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Monday Kickoff: Bent on the move, CONCACAF wants fourth World Cup spot and more



Darren Bent's tenure at Sunderland has apparently come to a close.

The England international is on the verge of heading to Aston Villa after an 18 million pound offer has been made for the star striker. Bent turned in a written transfer request Sunday night and will travel to Aston Villa today to discuss personal terms. Both Sunderland and manager Steve Bruce have expressed their disappointment with Bent's decision but said they will not offer any opposition.

Bent, 26, has scored 32 league goals in 58 appearances after joining Sunderland from Tottenham in 2009. The bulk of Sunderland's attacking responsibilities will now fall to Ghanian striker Asamoah Gyan. Aston Villa sits 17th in EPL table, kept out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Monday morning.

CONCACAF eyeing additional World Cup slot

CONCACAF has confirmed that it will try and lobby FIFA for a fourth guaranteed World Cup berth in 2014. CONCACAF president Jack Warner said that the federation has earned the increase "due to the performances of our teams on the field and the actions of our confederations off it." For the 2010 World Cup, CONCACAF was awarded three guaranteed spots with the fourth-place finisher, Costa Rica, losing out to fifth-place CONMEBOL finisher Uruguay for the final World Cup spot. A decision is expected at a meeting of the FIFA executive committee in March.

Soto, Dixon offered contracts by Dynamo

Just a few days after nabbing Kofi Sarkodie and Will Bruin the 2011 MLS Superdraft, the Houston Dynamo is on the verge of adding two more players from its Academy. Southern Methodist senior Josue Soto and North Carolina junior Alex Dixon have been offered home-grown contracts by both the club and Major League Soccer. Soto, 22, and Dixon, 19, have both been members of the Dynamo Academy since 2007.

Asian Cup update

It was a crowded weekend of fixtures in Qatar as the knockout rounds of the 2011 Asian Cup begin to come into focus. Iran became the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory over North Korea on Saturday. Group A finished up Sunday with host Qatar dispatching Kuwait 3-0 and Uzbekistan drawing 2-2 with China. Uzbekistan finished atop Group A with seven points while Qatar advances with six. Group B concluded play today with Japan and Jordan advancing thanks to victories over Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Ribery out two weeks with knee injury

Bayern Munich will be without Franck Ribery for at least two weeks after the French winger injured his knee during a 1-1 draw with Wolfsburg on Saturday. Ribery, 27, injured his left knee after a challenge by Josue in the first half. The injury comes just a few weeks after Ribery returned from a long absence due to an ankle injury.


What do you think of today's stories? Can Bent help turn Aston Villa's season around? Does CONCACAF deserve a fourth World Cup slot? Interested in the Asian Cup?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Yes, you are right. I guess I should have been more specific. CONCACAF is made up mostly of tiny islands with no chance of ever going to the world cup. Asia’s qualifying region, in general, has much bigger nations who have a much more realistic chance of going to the world cup.

  2. There should be more playoff spots and less full guaranteed sports. Give CONCACAF 2 fulls, and 3 halves, give South America 3 fulls and 3 halves, give Africa more half places, and so on…. Then have an exciting random draw, and as to which continent deserves more places- that would be decided on the pitch! Plus, the US qualifying campaign would be more exciting and pressure filled.

  3. CONCACAF going down from 3.5 to 3 makes more sense than getting 4 spots guaranteed.
    The list of countries that would absolutely destroy the fourth best our continent has to offer is far too long to list.

  4. Exactly. I think we need a few more cycles to even be considered for an additional spot. I wont deny that Concacaf teams have improved but to flat out seek a fourth spot has no merit. Sorry.

  5. Haha this just reminded me of a story i heard on skysports a little while ago where it was reported that Gyan was under the impression that there would be a winter break in the premier league, and that he was incredibly disappointed when he found out otherwise. I can just imagine his reaction when he found out lol. Anyways i hope he gets used to playing in the snow and cold more often haha.

  6. The idea of a fourth spot for CONCACAF seems pretty ridiculous to me. They can consider themselves pretty lucky that they have three and a half.

    “I’ve wondered why Asia has an extra half spot over Concacaf for some time”

    Maybe the fact that they have about twice as many countries has something to do with it.

  7. 1. $$$

    2. Have you seen Sunderland play?
    Its like rugby but with zero skills.
    Sure Villa suck now but eventually theyll be back and play relatively fun football.
    Sunderland is part of that dozen or so EPL which is unwatchable. Anyone who spouts EPL platitudes is free to watch Sunderland against Stoke and Ill stick to the MLS.
    Im sure Bent would like to play football with skilled teammates and a team which actually tries to play football.

    3. $$$$

  8. I’ve wondered why Asia has an extra half spot over Concacaf for some time. You’re telling me that North Korea is better than El Salvador or Costa Rica? (North Korea qualified in 2010 and Costa Rica/El Salvador didn’t) Doesn’t make sense to me…

  9. Well, in this case, the payment isn’t in money, it’s what Warner has always brought to the table for Sepp Blatter: a promise of CONCACAF votes to keep the man in the presidency. That’s why Warner and his cronies have nothing to fear in terms of ethics investigations. As long as they keep Blatter as president, they can keep lining their own pockets by doing whatever they want to squeeze money out the sport.

  10. Lobby FIFA? Does CONCACAF have enough in it’s Swiss bank account? Or maybe Warner will just share some of his acount with the others.

    Can someone really print the line “Lobby FIFA” with a stright face?

  11. Thanks, I found it on the major league soccer ( website.

    One more thing…

    IVES, any news on what Eddie Johnson is going to do? His contract is up this year, no? 3.5 yrs in 2007.

  12. Take full grasp of that .5 spot from Conembol after the SA tram that claimed it went to the World Cup semi-finals and team member won the golden ball… I don’t know…

  13. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  14. I saw a statistic on Daily Mail that Bent has scored 81 goals in the Premier League since 2008, only bested by Drogba and Rooney I believe, who both have 82 goals. Bent is top-quality and I wonder: does this hurt Omar Cummings chances of a loan?

  15. Can someone please explain to me why Bent would request a move from a team in 6th place to a team in 17th place?

  16. Now, if only the Dynamo could convince Ibeagha to come out, thought I highly doubt he will leave school right now. Nevertheless, Dixon is a speed forward, the Dynamo need, and Soto adds depth behind Davis for the L winger.

    Ives, when is the supplemental draft, today? Will you cover, or is it open to the press?


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