New York City earned an important win for their season on Sunday, defeating local rivals New York RB to claim the Hudson River Derby on Sunday.

With City and NYRB second and third respectively in the Eastern Conference coming into Sunday's match, the stakes were higher than usual and it reflected in the fine margins the game was played within.

It was fitting the winning goal also reflected that, with NYRB defender Sean Nealis caught square for just a fraction of a second in the 69th minute, as the game grew increasingly tense.

That lapse was enough for Santiago Rodriguez to perfectly weigh a pass over his head for Valentin Castellanos, who ran onto it off his blind side, before finishing first-time past the approaching Carlos Coronel for his MLS-leading 13th goal of the season.

City restored their one-point deficit to the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union with the win, while opening up a critical five-point gap to NYRB in third.

Elsewhere in the East, Atlanta United and Orlando City could only manage a 1-1 draw, while Columbus Crew took full advantage, moving to sixth win a 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati.

Meanwhile in the Western Conference, Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale made their debuts for Los Angeles FC as they reclaimed top spot with a 2-1 win over Nashville SC.

Chiellini started while Bale came off the bench but by then, LAFC had already reclaimed the lead via Jose Cifuentes, after Hany Mukhtar cancelled out Cristian Arango's opening goal.

Real Salt Lake took full advantage, moving back into third in the West with a 3-0 win over Sporting KC, while Houston Dynamo claimed a 2-1 victory over the SJ Earthquakes.

In Sunday's final game, the traditional rivals from the NASL and USL in the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers played out a 1-1 draw.

The Philadelphia Union extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference in the MLS, defeating the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday.

The best defence in the MLS had to chase the result this time after Gustavo Bou's well-taken opener for the Revolution in the 61st minute, with goals from Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag handing the Union the three points.

The Union still created little from open play but they were gifted goals to turn the result around via the dead ball. Uhre equalized in the 75th minute, heading into what was effectively an open goal after Revolution keeper Djordje Petrovic failed to claimed the ball after coming off his line at a corner.

Gazdag then scored the eventual winner in the 79th minute, converting from the penalty spot after he was clumsily shoved by Henry Kessler.

Jim Curtin's side moved to 39 points, building a four-point lead from New York City, whose derby against New York RB on Sunday is one of two games they have in hand.

CF Montreal also moved to outright fourth in the East on Saturday, with Lukas McNaughton's own-goal handing them a 1-0 win over Toronto FC.

Chad Ahston momentarily remains in charge of D.C. United until Wayne's Rooney's work visa is finalized and Minnesota United took full advantage, earning a 2-0 win at home.

The Chicago Fire claimed an upset 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, while Emerson Rodriguez's 93rd-minute goal gave Inter Miami a 3-2 victory over Charlotte FC.

Gonzalo Higuain bagged his second goal of the week for Inter, scoring the equaliser after Yordy Reina's first-half brace gave Charlotte a 2-0 load.

In the Western Conference meanwhile, Austin FC claimed the Copa Tejas with a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas, but now only hold a two-point lead over Los Angeles FC, who have two games in hand.

The race for the last playoff spot in the conference tightened up, with the Colorado Rapids defeating Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0.

Along with the Sounders' loss, only three points now separate the seventh-placed Galaxy from the Rapids, moved to 11th with the win.

Federico Bernardeschi was hailed by Toronto FC as "exactly what we need right now" as the Canadian outfit completed the signing of the former Juventus winger.

The Italy international, who left the Bianconeri as a free agent when his contract expired last month, has secured a four-year deal with the MLS franchise.

Bernardeschi is the third Italian to join Toronto during this window, with Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Criscito also arriving in Ontario.

The three-time Serie A title winner brings plenty of experience to the Reds' ranks, having also racked up 182 appearances for Juventus across all competitions, scoring 12 goals while providing 20 assists.

The 28-year-old winger has also earned 39 senior international caps and was part of Italy's Euro 2020-winning squad, scoring his spot-kick as the Azzurri beat England on penalties in the final.

"Having met with Federico a couple of weeks ago, we think he's a great fit for what we're trying to build here at TFC, and look forward to getting him on the field," said Toronto head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley.

Club president Bill Manning added: "We are thrilled to add Federico to our team. As a player and a person, we believe he's exactly what we need right now, both on the field and in the locker room.

"Federico has proven himself to be a champion and a leader at Juventus and for the Italian national team, and brings a pedigree to Toronto that's second to none."

Toronto are 13th in the Eastern Conference and aiming to end a four-game winless run when they travel to Montreal on Sunday.

Darren Eales has switched Atlanta United for Newcastle United to join as chief executive officer as the Magpies continue to assemble their boardroom staff.

Newcastle managed to convince Dan Ashworth to leave Brighton and Hove Albion to become their sporting director in May, seven months after their controversial Saudi-backed takeover.

Ashworth will now be joined by Eales, who he worked alongside at West Brom between 2006 and 2010, with the 49-year-old leaving MLS side Atlanta, where he was president and chief executive officer (CEO).

Eales heads to Tyneside with sizeable boardroom experience, having been named the MLS Executive of the Year on two occasions and the World Football Summit Executive of the Year in 2019.

"Newcastle United is both a giant of a club, and the heartbeat of its community," said Eales, who also has administrative experience with Tottenham. 

"Every time I have visited St. James' Park, I've been overwhelmed by the passion of the fans.

"This is a club with an amazingly rich heritage, and I am delighted to be joining for this new chapter in its long history.

"I am grateful for the opportunity, and look forward to working with the rest of the team to help this storied club fulfil its potential."

Eales also has previous history with Newcastle, having sold Miguel Almiron to the Premier League side after the forward helped Atlanta become MLS Cup winners in 2018.

"We are delighted to announce Darren Eales as the club's new CEO," Newcastle's investment group added. "He is an exceptional leader and is a great fit for Newcastle United.

"We have conducted an exhaustive recruitment process to ensure we identified and secured the right individual for the CEO position, and we are confident we have found that person in Darren.

"He has a deep understanding of the football industry and what it takes to achieve growth and success, and he will be a key member of the club's leadership team as we look to deliver on the club's potential on and off the pitch."

Philadelphia Union maintained top spot in the Eastern Conference in the MLS, securing a 2-1 win away to Inter Miami on Wednesday.

Goals to Daniel Gazdag and Cory Burke handed the Union the three points to put them on 36 for the season, leading the Eastern Conference by a solitary point.

Gazdag's penalty in the 26th minute was critical, because from there the Union could absorb pressure, and the best defence in the MLS were able to grind out another win.

With only 35.7 per cent possession in the second half, their job was simpler after Burke doubled the margin in the 66th minute, heading in Kai Wagner's dead ball at the back post.

In only his second start since Inter's 3-1 loss to Houston Dynamo in April, Gonzalo Higuain bagged his third goal of the season – smashing the ball into the top corner from distance on the run, and on his opposite left foot – but it was mere consolation in the 82nd minute.

New York City remain hot on their heels, however, maintaining the one-point gap in the Eastern Conference after claiming a tough 1-0 win away to FC Dallas.

Heber was left with a simple tap-in in the 29th minute after Santiago Rodriguez was able to drive into space from the second ball, and he coolly finished for the eventual three points.

Elsewhere in the East, a Jhon Duran brace handed Chicago Fire a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC, while D.C. United twice equalised in the final 10 minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Columbus Crew.

Cincinnati and Orlando City dropped critical points in the playoff race with respective draws to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids, while a Ronaldo Cisneros brace gave Atlanta United a big 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, putting them three points behind seventh-placed Charlotte.

Most of the chasing pack in the Western Conference were not able to capitalise on Dallas and RSL's slip-ups, with Minnesota United playing out a 1-1 draw with Sporting KC, while the San Jose Earthquakes scored a 3-2 win away to Los Angeles Galaxy.

Nashville SC did capitalise and moved to third in the West though, claiming a 1-0 win at home to the in-form Seattle Sounders.

Hany Mukhtar scored the eventual winner in the 44th minute with the interval beckoning, scoring in transition after Randall Leal snatched the ball and released CJ Sapong.

New D.C. United coach Wayne Rooney hailed Luis Suarez as "incredible" but insists he will only sign "players who are hungry".

Manchester United and England great Rooney left Derby County in June, having overseen a difficult period for the club during his first job as a manager.

Everton were previously linked with their former academy product, but the 36-year-old opted to return to old club D.C. in MLS, where he played in 2018 and 2019.

D.C have been linked with a plethora of potential signings after their big-name appointment, with former Liverpool and Barcelona forward Suarez among those.

Suarez is a free agent after ending a two-season stay at Atletico Madrid, where he won the LaLiga title in the 2020-21 campaign, and reportedly wants to build-up his fitness for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

While Rooney refused to rule out a move for the striker, he suggested he is searching for a specific identity of player that Suarez may not fit.

"I respect Luis Suarez a lot," said Rooney. "I think as a player, he's an incredible player.

"I want players who are hungry, I want players to come to this club to be hungry and want to play for this club but also have a lot to give and are capable of playing every game, training every training session.

"We're working extremely hard to identify the right profile of players we're trying to bring in."

Rooney will take his first game in charge of D.C., who are 13th in the Eastern Conference after just five wins in 17 games, when Columbus Crew visit on Thursday.

Austin FC claimed their fourth consecutive win in the MLS and top spot in the Western Conference, defeating cross-state rivals Houston Dynamo 3-1 on Tuesday.

Second-half goals from Maximiliano Urruti and Alexander Ring handed the three points to Josh Wolff's side, who now momentarily sit atop the West on 40 points, a point ahead of Los Angeles FC who have a game in hand.

High-profile signing Hector Herrera was unable to inspire another second-half fightback for the Dynamo in his starting debut, after coming on as a substitute in their 2-2 draw against FC Dallas in Saturday's Texas derby.

With the score locked at 1-1, Urruti broke the tight game open in the 57th minute, finely curling the ball around Steve Clark first time after a quick regain of possession.

Ring secured the win with a lovely team move in the 70th minute, with the midfielder attacking the penalty area to meet Ethan Finlay's cross after Austin played their way out from a goal-kick.

Austin now have the chance to take the Copa Tejas if they defeat the Toros on Saturday, with competition for the trophy coinciding with their introduction to the MLS in 2021.

Wayne Rooney hit out at criticism of his move to the United States, after he was announced as D.C. United's new head coach on Tuesday.

Rooney had previously played for United in 2018 and 2019 before leaving the franchise to join Derby County as a player coach in the Championship.

The 36-year-old kept Derby up after taking over from Phillip Cocu as permanent manager in January 2021 but relegation still loomed, remarkably finishing seven points from safety after a 21-point deduction at the start of last season.

Rooney believes coming back to the MLS to coach is not a backward step, but moreover, that his time at Derby County prepared him for this role.

"I've seen a few articles, certainly back in England, on this being a possible backward step in my managerial career," he said.

"I really find that a bit disrespectful to this league. I feel the experience I've gained at Derby County over the past 18 months has been great for my development as a coach, as a manager.

"To come here back to the MLS, back to D.C. United, was an exciting challenge for me - something which I feel can develop me as a coach."

United face an uphill battle to make the MLS playoffs, sitting nine points from seventh-placed FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference, despite two games in hand.

The four-time MLS Cup winners have been without a head coach since April and interim Chad Ashton's tenure reached a nadir last weekend, following a 7-0 defeat to Philadelphia Union.

Ashton will remain in charge until Rooney receives his work visa, but Rooney believes he is more than suited for the task at hand.

"The team need to improve, I think that's obvious for everyone to see," he said. "I really think with my capabilities of developing young players - of course we're working hard to get a few new players in - we can really get this club to successful ways again.

"I'm an ambitious person. One day I want to manage at the top level, and this is part of that process in terms of coming here and trying to develop this club, trying to get success here, but also develop myself as a manager."

D.C. United have confirmed the appointment of Wayne Rooney as the club's new head coach.

It is a swift return to management for Rooney, who left his post at Championship side Derby County last month.

England and Manchester United's record goalscorer is back with the MLS franchise, for whom he played in 2018 and 2019; netting 23 times in 48 games across all competitions.

Although unable to keep Derby in the Championship - largely due to a 21-point deduction at the start of the season after breaching financial regulations - Rooney received widespread praise for his efforts during a difficult campaign at Pride Park.

Now set for his second managerial spell in quick succession, the 36-year-old will replace interim head coach Chad Ashton upon receiving his work visa.

"Wayne is a soccer legend and one of the most exciting and dynamic up-and-coming managers in our sport," said D.C. co-chairmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan in a joint statement.

"He's already proven in his young coaching career that he knows how to lead a group through adversity. He has an understanding of our league and what it takes to be successful in Major League Soccer thanks to his two-year stay with us as a player.

"The passion he showed while wearing black and red electrified our city and our club, and we are so excited to welcome him back as our head coach."

Gareth Bale's new Los Angeles FC team-mate Jose Cifuentes has explained why he decided to hand over his squad number to Major League Soccer's latest star import.

Bale signed for LAFC in June after leaving Real Madrid on the expiration of his contract.

The Welsh winger, who turns 33 this week, has signed a one-year deal with the MLS team, though that deal can be extended through to 2024.

With a World Cup campaign with Wales on the horizon in Qatar, Bale has the chance to stay at the top of his game in California, and he will be able to do so while wearing his preferred shirt number – 11.

Bale has worn the number 11 for his country for over a decade, while he also wore it in his last season at Tottenham in 2013-14, and his first seven campaigns with Madrid.

With the number occupied by Erik Lamela when Bale returned to Spurs on loan in 2020, the forward took number nine, while he was given the number 18 last season for Los Blancos.

However, even though Cifuentes was already wearing 11 for LAFC, he was happy to hand it over to Bale.

Writing on his official Instagram account, Cifuentes said: "[Number] 11 has accompanied my career at LAFC from the beginning and although it is special and has an important meaning, I have decided to give it to Gareth, who has used that number much longer than me.

"My interest is to contribute so that my team-mates, the club and the fans feel supported by me and with this gesture I want to demonstrate that.

"Let's stay together because we need each other to achieve the goals."

Cifuentes scored twice in LAFC's last game, a 3-2 derby win over LA Galaxy, with only Carlos Vela and Cristian Arango having managed more MLS goals than the midfielder among his team-mates so far in 2022.

Bale's MLS debut is likely to come against Nashville later this week.

Gareth Bale insisted Major League Soccer is "not a retirement league", and he hopes his move to Los Angeles FC will allow him to stay in contention for Wales at least until Euro 2024.

While his initial deal with LAFC is only a one-year agreement, it could be extended through to 2024, when Wales will be hoping to compete in the European Championship.

Bale left Real Madrid at the end of June after his contract was allowed to expire, with the forward – who was once the most expensive player of all time – enduring a difficult final few years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His attitude and commitment to Madrid were often called into question by supporters, who routinely voiced their frustration towards him in recent years.

But Bale has continued to be worshipped by Wales supporters, and he more than played his part in helping them secure qualification to the World Cup for the first time since 1958 earlier this year.

Keeping himself fit ahead of Qatar 2022 is undoubtedly a key reason for the move to MLS, although Bale was eager to stress how he sees the potential for a long-term future in the United States.

While MLS has garnered a reputation for being a league where high-profile European players go to retire, Bale is adamant that is no longer the case.

"Like I said, this is a league that's really grown, that's come a long way in the last 10 years," he told reporters at his official presentation on Monday.

"Everyone's striving to improve the league, the players who come over see that as well. I don't think anyone sees it now as a retirement league, it's really a league that's physical, demanding; the weather changes are difficult, the travel is difficult.

"But it's exciting, and to play football in front of fans like these is what you play football for."

Bale's new club were only founded in 2014, debuting in MLS in 2018, but have since gone on to make a real impression on the sport in North America, even reaching the final of the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

Many were surprised by Bale's decision to head for the States given he reportedly had offers from English clubs and boyhood team Cardiff City, but he is convinced the European perception of MLS is outdated.

"I've watched MLS for a long time," he said. "Obviously the time difference makes it difficult, but whenever I could watch I'd try to catch it on the TV.

"The standard is really increasing, it's a lot better than people in Europe really think.

"The quality is improving, the league is improving, the stadiums are improving, the teams are improving.

"It's a league really on the rise. Yes, it's a new club, but it feels like it's been here forever. The job Larry [Freedman] and John [Thorrington, co-presidents] and rest of the team here have done to create such an amazing fanbase so quickly is remarkable.

"It's testament to how well the club is run, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

"To have my first training session today was amazing, the first step in hopefully a long journey."

Finding players of a similar profile to Robert Lewandowski is a difficult enough task, let alone trying to actually replace him.

That is the dilemma Bayern Munich find themselves in with the wantaway striker, however.

But the reigning Bundesliga champions might have identified the player who is closest in skill-set to Lewandowski, should he get his wish and leave for pastures new.

 

TOP STORY – KANE BAYERN'S TOP TARGET

Bayern have identified Harry Kane as the successor to Lewandowski, according to Kicker.

Kane's contract with Tottenham expires in 2024 and the 28-year-old would command a significant transfer fee, but one that would be reportedly attainable for Bayern in the event Lewandowski leaves.

According to the report, Lewandowski hopes Bayern will accept Barcelona's offer for him by Tuesday.

He is set to return for the commencement of pre-season training this week, but the German club seem to be preparing for the 33-year-old's departure. They have already brought in Sadio Mane from Liverpool.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona believe they will be able to sign Bernardo Silva from Manchester City, Mundo Deportivo claim.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge this off-season, the Daily Mail reports.

– Juventus are looking to use the funds from Matthijs de Ligt's sale to pay for Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, per Tuttosport

– Arsenal are in talks to sign Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo after submitting an initial bid, The Express reports.

– Wayne Rooney is set to return to D.C. United to take over as the team's head coach, according to The Athletic.

 

D.C. United will appoint Wayne Rooney as their new head coach, according to reports.

Rooney left Championship club Derby County in June, having overseen a difficult period for the club during his first job as a manager.

Having kept Derby up on the final day of the 2020-21 campaign, Rooney was unable to repeat that feat in the 2021-22 season, in large part due to a 21-point penalty for financial mismanagement by their ownership.

He was the subject of interest from his old club Everton in January, but declined the opportunity to be interviewed for a role subsequently filled by Frank Lampard.

Rooney is now set to take over at Major League Soccer side D.C., where he played in 2018 and 2019 before returning to England to join Derby.

The Athletic's Pablo Iglesias Maurer reported on Sunday that terms between D.C. and Rooney – England and Manchester United's record goalscorer – had been agreed.

Rooney scored 25 goals in all competitions for D.C. after joining from Everton in 2018. He will replace interim coach Chad Ashton, who last weekend apologised for an "embarrassing" 7-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union.

Ashton has been in charge of D.C. since April following Hernan Losada's departure. They sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with just five wins from 17 games in 2022.

High-profile debutant Hector Herrera led an inspired fightback for the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, with his side equalising twice to earn a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas.

After coming from behind and scoring an injury-time winner last time out in the Texas derby, the Toros hit the lead relatively early via captain Matt Hedges in the 27th minute.

Somewhat overshadowing the derby, Mexico international and recent high-profile signing Hector Herrera made his debut for the Dynamo, and it transformed the match.

Herrera moved to his natural position deeper in midfield upon his introduction, and his quick thinking at the dead ball allowed for Thorleifur Ulfarsson's equaliser in the 69th minute.

Jesus Ferreira scored in the 93rd minute for what appeared to be a winner for Dallas, but Teenage Hadebe scored a second equaliser for the Dynamo in the 111th minute, in what was a heated second half.

The Toros have not won in the MLS since May, bringing the LA Galaxy, Minnesota United and Nashville in contention for a home playoff in the Western Conference, despite Real Salt Lake's 2-2 draw against the Colorado Rapids.

Austin FC moved to second spot in the West, meanwhile, earning a 3-0 win over Atlanta United. Sebastian Driussi came off the bench to round out the scoring after a goal and assist from Ethan Finlay in the opening 20 minutes, setting up Felipe Martins.

Portland Timbers were 3-0 winners over the Seattle Sounders, while Charlotte defeated Nashville 4-1. In other inter-conference play, Toronto FC played out a 2-2 draw with the SJ Earthquakes while Sporting KC defeated CF Montreal 2-1. 

New York RB kept top spot in the Eastern Conference, but could only manage a 1-1 draw against a nine-man Cincinnati, following second-half dismissals for Allan Cruz and Luciano Acosta. Elsewhere in the East, Derrick Etienne scored a double off the bench to give Columbus Crew a 3-2 victory.

New York City moved to within a point of their cross-town rivals and Philadelphia Union, with a Valentin Castellanos brace helping them to a 4-2 win over the New England Revolution.

In Saturday's final game, a Damion Lowe own-goal in the 92nd minute handed Orlando City the three points, defeating Inter Miami 1-0..

 

Gareth Bale hailed the "incredible reception" he received after being presented to the Los Angeles FC fans for the first time since his move to the MLS leaders.

The former Real Madrid and Tottenham forward recently joined the MLS franchise on a one-year deal, which could be extended through to 2024, following his departure from Los Blancos.

The Wales international will be hoping for plenty of game time ahead of the World Cup later this year, and what will be the Dragons' first appearance at the finals since 1958.

Bale arrived in California on Friday and received a rapturous reception at the Banc of California Stadium when he was paraded to the supporters ahead of his new side's 'El Trafico' derby against rivals LA Galaxy.

LAFC ran out 3-2 winners and the 32-year-old is excited by the ongoing project at the franchise formed back in 2014.

 

"What an incredible reception I had when I came in," he told ESPN.

"The best prep [for the World Cup] is to play games.

"I want to come here. I want to play games and make my stamp and do as best I can to try and help LAFC win a trophy.

"And I can help with the youngsters because it's a very young team here, give them advice, seeing what I do in terms of professional standard and try to help them.

"The league is a growing league. It was an exciting opportunity I felt was right for me and my family.

"It's very new, but it's something that's really glamorous. It's just a very attractive club."

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