North America

+ Steven Goff’s open letter to Phil Anschutz.

+ Jeff Carlisle: MLS labour stoppage looms as CBA talks stall.

+ The union for Major League Soccer players accused management of failing to bargain seriously and wouldn’t say whether it will play under the terms of its expired labour contract.

+ MLS President Mark Abbott said that the players’ assertion that the league had shown little if any inclination to compromise was ridiculous.

+ Marcus Haber has been loaned out from Championship side West Bromwich Albion to League One side Exeter.

+ The weighted lottery for the MLS rights to 17-year old star Luis Gil will be held today.

+ Jamaican striker Devon Hodges is on the verge of signing a long-term contract with the Colorado Rapids.

+ Jose De Jesus Ortiz: Dynamo look for depth at forward spots.

+ Armenian youth international Artur Aghasyan is impressing at Chivas USA camp.

+ The Wizards are reportedly after Ghanaian midfielder, Anthony Obodai. (27-year old veteran of the Dutch league)

+ The Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy played to a scoreless tie in Tempe, Arizona yesterday.

+ Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque scored first-half goals within a 12-minute span, giving the Seattle Sounders FC a 2-0 win over Norway’s Stabaek IF in the second round of the La Manga Cup II on Sunday afternoon in La Manga, Spain.



+ All of the weekend EPL highlights can be found here and here.

+ Manchester United and Liverpool fans could launch an incredible joint protest against their American owners. Supporters from the arch rivals are rumoured to be plotting an ‘unholy alliance’ when they collide at Old Trafford next month.

+ Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic could be back to bolster Manchester United’s Premier League title challenge against West Ham tomorrow.  

+ Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini last night expressed his ­growing frustration about Carlos Tevez’s self‑imposed absence from the team, abandoning the sympathy that he had ­previously shown towards the club’s leading scorer to suggest that he is running out of patience.

+ Daniel Taylor: Roberto Mancini finds it hard to forge long-term relationship at City.

+ Portsmouth’s owner, Balram Chainrai, has vowed to save the 112-year-old club and is prepared to use money from his family’s trust fund to do so should a new buyer or fresh investment not be found.

+ Sulaiman Al Fahim has resigned as Portsmouth’s non-executive chairman and he is prepared to give away his 10 per cent stake in the beleaguered club to their supporters.

+ Portsmouth’s wage bill for the current season is more than £50m (good lord!!!), Observer Sport has learned. If they are to remain a going concern they must find a crippling £4.3m a month to pay it, until May at the earliest.

+ Patrick Barclay: Should the Premier League introduce limits for the level of club debts?

+ Ashley Cole is at the centre of a new row over creeping privacy laws after it emerged he used a Chelsea club executive to cover up one of his alleged affairs.

+ Roman Abramovich’s disgust at the ­constant drip feed of lurid allegations about his Chelsea players’ private lives prompted him to have his squad ­summoned this week and warned that any further controversies that tarnish the club’s reputation will not be tolerated.

+ Chelsea have offered the naming rights to Stamford Bridge to Brazilian oil company Petrobras.

+ Graham Poll: It’s about time Arsene Wenger took his red-tinted spectacles off.

+ David James: I’m probably too honest and open to have PR help.

+ Wayne Rooney’s youngest brother John is to train with Derby County this week in the hope of securing a move from Macclesfield.

+ Sam Wallace: In the autobiography of Paul Canoville, who suffered horrendous racial abuse as Chelsea’s first black footballer, there is a remarkable subplot about one of the few people at the time who stood up and publicly condemned those at Stamford Bridge who abused him. That person was Pat Nevin. (Nevin is easily one of the coolest footballers ever)



+ A Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Real Madrid answered their critics following their midweek Champions League defeat at Lyon and eased some of the pressure on coach Manuel Pellegrini with a thumping 6-2 victory over Villarreal.

+ Real Madrid would have to pay up to €7.5m (£6.5m) to hire Jose Mourinho as their head coach for next season. The Spanish giants are believed to be ready to consider meeting the multimillion-euro get-out clause that would release Mourinho from his five-year deal at Inter.

+ Thierry Henry was on target as Barcelona cruised to a 4-0 home win over Racing Santander.

+ Athletic Bilbao have identified and barred a supporter who urinated on visiting Anderlecht fans during the Europa League match at San Mames



+ Nine-man Inter Milan held Sampdoria to a 0-0 draw Saturday.

+ Italian referees have had enough of Jose Mourinho’s antics and are reportedly ready to go on strike if the Inter Milan boss is not severely punished.

+ Jose Mourinho has stoked the fire ahead of their Champions League clash with Chelsea by claiming a ‘strong’ team would not have dropped the points the Blues have this season.

+ Simon Kuper: Wesley Sneijder – A smurf with boundless belief.

+ Roma reinvigorated the Serie A title race by beating Catania 1-0 on Sunday and cutting the gap with leaders Inter Milan to five points.

+ Udinese have parted company with coach Gianni De Biasi and placed Pasquale Marino back in charge just two months after he left the post.

+ Paolo Bandini:  Edy Reja’s open-door policy buys him time at Lazio.



+ Bayer Leverkusen extended their unbeaten run to 23 games this season with a 2-2 draw away to Werder Bremen.

+ Bayern München missed out on a tenth straight league win and with it a slice of Bundesliga history, as they were held 1-1 at Franconian rivals 1. FC Nürnberg.

+ Cacau scored four times in Stuttgart’s 5-1 win at FC Koln.

+ Raphael Honigstein: Laughable Lukas Podolski finding nothing to boast about at comedy Köln.



+ A first-half hat-trick from Michel Bastos set Lyon on their way to a convincing win at Sochaux that put the seal on a memorable week for Claude Puel’s men. Lisandro Lopez’s late effort wrapped up a 4-0 victory for OL at the Stade Bonal.

+ Mamadou Niang single-handedly blew away Nancy at the Stade Vélodrome, the Senegalese striker scoring a hat-trick as OM won 3-1 to move to within six points of top spot.



+ Benfica went top of the Liga Sagres as they crushed Braga 5-1 in Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash.

The rest of the goals can be seen here.

+ Porto will appeal Hulk’s four-month ban from the Portuguese league for his part in a post-match brawl in December.



+ Rangers keeper Allan McGregor is a shock fitness doubt for Sunday’s Old Firm showdown at Ibrox — after being headbutted in Glasgow city centre.


Republic of Ireland

+ Giovanni Trapattoni has moved to end the speculation over James McCarthy’s international future by calling up the Wigan Athletic midfielder for Republic of Ireland’s friendly international against Brazil next week.



+ Rubin Kazan has taken advantage of the late Russian transfer window, finalizing a move for 22-year-old Celta de Vigo defender Jordi.



+ Switzerland’s record scorer Alexander Frei will be out of action for up to 10 weeks after breaking his arm in a league game, his club FC Basel said on Sunday.



+ New York Times: At 20, Simon Kjaer prepares for the biggest stage.



+ The remarkable story of ex-Viking goalkeeper Thomas Myhre, who claims he was drugged and robbed the night before he showed up 20 minutes later to a team meeting, an incident that lead to his club cancelling his contract.



+ Robinho claims he rejected the chance to move to Barcelona in order to return to Santos.

+ Cruzeiro midfielder Roger celebrated his return to Brazil from a stint in Qatar with a killer goal celebration.


Salvador Cabanas

+ Bullet can’t dent Salvador Cabañas’s World Cup hopes for Paraguay.



+ Yokohama F Marinos president Akira Kaetsu is confident the club will complete the signing of midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura from Espanyol before the start of the 2010 J-League season.’



+ The Observer: Forever young — Nigerian football’s age-old problem. (Taribo West in his last fifties????? Wow.)