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Report has Mascherano hoping MLS meets his salary demands

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Thirty-three year-old Javier Mascherano remains one of Barcelona’s most effective players, so what would he do to an MLS XI?

We may find out, even if the longtime destroyer and current center back is calling Barca’s bluff via a Sport report out of Spain.

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According to it, Mascherano has two interests regarding his new contract: Go to Major League Soccer or stay at Barcelona… in that order?

Apparently, Mascherano has the Catalan club’s backing as well. Translated from Sport:

His desire is clear. If a franchise in the USA meets his demands, Barcelona will let him go. In the opposite case, he will continue at the club. Open doors and absolute willingness to comply with a player who has given his all to the club.

The Argentine star has collected trophies since coming to Barca from Liverpool, and remains an important part of his national team’s side.

Mascherano has been playing center back for club and country, and Barca has only lost one match with him in the lineup (the second leg of the Super Cup against Real Madrid).

He’s not an every week guy, but WhoScored rates only Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Sergi Roberto ahead of him. Per game, he’s behind only Messi according to Squawka.

Imagining a player like Mascherano, he of the 91 percent pass completion despite boasting the longest average pass on Barca, springing some freakish attackers in MLS is almost intoxicating (whether he’s playing defensive mid or center back).

Now imagine old pal Tata Martino and Atlanta United using its (possible) profit from a sale of Miguel Almiron or Hector Villalba to lead a move for Mascherano and, by extension, send players in on goal (We suppose LAFC, the Galaxy, and New York City FC wouldn’t hate the idea, either).

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Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke suspended, fined

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NEW YORK (AP) Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke has been suspended an additional game and fined $10,000 by Major League Soccer for on-field misconduct during a game against Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Alisson on the brink of joining PL giants Liverpool ]

The suspension announced Wednesday follows an automatic one-game game ban for being ejected from the Utah club’s 3-1 road loss Saturday night.

Petke was fined for abusive and profane language directed at officials, uncontrollable behavior when he was ejected and public criticism of officials during a postgame press conference. Real Salt Lake also was fined $10,000 fine for social media posts.

Petke will miss games Saturday night against Colorado and July 28 against San Jose.

Adam takes shot at Shaqiri as example of Stoke rot

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Xherdan Shaqiri has left relegated Stoke City for the greener Premier League pastures of Liverpool, labeling it a move in search of silverware.

Former teammate Charlie Adam thinks that’s pretty rich.

[ MORE: Alisson on the brink of joining PL giants Liverpool ]

The 32-year-old Adam, a former Red himself, says Shaqiri was among the group of players he criticized for shrinking in big moments and not caring enough about the relegation fight.

Here’s what Adam said in May:

“I’ll be honest for the supporters, I think some players have been getting away with murder for a long time and it’s difficult for supporters. It’s not just one or two, I think there are four or five that could be counted.”

Offensively, Shaqiri had the best season of his career. The 26-year-old Swiss international scored eight goals in the Premier League, but was absent from the score sheet from March 3-April 28. Stoke collected just four points during that eight-match span, all draws.

But Shaqiri did score Stoke’s lone goal in the match which saw them officially relegated, a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace in which there’s no question the stakes were incredibly high.

Asked about Shaqiri on Thursday, Adam did not hold back.

“Was he one of them? Oh, definitely. When the chips are down you look at your big players, you want your big players to bring magic in one moment in the season, and at times we felt like the so-called big players in the squad never turned up for us and never performed.

“Yeah, everybody else could help, but for all the plaudits to so-called bigger players we getting from certain members of the management staff last season – they weren’t producing.”

Shaqiri scored in three-straight February matches, of which Stoke won exactly zero, and pitched in seven assists this season. Huh.

While we don’t know what his attitude was like around the Potteries, it’s very difficult to consider labeling his season a big reason for Stoke’s downfall.

He’s an easy man to scapegoat now, being out the door, but Shaqiri had a decent season for sure. Adam is a strong servant of Stoke, but played in less than a dozen games. This truly seems like the wrong messenger picking the wrong target, though it could help build a bit of momentum for a new season.

USOC roundup: LAFC, Chicago join Philly, Houston in semis

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All four quarterfinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were played on Wednesday, and not a single one of the fixtures required extra time or penalty kicks. The semifinal field is set, as follows…

[ MORE: Man City, USMNT’s Mix Diskerud loaned to South Korea ]

Los Angeles FC 3-2 Portland Timbers FULL HIGHLIGHTS

LAFC might be an expansion team in 2018, but Bob Bradley‘s bunch is headed to the semifinals of the Open Cup after narrowly outlasting the Portland Timbers on Wednesday.

Each side put the ball into the other team’s goal twice, but David Guzman’s early own goal — the game’s opening tally in the 33rd minute — proved the difference on the night. Carlos Vela made it 2-0 to LAFC just five minutes later, but Julio Cascante halved the lead in first-half stoppage time.

Two more goals, courtesy of Marco Ureña and Vytautas Andriuskevicius, came in quick succession early in the second half. It was 3-1 after 51 minutes, and 3-2 after 52.

A memorable night in Southern California was, however, marred by a racial slur which was allegedly lobbed at LAFC striker Adama Diomande.

Houston Dynamo 4-2 Sporting Kansas City — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

The defending holders of the Open Cup went ahead, through Johnny Russell, after two minutes, but proceeded to conceded the game’s next four goals — three of which came during a scintillating 34-minute stretch beginning in the 35th minute.

Romell Quioto scored nos. 1 and 2, followed by nos. 3 and 4 from Mauro Manotas to put the game away and brush aside a shorthanded, injury-stricken Sporting KC side playing its fourth game in 14 days (three of four have been on the road). Yohan Croizet pulled a goal back during second-half stoppage time, but it was far too little, too late.

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes held back very little as he lit into his players after the game.

“I thought some players gave everything they had. There were other players that didn’t give everything they had. More so, I think a couple guys gave up in the game. … You’re not going to win a game when you have certain players that just give up or don’t put the effort in like they have to. That’s the result you get.”

Chicago Fire 4-0 Louisville City — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

Chicago dispatched the last remaining lower-division team in this year’s tournament, smacking aside Louisville with a pair of first-half goals, followed by another paid during the final minute of the game and stoppage time.

Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai did the damage in the first half, followed by Diego Campos and Elliot Collier in the 90th and 92nd minutes.

Philadelphia Union 1-0 Orlando City SCFULL HIGHLIGHTS

In the night’s opening game, Philadelphia got an early goal from Alejandro Bedoya and held on for the ensuing 86 minutes to knock off Orlando City at Talen Energy Stadium. It was Haris Medunjanin’s free kick which was headed across the face of goal by Fafa Picault, and Bedoya arrived late to poke the ball past backup goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.

Semifinal draw

Thursday, July 19, 1:45 p.m. ET — on ussoccer.com

Mourinho bemoans ‘very bad’ preseason for Man United

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MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described the team’s preseason as “very bad” because of the disruption caused by the World Cup and the absence of Alexis Sanchez for the tour of the United States.

Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jones will not return to training with United until close to the start of the new season because their countries got to the semifinals of the World Cup in Russia.

Sanchez wasn’t among the United squad heading across the Atlantic because there was an issue with his visa after the Chile forward accepted a 16-month suspended sentence in Spain over a tax issue.

Mourinho said “preseason is very bad, I have to say that,” adding that “I am worried because I am not training with all my players.”

On Sanchez, Mourinho said “he’s very sad, it’s not good for him or me, not good for anyone. There is no one to blame — the club is making an effort. I have to respect the U.S. authorities in their process of selection of visas. I hope he will come to join us.”

Mourinho said he is set to start the season with Sanchez, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial as his strike force.

United flew to Los Angeles on Sunday and will play five games, including three International Champions Cup matches against Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool, during its stay.

United plays its first English Premier League game of the season on Aug. 10 against Leicester at Old Trafford.