Getty Images

Report: Sarri to be released from Chelsea contract

1 Comment

Just two days after the Blues hoisted the Europa League crown, a report claims that Maurizio Sarri will be released from his Chelsea contract so he can leave Stamford Bridge and take the Juventus job.

The report comes from Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla, a correspondent for Italian television outlet SportItalia and independent journalist who is close to Sarri. According to Football Italia, Pedulla was the first on the scene when Sarri departed Napoli for Chelsea just one year ago and has a very good relationship with the current Blues boss.

Pedulla’s report states that Sarri’s agent Fali Ramadani has departed London with assurances from Chelsea brass that the Italian will be free to leave the club this summer without breaching his contract. Reportedly, Chelsea spoke with Ramadani nearly three weeks ago to begin discussions regarding Sarri’s departure independent of the outcome of the Europa League final.

Since, the report has been corroborated by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, who additionally reports that Sarri himself met with Chelsea executive director Marina Granovskaia to reiterate his desire for a return to Italy.

Rumors have flown for weeks of Sarri’s departure this summer after a roller coaster season that saw the club finish third in the Premier League and win the Europa League title, while also reaching the League Cup final. Those outcomes on paper would have likely been acceptable for Sarri’s first year in charge had it not been for a few especially trying moments throughout the campaign that saw the Italian come under heavy fire.

The club lost three Premier League games in a six-match span through December, then dropped to Bournemouth, Arsenal, and Manchester City by a combined 12-0 sandwiched over a 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town, a perfect encapsulation of the range of emotions Chelsea felt this season. Sarri also made the controversial decision to move Player of the Year defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante from his natural position and use new signing Jorginho in that spot instead, to mixed success.

Sarri was often combative when faced with questions about his possible departure at press conferences in recent weeks, although it appears there was substance to those questions after all. Rumors have tabbed former Chelsea midfielder and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard as the favorite to take over should Sarri indeed leave, but nothing concrete has taken place in that regard publicly with Sarri’s future still in question.

With Massimilano Allegri leaving Juventus after securing the club’s 10th straight Serie A crown, Sarri appears to have seized the opportunity to return to his home country. The Juventus squad is in need of a serious overhaul, with a number of aging players weighing down the roster. 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo still seems to be at his goalscoring best, but Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci are all north of 30 years old, with Miralem Pjanic and Wojciech Szczesny nearly there. The club has Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Daniele Rugani, Rodrigo Betancur, and Emre Can all 25 years old or younger along with 19-year-old breakout star Moise Kean, but otherwise the youthful talent is severely lacking.

Continuing at Chelsea, however, would have come with its own baggage as well. The Blues are facing a FIFA-imposed transfer ban that is currently under appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Eden Hazard, the club’s star attacking player, is likely headed to Real Madrid this summer for a hefty fee, and pending the outcome of the CAS decision, the club could have lots of money to spend in the coming transfer fee. American winger Christian Pulisic has already officially joined the club after finishing out the season with Borussia Dortmund. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is also known for running through managers at a vicious pace, and Sarri may have wanted to work for someone with a less itchy trigger finger.

Alongside Sarri, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also returned home to Italy to take the Inter Milan job, with the AC Milan managerial position still open after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso.

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

Getty Images
Leave a comment

You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Euro 2020 qualifying: France settles for draw with Turkey

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Euro 2020 qualifying continued on Monday and included a top-of-the-group clash in Group H.

[READ: England rout Bulgaria in game marred by racist chants]

France 1-1 Turkey

France spoiled a chance at home to put one foot in Euro 2020 after conceding late in the match and settling for a draw with Turkey.

Despite playing without a lot of starters – Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Hugo Lloris are all out injured – France still was strong in the first half and peppered Turkey with 12 shots. Goalkeeper Mert Gunok made an outstanding double-save in the first half and Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü did his best to keep Antoine Griezmann in front of him.

In the 72nd minute, Olivier Giroud came on the field as a substitute and four minutes later, he put France in front to the delight of the home crowd at the Stade de France. What else, but a header off a corner. However, the lead didn’t last long. Off a free kick in the 82nd minute, Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery was nodded home by Kaan Ayhan. The 1-1 draw leaves both France and Turkey tied with 19 points from eight qualifying matches. It also means that Turkey hasn’t lost to France over two games in this qualifying cycle.

Here’s a look at the rest of Monday’s scores:

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores

Group A

Bulgaria 0-6 England

Kosovo 2-0 Montenegro

Group B

Lithuania 1-2 Serbia

Ukraine 2-1 Portugal

Group H

Iceland 2-0 Andorra

Moldova 0-4 Albania

Ronaldo scores 700th goal for club and country

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo achieved yet another personal milestone in his star-studded career on Monday evening with a simple penalty kick goal.

With his 72nd minute strike, Ronaldo tallied his 700th goal for club and country in his career. It’s an incredible achievement, and one indicative of his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his long career.

Ronaldo was already leading all active players globally in terms of goals scored, so his 700th is only adding to the list. His former club nemesis, Lionel Messi, still sits a reported 28 goals behind him, according to Soccerway. After them, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest, and he has “only” 542 goals.

The Portuguese icon becomes the sixth male player to score 700 goals in his career. The others include Pele, Romaro, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskás, and Gerd Muller.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-2003 season as a 17-year-old and quickly was snapped up by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson, where he transitioned from a tricky winger to a clinical striker who couldn’t stop scoring.

The 34-year-old has scored 40-or-more goals on three occasions in his career and he scored 25-or-more goals in all nine years he was at Real Madrid. For Portugal, he’s now scored an incredible 95 goals in all competitions. He had 15 goals in World Cup qualifying alone for the 2018 campaign.

Watch the video of Ronaldo’s breaking goal below. Unfortunately for him, Portugal fell, 2-1 to Ukraine.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

Getty Images
Leave a comment

England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.