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Premier League Preview: Newcastle vs. Tottenham

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  • This will be the fourth time these sides have met on the opening weekend, more than any other Premier League fixture.
  • Harry Kane has never scored a PL goal in August, despite playing 13 matches, 898 minutes and having 44 shots.
  • Spurs are playing their first match of the season away from home for the eighth consecutive campaign. Only Burnley have had a longer sequence in English top-flight history, with nine matches between 1888/89 and 1896/97.

Mauricio Pochettino begins his fifth season in charge of Tottenham with a trip up the country to visit Rafa Benitez and Newcastle early on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Pochettino broke a record this summer, making exactly zero signings in the transfer window, though he was also able to sign star Harry Kane to a new contract and keep he, Dele Alli, and even Toby Alderweireld at the club, despite plenty of foreign interest. All nine players involved in the World Cup semifinals are back in training, and a couple may even make the gameday squad.

Benitez meanwhile has called for a period of “calm” and has suspended contract talks with owner Mike Ashley after a tumultuous summer. Newcastle made seven signings, including Kenedy from Chelsea on loan and Solomon Rondon from West Brom, in addition to permanent signings such as Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez, but the club amazingly let 22 players leave, including Aleksandar Mitrovic for a transfer fee of $25.5 million to Fulham.

With so many players just getting back to fitness following World Cup duty, Newcastle could have the advantage over Tottenham in this season-opening matchup.


What they’re saying

Tottenham manager Pochettino on defending his decision to not sign new players: “I am happy to keep all the squad together. There are many rumors during the summer about players out. I think the Club made a massive effort to try to extend contracts with people like Harry Kane. He is one example but there are many examples too. We believe a lot in our players. Now (we have) players who competed at a high level in the World Cup, now we have the captain who is the world champion, the one who lifted the trophy. That is, I think, a fantastic experience for him to translate to our team. Sure we are going to be better, no doubt about that.”

Newcastle manager Benitez on building on last season’s 10th place finish: “We have to do exactly what we did last year – the fans, the commitment of these players, the togetherness, the work-rate – everything that we did right, we have to do now. During the summer, you have to try to improve your squad as much as possible. As soon as you finish, you have to try and concentrate on football. The fans could expect, ‘Oh, Rafa, he will be upset. He will say “this”, he will say “that”.’ But, it’s not the time to do that. It’s the time to be sure that we can win games on the pitch, and we can compete. The team we have, the majority of them were here last season and we finished tenth. That’s a great achievement for them, and a great achievement for us. Now, we have added some players. It’s good, it’s positive, it could be better – always, you can improve, and be better – but at the moment it is what we have. I’m really pleased with the commitment of these players, and the things they have done last year. The things they can do this year, with more competition in the squad, I am quite positive on that.”

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Prediction

With a full squad at his disposal, Benitez has a great chance to get Newcastle off to a fast start with a win. Tottenham will still need a few weeks before it finds its feet and returns to consistent winning ways, and that’s okay. Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham

Lopetegui, Casemiro, Marcelo react to Super Cup loss

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Real Madrid fell apart in extra time of the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday, losing 4-2 at the hands of cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid.

And new manager Julen Lopetegui says it was not down to desire, even considering how many trophies Real has lifted in recent seasons.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

“These players have won a lot of titles but I do not think that their hunger for titles was missing tonight,” he said. “Last year in La Liga things did not go right for them. We want to get the best out of the team and start picking ourselves up after losing this title. We were all excited for this trophy.”

Losing his first serious match doesn’t bode well for Lopetegui, though his club sold Cristiano Ronaldo, didn’t start Luka Modric, and still came close on Wednesday.

Marcelo didn’t want to talk about transfers.

‘”We need to change our mindset because we have a whole season ahead of us,” he said. “I don’t make the signings. The squad looks good to me. We are united as a group. We played a good game until extra time.”

Casemiro has his coach’s back.

“Any team is bound to miss Ronaldo,” he said. “He is a great player, but he left and we cannot talk about him now, the same with Zidane. We have to talk about the coach, Lopetegui, he is doing a great job. We did good things and we must improve other aspects. The players here are trying to do our best to win titles for Real Madrid.”

Rooney bags two more, including free kick (video)

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Wazza has done it again.

The 32-year-old DC United forward scored for his MLS side against the Portland Timbers, days after producing the tackle/cross heard ’round the world (or at least England and MLS).

Rooney’s perfect run met a terrific ball from Yamil Asad and restored a deadlock between the two sides.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

And this one, well, it doesn’t need much explanation (except to ask if the walls and goalkeeping in MLS are that substandard?

Report: NISA to join USL D-III in applying for USSF sanctioning

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The National Independent Soccer Association will join the USL D-III in applying for Division III sanction from United States Soccer Federation sanctioning by the Sept. 1 deadline for Fall 2019 play, according to Soc Takes.

The nascent league has been quiet since founder Peter Wilt left his post in order to run the new USL D-III side in Madison, Wisconsin.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

The report says there will be as many 10 clubs, and that the league will utilize the European soccer calendar.

Where will the teams be, Soc Takes has some clues:

Soc Takes was previously provided a list of eight cities with their identities embargoed. Three of those cities were in California, while the other five were spread across the country. NISA may have “As many as 10” teams in their application. The source remains confident of a submitting a successful application.

Soccer in America is going to be a complicated follow soon, as NISA is one of at least three groups attempting to compete against the very strong MLS-USL-USL3-PDL alliance. Get your proverbial popcorn ready.

Porter: I should be “in the mix” for USMNT job after Vermes

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Caleb Porter is feeling recharged after a season away from soccer, and would be interested in the United States men’s national team job if the federation is interested in hiring him.

The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio spoke with Porter about leaving Portland, his decision to decline the Orlando City job, and the vacant USMNT.

[ MORE: Austin approves MLS stadium ]

As for his level of interest, the canny operator only put the thinnest veneer on it. Look no further than his endorsing Peter Vermes, who has signed a new Sporting KC deal since the American job opened up. From The Athletic:

“If you’re going American, Peter Vermes, for me, he is the guy that deserves the shot,” Porter says. “I believe that. That guy deserves to carry the torch of our national team. Peter Vermes, in my opinion, based on what he’s done in our league, he’s proven it as an American coach. If you don’t go with Peter Vermes, I think, based on what I’ve proven, I’m in the mix with another two or three guys who deserve consideration and I’d be open to talking.”

Porter says he doesn’t know what his next job is, though he’s assumed it will be in club soccer, and used some salty language to say there’s only job he wouldn’t take: Portland’s Cascadian rival, the Seattle Sounders.

The club that lands the MLS Cup and NCAA College Cup winner will have a fantastic and inspired coach, but let’s hope that USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart goes in a different direction. Porter may ultimately succeed in such a role, but already carries USSF baggage after failing to lead the U.S. U-23s into the Olympics before he took the Portland job.