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Arsenal beat minnows Lincoln to reach FA Cup semifinal

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Arsenal sealed their spot in the FA Cup semifinals with a routine 5-0 win over fifth-tier Lincoln City at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Gunners fans protest Wenger

The minnows played well in the first half with Arsenal’s opener via Theo Walcott coming in the first minute of first half stoppage time.

Arsene Wenger‘s struck twice in quick succession early on in the second half to put the result beyond doubt with Olivier Giroud and an own goal setting them on their way and then Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey added a goal each to secure their trip to Wembley on April 22 or 23.

[ MORE: Full FA Cup schedule here

Arsenal have now reached the FA Cup semifinal for the third time in the last four seasons as they’ve won the trophy in two of the last three campaigns and Wenger is two wins away from his seventh FA Cup trophy as Gunners boss.

For Lincoln, their wonderful FA Cup adventure comes to an end after they dumped out second-tier sides Ipswich and Brighton, plus Premier League side Burnley. The Imps can hold their heads high.

[ MORE: Man City reach FA Cup semis ]

Lincoln started brightly enough roared on by their 9,000 traveling fans but Arsenal had the first big chance of the game.

A ball fell to Theo Walcott on the edge of the box and his drive was brilliantly palmed onto the post by Lincoln goalkeeper Paul Farman.

Midway through the first half Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hobbled off injured and Mesut Ozil came on in his place and moments later Lincoln almost went ahead.

Nathan Arnold cut in from the right flank and danced past two defenders before curling a shot towards the top corner which Petr Cech saved superbly.

Ozil curled in a cross to the back post which Farman scrambled to push wide and from the resulting corner Arsenal took the lead as Walcott slotted home the layoff from Olivier Giroud. 1-0 to the Gunners right on half time.

Giroud drilled a shot towards the bottom corner in he second half but Farman saved well and then from the rebound Walcott teed up Kieran Gibbs but he was off-balance and his header went over.

Soon after Giroud made it 2-0 as a wonderful piece of interplay between Sanchez and Hector Bellerin saw the latter pick out Arsenal’s French striker and he slotted home.

Bellerin then curled an effort wide when it looked easier to score and then Arsenal’s other full back, Gibbs, linked up with Sanchez as his Gibbs’ cross deflected off Lincoln’s skipper Luke Waterfall and in. 3-0 to Arsenal.

Sanchez then made the most of a defensive slip to curl home a beauty and make it 4-0, then his cross to the back post was tucked away by Ramsey as the Gunners ran away with things.

Alan Power forced Cech into a good stop late on in a rare attack as Sanchez rattled the crossbar with a dipping free kick.

Lincoln tired in the second half and were punished by a ruthless, business-like Arsenal.

Atletico Madrid roster for MLS All-Star Game includes Felix

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Major League Soccer fans will get a good luck at one of the hottest prospects in world soccer when the MLS All Stars take on Atletico Madrid in next week’s MLS All Star Game.

Joao Felix, the $142 million 19-year-old, is among the roster announced by Diego Simeone for the match.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

Felix scored 20 times with 11 assists in 40 matches for Benfica before moving to Atleti in the summer. Those numbers include a hat trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals first leg.

The other stars will be there, too, provided no transfers happen in the interim. Koke, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Saul Niguez are in the squad.

New Atleti defender Kieran Trippier and longtime El Tri hero Hector Herrera will also be sure to help drive attendance in Orlando City.

The full roster is here.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

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It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.