Omar Gonzalez believes Steven Gerrard will mirror Donovan, Beckham’s impact for LA Galaxy, MLS

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Omar Gonzalez can’t wait for Steven Gerrard to arrive as his LA Galaxy teammate in July.

Gonzalez, 26, is one of LA’s three Designated Players alongside Gerrard and Robbie Keane and the U.S. national team center back is eager for the Liverpool legend to arrive and expects him to have a big impact in Major League Soccer.

[ RELATED: Best week ever for U.S.? ]

Speaking to ProSoccerTalk, Gonzalez also reflected on an incredible week for U.S. Soccer (more on that here) and LA’s tough start to the 2015 MLS season, as well as talking about the Pass The Love campaign he has been getting behind to support the USWNT on their quest for World Cup glory in Canada this summer.

Asked if Gerrard’s arrival and star-power would be similar to the impact made by former LA Galaxy superstar’s Landon Donovan and David Beckham, Gonzalez had the following to say.

“Absolutely,” Gonzalez said. “It is about their wisdom of the game and how many years experience they have. Being comforted by that fact that they have so many years under their belt definitely makes the players around those key players show up and want to play better. I think he [Gerrard] is going to be great and be just like Landon Donovan and David Beckham were for us.”

Gonzalez will be hoping that Gerrard’s arrival in July — the former Liverpool and England captain is expected to make his LA debut in an International Champions Cup match vs. Club America on July 11 at the StubHub Center — will kick-start LA’s season as Bruce Arena’s men sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with just 22 points from 17 games.

“The first half of the season was definitely difficult for us with the amount of injuries we’ve had and lineup changes we’ve had. It has been very difficult but we are still in a great position,” Gonzalez said. “We managed to keep ourselves in striking distance. For us, we know it is a long season. We definitely didn’t want to start the way we started but it is what it is. We are in it now and have to look forward and look to improve our game by doing everything on the field and making sure that we make the playoffs. And if we are one of the teams in the playoffs, then we go from there.”

LA have drawn seven of their opening 17 games this season and have scored just 16 goals through the first half of the campaign. Could Gerrard’s arrival spark an offensive breakout?

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Gerrard’s arrival in MLS is eagerly anticipated.

“I definitely hope so,” Gonzalez said. “He is a tremendous player and I can’t wait to see him arrive but we have a lot of work to do before he gets here. He is a guy who can definitely turn those draws into wins and he is a game-changer, a guy who can pick the right pass at the right weight or go forward and score the goals himself. I am really looking forward to his arrival.”

Gonzalez has won three MLS Cups with LA — scoring a pivotal goal in the 2011 final — since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and although he can’t wait to see Gerrard strut his stuff in an LA jersey, the Texan is also looking forward to learning from Gerrard’s wealth of experience off the field.

“Straight away I am hoping he can be one of those players that will bring a lot of leadership. That is something that is always helpful for any team, to have a player like that,” Gonzalez said. “I think we all know what he can do on the field with his talents but I think definitely his leadership and his wisdom for for the game will definitely be helpful as well.”

Gonzalez and his Galaxy teammates are excited for Gerrard’s arrival but the USMNT defender also believes the rest of MLS can’t wait for the talismanic English midfielder to arrive.

“Everyone is excited for him to come. Not only the players and the LA Galaxy fans but players around the league, fans around the league are all excited to play against him but also excited to watch him play. I think the buzz is great all around MLS.”

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

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

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow