Southampton close in on Mark Hughes

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Southampton is set to turn to an experienced Premier League manager to save them from sleepwalking into relegation.

Pro Soccer Talk understand that Mark Hughes is the overwhelming favorite to take charge of Saints after they fired Argentine coach Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday following a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle where he accused his players of “giving up” during a dreadful display.

It is believed Southampton aren’t set to appoint Hughes imminently, while other candidates such as former Hull City and Watford manager Marco Silva, plus ex-West Ham boss Slaven Bilic, aren’t currently in the running.

Current Southampton assistant coach and former goalkeeper Kelvin Davis took training on Tuesday after Pellegrino’s departure following just one win in their last 17 Premier League games.

Information obtained by Pro Soccer Talk from a source close to the situation revealed that Southampton aim to have their new manager in charge before this weekend. They play at third-tier Wigan Athletic on Sunday in the FA Cup quarterfinal for a place at Wembley in the last four of the competition.

Premier League survival is the main aim but whoever takes over could well be just 180 minutes from leading Saints to a major cup final. The main aim will be turning around the displays of a group of players who many feel have had too much of a say in how the club is run during the short reigns of Claude Puel and Pellegrino over the past 18 months.

Hughes, 54, has been out of work since being fired by Stoke City in January but it is hoped the former Southampton striker (Hughes scored twice in 52 Premier League appearances in a deeper midfield role for Saints from 1998-00) can galvanize a talented squad and pull them through in the final eight games of the season. Hughes has never been relegated as a Premier League manager and with his former club Stoke also in the PL relegation battle with Saints, it may be a way to show his former employers what they’re missing.

Saints are currently one place and one point above the relegation zone and realistically need three more wins (they only managed five in 30 games this season under Pellegrino) to stay out of the bottom three.

After spending the past five seasons at Stoke, Hughes led the Potters to three-straight ninth place finishes before a 13th place finish last season and then a poor start to the current campaign which cost him his job.

While some may question Saints hiring a manager from the merry-go-round with Hughes having a mixed bag of results managing Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR and Stoke over the years, it may well spark their under-performing squad into life. Hughes is well known to be a “players’ coach” and could inspire a complete shakeup at St Mary’s in the final months of the season.

With Mauricio Pochettino, Ronald Koeman, Claude Puel and Pellegrino the last four managers at Southampton, hiring an experienced, British PL boss will be a big shift in direction from Saints. At this point they will do whatever they can to secure their Premier League status.

Hughes will have his work cut out to do that with Saints still to play Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Man City in their final eight games of the season, while five of the eight games are away from home.

Transfer rumor roundup: Many circle around Real Madrid

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Given the major buys of Real Madrid this summer, it’s no surprise that clubs are trying to take advantage of La Liga’s giants need to sell talent.

While Gareth Bale‘s future is the target of many transfer reports, there are many other pieces destined to move away from the Bernabeu.

Real has been tempting Financial Fair Player this summer, backing up the armored cars to the banks of Chelsea (Eden Hazard), Eintracht Frankfurt (Luka Jovic), and Eder Militao (Porto) amongst others.

AS says that AC Milan is asking about Dani Ceballos, Mariano Díaz and Martin Ødegaard.

The 25-year-old Diaz cost Madrid more than $22 million to buy back from Lyon last summer after an 18-goal Ligue 1 season in his only season away from Real. He scored three times in limited minutes last season, and has said he wants to prove himself at Real despite a link to Fenerbahce.

Odegaard’s recruitment was an exhaustive journey that ultimately landed him at Real. Now 20 with 18 Norway caps, Odegaard has made just one senior appearance for Real since choosing the Madrid side after his time at Stromsgodset. He posted eight goals and 11 assists for Vitesse in the Eredivisie last season.

Ceballos turns 23 in August, and scored a career-high three goals this season. His best position is unclear, but the six-times capped Spanish international has a Champions League crown and a U-21 EURO Player of the Tournament award.

The trio could earn Real somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million, though, and Ceballos has been linked with Spurs while Odegaard linked with another loan (Bayer Leverkusen, another step in his progression).

Real is said to be willing to give Spurs a good fee, $57 million, and Ceballos in exchange for Christian Eriksen. That would not help the FFP argument, but would make a certain amount of sense to Tottenham should they value Ceballos.

Eriksen posted eight goals and 12 assists in Premier League play, adding two and four in the Champions League. He won’t turn 28 until February.

USOC wrap: Saint Louis, New Mexico knock out MLS sides (video)

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USL sides delivered the drama on Wednesday night and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup got five more quarterfinalists to join Atlanta United and Minnesota United.

Still to come Thursday, LAFC and San Jose will decide the eighth slot and a date with Portland Timbers.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]


DC United 1-2 New York City FC

Wayne Rooney‘s 32nd minute goal gave the hosts a lead which would only last six minutes, as Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made it 2-1 before halftime on the way to an away win at Audi Field.

Portland Timbers 4-0 LA Galaxy

Three goals in nine first half minutes helped spring Portland to an easy win over disinterested LA. Guillermo Barros Schelotto didn’t bring the majority of his first choice stars to Oregon, and the Timbers routed their Western Conference opposition to the tune of a 19-7 edge in shots.

Saint Louis FC 1-0 FC Cincinnati

They won’t be forgetting this any time soon; Saint Louis got a stoppage time goal from Sam Fink against their old USL rivals to book a place in the USOC quarterfinals.

Orlando City 2-1 New England Revolution

What began with stars on the bench and a 0-0 score line through 90 minutes really escalated quickly in extra time. Benji Michel and Tesho Akindele gave Orlando a 2-0 lead through 15 minutes of extra time, but Carles Gil set up Justin Rennecks early in the second frame to up the drama. Ultimately, Nani‘s men had enough despite New England’s 22 shots.

FC Dallas 1-2 New Mexico United

FC Dallas took the lead through U-20 World Cup star Brandon Servania, but Kevaughn Frater scored again, and ex-Colorado Rapids draft pick Sam Hamilton added the match winner.

Copa America: Messi penalty saves Argentina point, Colombia wins

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The 2019 Copa America isn’t going much better for Argentina than the 2018 World Cup, with a slow defense and a lack of playmakers in the middle of the park keeping the Albiceleste from making a real difference in the tournament.

Argentina followed up its 2-0 defeat to Colombia with a 1-1 draw against Paraguay, Wednesday evening at the Estadio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. Lionel Messi scored the lone goal for Argentina on a penalty kick after the referee had consulted with the video assistant referees on a potential handball on a shot from Messi that was deflected wide by a flailing arm.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]

That means Argentina though still hasn’t scored a goal in open play after 180 minutes with the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Giovanni Lo Celso on the field.

Paraguay looked dangerous throughout the night, with speedy wingers like Almiron and attacker Derlis Gonzalez making life oh so difficult for Nicolas Otamendi, who ended up having to take a yellow card in the second half after being beaten for pace and not wanting to give up a breakaway.

It was one of those attacks in transition which led to the first goal. Miguel Almiron picked up a pass in his own half and went on a bursting, marauding run down the left wing all the way to the byline. Almiron then crossed into the middle where Richard Sanchez arrived and sliced a strike home.

Argentina was given a lifeline early in the second half after an attack that nearly produced a goal. Sergio Aguero chipped a ball into the middle where Lautaro Martinez had a shot go off the crossbar. Messi corralled a rebound, turned and fired in the 50th minute but his show went wide.

A VAR check though showed that it was deflected off the arm of Paraguay defender Ivan Piris, leading to an Argentina penalty kick, one Messi blasted home to tie the game.

Two minutes later, Paraguay could have taken the lead as Otamendi lost Gonzalez and tackled him from behind, making it an easy decision for the referee. However, Gonzalez produced a poor penalty and it was easily saved by Argentina’s Franco Armani.

Argentina now heads into basically a must-win game against Qatar if it wants to advance.

Earlier, Colombia topped Qatar, 1-0, in a pretty evenly-played game. However, it was the world class passing of James Rodriguez that made the difference.

The Colombian’s delightful chip into the box found the head of big-bodied Duvan Zapata, who powered a header home in the 86th minute to give Colombia the win, and earn it a place in the knockout round.

PGMOL: No goalkeeper VAR review on Premier League penalties

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Thank you, PGMOL.

Professional Games Match Officials Limited will not, and we repeat not, use Video Assistant Referee to review goalkeeper positioning on penalty kicks in the Premier League.

We may bake a cake.

There’s a new FIFA law which states that at least one foot must be on the goal line during penalty kicks, which has caused delays, controversy, and frankly nothing positive during the Women’s World Cup amongst other summer events.

According to Sky Sports, PGMOL says VAR is “an ongoing process and will continue to be looked at during the season.”

The rule will be enforced by on-field officials.

Scotland’s World Cup hopes were dashed by a blown 3-goal lead against Argentina which included a VAR-awarded penalty. That kick was retaken after a Lee Alexander save because she left her line.

Nigeria suffered the same fate earlier in the tournament, and the U-20 World Cup has also experienced such fun.