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Mourinho hits back at critics claiming he misuses Pogba

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Jose Mourinho wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he didn’t have to constantly respond to critics, thus it’s a good great thing the Manchester United manager is a world-class talent when it comes to creating and feeding those who oppose him.

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Mourinho’s use misuse, according to just about anyone who’s watch Man United this season, of Paul Pogba has been a regular source of criticism, one about which Mourinho has finally heard enough and elected to speak out.

Following his 63rd-minute substitution in a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago (his first failure to complete the full 90 minutes since returning to Old Trafford two summers ago), Pogba was dropped to the bench for last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield. As far as Mourinho’s concerned, there’s no issue whatsoever being player and manager; between manager and media, however, it’s a very different story — quotes from the Guardian:

“Paul had a very professional behavior. The week was not different to what Paul is every week. He works well, he’s a good professional, he likes to train. I’ve never had a single problem with him.

“When people ask his best position: he’s a midfield player. It depends on the tactical system but he will always be a midfielder. Then with so many opinions, and we are in a world of opinions, people can get confused. There is no confusion between me and Paul. It’s difficult to play a midfielder with more potential than Paul.

“In relation to his best position, I had a few laughs over the past week because I heard, I watched, had a chance to read a few things and I’m not English, but I understand English enough to understand what I want to say with ‘box to box.’

“But with some comments from important people in football, I got a little bit confused because, for me, box-to-box means that you have to defend well in this box, you must have the physical , the desire, the intensity, the stamina condition to go to the other box and be good scoring, creating, heading, so on.

“This week I was confused when people say ‘box to box’; to play free of defensive duties, that’s not box to box. When people say what’s his best position for Paul to play: Paul is a midfield player.”

Mourinho is right in saying this is “a world of opinions,” so here’s one more on Pogba and his best position: he is being misused by Mourinho; he’s not a box-to-box midfielder; he’s a roaming playmaker who requires ample defensive protection from his midfield partner(s); he’s also playing in a league now, as opposed to his time at Juventus, where he became a $116-million player, where (at least) half of the midfielders possess many of the same physical and athletic traits that, while being a supremely talented player both technically and tactically, oftentimes set him apart from the competition.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.