Alejandro Bedoya gave Philadelphia Union a 1-0 victory over New York City in their MLS is Back Tournament opener on Thursday.

The Union players had the names of black victims of police brutality on their shirts instead of their own, and captain Bedoya earned the team three points in the Group A clash.

The outcome left City without a win in three games overall this season, including two MLS games played in March, making it their worst start to a campaign.

The match kicked off at 09:00 local time (13:00 GMT) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida to avoid the afternoon heat and potential thunderstorms.

After a dull first half without any dangerous openings, former United States international Bedoya got the better of Sean Johnson from the right side of the box in the 63rd minute after City failed to clear his initial cross.

Union's Kacper Przybylko had a goal correctly ruled out for offside four minutes later as the game finally came to life.

Andre Blake produced a fine save to prevent City striker Heber's effort from eight yards finding the bottom-right corner, before racing off his line to deny Gary Mackay-Steven when one-on-one in stoppage time.

City's wait for a first goal of 2020 consequently continued, while the Union secured their first clean sheet after conceding five across their two fixtures before the season's suspension in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

MLS will resume play at Disney World Resort in Orlando on July 8, and a pair of Florida teams have the honour of kicking off the tournament with Orlando City facing Inter Miami.

A day after the MLS is Back Tournament was announced, the league held a draw for the group stage on Thursday, placing the 26 teams into six groups.

Sixteen teams will then progress to the knockout stage, which will begin on July 25 ahead of an August 11 final.

Aside from the opening match, the rest of the tournament schedule has yet to be announced.

 

The groups for the MLS is Back Tournament:

Group A (Eastern Conference): Orlando City, Inter Miami, New York City, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Nashville SC.
Group B (Western Conference): Seattle Sounders, Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, San Jose Earthquakes.
Group C (Eastern Conference): Toronto, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact, DC United.
Group D (Western Conference): Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United.
Group E (Eastern Conference): Atlanta United, FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew.
Group F (Western Conference): Los Angeles FC, LA Galaxy, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers.

Daniel Levy is known as a difficult negotiator.

The Tottenham chairman squeezed every penny out of United when the Red Devils turned to Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

United also reportedly pulled out of the running for Luka Modric, who joined Real Madrid in 2012, as they did not want to haggle with Levy.

However, United could be ready to lock horns with Levy over Harry Kane's signature.

 

TOP STORY – WOODWARD READY TO BATTLE LEVY FOR KANE

Manchester United and Ed Woodward are ready to battle for the signing of Tottenham star Harry Kane, according to the Evening Standard.

Kane is reportedly considering his future at Tottenham and the England international striker is believed to be open to a switch to United at the end of the season.

United are yet to permanently replace Romelu Lukaku and Red Devils executive vice-chairman Woodward reportedly wants to lock horns with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could United beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham? Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Bellingham visited United's training ground on Monday and reportedly spoke to former manager Alex Ferguson as the Red Devils ramp up their interest. Bellingham is valued at around £30million.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami want to sign Manchester City star David Silva, reports The Mirror. Silva, out of contract at the end of the season, has been linked to fellow MLS franchise New York City – who are the sister club of Manchester City and part of the City Football Group.

- Tuttosport claims Juventus are targeting Valencia attacker Ferran Torres. The 20-year-old has also been linked to LaLiga champions Barcelona, Real Madrid and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

United are prepared to pay £70m for Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, says The Mirror. Grealish has emerged as one of United's prime transfer targets and the Red Devils are ready to test Villa's resolve as the Premier League strugglers face relegation.

Paris Saint-Germain continue to target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. PSG have identified Koulibaly as Thiago Silva's replacement but Calciomercato says it will be difficult for the Ligue 1 holders to lower Napoli's demands. Koulibaly – also linked to the likes of United, Madrid, Tottenham and Manchester City – reportedly has a €150m termination clause.

- Kicker says Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are considering signing on-loan Inter winger Ivan Perisic at season's end.

Inter Miami suffered another loss to begin life in MLS, while LA Galaxy are also winless through two games.

Coming off a defeat to Los Angeles FC, Inter Miami went down to DC United 2-1 on Saturday.

Rodolfo Pizarro scored the first MLS goal in the club's history, sweeping in a Lewis Morgan cross to give them the lead in just the second minute.

However, the game turned early in the second half when, after Morgan thought he had doubled his side's lead, the visitors had the goal ruled out and Roman Torres sent off for a handball.

DC equalised through Yamil Asad's penalty in the 59th minute before finding what proved to be the winner just after the hour-mark.

Edison Flores hit the post with a free-kick and Frederic Brillant reacted quickest to fire in the rebound and lift DC to their first win of the season.

LA Galaxy are without a win through two games after suffering a 1-0 loss at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Tosaint Ricketts' smart side-footed finish in the 74th minute was enough for the Whitecaps.

Joe Corona was then sent off for Galaxy, who were beaten despite David Bingham later saving a Lucas Cavallini penalty.

Without the injured Josef Martinez, Atlanta United made it two wins from two by beating Cincinnati 2-1.

There are three teams with perfect records in the Western Conference in Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United and the Colorado Rapids.

Sporting KC thrashed Houston Dynamo 4-0, Ike Opara netted a brace in Minnesota's 5-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado edged Orlando City 2-1 thanks to Drew Moor's late winner.

New England Revolution and Chicago Fire drew 1-1, Real Salt Lake came from behind to hold the New York Red Bulls to a 1-1 draw and Maximiliano Urruti's brace helped Montreal Impact draw 2-2 with Dallas.

Ifunanyachi Achara's goal on his MLS debut saw Toronto overcome New York City 1-0, while the Seattle Sounders drew 1-1 against Columbus Crew.

Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man and his future could become clearer.

The Inter star has dazzled in Italy this season, alongside team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

And Barcelona are reportedly keen to tie up a deal for the Argentina international.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TABLE MARTINEZ BID

Barcelona have made their first offer to Inter for star forward Lautaro Martinez, according to FCInterNews.it.

Martinez has reportedly been identified as a long-term replacement for Barca veteran Luis Suarez, while the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United are interested.

According to the report, LaLiga champions Barca have tabled a €70m bid for Martinez plus two players – Arturo Vidal and Nelson Semedo.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph says United are favourites to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho at the end of the season. Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with moves for the 19-year-old.

Athletic Bilbao are interested in Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, reports Marca. Bilbao have a Basque-only transfer policy, however, Argentina international Higuain qualifies due to the Basque-French origin of his grandfather.

- Amid doubts over Martinez's future in Milan, Calciomercato says Inter are eyeing Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata.

- According to Goal, Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is considering a move to MLS outfit and sister club New York City. The 36-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces an uncertain future at Milan amid doubts over directors Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini, claims Tuttosport. Boban and Maldini had reportedly been seeking to extend Ibrahimovic's contract until 2021 but the pair are reportedly set to leave San Siro following a row with Elliott Management.

Carlos Vela provided another highlight as Los Angeles FC defeated Inter Miami 1-0 in their MLS debut on an historic evening.

Birthday boy Vela scored a stunning chip on the stroke of half-time to ensure reigning Supporters' Shield champions LAFC made the perfect start to the 2020 season on Sunday.

Co-owner David Beckham, his famous wife Victoria and Inter's hierarchy were in the stands as the expansion franchise made history in Los Angeles.

Inter battled in their first-ever MLS match but Diego Alonso's side came unstuck following a moment of brilliance from Vela on his 31st birthday.

Former Arsenal forward Vela – who scored a record-breaking 34 goals in a MVP season last term – chipped the ball over Inter captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles in the 44th minute at Banc of California Stadium.

"Surely we have to improve in football, but with this heart and with this intensity with which the team plays, we will surely win many games," said Inter head coach Alonso.

"Against maybe the best team in the league we gave a tremendous picture today of what we can become. With only six weeks of work, the merit is certainly from the footballers for what we have done today and the work they have done."

Seattle Sounders started their title defence with a dramatic 2-1 victory at home to Chicago Fire thanks to substitute Jordan Morris' brace.

Trailing to Robert Beric's 46th-minute opener, the Sounders equalised via Morris just past the hour mark before he netted the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Kevin Molino scored twice as Minnesota United upstaged Portland Timbers 3-1, New York Red Bulls edged Cincinnati 3-2 and 10-man New York City lost 1-0 away to Columbus Crew.

The 25th edition of MLS gets underway on Saturday and it promises to be the biggest season yet.

David Beckham's Inter Miami and fellow expansion club Nashville SC will enter the league, which will increase to 26 teams.

Seattle Sounders are the defending champions, record-breaking Los Angeles FC will look to go all the way this year after falling short last term, while Arsenal and Barcelona legend Thierry Henry is at the helm of Montreal Impact.

With the season set to kick off, here is a selection of the best Opta facts related to MLS.

 

- Only one of the last eight teams to debut in MLS have won their inaugural match, dating back to Portland Timbers in 2011 (LAFC 1-0 Seattle in 2018). Orlando City and New York City drew against each other in both teams' inaugural match in 2015, while the other five teams that joined the league in that time lost their opening match.

- Of MLS' last nine new teams, only one have failed to score in their inaugural match in the competition. Montreal lost 2-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps in 2012.

- Of the 14 teams to play their inaugural MLS match on the road, only two have managed to win; including Los Angeles in 2018 (also Chicago Fire in 1998, at Miami Fusion). Two more managed draws while 10 of the 14 teams that started on the road lost their inaugural match.

- The last six MLS expansion clubs scored in their first away match in the league dating back to 2015. Five of the teams scored one goal while Atlanta United scored six against fellow newcomers Minnesota United in 2017.

- The last three reigning MLS Cup winners lost the opening match of the following season, including Seattle's 2-1 defeat at Houston Dynamo in 2017 after reigning supreme in 2016.

- LAFC equalled the all-time record for goals scored in a single MLS season last campaign (85 – level with LA Galaxy in 1998). Their striker Carlos Vela also broke the record for single-season goals in MLS history; scoring 34 and beating Josef Martinez's record haul of 31 from 2018.

- Atlanta star Martinez has scored a goal against all 23 of the opposition teams that he has faced in regular-season MLS matches – Nashville will be the 24th different opponent he has played against in the competition.

- New York City's 177 points and 50 wins are both second-most over the past three MLS regular campaigns, both behind Atlanta (182 points and 54 wins). NYC are the only team that have won at least 16 regular-season matches in each of the past three MLS campaigns.

- Last season was the 10th straight in which New York Red Bulls qualified for the MLS postseason. The Red Bulls' 10 successive play-off appearance represent the second-longest active run (Seattle – 11) and the longest in the history of the Eastern Conference.

- New Impact manager Henry took charge of Monaco in Ligue 1 last season between October 2018 and January 2019. During his 12 league games in charge, he won just twice (17 per cent); which was the worst win ratio of every Monaco head coach to take charge of five-plus top-flight games in their history.

- Colorado Rapids have missed the play-offs in three successive MLS seasons for the first time since 2007-2009. They have collected just 106 points over the past three MLS campaigns, only Orlando City (104) have collected fewer among the teams that have been in the league for each season since 2017.

- 85 of LA Galaxy recruit Javier Hernandez's 89 goals within the big five European leagues during his career came from inside the box (96 per cent), including each of the past 30 of these strikes.

Omar McLeod, the 2016 World Indoor 60m hurdles champion, will not compete at this weekend’s Millrose Games at the Armoury in New York.

Jamaica's sprint sensation Briana Williams said she is excited about lining up against six-time Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix over 60m at the 113th NYRR Millrose Games on Saturday, February 8 at the Armoury Track & Field Centre in New York.

 It will be the first time the 17-year-old sprinter will race against the decorated American. The stacked field also includes Jamaica’s Trudy Ann Williamson, the USA’s Morolake Akinuson, Hannah Cunliffe, Teahna Daniels, Javianne Oliver, Deajah Stevens and Germany’s Tatjana Pinto.

 “I'm excited about the line-up. I’ve been looking up to Allyson ever since I started track so this is pretty awesome that I get to race against her. She has accomplished so much, especially at a young age,” said Williams who raced to a fast 7.15-second outdoor run in Kingston last month.

 She opened her 2020 season with a personal best 7.25 seconds at the Clemson University's Orange & Purple Elite Invitational on January 4,

 In contrast to Williams’ excitement about racing her idol, Coach Ato Boldon sees this as just another 60m race in William's 2020 preparation.

 "Training has been exceptional so I expect another PR from Briana this weekend. She has run against the two Olympic 100m champions on multiple occasions...she won't be overwhelmed by the spotlight."

As the January transfer window begins to close for another season, reports have emerged that Jamaica’s Kemar Lawrence might be heading to Belgium.

Multiple reports are claiming that the 27-year-old fullback is set to leave the New York Red Bulls for Anderlecht for a fee of about US$1.25 million pending the completion of a medical and the associated paperwork.

Lawrence joined the Red Bulls from Harbour View FC in 2015. He made 118 appearances for the club, starting 19 of the 22 games he played for them last season.

He has 55 senior appearances for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.

Manchester City Women boss Nick Cushing will end his six-year reign next month to become assistant manager of New York City FC.

Cushing said it was "incredibly difficult" to reach the decision to leave, as he prepares to join the City Football Group's Major League Soccer outfit.

Appointed at the end of 2013, Cushing led City as they joined the Women's Super League, bolstered by new signings Steph Houghton, Karen Bardsley, Jill Scott and Toni Duggan.

Those England stars helped Cushing establish City as a major force when they were handed a place in a new-look WSL for the 2014 season, prominent among clubs spearheading the move to full-time professionalism.

City won the WSL title in 2016 and added FA Cup victories at Wembley in 2017 and 2019, also reaching the Champions League semi-finals in 2017 and 2018, losing to Lyon both times.

Now 35, Cushing will become assistant to former Celtic manager Ronny Deila at MLS side New York City.

His last match with Manchester City Women will be the WSL home match against Arsenal on February 2.

Cushing said: "Making the decision to leave MCWFC has been incredibly difficult given the fantastic players and staff that we have here and the incredible success that we have achieved together - it isn't one that I have taken lightly.

"We've had an amazing six-and-a-half seasons and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with everybody – I will be extremely emotional to leave, but I'm very excited for my next role within the City Football Group.

"Linking up with New York City and Ronny (Deila) is a brilliant opportunity and I'm really looking forward to working in the MLS."

City said Cushing's assistant, Alan Mahon, would take charge of the women's team on an interim basis.

Ronny Deila has been named the new head coach of New York City.

The former Celtic boss has signed a three-year deal to take charge of the MLS club, who have been seeking a new coach since the departure of Domenec Torrent last November.

"When the opportunity came up to join New York City FC as their new head coach, it was a dream come true for me to manage an amazing club in a great city," Deila told the club's website.

"I'm ready to see our supporters and hopefully we'll have a wonderful relationship. I'm going to do everything I can to play good football the City way and I'll give everything from myself to the club and I'm sure we're going to achieve fantastic things in the future."

Deila won two league titles and the League Cup in Scotland with Celtic and had spent the past three years with Norwegian club Valerenga.

"We're extremely excited to have Ronny join us, and after a thorough coaching search, we're confident we've found the perfect fit for New York City FC," said CEO Brad Sims.

"City Football Group has had a relationship with Ronny for a long time, and we've been very impressed with his coaching acumen and his belief in playing a style that fits our attacking ethos."

New York, part of the CFG group that includes Premier League champions Manchester City, finished top of the MLS Eastern Conference in 2019 to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.

They were beaten 2-1 by Toronto in the postseason semi-finals.

Mikel Arteta is the latest man to be charged with restoring success to a failing Arsenal, and Gunners fans will hope his previous working relationship with Pep Guardiola gives the Basque coach a head start.

Arsenal ditched another Basque tactician in Unai Emery last month and the process to appoint a replacement has been anything but swift.

Freddie Ljungberg took charge in an interim capacity but managed just a single win in five matches, highlighting the sorry state of the situation inherited by Arteta, whose appointment as head coach was confirmed on Friday.

It is former Arsenal captain Arteta's first job in management, having spent the three years since he retired from playing working as an assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City.

Guardiola has credited Arteta with improving him as a manager and believes the San Sebastian native is "absolutely ready" to strike out on his own after a "magnificent" time together at City.

Given his success in management, Guardiola has unsurprisingly been mentioned as a major inspiration for many coaches.

Here, we examine four others to have worked closely with Guardiola and enjoyed success.

Tito Vilanova

Guardiola and Vilanova came through Barcelona's youth academy together as youngsters, though the latter went on to spend much of his playing career in the lower divisions. They reunited as coaches in 2007, with Vilanova assuming the role of assistant with the Barcelona B side, before taking up a similar position when Guardiola was promoted to the senior team the following year.

They worked together until Guardiola departed in 2012, with Vilanova subsequently appointed his successor. He led Barca to LaLiga success despite requiring a leave of absence for cancer treatment, but he officially stepped down in July 2013 due to a relapse. Vilanova died in April 2014 due to complications from cancer.

Luis Enrique

Although Luis Enrique never worked specifically in tandem with Guardiola, he did succeed his friend and former team-mate when taking charge of Barca B in 2008. That meant Luis Enrique's team fed directly into Guardiola's senior side for three seasons.

"You could see from the start he was special," the City boss once said of the former attacking midfielder, who like Guardiola also won a treble in his debut season in charge of the Barcelona first team after spells at Roma and Celta Vigo. Luis Enrique has since gone on to become Spain coach.

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag had already coached a senior team when he was put in charge of Bayern Munich's second string in June 2013, having led Go Ahead Eagles to a sixth-placed finish in the Eerste Divisie. Despite managing separate teams at the club, Ten Hag and first-team boss Guardiola worked closely. Guardiola said last season: "I was lucky to meet him at Bayern and he was an assistant from the second team. We had a lot of chats."

Ten Hag left Bayern the year before Guardiola and led Utrecht to fifth and fourth in the Eredivisie, earning him a shot at the big time with Ajax. Since his December 2017 appointment, the Dutchman has won a league title and taken Ajax to the Champions League semis last term. A return to Bayern – but this time with the senior side – appears likely.

Domenec Torrent

It is unlikely there is anyone in world football more familiar with Guardiola's work than Torrent. After first teaming up with Barcelona B, the pair worked side by side for 11 years until 2018. "When we started in La Tercera [fourth tier in Spain], I never thought I would be with him so much, but then we won every possible title," Torrent told El Diario earlier this year when he was in charge of New York City FC.

He presided over the MLS side as they won the Eastern Conference this year, before stepping down in November. Although keen to continue his management career, don't rule out a return to Guardiola's side. "If Pep calls me, I will go [to him]," Torrent said in May. "I am grateful and I know that I owe it all to him. If I had not been his assistant, I would not be here. I like being a head coach and I will only stop being one if Pep thinks I can be useful [to him]."

Manchester City's owners have received a $500million cash injection from a United States-based private equity firm.

An agreement has been reached that will see technology investors Silver Lake pay the sum, equivalent to around £390million, to acquire just over 10 per cent of City Football Group (CFG).

The deal values the Abu Dhabi-controlled company at $4.8billion (£3.74billion).

Silver Lake becomes CFG's second major partner, following a Chinese consortium led by China Media Capital that purchased around 12 per cent in December 2015.

According to a statement from CFG, the investment will "fund international business growth opportunities and develop further CFG technology and infrastructure assets".

Group chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: "Silver Lake is a global leader in technology investing, and we are delighted by both the validation that their investment in CFG represents, and the opportunities for further growth that their partnership brings.

"We and Silver Lake share the strong belief in the opportunities being presented by the convergence of entertainment, sports and technology and the resulting ability for CFG to generate long-term growth and new revenue streams globally."

CFG purchased Premier League side City in 2008 and has built the club into English football's dominant force.

Manager Pep Guardiola guided an expensively assembled squad to a second successive top-flight title last term, the club's fourth Premier League trophy success in eight seasons.

CFG also owns or has shares in MLS side New York City, A-League club Melbourne City, Girona in Spain, Uruguayan outfit Club Atletico Torque, J.League leaders Yokohama F. Marinos and China League Two team Sichuan Jiuniu.

Toronto advanced to the Eastern Conference final after stunning top seed New York City 2-1 in the MLS play-offs.

Alejandro Pozuelo's dramatic 90th-minute penalty settled the Conference semi-final at Citi Field in New York on Wednesday.

New York's Ismael Tajouri-Shradi cancelled out Pozuelo's 47th-minute opener in the Big Apple, however, visiting Toronto had the final say after the 69th-minute equaliser.

Richie Laryea was brought down by Ronald Matarrita and Pozuelo stepped up to score the Panenka penalty midweek.

Toronto – MLS champions in 2017 – will contest their third Conference final in the last four seasons as titleholders Atlanta United or Philadelphia Union await in the next round.

Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 en route to the Western Conference final.

Following a goalless opening half, Gustav Svensson and Nicolas Lodeiro sent the Sounders through to play the winner of the El Trafico derby between Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy.

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