Minnesota United host special guests for Aston Villa friendly

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Thousands of Minnesotans and others from the Midwest will flock to St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday to see Minnesota United take on Aston Villa. But one group of soccer players and staff in attendance will have traveled from thousands of miles away to enjoy the match.

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Minnesota United is hosting the Girls Under-15 team from the LEAD Monrovia Football Academy in Monrovia, Liberia while the team plays in the USA Cup. While the team of 14 players and three staff members are hosted in Minnesota, they’ll also be watching the Aston Villa game from Allianz Field.

“As a club, we’re always looking for ways to connect with our diverse community through the world’s game,” Minnesota United CEO Chris Wright said in a statement. “Our ownership group has worked tirelessly with LEAD Africa to make this trip possible for these girls and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to Minnesota. We know it will mean a lot to the more than 35,000 Liberians living here in the Twin Cities and to Liberia’s president, soccer legend George Weah.”

This week, the U-15 team got to attend Minnesota United training and had some fun with Designated Player Darwin Quintero.

The USA Cup is taking place this week in the Twin Cities, with other clubs from all over the world jetting in to play in the tournament. In addition, the organization LEAD Africa, of which the Monrovia Academy is under the umbrella of, is a group that works to empower the future of Africa through sports and education.

For Aston Villa, Wednesday’s match represents the beginning of a season back in the Premier League, and the chance to test themselves against decent opposition. It’s a quick trip to the U.S. for Aston Villa, which finishes up preseason back in England before one last game in Germany at RB Leipzig.

President George Weah, 51, plays for Liberia

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Not content with being the President of Liberia, George Weah is now back on the pitch as one of Africa’s greatest-ever players made a stunning comeback on Tuesday.

On the same night his 18-year-old son Tim was helping the U.S. national team beat Mexico, halfway around the globe the President of Liberia, George, came out of retirement to play for the national team.

Seriously. That happened. Son and father both playing for their national teams on the same night has to be some kind of first, right?

Weah, 51 years young, came out of retirement to captain his national side in a friendly against Nigeria and although the friendly was set up to retire his famous No.14 jersey, it wasn’t just a stunt. He played 79 minutes of the game which ended in a 2-1 win for Nigeria.

15 years after his last game as a professional, the former Monaco, PSG and AC Milan star (who was crowned the best player in world soccer in 1995) played up front for Liberia against a strong Nigeria side who fielded Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho during the game.

Simply stunning.

Liberian President Weah criticized for honoring Wenger

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MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) Liberian President and former soccer star George Weah is being criticized for his plan to award former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger the West African country’s highest honor.

Weah, who was elected president of his country last year, plans to honor Wenger and another French soccer coach, Claude Le Roy, at a ceremony on Friday.

[ REPORT: PSG won’t loan USMNT’s Weah ]

They both played crucial roles in Weah’s career.

Le Roy discovered Weah playing for a club in Cameroon in the late 1980s and recommended him to Wenger, then the coach of Monaco in France. Wenger took the advice, signed the Liberian and Weah went on to play for Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, and became the first and still only African to win the FIFA world player of the year award in 1995.

Liberian sports minister D. Zeogar Wilson said Wenger is to be given the Humane Order of African Redemption with the rank of Knight Grand Commander. Wenger is expected to attend Friday’s ceremony.

But Darius Dillon, an opposition politician, criticized Weah on Wednesday for using the nation’s highest honor and the office of the president to recognize people who only played a role in his “personal life.”

Ex-AC Milan striker George Weah wins Liberia presidency

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Former AC Milan striker George Weah has won the presidency of his native country Liberia, after receiving over 61 percent of the vote on Thursday.

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The 51-year-old succeeds former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — who was Africa’s first female head of state while in office.

Weah played for nearly two decades during his professional soccer career, which ranged from playing in Liberia with Mighty Barrolle to spending time with European giants like Monaco and Milan.

Weah’s son, Timothy, currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain’s academy and was a member of the United States Under-17 national team at 2017 U-17 World Cup.

Manchester United scouting Vancouver’s 15-year-old prodigy

Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press via AP
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Given Vancouver’s disappointing season, even dedicated MLS fans can be forgiven for missing the buzz on Alphonso Davies.

But the 15-year-old, who recently became the second-youngest player to start a game in Major League Soccer history (Freddy Adu), certainly has many admirers here and abroad.

[ MORE: Bedoya hurt, to miss Cuba match ]

The latest is Manchester United, who scouted Davies over the weekend according to The Province. Previously, Liverpool had checked on the kid.

The Liberia-born winger turns 16 in early November, and has made 8 league appearances for the ‘Caps after scoring twice in nine outings for Whitecaps 2 of the USL. He won a penalty for Vancouver in the club’s 2-1 loss to Seattle on Sunday.

And Vancouver could reap the double bonus of seeing more of the kid while also cashing in, according to the report, as Canada’s poor FIFA ranking and his lack of a Canadian passport may conspire to keep him in North America.

From The Province:

Davies could still be transferred before then and loaned out, perhaps back to the Whitecaps, who’ll be wanting a decent percentage of sell-on fees.

The Caps haven’t publicly put a price on Davies — they’ve gone out of their way to limit any hype around the kid — and there haven’t been any reported offers for him, either. But part of the incentive to sell is how those fees can be used in the salary-cap world of MLS.

As we’ve seen with Weston McKinnie (Schalke) and Erik Palmer-Brown (Porto), there are different ways of dealing with in-demand MLS Academy players who want to try their hand in Europe.

And Davies getting a look with United would be huge, perhaps the biggest move for a Canadian player since Owen Hargreaves left Alberta for Bayern Munich (and then United) in the late 1990s.

Davies could speak with a countryman for advice on Old Trafford, as the Red Devils added youngster Josh Doughty in 2015.