Ashley Cole talks up bright future for MLS as he eyes Chelsea return

Chelsea legend Ashley Cole believes Major League Soccer is heading in the right direction. The former Blue talked up the league but is looking ahead to a Chelsea return, as a coach or scout.

Cole told FourFourTwo that MLS has a promising future and he’s enjoying his stateside career. Although he admits that life is tougher as an older player.

Ashley Cole – ‘It will be a very big league’

“The league is definitely growing,” he said. “MLS is demanding. You have to travel a lot, which is the main problem for older guys.

“You’re on the plane for five to seven hours and it’s not easy. But the younger guys are learning from the marquee players. In five or six years it will be a very big league.”

Photo of Ashley Cole by Ashley Marshall – MLSGB

The 36 year old has his heart set on a Chelsea return but insists he is not finished yet: “I would like to go back to England and work for Chelsea in some capacity if I could, so that would be my first choice.

“Coaching or being a scout is something I’ve always considered and enjoyed while watching games. I try to nurture young players coming through, so it’s something I have in the back of my mind for after I finish playing. But I want to play for as long as I possibly can, because once you finish playing, you are done for life.”

Cole isn’t the only ex-Chelsea player who has talked about returning to the club. Recently departed John Terry has highlighted his ambition to one day manage the Blues. The two former England internationals could find themselves spearheading the future of the club.

If Cole is true to his word on playing for as long as he can, he could potentially lineup for Galaxy for two or more seasons. With the likes of 38 year old Andrea Pirlo – who is two years his senior – still playing in MLS.

Will Ashley Cole return to Chelsea as a coach? How much longer will he play for Galaxy?

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USMNT, Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs legend to retire

Former US Men’s National Team, Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and current Spurs goalkeeper, Brad Friedel has announced he will retire at the end of this season.

The Premier League legend, 43, has decided the time is right to hang up his gloves after an incredible 18 year spell in England, where he is regarded as one of the greats to have played between the sticks.

Friedel’s first spell in England came as a Newcastle United youth player where he did not make an appearance and then moved on to Danish side Brøndby IF before a move to Galatasaray S.K. in Turkey. He briefly returned to MLS with the Columbus Crew for a year before joining Liverpool in 1997 and has been in the Premier League since.

Club Games Played Clean Sheets Yellow Cards Red Cards Goals
Liverpool 27 8
Blackburn 300 95 1 1
Aston Villa 130 36 2 1
Tottenham 67 19 1
TOTAL 524 158 4 1 1

Friedel is one of just five ‘keepers to have scored a Premier League goal. It came back in 2004 against Charlton during his time as Blackburn Rovers number one. The American fan-favourite bagged a 90th minute equaliser only to be picking the ball out of his own net minutes later to be denied true hero status. He won the 2001/02 League Cup with Rovers, which is the only piece of silverware he won during his time in England.

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The 43-year-old holds the record for the most consecutive Premier League appearances with 310 games between August 2004 and November 2012.

He is Tottenham Hotspur’s record holder of being their oldest player. His last league appearance for Spurs came back in 2013 as Hugo Lloris has become first-choice, with Michel Vorm backup.

Friedel made 82 appearances for the USMNT and spoke to Sky Sports about his time in England as he is set to move back home.

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“I always wanted to play as long as I could but there’s two things that go with that – one is physically being able to which I still am, two is mentally wanting to do it,” he said.

“I’ve loved living in England. Myself and my family have fallen in love with the place. My kids were born and raised here so moving to the United States is something completely different for them.

“I’m not moving back for the sole reason I am American. If the opportunities weren’t there and they weren’t so great I would have no problem living my life in England. It’s my home away from home.”

Friedel is Tottenham Hotspur’s Club Ambassador focusing on the USA, which will only bring Major League Soccer and the Premier League closer together.

We can expect to see Friedel back in England in the future as he has already tried his hand at punditry on a number of occasions. Football is saying goodbye to a true Premier League legend.

Which club did you enjoy seeing Brad Friedel at the most? Where does he rank among the Premier League’s greatest goalkeepers?

Eddie Johnson set for shock retirement from soccer

By Sandy Beeson – Twitter: @Sandy_Beeson

US international striker Eddie Johnson looks set for a shock retirement with the Washington Post reporting that the 31-year-old forward will call time on his career with MLS side DC United due to an ongoing heart condition.

Johnson has been absent from United’s training camp during preseason and the opening weeks of the 2015 campaign because of the condition. Speaking to the Washington Post, United head coach Ben Olsen said: “It’s a terrible situation for Eddie. There is a potential life issue here that has to be focused on and making sure he is not putting himself in any danger to play this sport again. That is all that matters.”

It was before the critical second-leg of DC’s playoff tie against New York Red Bulls on November 8th last year that the condition was first identified. United went on to win the match in Johnson’s absence 2-1 but went out on away goals having lost the first-leg 2-0.

With Johnson taking up a Designated Player spot on DC United’s roster there are due to be imminent legal wrangles, confirmed by Washington Post journalist Steven Goff on Twitter, between the league and the player’s union. It is understood that United are due to be granted cap relief in light of Johnson’s career-ending injury.

Joining MLS at the age of 16, Johnson would leave as the 21st highest scorer in league history, having scored 71 goals in 202 appearances with Dallas Burn/FC Dallas, Kansas City Wizards and Seattle Sounders before joining DC United on a DP contract prior to the 2014 season.

Between 2008 and 2011 Johnson spent time with then Premier League outfit Fulham, but was unable to make an impact for the Cottagers and was loaned out to Cardiff City, Greek side Aris and Preston North End. Despite his profligacy in Europe, Johnson was regularly selected for the US national team and is currently eighth on the all-time scorers list with 19 goals in 63 appearances.

Thierry Henry retires: The story of his career

Thierry Henry has announced his retirement from football after 20 years of service to the game which saw him play for five clubs, winning 19 titles and an endless list of individual honours along the way.

He said, “it has been an incredible journey and I would like to thank all the fans, team mates and individuals involved with AS Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona, the New York Red Bulls and of course the French National Team that have made my time in the game so special.”

The 37-year-old confirmed that he will now be working as a pundit for Sky Sports as of 2015.

“It is now time for a different career path and I am pleased to say that I will be returning to London and joining Sky Sports. I will hopefully share some of the insights, observations and experiences I have learnt over the years with you guys.”

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There aren’t enough superlatives to describe a man of such legendary status but hero, icon, genius, idol are just a few words that have been used in an attempt to label the Frenchman.

Monaco and Juventus

Henry’s professional career began at Monaco in 1994, aged 17, where he went on to make 141 club appearances, scored 28 goals and won Ligue 1 and the French Super Cup before leaving for Juventus in January 1999.

The move to Italy was probably the lowest point of his career as he struggled to settle in and was unable to influence the game playing as a left-winger.

Arsenal

Just eight months later, Henry was on the move again and this time it was to be a life-changing moment as he joined Arsenal, but perhaps more importantly at the time, he joined up with his former Monaco manager Arsene Wenger.

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Wenger decided to push Henry up-front as opposed to out wide, and essentially the rest is history.

He notched an incredible 226 goals in 369 appearances for the club and in the meantime became Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer as Ian Wright’s previous record of 185 was blown out of the water.

As well as numerous Golden Boot awards, he lifted three FA Cup’s and two Premier League titles and was part of the famous ‘Invincibles’ side of the 2003-04 season.

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Barcelona

Desperate for Champions League success that eluded him at Arsenal, Henry made an emotional farewell in 2007 to join Spanish giants Barcelona.

He spent three years in Spain scoring 49 goals in 121 appearances, winning two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and his dreams also came true when the Catalan side lifted the Champions League title in 2009. He then went on to also win the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Barca.

New York Red Bulls

In 2010, Henry made his move to MLS and joined up with the New York Red Bulls where he spent four seasons and scored 52 goals in 135 appearances in all competitions. He returned to Arsenal for a brief loan spell in the 2011-12 campaign and scored twice for the Gunners taking his overall goals tally at the club to 228.

France national team

As well as the remarkable achievements in club football, Henry was also part of the French national team between 1997 and 2010. He scored 51 international goals in 123 appearances and was a World Cup winner in 1998, a European Championship winner in 2000 and a FIFA Confederations Cup winner in 2003.

He finishes his career having played an overall total of 915 competitive matches for club and country, while scoring a monumental 411 goals.

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Key moments of each year from Henry’s illustrious career:

  • 1994 – Professional debut for Monaco on August 31
  • 1995 – Became first-team regular with Monaco
  • 1996 – French Young Footballer of the Year
  • 1997 – Ligue 1 winner with Monaco
  • 1998 – World Cup winner with France
  • 1999 – Joined Arsenal from Juventus
  • 2000 – European Championship winner with France
  • 2001 – Included in PFA and UEFA Team of the Year
  • 2002 – Premier League and FA Cup winner with Arsenal (PL Golden Boot winner)
  • 2003 – FA Cup winner with Arsenal and FIFA Confederations Cup winner with France
  • 2004 – Premier League ‘Invincibles’ winner with Arsenal (PL Golden Boot winner)
  • 2005 – FA Cup winner with Arsenal (PL Golden Boot winner)
  • 2006 – Champions League finalist and scored last ever goal at Highbury in a 4-2 win vs. Wigan (PL Golden Boot winner)
  • 2007 – Joined Barcelona
  • 2008 – Entered into English Football Hall of Fame
  • 2009 – La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup winner with Barcelona
  • 2010 – Joined New York Red Bulls and topped Eastern Conference
  • 2011 – MLS All-Star
  • 2012 – MLS All-Star and returned to Arsenal for loan spell
  • 2013 – MLS Supporters’ Shield winner with New York Red Bulls
  • 2014 – Retired from football and became Sky Sports pundit

In his announcement Henry mentioned how he hoped that we have “enjoyed watching as much as I have enjoyed taking part” and it’s fair to say that we have all enjoyed watching him play and many will continue to reminisce in years to come over some of the incredible goals and special moments in his career.

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He also added that he has “had some amazing memories (mostly good!) and a wonderful experience” – as have we thanks to his elegance on the field.

You rarely come across anyone who has a bad word to say about Thierry Henry and tributes will continue to pour in for a legend who will be sorely missed on the pitch, but he will have a place in history forever in the shape of his statue outside Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Thierry Henry is quite simply, a living legend.