstring injuries can be a nasty thing and reoccur easily.

The USMNT star had a few of them at Borussia Dortmund and given his incredible pace it is clear he will be more susceptible to hamstring and upper leg injuries.

Previously Lampard revealed that Pulisic had been working hard with Chelsea’s strength and conditioning coaches in recent months to build up his strength in order to adapt to the Premier League. We’ve certainly seen the results of that work in recent week as he took the Premier League by storm during the restart.

This latest update from Pulisic seems to be very good news as many had feared a lengthy injury layoff for the USMNT star but it seems like he may be ready for the start of the 2020-21 season for Chelsea.

Willian, Chelsea fail to agree new contract terms; Arsenal in talks

Willian to Arsenal
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Willian and Chelsea have failed to agree to terms on a new contract and the Brazilian winger is now in talks with Arsenal over a free transfer.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Willian has rejected a two-year contract offer from Chelsea as he wants a longer deal, as Sky Sports in Italy have more details on the developing situation.

Sky Sport contributor Fabrizio Romano states that Willian’s representatives are now in talks with Arsenal over a contract, while there hasn’t been any contact from Barcelona so far.

Willian, 31, has been a regular for Chelsea this season and Frank Lampard is keen to keep the Brazilian star as his experience will help the younger players develop at Chelsea.

After suffering a small injury, Willian didn’t feature in Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal over the weekend and Lampard had the following to say about his future.

“It’s his decision so I haven’t got that answer,” Lampard said. “He’s been a great servant for Chelsea and he’s been brilliant for me this season with his input and work ethic but if he decides to move on then we obviously will move on as well. I know the situation from the club’s end so it’s his choice and I respect that.”

It appears that Willian will move on this summer as winger Pedro is also moving on a free transfer to AS Roma, although he did look to severely injure his shoulder in his last-ever appearance for Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

With Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount around, Chelsea have plenty of options out wide and Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham give them plenty of options centrally with Kai Havertz also potentially arriving this summer.

As for a potential move to Arsenal, this makes perfect sense.

The Gunners have a small transfer budget this summer and Willian gets to stay in London as well as add extra quality to the Arsenal attack. His arrival may mean one of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave, though, as his wages will not be cheap. That said, if Willian is available on a free, plenty of clubs would love to have him. He is consistent, professional and delivers a steady stream of goals, assist and direct wing play.