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USSF officer lays out duties of new general manager position

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The United States Soccer Federation’s chief sport development officer clarified the role of the soon-to-be hired USMNT general manager on Tuesday, and it’s not particularly straight-forward or encouraging.

[ MORE: Sarachan on Bradley, Altidore ]

Nico Romeijn was tasked with explaining the job description for the GM position, for which Earnie Stewart is the reported front-runner.

But there’s some confusion in the powers of the GM, a newly-created position. Part of the job duties include, according to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, “overseeing the technical side of the senior national team — including specifying the style of play the team will implement — as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the men’s national team, driving the culture of the team, drive the process of hiring/firing the national team coach, building an integrated staff including some national team assistants, incorporating analytics and high performance, monitor the player pool, and increasing and formalizing oversight.”

Specifying the playing style sounds like a real problem, although let’s look at this hopefully: The GM should be hiring the coach, and playing style would be part of the interview process. It’s like a GM would hire Antonio Conte and then wait two weeks before saying, “Play 3 at the back and I’ll fire you.”

Here’s how it was laid out to Carlisle.

In terms of hiring and firing the senior national team manager, Romeijn stated that the GM would research potential candidates, help compile a short list, and be an important part of the interview process, but that the ultimate decision would lie with the USSF Board of Directors.

With regard to staff, Romeijn said he expected that the new manager would bring in some of his own people but that it’s not a given that all of the staff from the previous regime would be fired and thus start over from scratch.

There is a very delicate balance here, and it would be wrong to approach all of these quotes with only skeptical eyes (and yes, we know that’s very difficult given the past eight months or so).

First, keep this in mind: Imagine if U.S. Soccer hired a general manager, especially one respected here and in Europe like Stewart, but the board of directors shot down his first recommended head coaching hire? That would be monumentally embarrassing for everyone. First, for the GM, who just may quit, but also for the board who would be saying the guy they hired picked the wrong coach.

So, yeah, that’s not going to happen. In terms of Romeijn’s comments, it’s fair to assume we’re talking long term in this job description and it would be wrong to look at it in a myopic manner.

And imagine a program is doing quite well but needs a change at the top (as some would say was necessary when Jurgen Klinsmann was fired). In that instance, flipping the script on the whole project wouldn’t make a ton of sense.

All that said, it’s also fair to loathe the idea that the board still has final approval of the coach hire. A federation, like any organization, should be built on trust. If the USSF believes Stewart, or whoever, is the right guy for the job, it shouldn’t say, “Tell us who you like and then we’ll decide whether it’s a good idea.”

This isn’t a parent asking a kid what movie to rent and then deciding “Die Hard” is too profane (Yes, Mom, I’m still harboring a late 1980s VHS grudge, and also you were probably right. Yippee ki-yay, Benny Feilhaber).

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

This story will be updated.

 

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.