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Kingdoms and Castles isn’t the most challenging or complex city-building game I’ve ever seen, but it is one of the best to just pick up and start playing.
The game—which was released on PC earlier this week—randomly generates a small patch of land for you, then asks you to build a lil’ Medieval settlement on it. You’re given a few settlers and resources to get going, but after that you’re on your own. Food, shelter, stone, iron, bread, soldiers, churches, you need to grow, hire or build everything else from there.
To stop the player from just going nuts and building everything at once, K&C puts a cap on your progress by using your settlement’s population as an energy meter. The more people you can attract, the more buildings you’ll be able to “power” and thus gain resources from, the more stuff you’ll be able to do. If people leave, or die, then essential services will go unserved, and you might find yourself in trouble.
There is definitely trouble at certain points in K&C anyway, because to keep players on their toes the game likes to throw crisis events like plagues, dragons and viking invasions your way. Each of these can be countered fairly easily, but they’re enough of a threat to always have you wondering whether to spend workers/resources on a new church that you definitely need now, or on better defences for your town which you may need more, but at some random point down the line.
And that’s about it. There’s no story or endgame to work towards, just the satisfaction of seeing a small little village grow into a medieval city. K&C has definitely traded depth for accessibility, with not much asked of the player aside from placing buildings and roads, and while that will disappoint some (the inability to be able to manually assign workers to specific jobs is a bit of a pain), I kinda liked it: I found that I was hooked on the building process after only a few minutes of playtime, and I’ve since played through three separate games since each reroll of the terrain can present new challenges and ideas for your build.
The only things you have to manage outside of the building are preparing for winter (you need to have food stored), some very streamlined citizen happiness (they hate smog and living in slums, love churches and libraries) and some basic taxation and military commands (which involve sending an army to fight vikings and/or building defence towers to counter incursions). They’re rare diversions, though; you spend most of your hours in K&C wondering which part of your cute little town you’re going to put a cute little bakery in next.
Kingdoms & Castles isn’t a brutal survival game, nor is it a detailed and accurate simulation of Western European settlement construction in the late Medieval era. It’s intended as a game about having fun building a cute little village, and that’s exactly what it delivers.
AC Milan have continued their summer recruitment drive by signing Argentina midfielder Lucas Biglia from Lazio.
The 31-year-old has moved to San Siro on a three-year deal, the club said in a statement on their official website.
He is Milan’s ninth signing of the summer, the Rossoneri‘s new Chinese owners having already funded the purchases of Andre Silva, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Calhanoglu, Andrea Conti, Mateo Musacchio, Franck Kessie, Fabio Borini and, most notably, Leonardo Bonucci.
Mexico hung on for a nervy 2-0 victory against already-eliminated Curacao to win Group C in its Gold Cup round-robin finale on Sunday in San Antonio, Texas.
Coming off a lackluster 0-0 draw with Jamaica in its second group match, Mexico were in need of a good showing and three points in order to top Group C.
And after a slow start in the first 20 minutes — that included two quality chances for Curacao — Mexico finally scored a goal with Angel Sepulveda’s perfect header at the far post from a Raul Lopez cross.
Sepulveda had a chance at his second just before the half-hour mark, settling a poor Curacao clearance and lashing a line-drive volley that Eloy Room did well to save.
Curacao opened the second half on the front foot, with Aston Villa’s Leandro Bacuna going close with a headed shot in the 53nd minute.
Jesus Corona then faced a flurry of activity in the 55th minute, denying Bacuna from close range before just tipping a volley from the rebound over the bar.
Mexico substitute Elias Hernandez had two chances to double his team’s lead, but a right-footed shot in the 81st minute and a close-range header shortly after were both turned away by Room, who was stellar in the Curacao goal.
Edson Alvarez sealed the win for Mexico in second-half stoppage time, collecting a loose ball in the Curacao area and calmly slotting home past Room to secure the points and top spot in the group.
Mexico will face Honduras in the quarterfinals on Thursday night in Glendale, Arizona.
Jamaica and El Salvador are both through to the knockout rounds after playing to a 1-1 draw ahead of the Mexico match.
El Salvador — needing at least a point to book passage to the quarterfinals — had the perfect start when Ruben Marroquin opened up the Jamaica defense with a perfect through ball and Nelson Bonilla finished from a tight angle to make it 1-0 early.
Derby Carrillo saved Jamaica’s best chance of the first half in the 37th minute, diving low and to his right to deny Romario Williams from close range from a Alvas Powell cross.
Andre Blake had a crucial save of his own in the 60th minute, reacting quickly to a crushing, left-footed shot from Rodolfo Zelaya to keep the Reggae Boyz within a goal.
Four minutes later, Jamaica were back on level terms from a Darren Mattocks penalty that beat Carrillo after Narciso Orellana was whistled for handball and shown a yellow card.
The result, combined with Mexico’s win, means Jamaica finish second in the group and puts El Salvador through as one of the best third-place finishers.
Sergio Romero has signed a new long-term deal at Manchester United.
The Argentina international goalkeeper was set to be out of contract next summer, but will now stay until at least 2021. He helped United win the Europa League last season, starting both legs of the semifinal against Celta Vigo and the final against Ajax in Stockholm.
He is set to compete with David De Gea and youngster Joel Pereira next season.
De Gea has again been linked with a move to Real Madrid, two years after his proposed move to the Bernabeu collapsed at the last minute.
Romero said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract. Who wouldn’t want to be at the biggest club in the world?
“We have great goalkeepers here and we are always learning from each other. Of course, it was a very proud moment for me and my family to be part of the Europa League final, and I am looking forward to helping the team build on last season’s success in 2017-18.”
Mourinho added: “Sergio is a great goalkeeper and professional. He had a good season and outstanding performances, especially in our Europa League success. Sergio deserves his contract, and for Manchester United to have Sergio and David is amazing in such an important role.”
Romero will get his first action of preseason against Real Salt Lake on Monday evening in Utah.
Argentina’s No. 1 was reduced to a watching brief as United’s preseason tour kicked off with a 5-2 win at the Los Angeles Galaxy but has been promised a half in their second match.
“In the second match, David does not play,” Mourinho said earlier in the week.
“We play the kid [Joel Pereira] for 45 and Romero for 45. The third match against Man City, we don’t play Joel. We will play David for 45 and Romero for 45.”
Information from Press Association Sport was used in this report.
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.
The United States has announced its roster changes for the knockout stages of the 2017 Gold Cup, and, as predicted, manager Bruce Arena has added some heavy reinforcements, with most of the additions having extensive international experience.
“We have added some experienced players to the roster that can help us in the knockout round of the Gold Cup,” Arena said on Sunday. “The players leaving all made a good impression, and I’m optimistic for their future with the national team program.”
Tournament rules allow teams to make up to six changes once the group stage is complete, as long as the added players come from a team’s 40-man preliminary roster.
The U.S. players added include Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard, Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley, Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Toronto forward Jozy Altidore and Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey.
All five took part in the most recent round of World Cup qualifying in June, and four of them — Bradley, Howard, Altidore and Dempsey — have more than 100 caps.
Also included is FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, who will be participating in his first official tournament since having his one-time switch from Mexico to the U.S. approved by FIFA.
Leaving the U.S. Gold Cup squad are Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan, New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya, Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan, New England Revolution forward Kelyn Rowe and Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer.
Some of the moves were planned in advance. Bedoya is expecting the birth of his second child to take place this week and thus was always expected to depart. U.S. Soccer indicated that the departures of Guzan and Johnson were also anticipated.
That said, the decision to send Roldan, Rowe and Dwyer back to their clubs is surprising. Rowe scored the Americans’ second goal in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua. Dwyer scored the lone goal against Panama, while also being involved in the buildup for two of the three goals scored on Saturday. Roldan played the full 90 minutes in the 3-2 win over Martinique.
But Arena has essentially added five starters, which resulted in some parts of the field being overloaded. That included the center of midfield, thanks to the addition of Bradley, so Roldan misses out. Nagbe’s addition would have meant reduced minutes for Rowe, so the decision was made to send Rowe back to his club side.
The fact that Arena chose to add two forwards, combined with the versatility of Agudelo and Jordan Morris, meant that Dwyer will return to Sporting KC.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.
Spain and Barcelona defender joined team-mates Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique on tour
Alba talks about new Qatar coach Felix Sanchez’s qualities
For Spain and Barcelona defender Jordi Alba, a recent visit to Qatar showcased a country moving in the ‘right direction’ in terms of youth development ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™.
“We came a few years ago to Qatar and a lot has changed, I’m very happy with how they are doing things here,” Alba told www.sc.qa in an exclusive interview at the Aspire Academy in Doha.
“All of the facilities here are great, and they help all the kids who want to fulfil their dreams. I hope they can compete at the highest level. Qatar is a country which likes football a lot. The stadiums will be full, and hosting the World Cup will bring a lot of happiness to the people here.”
After going on a tour of Aspire Academy with his team-mates Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, the UEFA EURO 2012 winner highlighted Qatar’s commitment to developing a talented team for 2022.
“They have great coaches, to prepare the youngsters. It is a great experience, because they will learn a lot, not only in terms of football but also in personal terms. Qatar is improving a lot in football, my colleague Xavi talks to me about the fantastic development of football here.”
What Sanchez will bring to Qatar
Having worked with Qatar’s new national team coach Felix Sanchez at the Barcelona youth academy La Masia, the 28-year-old pointed out that the new generation of Qatari players would benefit greatly from the new coach.
“Felix coached me at Barcelona,” he said. “I have great memories of him and his brother, they helped me and my family a lot. I wish him well for the new job. He is capable and learned a lot in Barcelona, and also here in Doha. He has a winning character, and is a fighter. He is a very intelligent coach, and will do very well here.”
With Barcelona having appointed a new coach in Ernesto Valverde, as well as renewing the contract of Lionel Messi until 2021, the left-back said the Catalan side would be aiming for a clean sweep of trophies this season.
“The renewal of Messi is very important for us,” he continued. “He is the best player in the world and in history. If I can be there playing with him, all the better. We want to win all the titles possible this season, and I want to try and play as much as possible under the new coach. Everyone will start from zero, so I am excited about the new challenge.”
Meanwhile, his Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique added that Qatari players gathering experience at European teams such as Cultural Leonesa would be beneficial for the home side in five years’ time.
“It is good for the club because they have greater potential for the second division, and it is also good for Aspire Academy because they can put some players there, thinking ahead to 2022,” Pique added.
The veteran U.S. international put two past his countryman in MLS play on Tuesday, with the second coming off a picture-perfect volley from distance
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and while the Seattle Sounders didn't go directly to goal on Clint Dempsey's second marker in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night, they certainly didn't waste time getting from one end of the field to the other.
WATCH: Wondo's stunning volley
Perhaps aided by the thin air at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado, Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei launched a ball downfield from a goal kick that seemed to travel further than usual. It was met in the air by Sounders forward Will Bruin, who headed it in front of an onrushing Dempsey.
The U.S. international, no stranger to scoring spectacular goals, let the ball take a big bounce before unleashing a left-footed volley from 20 yards out that gave Colorado goalkeeper (and Dempsey's longtime international teammate) Tim Howard no chance as it screamed into the bottom-right corner of the net.
What. A. Finish.@clint_dempsey gets his second! #COLvSEA https://t.co/DGTFkrMvrJ
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 5, 2017
Dempsey was directly involved in all three Sounders goals on the night, as he also assisted on Bruin's 30th-minute strike.