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Africa Cup of Nations live streaming schedule on beIN Sports

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Friday, 11 a.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

You’ve already read about the MLS players in the Africa Cup of Nations. There’s also one from the second-tier USL Championship. Alexis Souahy, a 26-year-old from New Mexico United, is a reserve defender on Comoros’ squad as the nation plays in the tournament for the first time since becoming a FIFA member in 2005.

Friday 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Freiburg has been one of the best surprises this season not just in the Bundesliga, but all of Europe. One of Germany’s smallest teams is in fourth place in the standings over halfway through the season. Can they keep it up? A trip to one of the country’s giants will be a big measuring stick.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend’s Bundesliga schedule

Saturday, 7:30 a.m. (Peacock)

City’s lead atop the Premier League table is 10 points over second-place Chelsea. If the home team wins here, the title race will be all but over with nearly half the season left.

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (NBC10, Universo)

If you’re a fan of football and fútbol, you might not be changing the channel after this game kicks off. After the final whistle, NBC will have a half-hour postgame show, then go straight into pregame coverage for the 4:30 p.m. Raiders-Bengals NFL playoff game.

And if you’re a fan of soccer star power, Villa-United will have it. Philippe Coutinho could debut for the home team after coming in on loan from Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to be across the field.

Saturday, 2 p.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

Egypt lost its tournament opener 1-0 to Nigeria, making this game a must-win for Mo Salah and company.

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

The Copa Del Rey’s round of 16 kicks off this weekend, with all eight games on ESPN+ spread from Saturday through Wednesday.

The best underdog story is third-tier Atlético Baleares hosting Yunus Musah’s Valencia, but it’s Sunday at 6 a.m. and you’re excused from waking up that early. So let’s go with one of Spain’s most fun rivalries instead, the Seville derby.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend’s Copa del Rey schedule

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. (Peacock)

In terms of standings ramifications, the latest North London derby is the Premier League’s biggest game of the weekend. Arsenal is in fifth place, two points back of fourth-place West Ham and two points ahead of sixth-place Tottenham. But Spurs have two games in hand because of COVID-19-related postponements. An Arsenal win on the road would be a statement; a Tottenham win would put the home team in the driver’s seat.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend’s Premier League schedule

Sunday, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+)

Both Spanish SuperCup finals were entertaining. Real Madrid beat Barcelona 3-2 in extra time, in a game that showed off Real’s counter-attacking prowess and Barcelona’s attacking strength. Athletic beat Atlético Madrid 2-1 with a late comeback. Real will be favored because Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior are in scorching form, but Athletic has a long history of winning cup finals.

Sunday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)

Here’s the game of the weekend in Serie A. Inter’s lead atop the standings is one point over AC Milan, plus a game in hand. Atalanta is in fourth, and could jump up to third with a win and some help.

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend’s Serie A schedule

Sunday, 6 p.m. (Univision, TUDN)

Chivas kicked off its new season with a 3-0 win over Mazatlán, which put a charge into one of Mexico’s biggest fan bases. But Mazatlán isn’t very good. This will be a tougher test for a Chivas squad that has a trio of young players with big potential: midfielders Jesús Angulo (age 24) and wingers Alexis Vega (24) and Roberto Alvarado (23).

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend’s Liga MX schedule

Monday, 11 a.m. (beIN Sports Xtra)

Why could an Africa Cup of Nations group stage game be one of the biggest Union games ever? Because never in the team’s 13-year history have two Union players played against each other in a major national team tournament. This could be the first, if Jamiro Monteiro plays for Cape Verde and Olivier Mbaizo plays for Cameroon.

But “could” is a big word here, unfortunately. Mbaizo hasn’t played in either of Cameroon’s tournament games yet, despite starting four of the Indomitable Lions’ six World Cup qualifiers last fall. He was on the bench for Thursday’s 4-1 rout of Ethiopia, and watched the player starting in his place, Collins Fai, set up two goals.

Monteiro has started both of Cape Verde’s games so far, and has been one of the Blue Sharks’ better players. But the team has been subpar overall, and was upended by Burkina Faso 1-0 on Thursday. So Cape Verde likely has to get a result in this game to advance.

Now, what about the Union’s history books? If you’re trying to remember when Andre Blake played against Alejandro Bedoya in a Gold Cup, it never happened. Nor did any of the Union’s other players from Concacaf nations — remember Keon Daniel, Carlos Ruiz and Gabriel Gómez — ever play against those two, or any other Union player, in a Gold Cup while with the club.

In fact, the closest any Union players have come to facing each other in a Gold Cup was the 2017 final, when Chris Pontius was on the U.S. bench and Blake started for Jamaica. Bedoya was on the U.S. squad in the group stage, but left the team after that thanks to a Concacaf rule back then which allowed for roster changes before the knockout rounds.

You have to dig deep in the archives to find any games other than friendlies in which Union players played against each other for their countries. But go far enough and you’ll find one: a 2016 Concacaf Caribbean Cup qualifier in which Warren Creavalle started for Guyana hosting Blake’s Jamaica. (Jamaica won, 4-2.)

» READ MORE: The rest of this weekend’s Africa Cup of Nations schedule



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VfL Wolfsburg swoops for D.C. United homegrown star Kevin Paredes

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D.C. United homegrown Kevin Paredes is making the big move, with VfL Wolfsburg swooping in to bring the Virginia native to the Bundesliga. Terms were not reported by either club, but The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer has reported the German side is putting up $7.35 million in their initial transfer fee, with United getting an additional $500,000 if Paredes meets certain benchmarks relating to appearance totals. The Black-and-Red would also be due 10% of any transfer fee Wolfsburg brings in by selling Paredes’ rights in the future.

“We couldn’t be prouder and happier for Kevin to follow his dreams to compete in a great league like the German Bundesliga,” said Dave Kasper, United’s President of Soccer Operations, in a team press release. “Kevin’s rapid rise from our Academy to a first team starter is a testament to his desire, talent, and commitment, as well as a lot of hard work and support from our great coaches and staff at the club. All of us at the club wish Kevin a very long and successful professional career.”

“We are extremely proud of Kevin and the work that he has done to earn his opportunity to play at the highest level in Europe,” said United GM Lucy Rushton. “As a Homegrown, this transfer reflects the commitment and investment our ownership have made in our Academy infrastructure to prepare Kevin to fulfill his lifelong dream. We want to thank him for representing the club with so much pride and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter in the top flight of European soccer.”

Paredes, 18, made his debut in professional soccer with Loudoun United late in the 2019 USL Championship season, and his rise since then has been remarkable. D.C. United offered him a homegrown contract that winter, and while the MLS season was disrupted by Covid-19, a series of injuries and struggles as a club opened the door for Paredes to show what he could do. After making his debut in the MLS is Back Tournament that summer, Paredes used the next couple of months to assert himself as not just a promising youngster, but a player who was going to be a factor every week.

In 2021, under Hernán Losada, Paredes was first-choice whenever healthy, thriving as the team’s left wingback and quickly becoming a fan favorite thanks to his dribbling ability and high-energy style of play. In the end, Paredes made 41 appearances (28 starts) in his two seasons with United.

United will be able to convert $1.05 million of the fee into General Allocation Money (GAM), which they have stockpiled of late. Paredes’ departure comes two days after United made an MLS-record GAM trade, sending Paul Arriola to FC Dallas in a deal possibly worth up to $2.3 million. However, the club has also moved plenty of GAM in the meantime, sending $750,000 to the Seattle Sounders to acquire Brad Smith — very likely the player who will step into Paredes’ shoes on the left — just yesterday.

It’s been a furious remodel for United lately, who have also announced that they’ve signed Designated Player Taxiarchis Fountas on a pre-contract from Rapid Vienna, and have been strongly linked to a loan move for Toluca and Ecuador striker Michael Estrada.

The news of Paredes moving to Wolfsburg serves on one hand as an example to promising young players that United is capable of bringing a talent along quickly. Paredes went from academy program, to Loudoun, to starting at Audi Field, to the Bundesliga in very little time. Despite a record of giving more minutes to homegrown players than the majority of MLS clubs, United has to some extent had a reputation in youth soccer circles that was not favorable.

The club’s Pathway to Pro program was enacted to help change that, and between teenagers like Paredes, Moses Nyeman, and Griffin Yow getting first-team minutes, and Ryan Martin fielding one of the younger teams in the USL Championship over the last two seasons, there is a clear emphasis on shifting that perception. Paredes moving to the Bundesliga at 18 years old will go a long way on that front.

On the other hand, United’s hopes on the field take a hit with the move. Paredes, along with Andy Najar and Julian Gressel, were the players in 2022 that had to be at their best for United to hit top gear. Losing Paredes’ dribbling ability on the left, even with an experienced and respected replacement already in place, will be an obstacle for Losada and co. on the field this season.





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Report: Toronto FC sign Carlos Salcedo from Tigres UANL as Yeferson Soteldo departs

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The move would give Toronto a backline anchor, with Salcedo’s résumé also including stints in Europe at Fiorentina (Italian Serie A) and Eintracht Frankfurt (German Bundesliga). He originally turned pro in 2013 with Real Salt Lake and has been capped 48 times by Mexico.

Last year, Soteldo had three goals and 10 assists in 24 games (19 starts) for Toronto. He’s been rumored to exit after the Reds finished second-from-bottom in the Eastern Conference last year.

It’s the latest development in Toronto’s DP situation, with striker Jozy Altidore also suspected to depart, possibly via a contract buyout. Alejandro Pozuelo, the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, projects as a key playmaker under Bradley.

Should the Salcedo/Soteldo swap be completed, Toronto would still need to shed another DP before Insigne arrives in the summer from Napoli. Club president Bill Manning, speaking after signing the Italian national team forward to a long-term deal, has assured that won’t be an issue.





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Philadelphia Union club-record deal for Mikael Uhre yet another sign of growth

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The fee clocks in at $2.8 million, a modest amount for a leading center forward. It is a fraction of what Aaronson (likely $9 million after incentives, plus more coming soon with a healthy sell-on clause) and McKenzie ($6 million) were moved for. It would not be a club record for many other teams across MLS, but it still represents another progression for a club continuing to reach new heights.

“First and foremost, it’s about the quality of the player,” Tanner said of the club-record fee. “We are continuously spending, that is not a problem. We are spending very well and very efficient, this is a pathway we will never get away from. This is the culture we’ve established and it’s proven successful. The question is about what we’re going to achieve in the future, the goals get higher and higher.”

Uhre, 27, is coming off a career year and his first cap for Denmark. The center forward won the Danish Superliga Golden Boot last season and was named the league’s Player of the Year. Even at a club-record fee, most view it as an incredibly fair price, if not an outright bargain, for a club that’s specialized in identifying undervalued talent.

“The pressure is not on him,” Curtin said. “We recruited him and wanted him for a reason. It’s our job, the coaching staff and players, to make it easy for him. He just needs to be himself and over time, things will take care of themselves.”





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