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The strange trip of U.S. U-23 back Shane O’Neill heads to England

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What a weird journey it’s been for former Colorado Rapids youngster Shane O’Neill.

As long as the paperwork goes through, England is about to have another American competitor. The 22-year-old Irish-born defender is leaving Cypriot side Apollon Limassol to join Cambridge United on loan.

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The U’s are three points out of a promotion playoff spot in League Two, England’s fourth-tier. Cambridge is managed by longtime Crystal Palace, QPR and Leeds midfielder Shaun Derry.

O’Neill has made 22 appearances for the United States’ U-20 and U-23 sides, but can still represent Ireland if he’d like. He left Apollon Limassol on loan last year, but hasn’t played for loan club Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz or his permanent club.

Let’s hope this is a step in the right direction — or at least out of the wilderness — for the promising and versatile O’Neill.

FA Cup roundup: Manchester United cruises, gets Preston North End next; Sunderland also wins

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Cambridge United could not find the magic that allowed the League Two club to hold Manchester United scoreless the first time around, as the Red Devils rolled as part of Tuesday’s batch of FA Cup replays.

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The Red Devils were one of just two Premier League teams on the schedule for replays on Tuesday, though there wasn’t an upset to be found.

Manchester United 3-0 Cambridge United

The U’s held their ground defensively for a while until Marouane Fellaini’s header allowed Juan Mata a mid-first half tap-in to make it 1-0. Mata turned supplier for Marcos Rojo’s first Red Devils goal just 7 minutes later and it was 2-0 in the 32nd. James Wilson finished off the scoring in the 73rd minute with a decent strike from distance, and Manchester United moved onto a road date with Alex Ferguson’s old club: Preston North End.

Fulham 1-3 Sunderland

There’s no further Cup joy for Fulham, who couldn’t find much use for Craven Cottage’s home advantage against their Premier League opponents. Hugo Rodallega put the hosts up 1-0 into halftime, but an own goal from Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli pulled things level in the 61st minute.

Ricardo Alvarez and Jordi Gomez scored in the last quarter hour to give the Black Cats a visit to Coral Window Stadium to face Chelsea-killers Bradford City in the fifth round.

Sheffield United 1-3 Preston North End

Paul Gallagher’s 10-minute brace, the second a penalty, helped make sure Sheffield United couldn’t find more Cup magic. The Blades led 1-0 before Gallagher’s first goal, and Paul Huntington netted a header in between Gallagher’s goals. Now PNE welcomes the Red Devils to Deepdale.

Bolton and Liverpool finish the fourth round’s replays on Wednesday.