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Early reactions on Jurgen Klinsmann’s 27-man U.S. roster

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Here are the immediate, important points to consider as Jurgen Klinsmann has released the final 11 names from his Orlando training camp. This 27-man selection will be culled to 23 before three friendlies and a pair of World Cup qualifiers.

So, here goes …

  • The most significant omissions are Bolton center back Tim Ream, FC Dallas winger Brek Shea, New England midfielder Benny Feilhaber and Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan.
  • Ream and Shea are somewhat surprising. You can’t say as much about Feilhaber, nor about Kljestan. Feilhaber didn’t appear in the last two U.S. matches. And Kljestan simply hasn’t been a Klinsmann fixture over the last 9 months, with only sporadic appearances.
  • I know Kljestan’s omission has some folks in a twist, and fair enough. But it simply cannot be that much of a surprise. You may think the Anderlecht man should be on the roster, and that’s OK. But did you really expect it? Little has happened to indicate that it would. Based on the relative strength of the position (he’s a holding midfielder in Anderlecht’s 4-2-3-1) and based on Klinsmann’s past call-ups, it was always something of a longshot.
  • Shea’s omission is and isn’t surprising. On the one hand, the left-winger has been a Klinsmann staple over the last nine months. But Shea isn’t performing at top rev at the moment, and last week’s silly stunt surely didn’t help. (A goofball bit that cost the FCD man a three-game MLS suspension.)
  • Without Shea, things look a little narrow on this roster. Landon Donovan is the closest thing here to a true “wide” man. Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Jose Torres, Danny Williams and Graham Zusi have played wide internationally before, but mostly as guys who tend to (and generally prefer to) tuck inside.
  • Edgar Castillo? Personally, I don’t see it. The coach obviously sees something many of us don’t.
  • Terrence Boyd’s presence may surprise some, seeing as he remains a reserve for Borussia Dortmund. Then again, he’s already been capped, so perhaps it’s not a big shocker.
  • Chris Wondolowski (pictured) and Herculez Gomez are proof that form matters – in most cases, at least. The omissions of Shea and Edson Buddle are also demonstrations that the coach will continue to weigh current capacity to get the job done.
  • Landon Donovan? No, he’s not performing well at the moment for the Galaxy – but who is? Donovan has earned some benefit of the doubt in my book. That is, he can still be a difference maker in certain moments. So I have no problem with bringing the L.A. attacker into the 27-man camp, at very least. The coaches can see where it goes from there. Besides, experience at this level counts, and Donovan certainly has that, now into his second decade with the U.S. national team.

The team will train in Orlando until May 25, when Klinsmann will select a final 23-man roster. The American are schedule to depart then for Jacksonville, for May 26 friendly against Scotland (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Galavision).

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”

Report: China tempting TFC’s Giovinco with big offer

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Could Sebastian Giovinco’s chances of another MVP award be diminishing?

It wouldn’t be on account of a lack of production, rather massive money coming his way from the Chinese Soccer League.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

Great, and right when we were daydreaming about how Toronto FC’s Italian attacker could run a revenge tour on the folks who somehow left him out of the MVP finalists last year.

Giovinco turns 30 on Thursday.

From The Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larsson:

“The Chinese club seems to be very interested, but I don’t think it’ll be easy to take him away from Toronto,” Giovinco’s agent, Andrea D’Amico, told the broadcaster.

“We received an important offer from China and we’ll talk to Toronto to decide, along with Sebastian, what to do.”

Giovinco is with Toronto FC for preseason training camp, and both the club and player have shown no interest in moving on from the diminutive winger and 2015 MVP.

But if China comes calling with crazy money, say a $25-30 million transfer fee, shouldn’t TFC think twice? Any figure above $25 million would be more than the sum of the three biggest incoming transfer fees in MLS history (Miguel Almiron, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe).

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

Congo's soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal against Togo during the African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Togo at the Stade de Port-Gentil, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET