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Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez makes Wolves history; Guardado assists in Betis win

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On what was perhaps Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s last weekend in Europe, Raul Jimenez made it clear that he is ready to carry on the mantle as Mexico’s marquee striker in the old continent.

The 28-year-old’s double made him Wolverhampton Wanderer’s Premier League all-time leading goalscorer, surpassing Steven Fletcher‘s record of 22 goals in just 61 appearances.

Meanwhile in Spain, Andres Guardado continues to add remarkable chapters to his never-ending European photo book, recording an assist in Real Betis’ 3-0 thumping of Real Sociedad.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Not only did Jimenez boost his league goalscoring tally to the double digits on Saturday, but he also became Wolves’ Premier League all-time goalscorer. The Mexican is indispensable for the Midlands side – well worth the club-record $33-million investment.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito did not make the trip with Sevilla to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. On Friday, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reported that Los Angeles Galaxy have signed the 31-year-old. An official announcement from the MLS side is expected in the coming days.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Herrera started and played 43 minutes in Los Colchoneros’ rare, 2-0 loss to Eibar on Saturday. Atletico are now eight points behind leaders Barcelona and second-best Real Madrid.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado played all 90 minutes and recorded an assist in Betis’ trashing of Real Sociedad. The midfielder also earned a yellow card in the 23rd minute.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old dressed but remained on the bench for Betis. 

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and played 90 minutes in Celta’s 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao. The defender recorded 11 clearances, two interceptions, and earned a yellow card.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  As Napoli’s continues to suffer under Gennaro Gattuso, so does Chucky. The frenetic winger saw just 26 minutes of playing time in Napoli’s 2-0 loss to Fiorentina on Saturday. Gattuso, however, may be on his was out as reports indicated that he’s considering resigning after just 35 days at the helm.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played all 90 minutes in Porto’s 2-1 loss to Braga on Saturday. The Dragons trail league leaders Benfica by seven points.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez dressed but remained on the bench for PSV on Saturday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez dressed but remained on the bench for Ajax on Sunday.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea started and played 90 minutes in Zulte’s 3-0 loss to KRC Genk.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Pedro Arce, Panionios –  Panionios were inactive over the weekend.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso and Roda JC take on Jong FC Utrecht on Monday.

‘I’m very happy for this’: Jimenez becomes Wolves all-time leading PL goalscorer

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Raul Jimenez has carved his name in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ history books.

“I want to say thank you to all my teammates, to the staff, to the coach, because without all of them, I can’t achieve this goal,” Jimenez said following Wolves’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Southampton on Saturday.

Just minutes earlier, in front of a fervent stand of Wolves supporters at St. Mary’s Stadium, Jimenez scored his 23rd Premier League goal for Midlands side, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League era. The Mexican surpasses Steven Fletcher‘s record of 22 goals, which stood since 2012.

“I’m very happy for this, and I want to keep scoring,” he added.

With Wolves disputing Europa League qualifying matches in August, the 28-year-old began to build early on what is now a monstrous campaign – 19 goals and 9 assist in throughout all competitions. Half a year down the road, there are no signs of Jimenez’s magic running out. In fact, his brace against the Saints is clearest indicator of why that’s the case.

With his divine hold up play, well-calculated pressing and hunger for redemption, Jimenez emotionally inspired Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side comeback. And in the 65th minute, his trademark penalty overturned a two-goal deficit, turning emotional to physical inspiration.

“[Coming back] was very important for us after a very bad first half,” he told Wolves reporters following the match.

Jimenez was full of praise for his team’s collective grit. He lauded his team’s “fantastic” second half – full of pressing and chances created. The tactic alterations implemented by Nuno Espirito Santo influenced Adama Traore’s run that led to Jimenez’s third and winning goal.

“In the end, we know that it depends on us – what we want to do, what we want to achieve. So, we need to keep going until the last minute. Keep trying to score, keep going with our football that makes us Wolves.”

We now know that Jimenez is Wolves’ all-time Premier League goalscorer, too.

Chelsea skates through in FA Cup; Spurs held; Palace upset

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Premier League sides didn’t have a particularly elementary journey through Saturday’s FA Cup schedule, and it didn’t look any easier on Sunday as all four teams in play through the early slate had difficulties.

Chelsea got by a pesky Nottingham Forest side 2-0, but Tottenham Hotspur was held to a 1-1 draw, Crystal Palace was dumped out by Derby County, and Sheffield United had a nervy finish against a far inferior opponent.

[ FA CUP: Roundup of Saturday’s action ]

The Blues got going in a hurry as Callum Hudson-Odoi put the Blues 1-0 up just seven minutes in on a beautiful set of one-touch passing that ended with the 19-year-old cutting in on his left and slicing a low shot into the bottom corner. Pedro had a chance on the break to double the lead, but was unable to get by his defender despite the two-on-one advantage. That nearly proved costly as Forest earned a 23rd minute penalty, but VAR wiped it off for offside.

Chelsea remained the better attacking side, and they profited past the half-hour mark with Ross Barkley turning in a rebounded Hudson-Odoi shot. The initial effort was parried by Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith who pushed it the other way, but right to the feet of Barkley who barely had time to react on the doorstep, just barely keeping his feet to turn the ball into the net. Ryan Yates headed in for Nottingham Forest in the 67th minute but it was ruled out as the flag went up.

Tottenham dominated the match against Middlesbrough but failed to create much throughout the first half, with a cross to the far post for Ryan Sessegnon the best chance, although the former Fulham youth product failed to get a touch to Serge Aurier‘s delivery. Spurs’ lack of creativity would come back to haunt them as Middlesbrough came out of halftime firing, and former Manchester United youth product Ashley Fletcher found the back of the net to put the hosts 1-0 up at Riverside Stadium. It didn’t last long, though, as Jose Mourinho rang the changes, bringing on Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela, and it paid instant dividends. Lucas Moura headed in from a deep Aurier cross that the Middlesborough defense misread.

Spurs had chances to win the game, none better than Aurier’s slash with two minutes to go. The shot was from a tight angle, but with acres of space to shoot, he rifled the ball miles over the bar instead of testing Middlesbrough keeper Tomas Mejias. They instead will return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a replay after the scoreline finished level.

10-man Crystal Palace was upset at Selhurst Park by Derby County, falling 1-0 on a goal by Chris Martin just past the half-hour mark. The task was tougher after Luka Milivojevic was sent off in the second half a nasty kick out at Tom Huddlestone, spotted by VAR.

Sheffield United got more fight than expected from non-league side AFC Fylde, but snuck through by a 2-1 final with Callum Robinson and Leon Clarke on the scoresheet. Robinson’s strike came just eight minutes in and came benefit of a deflection off his mark Neill Byrne. Fylde marked the day with a goal in the 78th minute, but couldn’t find what would have been a shocking equalizer.

Jordan Hugill scored a brace as Queens Park Rangers hammered Swansea City 5-1. Bright Samuel, Lee Wallace, and Josh Scowen tacked on the additional scores, while George Byers picked up a consolation for the visitors.

Kenneth Zohore‘s 32nd minute strike gave West Brom a 1-0 victory at Charlton Athletic. Zohore played a fabulous one-two with Kyle Edwards, receiving the ball back at the near post and poking it through the legs of a charging Dillon Phillips.

Conor Chaplin gave Barnsley a 3-1 road victory over Crewe Alexandra with a 75th minute header that wrong-footed goalkeeper William Jaaskelainen.

Barnsley and Coventry City will require a replay after a 2-2 draw. A 52nd minute own goal saw Coventry City draw level shortly after the second-half restart, and neither side could find a winner.

League Two side Northampton Town advanced after putting four past Burton Albion in a 4-2 victory. They held a 3-1 lead at halftime and cruised from there, advancing past their League One opposition.

What are reasonable expectations as Rooney prepares for Derby County debut?

Wayne Rooney prepares for Derby County debut
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Oh, there are so many ways this could go…

Wayne Rooney is set to debut for Derby County on Wednesday, his first appearance in the Football League Championship following 491 Premier League appearances and 50 more in MLS.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Throw in 187 more runs in the cups of Europe, and you’ve got a pretty good handle on why manager Phillip Cocu isn’t going to hesitate to give Rooney a chance to shine early and often.

“If a player with the qualities, career and the experience of Rooney (is available) you have to be very happy and glad he is here, so I don’t need a suspension to consider him in the first XI to be honest,” Cocu said.

Cocu says expectations should be lowered for the 34-year-old Rooney at the start of his tenure at Pride Park. From The Derby Telegraph:

“He’s fit, he can start but he will need a few games. Expectation will be high when he starts playing but we have to give him a few games to build up his minutes and get in the team. So maybe not perfect from the start, but it’s important he will get in the team as soon as possible so we get a certain shape in our team.”

Derby sits 17th in the Championship with 30 points, nine clear of the bottom three and nine back from the playoff places. Rooney joined the club in late November but wasn’t eligible to play for the side until January.

So what should we expect from Rooney?

Most former MLS players’ performances in the Championship are difficult to compare to Rooney. There’s the obvious trouble given he enters with one of the best resumes in English history. And usually the move is represented by youngsters, like Jack Harrison and DeAndre Yedlin or MLS bit players going home (often to levels below England).

Rooney was a force in Major League Soccer, no doubt, so it’s reasonable to expect he’ll deliver some of the goods at Derby. Thirty-two year old Steven Fletcher has 12 goals this season, Lewis Grabban (31) has 11, and that both Pablo Hernandez (34) and Lukas Jutkiewicz (30) put up double-digits in goals and assists last season.

No, this isn’t about whether Rooney will produce offense, or even if he’ll be able to stymy the red mist that saw him sent off twice at DC United. Admittedly, the last point is a bit more of a concern than the first given the fine margins in the Championship.

Promotion from the Championship would be a surprise and unexpected notch in Rooney’s belt. Not a lot of players have turned that trick having already minted their legend status.

Our prediction: Rooney helps the Rams to a bunch of wins and some decent additions in the January window to boot. He pitches in 8-10 goals and a half-dozen assists while the Rams make it to the playoffs. Anything after that is impossible to guarantee, which is why the Rams would’ve been better served not sitting 21 points off leaders Leeds United and West Brom.

But he is where he is, and he’s done more with less. And at the very least, this should be a lot of fun.

Reports: Man United exploring Edwin van der Sar for Director of Football

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According to a number of tabloid reports across England, first broken by The Mirror, Manchester United is highly interested in bringing Edwin van der Sar back to Old Trafford as Director of Football.

The former Manchester United goalkeeper has led Ajax in a similar role since 2016, and has gained enormous respect in the business for his successful construction of last year’s Ajax squad that reached the Champions League semifinal with a wealth of young talent. Ajax won the Eredivisie title and took the Champions League by storm, and also netted an enormous windfall with the sale of valuable talent like Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

That has turned the head of Ed Woodward who has reportedly been searching high and far for a Director of Football to take on responsibilities of building a squad, hoping to find someone with a stronger connection to the game to be charged with identifying transfer targets and acquiring talent. While Marc Overmars holds the Director of Football role at Ajax, van der Sar holds the role of CEO and has led the setup successfully in Amsterdam.

The Mirror report states that there are roadblocks to a deal with van der Sar, including convincing him to turn his back on Ajax at a critical juncture, as well as convincing his wife to move abroad amid health issues over the past decade.

Woodward is clearly targeting someone who has history with the club, including reports of conversations with former players Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, and Darren Fletcher, neither of whom has any experience as an executive. United is one of just three Premier League clubs without a Director of Football.