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.

Manchester City to Pay Tribute to David Silva with Statue

David Silva may be leaving Manchester City, but his likeness will live on…

Manchester City has announced that they’ll erect a statue of the 34-year-old Spanish footballer outside Etihad Stadium as a tribute to the player as he leaves after 10 years with the club.

City’s Champions League exit to Lyon on Sunday marked his final game after he announced in June that he’d leave Manchester at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Silva won 11 trophies with the club including four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, five League Cups and three Community Shield trophies.

“David Silva is a transformational player; a quiet leader who has acted quietly and deliberately and inspired everyone around him, from the youngest academy player to his senior teammates over the past 10 years,” City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarakn said in a statement.

“He has put a stamp on the team, on this club, its history and even the Premier League as a whole. In doing so he has been instrumental to the beautiful football philosophy you see today. He was the start of it.”

City announced in 2019 that a similar statue would be erected of former City captain Vincent Kompany, with both statues are set to be unveiled in 2021.

Capped 125 times by Spain, Silva won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.

He told ESPN last year that he’d like to end his career playing for Las Palmas, his hometown club on the island of Gran Canaria.

“Ten years for me is enough. It’s the perfect time for me,” he said of his departure.

“Initially, City were talking about two years, but I decided to sign [for] another one, so I finished at 10 years.

“It completes the cycle. It’s a nice round figure. I can never see myself playing against City for another team. So 10 years — that’s it.”

Rafa Marquez Begins Coaching Career at Spain’s Real Sociedad Deportiva Alcala

Rafa Marquez is grooming the next generation of soccer stars…

The 41-year-old Mexican former professional footballer, regarded as the best defender in Mexico’s history and one of the best Mexican players of all time, has begun his coaching career training youth at Spanish fourth division side Real Sociedad Deportiva Alcala.

Rafa Marquez

Marquez, who’s nickname is El Káiser, retired in July 2018 after playing in his fifth World Cup and had a nine-month stint as Atlas‘ sporting president after that, but has now moved into the world of coaching.

“It’s a nice opportunity that I’m very grateful for,” said Marquez in quotes announced on the club’s website. “I’ve had a very warm welcome at the project, to which I feel very committed and to which I come in good spirits to help and offer all my experience as a player and now as a coach.”

Marquez, who holds a Spanish passport after his time with Barcelona, is currently studying in for his UEFA Pro license with the Spanish Football Federation as he transitions into being a head coach.

“The young players at Alcala will have the fortune to learn from a player who, after shining for his national team at the Copa America in Paraguay in 1999, left Atlas for European football, where he carried out practically all his successful sporting career,” read the club’s statement.

Marquez left Atlas last May after the club was bought out by Grupo Orlegi and became a fierce critic of the way the Mexican game is being run, slamming the suspension of promotion and relegation: between the top two divisions.

“Instead of moving forward each day, we are going backwards with these decisions and when it is run like this, with team owners’ interests [take priority], we won’t achieve anything on the sporting side,” he told ESPN in April.

Eugenio Pizzuto Signs with Ligue 1’s Lille OSC

Eugenio Pizzuto is headed to France…

The 18-year-old Mexican professional footballer joined French Ligue 1 club Lille OSC, the team has confirmed.

Eugenio Pizzuto

Pizzuto captained Mexico at the under-17 World Cup in 2019 and was awarded the Bronze Ball for his performance as El Trireached the final.

“I feel confident in myself,” Pizzuto said at a news conference. “I think I’ll be able play this year without any problem.

“Like in any team, if you are the new guy you have to come in and work really hard so you can win a place in the starting 11 or on the bench, but I’m just going to work and do my best to be on the field.”

Pizzuto joined Lille on a free transfer after coming through thePachuca youth system.

Hector Herrera and Hirving Lozano also came through the youth system and were signed to European clubs.

Pizzuto only made one appearance in Liga MX, fracturing his fibula and dislocating his ankle in a horror injury just nine minutes after coming off the bench against Leon last January.

“About the injury, I’m much better, I’m just finishing the last things to be back on the field, but I’m 100% to play for Lille,” Pizzuto added.

The Ligue 1 season begins on Saturday, August 22 with Lille taking on Rennes at home.

The team was in fourth position when the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season was ended on April 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Xavi Hernández Among Spanish Players Featured in Amazon’s Docuseries “Living Abroad”

Xavi Hernández is opening up about his life away from his homeland…

The 40-year-old Spanish football manager and former player and other stars of Spain’s so-called “golden generation” of World Cup-winning footballers will be featured in an Amazon original documentary.

Xavi Hernández

Living Abroad, a four-part docuseries, will spotlight Hernández, David VillaJavi Martínez and Juan Mata, who are playing their trade outside of Spain in football leagues around the world.

Produced by Madrid-based Atresmedia Studios, the original will premiere on Prime Video on June 5 in the UK and Spain, promising an “inside look” at the stars’ lives as they play in England, Japan, Qatar and Germany.

Ricardo Cabornero, Amazon’s head of prime video content, said the series is launching to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Spain winning the World Cup in South Africa.

Living Abroadis executive produced by Jorge Pérez Vega and Ignacio Corrales, while Sonia López is the director.

Formiga Signs One-Year Contract Extension with Paris Saint-Germain’s Women’s Side

Formiga is staying in the game…

The 42-year-old Brazilian footballerwill extend her professional career into a 27th season after signing a one-year contract extension with Paris Saint-Germain‘s women’s side.

Formiga

Formigais the French side’s vice-captain and is now tied to the club until the summer of 2021.

Formiga – whose full name is Miraildes Maciel Mota– has been in Paris since January of 2017 when she joined from Sao Jose.

She scored four goals en route to winning the 2018 Coupe de Franceand has made 77 PSGappearances. She set the record for the oldest female scorer in European competition at 41 years and 193 days when she found the net in a 7-0 rout of Sporting Bragain the Champions Leagueround-of-16 first leg in September 2019.

In 2015, Formiga became the oldest scorer at a women’s World Cupwhen she netted at the age of 37 years, three months and six days.

She broke another record in France last summer when she played in her seventh World Cup– 24 years after the first of her 195 caps, in which she has scored 29 goals.

Formiga was also a Copa Americawinner with Brazil in 2018 and has made six Olympic appearances with the aim of retiring from the professional game after the rearranged 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

PSG were second to Lyon in the table, three points behind and due to host the leaders next, when football was brought to a global standstill by the coronavirus.

Although the French Football Federationhave since announced that the 2019-20 season has been brought to premature end, Lyon have not yet been officially crowned champions for a record 14th time.