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Koscielny refuses to go on Arsenal’s U.S. tour

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Arsenal’s captain Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel with the team on their preseason tour of the USA.

Koscielny, 33, has one year left on his current Gunners deal and the likes of Rennes, Bordeaux and Lyon in his homeland want to sign him.

It is believed Koscielny asked to be released from his contract a year early to head back to France, but that request was turned down and Arsenal’s captain has now decided to take this drastic step.

Arsenal have slammed Koscielny in an official statement, as the club have now opened disciplinary proceedings against the French international.

“Laurent Koscielny has refused to travel to the US for our pre-season tour. We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

Flying out to California on Thursday, Arsenal will play against the Colorado Rapids in a friendly, then take part in the International Champions Cup with games against Bayern Munich in Los Angeles), Fiorentina in Charlotte and Real Madrid in Washington D.C. before heading back to the UK.

Koscielny’s decision to not turn up for preseason will surely see him stripped of the captaincy, but it also gives Unai Emery an unwanted headache. Last season Emery dealt with Mesut Ozil being unhappy and the Spanish coach was all about unity and having a collective spirit following Arsene Wenger‘s departure.

This decision from Koscielny will no doubt have a huge impact on the locker room.

Shokdran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Callum Chambers, Dinos Mavropanos and Sokratis are Arsenal’s current options at center back, but there’s no doubt Koscielny would have been a starter alongside Sokratis this season.

The Gunners are closing in on a deal to sign French youngster William Saliba from Saint-Etienne for $34 million then loan him back to the Ligue 1 club. Considering this situation with Koscielny, they may try and keep Saliba for the upcoming season instead.

Koscielny has been a fans favorite since he arrived in 2010 and his rise from the lower French leagues to the Premier League and UEFA Champions League while also captaining Arsenal is a great story.

However, in recent years injuries have hit him hard and although nobody really points the finger towards him with regards to Arsenal’s recent defensive frailties, Koscielny has been to blame with some major errors.

Arsenal should probably cut their losses here and let Koscielny leave on a free, as overall he’s been a good servant to the club and they are unlikely to receive that much for him in terms of a transfer fee. Then again, you cannot let one player dictate your transfer dealings as they sets a poor precedent.

What a mess. Koscielny hasn’t conducted himself well here, and Arsenal putting this out in the open has escalated the seriousness of the situation.

U.S. Soccer Federation, USWNT tentatively agree to mediate lawsuit

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REIMS, France (AP) U.S. Soccer and players for the women’s national team have tentatively agreed to mediate a lawsuit that accuses the federation of gender discrimination and seeks equitable pay.

The federation and representatives for the players confirmed the agreement, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, to pursue mediation following the Women’s World Cup.

“Here to win a World Cup, lawyers are at home to do their thing, so we both have our jobs,” defender Kelley O’Hara said Saturday. “This team has always been good at compartmentalizing. We focus on the task at hand and I haven’t paid any mind on anything that’s been going on. That’s something we’ll pick back up when we get home but right now my only focus is winning the World Cup.”

[ MORE: USMNT faces T&T for first time since Couva ]

The United States, the defending champion and three-time World Cup winner, won its first three games of the tournament and is set to play Spain on Monday in the knockout stage. The championship game is set for July 7 in Lyon.

Twenty-eight members of the current player pool filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in March. The lawsuit alleges “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

“While we welcome the opportunity to mediate, we are disappointed the plaintiffs’ counsel felt it necessary to share this news publicly during the Women’s World Cup and create any possible distraction from the team’s focus on the tournament and success on the field,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement.

The federation has maintained the differences in pay are the result of different collective bargaining agreements that establish distinct pay structures for the two teams. Those agreements are not public. Court documents said decisions surrounding the teams have been made for “legitimate business reasons and not for any discriminatory or other unlawful purpose.”

The lawsuit was an escalation of a long-simmering dispute over pay and treatment. Five players filed a complaint in 2016 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The lawsuit effectively ended that EEOC complaint.

The federation and the team reached a collective bargaining agreement in April 2017. The agreement, which runs through 2021, gave the players higher pay and better benefits.

Defender Ai Krieger said she hasn’t given the lawsuit any thought.

“Right now we’re so focused on the game against Spain, and that’s what’s important for us right now,” she said.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

USOC wrap: Saint Louis, New Mexico knock out MLS sides (video)

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USL sides delivered the drama on Wednesday night and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup got five more quarterfinalists to join Atlanta United and Minnesota United.

Still to come Thursday, LAFC and San Jose will decide the eighth slot and a date with Portland Timbers.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]


DC United 1-2 New York City FC

Wayne Rooney‘s 32nd minute goal gave the hosts a lead which would only last six minutes, as Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made it 2-1 before halftime on the way to an away win at Audi Field.

Portland Timbers 4-0 LA Galaxy

Three goals in nine first half minutes helped spring Portland to an easy win over disinterested LA. Guillermo Barros Schelotto didn’t bring the majority of his first choice stars to Oregon, and the Timbers routed their Western Conference opposition to the tune of a 19-7 edge in shots.

Saint Louis FC 1-0 FC Cincinnati

They won’t be forgetting this any time soon; Saint Louis got a stoppage time goal from Sam Fink against their old USL rivals to book a place in the USOC quarterfinals.

Orlando City 2-1 New England Revolution

What began with stars on the bench and a 0-0 score line through 90 minutes really escalated quickly in extra time. Benji Michel and Tesho Akindele gave Orlando a 2-0 lead through 15 minutes of extra time, but Carles Gil set up Justin Rennecks early in the second frame to up the drama. Ultimately, Nani‘s men had enough despite New England’s 22 shots.

FC Dallas 1-2 New Mexico United

FC Dallas took the lead through U-20 World Cup star Brandon Servania, but Kevaughn Frater scored again, and ex-Colorado Rapids draft pick Sam Hamilton added the match winner.

Gold Cup: Jamaica holds off Honduras, El Salvador tops Curacao

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Jamaica secured an historic win on home soil as both the Reggae Boyz and Honduras opened up their accounts in the 2019 Gold Cup.

Damion Lowe’s second half header proved to be the difference as Jamaica beat Honduras, 3-2, in Kingston, Jamaica on Monday evening. It was the first official Gold Cup game hosted in the Caribbean.

[READ: Women’s World Cup: Controversy as France wins with help of VAR]

After a strong start by the Reggae Boyz, where Honduras sat back and allowed Jamaica to control possession, forward Dever Orgill found the back of the net on two occasions.

In the 15th minute, Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, finally playing for the Jamaican national team, dribbled in on goal and delivered a great through ball to Los Angeles FC’s Peter-Lee Vassell. Vassell then sent a chip across the box, allowing Orgill to come back for the ball (possibly from an offside position) and head into an open net.

One minute before halftime, Orgill scored again on a quick-passing move in front of the net, taking advantage of a deflection on a shot to put Jamaica up, 2-0.

A calamitous error from Louisville City FC pair Devon “Speedy” William and Shaun Francis gifted Honduras a reprieve early in the second half, but Jamaica struck right back as Lowe blasted a powerful header in.

Jamaica continued to push for a fourth goal on the break but Honduras kept repelling wave after wave, and even pulled another goal back late, though they ran out of time.

Elsewhere, El Salvador got off to a good start to the tournament with a 1-0 win over Curacao, in a must-win game for both teams considering there are matches against Jamaica and Honduras coming up. Nelson Bonilla scored the game’s only goal just before halftime for El Salvador.

Aston Villa beat West Brom in shootout to reach Wembley final

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Aston Villa moved one giant step closer to a return to the Premier League by topping local rivals West Bromwich Albion 4-3 on penalties in the EFL Championship promotion playoffs on Tuesday.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal ]

West Brom erased what was a 2-1 deficit to begin the semifinal second leg. Away goals are not used as a tiebreaker in the Football League’s promotion playoffs, thus the two Birmingham sides were forced into a penalty shootout, where Jed Steer would atone for a nearly calamitous error early in the game and season full of similar blunders.

Villa were in England’s top tier from 1975 until suffering relegation in 2016; they fell to Fulham in last season’s promotion final at Wembley Stadium. West Brom, on the other hand, saw their eight-year run in the PL end this time last year.

Leeds United hold a 1-0 advantage over Derby County, heading home for Wednesday’s other semifinal second leg.

Craig Dawson scored the second leg’s only goal, a towering header from Mason Holgate‘s long throw-in, in the 29th minute.

Villa’s Tyrone Mings made a goal- and potentially season-saving block in the 53rd minute, after Steer gave the ball directly to West Brom’s Jacob Murphy, who took a touch toward goal and fired for the bottom corner, the ball destined for the inside netting. Mings recovered from out of nowhere — wide left, where he was an option for Steer to play the ball out — to get a foot in front of the ball and boot it away.

[ SEASON REVIEW: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester, West Ham ]

Steer started the shootout by denying Holgate with ease, diving to his left and getting both hands behind the ball to keep it out. Conor Hourihane took the opportunity to put Villa ahead seconds later. Steer came up big once again, denying Ahmed Hegazi on West Brom’s second effort. Mile Jedinak‘s first touch after coming on late in extra time came at the penalty spot, and the Australian dispatched his effort as coolly as could be done.

Tosin Adarabioyo got West Brom on the board in round 3, but Jack Grealish restored the two-make advantage by sending Sam Johnstone the wrong way for the third straight penalty attempt. Kieran Gibbs nicked the inside Steer’s right-hand post in round 4, but by the grace of luck the ball found its way into the corner. Albert Adomah put Villa’s fourth attempt over the bar.

James Morrison hammered West Brom’s fifth past Steer, setting up on-loan Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham for the decisive penalty. It wasn’t the best penalty ever hit, as Johnstone got a trailing foot on the ball, but it had enough power behind it to sneak over the line and send Villa to Wembley.