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Does Rooney’s England return undermine USMNT friendly?

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When it comes to the announcement that Wayne Rooney will make a one-off return to the England national team for the friendly at Wembley against the USA on Nov. 15, opinions are pretty much split right down the middle.

Many say this is a fitting end to Rooney’s international career, as he will be given a proper send-off as he wins his 120th and final cap and the all-time record goalscorer will be able to say a final farewell to the Three Lions fans at Wembley. The game will also be named the Wayne Rooney Foundation International, with the proceeds from the game given to the charities he supports. Who can argue against that?

On the other hand, many say this not only undermines the fixture against the USMNT but also current England boss Gareth Southgate.

Remember: Rooney, 33, retired from the English national team in August 2017 when he was left out of a few squads despite being told he still had a role to play as Southgate looked at younger options. With his career generally on a downward curve, Rooney then left the national team without a proper goodbye as the most-capped outfield player in Three Lions history was done. To hammer home the fact that the decisions made by Southgate and Rooney were the correct ones, England reached the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup with a young, hungry side impressing.

That achievement surpassed any tournament finish Rooney had during his England career as penalty kick and quarterfinal heartache came time and time again for the Manchester United legend. Yet you could never question his commitment to England’s cause and, in truth, at times it seemed as though he cared too much and had the weight of the world on his shoulders due to the huge expectations.

“I am truly humbled and hugely excited to play for England at Wembley again,” Rooney said. “I would like to thank Gareth Southgate and The FA for inviting me back and helping to support my foundation in the process. Playing for England was the greatest honor of my career, so winning my 120th – and final – cap will be a particularly special moment for me. It’s fitting that the match will be against the USA and I hope that both sets of fans enjoy the game.”

But what about this specific game against the U.S. men’s national team?

The young USMNT players will still be given a proper test against the no.5 ranked team on the planet, Rooney or no Rooney, with the D.C. United star expected to start the game but it is unclear how long he will actually play. After all, he’s not exactly about to pick up his pension and many of his American opponents will know that.

Rooney just ripped it up in MLS over the past few months (save your jokes about a retirement league for another time, please), scoring 12 times and assisting on six more to lead D.C. United from last place in the Eastern Conference to the playoffs in the 19 games he played. He still has a contract in MLS through the end of the 2021 season, but there is no suggestion that this comeback is anything other than a glitzy farewell.

Does Rooney’s 120th and final cap suggest that England aren’t taking this friendly against the USA that seriously? Absolutely. From a true sporting perspective this shouldn’t be happening and with U.S. Soccer billing this friendly as a huge deal, their counterparts aren’t exactly doing the same as they’ve now moved the goalposts slightly. It already has a testimonial feel rather than being a true test in a hostile environment for a young, developing USMNT side. But with some mocking Rooney’s return and suggesting Gary Lineker and others should get a run out too, that is so far from the truth. Rooney could impact this game and play a full 90 minutes if need be.

Rooney played for England for 13 years and it was due to his decision to retire that he didn’t get a proper farewell game. Southgate and England moved on from Rooney quickly and Harry Kane emerged as their leading striker, along with Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.

There is a lot to be said about Rooney’s appearance blocking minutes for young England players coming through but, in truth, Kane will just be getting a much-needed rest ahead of England’s big UEFA Nations League decider against Croatia at Wembley on Nov. 18 and Southgate will not risk another forward being injured. And without Jamie Vardy, who recently retired, England don’t have a lot of options up top anyway.

England will likely play many of their squad players against the USMNT with Southgate’s focus firmly on the game against Croatia. That means that any debate about this is a little overblown as Rooney truly deserves a special farewell. If Rooney playing a few minutes at the start of the game is what Southgate and the FA want to do rather than him being honored and clapped on the pitch as he picks up a plaque before the game then walking off, so be it.

This is all very similar to the Landon Donovan situation in October 2014, as he played in a friendly against Ecuador after being ousted by Jurgen Klinsmann. Yet that game was organized exclusively to honor Donovan and we knew what it was going into the match. In Rooney’s case, it is quite clear he decided to walk before he was pushed out by Southgate, so again this slightly undermines the England manager who has done so much to restore pride in the national team over the past 12 months since he took charge.

We have to remember that friendly games are little more than glorified training matches these days and this farewell for Rooney will give England’s game against the U.S. something extra special.

But there’s no doubting this farewell does suggest that England are undermining the visit of the Stars and Stripes later this month.

Transfer news: Werner to Chelsea; Sanchez to Inter

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In the latest transfer news Timo Werner is reportedly being chased by Chelsea, while Alexis Sanchez could be staying at Inter Milan instead of returning to Man United.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

First up, a juicy report from Bild says that Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is trying to convince his Germany teammate and close friend Timo Werner to join hm at Stamford Bridge.

Werner, 24, has dazzled at RB Leipzig this season (31 goals in 40 games in all competitions) and is widely expected to leave with Liverpool, Man United and many others clubs across Europe chasing his signature. Per the report, Chelsea have Rudiger working hard to convince his friend and former Stuttgart teammate that west London is the place for him.

The release clause on Werner’s current contract is said to be $60 million and Chelsea are one of the few clubs who have a healthy transfer budget as they had a transfer ban for a whole year and Frank Lampard has just spent $44 million on one new signing so far, bringing in Hakim Ziyech who will not arrive until later this summer.

Werner is exactly what Chelsea need. They have created so many golden goalscoring opportunities and although Tammy Abraham was putting them away at the start of the season, his form and fitness was a concern in the last few months before the suspension.

Olivier Giroud is their only other forward option and Werner would be perfect to finish off the chances this attack-minded Chelsea team create. Even better for him, he would actually play at Chelsea which may not be the case at Liverpool and Man United given their stacked attacking lineups.

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Heading to Manchester, it appears Alexis Sanchez may not be going back to his parent club next season.

Sanchez, 31, is on loan at Inter Milan for the 2019-20 season and the Daily Express claim that he could stay at Inter rather than heading back to Old Trafford despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer previously saying he was open to the idea. Per the report, Man United are keen to loan Sanchez out to Inter once again on a similar arrangement and the Serie A side are willing to see how Sanchez does when the season restarts in a few weeks. With Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and others around at Man United, he may struggle for minutes at Man United.

Would another loan be a good move for Inter?

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have been their main strikers this season under Antonio Conte, with Sanchez out injured for large chunks of the campaign and then doing okay when he did play. However, with Martinez chased by Barcelona, if they do sell the Argentine forward for over $115 million, having Sanchez around on loan would soften the blow.

The main problem with Sanchez is that over the last three years he has picked up consistent injury problems. If he can shake those issues off, we all know he is capable of scoring goals and creating havoc. Given this recent track record though, that’s a big if, as he’s scored just one goal and added three assists in 15 outings for Inter this season.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

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Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that zero out of 1130 COVID-19 tests taken on Thursday and Friday have come back positive.

Zero.

The fourth round of testing is the first time that no positive tests have come back, as a total of 3,882 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 12 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as full contact training is now up and running and a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full:


The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Previous test results

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.


This is more good news for the Premier League as the UK government gave the green light for elite sport in the UK to return from June 1 in empty stadiums, as the top-flight of English soccer continues to clear each hurdle in its way to finishing the final 92 games of the 2019-20 season.

With just over two weeks to go until the action returns, Premier League clubs will have to keep these test results low for the restart to take place.

Bayern Munich batter Fortuna, go 10 points clear at the top (video)

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Bayern Munich are waltzing their way to an eight-straight Bundesliga title as they battered Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 on Saturday at the Allianz Arena to record an eight-straight win in the German top-flight.

[ MORE: Schalke lose again; Saturday recap ]

An own goal, two from Robert Lewandowsk and a goal each from Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies did the damage to Fortuna as Bayern Munich are now just three wins away from securing the title, as they have five games left in the season.

Hansi Flick has now won 22 of his 25 games in charge of Bayern Munich after he took charge in November with the German giants struggling under Niko Kovac. Now, they are rampant and are one of the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League.

The Bavarian giants dominated early on as USMNT midfielder Alfredo Morales made an important clearance but Mathias Jorgensen was so lucky a few moments later.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule, stats

A ball into the box found Benjamin Pavard and his scuffed effort was going wide before it hit Jorgensen and went into his own goal.

Bayern then doubled their lead as Thomas Muller’s shot was pushed wide and from the resulting corner Pavard nodded home to make it 2-0.

Lewandowski made it 3-0 before the break as he has now scored against all of the current Bundesliga clubs and had previously gone without a goal in five outings against Fortuna.

Kimmich’s surging round saw the loose ball find Muller and his pass to Lewandowski was perfect as he swept home to an empty net.

Lewandowski was at it again just a few minutes after the break as he finished off a slick Bayern move as the Bavarian giants put their foot on the accelerator.

Alphonso Davies made it 5-0 as he bulldozed his way through the Fortuna defense and slotted home, while Muller and Pavard went close to adding a sixth and Fortuna had the odd chance on the break.

In the end, the victory was as routine as possible for Bayern Munich who have more than one hand on the Bundesliga title.

USMNT’s Weston McKennie honors George Floyd with armband

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Schalke and USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie has released a statement after he wore a personalized armband with the message ‘Justice for George’ on it to honor George Floyd.

McKennie, an American international who has played in the Bundesliga for the last four seasons at Schalke, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He wore the armband in Schalke’s defeat at home to Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN on Monday there have been widespread protests across the USA. A video showed former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with murder, authorities confirmed.

Weston McKennie released the following statement after wearing the armband at the weekend to honor George Floyd:

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!! We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism

Here is a photo of McKennie wearing the armband which he put on before the game kicked off and wore on his left arm.