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Bravo linked with NYCFC alongside Man City promotion for Steffen

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According to multiple reports, including The Guardian and ESPN FC, Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is considering an offer to join Major League Soccer club NYCFC this summer when his Man City contract expires.

For USMNT fans, the buried lede in these reports is that the move is being considered in part thanks to a possible promotion for 24-year-old American international Zack Steffen, who could reportedly be set for a move to Man City’s backup role after his loan spell at Fortuna Dusseldorf expires this summer, according to ESPN FC journalist Mark Ogden.

Steffen is currently on the shelf with a frustrating knee injury that has seen him return to Manchester for further tests, and Fortuna has struggled defensively in general this season, sitting 16th in the 18-team Bundesliga table having conceded 49 goals in 23 matches. Still, he has clearly done enough to impress Guardiola and could be given a chance to compete for a backup job alongside 21-year-old Ari Mujic who is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest.

That is excellent news for the prospects of Steffen moving forward, although it would be tough for USMNT fans to justify having their first-choice goalkeeper riding the bench for full seasons at a time. Still, the fact that his name is in consideration for a top Premier League side is positive news for sure.

Bravo, now 36 years old, has seen very little game action over the past few seasons. He has served as the domestic Cup goalkeeper for Manchester City but otherwise is squarely in a backup role. Ederson has even been prioritized in the Champions League, with Bravo seeing action in just three European matches the past few seasons. Still, he remains first choice for the Chilean national team having started all four of their late 2019 friendlies after missing out on the summer’s Copa America recovering from an Achilles injury. He also proved his worth recently, starting the League Cup final against Aston Villa on Sunday and making two saves including a critical 88th minute stop on a header by Bjorn Engels to maintain the 2-1 lead.

NYCFC would be a natural landing spot for Bravo, who has backed up Ederson the past three seasons and seen just seven Premier League appearances in that span. The MLS club is owned partly by Manchester City and the two have a strong working relationship. Steffen moved from MLS side Columbus Crew to Man City last summer for $7 million.

Man City wins third-straight League Cup

Man City wins third-straight League Cup
(Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
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Manchester City won its third-straight League Cup trophy, outlasting a game challenge from Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: “Clinical” Foden reacts ]

It’s the eighth trophy of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City, as Rodri and Sergio Aguero scored in a 2-1 win. City’s seven league cups trail only Liverpool’s eight.

Mbwana Samatta pulled a goal back for Villa, who was denied extra time by a brilliant Claudio Bravo save. City had 70 percent of the ball and a 22-5 shots edge, but made a furious bid over the final few minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Another trophy for City, with new heroes: Winning silverware never gets old, and this one will feel especially nice given the tumultuous season at the Etihad Stadium and impending UEFA Champions League ban. Villa proving difficult to beat lent the occasion more intensity.

The names helping City to glory were mostly new to the trophy chase, or at least unusual to it. Rodri helped set up the first goal and scored the second. Phil Foden was an absolute menace. And Bravo made a tremendous late save to ensure the match didn’t go beyond 90 minutes.

2. Foden announces himself: It can be easy to tire of the “did the young English player play and how did he play?” storyline with Premier League, but this isn’t that: Phil Foden was electrifying in this one, recalling fellow spark plug Jack Grealish on the opposite sideline.

The kid was sensational, completing 90 percent of his passes including two key passes. He completed three of four dribbles, won 7 of 10 duels, and made an interception to go with two tackles. That says nothing of his ability to move the ball in tight spaces before finding a safe outlet. Wonderful from a kid who’s still a teenager until May 28.

3. Bad call burns Villa, as fans provide occasion: Neither the AR nor head referee saw the ball touch Ilkay Gundogan last ahead of a wrongly-awarded Man City corner. VAR isn’t going to be deployed for every corner, nor should it be, but the missed call allowed Gundogan’s corner that Rodri buried for 2-0.

Villa’s fans were tentative early, but snapped to life once Samatta scored and found another level after the hour mark. It will have been a memorable day for a big club even if Dean Smith‘s men can’t shake the relegation blues.

Man of the Match: It’s between Rodri and Foden, with an acknowledging nod to Villa defender Tyrone Mings. We’ll give it to Rodri, City’s underrated star.


Early chances went both ways, Anwar El Ghazi heading over the goal at one end before John Stones headed a Gundogan did the same at the other.

City took the lead on an incisive, clinical play. Rodri swept a pass over the line to a streaking Phil Foden, who cut back for Aguero.

The Argentine had plenty to do with a leaping side-footed finish of an airborne ball.

El Ghazi cut around Stones to shoot toward the near post, but Claudio Bravo was in position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rodri had it 2-0 off a Gundogan corner that should not have been. The ball went off Gundogan last on the end line, but VAR cannot review every corner.

Villa got one back when Stones fell over, allowing El Ghazi to cross between Fernandinho and Oleksandr Zinchenko for a waiting Samatta.

City couldn’t find the goal to put the game to bed and introduced Kevin De Bruyne for Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola not content to ride out a one-goal win.

Rodri almost had another when Nyland pawed away a 74th-minute bid, and Aguero slipped in a bid to side volley a Sterling cross past Nyland.

Villa won a corner in the 87th minute through the industry of Trezeguet, the crowd again meeting the moment. Bravo made an incredible save to push Bjorn Engels‘ header off the post.

Spurs prevail late in 5-goal thriller at Aston Villa

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Heung-Min Son completed his brace deep in stoppage time gave Tottenham Hotspur a 3-2 win over Pepe Reina and defiant Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Pepe Reina made six saves for Villa, who got goals from Bjorn Engels and a Toby Alderweireld own goal but couldn’t find a point and sit a point clear of the bottom three.

Alderweireld also scored his first Spurs goal in three years, as Spurs move into fifth place with 40 points. That’s one back of Chelsea, which plays Monday.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to win ]


Three things we learned

1. Alderweireld, Engels find redemption: It seems like this happens more often than it should, and it happened twice Sunday when defenders cost their team goals and then made amends in their non-traditional third. First Alderweireld knocked in a Villa cross after a miscommunication with Hugo Lloris, only to rocket an equalizer home. Then Bjorn Engels conceded a penalty to Spurs before nodding a header home.

Just like match days when goals are either universally hard to find or going in all over Europe, this game has a way of showing its sense of humor.

2. Bergwijn, Davies light up the left: Aston Villa’s right side of the defense was troubled by a pair of “new” faces: Ben Davies returned at left back from a long injury lay-off and Stever Bergwijn is proving to be a wonderful January transfer.

3. Reina has a day to defy the score line.: Tottenham had four or five late chances to take all three points, but got it down with their final bid after an Engels giveaway. The ex-Barcelona and Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina make six saves on the day, and was loud in organizing the backline. Most of the time, Reina bailed them out when they failed to heed his notes.

Man of the Match: Grealish was very good, drawing a half-dozen fouls and producing plenty of danger, but it’s was between Reina and Bergwijn before Son’s heroics. Of course it’s the South Korean.


The first half-dozen minutes were rough-and-tumble, with physical and cynical fouls for both sides.

Villa claimed the lead in the ninth-minute when Pepe Reina sprung Anwar El Ghazi with a long pass and Alderweireld couldn’t deal with the Dutchman’s cross.

Dele Alli had a promising bid to level the score blocked within minutes, but Villa was also pressing for a second. Douglas Luiz came close to making it 2-0 in the 19th minute, but Ben Davies got a bit of it to concede a corner instead.

Harry Winks and Steven Bergwijn led a rush down the right. The latter crossed beautifully for Dele Alli, whose flying header went wide of the far post.

Spurs midfielder Eric Dier bailed out his backline when Grealish thought he had Mbwana Samatta cued up for a point-blank shot.

Alderweireld scored a beauty off a 27th-minute corner, wheeling to lash a shot over Pepe Reina.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Dele beat the defense but stung a shot wide of the far post near the 35th minute, and Hugo Lloris made a fine parry on El Ghazi minutes later.

Ben Davies had a fantastic first half in his first start in 2.5 months after an ankle injury, working a 1-2 en route to a double block from the Villa backline before half.

VAR gave Spurs the chance to go ahead in first-half stoppage when Bjorn Engels cut down Bergwijn in the box. Reina’s saved Son’s silly spot kick, but the South Korean bundled the rebound with an outside-of-the-boot jab.

Lloris made a fine save in the 52nd minute, but the Spurs keeper saw the ball in his goal when Engels joined Alderweireld in redemption, nodding Grealish’s corner home.

Reina stopped a low drive from Bergwijn off a bad Villa giveaway, and Bergwijn had a 70th-minute shot deflected out for a corner. Reina then stopped Dele’s break in the 74th, and a Son drive 11 minutes later.

Then he stopped Son on the ensuing corner, but the South Korean was not to be denied on the day and grabbed his second goal at the very death.

Vardy, Iheanacho power 4-star Foxes past Villa

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Kelechi Iheanacho again collected a goal and an assist and Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester City punished Aston Villa in an entertaining 4-1 at Villa Park on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jonny Evans also scored for the Foxes, who maintain their place eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jack Grealish scored for Aston Villa, which stays ahead of 18th place on Southampton on goal differential.

Leicester City hosts Liverpool on Boxing Day, a date to circle on the calendar.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho emergence a new wrinkle: Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho was always lurking as a possible star during his time at Man City, but couldn’t break through and transferred to the King Power Stadium. Life hadn’t been easy at his new home, but a goal and an assist in consecutive Premier League fixtures can make a difference as Leicester hopes to challenge Liverpool. Resting Jamie Vardy on occasion without a big drop-off would be a potentially monumental development.

2. Vardy’s party a record bash: The 15th and 16th goals of Vardy’s PL run put him on pace for 38. That would be six better than Mohamed Salah‘s 38-game record and four better than the 42-game mark shared by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Even when he makes mistakes, he finishes.

3. Hobbled Mings a big worry: Villa star center back Tyrone Mings pulled up with an injury but attempted to fight through it. Full credit to him, as he’s been the easy star of the newly-promoted side’s start to life in the Premier League, but an absence or step back from the block and clearance machine will be a major blow to Dean Smith‘s side.

Man of the Match: It’s between Vardy and Iheanacho — James Maddison was also good — and we’ll choose Vardy because we gave it to Iheanacho at midweek.


Kelechi Iheanacho slipped Vardy through on goal, and the Foxes striker nearly blew his chance despite dribbling the keeper.

Ezri Konsa would’ve liked to challenge Vardy following the unusual mis-touch, but the defender was felled by his own sliding keeper.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

After Anwar El Ghazi just missed a promising bid to equalize, Villa’s Bjorn Engels slid to break up a Vardy pass to a wide open Iheanacho.

The Nigerian got his goal in the 41st, a James Maddison cross deflected goal ward and off his leg for 2-0.

Grealish bounced a shot through traffic and inside the far post after Vardy couldn’t clear a corner kick.

Leicester needed less than four second half minutes to restore its two-goal advantage, the unmarked Evans perfectly placing a back post header across goal off a corner kick.

PL Sunday preview: Arsenal’s post-Emery era; Man Utd host Villa

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures features four games, including (but not limited to) the first game of the post-Unai Emery era at Arsenal, Manchester United with a chance to climb into fifth place, and what could be the final game of Marco Silva‘s tenure at Everton.

[ MORE: Mourinho praises “phenomenal” Dele Alli, Spurs supporters ]

Arsenal v. Norwich City — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal on Friday, making way for the Freddie Ljungberg (interim) era to begin on Sunday. With no obvious candidate standing out from all the others, Ljungberg, a long-time favorite as a Gunners player, could be given the chance to impress and have the “interim” tag removed, a la Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a year ago. After taking just three points from their last five PL games, Arsenal have fallen to ninth place, eight points behind fourth-place Chelsea, and could finish the weekend as low as 10th place. On the other hand, a win over 19th-place Norwich would see them climb up to fifth, a point ahead of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, who took the PL by storm with five goals in his first three games, hasn’t found the back of the net since Sept. 14, a run of eight straight goal-less games for the Fininish forward.

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Dani Ceballos (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hector Bellerin (hamstring), David Luiz (ribs), Shkodran Mustafi (foot) | Norwich  — OUT: Alexander Tettey (personal), Grant Hanley (groin), Timm Klose (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Jamal Lewis (knee), Josip Drmic (hamstring)


Wolves v. Sheffield United — 9 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Through 13 games of their debut season in the PL, Sheffield United are threatening to “do a Wolves,” in so much that the newly promoted side currently sits seventh — where Wolves finished last season — following a red-hot start. Following a poor start of their own (zero wins from their first six games), Wolves have rebounded nicely (unbeaten in their last eight, including four wins) and climbed all the way up to sixth (each side sat a place higher coming into the weekend).

INJURIES: Wolves —  OUT: Willy Boly (ankle), Ryan Bennett (groin), Romain Saiss (suspension), Morgan Gibbs-White (back) | Sheffield United  — OUT: None


Man United v. Aston Villa — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Nearly four months into the season, Man United are still without back-to-back PL victories. In fact, they’ve not repeated the same result — win, loss or draw — in consecutive league games all season. The Red Devils ave been, if anything, consistently inconsistent. After drawing Sheffield United 3-3 last time out, the best Solskjaer’s side can do on Sunday is get halfway there ahead of Tottenham’s blockbuster visit, and Jose Mourinho’s return, on Wednesday. United’s injury list remains extensive — and expensive — as Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly remain out, with Nemanja Matic perhaps set to return on Sunday. As for Villa, Dean Smith‘s side snapped a three-game losing skid last time out by thoroughly besting Newcastle United at Villa Park to put four points between themselves and the relegation zone. Following Southampton’s victory on Saturday, that gap is already down to two points.

INJURIES: Man United —  OUT: Paul Pogba (ankle), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed), Diogo Dalot (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Nemanja Matic (groin), Scott McTominay (ankle) | Aston Villa  — OUT: Jed Steer (calf), Jota (hernia); QUESTIONABLE: Bjorn Engels (hip)


Leicester City v. Everton — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Every defeat in the coming days could prove to be the final day of Silva’s employment as Everton manager, with the Toffees entering Sunday’s trip to the King Power Stadium in 17th place. It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (seven) on the season thus far, but the sides to which they’ve lost (Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich, to name most of them) that stands out as most embarrassing for a club that thought it would be competing for the top-six this season. Leicester, meanwhile, have happily and swiftly taken their place as the side most likely to break up the monotony of the same clubs finishing atop the table every season. The Foxes entered the weekend in second place (they have since fallen to second), eight points back of Liverpool (now 11), on the back of five straight league victories. Jamie Vardy‘s 12 goals have garnered most of the headlines, but the play-making duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been arguably more enjoyable to watch

INJURIES: Leicester —  OUT: Matty James (achilles) | Everton  — OUT: Andre Gomes (ankle), Theo Walcott (knock), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Morgan Schneiderlin (knock), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Bernard (knee)