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EURO 2016, Copa America Today: USMNT stares down Messi, history; Groups B, C decided

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Tuesday is decision day on two continents, with the intensity level burning hot in the United States of America.

Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States men’s national team have the chance to become legends in their country by knocking off Lionel Messi and Argentina to reach the Copa America Centenario final.

[ LIVE: Follow Copa America 2016 ]

Over at EURO 2016, the first two magic numbers for third-place teams is set, and they are five and/or plus-1. That’s because the third place finishers in Groups A & B — Albania and Slovakia — are set, meaning a better finish than Slovakia earns a knockout round place for a third-place team.

Slovakia finished with four points and an even goal differential, meaning five points with do the trick, or four points and a positive GD.

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Five matches today. Five! What a day for our sport around the globe.

Essential reading: PST talked with USMNT legend Landon Donovan on the Copa America semifinal, his generation’s legacy and his broadcasting career. … Croatia’s been fined six figures for its fans’ throwing flares and causing in-stadium mayhem at EURO 2016.

ICYMI: Roy Keane is cool with Irish players doing whatever it takes to get to the knockout rounds. … Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey led Wales to the EURO’s Group B title, while England stuttered to a second-place finish.

EURO 2016, Game 29: Ukraine vs. Poland

When: Tuesday, Noon ET

Where: Stade Velodrome in Marseille

Live updates:

Ukraine is out, but will relish the chance to play spoiler to Poland. That result would still need to meet Northern Irish success versus Germany to cost Poland the knockout rounds, but Poland will also be aiming for the group title. It needs to make up a goal of difference on Germany.

EURO 2016, Game 30: Northern Ireland vs. Germany

When: Tuesday, Noon ET

Where: Parc des Princes in Paris

Live updates:

Little known Northern Ireland was favored to finish close to last in the entire tournament, but a defeat of Ukraine has it in the discussion to advance to the knockout rounds. What it will need is a point or better against powerful Germany, which hopes to kick on offensively through Thomas Muller.

EURO 2016, Game 31: Czech Republic vs. Turkey

SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE - JUNE 17: Tomas Rosicky of Czech Republic gives a supporter his shirt following the UEFA EURO 2016 Group D match between Czech Republic and Croatia at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on June 17, 2016 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

When: Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET

Where: Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens

Live updates:

The Czechs need a win and a Croatia loss, preferably either being multi-goal, to finish in the top two. Turkey needs a win by as many goals as possible and help to be one of four third-place teams to go through.

EURO 2016, Game 32: Croatia vs. Spain

When: Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET

Where: Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux

Live updates:

A draw would put both sides through, though Croatia would love to beat Spain to snare Group D. Remember, the path to the final is much easier by winning this particular group.

Copa America, Game 29: United States vs. Argentina

When: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET

Where: NRG Stadium in Houston

Live updates:

No, it’s on the stage of a World Cup, but the United States can engineer one of the top results in the history of the men’s national team with Lionel Messi and Argentina having sauntered into Texas. The Yanks will be without Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood, but it was always going to be a test. Landon Donovan thinks it’ll be tight. Do you?

Transfer news: Kane to Real Madrid, Alexis Sanchez to West Ham

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

According to Sport, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has his sights set on signing Tottenham striker Harry Kane this summer.

With Luka Jovic failing to impress at the Santiago Bernabeu, Los Blancos are set to make some moves to consolidate the presence up top. Kane, 26, and Wolves striker Raul Jimenez are some of the few names to have been mentioned thus far.

Kane, who has a running contract with Spurs until 2024, recently mentioned that he wouldn’t rule out a move out of north London, if Tottenham were unable to capitalize on winning silverware.

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, I want to get better, I want to become one of the top, top players,” Kane said earlier this month. “It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever – but it’s not a no either.”

As far as transfers go, nothing gets bigger and more “ambitious” than a summer blockbuster move to Real Madrid. Kane has a promising project spearheaded by Jose Mourinho himself at his boyhood club, but the opportunity to represent Real Madrid – at such a prime age, with an astronomical amount of hype – may only come around once.

Alexis Sanchez’s time at Inter Milan is coming to a close, and his next destination may be a Premier League team not named Manchester United, according to FC Inter News.

The 31-year-old Chilean’s agent, Fernando Felicevich, has reportedly been inquired by West Ham, who are considering placing a bid to lure the winger out of Old Trafford.

Sanchez arrived at Inter last summer on loan but has failed to impress when healthy, recording a mere goal and three assist in 15 appearances this season. With the possibilities of Sanchez remaining at Manchester United past the summer getting slimmer by the day, the Hammers are hoping to land the South American at a reduced price.

Sanchez, one of United’s highest earners, is reportedly also gathering interest from other unnamed Premier League and Bundesliga sides.

Belarusian Premier League roundup: FC Energetik-BGU edge FC Minsk, moves to top of league

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The Belarusian Premier League – the only active European top-flight league at the moment – continued on Sunday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

FC Energetik-BGU 2-0 FC Minsk 

FC Energetik-BGU are the new leaders of the Belarusian Premier League, following a 2-0 victory over FC Minsk, who were atop of the table prior to Sunday’s bout.

Aleksey Nosko broke the deadlock in the 21st minute, while winger Jasurbek Yakhshiboev sealed the victory for the hosts in stoppage time.

With the victory, Energetik-BGU are the only unbeaten team in the league after three matchweeks, winning all three matches. The positive spell began with a 3-1 against Belarus giants BATE Boristov. Since, Energetik-BGU have scored three goals, while managing to concede none.

Slutsk, who also featured on Sunday, moved up to second on the table following a hard-earned 3-2 victory over Isloch, which saw them play the final minutes of the match with 10 players.

Elsewhere in Belarusian Premier League 

Smolevichi-STI 0-0 Vitebsk

Isloch 2-3 Slutsk

Spanish players criticize league’s call for furloughs

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MADRID (AP) Soccer players in Spain on Sunday criticized the Spanish league’s decision to ask clubs to put the footballers on government furloughs during the coronavirus crisis.

The league on Friday said the furloughs were needed because there was no agreement on the size of the salary cuts players must take to reduce the financial impact of the pandemic.

“It is strange that the Liga supports (the furloughs),” Spain’s players’ association said in a statement.

It said the league should have created a financial cushion for this period considering it always boasted about its “economic control measures” and the “well-balanced economy” of the Spanish clubs. The association said it also should be taken into account that the league has been temporarily suspended and not yet canceled.

The league and the players’ association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic.

The players said they agree with a salary reduction to help the clubs during the crisis, but not to the extent the league wants, which could amount to nearly half of the total losses if the competition is not resumed.

Players said they want to keep negotiating directly with the clubs instead of being forced into furloughs.

“The clubs and the players have been reaching agreements regarding the salaries,” the players’ association said. “What footballers are not going to do is relinquish labor rights.”

Barcelona and Atlético Madrid are among the Spanish clubs requesting furloughs, but both directly negotiated the amount of the salary reduction with players — 70% in both cases. Both clubs and their players are contributing to guarantee the wages of non-playing employees being furloughed.

The government furloughs help reduce the clubs’ labor costs while also guaranteeing players their jobs once the crisis is over.

Spain has more than 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 12,500 deaths. The nation is expected to remain in a lockdown until April 26.

There is no timetable for the return of the Spanish league.

Players maintained their position to only resume competing when health authorities deem it safe for everyone’s heath, a view also shared by the Spanish league.

The league has suggested it will recommend teams start mini-camp while the lockdown is still in place, if it’s possible to do so within the restrictions imposed by authorities.

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Brighton, Cincinnati prepare to discuss Locadia’s future

Jurgen Locadia
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Jurgen Locadia’s big MLS transfer has not gone as planned, through no fault of his, FC Cincinnati’s, or parent club Brighton and Hove Albion.

Locadia’s loan to Cincinnati was sealed Feb. 3, giving him just under five months to decide whether he had interesting in staying in the U.S. for the next part of his career.

The 26-year-old got all of two matches to feel it out, scoring once before MLS shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The extremely small sample size has been kind to Locadia, who says that his agent had spoken to Brighton and that he’s open to making the move permanent. That’s a loaded statement given the money it might take to acquire a player who was Brighton’s transfer record signing just over a year ago.

“I like it here so far in Cincinnati and the league also,” Locadia told The Cincinnati Enquirer and “I talk with my agent also and he said at the end of the day it’s my decision, and I told him I’m happy here, so if we can figure something out with Brighton and Cincinnati, which I understand is going to be difficult, we can try and fix the situation.”

FCC general manager Gerard Nijkamp said he’ll be talking with Brighton in the next few days, but that the situation is a massive challenge. Imagine the questions: What does Brighton want? When can the player move? Has the end of the loan window changed at all? And what reinforcements will Brighton be able to buy given the wildly unusual conclusion to this season (and their possible relegation)?

Locadia was also asked what he likes about MLS.

“I think here in the States, the fans enjoy the game more and in Europe I get the feeling that people are more judge-y about the game,” Locadia said. “Here in the States, they come to enjoy the game and see the players and drink beer. And in Europe it’s more like, we need to win and they’re gonna judge you. They don’t like when you play the ball back to the goalkeeper.”

Well, maybe wait on that one. There might be a bit more patience in Cincinnati given it’s their second year in MLS, but other clubs have plenty of fans amped up for victory.