MLS Week 13 Roundup: New Leaders Atop the East & LAFC Continue to Roll

​D.C. United now sit alone at the top of the Eastern Conference following a 1-1 draw with next-to-last place New England, although they have played one more match than second-placed Philadelphia Union. 

United were saved by a 90th-minute penalty by England legend Wayne Rooney that was only awarded after a VAR handball decision against Brandon Bye. Rooney calmly stepped up to the spot and slotted past Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton.  

​​New England took the lead in the match through Juan Agudelo just five minutes after starting goalkeeper Matt Turner was sent off for a horrid challenge on ​Rooney shortly after half-time. 

Philadelphia had the opportunity to go top of the conference but they were beaten handily by Portland on the back of a brace from new designated player signing Brian Fernandez. The loss breaks a six-match unbeaten streak for the Union and marks just the second time the squad has given up more than two goals in a match this campaign. 

Elsewhere, LAFC continued their dominance in the Western Conference, extending their lead at the top to eight points after defeating Montreal 4-2. Mexico international Carlos Vela added to his impressive MVP case by bagging a goal and and assist in the match. Vela currently leads the league in both goals and assists with 15 and nine respectively. 

Colorado continued their winning ways, building on their first victory of the season last week to defeat Columbus Crew 3-2 in a thriller of a match. After the Rapids took the lead twice the Crew managed to equalise on both occasions through Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes.

As the clock rounded into the 89th minute, Nicolas Mezquida picked the ball up at the top of the box from a half-cleared corner and was able to calmly bring it down and find the far corner beyond Zack Steffen. 

San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski added to his new ​MLS goalscoring record by bagging two goals in the Quakes’ 2-1 win in Toronto, taking his career total to 150. 

LA Galaxy were without star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he continues to serve a suspension, but the squad were still able to grind out a 1-0 win in Orlando on the back of a Jonathan dos Santos goal, with David Bingham saving a penalty from former ​Manchester United star Nani. 


Inter Expected to Announce Antonio Conte as New Manager in the Coming Days

​Serie A giants Inter will confirm the arrival of Antonio Conte as their new head coach this week, with the former Chelsea boss agreeing a three year deal at San Siro.

The Italian is expected to pocket a cool €12m per season having been out of work since being axed by the Blues last summer and will lead the Nerazzurri into a second consecutive Champions League campaign, after they pipped city rivals Milan to the final spot on the final day of the Serie A season.

Antonio Conte

Conte recently won a legal battle with ​Chelsea over his sacking in 2018, with the west Londoners ordered to pay him £9m in compensation. That has prevented the 49-year-old from taking on any new managerial roles, though he is now free to resume his coaching career.

​Gianluca Di Marzio report that an official statement regarding his appointment will be made on Wednesday, the date of his old employers’ Europa League final showdown with fierce rivals​Arsenal.

However, his first sighting as prospective ​Inter boss is likely to come at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, with the venue set to host the ​Champions League on 1 June. Conte is believed to be attending the clash, alongside the ​Serie A club’s senior staff members – despite Luciano Spalletti still being in charge.

He will then meet with the senior director Zhang Jindong in China to discuss Inter’s future and put plans in place for the upcoming season. 

Marcelo Brozovic

Conte had been linked with a return to ​Juventus following the Old Lady’s decision to part ways with Massimiliano Allegri, though​ reports suggest that his successor at Stamford Bridge – Maurizio Sarri – is on the brink of taking charge at the Allianz Stadium.


Santos Wonderkid Giovanni Pictured With Eden Hazard Amid Rumours of Imminent Chelsea Switch

​Santos starlet Giovanni has posted a picture of himself alongside Chelsea star Eden Hazard, amid reports he is nearing a move to Stamford Bridge.

The 17-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with a number of top sides after impressing with Santos’ youth teams, and it appears Chelsea are wasting little time in trying to secure his signature.

Giovanni took to ​Twitter to post a recent picture of himself alongside ​Hazard, in what appears to be ​Chelsea’s training complex, fuelling talk of an imminent transfer.

He is under contract with Santos until January 2020, but is yet to agree on fresh terms to remain with the club. Several clubs across Europe are eager to take advantage of the situation, but this picture alongside Hazard seems to suggest that the Blues are leading the race.

Giovanni has been a star for Brazil’s youth sides in recent years, attracting interest from ​Premier League sides after grabbing a goal and an assist in a meeting with England’s Under-16 side in 2017.

He is yet to make his first-team debut, but is highly thought of by many in Brazil, and it is thought that he could be the next exciting youngster to make the switch to Europe.

Maurizio Sarri’s side are facing a two-window transfer ban which, as it stands, leaves them unable to finalise any deals. However, the Blues are free to sign young players, which leaves the door open for players such as Giovanni to move to Stamford Bridge.

However, whether he would get to play alongside Hazard is a different story, as the Belgian remains heavily linked with a move to ​Real Madrid.


Arsenal Remain in Race for Mario Hermoso as Real Madrid Eye Bargain Summer Deal

​Arsenal remain in pursuit of Espanyol centre-back Mario Hermoso, and the Spanish side have now accepted that keeping their star player at the club could be too much of a challenge.

The 23-year-old has enjoyed two impressive seasons with Espanyol, attracting the interest from many of Europe’s biggest clubs. Alongside Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid are all thought to be keen on the Spaniard.


Signing Hermoso would not be simple for ​Arsenal, but ​Mundo Deportivo claim that the Gunners are still closely following the defender, with a view to a bid this summer.

Espanyol are keen to retain all their top players, but they are now thought to be readying themselves for a number of summer bids. Both Borja Iglesias and Marc Roca have been linked with moves away from the club, but it is Hermoso who looks to have attracted the most interest.

He is said to have a €40m release clause in his contract, which expires in 2020, meaning any interested side could pay that fee and bypass negotiations with Espanyol.

However, ​Real are thought to hold a huge advantage in the race for his signature. Hermoso began his career with Los Blancos, before making the switch to Espanyol in the summer of 2017. As part of this deal, Real agreed a buy-back clause of just €7.5m, which could give them the advantage.

With ​Sergio Ramos linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, Hermoso could be a bargain replacement, and Zinedine Zidane would not hesitate to part with such a fee to help improve his squad.

Nevertheless, Arsenal are keen to lure Hermoso to the Emirates Stadium. With doubts over the long-term futures of both Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, the Gunners may find themselves in need of defensive reinforcements, and Hermoso is thought to be one of their top priorities.

However, with ​Bayern and PSG both tracking the Spaniard, finalising a deal for Hermoso will certainly not be straightforward for Arsenal.


Barcelona Hold ‘Crisis Meeting’ Following Copa del Rey Defeat as Faith in Ernesto Valverde’s Wanes

​Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu scheduled an emergency crisis meeting following the club’s disappointing end to the season, with manager Ernesto Valverde’s future said to be a major talking point.

Despite securing La Liga title, Barcelona suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool to crash out of the Champions League, before a lacklustre performance saw them fall 2-1 to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

Many fans have called for Valverde to be sacked as a result of the poor results and, according to ​The Sun, Bartomeu has called an emergency meeting to discuss what went wrong for the Blaugrana.

Valverde’s future is currently up in the air, with many left stunned and concerned by the team’s failures in recent weeks. The defeat to ​Liverpool, which saw ​Barcelona throw away a 3-0 advantage from the first leg, was one of the darkest days in recent memory for fans, and was viewed by many as simply unforgivable.

​RAC1 journalist Gerard Romero also added on ​Twitter that many involved with the club, including players and staff, have begun to lose faith in Valverde as a result of the defeats, with many views of the manager taking a drastic turn for the worst in recent weeks. Catalan daily ​Mundo Deportivo echoes the other reports by saying the club has major doubts about the manager.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, ​Bartomeu insisted that Valverde had the full support of the Barcelona board, although fresh concerns over the team’s direction may now have left club officials feeling differently.

In his two years with the club, Valverde has secured two ​La Liga titles and the 2017/18 Copa del Rey trophy, but this has not been enough to convince many supporters that he deserves more time in the Camp Nou dugout.

Their failure to compete for the ​Champions League has been a huge problem. Barcelona’s capitulation against Liverpool was not the first of it’s kind, with Valverde’s side throwing away a 4-1 lead against Roma in the quarter-finals of last season’s competition, and it appears as though Bartomeu is now incredibly concerned about the team’s future.