Micah Richards

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What’s next for Micah Richards?

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Capped by England as a teenager, it’s almost inexplicable how Micah Richards has arrived at this point in his career.

According to multiple reports in England, Aston Villa and manager Steve Bruce are finally going to set Richards free, after more than two years without a single appearance. It’s been 665 days since Richards last played a match, starting and playing 66 minutes in a 1-1 draw in 2016 against Wolverhampton. In that time, Richards has reportedly earned $4.2 million. Richards’ contract at Aston Villa reportedly runs through the end of this season.

Its a far cry for what Richards’ potential was 10 years ago, when he looked like the England and Manchester City centerback stalwart for at least the next decade.

[READ: Timothy Weah making his mark at PSG]

It’s easy to forget, since he hasn’t been in the news, just how long Richards has been playing at a high level.

The Leeds native made his professional debut at the age of 17 for Manchester City on October 22, 2005, in a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal. Starting that day for Manchester City was none other than U.S. Men’s National Team legend Claudio Reyna. The two would play together in City blue for another two seasons.

Richards made his England debut at 18 in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands in 2006 and played a big role in England’s qualification campaign for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland. But that was before the injuries took their toll.

Richards was mostly a regular for Manchester City through the 2011-2012 season, when he was a candidate for club player of the year. A meniscus and cartilage injury in his knee forced Richards out for six months and as he came back, he found himself already replaced. Since that injury, Richards has only played 38 games in six years. According to Transfermarkt, Richards has suffered a series of hamstring and knee injuries in that span, partially which has kept him off the field.

But strangely, after 24 appearances for Aston Villa in 2015-2016, manager Bruce decided when he arrived that next season that Richards wasn’t in his plans. And yet, the club couldn’t move him on, or perhaps the player himself didn’t want to leave.

Which brings us to now, with a player who once looked destined for a career in the spotlight, finds himself likely without a club and without an appearance to his name in nearly two years.

Perhaps he could re-join Reyna with New York City FC, a club he got to see first hand in 2013 when Manchester City visited New York on two occasions. But Richards would have to prove his fitness, with MLS a physically tough league, like the Premier League. Richards could also drop down a level, find a club which is willing to give him minutes. Or he could get the next phase of his career started in earnest, earning his coaching license and working with youngsters to train them to be the next first team stars.

Like he once was.

Manchester City 4-0 Aston Villa: Aguero helps City take opportunity with both hands

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  • Aguero scores two
  • Yaya, Sterling also score
  • Villa stay 20th with 16 points
  • Guzan saves Aguero PK

Sergio Aguero missed a penalty which would’ve given him a hat trick, and that can be Manchester City’s only complaint after burying Aston Villa on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.

A scoreless first half gave way to a sky blue second, as Aguero netted twice to go with goals from Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling in a 4-0 win.

City stays fourth, two points back of Arsenal with a match in hand. Aston Villa is now nine points back of 17th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sergio Aguero absolutely worked Aly Cissokho to the right edge of the six, and Guzan did well to stop the Argentine’s curling effort from seeing the back of the goal.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Yaya finally put City ahead with a casual-enough pass home in the 48th minute, after a set-up from David Silva and Aguero.

It was 2-0 less than a minute later, as Wilfried Bony‘s through ball into the 18 was ripped off Aguero and into the goal on Micah Richards‘ attempted clearance.

Aguero blasted a shot past Guzan, near post, to make it 3-0 in the 61st minute. Sterling added his goal, off a Navas pass, soon afterwards.

The rain kept pouring when Kelechi Iheanacho won a penalty by wrongfooting Ciaran Clark. But Guzan stopped Aguero’s effort to keep it 4-0.

FA Cup Replay Roundup: West Brom, Villa advance

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FA Cup third-round replays kicked off on Tuesday, as the Premier League’s Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion both earned wins to advance to the next stage of the competition.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Bristol City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion

Salomon Rondon’s cool 52nd minute finish was enough to see the Baggies through, as West Brom defeated Championship side Bristol City. Rondon scored his first-career FA Cup goal, controlling a Craig Dawson cross with his chest before side-footing one past the keeper. West Brom will like their matchup in the next round, as the Baggies host League One Peterborough United.

Aston Villa 2-0 Wycombe

After a disappointing draw at League Two Wycombe which ended with captain Micah Richards arguing with angry fans, Aston Villa rebounded in the replay and earned a 2-0 win. The match was scoreless for more than an hour, but a 75th minute header from Ciaran Clark and a stoppage-time strike from Idrisse Gueye capped off the night in what was a must-win for Villa. Remi Garde’s side will now host Manchester City in the fourth round.

[ MORE: Premier League Team of the Week — Round 22 ]

Elsewhere in the FA Cup

Bradford City 0-0 Bury (Bury advance 4-2 on penalties)
MK Dons 3-0 Northampton Town
Portsmouth 2-1 Ipswich Town
Yeovil Town 1-1 Carlisle United (Carlisle advance 5-4 on penalties)
Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Eastleigh
Reading 5-2 Huddersfield

Aston Villa 1-0 Crystal Palace: Hennessey howler gives Villans first win since August

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  • Villa’s first win since opening day
  • Hennessey slip-up gives away goal
  • Palace held scoreless for fourth straight

Aston Villa got their first win since the opening day of the season thanks to a blunder in goal from Crystal Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey, as the Villans earned a 1-0 win over Alan Pardew‘s Eagles.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Manager Remi Garde made some changes to his side, benching captain Micah Richards and USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan, as the Frenchman was desperate to find his first win at the club since coming to Villa in November. Garde also gave Libor Kozak his first start since 2013, showing how trying the times are at Villa Park.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Crystal Palace nearly took the lead within the opening 45 seconds, as Wilfried Zaha played a quick one-two with Jason Puncheon to get in behind the Aston Villa defense. Zaha’s shot beat Mark Bunn but was rejected by the post as Villa avoided a disastrous start.

After the early scare, Villa found their footing and were the better side throughout the first half. Jordan Ayew created some chances with his speed on the outside as Palace was pinned back in their own end for most of the opening 45 minutes.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Aston Villa continued to control the play in the second half, and took the lead in the 58th minute thanks to an absolute howler from Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Joleon Lescott got a header on goal off a corner kick, as Hennessey bobbled the ball before it rolled through his legs and just over the line. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the goal Aston Villa needed.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Palace would push on for an equalizer late in the match, but failed to create any real chances as Aston Villa found their first win in the league since August, and their first under Remi Garde.

USWNT coach Ellis names captain replacements for Wambach, Rampone

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With Christie Rampone and Abby Wambach retiring, the USWNT is in the midst of a transition period.

Head coach Jill Ellis was tasked with handing the captain’s armbands to new players, and she’s got her girls to lead the next iteration of World Cup title defenders.

[ VIDEO: Micah Richards argues with pitchside Villa fans ]

2015 World Cup hero Carli Lloyd, 33, will be joined by Becky Sauerbrunn, 30, in leading the team. In a lot of ways — firebrand attacker and stalwart role model defender — it’s a two-for-two change.

From USSoccer.com:

“Christie and Abby have been phenomenal leaders for this team for a long time, and we are forever grateful for their far-reaching contributions,” said Ellis. “As we move into the next phase of this program, I’ve selected two captains who I know will represent us extremely well on and off the field and will help facilitate the positive direction of this team. They are two extremely professional players in both game and training environments and they embody the DNA of this program.”

I really like the pick. Figure Lloyd puts in another World Cup cycle and then cedes way to a young star. The idea of alternating captain changes per WC cycle is quite enticing.