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2020 National Soccer Hall of Fame candidates announced

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Candidates for the 2020 National Soccer Hall of Fame have been announced and we’ll certainly tell you about all of the new batch of possible members, we’re also going to ask a huge question of the voters.

How is Steve Cherundolo not already in this thing?

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Last year’s class included a mere two people  — Abby Wambach and Sunil Gulati — and there hasn’t been a class of more than four since 2011.

Cherundolo made 423 career appearances for German side Hannover 96, even captaining the side for four seasons. He earned 86 caps with the United States men’s national team and was a member of three World Cup squads.

He simply has to be in the next group, as few others on the list have more deserving shouts over him (Perhaps Carlos Bocanegra and Jeff Cunningham).

Only one first-time finalist, Hope Solo, could rival Cherundolo’s record, and we wonder if the voters will look past her tumultuous off-field life and outspoken stance against the federation. Robbie Rogers will also certainly collect votes for an outstanding career which saw him become the first openly gay player in MLS.

First-time finalists (Full list of candidates)

Brad Davis
Whitney Engen
Herculez Gomez
Clarence Goodson
Hope Solo
Mike Magee
Carlos Ruiz
Nat Borchers
Conor Casey
Justin Mapp
Jamison Olave
Robbie Rogers
Jen Buczkowski
Kelly Smith

PL Sunday preview: Aston Villa host Spurs; Newcastle travel to Arsenal

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures promise to have a wide-range of action, as a pair of top-six sides host a pair of bottom dwellers.

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Aston Villa vs. Tottenham  — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

There’s a strong sense at Tottenham that Spurs can finish top four in Jose Mourinho’s first go around, especially on a two-game winning streak heading into Sunday.

Spurs trail the surprise of the season Sheffield United by two points, meaning that a win at Villa Park can propel the London club back into the European mix. Having won their last five away trips in Aston with a combined score of 14-1, there is little evidence to question why Spurs would be unable to leave Birmingham with three points.

“We had a good week,” Mourinho said. “Three very good training sessions. Of course I told you if we didn’t play against Southampton [in an FA Cup replay] I would give the players some time but we would be back early.

“Because of the Southampton game we had less time for training but we had three very good days. We went through different aspects of our game to improve.”

Following a week with only practice activity, Villa take on, perhaps, the most important stretch of games since the second half of their disastrous 2015-2016 Premier League season – their last before the drop to the Championship.

According to manager Dean Smith, his staff and players are up for the battle that is avoiding relegation. Villa are only one spot to the right of the red, dotted line, making every game from here on out crucial for the Midlands club.

“As everybody knows, we had a big turnaround [of players] in the summer and they’re starting to gel,” he said. “For the first time we’ve had a mini break and we’ve seen a positive side to it. It gave everybody a chance to have some time away from the place, and to clear their heads.”

INJURIES: Aston Villa — OUT: Davis (thigh), McGinn (ankle), Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Steer (foot) | Tottenham — OUT: Kane (thigh), Sissoko (knee)

Arsenal vs. Newcastle — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

With five draws in seven matches, a week-long camp in Dubai, Arsenal and Mikel Arteta are returning to the Emirates with the obligation to win.

Arsenal are projected, for the first time in 25 years, to finish outside of the top six. Of course, a lot of that falls on ex-manager Unai Emerey, but Arteta, 37, has yet to demonstrate the edge many believes he has on other up-and-coming teachers of the game.

The Spaniard will need time – lots of it and financial backing – but the fact that Arsenal are level with Newcastle with 31 points after 25 bouts doesn’t help Sunday’s scenario. Three points, and a well-executed defensive plan against the Magpies, however, may put out many long-burning fires for all thhose involved with Arsenal.

“I think we have to generate some defensive stability, but not by defending deep,” Arteta said. “I don’t like that. It’s by defending high and pressing the opponent as much as possible. But the process – together as many times as possible in the most efficient way – has to be done properly from here.

As expected, Steve Bruce and company are delighted to be in the position that they’re in, considering that a few weeks into the season it felt that St. James’ Park’s walls were collapsing.

“We’ve got 13 games to go and have got ourselves in a decent position,” he said. “It gives us the platform to have a decent season. I think we’ve done okay. We’ve had huge problems over six weeks and fair play to the squad for showing that resilience.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — Marí (match fitness), Soares (knee), Tierney (shoulder), Chambers (knee) | Newcastle  OUT: Shelvey (thigh), Manquillo (thigh), Carroll (groin), Krafth (ankle), Dummett (thigh), Willems (knee), Colback (knee)

10-man Bournemouth hold on to beat Villa

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Bournemouth won 2-1 at home against Aston Villa in a massive moment in their battle against relegation as they’ve secured back-to-back home victories in the Premier League.

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Philip Billing and Nathan Ake put Bournemouth into a commanding position at half time but then Jefferson Lerma was sent off and Villa’s new Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta made it 2-1, but somehow Bournemouth held on for a victory late on.

With the win Bournemouth move up to 16th on 26 points, while Aston Villa have 25 points.


3 things we learned

1. Bournemouth digging deep at home: The Vitality Stadium is a tight little ground and it needs to become a fortress if Bournemouth are going to stay up. Eddie Howe has been under pressure but back-to-back wins against Brighton and Villa in two six-pointers have eased some of that. The Cherries have fought their way up from the fourth-tier to the PL and they need to fight just as hard and regain that spirit to stay in the top-flight this season.

2. Villa should not be worried: Jack Grealish drove them on in this game and Villa should have grabbed a point. Perhaps their heroics of reaching the League Cup final in midweek played its part for Dean Smith‘s side. Yes, they are in a relegation scrap but Samatta grabbed his first goal, Keenan Davis looks good and they deserved more from this game. All in all, Villa shouldn’t be too worried.

3. Lerma needs to learn: Two bookings cost his team and Lerma’s discipline is a big concern. He is a fine player when he isn’t worried about kicking people and his partnership with Billing has been a plus point in Bournemouth’s season. Lerma needs to calm down and stop putting his team in poor situations with cheap bookings. If he can curb that, he can continue being a destroyer. But cheap yellow cards hamper his game.

Man of the Match: Aaron Ramsdale: Bournemouth’s goalkeeper came up with some big stops late on and even though he got it wrong on Villa’s goal, he couldn’t do much more. Heroic display from the 10 men.


The Cherries surged into a 2-0 lead at half time as the Vitality was rocking.

Billing gave Bournemouth the lead after Dan Gosling gets a head on Simon Francis‘ cross to play in Billing, who slotted home.

Ake then made the most of a mistake from Pepe Reina as he failed to deal with Harry Wilson‘s initial shot.

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Jefferson Lerma was then sent off for picking up a second yellow card as Villa sensed their chance to launch a sensational comeback.

After they went down to 10 men, Callum Wilson came close as he flicked just wide for Bournemouth.

But Villa came on strong as Matt Targett‘s shot was blocked on the line and then they pulled one back.

After good work from Jack Grealish a shot from Kennan Davis deflected into the air and Samatta headed home to make it 2-1. Game on.

Grealish and then Davis both went close as Villa poured forward in search of an equalizer but Ramsdale stood tall and Bournemouth held on to spark wild celebrations at the final whistle.

PL Sunday Preview: Watford travel to Bournemouth; Aston Villa host City

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Sunday’s slate of Premier League fixtures won’t be the busiest of all, but it promises to have some drama as bottom-dwellers Bournemouth and Watford face off, while Manchester City travel to Villa Park.

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Bournemouth vs. Watford — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

It might be difficult to admit, but Nigel Pearson‘s arrival at Watford has done wonders for the club.

The Hornets secured 10 out of the possible 12 points during the festive period, putting the upwards-trending club two points within reach of escaping the drop zone. Throughout that same stretch of four matches, Pearson and company have outscored opponent’s eight goals to two.

The 56-year-old, who last coached Belgium’s Oud-Heverlee Leuven, is implementing an effective and pragmatic 4-2-3-1 system. But perhaps the reason behind the escape trick isn’t solely based on on-field adjustments, but on the emotional investment that the manager is putting forward.

“I’ve been asked a few times already about whether I had still got enthusiasm or the drive or whatever it is to continue to work, and those are the sorts of questions that I’ve asked myself for sure,” he said leading up to Sunday’s match.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we were capable of getting out of the situation that we’re in, but I can’t ask people to be committed if I’m not committed myself, so all those things are very important to me and I think this club has got a really strong identity and there’s potential for us to rediscover what we are as a football club.

“I do feel attached to being a part of that and trying to rediscover that.”

Eddie Howe‘s Bournemouth, on the other hand, are on the opposite site of the spectrum, falling instead of climbing up the table.

Ravaged by injuries, the Cherries picked up a sole point throughout the same span of four matches. Howe, desperate to animate his team (and supporters), is urging for Dean Court to get loud and hostile again – like in the past.

“Teams used to really fear coming here, a tight ground and a great atmosphere,” Howe said. “We now need that feeling back, which only we can create as a team.

“We’ve had good battles with Watford and I imagine this game will be tight again – our motivation levels have to be higher than theirs.”

INJURIES: Bournemouth — OUT: Danjuma (ankle), King (hamstring), Stacey (hamstring), Brooks (ankle), Daniels (knee) | Watford — OUT: Hughes (groin), Janmaat (knee), Cleverley (calf), Welbeck (hamstring), Femenía (hamstring) Prödl (calf)

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Everything is moving at hyperspeed for Aston Villa, and they probably don’t want it that way.

Days after earning a laudable draw against Leicester City in the semi-final of the EFL Cup, Dean Smith and company host back-to-back champions Manchester City. It wasn’t too long ago that Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton to season-ending injuries, either.

Smith recognizes at what speed the challenging hurdles are coming at, but instead preaches for concentration from his players.

“We played the second-placed team in the cup and now we’re playing the team that are third and have won back-to-back titles,” the 48-year-old said. “They have a world-class coach and world-class players, they can afford to spend £50m on a right back, so we know the test.”

“They have had some off days this season – they got beat at Norwich and Wolves – so we must have belief in ourselves, as well as concentration.”

Fresh off a 3-1 victory over rivals Manchester United, the sense is that Manchester City are finally finding their groove again.

Pep Guardiola and his team may be out of contention for a third straight title, but they have a lot to prove with the EFL Cup and Champions League still up for grabs. In fact, Sunday’s match against Villa may well be a preview of the EFL Cup final.

“We have to play all the teams. Sometimes they’re at the top, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the bottom. It’s a historic club,” Guardiola said prior to Sunday’s match. “They changed their last set-up in the last game. We’ll try to maintain the dynamic we have.”

INJURIES: Aston Villa — OUT: Davis (hamstring), Steer (achilles), Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), McGinn (foot) | Manchester City OUT: Laporte (knee), Sané (knee) (knee)

Hermann Trophy winner Robinson leads MLS SuperDraft picks

Hermann Trophy winner highlights MLS SuperDraft picks
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Clemson forward Robbie Robinson capped off a strong season by becoming the first draft pick for Inter Miami in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-2 Robinson scored 18 times with nine assists as a junior as Clemson went 18-2-2 before falling to Stanford in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers had three players selected on Thursday.

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College players from 13 countries found professional homes by the end of the draft’s first two rounds.

Twenty-nine Americans were selected, with Canada and England boasting four each to finish joint-second. Senegal, Germany, Denmark, France, and Spain had two players selected, with Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico each placing one on the board.

Round 1
1. Inter Miami – Robbie Robinson, Clemson
2. Nashville – Jack Maher, Indiana
3. Inter Miami – Dylan Nealis, Georgetown
4. Vancouver – Ryan Raposo, Syracuse
5. Orlando City – Daryl Dike, Virginia
6. New England – Henry Kessler, Virginia
7. Columbus – Miguel Berry, San Diego
8. Houston – Garrett McLaughlin, Southern Methodist
9. Montreal – Jeremy Kelly, North Carolina (traded to Montreal)
10. New York Red Bulls – Patrick Seagrist, Marquette
11. Nashville – Alistair Johnston, Wake Forest
12. San Jose – Tanner Bearson, Stanford
13. Nashville – Elliot Panicco, Charlotte
14. FC Dallas – Nkosi Burgess, Seattle
15. New York Red Bulls – Cherif Dieye, Louisville
16. Portland – Aaron Molloy, Penn State
17. FC Fallas – Cal Jennings, Central Florida
18. Minnesota – Noah Billingsley, UC Santa Barbara
19. Toronto FC – Nyall Higgins, Syracuse
20. Real Salt Lake – Dayonn Harris, UConn
21. DC United – Simon Lefebvre, Temple
22. NYCFC – Jesus Perez, UIC
23. Atlanta United – Patrick Nielsen, Michigan State
24. LAFC – Paulo Pita, Marshall
25. Toronto – Ifunanyachi Achara, Georgetown
26. Chicago – Jonathan Jimenez, Pacific

Round 2
27. San Jose – Jack Skahan, North Carolina
28. Nashville – Tanner Dieterich, Clemson
29. Cincinnati – Rey Ortiz, Portland
30. New England – Simon Lekressner, California
31. Orlando – Joey DeZart, Wake Forest
32. Vancouver – Daniel Gagliardi, FIU
33. Toronto – Malick Mbaye, Clemson
34. Houston – Luka Prpa, Marquette
35. Seattle – Danny Reynolds, Wilmington
36. New York Red Bulls – Wallis Lapsley, UC Davis
37. Colorado – Robin Afamefuna, Virginia
38. San Jose – Jon Bell, UMBC
39. Orlando – Jonathan Dean, Central Florida
40. Dallas – Manuel Ferriol, James Madison
41. New York Red Bulls – Deri Corfe, Wright State
42. DC United – Josh Fawole, Loyola
43. New England – Keegan Meyer, High Point
44. Orlando – Austin Aviza, Providence
45. LA Galaxy – Tom Smart, Akron
46. Real Salt Lake – Michael Wetungu, Michigan State
47. Columbus – Remi Prieur, Saint Mary’s
48. NYCFC – Felicien Dumas, Notre Dame
49. Columbus – Danny Griffin, Providence
50. LAFC – Jack Hallahan, Michigan
51. Toronto – Simon Waever, Indiana
52. Seattle – Timo Mehlich, UNLV