The finish date would clearly be untenable for United and Chelsea considering next season’s Premier League kicks off three days later on August 8 – but United boss Louis Van Gaal is believed to have sought assurances on the scheduling. Van Gaal was heavily critical of United’s three-week, five-match schedule last year, decrying the “dreadful distances” and adding: “it is not very positive for a good preparation.” The Dutchman has reportedly insisted this summer’s tour be cut to two weeks and that United’s stay in America does not extend into August, due to the early start to the domestic season. Chelsea too will have looked carefully at the itinerary – they are also expected to confirm a week-long post-season trip to Japan. However both Van Gaal and his Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho have acknowledged that the commercial pressures of their respective clubs demand pre-season tours in order to expand their fan-base. Last summer United played Real Madrid in front of a record crowd of more than 109,000 – plus Inter Milan and Roma before beating Liverpool in the final. Real Madrid will not be involved this time – the Champions League holders will be taking part in a sister tournament in Australia along with Manchester City. The Barclays Premier League giants will be joined by Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Porto, Fiorentina, Mexico’s Club America and three Major League Soccer sides in the line-up. The exact format is yet to be announced, although the tournament will take place between July 11 and August 5. Manchester United and Chelsea will return to the United States this summer as part of the 10-team International Champions Cup. Press Association
“Honestly, this was the most confident game I’ve had all season,” Okongwu said per the Associated Press after USC’s win over the Beavers. “It was really fun coming out there and playing against a sold-out crowd.” USC is coming back from a two-game road trip in the Beaver State, where the Trojans fell to No. 12 Oregon in double overtime but triumphed over Oregon State. A couple of costly turnovers and mistakes late in the Oregon game caused USC to suffer their second Pac-12 loss, but the win over Oregon State proved the Trojans’ potential is still alive and well in the conference. Okongwu is top-five in the Pac-12 in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage this season and does not seem to show any signs of slowing down. He and the Trojans — the best in the Pac-12 in rebounds and the worst in free-throw percentage and turnovers committed — will attempt to stop a Utah team that currently ranks first in the conference in free throw percentage. Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu has been a top rebounder and shot blocker in the Pac-12 this year. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) Having won four of its last five games and sitting in a tie for second place in the Pac-12, the USC men’s basketball team will face Utah Thursday night at Galen Center. Led by phenom freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu, the Trojans are set to play a Utes team led by sophomore forward Timmy Allen that is coming off two straight wins against Washington State and Washington. USC will also have to look out for Utah redshirt freshman center Lahat Thioune in the paint, as the Senegal native is the Utes’ leader in field goal percentage at 72.2%, making him their most efficient player while averaging just 17 minutes per game. Expect Allen, Thioune and freshman guard Rylan Jones to run a majority of Utah’s offense and look for Okongwu and Rakocevic to make important plays near the rim on both sides of the ball. Senior forward Nick Rakocevic is 8-15 from beyond the arc, leading USC in 3-point percentage. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) “Rakocevic and [Okongwu], those guys are a load inside,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said at a press conference Tuesday. “[USC is] an elite rebounding team in our league, shot-blocking team. They provide a great post presence for those guys and then they’ve got a bunch of capable shooters and athletes.” USC head coach Andy Enfield and his team should also expect Utah to both commit and draw lots of fouls given the two teams’ shooting percentages from the charity stripe. The Trojans have arguably struggled at the free-throw line more than they have anywhere else on the court this season. However, as Enfield said after the Oregon State win, USC’s resilience both at home and on the road “is a credit to [USC’s] players” at this point of the season and is what has helped the Trojans catapult themselves into a tie with No. 20 Colorado for second place in the conference. The crowd of more than 9,000 in Corvallis, Ore. was in for a treat as they got a chance to watch a united USC team that has excited college basketball fans with acrobatic plays from Okongwu and freshman guard Ethan Anderson, a clutch comeback win against Stanford led by sophomore guard Elijah Weaver and solid 3-point shooting from senior forward Nick Rakocevic and redshirt senior guards Quinton Adlesh and Daniel Utomi. USC and Utah will tip off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Galen Center.
Munster have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 final against the Scarlets.Rassie Erasmus has confirmed that James Cronin, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway will all train fully this week despite some minor issues at the weekend.Cronin was a late withdrawal prior to their semi-final over the Ospreys, while Earls and Conway picked up knocks during the game. Meanwhile following a coin toss Munster have been allocated the home dressing room for the final, and will wear their alternate navy kit.Meanwhile the British and Irish Lions players not currently on club duty have gathered at Carton House as preparations begin for the tour of New Zealand.However they’ve met up without Billy Vunipola who was last night ruled out of the Lions squad due to a shoulder injury.Fellow Englishman James Haskell has been called up in his place. Simon Zebo helps the Thomond Park Crowd show their appreciation for departing Donnacha Ryan – Photo: © Tipp FM