The influential Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is facing a possible leadership crisis after the country’s Supreme Court demanded it accept sweeping changes by Friday.The BCCI finds itself on a sticky wicket after it agreed to implement only part of a raft of changes recommended by a court-appointed panel, which was set up last year to usher in reforms at the world’s richest cricket board. (Stop funding of state affiliates opposing reforms: Supreme Court)The panel, headed by former chief justice of India RM Lodha, recommended, among other things, age and tenure restrictions for top officials as well as banning them from serving successive terms. (Accounts freeze ruined BCCI reputation, says Anurag Thakur)”We will pass an appropriate order tomorrow if the BCCI refuses to give any undertaking (to accept the reforms),” chief justice of India Tirath Singh Thakur said on Thursday. (Apex Court to BCCI: Set Lodha panel’s reforms rolling or court will do so tomorrow)A disgruntled administrator at the Cricket Association of Bihar, which is not recognised by the BCCI, had approached the top court, demanding transparency in the board’s operations.The court made it clear that the BCCI, run largely by politicians and industrialists, could not cherry pick recommendations by the Lodha panel.”You behave like lords. Fall in line or else we will make you,” the chief justice said last week after the panel recommended ousting the BCCI’s highest officials for non-compliance.The panel blocked the BCCI from making two payments to its state associations on Tuesday, while approving routine expenditure, with the home series against New Zealand underway.advertisementThe BCCI have yet to reply to a request from Reuters to comment on the Supreme Court’s deadline to accept reforms by Friday.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. We already looked at how a few of the proposed new rule changes for college football and recruiting either help or hurt Oklahoma State, but it’s worth revisiting today because the NCAA set in stone an early signing period for college football. It goes into effect later this year (as do the other changes).Monday, the Collegiate Commissioners Association officially approved a three-day signing period for high school seniors. The 72-hour window will begin Dec. 20 and end Dec. 22. Seniors who are settled on their college choice can sign a National Letter of Intent in that timeframe. Any player who doesn’t sign in the early-signing period will have to wait until National Signing Day on Feb. 7, 2018 to sign with a school. [Yahoo]This may or may not be significant to Oklahoma State, but I think it probably helps them as a program. On a case-by-case basis, nobody knows whether a recruit will want to lock down a commitment early or wait until the end, but generally Oklahoma State seems to be good at evaluating talent up front.What this means is that you might be able to get a player or two to sign early that would have flipped in January before the traditional February signing day to Texas or OU. You won’t get this every year, to be sure. Some players won’t sign in December and will still flip in January. Many players who will sign in December wouldn’t have flipped anyway.But this drops a feather on the OSU end of the scale if the other side is the Ohio States and Texas A&Ms — recruiting behemoths who often swipe stars at the end of the road. One other thing we haven’t discussed is that a December signing period doesn’t allow for the Bamas and Clemsons to win their titles and make a victory lap on the recruiting trail. That’s a good thing for smaller schools like Oklahoma State. Plus a lot of players are just ready for the recruiting hoopla to be over at that point.It will be impossible to determine the true effect on OSU, but I think over the course of, say, five years, you’re going to see a really good player or two sign in December and be thankful you didn’t have to insulate them all the way until February.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. In less than two weeks we’ll actually have real football to talk about. I can smell the tailgate smokers already. But to help us prepare, let’s take a look at a redshirt freshman working to crack a deep linebacker rotation.How he got to OSUAmen Ogbongbemiga was the No. 1 ranked middle linebacker from Canada in the 2016 class. He’s also the second cousin of Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbongbemiga turned down an offer from Nevada to keep it in the family.What he’s done in StillwaterHe spent last year redshirting and contributing to the scout team. Since arriving in Stillwater, Ogbongbemiga has packed on over 15 pounds of muscle and at 225 has the size and athleticism to make an impact. Now it all depends on if he can make the strides on the practice field that will help him work into a rotational role.AdChoices广告Role in 2017The Cowboys are deep at linebacker and Ogbongbemiga has several names ahead of him on the depth chart. I’d expect him to get some burn on special teams as he continues to get acclimated to the system and Division I football. He’s a project but has plenty of upside and is someone the coaching staff has high hopes for.Noteworthy stats and highlightsHis senior year of high school was impressive. How about 110 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, four sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries?He hasn’t been able to show what he’s got at OSU yet but here’s a look at the tape that excited Glenn Spencer and his staff.
Because this is Glenn Spencer, of course, he had to toss in a warning about getting too high on his squad.“We have to get more disciplined in our pass rush lanes, all that’s correctable,” said Spencer. “Nothing schematically really hurt us at all. But it was just the effectiveness of their quarterback running the ball and losing contain a couple of times. (We) had a lot of tremendous stops out there though.”One misconception about Big 12 defense — Oklahoma State’s in particular — is that they have to be great on scoring defense. They don’t. They have to be good at limiting teams in points per drive and creating turnovers. OSU did both on Thursday, and they moved to 72-22 in the Gundy era when creating two or more turnovers on the defensive side.They also held Tulsa to 1.2 points per drive which is a startling number that, if it stays there, will have OSU talking College Football Playoffs deep into this fall. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. There were flaws on Oklahoma State’s defense on Thursday night against Tulsa, for sure. Its pass rush was not as good as you maybe would have hoped, it gave up 16 first downs on Tulsa’s 26 third-down attempts and it didn’t force a turnover in the first half.But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said after the game that OSU did what it wanted to do against TU, and that was stop the run.TU running back D’Angelo Brewer averaged 5.2 and 5.4 yards per carry respectively over the last two years. He’s a stud, and was part of a 1-2 punch with James Flanders that finished Nos. 1 and 2 in the AAC in rushing yards. Tulsa averaged over five yards a carry in 2016 (No. 34 in the country).AdChoices广告On Thursday, Brewer averaged just 1.5 yards a carry and Tulsa as a team could muster just 4.1 (much of that coming on a fourth-quarter run of 55 yards after the game had long been decided).That’s a credit to Oklahoma State’s deep defensive front and speed at linebacker and in the secondary. Again, Tulsa, but OSU’s team speed seemed a tick or two higher than in years past. They will thrive if they create turnovers, as always, but it appears they’ll also be a little more forceful than normal this time around.“I was pleased at our run defense,” said head coach Mike Gundy after the game. “I thought that was very good and really set the tone for the game.”“We did great stopping the run, did a tremendous job,” added Spencer. “I don’t think they had anything on us. They had a 55-yarder but take that away and pretty good night with a team that fancies itself on running the ball.“That’s what our big concern was because they know how to run the ball effectively … it was impressive how we did against the run game.”
UEFA Champions League No Neymar, but Mbappe ready for PSG return against Real Madrid Dom Farrell 21:39 5/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty UEFA Champions League PSG v Real Madrid Real Madrid PSG Kylian Mbappé Paris Saint-Germain will be without their Brazilian star for a crunch Champions League last-16 tie, but another big-money addition is back in training Kylian Mbappe has handed Paris Saint-Germain a fitness boost ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with Real Madrid.The Ligue 1 leaders’ hopes of turning around a 3-1 first-leg deficit in the last-16 tie were dealt a hammer blow when Neymar suffered a broken metatarsal in the 3-0 Ligue 1 win over Marseille a week ago.To compound matters, Mbappe sustained an ankle injury against the same opponents in the Coupe de France but the teenage France forward is ready to face Zinedine Zidane’s European champions. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Speaking at a pre-match news conference, PSG head coach Unai Emery said: ” Kylian Mbappe trained normally with the squad yesterday. The only player, apart from Neymar, who did not, was Javier Pastore.”Normally, all players will be ready for tomorrow’s match against Madrid, except Neymar.”This near-clean bill of health means Thiago Motta and Lassana Diarra offer more experienced options in the holding midfield role, where Argentine youngster Giovani Lo Celso struggled at times during the defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe will also contest the two centre-back slots once more after Emery controversially left club captain Silva on the bench in Madrid.”Both Lassana Diarra and Thiago Motta possess the experience for this sort of big European match,” he said.”All three central defenders are ready to play against Real Madrid. We will see after the final training session.”The 11 starters and the substitutes will all be important against Real. Everybody will need to chip in.”Although their late collapse in the Spanish capital makes PSG the underdogs, a 4-0 win over Barcelona at this stage on home turf last season gives cause for optimism and Emery called on the Parc des Princes faithful to greet their illustrious opponents with a cacophony of noise.”It is a very important moment of the season, a unique moment for all the PSG supporters and all of France. The Champions League is a major objective for the club,” he added.”This match is different. Above all, it is in Paris. We will be 12 with the support of the fans.”We need to stay united on the inside and also show that from the outside. We want unity with the PSG fans.”It is the first time that we have played an important Champions League return leg at the Parc des Princes. This is something different.”
MLS The MLS Wrap: Home fortresses penetrated, Union youth movement rewarded and more Ives Galarcep @soccerbyives 07:02 6/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Dan Hamilton MLS Los Angeles Toronto v Columbus Crew Houston Dynamo v Atlanta United Philadelphia Union v New England Orlando City v DC United Dallas v Real Salt Lake SJ Earthquakes v Minnesota United FC Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Vancouver Whitecaps v Montreal Impact Sporting KC v New York City LA Galaxy v Portland Timbers New England New York City SJ Earthquakes Atlanta United Toronto Portland Timbers Montreal Impact Real Salt Lake LA Galaxy Minnesota United FC Columbus Crew Houston Dynamo Philadelphia Union Orlando City DC United Dallas Seattle Sounders Vancouver Whitecaps Sporting KC Toronto, Kansas City and Seattle are normally some of the toughest places to play in MLS, but not so in the opening weekend of the 2018 season Leave it to the opening weekend of the 2018 MLS season to throw conventional wisdom out the window.Several of the teams considered title contenders stumbled out of the blocks, while some normally impenetrable home venues were breached by ambitious opponents.Among those opponents was Los Angeles FC, which made a memorable MLS debut to hand Bob Bradley a victorious return to the league after a decade away. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Toronto FC and Atlanta United came into 2018 as the most hyped teams in the league. TFC as reigning champion, and boasting an even stronger roster, and Atlanta, featuring a high-powered attack that helped distract from valid concerns about its defense. Both teams suffered multi-goal defeats, including Atlanta United’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Dynamo.Of course, we have to provide a reminder that overreacting to week one results is far too common and certainly not recommended. In fact, here is a stat that should bring some calm to the fans of teams who fell flat in week one: none of the past four MLS Cup winners won their season opener. In fact, none of the four even scored a goal.No, that doesn’t mean that teams such as Minnesota United and New England should be thinking about an MLS Cup title, but it should lend some pause to fans of Atlanta United, Toronto FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers who might have wanted to read too much into their team’s season opening defeats.Here is a closer look at the opening weekend in MLS:NORMALLY IMPENETRABLE HOME FORTRESSES BREACHEDOf the four teams in MLS which only suffered one regular season loss at home in 2017, three of them matched that loss total in the opening weekend of the new season.Toronto FC fell at BMO Field, dropping a 2-0 decision against Columbus, the Seattle Sounders fell to a feisty Los Angeles FC side at CenturyLink Field, and Sporting KC suffered a 2-0 defeat at Children’s Mercy Park against New York City FC.TFC’s loss was probably the most surprising of the three. Not just because of how tough the reigning MLS champion normally is at home, but because Greg Vanney trotted out a close to full-strength squad rather than resting more players ahead of the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Tigres. Toronto FC had the possession edge in the match, and the two sides were 13-12 on total shots, but TFC failed to finish its opportunities — hitting the woodwork twice — while the Crew put together a pair of excellent goals in the first 50 minutes to take control and put the pressure on the home side.It’s probably a stretch to look at the result as some sort of blueprint for teams to follow heading into Toronto. The reality is TFC had just played a CCL match against Colorado the previous Tuesday — a 0-0 draw that sent Toronto to the quarterfinals — and looked a bit sluggish at times.Seattle rested starters against LAFC ahead of its CCL quarterfinal clash with Chivas Guadalajara and it opened the door for a very game LAFC side to escape CenturyLink Field with a hard-fought 1-0 victory. The result flattered the visitors on a night when Seattle had many more chances and dominated play in the second half, but it was former Sounder Tyler Miller who made seven saves to deny Seattle a chance at a comeback.Sporting KC’s loss to NYCFC shouldn’t induce panic, but it does show a gap between a true title contender and a team still working to get into that category. Sporting KC created some good chances, which was encouraging considering the fact Peter Vermes is still shopping for a top forward. The bigger cause for concern was how easily NYCFC was able to create good scoring chances against a defense that was the best in MLS in 2017. NYCFC worked with wide areas with ease, leaving us to wonder if Sporting KC might wind up paying the price for playing wingers as converted fullbacks against teams with the speed on the flanks to punish them.UNION’S YOUTH MOVEMENT PAYS EARLY DIVIDENDSThe Philadelphia Union entered 2018 considered a team likely to struggle. Ownership’s limited resources were going to lead the Union to have to lean on some young prospects to fill roles that others teams are filling with top international talent.The Union’s opening match was a dream start. Teenage playmaker Anthony Fontana scored his first career goal and fellow teenager Auston Trusty played very well in central defense in Saturday’s 2-0 victory against the New England Revolution.”Great for Anthony to get the goal, great for Auston to play as well as he did, but overall a team effort from every player on the field,” Union coach Jim Curtin said after Saturday’s win. “All 11 guys attacking, all 11 guys defending.”The performances by homegrown players Fontana and Trusty were particularly satisfying for Curtin, who began his time with the Union working with them in the Union academy.”There was a 40 x 40 patch of AstroTurf where this young group of nine-year-old kids were on the field that had a dream of maybe someday playing for the Philadelphia Union,” Curtin said. “You think Auston Trusty being there as well, with Ian Munro, Phil Karn with myself, and to see them now take this step in Talen Energy Stadium under the bright lights is something that is special.”The odds are still stacked against the Union in the tough Eastern Conference, but with those youngsters showing well, and with the looming arrival of newly-signed playmaker Borek Dockal, there is some reason for optimism for a team that has struggled to make its mark in MLS since joining the league in 2010.QUICK KICKSThe Houston Dynamo didn’t get much fanfare this offseason as a team to watch out for, in part because of no real high-profile signings and the departure of Eric ‘Cubo’ Torres . The Dynamo responded with a resounding 4-0 win against Atlanta United that has Wilmer Cabrera’s second season in charge off to an excellent start. Yes, the Dynamo need to be taken seriously in the wide-open Western Conference.Mauro Manotas could be the key to Houston’s push for supremacy in the West. He scored 10 goals in 2017 sharing time with Torres, but now that the Mexican striker has left the Dynamo, Manotas could be a darkhorse Golden Boot contender if his strong opening week showing is any indication.—Rookies are finding it tougher and tougher to break through and earn minutes in MLS, but a few managed to earn starts opening week, including the Orlando City tandem of Chris Mueller and Cam Lindley . Benefiting from Uri Rosell still working his way back to fitness and Dom Dwyer recovering from injury, Mueller and Lindley didn’t look out of place in Orlando City’s 1-1 draw with D.C. United.There were several MLS debuts for teenagers this weekend, including one for highly-rated D.C. United prospect Chris Durkin , who played 17 minutes in Saturday’s draw.LAFC played both of its first-round picks, with Joao Moutinho playing well at left back and Tristan Blackmon making an impact as a late-match substitute.—The Ola Kamara-Gyasi Zardes trade is looking good for both teams after week one, with Kamara netting twice in the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 win against the Portland Timbers and Zardes scoring in the Crew’s 2-0 triumph at Toronto FC. Zardes looked sharp in preseason and has settled well into the Columbus attack, while Kamara could be a golden boot contender playing in front of the Galaxy’s stacked midfield.—Speaking of Kamaras, Kei Kamara looks right at home with the Vancouver Whitecaps, and their fast-paced attack will be tough to stop if Kamara continues to click with Alphonso Davies . The real question is how will newly-acquired midfielder Felipe fit into Carl Robinson’s plans. Veteran central defender Aaron Maund was solid playing in place of Tim Parker — who was traded to the New York Red Bulls for Felipe – but now Felipe will have to fight hard for playing time against Russell Teibert and Efrain Juarez . It will be very interesting to see who Robinson calls on for next week’s key Western Conference clash against Houston.—Patrick Vieira chose Ben Sweat over Ronald Matarrita to start at left back in NYCFC’s season opener, and the decision paid off, with Sweat helping set up the second goal in NYCFC’s 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City. Sweat thrived as NYCFC’s left back last season in place of the then-injured Matarrita. The Costa Rican fullback was expected to take his job back from Sweat this season, but early signs point to Sweat holding onto the job and thriving in the role.—The San Jose Earthquakes attack showed well putting up three goals in Saturday’s 3-2 win against Minnesota United, but how much of that was down to an improved attack, and how much is due to Minnesota’s faulty defense? Danny Hoesen looked sharp up top while the midfield wing tandem of Vako and Magnus Erikkson looked good in helping create chances and spreading out the Loons defense. We will have a much better sense of how much better this revamped Earthquakes attack is when they travel to take on Sporting KC on March 17.BEST OF MLS WEEK 1Player of the Week: Alphonso Davies . The young Vancouver Whitecaps standout delivered a goal and set up another to help the Vancouver Whitecaps beat Montreal 2-1 on Sunday.Team of the Week: Columbus Crew. Going into Toronto and beating the reigning champion is no easy task, and the Crew did just that.Rookie of the Week: Joao Moutinho. The first pick in the MLS draft turned in a steady performance as Los Angeles FC’s starting left back.Take a closer look at @LAFC ‘s first-ever MLS goal. #SEAvLAFC pic.twitter.com/mvMZRSkCsa — Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 4, 2018 Goal of the Week: Diego Rossi. The Uruguayan forward delivered an excellent finish to lead LAFC to a win, and register the first goal in team history:
Barcelona v Chelsea ‘Chelsea can surprise Barcelona’ – Zola backing Conte’s Champions League cause Dom Farrell 17:23 13/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Barcelona v Chelsea UEFA Champions League Chelsea Barcelona The Blues legend suffered heartache at Camp Nou during his playing career, but he believes the class of 2018 have every chance of prevailing Chelsea great Gianfranco Zola is backing his former club to spring a surprise against Barcelona in the Champions League.Antonio Conte’s side travel to Camp Nou with their last-16 tie all square at 1-1 – Lionel Messi having levelled matters at Stamford Bridge after Willian put the Premier League champions in front.Zola scored in a 3-1 win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals back in 2000 before the Catalan giants matched that score line in the second leg and prevailed on home turf in extra time. Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp This time around, Zola is hopeful Chelsea will not suffer Camp Nou misery and believes Conte and his players can make life difficult for Ernesto Valverde’s La Liga leaders.”It’s not going to be easy. Playing in Barcelona is a tough game. But Chelsea are a strong team, with good players,” Zola told Omnisport .”I think they can go there and surprise Barcelona, they have the ability to do that. Chelsea have the type of players Barcelona don’t like very much, so in my opinion, it’s still an open game.”They will have to defend well. The first leg was 1-1, Barcelona will want to try to win the game [and not rely on the away goal advantage].”I’m sure they will want to be safe. If Chelsea defend well first, then they can use the counter as they can do really well. I think they stand a very good chance.”Gianfranco Zola was speaking at the Geneva International Motor Show, on behalf of Yokohama Tyres, the principal partner of Chelsea Football Club. For more information, visit: http://www.yokohama-online.com
World Cup It may be my last World Cup – ‘Realistic’ Pogba determined to reign in Russia Rob Lancaster Last updated 1 year ago 20:38 6/24/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(7) World Cup France Manchester United Denmark v France Denmark Premier League Paul Pogba Knowing he is not certain to play in any future tournaments, the Manchester United midfielder is desperate to win the trophy this summer Paul Pogba wants to help France win the 2018 World Cup as he is “realistic” over the possibility of never playing in the tournament again.The Manchester United midfielder has helped Les Bleus record wins over Australia and Peru in Russia, sending them through to the last 16 with a game to spare in Group C.However, Didier Deschamps’ side have yet to dazzle ahead of their clash with second-place Denmark on Tuesday, with Pogba’s performances once again coming under intense media scrutiny. Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar However, having missed out on glory on home soil at Euro 2016, where France lost to Portugal in the final, the 25-year-old is less interested in what his critics have to say and is instead focused only on making sure France lift the trophy on July 15.”Maybe it’s my last World Cup, we do not know,” he told reporters.”I’m really enjoying myself, I’m going to forget the critics, do my talking on the pitch as it’s the only answer. “I give my best for my jersey, my team, for France. I really want to win this World Cup.”Asked why it could be his last tournament, considering his age, Pogba replied: “I’m realistic about the fact that it may be my last World Cup.”We do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow, maybe I’ll be injured or there will be players who will outperform me.”But I hope to do more than one. Some players do not even play one World Cup in their careers.”
World Cup Why Carlos Vela’s World Cup form should earn MLS some respect Ives Galarcep 01:47 6/25/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Clive Brunskill World Cup Mexico Los Angeles MLS The Los Angeles FC star has been one of Mexico’s best players during its strong World Cup run, and that form is making Major League Soccer look good Carlos Vela has been one of the key contributors in Mexico’s impressive start to the 2018 World Cup, with his strong showing against South Korea on Sunday following up a pivotal performance in the 1-0 upset of Germany.Vela’s efforts have made it easy to forget that it wasn’t too long ago that there were real questions about what sort of form he would be in after making the surprising decision to leave Spanish side Real Sociedad to sign with Major League Soccer expansion team Los Angeles FC.The move was seen as a step back for Vela, who at 29 could have still found plenty of teams in top European leagues to play for. Would the quality of play in MLS slow him down and maybe even cost him a starting role at the World Cup? Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Among those concerned was Mexican national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who has made no secret of his preference to have El Tri’s best players playing in top European leagues over moves to MLS and Liga MX. Though he didn’t criticize Vela’s MLS move publicly when it happened, Osorio expressed real concerns privately about what the move might mean for the form of a player who was supposed to be an important piece in the El Tri attack.Those fears were put to rest once Osorio had Vela in camp and saw a player not only brimming with confidence, but also one who was in peak physical condition, something that was vital to the plans Osorio had for his team in Russia.”You can see the improvement in his condition and it is a testament to the physical demands of the MLS,” Osorio told Goal before the start of the World Cup. “Playing for a good coach like Bob Bradley has clearly helped him adapt and you can tell he is enjoying his football.”That much has been clear to anyone who has seen Vela’s World Cup performances. On the ball, the forward has been clinical and effective. Defensively, he has been relentless, as evidenced by his outstanding work to help neutralize Toni Kroos in the win against Germany.That performance caught the attention of many, including former Arsenal teammate Cesc Fabregas, who pointed out that fears about MLS hurting Vela’s game appear to have been misguided.”In terms of the individual players who have impressed me the most, Vela deserves a mention for what he did against Kroos,” Fabregas wrote in a recent column for the BBC . “Vela left Real Sociedad to join Los Angeles FC at the start of the year and people seem to think that when you go to the MLS, or that type of league, your level drops.”That was not the case when he played against Germany, because Kroos could not shake him off. He tried but he could not influence the game.”Vela was at his best again on Saturday, working both ends of the field, putting in the effort defensively while also delivering dangerous passes. His converted penalty kick capped another strong showing to pull Mexico to the brink of the knockout rounds.In the process, he has provided some pretty convincing evidence that moving to MLS doesn’t have to mean a player will see their impact diminish on the international level. It is a stigma that has existed for some time, and one that continued to circulate as U.S. national team stars like Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley returned to MLS.The reality is that there have been several foreign players who have been able to maintain or boost their international careers after moving to MLS. Four years ago, Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez joined the Columbus Crew before going on to star for the Ticos during their impressive run to the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals. His form earned him a summer move to Italian side Sampdoria that same year. This time around, Seattle Sounders defender Gustav Svensson is part of Sweden’s World Cup team and played a role in Sweden’s successful qualifying campaign. Vela’s LAFC teammate Laurent Ciman is in his fourth season in MLS and was the final cut from Belgium’s stacked World Cup squad.That doesn’t mean there haven’t been MLS players whose international careers were hurt by the stigma surrounding MLS’ quality. Toronto FC’s Italian star Sebastian Giovinco is a prime example of a player who has thrived in MLS but hasn’t been able to translate that into a return to the Italian national team, though given Vela’s success at the World Cup you can’t help but wonder if some in Italy aren’t looking at Giovinco’s absence from the Azzurri’s failed World Cup qualifying campaign through a different lens now.Vela’s form in Russia should help foreign MLS players generate a bit more respect and consideration from their national teams, and should serve as evidence to players considering moves to MLS that they don’t necessarily have to see their international careers wane or end because they decide to play in the league. It should also help the league make that very case to prospective players as teams continue to scour the international market for higher-level talent, as the money being spent on MLS salaries continues to grow.
Mexico Chicharito & Moreno out, Lainez in: How Mexico must rebuild after another World Cup round of 16 exit Jon Arnold Click here to see more stories from this author Mexico Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 00:00 7/4/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(4) Getty Images Mexico World Cup Brazil v Mexico After yet another empty quest for the quinto partido, what do El Tri need to do to take the next step in four years? The curse continues with Mexico once again failing to get into the round of 16 at a World Cup.El Tri started the tournament well but ran into Brazil’s buzzsaw and are headed home after a 2-0 loss to the South Americans.So much about the national team’s future is now up in the air. Who will coach Mexico in the future? What will the fixtures look like with CONCACAF set to launch the Nations League? Which young players need to be involved with the system going forward? And who from this team will return to represent Mexico in four years? 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Even Carlos Vela and the Dos Santos brothers will be on the wrong side of 30 for the tournament set to take place in Qatar.Some of those guys may give it a go, though, and Mexico would benefit from their veteran leadership. Guardado in particular seems intent on staying in Europe for another two years. He could match Marquez with a fifth World Cup should he see action in 2022. With 150 caps to his name already, El Tri’s all-time cap leader Claudio Suarez’s 177 is well within range should Guardado stay healthy.Still, it’s difficult to see Chicharito and Moreno being in the form needed to be part of the next World Cup squad – and if Guardado is there it will likely be in a substitute role. Miguel Layun is a different case as well. His versatility makes him a great option for national team coaches, though whether he can keep his form up for another four years when he will be 34 is hardly a given.Giovani dos Santos, Jonathan dos Santos and Vela also seem to be candidates to call time on their international careers, though the fact that they are playing in MLS where they can generally fly direct to match locations rather than having to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and make stopovers means they could stick around longer than expected.Mexico players who should be called upThere were no big omissions from Juan Carlos Osorio when he named his roster. Rodolfo Pizarro was one of the most notable names. He has moved on to Monterrey and should be entering his prime when 2022 rolls around. Expect the former Chivas attacker to figure into the picture in the future. It’s time for the Diego Lainez era to get started, as well. The 18-year-old turned heads in the Toulon Tournament, helping Mexico to a second-place finish in the prestigious youth event. While Club America wants to hold on to the phenom, a European move could be on the horizon. Lainez on the right and Lozano on the left will be a technically sound pairing that terrifies fullbacks for years to come.While Guillermo Ochoa could still be Mexico’s No. 1 in four years, it’s also time to find the next great Mexican goalkeeper. No young player has impressed more than Gibran Lajud. The 24-year-old already is the regular starter for Club Tijuana. He overcame some early growing pains to become a serious prospect and even earned a call-up from Osorio for the January friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.That friendly marked the Mexico debut of Jonathan Gonzalez, and the young Rayados midfielder is an excellent option in the middle of the field. Omar Govea also shows potential there but needs to sort out his club situation and continue to improve to make the roster. How will Mexico line up in the 2022 World Cup?There are a few issues about this team. For one, it doesn’t have Diego Reyes in it. He and Cesar Montes are the center backs left out, though both should be part of Mexico’s future and will be the right age to shine in 2022. Yet, Nestor Araujo and Carlos Salcedo, if he returns to the national team, could form such an excellent partnership in the middle that it may be worth sacrificing them or, in Reyes’ case, putting him in a different position. The fullbacks remain Jesus Gallardo and Edson Alvarez, who now have the experience of playing the position at the World Cup. It’s possible neither is playing there for their club teams, but the next manager would be wise to continue to give them minutes in those roles.Up top, Hirving Lozano is the first name on the team sheet. He didn’t look at all out of place in his debut World Cup, scoring a goal against Germany, adding an assist against South Korea and troubling the Brazilian defense. Another potential issue is central forward. Raul Jimenez will be 31, though it’s not clear if he’ll still be with Wolves. Young Eduardo Aguirre looks to be an excellent forward, but he’s even shorter than Chicharito. Playing as a center forward may not suit the quick Santos Laguna man, though we’ll see how he develops in the next few years.All in all, it looks like a talented team – but more players will emerge. After Brazil, who could’ve seen Lozano’s breakout seasons or Gallardo’s successful conversion to left back? Also, don’t expect the older generation to go easily. While it may be time for Chicharito, Miguel Layun and Guardado to take on different roles, they wear their love for Mexico on their sleeves and won’t give up their places without a fight.