Soccer

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric could be headed to D.C. United , per report

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Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric could be headed to D.C. United , per report

Former D.C. United striker Wayne Rooney returned to England earlier this month, but another European soccer star could be headed to D.C. this summer.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric could be headed to D.C. United as early as the 2020 summer, according to The Athletic.

The two sides met first following the end of United's 2019 season and Modric is very open to the idea of moving stateside, according to the report. 

Modric, 34, is widely considered one of the best midfielders of all-time. Modric led Croatia to the World Cup final in 2018, earning the Golden Ball, given to the best player in the tournament. He won the Ballon d'Or in 2018 as well, given to the best player that year, both club and international.

The midfielder arrived in Spain's capital in 2012 and has been a staple in Real Madrid's lineup since. Modric has scored 15 goals in 214 appearances with Madrid and 16 goals in 127 appearances with Croatia. The 2019-20 season has been the first time Modric hasn't been an every match starter, as he's been splitting time with 21-year-old Fred Valverde. 

Should he join United, Modric would immediately be the team's best player and likely the best player in all of Major League Soccer. Buckle up, folks.

NWSL extends training moratorium until May, targeting a June start

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NWSL

NWSL extends training moratorium until May, targeting a June start

The National Women’s Soccer League is extending its team training moratorium through May 5 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the league announced on Saturday.

Working with its task force, governmental health authorities, and ownership group, the league is targeting late June to start the regular season.

The Washington Spirit were scheduled to kick-off their season on Saturday, April 18 against OL Reign.

Coronavirus and Premier League: 'We're glued to the TV'

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Coronavirus and Premier League: 'We're glued to the TV'

The games will go on in the world's most lucrative and watched soccer league.

That's not to say clubs in the Premier League aren't wary of the fast-spreading new virus that is playing havoc with large sections of the sporting calendar.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said Friday his players are no longer greeting each other with handshakes at the training ground, under medical advice.

Journalists heading to Arsenal for a pre-match news conference with manager Mikel Arteta on Saturday have been told to complete a questionnaire about their recent whereabouts before attending.

Posters have been put up across soccer stadiums and training centers, informing players and fans of the guidance coming from Britain's top health officials.

As it stands, though, the Premier League will go ahead as planned this weekend, saying it will follow advice from the government and not act unilaterally in response to the outbreak.

"We're glued to the TV for where it's going to go next," Bruce said, "and let's hope it doesn't get any worse in this country."

Premier League clubs are following the same medical guidelines as other businesses and venues used by large numbers of people, but there is currently no suggestion that they should be taking extra measures while the virus spreads.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his club was acting like it would if there was an outbreak of flu.

"We take it really seriously but we cannot avoid everything," said Klopp, whose team leads the Premier League by 22 points and plays away to Watford on Saturday. "In the end, nobody tells us that we cannot play football. So as long as that doesn't happen, we will play football."

The latest figures reported by Britain's health authority shows there are 19 cases in the country. In total, 57 countries have been hit by the illness and there has been an inevitable impact on sports.

In soccer, Italy has announced that some matches -- including one between title rivals Juventus and Inter Milan -- will be played in empty stadiums this weekend. Across the border, Switzerland's soccer league has postponed all games in the top two divisions this weekend after a federal order that will see all events involving more than 1,000 people banned until mid-March.

The Spanish league said it has not considered suspending Sunday's "clasico" between Real Madrid and Barcelona but has a contingency plan in place for the outbreak of the virus, including playing matches in empty stadiums.

Javier Tebas, the president of the league, said local officials would ultimately decide whether games can be played, and that the league's first option would be to play them without fans to avoid scheduling problems later in the season. The league does not rule out having games postponed, though.

On Friday, Valencia said players and coaches will not speak in news conferences before or after games because a journalist who covers the club was found to have been infected with the virus after the team's Champions League match against Atalanta in Milan last week.

The club said players also will not speak to reporters after matches, and will not be involved in any other public activity besides the games. It said the measures would keep players and coaches from being at a greater risk of being infected.

Valencia said it was following authorities' recommendations after the disclosure of cases of the virus in Valencia. It said the cancellations would stay in place until further notice.

FIFPro, the world players' union, said Friday it was concerned about the "danger of football acting as a vehicle to spread disease" and was worried for its members.

"Players have contacted our member unions asking for assistance out of fear they could be made to perform in high-risk environments," the union said in a statement, adding it was in talks with stakeholders in the sport to address the rescheduling of international dates, including qualifying matches for 2022 World Cup.

"While we understand the inconvenience this causes worldwide, the COVID-19 outbreak is bigger than football, and we applaud the willingness of competition organisers to take firm action in this delicate period," FIFPro said.

England's authorities, however, are happy to keep monitoring the situation.

There are eight Premier League matches scheduled in England this weekend, as well as the League Cup final between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

City manager Pep Guardiola isn't getting too hung up on the virus.

"We are shaking hands," Guardiola said, when asked if his club was taking any special precautions, "(and) I love to hug.

"Not like Jurgen (Klopp), he is a master of that. But I try."