29
Jul

Carles Puyol seems to be enjoying his retirement so far

If you ever wondered what retired professional soccer players do when they go on vacation with their stunning WAGs, maybe these posts from Carles Puyol’s girlfriend Vanesa Lorenzo will shed some light.

Apparently, some highly advanced hotel room yoga is on the agenda:

Perfect balance…

OK, now we’re slowly approaching Sarah Marshall-Aldous Snow territory…. (Come on, you can see it!)

Enjoy retirement, Carles! We’re sure you will.

23
Jul

New blood: Shaw, Herrera open up about Manchester United’s plans

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Luke Shaw (L) and Ander Herrera (C) will hope to play key roles in Louis van Gaal’s plans at Manchester United this season (Photo: Getty Images).

Manchester United’s year of redemption begins on Wednesday night as they kick off their preseason against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (live, FOX Sports 1, 10:30 p.m. ET).

After the disastrous 2013-14 campaign, wherein the then-defending champions slumped to seventh place in the Barclays Premier League, veteran manager Louis van Gaal has replaced David Moyes and will endeavor to bring the Red Devils back to the top.

Ahead of the match, FOX Soccer caught up with United’s two big summer signings, midfielder Ander Herrera and defender Luke Shaw, in the first one-on-one interviews with each player since their transfers.

First up is Ander Herrera, who came over from Athletic Bilbao:

Leander Schaerlaeckens: Ander, what made you want to join Manchester United?

Ander Herrera: “I am in Manchester United because this is maybe the biggest club in the world. Because Man United have given me the possibility to play at the highest level. I am looking forward to playing here because Louis van Gaal is one of the best coaches in the world.”

LS: Have you spoken to van Gaal? What is he expecting from you?

Ander Herrera: “I think that Louis van Gaal wants that all the midfielders to always want to keep the ball, keep possession, to be an offensive team, always want the ball, never… One moment, I am going to search in Internet! [Pause.] One moment… [Pause.] Hide! Never hide from the ball! Always attack, because he thinks Man United supporters want always to win and be an offensive team.”

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The Red Devils attempted to sign Ander Herrera last summer but failed to complete the deal, with reports suggesting the transfer had been interfered with by pranksters pretending to act United’s behalf (Photo: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images).

LS: Does he see you more as an attacking midfielder? Or more of a box-to-box guy?

Ander Herrera: “My qualities, my style is offensive. But I think that I can defend as well. I think that if we want to win, to achieve our objectives, we have to defend with all the team, all the players.”

LS: What is the most important thing United have to do this year to compete for the Premier League?

Ander Herrera: “We have to run like a humble team and be compact and work hard to be a good, professional team. I think Man United has a lot of qualities. If you defend hard, after you will be able to play like a big team.”

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21
Jul

Open champ and Man United fan Rory McIlroy booed by Liverpool locals

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Rory McIlroy dominated the Open Championship this past weekend, leading from start to finish en route to his third major golf championship of his career. But the 25-year-old did make one grave error: He took a moment during his acceptance speech to mention his allegiance to football club Manchester United.

The problem? The Open was held at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake. Whoops!

Needless to say, the Merseyside locals were none too pleased:

That’s a one-stroke penalty, Roy!

19
Jul

Seattle Sounders made Xander Bailey’s wish come true and it’s beautiful

Xander Bailey had his Make-A-Wish dream come true in a big way on Saturday — and on his birthday, no less. The 19-year-old from West Virginia has been dealing with cystic fibrosis since he was a baby while also playing soccer for most of his life.

His dream? Meet his favorite soccer player, Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey.

His reality? Not only did Xander meet Dempsey, but he signed a contract with the Sounders, trained with the team and even spoke with the media. The Sounders pulled out all the stops.

But it didn’t stop there. As Seattle geared up for a pre-season friendly against Tottenham Hotspur, Xander was named to their active roster and started against the English club.

Hey, Brad Friedel, maybe give the kid a break and let that one slip through?

Even the fans got involved, creating a banner for their club’s newest signing. 

What an unbelievable few days for Xander and his family. Bravo, Seattle. Bravo.

19
Jul

Clint Dempsey earns spot on FIFA 15 Cover

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Seattle forward Clint Dempsey returned from the World Cup to find out he had landed another honor: a place on the cover of FIFA 2015.

Dempsey is the first American player to land on the cover of the game since Landon Donovan in 2011. He will share the duties with Lionel Messi when the game hits the shelves in September.

"It’s crazy," Dempsey said in a phone interview on Friday. "It’s really cool. I was a fan of the game growing up, playing with my friends. Going from playing the game with my friends to being able to play with my own player in the game and now being on the cover, it’s something that’s pretty special. It’s an honor."

It is also a sign of Dempsey’s cultural relevance in a World Cup year and the increasing influence of MLS on the whole. The popularity of the game — and the presence of the U.S. captain on the cover of it — offers yet another entry point for emerging fans. If Dempsey’s presence prompts more players to opt for MLS sides instead of Barcelona or Real Madrid, then it is exactly the sort of development that can help the league moving forward.

Those broader concerns matter in the long term for a league still seeking to expand its foothold among the general population, but the cachet afforded by Dempsey’s place on the cover reaps immediate benefits, too.  

"I’m super excited that Clint’s on the cover," Seattle defender DeAndre Yedlin said. "I think the fans not only in Seattle, but throughout America will really like it and appreciate because Clint is such a familiar face in soccer, especially in America. I think everybody’s really going to like it. I’m excited to see the response."

Dempsey dons his Sounders FC alternate jersey on the XBox version of the cover (Seattle has the Xbox logo on the front of its kits) and wears his international jersey on the PS4 cover.

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Photos courtesy of EA Sports

19
Jul

Things are getting hilariously bad for Blackpool FC

Earlier this month, Blackpool FC had to cancel their pre-season tour due to a lack of players. No, seriously, they only had eight on their active roster. Embarrassing, to say the least.

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Blackpool — including five trialists — takes on Penrith. (Image: @BlackpoolFC)

But then on Saturday, the club faced Penrith in a preseason match, and things went from bad to absolutely knee-slapping hilarious. With only eight players, the Seasiders had to find a way to fill out their roster. So “Trialist” came to the rescue.

Not only did Trialist dominate the starting lineup, he had a pretty stellar game. Well, at least one of them did. We’ve no idea who.

Well done, Mr. Trialist. We look forward to hopefully learning your name (and some of the other anonymous Blackpool players) soon.

19
Jul

Diego Valeri scores stunning goal for Portland Timbers

It’s been a tough year for the Portland Timbers. They’ve only won twice at home this season — one of which came last night. 

Portland had to come back after going down a goal early, but fought all the way back, with Diego Valeri sealing it in the 77th with this ridiculous strike.

Wait for the second angle. It gets even better than the first.

Even if the Timbers can’t manage to pull themselves into a playoff spot, this goal will live on highlight reels for quite some time.

19
Jul

Artist has Gotze what it takes sketching Germany’s World Cup hero

His extra-time goal against Argentina in the World Cup final sent the German nation into a state of hysteria, and now artist Heather Rooney has immortalized the face of Mario Gotze in a sketch.

Similar to Germany’s performance in the final, it starts slowly, but comes good at the end.

What a work of art — not unlike Gotze’s goal to win the World Cup.

Heather has drawn several other famous footballers, and you can see more of her brilliant work here.

18
Jul

Terrence Boyd has sweet debut with RB Leipzig, impresses Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Sure, it was just a friendly in pre-season. But we’re pretty sure USA striker Terrence Boyd won’t forget this match for a while.

First of all, he scored his first goal for RB Leipzig in his debut with the club. Oh, and it was against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG:

Not only did Boyd get his name on the scoresheet in his first match for his new club, he got one of the most coveted possessions in the world: Zlatan’s game-worn jersey.

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Special moment: PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic gives Terrence Boyd his kit at halftime. (Photo: Getty Images).

Just look at his teammate’s face, he can’t hide his jealousy. Terrence, make sure you keep that magical piece of cloth under lock and key.

18
Jul

Nike Soccer launches new app, route into the professional arena

As the football world directs its attention to the domestic season after a successful 2014 World Cup, fans of all walks of life can now chat with friends, create matches and access exclusive Nike products all through the power of Nike Football’s new app.

Nike Football’s app allows users to create micro-communities with the “Crew” option, giving them the chance to play pick-up games with friends and teammates to improve their skills. In turn, users can also set up a time and location for their rendezvous with the “Play” section thanks to its geo-tracking technology that allows members to set up matches around the world.

Per Nike’s official press release:

“A player’s community will increase in size as they connect with players in their area. This enables them to find more games, more often, against new opponents. It’s the ultimate way to play more and play better,” said Davide Grasso, Chief Marketing Officer for Nike said in a statement. “The Nike Football app puts players behind-the-scenes with Nike and their heroes. The app will deliver premium content, access to limited product and events before any of our other channels.”

And the fun doesn’t stop there.

The new app will also be the only way to earn a place at the Nike Academy — the U.K. based academy for young players, based at St. George’s Park National Football Center — like previous academy players such as Tom Rogic (Australia), Abdul Waris and David Accam (both Ghana).

The Nike Football app is available now on iOS and Android.

(H/T Nike)