Mexico must shake off delays, off-pitch issues and focus on Argentina


For any potential incoming Mexico manager combing through the domestic press and taking the temperature of the game in the North American country over recent weeks, the overall conclusion wouldn’t be particularly positive.

Last week, the government’s watchdog agency on monopolies began a formal investigation into Liga MX’s transfer practices. That comes on top of the government tax authority’s ongoing investigation into players signing “double contracts” with clubs.

Then there appears to be a kind of lingering hangover from the World Cup. The team has operated in a bunker-like menality during the subsequent international breaks with little access given to the traveling nfl jerseys wholesale cheap10

And there are suspicions that at least part of the reason why Javier Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado and Hector Moreno haven’t been called into the squad since Russia is because of friction over how the national team operates.

“Those that don’t come will have their reasons,” said defender Edson Alvarez in a news conference on Wednesday ahead of the first of two friendlies against Argentina. “They are people that maybe have had a long run [in the national team]. When they were starting I’m sure they didn’t want to miss a call-up.”

Even the news of the cancelation of next Monday’s NFL game at Estadio Azteca due to the abysmal pitch conditions reflected badly on Mexican football, given that Club America and Cruz Azul — two of Mexico’s top clubs — will be playing potentially championship-defining matches on it in a couple of nike nfl jerseys paypal

On top of that have come problems in Cordoba this week. Players endured nightmare journeys due to the poor weather and the team’s training session on Tuesday took place in a local indoor gym because the bus carrying the team’s equipment had broken down on route from Buenos Aires.

That wasn’t actually the federation’s fault, but still, the reports go out into the public and the actual details can get lost.

Finally, the search for a new head coach rumbles on. Quique Sanchez Flores is the latest to apparently turn down the possibility and Gerardo “Tata” Martino remains the frontrunner.

Mexico’s November friendlies will be a litmus test for Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico’s goalkeepers


Scanning the Mexican national team, it’s easy to spot the much-needed generational change that is beginning to take place. While a few older and more experienced names are gradually losing their relevance, intriguing new options such as Roberto Alvarado, Diego Lainez, Victor Guzman, Erick Gutierrez and a handful of others have started to make an impact.

Following another disappointing World Cup exit in the round of 16, changes like these are necessary to make improvements. Although Mexico will still have to rely on several veterans that were included in the latest 2018 Russia roster, a number of positions will continue to require some crucial alterations. For example, a new crop of strikers, defensive midfielders and central defenders would vastly help the depth of Mexico’s squad in the near nike jerseys for cheap

But what about the goalkeeping position?9

In recent years, there have been no doubts that Guillermo Ochoa is Mexico’s best choice in net. Due to his European experience at club level, and his noteworthy World Cup appearances for the national team in 2014 and 2018, Ochoa easily stands out amongst his peers. In fact, when Qatar 2022 rolls around, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the 33-year-old remain the strongest goalkeeping candidate for El nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

And yet, despite his significance for Mexico, the Standard Liege star could benefit from a strong performance to help solidify his unquestioned starting spot. With plenty of young players now being given opportunities in recent friendlies — three of which were goalkeepers under the age of 30 — Ochoa should be motivated to highlight his capabilities in either of November’s friendlies against Argentina on the 16th and 20th.

With two games set against the South American giants in Cordoba and Mendoza, Ochoa will likely be given at least one start for Mexico this month. In an intimidating atmosphere outside of the comforts of the CONCACAF region, the goalkeeper will have a high-profile opportunity to not only showcase his talent and world-class reflexes, but also his leadership as the player with the most international caps (96) from El Tri’s latest call-up list.

Manchester United were ‘in awe’ of Juventus but can win in Turin – Chris Smalling


Manchester United Chris Smalling has said he and his teammates were “in awe” of Juventus in their recent Champions League clash, and has challenged the players to put things right in their return meeting.

Juventus won 1-0 when they visited Old Trafford in a game in which United were punished for a slow start but improved after half-time — something that is becoming a theme of the season for Jose Mourinho’s side.

Smalling said that he and his teammates were much improved after the interval, and that gives them the belief that can get something at the Allianz nfl jerseys china nike

“I think Juventus, we started the game a bit in awe, we were off the pace and they were on the front foot but the second half we showed we could give them a game,” Smalling said.10

“We created chances and we can take that second half performance to Turin and we will be more on the front foot and I think you’ll see a better performance than you did, particularly in the first half.

“Juve have shown they don’t concede many goals and hopefully we can get on the front foot. The first half, I think we learned from that and we showed that in the second half and on Wednesday you will see a difference.”

Meanwhile, Smalling has challenged United to use the momentum from their last-gasp win at Bournemouth to earn statement wins in a week which sees them play Manchester City after nfl nike jerseys from china

Smalling described United’s first-half performance at the Vitality as their “worst” of the season.

But after Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner, which gave United a 2-1 victory, Jose Mourinho’s team now head into a heavyweight week in the Champions League and Premier League on the back of two straight wins.

“We know we are going into a very tough week now but we can come out with some results it can be seen as a good month especially as it’s a tough month now,” Smalling said. “It would galvanise us knowing that we have had some big games this month and that we have gone toe to toe and picked up some big results.

Manchester United’s Chris Smalling on defensive criticism: ‘You need to have thick skin’


Chris Smalling has admitted he has had to develop a thick skin as Manchester United’s defensive problems continue.

Callum Wilson’s goal for Bournemouth on Saturday was the 18th United have conceded in 11 Premier League games this season — more than West Ham, Brighton and Crystal nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Manager Jose Mourinho branded the defending in the first half at the Vitality Stadium “awful” while regular centre-backs Smalling and Victor Lindelof have had to deal with their share of criticism from some supporters.9

“You can’t get away from it [the criticism] but I’m not going to sit there and read all my comments [on social media],” Smalling said.

“I think as players you need to have thick skin. It’s about making sure you have more good days than bad.”

Smalling is into his ninth season at Old Trafford after joining the club from Fulham in nfl jerseys china nike

Mourinho has spent more than £60 million on centre-backs since taking over in 2016 but Smalling was still trusted to play nearly 50 games last season and the 28-year-old has been a regular in the team again this term.

“To be able to be a club like this and last as long as I have you need to have that courage and belief in your ability,” Smalling said.

“You won’t have good days every week and the bad days are often highlighted when you’re at a big club. I believe in myself and I keep working.”

Manchester City have edge over Liverpool, Chelsea due to squad – Fernandinho


Manchester City’s depth of talent could give them the edge in the Premier League title race, according to midfielder Fernandinho.

Last season, City finished as champions on 100 points — 19 clear of nearest challengers Manchester United. However, with just two points separating the top themselves, Liverpool and Chelsea after 10 matches, many are predicting a much tighter race this time around.

And Fernandinho said Monday’s 1-0 win at Tottenham demonstrated the depth of City’s squad, and the Brazilian believes it could prove crucial over the busy Christmas cheap jerseys nike

“Chelsea and Liverpool are very good teams,” the 33-year-old told ESPN Brasil, when asked if he expected a stronger challenge this time around. “Without doubt they are candidates, who are fighting for the title.

“Our aim is to fight with them, if they are still at the top of the table in March or April. We know that the period we have coming up: November, December is really important for the squad.10

“Our squad could make the difference. Everybody knows the games over Christmas are difficult, with the rhythm dropping, players tiring, It is a time when a lot of teams drop points.

“We are very focused. We know how things work in the Premier League and today [against Tottenham] was a demonstration of that.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Despite being lauded for their attacking intent under Guardiola, City’s defence has been key to their unbeaten start to the campaign with the Wembley shutout their sixth consecutive Premier League clean sheet.

And Fernandinho said that, given the conditions of the pitch — which had been used for an NFL match between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars just two days earlier — the way they played was far less important than leaving the stadium with three points.

“The result today was much more important that the team’s performance,” Fernandinho said. “We scored a really early goal after a good piece of individual skill by [Raheem] Sterling which was finished really well — and this made everything so much easier for us because, for both teams, it was very difficult to create any kind of opening.

“After the goal, we defended well, created lots of chances. I think this win was extremely important for us to stay at the top of the table.”

Wilfried Zaha received racist abuse, death threats after Crystal Palace’s draw with Arsenal


Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has said he received racist abuse and death threats after winning a late penalty against Arsenal in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park.

Zaha was tripped in the box by Granit Xhaka, who was deputising at left-back, which allowed Palace to level the match in the 83rd minute, ending Arsenal’s 11-game winning streak.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

After the game, Zaha was accused of diving on social media, and responded to the “hate” he has been receiving with a message on Instagram.9

“For all the people taking it one step further and being racist and wishing death on my family, I wish you and your families the best too,” Zaha wrote. “My life is still very good despite your hate.”

Xhaka himself acknowledged after the game that he had made contact with Zaha.

“I think it’s a clear penalty because I touched his knee,” Xhaka cheap jerseys nike

Meanwhile, Palace boss Roy Hodgson has said Zaha has the club’s full backing in the wake of the abuse.

“As far as Wilf is concerned, the club will do everything they can to support him in this way,” Hodgson said. “I don’t think there are many people out there expect perhaps the odd Twitter troll who knows no better who believes that racially abusing people or threatening people is the right way to go.

“Of course all our sympathy is with our player and the club will do everything we can to show him that support and help him get through the situation.”

Exclusive: Nigeria hero Odion Ighalo nearly quit after death threats


It was a long and nightmarish northern summer for Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo, who has rebounded to not only top of the scoring list in these Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, but worm his way back into the hearts of Super Eagles fans.

After a dire World Cup campaign, where he was roundly blamed for the defeat to Argentina that saw the Africans crash out of the tournament, he’s gone on to score five goals in two qualifier games against nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Scoring a hat-trick, he heard his name sung from the stands as he was subbed off after 75 minutes of the first game on the weekend. He was then serenaded by supporters in the second game on Tuesday, as he scored twice and provided one assist.

Beaming as he deflected personal praise in his first interview since the World Cup, the trademark Ighalo smile, which had been dimmed for months, flashed as he pointed to team effort instead.10

“The team really worked hard, it is a good team performance and I am happy to score five goals in two games but it is an all-round performance and I am happy with the team performance.

“We are 99 per cent sealed the ticket to the Cup of Nations,” he told Kwes√©ESPN in an exclusive interview in Sfax, Tunisia, where the second match was played.

But all of this nearly did not happen. Sitting down in the changing room of the Taieb Mhiri Stadium, Ighalo reflected on what has been a challenging last few months for him and his nike nfl jerseys wholesale

For a fleeting moment, the ever-present smile turned wry, then retreated as Ighalo opened up about how he and his family — including his children — endured vitriolic abuse, and even received death threats on social media, after a World Cup performance where even he admitted he had not played up to his own high standards.

Raheem Sterling ends drought, England hand Spain first competitive home defeat since 2003


Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane blew Spain away in 38 first-half minutes as England became the first country to beat Spain in Spain in a competitive game in 15 years, a run stretching 38 games.

Sterling ended a three-year wait for an international goal, scoring twice either side of a Rashford effort as he silenced those who had suggested he should be dropped by manager Gareth nike nfl jerseys cheap

There was no goal for Kane, but his role in all three of his country’s goals was key. Spain struggled to deal with his presence as the focal point of a side which has been re-modelled by Southgate since the World Cup. With three in attack, and an average age of 23, England bypassed the midfield when they could, and Luis Enrique’s side had no answer in the first half.9

Spain did respond after the break, pulling goals back through the red-hot Paco Alcacer and Sergio Ramos, but the second — deep in stoppage time — was too late. They remain top of the group with six points and the most likely to qualify for the final four of the UEFA Nations League next summer, but they now need to find a result in Croatia, with England poised just two points nfl jerseys cheap paypal

All this after the home side had started well. England looked fragile at the back. A Thiago effort was deflected wide, Jordan Pickford made a fine block to keep out Marcos Alonso, and Marco Asensio failed to capitalise on a Kieran Trippier mistake.

Then England struck. Pickford, under pressure, picked out Kane, who fed Rashford on the right. Rashford threaded the ball through to Sterling. This time it was Spain’s defence that was all over the place, as Ramos wasn’t even in the picture when Sterling lashed expertly into the top corner.

It was a tactic which England would continue to have success with. Pickford sent another long ball to Kane in the 30th minute. The Tottenham striker did brilliantly, holding the ball up before brilliantly playing in Rashford.

The 3,000 travelling England fans could barely believe what they were seeing from their vantage point in the top corner, but there was more to come. Eight minutes later, Ross Barkley found Kane at the far post with a deft pass. Kane unselfishly squared for Sterling to score his second as Spain conceded three in a competitive game on home soil for the first time.

Wayne Rooney, a new home and renewed belief: inside D.C. United’s remarkable turnaround


In 2017, D.C. United finished last in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind 10th-place Orlando City and a distant 18 points out of the playoffs. The team’s minus-29 goal differential led the league as United earned just 0.94 points per game.

It seemed to represent rock bottom for one of Major League Soccer’s founding franchises, but at the beginning of 2018, someone threw the club a nike nfl jerseys paypal

Through the season’s first 17 games, United posted just three wins and five draws to go along with nine losses. Fourteen points from 17 games, or a dismal 0.82 points per game. Simply put, the team wasn’t good enough.4

“What was lacking throughout that was killer instinct,” head coach Ben Olsen told ESPN FC. “Seeing out games on the offensive end and in transition or being able to grind out the last 15 minutes of matches. Understanding the big moments of the game that mattered. We failed consistently in those moments.”

But the thing about digging yourself into a hole is that sometimes you can do something great with all that dirt. You can be building something, even if no one is watching. United nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“Even during that time when we were not getting the results that we wanted, we saw a lot of good, not only in the individuals we had on the team but also how we were playing and in our ability to manufacture goals,” Olsen said.

Center back Steven Birnbaum agreed with his manager. “Toward the end of our road stretch, there was a bit more confidence,” he said. “We started to jell. We had a lot of new players and it took time for us to get to know one another.”

Columbus Crew SC poised for their biggest win of the year: staying in Ohio


The Columbus Crew midfielder has been with the U.S. men’s national team for the past week and on Friday, he was exchanging texts with club and international teammate Zack Steffen. The texts from Steffen were, as Trapp described them, “cryptic,” with a lot of question marks.

Unbeknownst to Trapp, about 1,000 miles to the north, news was emerging that an investor group had been formed that was interested in buying the rights to the Crew with the express purpose of keeping the team in Columbus. It was left to Steffen to fill Trapp in on the nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“I finally saw [Steffen] and he said, ‘Have you seen the news?’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?'” said Trapp. “So there was a lot of back and forth before we finally came together and saw this was a real thing going on.

It wrapped up a crazy year, too. It was this time a year ago that current owner Anthony Precourt divulged that he was exploring moving the team to Austin, Texas. At the time, he spoke of “parallel paths” in terms of seeing which municipality would build him a stadium first, but his actions have long indicated he preferred to get out of Ohio’s capital. Since then the proverbial anvil has been hanging over the head of just about everyone else associated with the team, from players to coaches to those working in the front office.3

Trapp’s emotions were more fraught than most. In addition to being the team captain, he was born in Columbus, raised in nearby Gahanna, Ohio and progressed through the club’s academy. The Crew is the only professional team he’s known, having spent six seasons there. His impulse when the news broke on Friday was to revert to the ultimate defense mechanism of being a skeptic.

“The first thing when you’re being bombarded on social media is: How credible is it all? It’s unfortunate that you have to be looking at it from a very scrutinized lens all the time,” he said. “But then as the day went on, obviously there seemed to be some weight to the Haslam family and then Pete Edwards moving toward a potential buyout of the team.”

Even as Trapp spoke of the previous 24 hours, he still sounded cautious. Given that a deal isn’t completely done, his stance is utterly practical. He and his club teammates have gotten this far in the MLS season — one that sees them firmly in the playoff places — by avoiding the emotional rollercoaster. It would seem Trapp isn’t about to change that, although some optimism crept nike nfl jerseys paypal

“We can’t control anything as players,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotions wrapped into it of course, me being local, but it’s a day that was very wild in terms of the ups and downs of what was going on. The fans that have supported us all the way through this have fought exactly for this scenario that’s playing out. For the city of Columbus, keeping the team is a wonderful thing.”