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England playmaker Joe Cole retires

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Joe Cole has announced his retirement from the game at the age of 37.

Cole won 56 caps for England, scoring 10 times for the Three Lions, as he became a Premier League star with West Ham United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

He made 716 appearances in his career, scoring 104 goals.

The silky midfielder won three Premier League titles, a League Cup and two FA Cups with Chelsea and excelled at the 2006 World Cup for England before injuries hit his career hard.

A second spell at West Ham, plus time at Lille, Aston Villa and Coventry City followed in Europe before he moved to the U.S. in 2016 to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL and USL. He has recently played and coached with the Rowdies in Florida and hinted at moving into coaching as his next step.

A graduate of West Ham’s academy, Cole released the following statement on social media.

“After 20 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots. It has been a dream come true. All of it,” Cole said. “My favorite thing about being a professional footballer was the feeling you enjoy after coming back into the dressing room after a win. It will be difficult to replicate that but I’ll always remember all of my former team-mates who I shared that experience with. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have played with some of the very best players of my era and even more fortunate to call a lot of them friends.

“As a fan, I loved watching wholehearted, skilful players and this is what inspired me. I remembered what was special for me when I was sitting in the stands watching games and I tried to replicate this. I hope I was able to do this for some of the fans and people who have watched my games over the years. Winning trophies at Chelsea was particularly special for me. Those memories will live with me forever, as will the chance I had to share them with my family.”

Cole was truly one of the most gifted players England has ever produced and at Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge, and under Carlo Ancelotti, he was a huge part of their all-conquering teams. Cole played in the UEFA Champions League final for Chelsea in 2008 as they lost to Manchester United on penalty kicks in Moscow.

The Londoner had tricks and flicks galore but he often delivered goals and assists at crucial moments and he could play out wide just as comfortable as he was in central areas.

He will be remembered as a maverick with the ball at his feet and he certainly brought enjoyment to fans across the world with stunning goals and sublime pieces of skill.

Injured Nagbe, Steffen out of USMNT friendlies

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U.S. Soccer has confirmed that injuries to Zack Steffen and Darlington Nagbe will keep them out of the upcoming friendlies against England and Italy.

Steffen is the more notable absence, a player expected to start at least one of the two matches as the presumed favorite to take the long-term No. 1 goalkeeper spot for the USMNT.

[ MORE: No Pogba, Martial for France ]

The 28-year-old Nagbe has just one cap since the World Cup qualifying debacle in Couva, going 90 minutes in the 1-0 March win over Paraguay.

He missed two months of the Major League Soccer season with a thigh injury, and has two assists for Atlanta United in going nearly 90 minutes whenever available.

Jonathan Klinsmann was called up from Hertha Berlin to replace Steffen, and will join Ethan Horvath and Brad Guzan in the USMNT goalkeeping corps. The 21-year-old is a starter for Hertha II and has twice been the backup for the senior team.

Hertha’s Klinsmann added to USMNT roster

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There’s a Klinsmann back with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Hertha Berlin’s official English Twitter account posted on Monday to say that their young goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann had been called into the U.S. Men’s National Team. The 21-year-old has yet to make a Bundesliga appearance this season but he’s started nine games for Hertha’s reserve side, Hertha BSC II.

According to The Athletic, Klinsmann is replacing Zack Steffan, who reportedly suffered a hamstring strain in the Columbus Crew’s 3-0 second-leg defeat to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night. The call-up has yet to be confirmed by U.S. Soccer.

If Steffan is out, it would open up the goalkeeping battle for the two-game training camp against England and Italy. Klinsmann is joining Brad Guzan and Ethan Horvath. It’s likely that Klinsmann was called up because he’s already based in Europe. This made it quicker for him to get to head coach Dave Sarachan and the squad, currently based in London.

For what it’s worth, despite the way Klinsmann’s father Jurgen was unceremoniously fired after a rough start to the Hex in 2016, Jurgen congratulated Jonathan on the call-up.

Jonathan, having been born in Germany to an American parent, is eligible to play for both the U.S. and Germany internationally, though he’s been in the U.S. pipeline for the past few years. The now 21-year-old started for the U.S. at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, so if he switched to Germany he’d have to file one-time switch paperwork with FIFA. Klinsmann did take part in a German National Team goalkeeping camp this past September.

The U.S. faces England at Wembley Stadium on Thursday followed by a trip to Genk, Belgium to face Italy on November 20.

Madrid registers Solari as coach to beat deadline

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid registered Santiago Solari as its coach on Monday because Spanish league regulations prohibit a club from having an interim coach for more than two weeks.

[READ: Pogba, Martial out of France squad with injuries]

Madrid has not said whether it stopped looking for a full-time replacement for Julen Lopetegui, who was fired on Oct. 29. Solari, a former Madrid player, was appointed as the interim coach but had not been ruled out as a candidate. His chances of staying increased after he led Madrid to four straight victories since replacing Lopetegui.

“What I can say is that we are very happy (with Solari),” said Emilio Butragueno, Madrid’s director of institutional relations. “He arrived at a very particular moment and has been able to achieve some very good results.”

Even prior to the sacking of Lopetegui, Real Madrid appeared ready to bring in former Chelsea and Juventus boss Antonio Conte, but the Italian’s move to Madrid never materialized. In the time span, with it being the middle of the season, Real Madrid had almost no choice but to go forward with Solari at least until the end of this season.

Sarri reacts to setting record, Chelsea’s scoreless draw

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Maurizio Sarri is the first manager to start life in the Premier League with a 12-match unbeaten run, but that’s only bringing a little comfort to the Chelsea boss following a scoreless draw with Everton at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

[ MORE: No Pogba for Man Utd ]

The Blues are set to finish the day below Liverpool and Manchester City, and Sarri credits that to a slow start (although the first half was much more about baiting or being baited by Everton in a series of hard fouls).

“I think we have to sort out the problem of the approach of the match because in the last two or three matches we haven’t been approaching the games right,” Sarri said.

As for the streak, Sarri credits what was provided to him by Chelsea when he arrived at the Bridge.

“I am very proud of my record, but I have to say thank you to the club because they gave me a strong squad and I have to say thank you to the players and the staff. I am happy with everything but I would have preferred the three points.”

Chelsea goes to Tottenham after the international break and has a big visit from Manchester City on Dec. 8. That doesn’t leave much time to get the Blues sorted to fire at will.