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U.S. Soccer scores with choice of Sept. 11 World Cup qualifier venue

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I love U.S. Soccer’s venue choice for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.

U.S. Socccer announced yesterday that the September qualifier against Jamaica will play out at Crew Stadium, what I’ve called previously the “meat and potatoes” of U.S. soccer grounds.

No ornamentation. No fancy-schmancy. Just four sets of nuts-and-bolts stands around a good field. Perfect! It’s a place that embodies the simple, no-frills, lunch pail approach that once marked the U.S. program.

Plus, what Crew Stadium does offer is history – something still is relatively short supply in matters of domestic soccer.

Consider the following:

  • The United States is 5-0-3 there. That’s the kind of history that players can lean on. As in: “We don’t lose when we play in Columbus.”
  • Crew Stadium is the historic site of two landmark U.S. qualifying triumphs. Remember the so-called Guerra Fria (Cold War)? That was the Mexican media’s moniker on February 2001 triumph on a bitterly cold Ohio night. (I could barely type my story, no kidding at all.) That 2-0 win over El Tri provided a brilliant launching pad for the final drive toward World Cup 2002.
  • Conditions were less polar bear friendly four years later on a brilliant fall day of 2005, when goals at Crew Stadium by Steve Ralston and DaMarcus Beasley helped the United States officially clinch its berth for World Cup 2006.
  • Jamaica, typically stocked with talented players, qualified for the 1998 World Cup. So the Raggae Boyz probably represent the most substantial U.S. obstacle in the semifinal round. This one needed to be picked wisely, based on performance factors rather than economic ones. (Larger venues = better profit, so money was perhaps left on the table here, and prudently so.)
  • The match falls on Sept. 11. What better place to recognize national history, sad and notorious as the date is, than playing near the heartland, at a site with a growing legacy of U.S. Soccer history?

WATCH: Man City’s Aguero, Nasri play soccer tennis atop Great Wall of China

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Manchester City stars Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero have both been under pressure in recent weeks for being out of shape, at least according to Pep Guardiola’s pizza-free standards.

One way to help fix that is better fitness, though we’re doubting that soccer tennis atop the Great Wall of China is necessarily going to tip the scales (pun absolutely, 100 percent intended).

[ MORE: Guzan finds new PL home ]

Nasri and James Horsfield of Man City took on teammates Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho in the match, which resulted in a half-dozen balls sent over the wall.

Games like this, sometimes even more than actual matches, remind many of us how far we are from the magical touch and control of elite players.

Reports: Pogba passes Manchester United medical; Announcement nears

Juventus FC v US Sassuolo Calcio - Serie A
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
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The seemingly inevitable to end to years of speculation is nigh.

With the record-breaking fee agreed, Paul Pogba has reportedly passed his medical with Manchester United and is set to join the club in England.

It’s also worth noting that Pogba hasn’t been dealing with injuries, and reporting that he’s passed a medical is a pretty safe bet.

[ MORE: Guzan finds new PL home ]

Pogba, 23, left Manchester United for Juventus in 2012 after the Old Trafford club didn’t meet his contractual demands, infuriating then-manager Alex Ferguson.

His play at Juventus proved his caliber, and new boss Jose Mourinho has been adamant that United needed to acquire the midfielder.

Hints that Real Madrid — who loooooves to break transfer records — had edged back into the race have been squashed, though we’ve learned anything can happen when United and Real are involved in a transfer (See: De Gea, Beckham, Ronaldo).

Atletico Madrid edges frame-rattling Spurs 1-0; Yedlin impresses at LB

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 29:  DeAndre Yedlin of Tottenham Hotspur and Sime Vrsaljko of Atletico de Madrid compete for the ball during 2016 International Champions Cup Australia match between Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico de Madrid at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
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Diego Godin’s close range redirection gave Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in an open match in Australia on Friday.

The International Champions Cup match was missing several big names including Harry Kane, Koke, Dele Alli, and Antoine Griezmann, so it’s hard to make any judgments either way.

[ MORE: Guzan finds new PL home ]

Spurs rattled the post and banged one off the crossbar in the loss, which comes days after a 2-1 setback of sorts against Juventus.

USMNT back DeAndre Yedlin and American prospect Cameron Carter-Vickers started in the back line. Yedlin was again at left back, and impressed in 60 minutes of work.

Godin appeared to be well offside in the 40th minute when Kyle Walker‘s ill-fated flick came his way inside the six.

USMNT keeper Guzan staying in Premier League, joins Boro

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 16:  Goalkeeper Brad Guzan #1 of the United States defends against Ecuador during the 2016 Quarterfinal - Copa America Centenario match at CenturyLink Field on June 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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Brad Guzan is leaving a relegation campaign, and hopes he won’t be facing another.

The USMNT goalkeeper and starter at this summer’s Copa America Centenario, Guzan was announced Friday as the latest signing in a busy summer for newly-promoted Middlesbrough.

[ EUROPA: West Ham loses in Slovenia ]

Guzan will have a heck of a battle for the No. 1 shirt, as new recruit Victor Valdes and incumbent Dimitrios Konstantopoulos are in the fold at Riverside Stadium.

The 31-year-old leaves Aston Villa after eight seasons and 171 appearances, a tenure that included a 16-appearance loan to Hull City. He was a runner-up in the League Cup and FA Cup, and internationally won the Golden Glove at the 2015 Gold Cup.

Boro have added Antonio Barragan, Alvaro Negredo, Gaston Ramirez, Viktor Fischer, Marten de Roon, and Bernardo Espinosa this summer in preparation for their first PL campaign since 2008-09.