Steve Clarke

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Steve Clarke named new Scotland manager

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Steve Clarke has been named the new manager of the Scottish national team, as he hopes to take them to a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.

Clarke, 55, has left his role as the manager of Kilmarnock after he led Killie to a third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership this season as they qualified for the Europa League.

That feat saw Clarke named both the PFA Scotland and SFWA Manager of the Year, as they finished above Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts thanks to a final day win against Glasgow Rangers.

Speaking about his arrival as the new Scotland manager, Clarke was delighted to be handed the chance to try and lead his country back to a major tournament (the last tournament they played in was the 1998 World Cup in France) with his contract lasting until the end of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It is an honor to be appointed Scotland head coach and I will undertake those responsibilities with pride and commitment,” Clarke said. “I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.

“I appreciate the Scotland supporters have waited a long time for the national team to qualify for a major tournament. Now we have a Women’s World Cup to look forward to in France this summer and it’s my motivation to emulate the success of Shelley Kerr and her squad by leading us to EURO 2020. I believe we can qualify and look forward to that journey with the players and the fans, starting against Cyprus and Belgium next month.”

Scotland are in Group I in EURO 2020 qualifying as they face Belgium, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Cyprus, and have three points after their first two games of qualifying. They are assured of at least a playoff to get into EURO 2020 after they won their UEFA Nations League group last year.

Scotland have the likes of Scott McTominay, Andrew Robertson and Ryan Fraser are playing regularly and starring in the Premier League, and Clarke will believe this young core can lead the Tartan Army to the brink of qualifying for a major tournament, especially with 24 teams to compete at EURO 2020.

Clarke certainly has an impressive resume in the game, as he made over 400 appearances as a player for Chelsea and then went on to become a key member of their backroom staff as he was an assistant manager under Jose Mourinho. He also held roles as an assistant manager at Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool and his experience is undoubted at the top level of the game.

As a head coach he led West Brom to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League (their highest finish since 1981) and since then he has managed Reading in the Championship (taking them to the FA Cup semifinals in 2014-15) and was then hired as Aston Villa’s assistant coach in 2016.

Clarke has rejuvenated his career in Scotland, and he will now get the chance to lead his nation.

Report: Former Chelsea great Clarke set to be new Scotland manager

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The Scotland FA is set to appoint a former Chelsea star as its new men’s national team manager.

Former Chelsea midfielder, and West Bromwich Albion and Reading manager Steve Clarke is reportedly in talks with the Scotland FA to take over the national team. Clarke has a difficult job ahead, with Scotland already having lost, 3-0, at Kazakhstan in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.

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Although Scotland finished top of their group in Level C of the UEFA Nations League and earned promotion to League B, the team’s play was very up and down under Alex McLeish, back in the job after a one-year spell in 2017. McLeish eventually lost the federation’s support after the 3-0 defeat at Kazakhstan, ranked then 117th in the world, made Scotland look like Europe’s whipping boy. Though Scotland saved some face with a 2-0 win over San Marino, the damage was done.

Clarke, after disappointing tenures at West Bromwich and Reading in his first full managerial roles, has since found success in Scotland. He’s led Kilmarnock this season to third place in the table and a spot in the Europa League, an impressive feat considering the club’s budget is dwarfed by Celtic and Rangers. Aberdeen have impressed, while both Hibernian and Hearts of Midlothain have also recently spent big on new signings, yet Kilmarnock finished above them this season.

Clarke, who only played a half dozen times for Scotland during his playing career, will now have to galvanize the squad ahead of two crucial qualifications in June and quickly imprint his tactical ideas and plan in a short amount of time. During his time at Chelsea, Clarke won the FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup Winners Cup between 1987 and 1998. He was also assistant coach under Jose Mourinho and played a key role in some of their most successful seasons.

Pair of Championship teams, Belgian side linked with move for Gyasi Zardes

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Maybe all of the Galaxy’s recent purchases came with the knowledge of one big summer sale item.

Gyasi Zardes is a dynamic young striker, and Los Angeles may be weighing offers from abroad for the 23-year-old California native. Capped 13 times under Jurgen Klinsmann, Zardes is said to be wanted in Europe.

[ MORE: Newcastle nabs $18 million Frenchman ]

Zardes is being linked to join USMNT teammate Danny Williams and exciting prospect Andrija Novakovich at Reading in England’s Championship and Belgian club Genk, as well as another Championship side.

MLSSoccer.com has the story:

A pair of sources close to the situation confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that Reading were indeed browsing Zardes. Costigan also linked another Championship admirer, fast starters Brighton & Hove Albion, as potential bidders.

On Wednesday, Reading manager Steve Clarke made it clear that he was still eager to get in some last-minute shopping before the summer transfer market closes on Sept. 1.

“By my calculations, we’ve had 14 players out from the end of last season, including loans, and only eight back in,” the Reading boss told reporters. “So you can see that there is room to bring a few more in.”

With Giovani dos Santos joining Robbie Keane in L.A.’s electric strike force, and Bradford Jamieson IV coming through the ranks, L.A. could weather the loss of Zardes. Would a move be a step up for the youngster, given his training ground partners?

That’s no longer a certainty, but it would be a higher-profile stage for a player whose meteoric rise just may set the stage for a bigger move.

WATCH: Pedro Ribeiro’s late long-range bullet finalizes 2-2 draw for Orlando City SC

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In the 89th minute at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando City defender Luke Boden sent a high-arching through ball to Pedro Ribeiro and the ex-Phialdelphia Union midfielder calmly turned, stepped up and rocketed a left-footer from outside the penalty box that flashed past Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steve Clarke.

Orlando mustered a 2-2 draw against the Crew with Ribeiro’s successful try.

Kaka scored on a penalty kick in the 17th minute, while Tony Tchani and Kei Kamara notched the goals for Columbus.

The Lions had a total of 24 shots, only nine of which were on target, and held 64 percent of possession.

See the goal unfold below:

FA Cup preview: Four storylines heading into the semifinals

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England’s several divisions have seasons coming to a close as May approaches, and the FA Cup is also nearing its end, with four teams drawn into the final semifinal pool.

At Wembley, Arsenal will battle Reading on Saturday morning, while Liverpool will encounter Aston Villa the next day.

Below are four storylines to keep in mind during these matches.

[RELATED: PL preview of Everton v. Burnley]

1. Repeat just around the bend for Arsene Wenger– The last time Arsene Wenger won the FA Cup was not long ago, as the Gunners defeated Hull City, 3-2, in late May to secure the crown, and they will have another opportunity to compete in the final. Clicking at just the right time, Arsenal has currently won eight straight and many think Wenger’s run will continue against second-division Reading.

2. Underdog Reading aiming for history– The year 1927 marks Reading FC’s farthest advancement in the tournament when the squad made it to the semifinals only to lose to Cardiff City, 3-0. If the Championship side can keep the scoreline close and be opportunistic late in the match, manager Steve Clarke could hand Reading its very first FA Cup final appearance.

3. Gerrard ready to play– Steven Gerrard is a significant contributor to Liverpool in career-defining moments, and his three-game suspension has ended at the perfect moment. The midfielder will return to the pitch against Villa in a match that will hold great importance to him since he leaves for MLS in the summer. This could be his last chance to seize hardware as a Red.

4. Aston Villa eyeing Europa League– Aston Villa is not a complete stranger to the prospect of Europa League competition. About five years ago, in the 2010-11 season, the Villans played Austrian team Rapid Vienna in a Europa League playoff but couldn’t escape with a victory. Not the biggest underdog or clear favorite, Villa could definitely muscle its way past Liverpool, who weren’t spectacular in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Blackburn Rovers.