Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Spurs players ready for ‘people upstairs’ to invest, starting with Eriksen

1 Comment

Tottenham Hotspur players see the writing on the wall: their massive, and continued, overachievement is at risk of being undone by the club’s decision makers if they don’t get on board and back the first team this summer.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 36 ]

Danny Rose has called upon the hierarchy, with Daniel Levy chief among them, to start moving in that direction by re-signing Christian Eriksen to a new contract this summer. Eriksen, whose contract is set to expire next summer, is reportedly one of the first names on Real Madrid’s shopping list. Rose is adamant that losing the Danish playmaker would be a crippling blow for the team, as tends to be the case when he’s not playing — quotes from the Guardian:

“It’s obviously vital [that Eriksen re-signs]. If you look over the five years that the manager’s been here, Christian has played the most games and that says a lot. When Christian doesn’t play, there are questions that we don’t look the same. He links everything up for us. The lads in the changing room trust the people upstairs to hopefully get him to sign.”

Mauricio Pochettino has clearly been brilliant in leading a young squad to the brink of a fourth straight top-four finish while also guiding Tottenham to the Champions League semifinal next week, when they’ll face Ajax for a chance to compete in club soccer’s premier fixture. Yet, it all feels so tenuous after the club’s hierarchy elected to make not a single signing last summer or in January.

[ KLOPP: Whatever happens in title run-in, Liverpool will have “no regrets” ]

Injuries have ravished a thin squad, which was only exacerbated by post-World Cup fatigue for so many players, but Pochettino has found a way to make it work. Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks became a formidable midfield duo against all odds, while Son Heung-min has ascended to superstardom. These are bold rolls of the dice which came up Spurs. That’s no way to operate a club at the highest level, though, and Rose knows it.

“We have every possible foundation at the club — the training ground, the stadium now, the fanbase, the players. But it’s not just the foundations that attract players and make players want to stay. It’s out of the players’ control. We just have to trust that the people upstairs are going to do whatever they see fit to help us make that next step. We know that our manager is a winner. He demands the best from us and he wants to win something, as well. So while everybody is on the same page, we can just look forward to next season and see what it brings.”

Then again, this time last year had most bystanders, this writer included, thinking the exact same thing — “They have to bring in reinforcements, because there’s no way Pochettino can string this thing together with bubble gum and shoelaces for another year” — and here we are, with Spurs 180 minutes from the Champions League final and and four points clear of fifth-place Arsenal with three games left to play.

It’s a different story altogether, though, when an influential member of the team like Rose comes out and says so plainly what everyone else is thinking. Because if he’s thinking it and saying it publicly, everyone else in the locker room is thinking it, too.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

Getty Images
Leave a comment

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.