Tuesday April 21st, 2015

Barring a particularly ugly departure from Champions League, Pep Guardiola’s job at Bayern Munich is safe, I’ve been told by multiple sources.

One reason is the resignation of 38-year team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt last week after the loss to Porto, which I’m told would not have been accepted if Guardiola was on thin ice.

Meanwhile, I hear Carlo Ancelotti is aware that he’s done at Real Madrid if he doesn’t win Champions League or La Liga. But Ancelotti has already been contacted by Manchester City and is the favorite to take over at City, not Jurgen Klopp.

Here are a couple of other insider items from around the soccer world:

Will Guzan finally start at Wembley?

• U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan finds himself in an intriguing spot. Five years ago, Guzan was the backup keeper at Aston Villa and played in every League Cup game all the way up to the final, in which then-manager Martin O’Neill decided to go with his No. 1, Brad Friedel, instead. (Villa ended up losing to 2-1 to Manchester United.)

Now Guzan could be in the opposite situation for another cup final. His backup, Shay Given, has been in goal during Villa’s run to the FA Cup final against Arsenal, which takes place on May 30.

On Monday, I asked Guzan if he had any idea what Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood might do for the final.

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“I don’t know,” Guzan said. “It’s only 24 hours after we won the semifinal, and none of those conversations have taken place. I know what it was about obviously when it happened to me, and whenever you’re part of a team it’s important that you carry yourself in the right way. I’ve always been proud of the way I handled difficult situations. Regardless of who plays for us in the final, Shay’s done fantastic for us in terms of the cup run and getting us to the final.”

“But I’m sure the manager will make that decision, and it’s a decision you live with, whether it goes for you or against you. Before we get to the cup final, we have a lot of important games before that.”

He’s right. With five games left to play in the Premier League season, Aston Villa is still just four points out of the relegation zone. In other words, every game left for Villa, including the league and the cup final, is huge.

How much will MLS salary cap hinder league's ambition?

In the wake of the agreement on MLS’s new collective bargaining deal, one question I’ve heard from some team execs is this: If the salary cap is only $4.2 million per team in 2019, how will MLS reach its stated goal of being one of the world’s top soccer leagues by 2022? 

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I asked a top league exec, and he mentioned two specific things: One, that the league will likely increase the number of Designated Players allowed per team, which currently stands at three. And two, he said the league’s investment in youth development (currently at $30 million a year) will only increase by 2019 and should be producing significant dividends by then. We’ll see if he’s right.

Either way, the small salary cap increase was the biggest surprise of the labor agreement.

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