Ibrahim Afellay

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

Leave a comment

Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Jese disciplined for walk-out, granted personal leave by Stoke

Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jese Rodriguez has been disciplined, in an undisclosed manner, by Stoke City after the Spanish striker left the bench and stadium upon being an unused substitute during last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Swansea City.

[ MORE: Key battles in this weekend’s Manchester derby ]

With 20 minutes left to go in the game, manager Mark Hughes made his second and third substitutions in tandem — Ibrahim Afellay and Ramadan Sobhi replaced Darren Fletcher and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting — at which point Rodriguez, out of frustration, walked down the tunnel and left the bet365 Stadium.

Asked this week whether or not Rodriguez, who has made just two short appearances as a sub in the last six weeks, has apologized to Hughes and the rest of the squad, the Potters’ boss believes the player’s heart is in the right place and that the apology is understood, and accepted, without necessarily being spoken — quotes from the BBC:

“He made a mistake. He’s been disciplined for that. He understands it wasn’t the right decision at that time.”

“Not in so many words because his English isn’t great but he understands that it was incorrect.

“It’s been addressed, we’ve obviously highlighted what he needs to do in the future. He’s a little bit frustrated, he wants to play, as all players do.”

According to the BBC, Rodriguez has also been granted conditional leave in order to travel home to the Canary Islands and be with his son who was born prematurely, in June. As a result, he will be unavailable for Saturday’s trip to Wembley Stadium to take on Tottenham Hotspur (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

PL Sunday preview: Liverpool host Arsenal; Chelsea vs. Everton

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Four games featuring four of last season’s top-five sides, as well as the no. 1 hopeful to join those very Premier League elites this season, will bring the third week of the 2017-18 season to a close on Sunday…

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — United keep 100% record; City win late ]

Chelsea vs. Everton — 8:30 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com

Chelsea are the defending PL champions, but also one of a handful of sides which appear to be far from finished with their transfer dealings as the deadline for the summer window looms large (Thursday), while Everton spent big (and early, and often) well before August arrived. Despite Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham last weekend, Antonio Conte‘s Blues look far from settled ahead of Sunday’s visit by Ronald Koeman‘s Toffees.

Conte feels another central midfield is required to bolster his squad, as is fullback/wingback depth beyond starters Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses — only time will tell is Roman Abramovich grants his manager’s wishes during the final five days of the transfer window. Everton’s first two results — victory over Stoke City, and a 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Monday — were each achieved courtesy of goals scored by Wayne Rooney, who’s made the intended, immediate impact at the start of his second spell at the club. Chelsea won both PL meetings between the two sides last season, by a combined score of 8-0.

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: Eden Hazard (ankle), Gary Cahill (suspension) | Everton — OUT: Davy Klaassen (foot), Ross Barkley (hamstring), Morgan Schneiderlin (suspension), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), James McCarthy (knee), Yannick Bolasie (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Sandro Ramirez (heel)

[ MORE: Mourinho’s moves pay off as United stay perfect ]

West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Three sides entered this third weekend of the PL season with six points from their first two games. You might have guessed one of them — Manchester United — but probably not the other, at least not prior to the start of the season: Huddersfield (dropped points against Southampton on Saturday) and West Brom. The Baggies welcome Stoke to The Hawthorns on Sunday, as Tony Pulis looks to extended his unbeaten record against the Potters after winning four of his first five meetings with his former club. The arrival of 20-year-old Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig this week has Pulis believing his side, and his new signing, have only begun to scratch the surface.

“We’re really pleased to get him in – the lad has got a tremendous talent,” Pulis said. “He’s got a fantastic, raw ability but he has now also got the experience of going away from the comfort of his own area to a foreign country and experiencing life. He’s gained the experience of playing for a top club in the Bundesliga with top coaches. That will have broadened his horizons and been good for his development.”

INJURIES: West Brom — OUT: Hal Robson-Kanu (suspension); QUESTIONABLE: Jommy Evans (hamstring), Claudio Yacob (hamstring), Gareth McAuley (thigh) | Stoke — OUT: Ibrahim Afellay (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring)

[ MORE: Bilic in trouble as West Ham fall to 3rd straight defeat ]

Liverpool vs. Arsenal — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The weekend’s marquee matchup pits a pair of teams, Liverpool and Arsenal, expected to finish the season fighting one another for a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League qualification. The theories go as follows: Liverpool could struggle to replicate last season’s fourth-place finish once the current campaign’s Champions League begins, while Arsenal will struggle to rebound from finishing fifth last season because their summer signings were massively impacted by the lack of CL football, not to mention they have the Europa League to slog into this time around.

Whether he stays or leaves for Barcelona, the next five days will signal the end of the Philippe Coutinho transfer saga (the star Brazilian will not be available for selection on Sunday). The ay Jurgen Klopp sees it, continuously competing in the CL is the only way for Liverpool to return to the very top of the game.

“It’s a big influence on the transfer market, especially if we do it more often,” he said. “If you talk to a player, they really often (mention it) … especially players we talk to because we don’t have to talk to players which are not better than our players because it’s difficult to find. Or even if you try to extend a contract with a player in the squad, ‘Yeah, I want to play Champions League’ and I always think, ‘It’s your job to do it with us together, so don’t ask that we do a job and you cannot play Champions League — do it with us together.'”

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Philippe Coutinho (back), Adam Lallana (thigh), Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring), Mamadou Sakho (knee) | Arsenal — OUT: Santi Cazorla (achilles), Calum Chambers (groin), Jack Wilshere (fitness)

[ MORE: Spurs have a new right back on the way, for $30 million ]

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley — 11 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

The only narrative you need to know — and the only one Tottenham hope to squash on Sunday — is Spurs’ dreadful record at Wembley, which is to serve as their home this season, since it was rebuilt and opened in 2007. In 11 games at England’s national stadium, Spurs have won just twice, and lost eight times. Last weekend’s loss to Chelsea ended Mauricio Pochettino‘s 19-game home unbeaten run (14 straight wins) which covered the entirety of the 2016-17 season, the club’s final campaign at White Hart Lane.

Of course, Spurs have rarely, if ever, faced an opponent the size of Burnley at Wembley. The step down in quality (all due respect to the Clarets) could be exactly what Spurs need to hush talk of the Wembley hex and send them into the international break with renewed confidence. Putting the month of August into the rearview mirror should also help Harry Kane, who’s yet to score a first-team goal for Spurs during the opening month of the season at any point in his career, after being held goal-less by Newcastle United and Chelsea.

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Danny Rose (knee), Erik Lamela (hip) | Burnley — OUT: Jonathan Walters (ankle)

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Stoke City (Lineups, Stream)

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool host Stoke City from Anfield on Tuesday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSporrs.com) as the lone Premier League fixture after a busy Boxing Day.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

While Stoke will have the benefit of getting Ibrahim Afellay back ahead of the team’s clash against the Reds, Liverpool has won five of the last six PL meetings against the Potters. Afellay will begin the match on the bench, as will talented attacker Xherdan Shaqiri.

Meanwhile, each side will be missing a key member of their respective attacks with Philippe Coutinho remaining out injured for the Reds and Marko Arnautovic suspended for Stoke.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Firmino, Mane, Origi. Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Ejaria, Woodburn.

Stoke City: Grant; Johnson, Shawcross, M.Indi, Pieters; Diouf, Allen, Whelan, Imbula, Walters; Crouch. Subs: Given; Bony, Afellay, Adam, Shaqiri, Bojan, Ramadan.

Premier League injury update ahead of Matchday 8

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a busy two weeks of international games, there are plenty of injury concerns for Premier League managers ahead of Matchday 8.

[ MORE: Wenger on Bellerin ]

Below is a roundup of the major injuries at each club as the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Mousa Dembele could return after making the most of the two week break and healing quickly, while Aaron Ramsey and Harry Kane remain out and it’s not looking good for Liverpool duo Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana.

Here’s the ProSoccerTalk injury report.


Arsenal

Francis Coquelin (declared fit)
Olivier Giroud (back injury, doubtful)
Aaron Ramsey (stepping up recover, not available this weekend)
Per Mertesacker (knee injury, January return)
Danny Welbeck (knee injury, January return)
Carl Jenkinson (returned in U23 game, week or so from match fitness)


Bournemouth

Harry Arter (back in full training, in squad)
Marc Pugh (back in full training, in squad)


Burnley

Tom Heaton (calf strain, should return to squad)
Ashley Barnes (hamstring injury, late October return)


Chelsea

Victor Moses (back in squad, available)
John Terry (back in squad, available)
John Obi Mikel (back in squad, available)
Kurt Zouma (knee injury, late October return)


Crystal Palace

Scott Dann (declared fit)
Loic Remy (thigh injury, November return)
Pape Souare (broken leg, April return)
Jordan Benteke (knee injury, late January return)


Everton

Phil Jagielka (thigh injury, out)
Romelu Lukaku (in full training after thigh injury)
Leighton Baines (in full training after hamstring injury)
James McCarthy (in full training after groin injury)
Darren Gibson (in full training after groin injury)
Mo Besic (knee injury, out until February)


Hull City

Michael Dawson (knee ligament injury, close to return)
Alex Bruce (Achilles injury, out until December)


Leicester City

Danny Drinkwater (groin injury, back in training and squad)
Matty James (ankle injury, no return date)


Liverpool

Georginio Wijnaldum (awaiting scan on hamstring injury, highly doubtful)
Adam Lallana (yet to train after groin injury, questionable)
Dejan Lovren (groin injury, should be in squad)
Nathaniel Clyne (knee injury, should be in squad)


Manchester City

Kevin de Bruyne (returned to full training, could return to squad)
Raheem Sterling (hamstring injury, could return to squad)
Vincent Kompany (back in training, not likely to be risked)
Fabian Delph (could return this weekend)
Bacary Sagna (hamstring injury, early November return)


Manchester United

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh strain, should return to squad)
Phil Jones (knee ligament injury, late October return)


Middlesbrough

James Husband (dislocated shoulder, now available)
Grant Leadbitter (hernia, late December return)


Southampton

Ryan Bertrand (hamstring injury, questionable)
Cedric (foot injury, set to return)
Matt Targett (questionable)
Shane Long (hamstring injury, questionable)
Jay Rodriguez (groin injury, set to return)
Sofiane Boufal (in full training, could make debut as part of squad)
Jeremy Pied (ACL tear, out for season)


Stoke City

Joe Allen (hamstring injury, no return date)
Glen Johnson (hamstring injury, back in squad)
Jack Butland (ankle injury, November return)
Stephen Ireland (broken leg, February return)
Ibrahim Afellay (ACL injury, February return)


Sunderland

Jason Denayer (groin injury, out)
Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring, late November return)
Victor Anichebe (groin, back in training)
Lee Cattermole (back injury, could return to squad)
Steve Pienaar (hamstring, could return to squad)
Adnan Januzaj (ankle injury, early November return)
Fabio Borini (groin injury, late December return)
Vito Mannone (elbow, late November return)
Sebastian Larsson (knee ligament, February return)


Swansea City

Jefferson Montero (back in training, could be in squad)
Federico Fernandez (back in training, could be in squad)
Fernando Llorente (back in training, could be in squad)
Nathan Dyer (ankle injury, mid November return)


Tottenham Hotspur

Mousa Dembele (returned to training, questionable)
Harry Kane (remains out, may return to full training late next week)


Watford

Issac Success (dead leg, back in squad)
Craig Cathcart (groin injury, back in squad)
Miguel Britos (thigh injury, back in squad)
Daryl Janmaat (shoulder injury, late October return)
Jerome Sinclair (hamstring injury, no return date)
Stefana Okaka (hamstring injury, back in squad)


West Bromwich Albion

No injuries


West Ham United

Gokhan Tore (out injured, thigh injury, mid November return)
Sam Byram (hamstring injury, no return date)
Arthur Masuaku (knee injury, no return date)
Andre Ayew (thigh strain, late October return)
Diafra Sakho (Back injury, late October return)
Aaron Cresswell (returned to full training, in squad)
Havard Nordtveit (returned to training, in squad)
Jonathan Calleri (returned to training, in squad)