Joe Corona of the U.S. battles for the ball with Carlos Domingo Francisco of Cuba during their CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer match in Nashville

Discussing player ratings from last night’s U.S. under-23 win

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Player ratings are to soccer what box scores always were to baseball: the essential starting point from which to launch most discussion.

Here are Travis Clark’s player ratings last night from Top Drawer Soccer.

These can be tricky, and here’s a good reason why: What do you give U.S. center backs Perry Kitchen and Ike Opara? On the one hand, Thursday’s night at LP Field finished in a shutout, with very little for goalkeeper Bill Hamid to do. Still, Opara was had once by Michael Chang, who was Cuba’s only danger man in the attacking third. Kitchen also had his iffy moments with Chang.

The night didn’t demand better from them, but matches ahead certainly will. So I’d say the “6” for both U.S. central defenders, above average but not by much, was spot-on.

Clark saw just a little more in Freddy Adu’s night than I did. Adu’s free kicks and corner kicks were sharp (certainly better than some of Mix Diskerud’s efforts from the corner arch.) But he was a little tame in the run of play. I’m not saying Adu played poorly, not by any stretch. I just suspect there’s more ahead, and that he might have done a little more to cut up a Cuban defense that offered all the resistance of mushy fruit.

I also thought Diskerud’s passing and possession in midfield easily mitigated those underwhelming corner kicks. Clark assigned a “6,” mostly nicking the U.S. midfielder due to those sloppy restarts.I might have gone a notch higher.

Clark, who has monitored the U.S. under-23s as well as anyone in U.S. media, far as I can tell, raved about Joe Corona. Who could argue that? It was a night of quality linking play and even higher-quality finishing.

Here are Soccer America’s rankings for the compare-and-contrast thing.

VIDEO: T&T women’s team gives away one of the most bizarre PKs

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Play until you hear the referee’s whistle. In theory, so simple. In practice, it only takes a single second of concentration lapse to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.

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Such is life for Karyn Forbes, member of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team. In the above video, you’ll observe Forbes, a 24-year-old midfielder, giving away perhaps the most bizarre penalty kick you’ll ever see. You’ll have to watch for yourself to believe it.

[ MORE: USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with 5-0 victory ]

Unfortunately for Forbes, though the whole of the ball might have crossed the whole of the end line, the referee did not blow her whistle… not until Forbes picked the ball up with her hands and carried it to her goalkeeper.

Bundesliga to go ahead with video replay tests over two years

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, file photo, a Hawk-Eye camera is set up at Toyota stadium in Toyota. For the first time at a World Cup, technology will be used to determine whether a ball crosses the goal line during matches at the upcoming tournament in Brazil. With vanishing spray also being used to prevent encroachment by defenders making up a wall during free kicks, officials at the highest level of the world’s most popular sport are finally getting some assistance. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama
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BERLIN (AP) The German Football League (DFL) has given the go-ahead for the possible testing of video replays in the Bundesliga over a two-year pilot phase.

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The DFL says it will be lodging an application with FIFA to take part if the pilot phase is approved by the International Football Association Board at its next annual general meeting on March 5.

The DFL says video replays could be used by a “team of impartial match officials for the purpose of avoiding any evidently incorrect decisions” and that the pilot phase would be preceded by “intensive preparations.”

[ MORE: 17-year-old American MF Pulisic gets Bundesliga debut for Dortmund ]

These would include the settlement of costs among FIFA, the IFAB, the DFL and German football federation, as well as training for the candidates.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.