@NISALeague

Q&A with newly-named NISA president Bob Watkins

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The National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) has announced its new president, and made him available for media interviews.

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ProSoccerTalk spoke with Bob Watkins, NISA’s commissioner and the founder of United States Rugby, about plans for the nascent league. He’s also one of the owners of San Diego’s 1904 FC, the club with connections to Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye, and Moussa Sow.

Other reports have also announced that 1904 FC — formerly an applicant for the USL — will be a founding member of NISA.

ProSoccerTalk: What attracted you to the position?

Bob Watkins: “Excitement of the concept. I’ve been involved with the NASL a number of years ago with the club in San Diego. As that began to collapse if you will, it became apparent to me that a lot of the things that seemed to be not going well could’ve been avoided if it had been an activity looking at it from a future point of view, looking at where soccer in the United States was going, and what could be done to support that. When Peter Wilt and John approached me to look at this activity, I thought it was a different way of doing things. Not necessarily that they were better than anything else, but I liked the concept. It was a little bit more democratic. It was about playing soccer rather than trying to build an empire or change the world.”

Bob Watkins, @NISALeague

PST: When you say “democratic,” what do you mean?

BW: “The league is owned by the owners. All the teams who come into the league subscribe to the league. We don’t have any high financial barriers. It’s relatively modest if you’re looking at MLS or USL, and to me that makes a lot of sense so that groups who want to participate can do it, and there are no geographic boundaries or franchise areas.”

PST: How can your experience growing U.S. Rugby help with a new American soccer league?

BW: “When I looked at this from years ago, and began to think about how do I help develop a club in San Diego, I took the veneer of the sport of rugby on, and took the veneer of the sport of soccer off, and compared them both. Rugby is in its infancy in comparison to what soccer is, and there’s a lot of embedded activity in soccer that is just becoming part of the system in rugby. But if you flip the base to the top, and then build your system based on the enthusiasm, participation, and passion for it, that’s where you’re going to win hearts and minds. We’re here to promote the game, not to promote individual fiefdoms or organizations. What rugby has not had, which is in the process of doing, is building a youth development program.”

PST: You mentioned your time with NASL. Are you concerned with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s support of a new league?

BW: “I look at U.S. Soccer as I look at U.S. Rugby or any other national governing body. They’re there, they command the respect and ability to promote the national presence of the game. We have to build a system that supports that process. If change comes as a result of the way we’re doing things, so be it. We’re not there to change the rules of U.S. Soccer. We’re there to play the game at the base level and make it enjoyable and pleasant.”

PST: Being owner-owned should help, but how do you make sure you follow a good path in terms of expanding/growing the league?

BW: “What one has to look at, is there are certain standards that U.S. Soccer has for professional teams to participate, so we don’t want to drop down in terms of teams like NASL. At the same time, we want to make sure that we’re not ahead of our skis in terms of our ability to manage the growth. One of the challenges that we’re going to have is that a number of teams will be coming into a professional level which is different than the amateur level. We need to support the clubs with as much on-boarding as possible. It’s like taking an amateur player and making them a professional … to compete in the marketplace. Each that comes into the league has to hit the same standards as everybody else has so we can help them promote them, and grow them.

PST: What’s next?

BW: “Timing wise we’re looking at the Fall of 2019 coinciding with the FIFA schedule. Until then we’re building a relationship with each of the clubs, with U.S. Soccer, and fan bases around the country.”

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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Matchweek 27 has eight games in the Premier League over the next three days, and there is one massive clash.

Manchester United v. Liverpool takes center stage on Sunday, but before that there are plenty of tasty clashes with huge implications at both ends of the table.

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The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Friday
2:45 p.m. ET: West Ham v. Fulham – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Cardiff City v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle v. Huddersfield – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Leicester City v. Crystal Palace – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
9:05 a.m. ET: Man United v. Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM]
9:05 a.m. ET: Arsenal v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

New Premier League schedule for April released

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The new schedule for Premier League games in April has been released and plenty of massive games in the title race and relegation battle will take center stage in primetime slots.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Games selected for TV broadcasts have been moved to the new dates, with multiple matches involving Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Man United moved.

Below is the new schedule for April, with plenty of conditions attached if certain teams progress further in the FA Cup and Europe.


Tuesday 2 April
2:45 p.m. ET: Wolves v Man Utd *Because of participation in FA Cup semi-finals

Friday 5 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Southampton v Liverpool

Saturday 6 April 2019
7:30 a.m. ET: Man City v Cardiff City *Subject to FA Cup participation

Sunday 7 April 2019
9:05 a.m. ET: Everton v Arsenal
11:30 a.m. ET: Spurs v Brighton *Subject to Spurs’ UEFA Champions League match date and FA Cup participation

Monday 8 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Chelsea v West Ham

Friday 12 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Leicester v Newcastle

Saturday 13 April 2019
7:30 a.m. ET: Spurs v Huddersfield *May move to 14 April because of PL clubs’ participation in UEFA Champions League the Tuesday after
12:30 p.m. ET: Man Utd v West Ham

Sunday 14 April 2019
9:05 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace v Man City*
11:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool v Chelsea*
*May move to 13 April because of PL clubs’ participation in UEFA Champions League the Tuesday after

Monday 15 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Watford v Arsenal

Saturday 20 April 2019
7:30 a.m. ET: Man City v Spurs
12:30 p.m. ET: Newcastle v Southampton

Sunday 21 April 2019
8:30 a.m. ET: Everton v Man Utd
11 a.m. ET: Cardiff v Liverpool

Monday 22 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Chelsea v Burnley

Wednesday 24 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Man Utd v Man City *Moved due to FA Cup quarter-final participation

Friday 26 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Liverpool v Huddersfield

Saturday 27 April 2019
7:30 a.m. ET: Spurs v West Ham *May move to 28 April because of UEFA Champions League participation the Tuesday after
12:30 p.m. ET: Brighton v Newcastle

Sunday 28 April 2019
9:05 a.m. ET: Burnley v Man City *
11:30 a.m. ET: Man Utd v Chelsea *
*May move to 27 April because of UEFA Champions League participation the Tuesday after

Monday 29 April 2019
3 p.m. ET: Leicester v Arsenal *Will move to 12:00 28 April if Arsenal reach UEFA Europa League semi-finals

Martial, Lingard could be fit for Man United v. Liverpool

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Manchester United could be given a huge boost ahead of their battle against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: Rashford to Barcelona?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that both Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are much closer to returning from injury than previously thought.

The star wingers, who have shone under Solskjaer since he arrived as caretaker boss in December, were both injured in the first half of United’s 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Feb. 12.

Speaking to the media ahead of the massive game against Liverpool, a promising update on the duo arrived from Solskjaer.

“Jesse is looking OK. I hope with Anthony,” Solskjaer said.” Anthony’s was a different muscle, so we think he might be ready and hope that Jesse will. We’ve got two more days so they’ve got to get through these two sessions. They’ve not been part of training yet but they’ve been doing some recovery work.”

Now it is all about one thing: is it worth risking the duo suffering further injury?

Quite likely. The dropoff in United’s display against PSG was stark when Martial and Lingard went off and although the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata have stepped in well in recent weeks, the balance between Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Martial and Lingard just felt right in United’s front four positions.

You get the felling that if Solskjaer has a chance of reuniting that quartet on Sunday, even if it’s only for an hour, he will take it. And when you add in the factor that a win against Liverpool would seriously scupper the title chances of the latter, and it’s safe to say at least one of Lingard or Martial will be in the starting lineup at Old Trafford.

Both Martial and Lingard are essential to the new dynamic Manchester United playing at full throttle.

Report: Barcelona make Marcus Rashford main target

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Marcus Rashford is a local lad who is living his best life by being Manchester United’s main man right now.

[ MORE: Chelsea hit with transfer ban

The 21-year-old is yet to sign a new contract with the Red Devils though, and reports suggest some of Europe’s biggest clubs are sniffing around the United academy product.

A report from Mundo Deportivo says that Barcelona have made Rashford their “dream” target, as the Catalan club look to replace the brilliant but ageing Luis Suarez.

Per the report, it is believed it would cost Barca over $135 million to sign Rashford. If he does sign a new long-term contract over the next few weeks (expected to be worth over $250,000 per week), then we expect that transfer fee to push closer to $200 million.

All in all, this move seems unlikely for Rashford and United. Right now.

Selling the crown jewel from your academy and a local hero who is finally getting a run of games as a central striker and has improved his output under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would cause huge uproar among United’s fans. He has scored 42 goals in 155 appearances for United since making his debut under Louis Van Gaal in 2016. Under Jose Mourinho he was often played out wide and used as a sub, but Solskjaer has rejuvenated the English striker in recent months and he’s taken Romelu Lukaku‘s place in the lineup.

That said, if Rashford does stall on signing a new contract then this could turn into a bit of a saga as his current contract runs out next summer but he has the option to extend it for another year.

Rashford’s searing pace and ability to cut inside and finish from wide positions is clear and under Solskjaer he has become more clinical and has added end product to his game with some wonderful crosses for teammates to score.

His ability as a star of the future for Man United and England is undoubted, and although Barcelona would love to pry Rashford away from his hometown club it is unlikely that is going to happen.

File this rumor under “if it happens, I’ll eat my hat.”