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Five U.S. men who needed to be better Friday vs. Jamaica

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If you talk about the U.S. man who “needed to be better” on a ragged and poor Friday night in Jamaica, you darn well need to say which one.

That is a long (and undistinguished) list.

So, let’s get started. Here are my five … in no particular order.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s hands were tied to a point. No Landon Donovan, no Michael Bradley, no Steve Cherundolo. (No Carlos Bocanegra, either, but that was a manager’s decision.)

Still, the arrangement and way forward Friday just wasn’t right.

Clint Dempsey wasn’t up for being the “1” in a 4-3-1-2. Especially not with a trio behind him like Friday’s. Did anybody seriously believe that Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman could pass and interchange with enough fluidity to create the channels into Dempsey? And was Dempsey really expected to be sharp enough to find Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez in good spots.

Never mind that even when he’s on top of things, that’s not Dempsey’s game. He’s the guy who slashes and dashes and arrives late in the box, not a pace dictator and creator for others. He requires a passer and possession man around him – someone like Bradley.

There was zero width in the attack. And looking at the lineup, that should have been predictable.

(MORE: Talking points from Friday’s match)

Herculez Gomez keeps demonstrating why he’s ahead of Jozy Altidore in the pecking order. Altidore had a great season of goal scoring at AZ Alkmaar last year, and it looks like he’s off to another stellar campaign in Holland this go-round. But in these scrappy internationals, Gomez just always does more. He finds more avenues into the game, hunting, pecking and digging with gritty determination for a greater number of ways to have an impact.

Michael Parkhurst has played right back before, but it’s not his best position. When he had opportunities to cross Friday, Parkhurst didn’t always look comfortable enough to try. Since it’s not his best spot, and since this was emergency duty anyway, it’s hard to ding the man too much.

On the other hand, if he’s going to be an international caliber player, and if he is sometimes going to be stationed along the right, he’s just got to stash a few more offensive moves into his bag of tricks.

Someday, perhaps, someone will explain to me Jermaine Jones’ role in all this for the United States. He’s foul prone and hot-headed, which is a dangerous combo. He’s not a particularly good passer or shooter and he tends to earn good grades about every fourth time out. So, why not start developing a younger man in his stead? Like, Danny Williams, perhaps. (Williams did come in late Friday, for Kyle Beckerman.)

(MORE: Were there alternatives to Clint Dempsey?)

Maybe Brek Shea was put in a tough spot, one half of a late, double-change along with Terrence Boyd. Still, when the FCD man did get on the ball, very little went right.

Again, he came in just as Jamaica seriously packed it in. But there were times when Shea blindly lumped the ball forward or into the middle willy-nilly. That’s not good enough.

El Tri striker Pulido fought kidnappers, used cell phone to call police

HYERES, FRANCE - JUNE 01:  Alan Pulido (no.19) of Mexico celebrates his goal during the Toulon Tournament Final between  Mexico and Turkey at Stade Perruc on June 1, 2012 in Hyeres, France.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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More details have been released regarding Alan Pulido’s kidnapping in Mexico.

The Mexican international and Olympiakos striker was taken at gunpoint early Sunday morning in Tamaulipas. He was then freed on Monday after a police “rescue operation.”

Seen leaving the police station with a bandaged hand, officials have now given information on how Pulido was injured.

[ MORE: PSG defender Aurier arrested ]

The 25-year-old striker cut his hand while punching through a glass pane in an attempt to escape. Officials also said Pulido fought his kidnapper, doing enough to grab a cell phone and notify police of his whereabouts.

From BBC News:

State prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla said the masked gang had taken Pulido to a house in Ciudad Victoria where he eventually found himself alone with one of his abductors.

“They traded blows. He takes it [the phone] and calls [emergency number] 066. It all happened very quickly,” Mr Quintanilla told Imagen radio.

An official report of the calls Pulido made to the emergency operator, obtained by the Associated Press, revealed that he threatened and beat the kidnapper while on the phone, demanding to be told where they were.

In one of the calls, Pulido said police were outside and starting to shoot so he described what he was wearing to avoid being mistaken for a kidnapper.

A wild situation, but the most important thing is that Pulido is safe while one arrest has been made.

Juanfran pens letter to Atleti fans after missing penalty in UCL final

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28:  Juanfran of Atletico Madrid shows his dejection during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Atletico Madrid lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final for the second time in three years this Sunday, falling 5-3 on penalty kicks.

After losing the 2014 final in extra-time, Atleti forced a shootout this time around, although Juanfran‘s miss allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score the game-winning penalty for Real.

[ MORE: Simeone considering Atletico future ]

Juanfran, whose shot beat Keylor Navas but hit the post, had scored the game-winning penalty against PSV Eindhoven to advance to the quarterfinal.

The only player to miss his penalty in the final, the veteran right-back penned an emotional letter thanking Atleti fans for their support, which was posted to the club’s website.

Hello Atléticos,

I have asked the club to address all of you with this letter to tell you everything I feel.

I will never forget your displays of affection when I came to ask for your forgiveness. Seeing my tears reflected in the faces of the thousands of Atléticos that packed that end of the stadium helped me cope with the tremendous sadness I felt in those hard times. As well as the support of my teammates, coaches, and all the people that makes this big family.

I also want to thank you for always believing in us and, above all, for proving that being an Atlético is something very special, different, and that our heart beats stronger than any other.

Two years ago, I told you that we would return to a final, now, I tell you that Gabi, our captain, will lift the Champions League sooner or later, and we will celebrate it all together in Neptuno.

Despite starting his career with Real Madrid, Juanfran is adored by Atleti supporters, having made more than 250 appearances for the club since joining in 2010. Having played the full 120 minutes in the 2014 final loss as well, this result was crushing for the defender.

[ VIDEO: Akinfenwa leaves Wimbledon with epic interview after winning promotion ]

Juanfran still believes Atleti will be back, and they’ve proven over the past few seasons that they are one of the elite clubs in Europe. If the club can hold on to the likes of Juanfran and their world-class backline, he may have a third shot to win the Champions League.

VIDEO: “The Beast” leads Wimbledon to promotion; leaves club with epic interview

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Adebayo Akinfenwa’s time at AFC Wimbledon may be over, but he will never be forgotten.

The striker scored a penalty kick at Wembley on Monday deep into stoppage time to seal Wimbledon’s promotion to League One after a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle.

Headed to League One for the first time in club history, the win caps off a remarkable rise for Wimbledon that started in the ninth-tier of English football back in 2002.

[ MORE: Pellegrini rues Pep announcement ]

Akinfenwa, a journeyman striker in England’s lower leagues, has gained cult-hero status due to his large frame, listed at 5-foot-11-inches and weighing in at over 220 pounds, earning him the nickname “The Beast.”

Speaking to Sky Sports amid the promotion celebrations, Akinfenwa asked for other managers to shoot him a text as his contract expires with Wimbledon this summer.

It’s what dreams are made of. I’m more tired now running around [celebrating] than I was the whole game, but it’s a beautiful feeling.

Sidebar, I think I’m technically unemployed. So any managers, hit me up on the WhatsApp and get me a job.

There ain’t no better way to leave this club than to leave them promoted, it’s beautiful. For all them who said I was too big to play football, come on now.

Akinfenwa also joked about his late-match penalty, in which he was seen wrestling the ball away from teammate Callum Kennedy. When asked about the situation, Akinfenwa responded “It was just set up too beautifully, and I’m bigger than Cal, so Cal was unlucky. I’m sorry Cal K, I love you though.”

Saints to offer Shane Long new deal as Liverpool, Spurs show interest

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 08:  Shane Long of Southampton is chased down by Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton at White Hart Lane on May 8, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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After scoring ten Premier League goals this season, Shane Long looks set to be rewarded with a new contract at Southampton.

Despite having two years remaining on his current contract, multiple reports state he will get a new deal to fend off interest from Liverpool and Tottenham.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s EURO 2016 coverage ]

Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino was in Dublin this past weekend to watch Long play for Ireland, where he was pictured sitting with the player’s agent Pat Dolan. The Saints’ striker scored Ireland’s only goal in a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands.

Liverpool had also reached out to Southampton back in January about a possible move for Long, and it is believed Jurgen Klopp is quite fond of the Irish striker.

[ MORE: Klinsmann aiming for top-four finish at Copa America Centenario ]

Having already inked Virgil Van Dijk, James Ward-Prowse, and Fraser Forster to new deals, Southampton will be eager to lock up Long before EURO 2016 kicks off.

Likely to be the top striker for Ireland at the tournament, a good showing for Long on Europe’s biggest stage could lead to even more interest in the 29-year-old.