LAFC’s Brian Rodriguez On Loan to UD Almeria

Brian Rodriguez is headed across the Atlantic…

The 20-year-old Uruguayan footballer, an LAFC winger and Uruguay international, is set to join Spanish second-division side UD Almeria on a loan, the clubs have announced.

Brian Rodriguez 

The deal will have Rodriguez stay through the conclusion of Almeria’s 2020-21 campaign in May and could become permanent.

“Brian is joining Almeria as they make a strong push for promotion to Spain’s top division,” said LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington. “Since his arrival in 2019, Brian has been a focal point of our attack and a huge reason for our success. This move gives him a great opportunity to play important games at the highest levels of European football.”

Rodriguez joined the Major League Soccer side in 2019 from Uruguay side Penarol. In his first two seasons in Los Angeles, Rodriguez scored three goals in 25 appearances.

He has three goals in nine appearances for Uruguay, appearing for La Celeste during their most recent CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying matches.

With 16 games remaining, Almería currently sits in third place in LaLiga 2 standings with a 14-3-5 record (45 points). At the conclusion of the season, the top two teams will earn automatic promotion to Spain’s top division, while a third team earns promotion from a playoff bracket between the teams that finish from 3rd to 6th.

Felipe Mora Signs New Contract with Portland Timbers 

Felipe Mora is headed to the Pacific Northwest

The Portland Timbers have completed the transfer of the 27-year-old Chilean soccer star from the Liga MX club Pumas UNAM and signed him to a new contract.

Felipe Mora

Originally acquired by the Timbers on a one-year loan on January 31, 2020, Mora tallied seven goals and two assists in 19 matches (13 starts) during the 2020 Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season.

“We are thrilled to bring back Felipe long term as he is an accomplished international striker in the prime of his career,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said in a release. “Felipe acclimated seamlessly into the group last year, and we can’t wait for him to continue being a key contributor for the Timbers.”

Mora’s new contract uses targeted allocation money. Specific terms were not disclosed.

Mora tallied 19 goals in 65 appearances (50 starts) at Pumas UNAM from 2018-20. That followed stints with Liga MX club Cruz Azul (2017-18) and with Universidad de Chile (2016-17) in the Chilean Primera Division.

He has also competed with the Chile national team, most recently in a World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on November 17.

Catarina Macario Signs Two-and-a-Half Year Deal with Lyon

Catarina Macario is future Lyon queen

The 21-year-old Brazilian soccer player and USWNT prospect, who recently announced plans to leave Stanford and go pro, has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Lyon, the club has announced.

Catarina Macario

Macario announced on Friday that she’d forego the final year with Stanford in favor of turning professional.

ESPN reported on Monday that Lyon were leading the race for Macario with a contract on the table but that both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were also still interested in the midfielder.

“It’s an honor to have signed with such a fantastic club,” Macario said in a tweet.

“I can’t wait to get started and to continue to build on its legacy of success. Allez l’OL!”

Sources told ESPN that Macario was attracted to Europe rather than the National Women’s Soccer League as she wants to win the Champions League while competing in the Olympics and World Cup.

Macario scored 63 goals in 68 games for Stanford and contributed 47 assists.

She won the MAC Hermann Trophy twice and an NCAA College Cup in her three seasons at Stanford.

She became a United States citizen in October and has joined every USWNT camp since, including their ongoing January camp.

However, Macario is still waiting on approval from FIFA to allow her to play games with the national side.

She’ll travel to France after the USWNT training ends on January 22.

Andres Perea Granted Permission to Represent United States

Andres Perea is switching (international) sides

The 20-year-old professional soccer player and Orlando City SC midfielder has been granted a one-time switch from Colombia to represent the United States.

Andres Perea

Perea, a Tampa, Florida native, moved to Colombia at an early age, rising through the club ranks at Atletico Nacional. He went on to represent Colombia at the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2017 and U20 World Cup two years later before joining Orlando City on loan last season.

Perea, who’s at the January camp with the U-23 U.S. men’s team, received the news on his switch from senior side coach Gregg Berhalter. Because Perea played for Colombia in official competition, Perea wasn’t able to take part in the USMNT‘s 6-0 win against El Salvador last December.

“It was a very important decision for me. Colombia is my country as well, but it’s an honor for me to represent the United States as I did Colombia in the past,” Perea said.

The players of the U23 side — which will represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics this summer — are training alongside 12 members of the senior group in Bradenton, Florida, with reports of a friendly match against Serbia in the works.

“Andres we find to be a really, really interesting holding midfield player for us,” U.S. U23 coach Jason Kreis said during a conference call. “The amount of ground that he’s capable to cover defensively, I think it’s a little bit different level than some of the other guys that we have in our pool. His processing of the ball, he’s still learning a little bit about that.”

Kreis anticipates men’s Olympic soccer qualifying for North and Central America and the Caribbean will take place during late March in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the CONCACAF tournament last spring was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kreis said he anticipates it will be difficult to access top Europe-based Americans for qualifying. FIFA does not require that clubs release players to under-23 teams. FIFA extended the age limit by a year, keeping the group for qualifying limited to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997.

Each team reaching the games in Japan can supplement its roster with three players over the age limit. Top Americans are not expected at qualifying, with clubs expected not to make available Christian PulisicWeston McKennieTyler AdamsJoshua Sargent and Giovanni Reyna. All are regulars in league play this season.

Diego Maradona’s Likeness Could Grace Argentina’s 1,000-Peso Note

Diego Maradona could be making money moves…

An Argentine senator wants to put Diego Maradona on the country’s bank notes and presented a project to Congress on Monday to get the late soccer star and possibly even his “Hand of God” image on a 1,000-peso note.

Diego MaradonaThe note, worth around $12.27 at Monday’s exchange rate, would feature Maradona’s face on one side and a picture of one of his most famous goals on the other, said the bill’s sponsor Senator Norma Durango.

Maradona, who died on Nov. 25, had two of his most famous goals come in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England as they went on to win world football’s biggest prize.

Diego Maradona

He got the first by punching the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and the second by dribbling past half the England team to score what is still considered one of the greatest goals of all time.

“The idea is not just to recognize our most important idol but also to think of the economic question,” said Durango. “We feel that when tourists come here they will want to take a ‘Maradona’ away with them.”

Although it was not clear which one of the two goals would feature, some Argentines bristled at the thought of the “Hand of God” goal featuring on an official government document because it could be seen as condoning illegality.

The Senator for the La Pampa province said the final decision would be made by lawmakers, who are expected to hear her proposal early next year.

“The idea is to recognize Maradona, for good and for bad, who is the best known Argentine in the world,” Durango said. “I feel the project has got a great response even though some people don’t agree with it.”

The current 1,000-peso note features the national bird, the Rufous hornero.

Sergio Ramos Becomes Most Capped European Player Ever

There’s a new feather in Sergio Ramos’ cap(ped)…

The 34-year-old Spanish soccer player has become the most capped male European footballer ever, making his 177th appearance for Spain in their UEFA Nations League 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Saturday.

Sergio Ramos

But the milestone day almost turned into a nightmare as Ramos squandered two penalties in the stalemate, after not having not missed in his previous 24 attempts for either Spain or Real Madrid.

The defender — who captains both club and country — has now played one international game more than the previous record holder, former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who retired from international duty in

Ramos is now targeting the world record held by Egypt‘s Ahmed Hassan, who played 184 games for his country between 1995 and 2012. The defender could reach that mark at next summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, if he features in all of Spain’s matches before then.

But Spain coach Luis Enrique said Ramos’s twin spot-kick misses wouldn’t affect his captain.

“Sergio’s numbers when it comes to taking penalties are in the reach of few players. If we had got a third penalty or a fourth one he would have taken them as well,” he said. “He had scored his last 25, but football has moments like this.”

The number one spot-kick taker for Real Madrid and Spain, despite being a defender, Ramos has turned penalty taking into an art in the last two years, with his last miss coming when he hit the crossbar in Madrid’s 3-2 defeat by Sevilla FC in May 2018.

He has confessed to relishing the high-stakes situation of a penalty, scoring a number of crucial spot-kicks in Real’s run to the La Liga title last season as well as netting from the spot in last month’s 3-1 win at Barcelona.

But he finally met his match in Swiss keeper Yann Sommer, who guessed the right way to parry Ramos’ first penalty early in the second half and then refused to be fooled by the Spaniard’s ‘Panenka‘ routine which has worked so well for him in the past.

“It’s a real shame that Ramos missed the penalties because he’s usually so good,” added Spain forward Dani Olmo.

“But he’s very strong mentally and I’m sure that the next time he takes a penalty he’ll score.”

Saturday’s start further entrenches a remarkable international career that began when he made his Spain debut in March 2005, coming on for Carles Puyol at half time in a 3-0 friendly win over China.

He initially featured as a right back — including at Euro 2008, Spain’s first tournament win in 44 years, and in the country’s only World Cup winning side in 2010 — before switching to centerback for their defense of the European Championship title in 2012.

Despite turning 35 next March, he has expressed a desire to feature not just at the Euros in June, but also the Tokyo Olympics, describing the possibility as “a nice idea, an event no-one would say no to.”

Gio Reyna Among 10 Players Who Could Make US International Debut at Wales

Gio Reyna will be representing the United States…

United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNST) manager Gregg Berhalter has called up the uncapped 17-year-old half-Argentine American soccer player, as well as an injured Christian Pulisic and England youth international Yunus Musah, 17, in his 24-man roster for a pair of friendlies later this month.

Giovanni Reyna

The youthful roster — the average age is 21 years, 300 days — is comprised entirely of players who ply their trade abroad.

Reyna, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder and son of former United States captain Claudio Reyna, is one of 10 uncapped players to make the squad.

 

Alongside Reyna and Musah — who can represent Ghana as well — Internacional‘s Johnny Cardoso was also given the nod.

 

Born to Brazilian parents, Cardoso is the first player in 24 years to earn a U.S. call-up while playing for a club outside of CONCACAF or UEFA. Another dual national is Telstar forward Sebastian Soto, who besides the U.S. is eligible to represent Mexico and Chile.

Among the other call-ups are a record nine players participating in the UEFA Champions League, including RB Leipzig‘s Tyler AdamsBarcelona‘s Sergino DestJuventus‘ Weston McKennie and Chelsea‘s Pulisic.

Pulisic had been a doubt for the roster after injuring his hamstring during the warmup of last weekend’s game against Burnley. However, at a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game against Rennes, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said that a scan of the injury revealed that it was “very minor” but that he wouldn’t play on Wednesday.

“We are excited about getting this group back together,” Berhalter said in a statement. “I’m proud of the way the players have handled the challenging times — they really stuck together. We have built a solid foundation, and now we get a chance to continue our work together ahead of what is going to be a critical 12 months for our team.”

The USMNT will play Wales, who will be without manager Ryan Giggs, first on November 12 before travelling to Austria to play Panama on Nov. 16.

The roster’s average age is 21 years, 300 days. Starting goalkeeper Zack Steffen, now a backup Manchester City following a loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf, is on the roster for the first time 2019. Lille forward Tim Weah, a son of former FIFA player of the Year and Liberia President George Weah, is with the U.S. for the first time since 2018 after recovering from a string of injuries.

Due to the conditions related to the pandemic, the matches will be played without fans in the stadiums. The participants have received an exemption from quarantine provided to professional sports organizations.

The match against Wales will be the first match for the USMNT since February when they beat Costa Rica 1-0.

The Americans have not played on a FIFA date with most of their player pool available since a 4-0 victory over Cuba in the CONCACAF Nations League on Nov. 19 last year. Exhibitions in March at the Netherlands and Wales were canceled, along with the CONCACAF Nations League final four in June and the start of World Cup qualifying in September.

The players will report to camp starting on Nov. 8.

USMNT squad (caps / goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 17/0)

DEFENDERS (7): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 38/3), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 10/0), Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 3/0), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 18/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 40/1), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 7/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 10/1), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA;0/0), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 0/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 19/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 0/0), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton/ENG; 0/0)

FORWARDS (8): Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona/ESP; 0/0), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen/FRA; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 34/14), Uly Llanez (Heerenveen/NED; 1/1), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 0/0), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 12/5), Sebastian Soto (Telstar/NED; 0/0), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 8/1)

Rosie Casals & Women’s Tennis’ Original 9 to be Subject of Docu-Series About Their Fight for Equality

Rosie Casals’ fight for equal pay (and more) is getting told…

Tennis legend Billie Jean King will narrate a docu-series, featuring her then doubles partner, the 72-year-old Salvadoran American former tennis player, and the other members of the Original 9, that’ll tell the stories of pay inequities, motherhood, LGBTQ+ rights, and intersectionality and diversity in women’s sports.

Billie Jean King & Rosie Casals

Glamour and Condé Nast Entertainment, along with King and Little Monster Films, are producing the series to show the trailblazers who tried to bridge the appalling disparity of pay and standing that female athletes past and present have endured.

The jumping off point was a Glamour cover that focused on how a fed-up King and a group of top female tennis players called the Original 9 tried to bridge the pay gap between the scraps they were getting, and the big paydays limited to their male counterparts.

Rosie Casals

The 27-year old King was the top player in her sport where the entire women’s prize pool was $5,000. King led a group that included Casals, Nancy Richey, Julie Heldman, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton, Kerry Melville Reid, Peaches Bartkowicz and Kristy Pigeon. They announced their own tour—it became the forerunner of the Women’s Tennis Association– and found enough sponsors and financial support to launch a 23-match tour with an unprecedented $100,000 in prize money.

The series will focus on that and other struggles that led to course corrections, and areas that need to improve. Anyone who watched the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team win the World Cup again in 2019 likely knows of their struggle to be paid comparable to their male counterparts.

The multi-part series will be produced by Oscar winners Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.

“We’ve made progress in pay equality in and out of sports, but there’s still so much more to do for future generations,” said King. “People have to invest in women—and I don’t mean just women investing in women, I mean everyone. I’m excited to partner with Glamour to bring these vital issues to a wider audience.”

Glamour editor Samantha Barry said that after the magazine exhibited “long history of championing our female sporting heroes and demanding their equal remuneration, we are committing to our first ever long-form docu-series chronicling this historic fight. These are sportswomen, but they are also all women—and this incredible piece of storytelling has the power to reshape all our futures.”

“Jimmy and I have a long history of telling athletes’ stories, digging in to both their sport and a larger narrative of ambition, motivation, and risk,” says Little Monster Films’ Chai Vasarhelyi. “We are passionate about spotlighting new and unheard voices among women athletes, and this series with Glamour and the legendary Billie Jean will capture those character-driven stories. On the court, we’re seeing more and more teams standing united in their activism. Now is the time for this project, as the relationship between our sports and our wider political conversations is at an all-time high.”

 

 

Manchester City Eyeing Nicolas Otamendi Transfer to Benfica

Nicolas Otamendi could be switching sides soon…

The 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer, who plays for Manchester City, could be heading to Portugal’s Benfica team.

Nicolas Otamendi

Manchester City is reportedly close to signing Benfica defender Ruben Dias, according to ESPN, that would send Otamendi to Benfica.

Pep Guardiola is hoping to bolster ManCity’s defense with Dias’ arrival. The 23-year-old, who has been capped 19 times by Portugal, is set to arrive in Manchester this week to finalize the move.

Otamendi has yet to feature for Guardiola’s side this season. City are prepared to let the Argentina international leave after five years at the club following his move from Valencia in 2015.

Otamendi has been selected for the Argentina team by coach Lionel Scaloni for next month’s World Cup qualifiers.

James Rodriguez Leaving Real Madrid for Everton FC

James Rodriguez is officially headed to the England…

The 29-year-old Colombian soccer player has joined Everton FC from Real Madrid, the Premier League club has announced.

James Rodriguez

The clubs have agreed a €25 million fee, according to ESPN. The deal will officially be for two years with an option for a third.

This is the third time Rodriguez has linked up with coach Carlo Ancelotti, having worked together at Real Madrid during the 2014-15 season and Bayern Munich in the 2017-18 season.

“I am really, really happy to be at this great club, a club with so much history, and here with a manager who knows me really well,” James told the Everton’s website.

“I’m looking forward to achieving great things here — and winning things, which is what everyone’s aim is. I’ve come here to try to improve, to get better. I’ve also come here to help the team to win, to play good football — entertaining football.”

Ancelotti’s presence at Goodison Park is understood to have been critical in getting a deal done.

“James… is a fantastic player with a lot of quality and a lot of ability to make assists for the strikers,” Ancelotti said.

“He was really excited to sign and I didn’t spend time to convince him — he was already convinced.”

Rodriguez is Everton’s second major signing in the close-season following the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Allan from Napoli.

Everton finished 12th last term and begin their new Premier League campaign with a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Rodriguez was desperate to leave the Bernabeu this summer to restart his career after a disappointing final season in La Liga.

James had been given permission by Real Madrid to skip preseason training last week as the move was being finalized.

The playmaker signed with Real Madrid from AS Monaco for €80m in 2014 after excelling at the World Cup.