News Roundups are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning with quick hits on what you may have missed and what is still to come in The Beautiful Game.
Here’s what you may have missed and what is still developing. And, as always, here’s to helping bring you, the Fan, up to speed and Ahead of the Game.
Barnes’ Rumor Radar: Rumor Radar — April 16, 2018
PFD’s MLS Matchweek 6 Power Rankings: In Form — Barnes’ MLS Power Rankings: Matchweek 6
Union Sign Olivier Mbaizo to First Team
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Union announced the signing of Cameroonian defender Olivier Mbaizo to the First Team.
PLAYER NEWS: We've signed Olivier Mbaizo to a first team contract.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) April 17, 2018
Mbaizo, 20, joins the Union from USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC. Mbaizo never featured for Steel FC since signing for the USL side prior to the start of the 2018 season, in January.
Although the Cameroonian is considered a true right back, it is believed that Mbaizo, who is set to occupy the club’s third international roster spot, was signed due to the Union’s current lack of depth at the center-back position.
Major League Soccer
Bobby Wood “Exploring” Summer MLS Move
On Monday, the Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported that United States Men’s National Team forward Bobby Wood is currently “exploring the possibility” of a summer move to Major League Soccer.
Wood, 25, still has three years remaining on his contract with German club Hamburg SV.
However, the native of Hawaii and current starting forward for interim US manager Dave Sarachan has struggled for playing time this season, at Hamburg who currently sit 17th in the 18-team Bundesliga. Hamburg is facing relegation for the first time in the club’s history.
Goff reports that at least one MLS club has already made an approach for Wood, placing a discovery claim on the 25-year-old player.
In case you are wondering what the hell a “discovery claim” is, it’s one of those weird MLS mechanisms that allows a team first dibs on a player they have discovered first. It’s basically like a teenager calling “shotgun!” while out with their friends.
But, in case you are still wondering what the hell any of this means, here is a link to MLSSoccer.com, which explains the regulation more comprehensively.
Toronto Stunned in First Leg of CCL Final
Toronto Football Club were beaten 2-1 by storied Mexican club C.D. Guadalajara in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final, which was played Tuesday night at BMO Field.
Rodolfo Pizarro scored early to fire the visitors ahead in just the second minute while Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio cancelled out Pizarro’s goal midway through the first half.
Despite dictating much of the tempo throughout the game, it was not to be for TFC, as Guadalajara’s Alan Pulido bagged the eventual match-winner with a 72nd minute free kick. Pulido’s strike was misjudged by Toronto keeper Alex Bono and the ball sailed into the net.
Down 2-1 on aggregate, TFC will travel to Guadalajara and the Estadio Akron next Wednesday for the second, and final, leg of the Champions League Final. Kickoff is slated for 9:30 ET.
Cincinnati Approves Funds For MLS Stadium
FC Cincinnati’s hopes of MLS expansion received a boost on Monday after the Cincinnati City Council approved the passage of an infrastructure package in a narrow 5-4 vote.
FC Cincinnati’s proposed stadium renderings:
Cincinnati’s Council agreed to provide up to $34.8 million in infrastructure costs while the club has agreed to foot the bill, building and funding a new privately owned, 21,000-seat stadium in the West End neighborhood, which is currently valued at more than $212 million.
Monday’s Council vote comes after Cincinnati Public Schools agreed to a deal with FC Cincinnati that would see the club receive the land it sought in exchange for building a new $10 million high school stadium and contributing to property taxes.
It is undoubtedly a massive boost for Cincy’s MLS expansion aspirations. Cincinnati is currently one of three finalists for expansion alongside Detroit and Sacramento, California.
United States, England Finalizing Friendly
According to sources close to ESPNFC, the United States Soccer Federation is reportedly close to finalizing a friendly with the English FA between the USMNT and English National Team in November.
Proposed to be played in England, at a venue to be determined at a later date, the potential friendly against the Three Lions comes just two days after the USSF announced a friendly against the Italian National Team on November 20.
England and the United States have not played each other since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when the Americans earned a 1-1 draw from a Clint Dempsey goal and a Robert Green gaffe.
No Transfer Ban For Manchester City
It was announced on Tuesday morning that recent 2017-2018 Premier League champions Manchester City will not be slapped with a transfer ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Argentinian club Velez Sarsfield challenged City and FIFA in the Court last summer, appealing the ruling of the English club’s signing of then 16-year-old Benjamin Garre from Sarsfield.
CAS, a world governing body, ruled that the sale of Garre to Manchester City after the Argentinian’s 16th birthday was perfectly legal and the transfer was permitted to occur.
Sarsfield argued that the transfer was unethical, as Garre was still only 15 when City began negotiations. However, FIFA immediately dismissed the Argentinian club’s claims.
If found guilty, Manchester City would have been hit with a two-window transfer ban, in which the English champions would not be permitted to buy any players.
Sarsfield will still have the right to appeal Tuesday’s official ruling.
Jose Mourinho to Drop Stars After Albion Defeat
It appears that the “Special One” has a rather special way of dealing with his side’s stunning loss at the weekend to lowly relegation-dwellers, West Bromwich Albion.
Following Manchester United’s 1-0 loss to the Baggies on Sunday, which handed the Premier League title to rivals Manchester City, United manager Jose Mourinho has said he will make major changes to his team, including dropping several star players, before today’s match against AFC Bournemouth.
Mourinho made clear that he is not simply rotating his squad before Saturday’s FA Cup Semi-Final against Tottenham Hotspur.
“Rotating is not the right word. If I play a player against Bournemouth and the player is phenomenal, he plays the semifinal,” Mourinho said.
Saturday’s FA Cup Semi-Final will be United’s last opportunity to win silverware this season.
And now for the news that truly matters:
Bear Performs Before Russian Premier League Game
Only in Russia.
Only in Russia would a grizzly bear (!) be used to hand off an official match ball and direct a crowd in organized clapping, and for a third division match, nevertheless.
Footage of the bear named Tima emerged on Tuesday, which shows the bear standing on its hind legs and performing in front of fans before kick-off in a third-tier match between Mashuk-KMV and Angusht on Saturday.
This game in Russia between Mashuk-KMV and FC Angusht Nazran started with a brown bear handing over the matchball and clapping the crowd. (Via @waatpies)
Only in Russia. pic.twitter.com/1Fy2ArXkmh
— Natter Football (@NATTERFOOTBALL) April 16, 2018
And, as one would expect, PETA, the animal rights group that raises hell and directs targeted social media campaigns at the sight of bacon at the breakfast table, took grave offense to the pre-match festivities.
Elisa Allen, the Director of Animal Welfare Charity at PETA, called the stunt both “inhumane” and “utterly out of touch.”
“The bear is the symbol of Russia, so we hope the country’s people will show some compassion and national pride and stop abusing them.”
There is still no word out of Russia whether Tima will open the first match of the tournament this summer. Questions remain whether the country will heed the strong condemnation of Ms. Allen and find a human to hand off the ball instead.
Thanks for reading Wednesday’s News Roundup. Check back here, on Friday morning, for the latest happening in The Beautiful Game. Until then, Cheers.