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Leicester City player fact files: Who are the champions elect?

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Just who are Leicester City’s players who have come together to become one of the best team units in Premier League history?

Well, they’re a real mix of lower-league gems, cast offs from other clubs and lesser known foreign players who Claudio Ranieri has galvanized into being the champions elect.

[ MORE: The day they (pretty much) won the PL ] 

Their most-used starting XI (which can be recited easily by any PL fan) cost just $35 million to assemble, which is shockingly cheap compared to the likes of Manchester City whose best XI cost in excess of $500 million. They play in a 4-4-2 formation which is unusual these days but nobody can stop them.

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From relegation battlers last season, Leicester needs four wins from their final six games to guarantee the title.

“This is a small club that is showing the world what can be achieved through spirit and determination,” Ranieri said recently. “Twenty-six players. Twenty-six different brains. But one heart.”

Here’s a look at each player — remarkably, Leicester has only used 19 players in the PL this season with injuries kind to them — who has played their part so far this season, as this Leicester team will go down as one of the most memorable in sporting history if they can clinch the PL title.

Note: The “That’s sooo Leicester” section is a quick snippet which tells the story of how some of these guys have made the most of second chances or are just generally a little quirky.

Let’s look at this crew…


GOALKEEPER

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City celebrates victory after the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Kasper Schmeichel
Age: 29
Previous club: Leeds United
Cost: $2 million
PL appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: His father, Peter, won the PL multiple times with Man United. He is a Danish international, but sounds like he’s from Manchester. It’s awesome. 


DEFENDERS

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Danny Simpson of Leicester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion at The King Power Stadium on March 1, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Danny Simpson
Age: 29
Previous club:
Cost: $3.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 24
That’s soooo Leicester: Handed a second chance and is currently serving 300 hours of community service after being found guilty of assault. He was working two nights a week at a bingo hall…

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Wes Morgan of Leicester City celebrates with team mates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: Wes Morgan
Age: 32
Previous club: Nottingham Forest
Cost: $1.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: Played in both the Copa America and Gold Cup for Jamaica last summer back-to-back. He hasn’t had a break since the summer of 2014. Machine.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Robert Huth of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: Robert Huth
Age: 31
Previous club: Stoke City
Cost: $5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 31
That’s soooo Leicester: Cast aside by Stoke after losing his starting spot and some questionable social media use. Loaned out to bottom club Leicester last season and helped keep them up, then signed a permanent deal.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Christian Fuchs of Leicester City is chased by Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: Christian Fuchs
Age: 30
Previous club: Schalke 04
Cost: Free
Appearances in 2015-16: 26
That’s soooo Leicester: Eccentric Austrian international plans to be an NFL kicker after he retires from soccer. Seriously.


MIDFIELDERS

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Danny Drinkwater of Leicester City battles with Steven Naismith of Norwich City during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Norwich City at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Danny Drinkwater
Age: 26
Previous club: Manchester United
Cost: $1 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 30
That’s soooo Leicester: At Man United as a youngster, Drinkwater was on loan at Barnsley when Leicester brought him. Made his England debut this season.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Junior Stanislas of Bournemouth and Ngolo Kante of Leicester City compete for the bacompete for the ballduring the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Bournemouth at The King Power Stadium on January 2, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Name: N’Golo Kante
Age: 25
Previous club: Caen
Cost: $8.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 31
That’s soooo Leicester: Playing in the French fourth division a few years ago, Kante made his debut for France in the spring and scored. The heartbeat of the team.

Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City FC

Name: Riyad Mahrez
Age: 25
Previous club: Le Havre
Cost: $1 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 31
That’s soooo Leicester: Another gem plucked from the lower leagues in France, Mahrez was deemed to skinny to play when growing up in Paris. Now he’s likely to be the PL’s Player of the Year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Marc Albrighton and Leicester City players celebrate their 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Leicester City at Selhurst Park on March 19, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Name: Marc Albrighton
Age: 26
Previous club: Aston Villa
Cost: Free
Appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: Released by his boyhood club Aston Villa after spending his entire career there, Albrighton has shown them what they’re missing.


STRIKERS

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City scores their first goal with an overhead kick as Steven Taylor of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Name: Shinji Okazaki
Age: 29
Previous club: Mainz 05
Cost: $11 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 30
That’s soooo Leicester: He has fallen in love with fish and chips since moving to England from Germany last summer.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring against Manchester United, his eleventh consecutive goal in the Premier League, during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Vardy becomes the first man to score in 11 consecutive English Premier League soccer matches after finding the back of the net against Manchester United today.(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Name: Jamie Vardy
Age: 29
Previous club: Fleetwood Town
Cost: $2 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 32
That’s soooo Leicester: Where do we start? Playing in England’s eighth-tier a few years ago, Vardy almost gave up a year after signing at Leicester from non-league Fleetwood Town. Has had plenty of off-field issues but is now an England international, leading scorer for Leicester and the talisman of this team. He scored in 11-straight games this season to set a new PL record and they’re making a movie about his rise.


OFF THE BENCH

Name: Leonardo Ulloa
Age: 29
Previous club: Brighton & Hove Albion
Cost: $15 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 24
That’s soooo Leicester: Stood with away fans of Brighton, his old club, when they played Tottenham in a cup game.

Name: Andy King
Age: 27
Previous club: Leicester
Appearances in 2015-16: 21
That’s soooo Leicester: Has spent his entire career at Leicester after leaving Chelsea’s youth setup as a kid.

Name: Demarai Gray
Age: 19
Previous club: Birmingham City
Cost: $5.5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 7
That’s soooo Leicester: Fist club was Cadbury Athletic in Birmingham. That’s right, it’s where the British chocolatier is based. Signed in January.

Name: Nathan Dyer
Age: 28
Previous club: Swansea City
Cost: Currently on loan
Appearances in 2015-16: 12
That’s soooo Leicester: Was caught on camera, along with Bradley Wright-Phillips, stealing a barmaids handbag when playing for Southampton. Was subsequently sold to Swansea.

Name: Daniel Amarety
Age: 21
Previous club: Copenhagen
Cost: $10 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 3
That’s soooo Leicester: Described by Claudio Ranieri as Leicester’s “joker in the pack” because he can play in every position. Signed in January.

Name: Marcin Wasilweski
Age: 35
Previous club: Anderlechet
Cost: Free
Appearances in 2015-16: 2
That’s soooo Leicester: Turned up at Leicester in 2013 as a trialist when they were in the Championship.

Name: Gokhan Inler
Age: 31
Previous club: Napoli
Cost: $5 million
Appearances in 2015-16: 5
That’s soooo Leicester: Hasn’t featured much during his debut season in England but does spare with Olympic boxer Patrizio Oliva to keep himself fit.

Name: Jeff Schlupp
Age: 23
Previous club: Leicester
Appearances in 2015-16: 19
That’s soooo Leicester: Like King, the Ghanaian international has spent his entire career at Leicester.

Fan banned from all NWSL games after investigation

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A person who directed racist taunts at Portland Thorns’ goalkeeper Adrianna Franch has been banned from attending National Women’s Soccer League games.

A fan at the Sept. 6 game between the Thorns and Utah Royals in Salt Lake City first called attention to the unidentified person on Twitter. The tweet was later deleted, but both the Thorns and Royals, as well as the league, investigated the incident.

The NWSL issued a statement Saturday saying the person was identified. In addition to being banned from NWSL matches, the person – who was not identified publicly by the league – was also banned from attending events at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“NWSL will not tolerate inappropriate fan behavior,” the league’s statement said. “Racism has no place in our sport.”

The Royals also offered “thanks in no small part to assistance from fans seated in the vicinity,” for identifying the offending party.

A few days after the incident, Franch posted a statement to Twitter: “The situation surrounding our game Friday night is not a NEW issue, nor is it a first for me. RACISM is NOT okay in any form!! We as a HUMAN RACE can be better and should be better. We as a SPORT can help show the way.”

Franch was on the roster of the U.S. national team that won the Women’s World Cup this summer in France.

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

MLS Wrap: What we learned

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Here’s what we learned from MLS’ jam-packed action on Saturday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

NYCFC rally to edge San Jose, remain first in Eastern Conference 

Dominating possession and taking a healthy amount of shots, it seemed like the San Jose Earthquakes were going to pull off a Matias Almeyda-era victory in New York City on Saturday.

But in just the span of three minutes, NYCFC changed the landscape of the game completely, scoring twice right before halftime. Keaton Parks recorded his first league goal in the 40th minute. In the 43rd, the Eastern Conference leaders put together this (yes, the covered half the field just like that):

Like in the sequences that led to the home side’s goals, the Quakes’ confidence to overtake the scoreline took a hit, failing to finish a number of chances following attack-heavy substitutions in the second half. As a result, San Jose, who are fighting for a playoff spot, dropped their fourth straight game on the road.

Speaking with media after their 2-1 loss, Almeyda – despite praising NYCFC as being one of the league’s best – took shots at Yankee Stadium’s field size. Should the league care? Absolutely. NYCFC? Not at all, just look at their record.


FC Cincinnati win first game under Ron Jans

FC Cincy supporters can finally rejoice, even their 1-0 win in Montreal wasn’t ideal.

The league’s youngest team ended up with 10-men late in the game. Kendall Watson was shown a straight red card, but Ron Jans earned his first three points at the helm. Early in the game, Allan Cruz’s goal foreshadowed what was to come for the Ohioan side following the final whistle: a celebration.

 

The Impact (37 points) remain three points behind New England, while Cincinnati (21 points) look to finish strong in order to avoid the ugly side of the history books. 

Carlos Vela rejoins LAFC, scores

There’s no way around it: LAFC is a completely different team with (or without) Carlos Vela, who can’t stop scoring.

The Mexican recorded his 28th goal of the season (six behind Jose Martinez’s single-season record) in the Supporter Shield favorite’s 1-1 draw in Philadelphia. It wasn’t a Vela-esque sequence at all, but it was enough to change the score.

The Union, who played without Marco Fabian because of his absence in the team’s meeting on Friday, opened the scoring. Three minutes in, Kacper Przybyłko’s floating header surprised Tyler Miller, giving the home side a perfect start in front of a noisy Talen Energy Stadium.

Just a couple of months ago, these were the two best teams in the league. LAFC remain atop of the Western Conference. The Union, however, are now five points behind NYCFC.


Crew trounce Atlanta United 3-1 despite Josef Martinez’ goal

Caleb Porter’s Columbus Crew, arguably, play the most effective soccer out of all the teams that are on the outside looking in when it comes to qualifying for the playoffs this season.

On Saturday, despite being statistically outdone by Atlanta United, the Crew managed to execute their chances, scoring three goals on only four shots on target. Gyasi Zardes, a pivotal piece of their attack, scored his 12th goal of the season. Costa Rican Luis Diaz added one of his own in the second half, before Miles Robinson’s own-goal 25 minutes later sealed three points for Columbus.

No goal, however, had as much significance as Josef Martinez’s.

The Venezuelan scored for a 14th consecutive game, making it the third longest streak in the history of the sport. The 26-year-old is now seven games away from Lionel Messi’s world record set in 2014.

Third in the Eastern Conference, nine points away from NYCFC with six games to go, don’t count the single-season scoring king to hold back from wanting to break the record.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 4-0 FC Dallas 

Orlando City 3-3 New England Revolution

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Houston Dynamo

Serie A roundup: Inter edge 10-man Udinese

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Napoli and Inter Milan walked away winners in Saturday’s Serie A action.

Inter Milan 1-0 Udinese

After three games, Antonio Conte‘s spell at Inter Milan remains in immaculate shape.

According to the table, there is no better team than I Nerazzurri, who have won their first three league matches – notching seven goals and conceding only one along the way. In other words, the Italian’s astute coaching style remains effective.

Despite, Inter’s convincing play throughout the 90 minutes, only a goal would separate them from visiting Udinese, who played a with 10 players from the 35th minute on, following Rodrigo De Pual’s slap to the back of Antonio Candreva’s head.

In the 44th minute, Stefano Sensi – one of the smallest players on the field – headed the ball into the back of the net. Late in the game, Alexis Sanchez nearly scored in his Inter debut.

In the end, Udinese were no match for Antonio Conte and Co., who find themselves in prime form heading into their Champions League return midweek.

Up next for Inter in league play: Derby della Madonnina. Udinese, on the hand, host Brescia.

Napoli 2-0 Sampdoria

Dries Mertens is the gift that keeps on giving for Napoli.

To be exact, the Belgian gifted his team two goals on Saturday. 13 minutes in, following a perfectly-placed cross from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Mertens’ first-time strike was unstoppable for Emil Audero.
Emiliano Rigoni had Sampdoria’s best chance of the night in a one-on-one opportunity with Alex Meret. The Argentine, however, wasted one of the visiting side’s two chances all night.
Then in the 67th minute – with some luck on his corner -Mertens completed his brace off a deflected shot, giving his team their second win of the season.

Quick turnaround for Napoli as they host Liverpool midweek before traveling to take on Lecce in league play, while Sampdoria take on Torino next.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Fiorentina 0-0 Juventus

La Liga roundup: Real Sociedad spoil Atletico Madrid’s perfect start

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Atletico Madrid’s first hiccup of the season headlines Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Real Sociedad 2-0 Atletico Madrid

La Liga had an upset of their own.

Atletico Madrid remain league leaders, but their undefeated record is no more after a 2-0 loss to Real Sociedad in San Sebastian.

Both sides played to a quiet first half, but in the 58th minute Martin Odegaard opened the score in front of a packed Anoeta, as his left-footed shot was deflected by Stefan Savic.

Just two minutes later, in his Real Sociedad debut, longtime Arsenal fullback Nacho Monreal tapped in a second chance inside the box, following an initial stretching save from Jan Oblak.

Diego Simeone’s side pushed desperately in the latter stages of the game; not enough to get passed Miguel Moya, though.

La Reala sets their sights on Espanyol, while Los Colchoneros, with Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid at their heels, look to bounce back against Celta Vigo.

Real Madrid 3-2 Levante

Real Madrid conceded two goals in the second half in Saturday’s game, but their formidable first 45 minutes was enough to help them walk away a wet Santiago Bernabeu with three, precious points.

Coming on in the 60th minutes, Eden Hazard and Militao made their La Liga debuts with Zinedine Zidane’s side.

With two goals in six minutes, Karim Benzema gave the home side an early comfortable lead. Shortly before the halftime whistle, Casameiro added his own, following an assist from Vinicius Junior.

Despite falling short, Levante quickly got after evaporating Real Madrid’s first-half dominance. In the 49th minute, Borja Mayoral, cutting through Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos, put one past Thibaut Courtois.

Following Benzema’s post-rattling shot and disallowed Real Madrid goal by VAR, Gonzalo Melero’s header gave the visiting side their final goal of the bout.

One point behind rivals Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid look for another victory against Sevilla. Elsewhere, Levante, who are in decent shape, host Eibar next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Barcelona 5-2 Valencia

RCD Mallorca 0-0 Athletic Bilbao

Leganes 0-3 Villareal