Kick Off: New twist in deadline day dilemma for Dempsey
Today’s the day for Clint Dempsey. But where will he go? Nobody knows.
Well, not right now anyway. But by 7 pm ET on Friday, we’ll know exactly how Deuce's long-winded transfer saga away from Fulham came to an end.
After reportedly being courted by Liverpool, Everton and Sunderland, it looked increasingly likely that the US national team star may be heading to Villa Park, after the Cottagers accepted a bid from Aston Villa on deadline day morning. But Dempsey turned down the chance to join the Birmingham outfit, reportedly waiting for Liverpool to make an improved bid.
So will the US star have to eat humble pie and stay with the Cottagers until at least January? Expect plenty more twists and turns as the day unfolds.
A day of speculation will ensue across message boards, websites, television and Twitter, as Europe’s transfer deadline day has finally arrived with some big moves happening already. Sky Sports will give you your deadline-day fix.
Transfer tales and tribulations aside, there was plenty of CCL action on Thursday night back on this continent, with Seattle and Houston both returning to the US with positive results.
The Sounders ran out 3-1 winners against Caledonia AIA in Trinidad, as Fredy Montero bagged his eighth goal in his last seven games overall to clinch the win. Watch highlights here.
Houston, meanwhile, battled back to grab a crucial point on the road against CD Olimpia in Honduras, as Adam Moffat struck to seal a 1-1 tie. Nathan Sturgis was sent off, making Houston’s task harder. However a bemused Dominic Kinnear hailed the battling point: “I am mystified at how these referees keep getting assignments. We talked about trying to get positive results the first two games and we did.”
The Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids headline the MLS action on Friday night, as they face off in a nationally televised showdown at JELD-WEN Field (10:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). The lads from ExtraTime Radio spoke with Timbers owner Merritt Paulson on Thursday about new head coach Caleb Porter's challenge in Portland, once he comes on board in December.
Then two red-hot teams kick off the action on Saturday at Crew Stadium, as Columbus host the streaking Montreal Impact. (7:30 pm ET, Watch LIVE online)
Montreal are aiming for their sixth-straight win to keep piling the pressure on D.C. United for the final postseason berth in the East. Impact head coach Jesse Marsch has caught playoff fever, as Montreal’s close rivals clashed midweek: “I had a match center at my house, in the living room, where I had all three games on at the same time.”
While Columbus are also sizzling, unbeaten in five amid a three-game win streak, with new boys Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta in fine form since arriving to spearhead their attack.
Two sides who aren’t so hot, New England and Philadelphia, square off on Saturday in Foxborough. (7:30 pm ET, Watch LIVE online). The game will be John Hackworth’s first since being handed the reins for Philly on a permanent basis, after Thursday’s announcement. Hackworth is excited to get his chance.
“We have a very talented and committed group of players," he said, "and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with them.”
Elsewhere, Sporting KC host Toronto at Livestrong Sporting Park on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, Watch LIVE online), as they continue to chase down San Jose for the Supporters’ Shield. SKC now sit just three points back and are relishing the chance to cut that gap. One Sporting player will take center stage postgame, with a film about his rise to prominence premiering in the supporters' club. Find out who will be sauntering down the red carpet. "Heart-shaped hands" are sure to appear.
Real Salt Lake and D.C. United also meet in an inter-conference clash (Saturday 9 pm ET, Watch LIVE online), with both sides aiming to return to form and solidify their playoff credentials. While Vancouver can go level on points with LA, if they beat them on Saturday at the Home Depot Center. (10 pm ET, TSN2 in Canada, watch LIVE online)
Sunday sees three games on the card, beginning with FC Dallas hosting Seattle (7 pm ET, Watch LIVE online). Schellas Hyndman's side is hoping they can bounce back after losing to LA last time out, with their presence in the playoffs hanging in the balance.
Chicago and Houston meet with Eastern Conference playoff positioning on the line in the Windy City (7 pm ET, Galavision), and the Fire will be without star winger Marco Pappa.The club announced on Thursday that he has left with immediate effect for Dutch side Heerenveen. Initially Pappa was meant to leave at the end of the season, but it seemed there was no time to waste.
“All of the money made from this move is going to be re-invested in the team," said club president Javier Leon.
The weekend’s action rounds off with California sides San Jose and Chivas USA clashing at Buck Shaw Stadium on Sunday (9 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). The Quakes will try to make their mark on national television, as they aim to become the first team since 2001 to average two goals per game.
Back across the pond, one US international has sealed his move to the EPL, with Maurice Edu signing for Stoke City after the bottom fell out for Glasgow Rangers.But it's still unclear whether he’ll be able to join in time to lineup alongside fellow US star Geoff Cameron for this weekend’s clash with Wigan.
Plenty of North Americans were in Europa League action on Thursday night, with Mikkel Diskerud smashing home a wonderful winning goal to send Rosenborg BK through to the group stages. Find out who else advanced.
And Thursday’s Champions League group stage draw threw up the inevitable “Group of Death” with Group D housing Manchester City, Ajax, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. All four sides won their respective leagues last season, as City’s Joleon Lescott is keen to point out on Twitter. "Group D highlights the fact why it's called Champions league. #TitleWinnersOnly."
US star Sacha Kljestan and his Anderlecht side were drawn in Group C alongside AC Milan, Zenit and new boys Malaga. See who the other Yanks in UCL action will face.
Finally, this insightful interview with Orlando City’s team president Phil Rawlins has popped up, as he sets out exactly how his side can gain entry to MLS.
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