We start the soccer news with the final four of the first ever UEFA Nations League set for Porto and Guimaraes. Portugal plays Switzerland on Wednesday and the Netherlands vs England is on Thursday with the final set for Sunday at the Estadio do Dragao.
The competition might feel like an after thought just days following the Champions League final, with the quick switch from club to country. That is creating issues for England, with the players from the four Premier League teams involved in the Champions League and Europa League finals reporting just days before the Netherlands game. 7 of England's 23-man squad come from Liverpool and Spurs. Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum also play for Liverpool. Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka plays for Arsenal and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri for Liverpool. This gives Portugal the roster advantage to go along with home field, though like so many things with this tournament it's an open question if that will matter.
It's certainly worth considering what this would've looked like had the favorites advanced in UEFA's club tournaments as well as the Nations League. The bulk of the Nations League squads might have been playing last Wednesday and Saturday. As it stands, the Premier League taking all four finalist spots puts undue strain on England days later in the Nations League semifinals.
Why this seemed like a good idea at any point in time is certainly worth asking. Complaining about the schedule and the push/pull between club and country is nothing new. The clubs want less international dates. The national team coaches would prefer more time with their players. Confederations seem convinced what matters is turning international friendlies into games that count. All involved will occasionally acknowledge the potential strain on players to meet all of these obligations.
FIFA backed off of its plan for a global Nations League to cap the confederation tournaments. That's likely in part due to push back from UEFA even if it was FIFA president Gianni Infantino who helped come up with the concept when he was working for Europe's governing body. It's also in part the realization that Concacaf is the only other confederation to sign on to the Nations League model.
The Concacaf version of the Nations League began last September with qualifying for the bulk of the region, picking up again this September with the group stage. Across the region, the Nations League will take all of the Fall international windows though the USMNT will only play Nations League games in October and November. Concacaf's version of the final four happens in the March window, with Concacaf yet to announce the exact dates for the semifinals. What we do know is Concacaf isn't following UEFA's example and holding a 3rd-place game.
Moving on, Toronto FC officially announced the addition of USMNT defender Omar Gonzalez who finished the 2019 Liga MX Clausura with Atlas. Gonzalez will join the club in July.
"Adding Omar will improve our team," Toronto GM Ali Curtis said. "He is a great competitor that will approach every training session and match with a high level of intensity. He’ll also be able to add a greater presence in the air for us, both offensively and defensively. And, while he has won numerous trophies during his career on the club and international level, he is hungry to be part of championship team in Toronto."
ESPN's Jeff Carlisle interviews Zack Steffen about leaving Columbus for Manchester City. Yahoo Sports' Leander Schaerlaeckens talks to Frank de Boer about Atlanta United's turnaround. Goal's Jon Arnold on Mexico's reshuffle following the injury to Hirving Lozano. Inside World Football's Paul Nicholson with the state of Concacaf as the confederation meets in Paris prior to the FIFA Congress.
El Mundo reports on match-fixing allegations directed at Real Valladolid.
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