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Wondo embarks on 14th MLS season chasing Donovan’s record

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Early in his 14th season in Major League Soccer, Chris Wondolowski no doubt knows the question is coming.

About Landon Donovan. About the record. And about whether he’ll break it.

“I hope so, that would be pretty cool,” Wondolowski said.

Donovan holds the career MLS scoring record with 145 goals. Wondolowski is just 10 goals from matching him. Wondo, as he is known, has already scored a goal this season for the San Jose Earthquakes, the team he’s played for since 2009.

“If we’re successful and get some wins, I’ll be able to get some chances, at least,” he said, referring to the prospects of catching Donovan this season.

Recent history is on Wondolowski’s side. He’s scored 12 or more goals in each of the last eight seasons. He led the Earthquakes last year with 13 goals and eight assists.

Wondolowski and Donovan faced off last weekend in San Jose when Donovan’s new team, Leon, visited the Earthquakes in an exhibition match. Donovan scored the lone goal in the 1-0 victory for the Liga MX team.

There was some history there. Donovan played for the Earthquakes for four seasons, leading the team to MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003. Quakes fans were dismayed when Donovan signed with the rival LA Galaxy and went on to win four more MLS Cup championships with Los Angeles.

Donovan smiled when he was asked about the record. He said the ego part of him doesn’t want his record broken, but his heart wants Wondolowski to break it.

“When you look at Wondo’s career and how he’s done it, it’s incredible. For five or six or seven years he didn’t really play. And then all of the sudden he came on to the scene and he scored 15, 18, 20, 25 goals a year for however many years now,” Donovan said. “He deserves it. It’s going to happen at some point and it’s a credit to how hard he’s worked.”

Donovan, who has retired from MLS twice, signed with Leon in January.

After the friendly, Wondolowski and Donovan exchanged jerseys .

“We definitely enjoy joking around,” Wondolowski said. “He told me to go break it (the record) and get as many as I can, and I told him he should come back and keep playing in MLS, as long as he comes back to the Earthquakes. He’s always been a really kind man and it was nice to see him.”

For now, Wondolowski appears focused on the Earthquakes, not the record.

San Jose went 13-14-7 last season, which appeared turbulent for the club. Coach Dominic Kinnear was dismissed in June and replaced by technical director Chris Leitch. Despite the upheaval, San Jose returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 but fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the knockout round.

The Quakes hired new coach Mikael Stahre in November and opened this season with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United. They fell 3-2 in the second match against Sporting Kansas City but Wondolowski scored in stoppage time, giving him 135 goals and moving him into sole possession of second place on the career list, 10 back of Donovan.

Wondolowski has played in MLS since 2005, when he was taken by the Earthquakes in the supplemental draft. He moved with the team to Houston in 2006 before getting traded to the new incarnation of the Quakes in 2009.

His best season for MLS came in 2012 when he had 27 goals, a league record that he still shares with two other players.

Wondolowski has played 35 games with the U.S. national team, including two at the 2014 World Cup. He has 11 international goals, but he is perhaps most remembered for the one he missed – a potential game winner against Belgium at the World Cup that went over the crossbar late in regulation.

He was on the roster for the U.S. team that lost to Trinidad and Tobago last fall, which effectively eliminated the Americans from this summer’s World Cup. He called the defeat devastating.

But as an MLS veteran, Wondolowski is excited about the growth he’s seen in the league. Despite his team’s loss to Leon, he sees the league as steadily gaining on Liga MX. Indeed, the progress has had tangible results in the CONCACAF Champions League, where a pair of MLS teams – Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls – advanced to the semifinals with victories over Mexican league opponents.

“I think it’s been amazing, it’s been leaps and bounds. The league itself has grown – you see the talent that’s out there on the field and the product itself,” he said. “And the Earthquakes themselves, how the club has progressed since 2005. It’s cool to see.”

Report: Luiz Suarez to Atletico Madrid

Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid
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Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid seems just about the perfect fit between a club, player and manager.

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Diego Simeone roaring from the sidelines as Luis Suarez scores a last minute winner for Atletico Madrid at Real Madrid. You can see it now too, right?

A report from our partners at Sky Sport in Italy states that Suarez has already agreed a contract at Atletico and will leave Barcelona as a free agent as RAC 1 claim he will tear up his contract which still has one year left on it.

New Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has told Suarez he was not part of his plans and was free to move on. That decision was said to be one of the big reasons why Lionel Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, as he is close friends with Suarez.

Suarez, 33, suffered with injuries last season but since he left Liverpool in the summer of 2014 he’s been a star at the Nou Camp, scoring 198 goals in 283 games in all competitions for Barcelona.

Per the report, Suarez’s arrival means that Alvaro Morata will be free to depart Atletico Madrid as his former club Juventus want to sign the Spanish international. Suarez had been linked with a move to Juventus but that is now not happening as Suarez would have had a delay in obtaining an Italian passport to make the move easier.

Will Suarez be a hit at Atletico? Well, they have a habit of squeezing extra juice out of star veteran strikers. See: Forlan, Diego. Villa, David. Costa, Diego.

Suarez working for Simeone is perfect. He may not start every game, but he will probably share the workload with Diego Costa and could partner him too. Imagine those two up top together? Separate reports state that Costa may have to leave to let Suarez arrive.

With Inter Miami CF going for Gonzalo Higuain as their final DP and Edinson Cavani still a free agent, there are plenty of ageing superstar strikers out there but Suarez is the best one available. If he can regain full fitness then you can expect him to score 20-25 goals in La Liga this season.

El Cholo and El Pistolero firing Atletico Madrid past Real Madrid and Barcelona is a very real possibility, and I’m here for it. Grab your popcorn, folks.

Leyton Orient announce COVID-19 positives, stadium closure before Tottenham game

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Leyton Orient have issued a statement after multiple first team players tested positive for COVID-19 and they’ve been forced to shut their training ground and stadium just one day before they were due to host Premier League giants Tottenham.

The fourth-tier club were due to play Tottenham in the League Cup third round on Tuesday but that game is now in severe doubt and the east London club (located 11 miles from Tottenham’s home stadium) said they will be announcing more details in due course about what will happen.

Here is the Leyton Orient statement in full about their current situation:

“Following our game on Saturday 19th September, COVID-19 testing was conducted on all of our first team playing squad. Today (Monday 21st) we received formal confirmation which shows that a number of our first-team squad have tested positive for COVID-19. We have informed the EFL and Tottenham Hotspur and will make a further announcement regarding Tuesday’s match shortly.

“We have also informed Mansfield Town, Plymouth Argyle and Oldham Athletic, our three most recent opponents, prior to the public release of this information. Leyton Orient’s priority is the health and well-being of its players and staff. Those who have tested positive will now strictly follow government self-isolation guidelines. The Breyer Group Stadium and training ground facilities will be closed until further notice. At this time, the club will make no further comment.”

The problem here is that Tottenham don’t have any other available dates to play this game.

With their Premier League and UEFA Europa League qualifying commitments, Tottenham are already stretched to the limits and this game at Leyton Orient is one of four games in seven days for Jose Mourinho’s side.

The rules also state that if a team cannot fulfil the fixture due to COVID-19 positive tests, they will have to forfeit and Tottenham will move on. Leyton Orient are a small team who Harry Kane, a former loanee, has helped raised money for and there’s a very good relationship between the two clubs. This game was also due to be broadcast on TV in the UK and would have helped Leyton Orient out financially at a time when fans still aren’t allowed into stadiums in large numbers. These positive tests have now put all of that in doubt.

Lower league teams will run into similar issues like this when it comes to the FA Cup too, as testing is less prevalent and regulated lower down the professional pyramid in England. EFL clubs are only mandated to test their players during every international break and have stopped testing players twice a week. That has led to Premier League clubs paying for their lower-league League Cup opponents to be tested before games. In this case, multiple Leyton Orient players have tested positive.

Mourinho: Bale could return from injury quicker due to desire

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Bale injury update: So, Tottenham fans would be hoping that a Gareth Bale injury update wouldn’t be coming soon but he is nursing a knee injury he picked up on international duty earlier this month.

Judging by their 5-2 win at Southampton on Sunday, Tottenham will be just fine in attack without the Welsh star they’ve signed on loan from Real Madrid for the 2019-20 season. There is no reason for him to rush back, especially considering his recent history with injuries.

That said, Mourinho is hopeful that Bale can return from injury quicker due to that trust remedy: desire.

“I don’t know when Gareth can be back,” Mourinho said on a Bale injury update. “The only thing that I know is that the motivation is high, he is so happy to be with a club of his heart, he is so happy to play for us and when a player has this motivation, many, many times you can shorten the period of recovering and shorten the period of getting fit and ready to play and we want to help him. So when he is available to train with the team, we are more than happy to have him and to be back to a level that [is] maybe one of the best players in the world.”

This is textbook Mourinho.

It has been noted many, many times that he hates players missing games due to injury and is less than sympathetic when someone is in the treatment room.

This seems like a challenge to Bale, 31, to prove just how much he wants to be back at Tottenham after spending the last seven seasons at Real Madrid. ‘Oh, you want to be back here? Prove it. Patch yourself up and be ready for next week.’ That will definitely probably be Mourinho’s chat with Bale next week.

There is no reason to risk Bale right now but when he is fit, having him play alongside Harry Kane and Heung-min Son in attack is a mouthwatering prospect for Mourinho and Tottenham. Their counterattacking prowess was clear for all to see in the second half at Southampton on Sunday and a fired up and fit Bale will add a lot to this attack.

Hurry up and get that dose of desire rubbed onto your knee, Gareth…

Leicester impressive again in 4-2 win over Burnley

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Leicester – Burnley saw Leicester City flex a bit of muscle en route to a mostly comfortable, yet somewhat thrilling, 4-2 victory at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

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Harvey Barnes, Dennis Praet and James Justin scored the goals for Leicester, plus an own goal from Erik Pieters, as Brendan Rodgers’ side made it two wins from two games to start their 2020-21 Premier League campaign.


3 things we learned: Leicester – Burnley

1. Leicester back for another crack at top-four: It’s only two games, admittedly, but Leicester have the look of a side out to prove that their late-season collapse, which saw them fall from third to fifth in the final five games of the 2019-20 season, was very much an aberration. Rodgers’ men hardly ever looked worried as they cruised to a win against last season’s 10th-place finishers.

2. Foxes firepower: Leicester managed to score four goals without a single one of them coming from Jamie Vardy, who bagged 23 last season. James Maddison only made his return from injury on Sunday as well, lending credence to the notion this is far from a one-man team as has, to a degree, been an issue in the past. They might not actually finish inside the top-four this season, but they have the look of a side with plenty of staying power.

3. Burnley crying out for reinforcements: Sean Dyche had some rather critical thoughts about Burnley’s ongoing inability — or, perhaps, refusal — to move in a more timely manner to sign new players and improve the squad. Until such a change occurs, Dyche’s words are probably worth revisiting regularly.


Wood got the scoring started in Leicester – Burnley after just 10 minutes, with equal parts brute force and delicate touch. Charlie Taylor floated a cross to the back post, where Wood was waiting and battling for positioning with a defender. He managed to create a half-yard of space to allow for chest control and a quick, but difficult, finish from the corner of the six-yard box.

Jamie Vardy was instrumental in Leicester’s equalizer 10 minutes later, though hardly the typical manner in which he contributes to goals scored. Vardy latched onto a forward ball in an attempt to split the center backs, but was ultimately forced wide and to hold the ball up. He cut it back to Castagne, who played it on to Barnes for the far-post finish.

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Leicester’s second goal was more a product on constant pressure than exquisite, incisive chance creation, but the ball hitting the back of the net counts all the same. Castagne overlapped down the right flank and hit a cross for Vardy as he streaked past the penalty spot. Erik Pieters wasn’t tight enough to Castagne to deny the cross, only to redirect it past the wrong-footed Nick Pope.

The Foxes’ third goal, however, was the result of a free-flowing attack involving a handful of blue shirts along the way. It ended with Ayoze Perez playing the ball across the penalty area and left back James Justin slotting home for his first PL goal in the 61st minute.

It was Justin who was beaten by Jimmy Dunne as he rose highest to bag a goal on his PL debut 12 minutes later, giving Burnley a brief glimmer of hope. 

It didn’t last long, though, as Dennis Praet bagged a stunning fourth goal for Leicester in the 79th minute. Barnes picked up the assist to go with his earlier goal, but it was Praet’s powerful finish that will get all of the headlines, and deservedly so.

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