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FC Cincinnati signs new Designated Playerr
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FC Cincinnati signs Japanese international as new Designated Player

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FC Cincinnati has its man, signing Yuya Kubo as a Designated Player from KAA Gent in Belgium.

Kubo, 26, scored 25 times with six assists in 73 matches for Gent, a tenure broken up by a six-month loan to Bundesliga side Nurnberg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

He scored once in 23 matches for the German club, and has been effective in both the Europa League and Champions League qualifying. Kubo got his start in Europe with Swiss powers Young Boys.

Kubo also has two goals in 13 caps for Japan, though he’s not been capped since March 2018.

From FCCincinnati.com:

“We are delighted to add a proven offensive player in the form of Yuya Kubo to our roster,” FC Cincinnati general manager Gerard Nijkamp said. “We’ve made it a priority to bring impact players to Cincinnati and we believe Yuya’s versatility as an attacking player will be a great addition to our current group.”

Kubo plays as a striker and an attacking mid and joins a Cincinnati attack with no sure things but plenty of intrigue.

Cincy has Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks, Brandon Vazquez, Fanendo Adi, Joe Gyau, and Frankie Amaya operate in playmaking midfield positions.

USMNT announces Gold Cup roster shortlist

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KAA Gent midfielder Kenny Saief and FC Dallas backstop Jesse Gonzalez are among the players on Bruce Arena’s 40-man shortlist for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Saief has been capped twice by Israel and Gonzalez recently stated his preference to represent Mexico.

English-American striker Dom Dwyer makes the shortlist as well as Philadelphia’s CJ Sapong.

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Also of note are the inclusions of Toronto FC fullback Justin Morrow and Nottingham Forest’s Eric Lichaj.

Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan have been left off the shortlist by Arena.

Goalkeepers: Joe Bendik, Jesse Gonzalez, Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, Tim Howard, Sean Johnson

Defenders: Matt Besler, Steve Birnbaum, Greg Garza, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Hedges, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, Justin Morrow, Matt Polster, Jonathan Spector, Jorge Villafana, Graham Zusi.

Midfielders: Paul Arriola, Ale Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Dax McCarty, Tommy McNamara, Darlington Nagbe, Kellyn Acosta, Chris Pontius, Christian Pulisic, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe, Kenny Saief, Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes.

Forwards: Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Dom Dwyer, Jordan Morris, CJ Sapong, Chris Wondolowski

Dele Alli banned three European games for straight red card

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Spurs may be out of the Europa League this season, but should they end up qualifying for the Champions League next season, they will start the campaign short-handed.

Tottenham will be without midfielder Dele Alli for the first half of the group stage after his horrifying tackle on Brecht Dejaegere of KAA Gent in their 2-2 draw which saw Spurs out of the competition on aggregate in the Round of 32.

Alli went to ground on the 39th-minute challenge, and made contact on high up on Dejaegere’s leg with both his studs, finishing with a scissior-whip motion. It was a blatant red card, and now UEFA’s disciplinary committee has handed down the three-match ban. Straight-red cards for violent conduct only carry a minimum penalty of one match in UEFA tournament play, but the disciplinary committee clearly thought a longer punishment was necessary, with the ability to sentence anyone up to five matches.

The straight red was the first of Alli’s professional career. Alli apologized to Dejaejere after the match, according to the Gent midfielder. He’s since scored in four straight matches, and when asked on Sunday if that moment was still in his mind, he said, “I’m never going to say sorry for wanting to win or trying as hard as I can but things happen and you have to learn from them.”

Spurs currently sit in second place in the Premier League table with 59 points and look to be in a strong position for Champions League qualification, with a seven-point cushion on fifth-placed Manchester United.

UEFA Europa League preview: Mourinho eyes more hardware, Spurs to Belgium

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The battle for Pogba family bragging rights just so happens to be Jose Mourinho’s next step in a quest for lots of laurels at Manchester United.

Sure Mourinho won the Charity Shield to start the season, but the Man Utd boss is within a win of the EFL Cup, and in the final 16 of both the FA Cup and Europa League competitions.

Yeah he’s won them all before, but Mourinho would love clinching an automatic Champions League berth for next size by winning the Europa League.

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The next step to that is Saint-Etienne, who visits Old Trafford on Thursday. The Ligue 1 side is more than a story line involving Florentin Pogba going up against little brother Paul Pogba of the Red Devils; You’ll remember Jordan Veretout and Henri Saivet from brief Premier League stints.

But, yes, the focus is on the Pogba family, including the matriarch according to Mourinho:

“I think it’s a nice destiny. I think only Mum Pogba is in a little bit of trouble, which is normal. It’s difficult for the lady to choose. It’s not difficult, it’s impossible for her to choose. I know from Paul that the mum wants a draw but next week one son will be happy and another one will be sad.”

Still, United will be expected to advance to the next round, as will fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs are coming off a disappointing performance at Liverpool last weekend, and now visit Belgium for a match-up with KAA Gent. Captained by Nana Asare and coached by Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Gent will hope to keep Spurs off the scoreboard at home before a trip to London.

Other highlights on the schedule include Roma’s trip to Villarreal and Fiorentina’s visit to USMNT wideman Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Full schedule of Thursday’s first legs

11 a.m. EDT
Krasnodar vs. Fenerbahce

1 p.m. EDT
Alkmaar vs. Lyon
Astra Giurgiu vs. Genk
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Fiorentina
Rostov vs. Sparta Prague
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Copenhagen
Celta Vigo vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Gent vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiacos vs. Osmanlispor

3:05 p.m. EDT
Manchester United vs. Saint-Etienne
Anderlecht vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Villarreal vs. Roma
PAOK vs. Schalke
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Besiktas
Athletic Bilbao vs. Apoel Nicosia
Legia Warsaw vs. Ajax