The most inevitable news of this week is now official: Giampiero Ventura has been sacked as Italy’s national team manager after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Italy not reaching the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958 was always going to have this outcome.
Following Italy’s 0-0 draw at home against Sweden on Monday, which sealed their elimination from the World Cup after a 1-0 playoff defeat across the two legs, Ventura failed to hand in his resignation as he wanted to speak with officials at the Italian Football Association (FIGC).
The 67-year-old did that on Wednesday and was fired. Below is a statement from the FIGC.
“During a meeting called by FIGC president Carlo Tevecchio… the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia was discussed. As the first order of business Tevecchio revealed the release of the entire technical team and, from today onwards, Gian Piero Ventura is no longer coach of the national team.”
His boss at the Italian FA, Carlo Tavecchio, is also said to be in a perilous position as the four-time World Cup champs are reeling from missing out on the World Cup tournament for just the third time in their history.
Ventura took charge of Italy in the summer of 2016 after Antonio Conte left for Chelsea and had a deal through the 2018 World Cup.
Early favorites to take charge of the Azzurri are Carlo Ancelotti and current Chelsea boss and former Italy coach Conte, while Roberto Mancini and Massimilliano Allegri are both said to be contenders for the position.
Two hopes of the USMNT’s future — one more immediate than the other — squared off in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.
Paris Saint-Germain teenager Timothy Weah, 18, went 90 minutes and scored his side’s only goal in the 3-1 loss in Austria.
[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]
On the other side of the field was 62nd minute substitute Chris Richards, far less known to the American supporter.
Richards is on loan from FC Dallas, where he’s a Homegrown Player. The 18-year-old center back is going to play for Bayern’s U-19 side following a successful trial in April.
Both Bayern and PSG were without key pieces, as Weah went up against a decent Bayern back line of Juan Bernat, Javi Martinez, Josip Stanisic, and Rafinha.
Arjen Robben, Sandro Wagner, and Franck Ribery were the biggest names in Bayern’s XI, while David Alaba, Kingsley Coman, and Serge Gnabry came off the bench.
For PSG, Gianluigi Buffon started as did Adrien Rabiot.
Weah’s goal is below, and here’s what he had to say about it:
“It’s an amazing feeling and getting a well-done job. Me scoring goals, I was really happy to get my first goal for PSG and first goal in this competition. We’re going to Singapore with our head on our shoulders. We’re going to be really humble and keep playing.”
Jurgen Klopp admits he’d love to work with Christian Pulisic again, but isn’t going to butt his nose into Borussia Dortmund’s business.
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s International Champions Cup match against BVB, Klopp was asked about his interest in the American teenager.
[ MORE: Josef Martinez bags 3 more ]
Klopp was quick to point out that Pulisic is under contract to Dortmund and not for sale, as much as he’s aware.
From The Liverpool Echo:
“He had not his best season last year but he was still a decisive player but it’s important in that age group that there’s no rush. He still has 14 or 15 years to play in his career and that’s good and he wants to be the best Pulisic he can be. For this, there is still space for development.
“If – at one point – he will join us, I don’t know. I like him, it’s not that that could be the problem, but we respect contracts still and there’s no market I know about at the moment. We did our business and Dortmund are doing theirs. All good.”
Also all good? Klopp’s evolution on spending after blasting other Premier League clubs for big money buys in the past.
Klopp said he would quit football if transfer fees like Paul Pogba‘s became the norm. Well, they have, and no club has spent as much money as the Reds this summer.
“That’s the problem these days, hey? Whatever b.s. you say, nobody will forget it. On the other side, it’s still kind of true. I couldn’t have imagined since then that the world would change like it has. Two years ago £100million was a crazy number. Since then the world has changed completely.”
He said he’s going to do whatever it takes to make Liverpool successful, and Klopp now has the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and most expensive defender in his squad.
In Major League Soccer’s forgiving playoff structure, there’s almost always a way back into the mix.
When your team has a talent like Nicolas Lodeiro, your chances get magnified quite a bit.
[ MORE: Josef Martinez bags 3 more ]
Lodeiro scored twice, once from the spot, and Seattle debuted its new Designated Player in a 2-0 Cascadia Cup win over Vancouver on Saturday.
Seattle is now eight points back of the West’s final playoff spot with 15 to play in its season. And the Sounders join Portland on three Cascadia Cup points, with the Timbers beating Seattle in the other cup match of the season.
Raul Ruidiaz came off the bench for the Sounders, and showed early glimpses of why Seattle wanted the World Cup participant from Peru.
The ‘Caps finished the match with 10 men thanks to a red card on Efrain Juarez, who saw yellow and then made contact with the referee.
The second goal took a vicious turn on its way to making goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic look capital-A awkward.
Josef Martinez bagged his MLS record sixth career hat trick, and moved to within five goals of the single season goal record as Atlanta United battered DC United 3-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
[ MORE: Caps’ Davies nears Bayern move ]
1) The MLS record book better get used to his name: Martinez now has 22 goals in 22 matches this season, and he’s going to break the Major League Soccer single season goal record if he’s at least half as productive over the final 12 matches.
Martinez has goals in nine of his last 10 matches. He got luck to set up his third, but look at this composed finish.
2) Another American milestone: 18-year-old USMNT prospect Andrew Carleton made his first MLS start and helped set-up Martinez’s second goal, which gave Atlanta United its first lead.
3) Rooney fails to find score sheet: England hero Wayne Rooney couldn’t find a goal or assist after picking up one of the latter in his debut. This time it was a start for Rooney, who went 66 minutes and earned a yellow card to go with his second shot.