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Sunderland chief exec. resigns after role in Adam Johnson criminal case

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Sunderland’s chief executive Margaret Byrne has resigned following her role in Adam Johnson‘s criminal case.

In a statement released on the club website, they confirmed Byrne’s resignation had been accepted after an internal investigation showed that “the decision not to suspend him for a second time pending the outcome of the trial, was wrong.”

[ MORE: Johnson to face jail ]

Johnson, 28, was convicted of two criminal acts following an incident with a 15-year-old girl and is currently awaiting sentence. The winger has been charged with one count of grooming and one count of sexual activity with a child.

Following his arrest for this incident last March, the former Middlesbrough and Manchester City midfielder had told the club he was to plead not guilty to the charges and said he was innocent. However, he admitted to two criminal charges in court in February and the next day had his contract terminated.

The fact that Johnson was able to play for Sunderland for almost a year (he was initially suspended for 16 days following his arrest) and earned over $4.5 million has been queried as reports claim that Byrne had read police reports where Johnson admitted kissing the girl, plus she’d seen his sexually charged WhatsApp messages. Johnson also said when giving evidence at his trial that he had “told everything” to Byrne and didn’t believe he would be sacked.

Byrne –a qualified solicitor who was meant to stand for Johnson’s defense during the trial but failed to do so — ultimately made the decisions on behalf of the club and below is the statement in full as she is no longer the CEO.

She also released a lengthy statement of her own following her resignation, which you can read here.

The Board of Sunderland AFC has today accepted the resignation of Margaret Byrne.

Margaret, in her role as CEO, was responsible for the running of the club. She was also accountable for the actions taken by the club in relation to Mr. Johnson.  Sunderland AFC acknowledges that Margaret’s intentions have always been to act in the best interests of the club, however it has become clear through our own internal investigations that in this instance decisions have been taken by Margaret in error.

Whilst swift and decisive action was taken to terminate Mr. Johnson’s employment upon his guilty plea, decisions taken prior to this, including the decision not to suspend him for a second time pending the outcome of the trial, were wrong.  In light of what has been acknowledged by Margaret as a serious error of judgment on her part, we have undertaken a full review of the club’s decision-making processes to ensure that there can be no such mistakes in the future.

Throughout this deeply regretful situation, we recognise that one devoted young fan and her family have been very badly let down, first and foremost by Mr. Johnson and his despicable actions, but also by the club they support. We are so very sorry for this.

Mr. Johnson lied to the club; he also lied to our fans and they have every right to feel aggrieved by this. Lessons have been learned and we hope that the club and its fans can move forward from this together.

Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore puts USMNT in front with Bicycle Kick

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Jozy Altidore put his stamp on the game and gave U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter more to speak about with one fell swing.

Altidore finished off a corner kick in spectacular fashion, executing a perfect bicycle kick to put the USMNT up 1-0 in the 66th minute. The goal came one minute after the entrance of Christian Pulisic, which perhaps was on the mind of the Panama defense.

It was Altidore’s second-straight game vs. Panama with a goal. His last two were in October 2017, when the U.S. pummeled Panama, 4-0. Of course, a few days later, a tired USMNT failed to win at Trinidad and Tobago.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.