Ballon D’Or longlist includes Messi, Ronaldo… and Luongo?!?

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Do you know who Massimo Luongo is?

The 23-year-old Australian and Asian Cup MVP is a new QPR member, but also somehow amongst the field of 59 players from which the 2015 Ballon D’Or winner will be chosen.

Surprises? Boy, are there some doozies (though less so when you consider international play). Luongo, who spent last season at Swindon Town, is joined by Christian Atsu, David Ospina and Gary Medel. Also in the mix, of course, are usual suspects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

[ VIDEO: Amy Rodriguez scores NWSL’s title-winning goal ]

The 59 names, leaked to Mundo Deportivo, will be whittled down to 23 before the end of the year. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the last two awards, with Lionel Messi snaring the three previous titles. Each has finished second to the other for the last four seasons.

Barcelona and Real Madrid pace the list with 7 nominees each, while New York City FC’s Andrea Pirlo and L.A. Galaxy striker Giovani Dos Santos are surprise MLS inclusions (due largely to their time in Juventus and Villarreal, no doubt).

PSV Eindhoven and Mexico star Andres Guardado is also on the list after he led Mexico in scoring during the country’s Gold Cup title run (which of course means the USMNT’s failure to claim the tournament’s title cost tournament-leading scorer Clint Dempsey a spot).

Premier Leaguer clubs involved in the mix: Manchester City (5), Chelsea (4), Manchester United (3), Arsenal (2), Tottenham (2), Liverpool (1), Leicester City (1), Swansea City (1). Bournemouth and Everton share Christian Atsu, even though both on loan from Chelsea. Fun.

Full list
Claudio Bravo – Barcelona
Javier Mascherano – Barcelona
Andrés Iniesta – Barcelona
Lionel Messi – Barcelona
Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona
Neymar – Barcelona
Luis Suárez – Barcelona
Gareth Bale – Real Madrid
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid
Luka Modric – Real Madrid
James Rodríguez – Real Madrid
Toni Kroos – Real Madrid
Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus
Paul Pogba – Juventus
Alvaro Morata – Juventus
Arturo Vidal – Juventus/Bayern
Andrea Pirlo – Juventus/New York City FC
Carlos Tevez – Juventus/Boca Juniors
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich
David Alaba – Bayern Munich
Thomas Müller – Bayern Munich
Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich
Wilfried Bony – Manchester City
Yaya Touré – Manchester City
Sergio Agüero – Manchester City
Nicolás Otamendi – Valencia/Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg/Manchester City
Diego Costa – Chelsea
Willian – Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
Edinson Cavani – PSG
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG
Javier Pastore – PSG
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
David De Gea – Manchester United
Memphis Depay – PSV/Manchester United
David Ospina – Arsenal
Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal
Antoine Griezmann – Atlético Madrid
Jackson Martínez – Porto/Atlético Madrid
Carlos Bacca – Sevilla/Milan
Giovani dos Santos – Villarreal/LA Galaxy
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool
Son Heung-min – Bayer Leverkusen/Tottenham
Christian Atsu – Everton/Bournemouth
Paolo Guerrero – Flamengo/Corinthians
Eduardo Vargas – QPR/Hoffenheim
Gary Medel – Internazionale
Harry Kane – Tottenham
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon
Andrés Guardado – PSV
Carlos Sánchez – River Plate
André Ayew – Marseille/Swansea
Massimo Luongo – Swindon/QPR
Shinji Okazaki – Mainz/Leicester

First Leagues Cup will be an all-Liga MX affair

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Given Major League Soccer’s record against Liga MX sides when both teams are bringing their best players to the party, it’s no surprise that the former has been left out of the Leagues Cup Final.

Instead, Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL will meet on Sept. 18 for the first ever crown in the history of the competition pitting teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States top flights.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Choosing not to play Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Carlos Pavon amongst others, the LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Cruz Azul in Carson, California, getting an Emil Cuello goal but allowing the below delightful winner from Orbelin Pineda just after halftime.

The Galaxy were in the midst of a nasty four-match fortnight, and opted for this match — a tournament semifinal against a league which has bossed its league — to rest their men. Not a choice we love, but a fair choice given the Galaxy’s mere 4-point advantage on 7th place in the West.

Tigres needed penalties to get past Club America in an absolutely bonkers semifinal.

The match was level at 2 after regulation, with two own goals, a penalty, and a 90th minute red card doled out to Tigres’ Roger Martinez.

The second Tigres own goal, which came before the club outlasted America 5-3 in penalties, came deep in stoppage.

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

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

Report: Zappacosta off to Roma as Chelsea trusts youth

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Tuesday was a great day to be Reece James.

Not that it hasn’t been a good summer altogether with Frank Lampard in charge of Chelsea.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Lampard sanctioned the loan of Zappacosta to AS Roma, which puts James firmly in line for first team reps at Stamford Bridge.

The 19-year-old James has earned his place after two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, and Cesar Azpilicueta will either need rest or time at center back at some point.

As for Zappacosta, he was a curiosity buy who was serviceable during his time at Stamford Bridge. At Roma, though, he’ll… also be second choice to club captain Alessandro Florenzi.

Lampard is definitely giving the Blues’ youth a chance to shine during this transfer ban, and this may well be the best opportunity of James’ career.

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

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The United States men’s national team has just a pair of friendlies remaining before its next CONCACAF competition, the Nations’ League.

Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will meet Uruguay and Mexico in September, and the looming CNL — you know Berhalter wants some sort of crown given the Gold Cup Final loss to El Tri — certainly hints at a strong XI even with players like Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Boyd (Besitkas) and Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf, on loan from Man City) settling into new digs.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]

Before we dare to name a 23-man outfit for these matches, we should note that there’s no guarantee every big team will want to release their players in September. But this projection will act under the assumption that his best healthy men will accept invitations or that, at least, Berhalter will invite his best healthy men.

The MLS playoff push may actually force his hand in that Berhalter may respect teams in said playoff race due (though MLS does not have every team playing over the break).

We’ll assume for this exercise that DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) don’t miraculously come fit.

Now for the Big Berhalter Questions (BBQs):

  1. Since Gyasi Zardes has scored three goals and an assist in his last six MLS games and there’s no chance Berhalter ignores him, who will not get a look: Tim Weah (Lille), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas) or … wait, it’s gonna be Boyd.
  2. Wil Trapp has been poor in a USMNT jersey, but has three assists in his last six MLS matches so will he…. book his place, too.

Finally, I’m not going to say that this 23-man roster will be correct, but it will be fun.

Goalkeepers (3)

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Kasey Keller (Millwall)
Pick the guy who you think I should pick here and pretend you like it better than:
David Bingham (LA Galaxy)

Defenders (8)

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Matt Miazga (Reading)
Aaron Long (West Ham New York Red Bulls)
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (6)

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Paxtom Pomykal (FC Dallas)
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

Forwards (6)

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Timothy Weah (Lille)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Paul Arriola (DC United)
Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)