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Report: Martino to leave Atlanta, national team job looms

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Tata Martino’s future has been debated for some time.

Would he elect to stay with Atlanta United beyond the season? Would national team duty call? And if so, would it be the USMNT? A return to Argentina?

[ UCL: Real rocks Roma, Man City falls ]

Now ESPN is reporting that Martino will leave Atlanta United at the end of this season, opening another high profile MLS job next to the LA Galaxy vacancy.

Presuming he wants to leave Atlanta, which option is most attractive?

  • Mexico and the USMNT are both on the precipice of golden generations, assuming they pick the right shepherd. El Tri is a bit further along in the process than the U.S., and it would be an easy selection.
  • Argentina is Martino’s home, and he’s held the job before. Would the idea of melding Lionel Messi’s final prime throes with Paulo Dybala to try and claim a first Copa America since 1993 be enough?
  • Colombia would also face the test of World Cup qualifying in CONMEBOL, and is a pretty packed side. James Rodriguez (27), Yerry Mina (23), and Davinson Sanchez (22) will be around for the long haul, while Juan Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao are still productive.

Chelsea loan Bakayoko to AC Milan

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Tiémoué Bakayoko lasted just one season at Stamford Bridge.

AC Milan announced on Tuesday morning that it had acquired the young French midfielder on loan with an option to buy from Chelsea, just a year after the Blues paid more than $51 million to sign him.

[READ: Ronaldo released from hospital]

Bakayoko was coming off a dream season at Monaco where he, Radamel Falcao, Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar, and Fabinho among others led the side to a Ligue 1 title and a place in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. But Bakayoko struggled with a naggling knee injury all season, and it may have affected him at Chelsea, where he was playing for the first time out of his country and comfort zone.

Bakayoko struggled at times for the Blues, including enduring a demoralizing first-half sending off in a shocking 4-1 defeat to Watford. Although he played 29 Premier League matches, it never seemed like he fully won over manager Antonio Conte, and he was never a pure fit alongside fellow French star N'Golo Kante. It was clear after preseason that Conte’s successor Maurizio Sarri didn’t have Bakayoko in his plans either, leaving the 24-year-old to find a new home yet again.

At AC Milan, Bakayoko will have another Francophone player to sit in midfield alongside, with Franck Kessie back for a second season at the San Siro.

England beats Colombia in PKs (Yes, in PKs)

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England denied its World Cup penalty kick demons on Tuesday as the Three Lions booked the final spot in the World Cup quarterfinals with a 4-3 defeat of Colombia after 120 minutes of 1-1 in Moscow.

Harry Kane and Yerry Mina traded goals in regulation, with Mina’s coming well into second half stoppage time.

Colombia was playing without star playmaker James Rodriguez.

KICKS
COL – Radamel Falcao scores
ENG – Kane scores
COL – Juan Cuadrado scores
ENG – Marcus Rashford scores
COL – Luis Muriel scores
ENG – Jordan Henderson saved by David Ospina
COL – Manuel Uribe hits the cross bar
ENG – Kieran Trippier scores
COL – Carlos Bacca saved by Jordan Pickford
ENG – Eric Dier scores

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

There were few terrific chances in the first half, with the half focused on fouls and skullduggery.

And with apologies to a Harry Maguire header, the moment of the half was an incident between Colombia’s Wilmar Barrios and England’s Jordan Henderson.

Barrios made head-first contact with Henderson’s chest and head, and Henderson made sure everyone knew it. England supporters wanted a red card, but American referee Mark Geiger only showed yellow after VAR review.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Kane won and converted a penalty kick shortly after the break, as Carlos Sanchez had his second awful moment of the tournament.

The half devolved even more afterward, and the 70th minute saw the match with one yellow for every 10 minutes of play (five for Colombia).

And Kyle Walker nearly gave the game back to Los Cafeteros, but Juan Cuadrado knifed his effort wide of the goal.

Mateus Uribe forced Jordan Pickford into an outstanding save in the third minute of stoppage, earning Colombia a corner kick. Mina headed home and it was 1-1.

The first 15 minutes of extra time belonged to Colombia, but England saw a few chances in the second stanza. Jordan Henderson sent Danny Rose on goal, but the Spurs man dragged his 112th minute shot just wide of the far post.

Colombia thrash poor Poland, set up must-win vs. Senegal

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Colombia thrashed Poland, to the tune of 3-0, in the two sides’ must-win game in Group H play at the 2018 World Cup on Sunday, getting goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado to leave their destiny in their own hands ahead of Thursday’s decisive group finale against Senegal.

Poland have been eliminated with one group game still to play.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Colombia could have scored two or three goals in the first half, with Cuadrado and Juan Quintero causing constant problems for the left side of the Polish defense, but the necessary finishing touch was consistently lacking until Mina headed home a James Rodriguez cross in the 40th minute.

Poland offered very little, both before or after Mina’s opener, as Robert Lewandowski was effectively contained with the vast majority of his touches coming 30 yards from goal and further out. After disappointing in their tournament-opening loss to Senegal, manager Adam Nawalka made a handful of changes to his lineup — dropping the likes of Arkadiusz Milik, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki — to no avail.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Despite the scoreline remaining 1-0 for the first 25 minutes of the first half, Poland never looked threatening and were put to the sword by Falcao’s first career World Cup goal (missed the 2014 tournament due to a knee injury), courtesy of Quintero’s seeing-eye through ball.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

James played provider five minutes later, when he slotted what might just be the pass of the tournament across the field, across the Polish defense, and found a streaking Cuadrado with acres of space in front of him. From one end of the field to the other, in no time at all.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

When Colombia (3 points) meet Senegal (4 points) on Thursday, they’ll need a win to overtake them for second place, or for Poland (0 points) to beat Japan (4 points), who currently sit top of the group — but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

Report: Martino wants to bring Falcao to Atlanta United

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El Tigre in The ATL? At lease one person is trying to make it happen.

According to a report out of Colombia, Atlanta United manager Gerardo has reached out to Radamel Falcao‘s representatives to see if the Monaco and Colombia National Team forward would want to join the Five Stripes this summer. Martino reportedly offered a $4 million salary, though that’s less than the $7 million Falcao currently earns with Monaco.

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On paper, this would be terrific addition for the league. Although he’s 32-years old and struggled with injury this season, Falcao still managed 18 goals in Ligue Un action and another three more goals in five UEFA Champions League appearances, proving that he can still score at a high level. He’s expected to be heading to the World Cup with Russia this summer, hopefully fitter than he was in 2014 when he was still recovering from a torn ACL.

However, there are plenty of roadblocks before this move could actually become reality. First, Atlanta United currently has three Designated Players, so it would have to either sell/trade a DP or trade for enough allocation money to pay down one of the Five Stripe’s players. At the same time, this move could be in the works on the chance that one of Josef Martinez or Miguel Almiron is sold to a European club this summer, with Falcao taking his place.

Watch this space.