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Early. Encouraging. Everton.

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It’s early. We know.

But after five games, the signs for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton appear very, very good.

[ MORE: Center backs bigger in Texas ]

Their squad and spirit has the feel of some of the better upstart seasons we’ve seen in Europe: Grizzled veterans, ambitious additions, and young players who don’t know any better.

Start with adding three players who were arguably the brightest spots on their team’s dark 2015-16 campaigns: Swansea’s Ashley Williams, Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie, and Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye. Point of fact: starting a PL team with this trio from scratch would feel like a victory. Adding it to a corps is impressive.

One more time, for the road, how good is Gueye? Good enough that this feels accurate.

Toss in a mix of still growing young stars, whether established (Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley) or raw and fresh (Mason Holgate). Keeping Lukaku is huge and refusing to sell Barkley looks good right now, while taking the profit from John Stones and replacing him with a back in Williams who is — at this point in time — a decided improvement in actual defending.

Now add that to a proud and experienced base which understands the passion of the region — Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry, Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, et. al — and there aren’t any glaring holes in Everton’s early season (aside from schedule strength).

[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]

Following an Opening Day draw against Spurs, the Toffees have reeled off five-straight wins. Four of those have come in the Premier League.

No, the competition hasn’t been strong. It won’t be for a while, either, with Bournemouth and Palace up next for the Toffees.

Everton so far…
Toffees 1-1 Spurs
West Brom 1-2 Toffees
Toffees 4-0 Yeovil Town (EFL Cup)
Toffees 1-0 Stoke City
Sunderland 0-3 Toffees
Toffees 3-1 Middlesbrough

The potential for pain is there come December, with features four of six matches against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Leicester (the first three at home). April has a similar fear factor to it.

That’s why manager Ronald Koeman is stressing not just winning, but style.

“You see the reaction of the fans, they like it,” he said after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough. “The team is more aggressive but they need to run more and press more.”

As for Boro boss Aitor Karanka, he knows it could’ve been worse.

“I can be happy with the attitude of the team because other teams would have lost five, six or 7-1. We were battling to the end.”

It seems foolhardy not to notice that a well-built club that doesn’t face European competition congestion is looking lively early and, given the expectation of further investment around Goodison, there’s enough to believe the Toffees are on the verge of something quite decent.

Bayern confirms pursuit of Man City’s Sane

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Bayern Munich has admitted interest in Manchester City’s Leroy Sane in a move which almost certainly break the Premier League side’s outgoing transfer record.

Sane, 23, was arguably the most important tactical piece of City’s amazing run to the 2017-18 Premier League title, but was relegated to a lesser role this season.

[ MORE: Everton adds Lossl ]

Barring a swap deal, Sane’s sale number would obliterate the approximately $30 million received by City for Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, 2017) and Alvaro Negredo (Valencia, 2015).

Given that Sane cost City around $47 million from Schalke before earning the PFA Young Player of the Season and two Premier League titles…yeah, this one will be costly. Reports say the starting bid will be over $80 million.

Bayern chairman Uli Hoeness confirmed the club’s interest in Sane, while Robert Lewandowski publicly urged the player to join the Bundesliga champions and German national team coach Joachim Loew called it a good fit for both parties.

The year was a tricky one for Sane, who was statistically more productive in fewer minutes. He still managed 16 goals and 18 assists in 47 appearances for City, playing 55 percent of PL minutes. Sane had 14 goals and 19 assists in about 500 more minutes the previous season.

Sane also got grief from Loew and his national teammates for body language amongst other things.

A sale of Sane would give City’s finances a different look. Liverpool’s sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona helped offset the Reds’ big buys in terms of Financial Fair Play.

What to expect as U.S. kicks off U-20 World Cup

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Tab Ramos’ United States men’s national team may have a navigable U-20 World Cup group, but it doesn’t set-up nicely.

Not that supporters are ready to make excuses; The U.S. is expected to make a decent run over the next month in Poland.

[ WATCH: The U-20 World Cup on Telemundo ]

Timothy Weah, Paxton Pomykal, and the Baby Yanks meet Ukraine at 2:30 p.m. ET in their Group D debut, hopeful of a run past the quarterfinals. The Americans haven’t played three post-group stage matches since a fourth place finish in 1999.

A group win is imperative with loaded favorites France expected to win Group E and set for a spot on the other side of the knockout bracket.

Aside from Josh Sargent’s call-up to the full USMNT, the Yanks have every reason to be optimistic about their potential. The 21-man player squad breaks down to six players on German sides, 10 American-based players, two from the Netherlands, and one each from Portugal, Spain, and France.

Weah is probably the most exciting one of the bunch, having success at Celtic on loan from PSG and earning high praise from Neymar amongst others, but Pomykal is one of the best MLS products in some time as a center midfielder.

Both Pomykal and Chris Durkin are getting significant minutes at the Major League Soccer level, while Mark McKenzie has nearly 20 with the Philadelphia Union as a senior player.

Beyond that are exciting strikers Sebastian Soto, who debuted for Hannover 96 this season, and Wolfsburg prospect Ulysses Llanez.

But the Yanks will look to Weah for that extra special something, the 19-year-old scoring six goals between PSG and Celtic this season.

Friday’s debut will be followed by a Monday match against Nigeria before Thursday’s tango witj Qatar.

Winning Group D means the third-place team from B, E, or F, while finishing second is a Round of 16 match-up with France, who boasts a number of high-end players already playing regularly at the highest levels of European soccer.

Everton adds keeper depth with Lossl

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Everton has added goalkeeping depth beyond Jordan Pickford.

Danish keeper Jonas Lossl will sign a three-year contract with the Toffees on July 1, staying in the Premier League after his release from Huddersfield Town.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup rewind ]

Lossl, 30, was initially on loan to the Terriers from Bundesliga outfit Mainz, but the deal was made permanent before last season.

The Dane had an outstanding loan campaign but wasn’t as strong this season as the Terriers were mowed down by Premier League competition and relegated to the Championship.

He was one of five players released by Huddersfield earlier this month.

Pickford also had a rough season between the sticks for Everton, but played all 38 Premier League matches for the club. Maarten Stekelenburg was his backup.

River Plate to sponsor car in Indy 500

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There will be a soccer presence at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500.

On Thursday, Club Atletico River Plate announced, along with car owner Juncos Racing that Kyle Kaiser’s No. 32 car will feature a River Plate logo on the front of the vehicle. Juncos Racing is named after founder Ricardo Juncos, an Argentine native and clearly a big River fan.

Per a press release from River Plate, it’s the first time a soccer team is sponsoring a car in the Indy 500, which takes place this Sunday, May 26.

[READ: Pochettino hopeful Kane will be ready to make an impact in UCL final]

“As a River fan, I always wanted to have the logo of the Club in the car,” Juncos said in a press release.
“This race is very important for me. I am very happy and I believe that in the goal of River to expand into the Indy 500. From here to there will come positive things for both.”

Kaiser, just 23, is one of the new guys on the main IndyCar scene, especially after winning the IndyCar Lights title in 2017. It’s the racing equivalent of winning the Europa League. Unlike River’s reputation as one of the biggest clubs in South America, Kaiser just barely made it into the field all together, bumping former Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso out of the field by about one hundredth of a second.

While it’s cool to see a soccer team get involved in the Indy 500, a worldwide viewing event that’s also akin to a religious holiday throughout the state of Indiana, it’s another Buenos Aires club that really should have been the first to sponsor a car.

Racing Club, defending Argentine league champs, would have been terrific, Racing in Uruguay, or Racing de Santander in Spain. Perhaps one day in the future the three clubs can combine forces to sponsor an IndyCar event or a car competing in a race.