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San Jose’s Kashia honored with inaugural UEFA award

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The first winner of FIFA’s #EqualGame award is currently plying his trade in Major League Soccer.

Georgian captain Guram Kashia is now with San Jose Earthquakes, but was the focus of anti-LGBT ire last season while leading Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.

[ MORE: Pogba’s agent dares Man Utd to sell Pogba ]

Kashia wore a rainbow-colored captain’s arm band for Vitesse in support of the LGBT community, and was met with a violent response.

According to the BBC:

Anti-LGBT protestors in his homeland reacted with riots, smoke bombs and flares. A rainbow flag was burned outside the headquarters of the Georgian Football Federation, while the defender faced threats and abuse, with calls made for him to be dropped from the national team.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin celebrated Kashia for preaching “tolerance and acceptance, and help(ing to) change perceptions of this minority group in his native country of Georgia.”

Kashia will be honored by the Quakes before their Aug. 29 game against FC Dallas.

Ajax midfielder Nouri’s condition improving, brother says

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AMSTERDAM (AP) The condition of Ajax midfielder Abdelhak Nouri is improving, more than a year after he collapsed during a friendly match and suffered severe brain damage.

[ MORE: Pogba’s agent hits back at critics, dares Man United to sell Pogba ]

In an interview with Dutch national broadcaster NOS that aired over the weekend, Nouri’s brother said the family has not given up hope of a full recovery.

Abderrahim Nouri said that after initially being in a coma, his brother has been gradually improving since the start of this year and he can now communicate with his family by moving his mouth or eyebrows.

“If I compare it with the past, at the moment it’s going well. Much better,” Abderrahim Nouri said.

[ MORE: Klopp: “Nobody thinks about” $100-million Van Dijk fee anymore ]

However, he added that his brother’s physical condition has deteriorated since his collapse because of his lack of movement.

Nouri, a promising midfielder who rose through the Ajax youth system, was 20 when he collapsed last July during a pre-season match against Werder Bremen.

In June, Ajax said he did not receive adequate treatment on the field and accepted liability for the consequences.

Odegaard leaves Real Madrid for another Eredivisie loan

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Four years ago, Martin Odegaard was perhaps the most coveted wonderkid in the world of soccer.

[ MORE: Pogba’s agent hits back at critics, dares Man United to sell Pogba ]

Today, nearly 48 months after joining Real Madrid as a 16-year-old, Odegaard has made more loan moves away from the club (2) than first-team starts (1 – 2016, in the Copa del Rey round of 32). The Norwegian has not yet made his La Liga debut.

Madrid announced on Tuesday that the 19-year-old has joined Eredivisie side Vitesse on a season-long loan. Odegaard most recently spent a season and a half on loan to Heerenveen, eighth-place finishers in the Dutch first division last season. He scored three goals in 38 league appearances over 18 months.

[ MORE: Klopp: “Nobody thinks about” $100-million Van Dijk fee anymore ]

“The past year and a half I have played in the Eredivisie,” Odegaard said upon joining Vitesse. “I was impressed by Vitesse. I got to know Vitesse as a good footballing team, with an offensive and dominant view of the game. I think that way of playing is good for me. Vitesse has also shown that it gives young players a chance. That is why I am happy with the opportunity that Vitesse offers me.”

WATCH: USMNT’s Novakovich bags first Eredivisie goal

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Firstly, you know it’s an Eredivisie highlight when there are backheeled passes in the defending third.

But we should be grateful for that sort of tomfoolery from PSV Eindhoven, as it allowed a young American center forward to bag his first Eredivisie goal.

[ MORE: Hazard will stay at Chelsea ]

Andriya Novakovich lit up the Dutch second tier during a loan spell a Telstar last season, and earned a new deal with Reading and loan to the first tier this season.

The Fortuna Sittard striker turns 22 next month, and has gone 90 minutes in his first two matches for the club. His second took advantage of hesitant defending with physical play and a scorer’s touch.

Novakovich scored 22 times with five assists last season, and made his USMNT debut in 2018 with caps against Paraguay and Bolivia.

Five USMNT players to watch in club adventures

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The next level is within reach for these five Americans abroad, whether it’s a step to stardom or just a move toward finding a new permanent home.

[ MORE: Zlatan suspended ]

  1. Andriya Novakovich, Fortuna Sittard — He’s re-signed with Reading, but the Football League Championship side isn’t ready to hand him the keys to a big role (or lose him before he reaches peak value). The Wisconsin-born 21-year-old with two USMNT caps will attempt to bring his prolific Dutch second division season (19 goals for Telstar) to Eredivisie with promoted club Fortuna Sittard.
  2. Erik Palmer-Brown, NAC Breda — The 21-year-old center back has taken baby steps in Europe, but defending in the prolific Eredivisie (on loan from Manchester City) is a tall ask. While Matt Miazga’s proven he could handle the load, EPB will look to do the same.
  3. Tim Weah, Paris Saint-Germain — This one’s rather obvious, but we’re not watching to see whether the fiery young striker is quality. Rather, what would it say if the 18-year-old can get significant playing time with a Champions League mainstay?
  4. Julian Green, Greuther Furth — Last season’s loan to Furth was enough to make the 2.Bundesliga club want to buy the former Bayern Munich man from Stuttgart. Green is now 23, four years removed from his World Cup goal against Belgium but mere months from his friendly goal against France. Is the next step now?
  5. Emerson Hyndman, Bournemouth — The 22-year-old’s former club, Fulham, is now in the Premier League, and Hyndman sure is hoping to face them. He spent all of 2017-18 with the Cherries but only found the pitch in the final match, a year after making an impact on loan to Rangers. He may be set for another loan, but needs to break through wherever he ends up (and if he gets playing time, he’s a good bet for it. Smart player).