Five points: MLS SuperDraft preview


PHILADELPHIA – Clubs and hopeful pro prospects enter Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft prepared for the drama poised to unfold at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

All involved parties will hope to emerge from the day with some sort of tangible progress to mark. Clubs seek to bolster their rosters with one or two potential contributors and a project or two to cultivate along the way. Players want to hear their names called to learn their next destinations and vindicate their work over the past few years.

The circumstances create one of the showpiece events on the MLS calendar. In the buildup to the fracas, here are a few points worth monitoring as the day proceed.

1. Forget about trying to suss out the SuperDraft: Coaches and technical directors spent much of the past few days attempting to establish some sort of consensus order within this draft class. It never emerged. Uncertainty reigns. D.C. United – or some team willing to trade to the top of the pecking order – will dictate how the dominoes will fall when it makes its first selection.

2. D.C. United will and probably should consider dealing the top pick: United reached out to several teams over the past few days to gauge the market if it indeed decides to drop down the order. Every club proceeds though that process as a matter of due diligence, but it might make some sense for United to strongly consider a decent offer. General manager Dave Kasper cited salary budget concerns as one of the reasons why United did not pursue Maurice Edu or Marco Pappa to local reporters on Tuesday. If United isn’t high on one of the Generation adidas options at number one, then the opportunity to accumulate some assets makes some sense.

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Debate of Mexican naturalization reignites old arguments


Photo: FOXSports.com

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com


Every sentence out of José Manuel de la Torre carries the potential to infuriate at the moment, but the Mexico manager’s current stance on the prospect of including nationalized players in his squad will likely provoke genuine anger in some quarters.

The idea of allowing naturalized citizens – usually defined in this case as imports with no familial ties to the country – to play for El Tri sparks vociferous debate every time the topic emerges. It did when Guillermo Franco, Antonio Naelson Sinha and Vicente Matías Vuoso earned a place in the team. It does now when the possibility of including Christian Giménez (a player who has already declared his willingness to turn out for Mexico), Lucas Lobos and Lucas Silva in a future squad rises to the fore.

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Brazilian referee butchered by fans after killing player


Octavio da Silva Catanhede Jordan was killed by a violent mob last week (Photo: FOXSports.com).

An amateur soccer match turned barbaric, leading to the deaths of a match referee and player in northeastern Brazil.

The Public Safety Department of the state of Maranhao said in a statement that it started when referee Otavio da Silva expelled player Josenir Abreu from a game last weekend. The two got into a fist fight, then Silva took out a knife and stabbed Abreu, who died on his way to the hospital.

After witnessing the attack, fans invaded the field to attack the referee, who was stoned to death and quartered. Local news media are also reporting that the spectators decapitated Silva and stuck his head on a stake in the middle of the field.

In an official statement, Valter Costa, police chief of Santa Ines in Maranhão, confirmed the ongoing investigation and assured the public that suspects were being questioned.

“Reports of witnesses have indicated some people that were in place at the time of the fact. We will identify and hold accountable all those involved. A crime will never justify another. Actions like this do not collaborate with the legality of a state law.”

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Belgian national team too much of a good thing?


Image: Action Images

By Leander Schaerlaeckens


As far as national teams go, Belgium is perhaps the hottest one around. No other country that has achieved so little for so long generates quite as much buzz.

After the Belgian federation doubled down on youth development a decade or so ago, Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots – who played in the last four World Cup’s Belgium qualified for in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002 – now finds himself overwhelmed with great players and elite prospects.

Simply put, there isn’t enough room to play them.

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Mario Balotelli involves girlfriend in bold claim about Real Madrid


Mario Balotelli might have some explaining to do the next time he sees his Belgian model girlfriend Fanny Neguesha. And hopefully she’s in the mood for a good joke.

The AC Milan star recently joked to Spanish newspaper Marca that he’ll let Real Madrid players get intimate with his better half if they reach the Champions League final:

“If Real Madrid come back against Borussia Dortmund and make it to the Final of the Champions League, then I will let my girlfriend sleep with all the players.”

While a comeback seems unlikely - Dortmund thrashed the Spanish giants 4-1 in their Champions League semifinal first leg match last week, leaving the Germans closer to a date at Wembley next month - it’s an outrageous comment even for Super Mario.

UPDATE: Milan denied that Balotelli said this, in a statement saying, “Milan would like to make it clear that the player never made any comments regarding the match.”