Columbus Crew player dies, aged 22

5 August 2012 14:55

Major League Soccer in the US has been rocked by news Columbus Crew midfielder Kirk Urso has died.

Columbus Crew released an official club statement on Sunday, revealing Urso passed away on Saturday night but the circumstances of the 22-year-old’s death were still being determined.

The midfielder had made six appearances for the 2008 MLS Cup champions this season after he was signed in March.

He was selected as a first-round (10th overall) pick in this year’s MLS Supplemental Draft by Columbus Crew.

A US representative at the FIFA under-17 World Cup held in South Korea in 2007 where he scored the winner to send his team through to the second round, Urso played college soccer at the University of North Carolina.

The midfielder spent time away from college to train with Premier League outfit Bolton Wanderers and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.

Matuidi happy with PSG form

5 August 2012 14:31

Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi is remaining positive despite the penalty loss in a pre-season friendly to Barcelona.

The Parisians have been busy in the transfer market this summer, bringing in the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and managed to recover from a two-goal deficit against the Liga giants.

And the midfielder, who joined the capital club from Saint-Etienne last summer, feels that his side are making progress, as they demonstrated against the Blaugrana.

“It’s great for our confidence to have a friendly match against the best side in the world,” the 25-year old told reporters.

“We managed to find the strength to draw level, and that’s great for our confidence ahead of the restart of Ligue 1.

“We saw tonight that Barcelona are the best team in the world; for us at PSG, it’s just beginning. We saw that PSG has a lot of quality and that people should never count us out.”

PSG will start their title challenge against Lorient on August 10.

Rondon heading to Rubin Kazan

5 August 2012 12:38

Rubin Kazan have signed striker Salomon Rondon from Malaga on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

The Venezuelan enjoyed a successful spell with the Andalusian side, scoring 25 goals in 67 Liga appearances and helping them seal Champions League football with a fourth-placed finish last term.

The 22-year-old also played a key role as his nation made an unlikely run to the Copa America semi-finals last year, and has made 24 appearances for his country, scoring eight goals.

Despite their progress on the field, the La Rosaleda outfit have been struck with financial struggles following their takeover by Qatari businessman Sheikh Abdullah.

Villarreal had complained about the club to UEFA due to missing payments over the transfer of Santi Cazorla, while the players’ union complained they had failed to pay several of their stars.

Prior to his time at Malaga, Rondon plied his trade with Aragua and Las Palmas.

Vlaar run-out earns Lambert praise

5 August 2012 12:39

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert praised Ron Vlaar after the defender made his debut in a pre-season friendly against Nottingham Forest.

Villa lost the match 3-1, but despite the result Lambert said he was impressed with the defender, who signed from Feyenoord last month.

“I thought Ron was excellent. I thought he was really commanding. I think Ron will do great for us. I know he’s a very good player,” Lambert told the club’s official website.

“Ron hasn’t done too much regarding training but I thought he was excellent. I think he’ll be a big favourite with the crowd, that’s for sure.”

Fit-again striker Darren Bent also featured, and Lambert feels the game will help him enormously as he recovers from a thigh strain picked up on the club’s US tour.

“It’s a big plus for us that Darren (Bent) returned,” he said.

“He’s a natural goalscorer and a threat. He’s a little bit behind in terms of fitness but he’s certainly a threat.

“That will do him the world of good.”

The defeat to Forest was Villa’s first of their pre-season but Lambert insisted results were not important at this stage of the campaign.

“Listen, pre-season games don’t mean a great deal to me. It’s all about the fitness. The lads have been excellent,” he said.

“It’s hard to judge pre-season games, even when you’re winning them. It’s still hard then.

“It gives you that breed of confidence but I won’t be dwelling on one defeat when you consider what the lads have done over the last month or so.

“We have had a lot of games and we’ve done really, really well. Listen, we’ll be okay.

“I said when I came in that nobody would thank me for winning every pre-season game and then losing 12 games or something in the league. I don’t pay too much attention to pre-season games.

“That first game of the season is the thing that really matters. I can’t fault the team and the way they have played. They’ve been really excellent.”

Giovinco keen on Del Piero´s number

5 August 2012 12:14

Juventus’ Sebastian Giovinco says he wants the number 10 jersey next season, after it was vacated following Alessandro Del Piero’s exit.

The forward has returned to his boyhood club from Parma, and has seen his coach and a handful of team-mates charged with involvement in the Scommessopoli match-fixing affair.

However, the 25-year-old is hoping to put the turbulence at the club to one side, and is looking forward to making an impact with Juve.

“Compared to the past it’s different for me, but I prefer to focus on the present,” Giovinco said.

“It will be strange to play without (Antonio) Conte on the bench, but we must be stronger than this and make no excuses.”

Giovinco, who has worn the number 12 jersey in training, said he would love to don Del Piero’s old shirt number.

“If that’s definitive, I like it. But if Conte were to give me number 10, I’d be happy,” he said.

Juventus’ first competitive fixture is scheduled for August 11, when the Serie A champions meet cup-winners Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana.