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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Bournemouth

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AFC Bournemouth’s story is one of the most heart-warming in world soccer.

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A tiny club from a sleepy seaside town on England’s south coast, Bournemouth almost went out of business seven years ago as a fourth-tier team. Young manager Eddie Howe led them all the way through the leagues and last season was their first-ever in the top tier of English soccer.

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They play an attractive brand which is easy on the eye and they comfortably secured a second-straight season in the Premier League with some big wins thanks to plenty of talented youngsters who are flourishing under Howe’s trendy tutelage.

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Bournemouth’s bubble will burst and they’ll be relegated because… a sophomore slump, if you will. They will be hit by injuries early in the season to key players and Howe will be tempted to take on a bigger job come December time with the Cherries struggling.

Yet, they do have a chance of doing something special: That’s right, they actually do. With Howe’s boys having a year of PL experience under their belt and some exciting attacking additions in Jordon Ibe and Lys Mousset this summer, they might just surprise everyone and push for a top 10 finish. Underestimate the underdogs at your peril. This is a very good squad which is now two-strong in every spot.


Best possible XI

—– Boruc —–

— Francis — A. Smith — S. Cook — Daniels —

— Ibe — Surman — Arter — Gradel —

— Afobe — Wilson —

Transfers In: Emerson Hyndman (Free, Fulham), Jordon Ibe ($29 million, Liverpool), Brad Smith ($3.9 million, Liverpool), Lys Mousset ($7.1 million, Le Havre), Mark Travers (Free, Cherry Orchard), Mikael Ndjoli (Free, Millwall), Lewis Cook ($9.2 million, Leeds United)

Transfers Out: Tommy Elphick ($3.9 million, Aston Villa), Matt Ritchie ($15.8 million, Newcastle United), Lee Tomlin ($3.9 million, Bristol City), Josh Carmichael, Sylvain Distin, Jon Muleba, Jayden Stockley, Mason Walsh, Josh Wakefield, Stephane Zubar (All released), Glenn Murray (Loan, Brighton and Hove Albion), Joe Quigley (Loan, Gillingham), Harry Cornick (Loan, Leyton Orient)

Last season: In their first-ever season in the top-flight Bournemouth did themselves proud with a 16th place finish. Despite a slow start they were never in real danger of relegation and pulled off shock wins against Manchester United and Chelsea. A season to remember for a team who play attractive, attacking soccer.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - AUGUST 29: Callum Wilson of Bournemouth celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Leicester City at Vitality Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Star player: Callum Wilson – He burst onto the scene early last season but then suffered a horrendous knee injury. Battled back well to get some minutes late in the 2015-16 campaign and has looked incredibly sharp over preseason. Expect the powerful striker to cause plenty of problems.

Coaches’ Corner: Eddie Howe is Mr. Bournemouth. The youngster manager in the PL at 38 years old, he has taken the Cherries on a dramatic ride from League Two to the Premier League. The former Bournemouth defender has a clear philosophy of open, expansive soccer and they didn’t stray away from that during difficult spells last season. His teams are fun to watch and Howe was touted as a contender to be the next England manager over the summer. Luckily for Bournemouth he’s still around and he’s now aiming to take this project to the next level.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Eddie Howe Manager of Bournemouth applauds the supporters after his team's 1-2 defeat in the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Britannia Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

PST predicts: Many will expect Bournemouth to be struggling around the relegation zone but given the amount of money they’ve spent and the fact that their current squad has had a full year to acclimatize to the PL, you get the sense they’ve flown under the radar in recent months. If Ibe, Wilson, Gradel and Afobe click early in the campaign then Bournemouth has the potential to finish in the top 10. That said, PST believes they will finish safely in midtable and have some good runs in the cup competitions.

MLS Saturday wrap: Quakes keep firing; Toronto, SKC falter

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MLS doesn’t have too many days like Saturday, with four away teams collecting wins on a seven-match docket.

The surprise is lessened a bit by the identity of the losing hosts: struggling Vancouver, Colorado, and Sporting KC: Wow, that last one is taking some getting used to, isn’t it?).

[ MORE: Where will Bale go? ]

In a league where only two of 24 teams are above .500 on the road (DC United and LAFC), it’s still saying something about a hot weekend in these United States of America (and Canada).

Columbus Crew 2-1 Montreal Impact

The Crew’s early advantage looked like business as usual by halftime, as Caleb Porter’s struggling men conceded in stoppage time, but David Accam netted right after the break to give Columbus a much-needed three points.

Toronto FC 1-3 Houston Dynamo

TFC opened the door for New England or Orlando City to climb into the top seven by going into an early hole and failing to rally. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore came off the bench, the latter scoring, but the Reds did little on Alejandro Pozuelo’s day off and the Dynamo get a big road win to move without touching distance of a playoff position.

This is not adequate defense.

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Chicago Fire

Marco Fabian scored a beauty and Anthony Fontana also netted as the Union assured themselves another week atop the Eastern Conference. Chicago remains winless away from home.

Sporting KC 0-2 FC Dallas

What in the world is going on? SKC could not find the net with more than one of their 17 shot attempts, and fell five points back of a playoff spot. Worse, the hosts allowed sixth-place Dallas to move five points clear of them.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 New York City FC

It didn’t take long for youngster Sebastian Anderson to go from hero to goat, as the soon-to-be 17-year-old gave the Rapids a sixth minute lead before taking a red card 27 minutes later. Heber and Alexandru Mitrita scored late in each half to drive NYCFC’s dreams of the top spot in the East. The visitors are now seven points back of first, but have four matches-in-hand on Philadelphia.

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Minnesota United

Darwin Quintero and Marcelo Silva traded goals in a fair result.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1-3 San Jose Earthquakes

Make it three-straight wins for the Quakes, who rode Cali Clasico momentum and overcame an early Doneil Henry goal through Vako, Chris Wondolowski, and the in-form Magnus Eriksson.

Kane scores from midfield to beat Juve

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Harry Kane lobbed Wojciech Szczesny from nearly 50 yards to send Tottenham Hotspur past Juventus early Sunday morning.

Maybe he wanted to embarrass a former North London Derby rival, or perhaps he just wanted to avoid penalties.

The goal was made more remarkable by Kane’s blast radius including two men marking him near the Juve part of the center circle.

[ MORE: Where will Bale go? ]

It was an entertaining International Champions Cup match on Sunday morning, with goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Gianluigi Buffon plenty busy.

Tanguy Ndombele came off the bench to assist and impress for Spurs and Matthijs de Ligt making his Juve debut as a sub.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored for Juve, and the latter probably should’ve won it with a dragged shot in the 83rd minute.

Spurs goals came courtesy of Erik Lamela, who tapped in a rebound of a bullet shot from 17-year-old Ryan Parrott, and Moura.

The Brazilian was fed into the box by a sweet Ndombele pass moments after the new Spurs midfielder subbed into the match.

Here is Ronaldo’s goal.

Bale leaving Real Madrid; Where to?

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Gareth Bale is not going to play for Real Madrid this season. The jersey he will pull onto his body remains a mystery.

Real manager Zinedine Zidane said that “it’d be better” for the club and player if he was sold tomorrow, claiming it’s nothing personal but that Bale is simply not in his plans.

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Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett poured gasoline on those comments by blasting the French legend as “a disgrace,” saying the player and agent are “working on” an exit.

From Marca.com:

“Zidane is a disgrace,” Barnett told AFP. “He shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid.”

Obviously it’s far from disgraceful for Zidane to publicly admit that a massive player and personality may no longer fit the bill, and Barnett’s harsh words are more than agent talk: He wants a higher fee than will come from Real saying, “He’s 10000000000% available.”

Barnett does represent Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw, and there are so many reasons to think the Welshman could move to Manchester United. A return to Spurs is obviously romantic, but the club’s wage structure would be a concern to deeming this a fit.

Bale wasn’t fantastic last season, posting eight goals and three assists in under 1800 La Liga minutes and adding three goals and two assists in under 500 Champions League minutes (In fact, he was the 14th ranked player in UCL advanced stats according to Who Scored).

He is not far removed from monster campaigns with Real, and it’s no surprise that his production would drop off in a world without Cristiano Ronaldo around him (and vice versa, to a lesser degree).

There are a lot of reasons to wonder whether Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy would consider what it takes to bring Bale to town. It would instantly and realistically elevate the discussion about whether Spurs could seriously rival Liverpool and Man City for a Premier League title while adding Champions League mettle as well.

The idea of Bale playing with Harry Kane the way he worked with Ronaldo and Karim Benzema is electric, though the prospective move took a hit by Zidane’s lack of love for Christian Eriksen.

Bayern Munich is another potential avenue for Bale, as is the Chinese Super League.

But we wonder if the 30-year-old would sign up for massive David Beckham wages at Inter Miami with a loan to a Champions League side for a season ahead of the Super Becks’ opening campaign in MLS. What better way to engender some fan interest amongst Floridians and Manchester United fans than a nice loan? We’re sure Zlatan brought some Red Devils’ eyes to LA, for what it’s worth. Spurs would work here, too, as would any side hopeful of expanding their American imprint.

Maybe Bale isn’t ready for that step. He’d surely prefer adding to his four Champions League titles and probably likes the idea of doing some bigger things for Wales, but there’s a lot of dough in America and really it’s not going to cost him his place with the Welsh side (though concerns about competition would be legit).

Russian fans clash with baton-wielding police at stadium

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian soccer fans have criticized what they consider heavy-handed policing after clashes at a league game.

Video footage posted online shows police in riot gear beating Spartak Moscow fans on the stadium concourse after a game Saturday with FC Rostov, including two who have fallen to the ground. Fans have alleged they were kept tightly packed in the corridor after the game and then attacked by police with batons.

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The Russian Football Union has told the Sport-Express newspaper that it is calling for an investigation and that “this kind of situation should not be repeated at stadiums.”

The Russian Premier League says in a statement that it is satisfied police acted correctly and accused Spartak fans of trying to free fellow supporters arrested earlier over allegations of throwing pyrotechnics.

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