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Report: Messi to skip upcoming Argentina friendlies in U.S.

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Fans of the Argentine National Team will get an early chance to see what life is like “after Messi” in the Albiceleste’s upcoming friendlies next month.

According to a report out of Argentina, Lionel Messi will be left off Argentina’s upcoming squad for a pair of matches in the U.S., and could stay away from the national team through the end of the year, if not until next summer’s Copa America. Argentina will face Guatemala at the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 7 and Colombia on September 11 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Argentina has a major rebuild to undertake with the national team after a disappointing World Cup in Russia. The Argentine FA has yet to hire a new coach, with Lionel Scaloni and Pablo Aimar taking charge in the interim as co-coaches, and 15 of the 23 players at the 2018 World Cup are 30-and over, making it likely most won’t feature for Argentina at the next tournament in Qatar.

Argentine newspaper Diario Ole mused about some of the new names we could see in Argentina’s upcoming squad. Some of the younger members of the World Cup squad could stay, including Christian Pavon, Giovani Lo Celso and Paulo Dybala. But we could also see the introductions of Lautaro Martinez,  Gerónimo Rulli and Santiago Ascacíbar in addition to the return of Mauro Icardi, Leandro Paredes and Ramiro Funes Mori.

Argentina will have about 10 months to figure out its identity before the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, whether or not Messi is there. After so many years struggling at the youth level, Argentina is paying for it now with a poor crop of players compared to the national team’s history, and they’ll need to ask hard questions of themselves on how to rebuild.

In a way, it makes sense for Messi to recover and focus on his season at Barcelona before coming back to Argentina in 2019. It does him or the national team no good to have him there over the next nine months, taking the spot of a guy who will need to gain some valuable experience.

2 Robbies: Manchester Derby, Liverpool win, draws for Chelsea, Arsenal

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle look back at a defining derby match between Man City and Man United (00:30), Liverpool’s comfortable win against Fulham (25:45), the stalemate between Chelsea and Everton (31:30) and a hard fought match between Arsenal and Wolves (41:30).

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

MLS Best XI unveiled with awesome foosball video

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Major League Soccer, wow, this is terrific #content.

MLS released its Best XI on Monday with a dynamite video of the players passing the ball from Zack Steffen in goal to Josef Martinez up top… via a virtual foosball table.

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.

My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.

2018 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Wayne Rooney (DC)

WATCH: Striker scores potentially unprecedented goal while helping teammate

Photo by John Thys/EuroFootball/Getty Images
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“Look, I know you’re injured, but I’m gonna be right back. Got a goal to score for us.”

Maccabi Petah Tikva forward Habib Habibou scored what can only be described as an unprecedented goal — at least in terms of being captured on video — Israel this weekend.

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Habibou, 31, and his club were locked in scoreless tussle with Maccabi Netanya on Saturday when one of his teammates was injured in the box.

The CAR striker, formerly of Zulte Waregem and Royal Charleroi, was taking care of said teammate when he spotted an 87th minute spilled rebound.

What was he gonna do, really, other than dart onto the loose ball, score the match-winner, and then return to his ailing mate?

Petah Tikva won 1-0.

Juventus executive: Bring season Serie A game abroad

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Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci likes La Liga’s idea of taking a regular season match outside of its domestic borders.

Ricci would like Serie A to explore a similar move, saying Italian soccer can only benefit from putting its brand in other markets.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Serie A lags behind other top European league in TV money, which has hindered its ability to recruit top end talent relative to its competitors.

Ricci says if American sports see value in bringing their top leagues to Europe, it holds that the reverse would be true. From the BBC:

“If we look at some other more developed leagues in terms of commercial strategy; the NBA and NFL, they are exporting one or two of their matches abroad, to the UK or elsewhere in Europe. I think it is a good strategy. It is a way to export something that is not an exhibition.”

Would a regular season match bring any more eyes or attention than the International Champions Cup, at least enough to offset the sacrifice of atmosphere? It seems doubtful, but the money is the key here. Italy wants to catch up with Spain, Germany, and England.