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Nedum Onuoha
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English defender Onuoha speaks out on fear of police in the U.S.

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Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha is speaking out on his experience as a black man in the United States in the wake of ongoing protests and violence following the killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Speaking with the BBC, Onuoha says he has loved his time in the United States but admitted a wariness around law enforcement that he does not experience at home in England. The 33-year-old says there are “plenty of good” police in the country but admitted he doesn’t feel “100% safe” around law enforcement officers and that he has a “fear and distrust” of them.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Onuoha says the protests and demands for reform are “emotional” and “overdue,” adding that he feels empowered by the non-black voices joining the calls for justice.

From The BBC:

“I have loved living in this country but there is [another] side of it. In the UK, I am more comfortable because if something happens it probably will not be deadly – but over here because of their rights it is more common that altercations become deadly. I am always very aware of that whenever I go around anywhere.

“I am comfortable but when it comes to any kind of brutality, if it’s from the police, if they read me the wrong way then my life could be taken. I feel that every single day. It is not just me but everybody else as well.”

The Nigeria-born English defender joined RSL in 2018 and has played 36 times for the Utah club. Onuoha previously spent seven years with Queens Park Rangers after beginning his career with City and Sunderland.

MLS released a statement on the Floyd killing earlier this week, expressing unity with the black community and “horror” at the “senseless murder” of the 46-year-old American man.

Premier League On this Day: Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge streak snapped

Jozy Altidore
GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images
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A week before Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea cost Liverpool a title, a Chelsea hero’s slip cost the Blues’ their shot and Jose Mourinho an incredible streak.

Relegation-threatened Sunderland came back from an early Samuel Eto’o goal to beat the Blues 2-1 in London to hand Mourinho his first home loss in 77 matches at Stamford Bridge.

Cesar Azpilicueta fell over on the flank and gifted the ball to Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, then chopping down the American for a penalty that Fabio Borini converted for a 2-1 win.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Altidore had a tough time with the Northeast set, but he enjoyed his time against the Blues, scoring his only Premier League goal for Sunderland in December at the Stadium of Light, then drawing the match-winning penalty at Stamford Bridge,

Chelsea wound up affecting both its failure to win the league and Liverpool’s by beating the Reds a week later, opening the door for Manchester City’s fourth top-flight title (City, for what it’s worth had slipped into third early in April by losing to Liverpool and drawing… Sunderland).

Chelsea would finish in third place, four points off leaders Man City and two back of Liverpool.

It’s a match that looks so odd in the rear view mirror, and not only because Gerrard fell over a week later; Chelsea star Marcos Alonso was on the field for Sunderland. Mohamed Salah was taken off the pitch for Andre Schurrle in the 66th minute, while David Luiz and Frank Lampard were saved for a midweek draw at Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

Weird, weird game.

American mid Gooch scores beauty for League One’s Sunderland (video)

Lynden Gooch scores beauty for Sunderland (video)
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images
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Lynden Gooch has stuck with Sunderland through thick and thin, and most of it’s been thin, so it’s been easy for USMNT fans to lose track of the midfielder in League One.

Gooch scored a beauty for Black Cats on Sunday, cutting atop the box to spin a shot inside the netting to give Phil Parkinson’s side a very lead. Sunderland went on to beat Doncaster Rovers 2-1 at Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The American midfielder made his first team debut for Sunderland when they were still a Premier League outfit, and has stayed with the club through their drop two divisions. He has a contract with the side through the 2021/22 season.

Gooch celebrated his 24th birthday on Tuesday and has put together five goals in 18 matches for the Black Cats this season. Sunderland sits 13th with 31 points, five points off the playoff places.

For his career, Gooch has 14 goals and 14 assists in 107 matches. Eleven of those matches came in the Premier League, when he earned four caps for the USMNT.

EFL Cup: Man City cruise past Saints; Everton, Leicester into QF

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A roundup of all of Tuesday’s action in the EFL Cup round of 16…

[ MORE: Cryptic Zlatan Ibrahimovic hints at return to Spain ]

Manchester City 3-1 Southampton

The two-time defending holders reached the quarterfinals of this season’s EFL Cup with a comfortable 3-1 home victory over Southampton, courtesy of goals scored by Nicolas Otamendi and Sergio Aguero (twice).

Otamendi got the scoring started when he headed home Bernardo Silva’s corner kick in the 20th minute. Aguero scored either side of halftime, first by applying the simple finish to Kyle Walker‘s cross in the 38th minute followed by a tap-in from Riyad Mahrez‘s pinpoint service in the 56th. Aguero bagged his brace to mark his 350th appearance for the club (all competitions).

Southampton scored from a corner kick of their own, but it was too little and too late when Jack Stephens headed home James Ward-Prowse‘s ball in the 75th minute. Claudio Bravo wasn’t forced into making his first save of the game until the 65th minute.

Everton 2-0 Watford

Everton scored twice during the final 20 minutes to survive a ropey encounter with Watford at Goodison Park. Mason Holgate put the hosts ahead after 72nd minutes before Richarlison put the game out of reach with the Toffees’ second goal in the 92nd.

Everton boss Marco Silva was forced to make two subs before the second half begin. Defender Yerry Mina lasted just 41 minutes before suffering an injury, and Moise Kean was subbed off at halftime after struggling to produce in the first half.

Burton Albion 1-3 Leicester City

Leicester followed up their 9-0 drubbing of Saints by putting three past League One side Burton Albion. Kelechi Iheanacho and Youri Tielemans put the visitors 2-0 ahead after 20 minutes, but the Brewers fought their way back into the game through Liam Boyce‘s goal in the 52nd minute.

The game remained 2-1 until the final minute of normal time, when James Maddison slammed home a cross from Demarai Gray to make it 3-1 and put the Foxes at ease.

Elsewhere in the EFL Cup

Oxford United 1-1 (4-2 PKs) Sunderland
Crawley Town 1-3 Colchester United

1-on-1 with Vito Mannone, 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year

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Vito Mannone is one of the nice guys, so there are only good vibes in announcing that the Minnesota United goalkeeper has been named the 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after an outstanding season with the Loons.

The 31-year-old Italian was a revelation after arriving on loan from Reading in England’s Football League Championship, the latest stop in a career which has seen him play for Arsenal in the Champions League and spearhead several big seasons for Sunderland in the Premier League.

[ MORE: One-on-one with Chris Wondolowski ]

Mannone’s 73 saves from inside the box and 136 total saves were both third in MLS as was his 11 clean sheets in a season which saw the Loons claim their first MLS playoff spot in three seasons and make a run to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. He’s just the second MLS Goalkeeper of the Year to hail from outside of a CONCACAF nation.

PST had a chance to speak to Mannone for a wide-ranging conversation on not just his incredible season, but his feelings of responsibility to be a contributor to his community and the gratitude he feels to be a professional athlete. From emotionally crediting his parents to a funny story about former Arsenal teammate and current LAFC star Carlos Vela, Mannone is an absolute joy in conversation.

ProSoccerTalk: Vito, congratulations on a wonderful season. First things first, what does the award mean to you?

Vito Mannone: “I didn’t expect it in a way, but it’s an incredible feeling. You always work so hard to achieve something like this and it’s an award that rewards me, the work I put in throughout my career. It’s a special one, special moment.”

ProSoccerTalk: There are a lot of worthy on-field topics, and we’ll get to them, but I want to talk about your focus off the field. I read someone on Twitter call you “the nicest guy in football.” You clearly care about how you treat people and your purpose.

VM: “I grew up with special parents and they ingrained in me great values in general in my life. I learned everything from my dad and my mom. They were special people, not just to me but to everyone. That’s how I was raised. I always cared about other people, them first.

“The football platform gives you the chance to give back to people. Anywhere I go I try to give my best to my fans and people who support you in your job. It’s fantastic, you don’t get that in many other jobs.

We are very very lucky to have thousands of people working hard during the week to come and watch you and support you in good and bad moments. The minimum required is to give something back to them.

“Outside of football it’s something I want to do. It fills my heart but at the same time people will look at you and appreciate what you do for them. It extends in a way to connect to poor people, people with health problems. When I go out to hospitals, I always feel I’m very lucky and in a privileged situation.”

PST: It’s interesting that you mention that because for all of your accomplishments — Champions League with Arsenal, season-saving saves with Sunderland — I remember being particularly touched by something you did off the field, as Jermain Defoe and you spent time with ailing Bradley Lowery while he battled cancer, raising money and awareness.

VM: “We are very lucky and I always see myself like any of these kids, I put myself in their shoes because I was a kid full of dreams and I’m lucky that I made it but these kids or ones with problems or fighting really hard to be alive, I know a kid is full of dreams and loves football like we do. That’s why I really want to connect with them.

“Bradley was a prime example. He did so much in general for people who got to know his story. You could see this guy with a smile who would change your day, and you realize your small problems in life are nothing compared to one of these kids.”

PST: “I want to go a little deeper because I’m someone whose paid a lot of attention to the Northeast of England and, don’t get mad, but I grew up watching Newcastle. When you see something like Bradley’s story and the Sunderland connection, it makes it so much bigger than football. It brings a sense of community that extends beyond the field and our little allegiances. Did you have any role models in football who helped you find your way in the community?

VM: “My role model in life in general and in football was my dad, who unfortunately I lost when I was 16. It was a tough task to become a professional without him. He always dreamt with me and he sacrificed his life to get me where I am today and to have a nice career so far and become a professional. I would say my dad. He was my role model.

“And then there’s many good people in general in football. You always want more of these people in your life in football. You mentioned Jermain, he’s one of them, but anywhere I can go I can find people who see it the same.

“In football there is so much violence, now we see racism, we see people using football in the wrong way but I think as well as you mention these moments, these stories like Bradley or many others behind the scenes, kids who are examples, it brings football together. It makes you realize it’s not hate, it’s not violence, there’s nothing that goes above these stories.”

PST: On the field, this season… Remarkable. When a player comes to MLS and he comes with a resume like yours, you expect the player to have a decent season but I don’t know that we could’ve expected to see a goalie play as well as you did while adjusting to a new culture and country on a pretty new team. What would you say about the season?

VM: “Tremendous journey. Tremendous adventure. In general I loved every minute of it. It’s always tough when you change countries. You bring your family out in a new place. It’s never easy, not an easy job, but I had a feeling from the first chat I had with the club, I felt like it was a good project. As soon as I landed here, they treated me with respect and they showed me I was an important piece of the puzzle.

“Opening a new stadium, meeting news fans everything went really well. We started to climb and we got better and better. We molded as a team, new players, youngsters with veterans, and we had a magnificent cup run. The third year for this club in MLS. We reached the playoffs. We beat big clubs. We had an amazing season in a new stadium with special fans. Everything has been fantastic. If I go back (to Europe), I had a few objectives coming here and I successfully fulfilled all my dreams, also becoming Goalkeeper of the Year. You cannot ask for more.”

(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PST: Well, you brought it up… have you thought a lot about what’s next for you?

VM: “No, this season has just finished and I put 100 percent into it until the very last minute. We were unfortunate not to go through against Galaxy and it’s a bit of pain. But I can’t take anything away from the great season. I want to relax, sit down, see my options. I just talked to the club and it’s a good situation right now. I want to sit down with my agent, talk with my family, and see where we can go from here.”

PST: Overseas you had a number of American teammates in your career. Matt Miazga for a bit last year at Reading, Jozy Altidore at Sunderland. You’ve had plenty of career to evaluate American soccer. After a year in MLS, what’s your evaluation of soccer in America?

VM: “Until you get here, you can’t get the true feeling of what the American league is building. This league has great potential and in a few years, it will be there. Progressing really well. Incredible fans, stadiums everywhere you go. Facilities, every club I’ve been around this season has been fantastic and it’s far ahead of many many European clubs.

“What they need to get is keep going, keep building up history, and of course what I can tell you the difference is the standard of the football has been very high. I was impressed, good mix of South Americans, international from Europe, the big stars in Rooney, Ibrahimovic, Vela, my home friend Sagna, but these people want to embrace the league more and more.

“I had this impression from Europe of a retirement league, but it’s not, it’s not! It’s young players, talented players, good ones from America. Every team I faced was a challenge for me and now a days the market is changing — Almiron to Newcastle — it’s going both ways. One time it wasn’t like this. People going to England, to Italy, and coming out here too, it’s different. This will build up and get even better and better.”

PST: Who impressed you the most in MLS, both on your team and opposition?

VM: Let me think about that it’s difficult. Teammates… I’ve been really impressed with youngsters like Hassani Dotson, Chase Gasper, Mason Toye, who came into the first team and are going to be big hits for U.S. national team one day. They have got quality and are good professional, surely yes. I had very good teammates in general. Many good players around, LAFC we all know what they did. My old friend Carlos (Vela), ha, he’s been on fire.

PST: How well did you know him at Arsenal?

VM: “We spent two years as a teammates. He was a youngster too and didn’t have his best time but progressed in his career. He had one of the best years, breaking the MLS record. He’s probably going to MVP and deservedly so.”

PST: Did he get break the record against you, or tie it? That’s a real jerk move!

VM: “Actually, the one to level the record (the penultimate game of the season). We texted each other before the game. I told him don’t worry about the record. You’ll score a hat trick in the last game but zero against me. He said, no no no, one against you and three in the last game, and actually he did it! I called it, so he needs to thank me.”

PST: Thanks for being so generous with your time and congratulations again. It seems you’ve always been in the news for good reasons, like wanting to avoid relegation for the behind the scenes people at Sunderland. It feels good to see you get an award.

 

VM: “Thank you, thank you very much.”

 

MLS Goalkeepers of the Year
1996 – Mark Dodd (Dallas Burn)
1997 – Brad Friedel (Columbus Crew)
1998 – Zach Thornton (Chicago Fire)
1999 – Kevin Hartman (LA Galaxy)
2000 – Tony Meloa (Kansas City Wizards)
2001 – Tim Howard (NY-NJ MetroStars)
2002 – Joe Cannon (San Jose Earthquakes)
2003 – Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes)
2004 – Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids)
2005 – Pat Onstad San Jose Earthquakes)
2006 – Troy Perkins (DC United)
2007 – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA)
2008 – Jon Busch (Chicago Fire)
2009 – Zach Thornton (Chivas USA)
2010 – Donovan Ricketts (LA Galaxy)
2011 – Kasey Keller (Seattle Sounders)
2012 – Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting KC)
2013 – Donovan RIcketts (Portland Timbers)
2014 – Bill Hamid (DC United)
2015 – Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
2016 – Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
2017 – Tim Melia (Sporting KC)
2018 – Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)
2019 – Vito Mannone (Minnesota United)