KANSAS CITY — United States soccer team moved into final-round World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 win Tuesday over Guatemala in Kansas City. Here are some initial thoughts on the night as the United States’ drive toward its seventh consecutive World Cup (all of them since 1986) is now into its final push.
- Advancing was always Job 1 on Tuesday, to get the result that propels them into the final six in regional World Cup qualifying. So, that’s a big check-plus. All the critical, comprehensive analysis can (and will) come later, because the second round was harder than most people expected. But for now, everyone can breathe a little. The United States will join Jamaica from this group in next year’s final stage.
- Guatemala is out, obviously. They simply could not get the draw they came into Kansas City to get.
- For all the face-twisting and teeth gnashing, the United States finished atop the group.
- There were lots of good individual performances, as there rightly should have been against an outmanned bunch from Guatemala. Danny Williams and Michael Bradley performed well in the middle. Graham Zusi – those weren’t boos, they were yelling “Zuuus” for the hometown hero – added a lot on the outside, working well once again with right back Steve Cherundolo. And Clint Dempsey’s two goals speak for themselves; yes, they were tap-ins, but getting yourself in the right spots means a lot.
- In the match that mattered, Bradley and Williams were the central midfield preferences for U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann. If we’re guessing, and unless Stuart Holden can get healthy and say something about it, that certainly is looking like the preferred central pairing for the final round and, if they make it, for Brazil 2014.
- It must have been awfully frustrating in the late going for the Guatemalans, who had precious few chances on to gather themselves offensive and move forward over the last 20 minutes. That was credit to the U.S. ability to keep the ball, with Bradley orchestrating the drive to keep possession. Along with Williams, Dempsey and Cherundolo (and others, but those in particular), they kept the ball moving at a good pace – away from the tiring visitors, which was the important part.
- All this high tech fitness stuff must be good for something. The United States clearly had more gas left in the tank after 65 or 70 minutes, when the Guatemalans wilted down to practically nothing. Even with the knowledge that they desperately needed goals, the visitors could do very little in terms of bothering the U.S. back line.
- Lots of Americans – heck, lots of folks around the CONCACAF region – are celebrating this little dandy bit tonight: This was probably the last we’ll ever see of Carlos Ruiz in World Cup Qualifying. Truly, he may be the most infuriating player in the world.
- No one on the field, on either side, has the sophistication to run the midfield like Bradley. His work throughout the match was tactically sound and technically adept, playing more offensively (slightly ahead of Williams) early, and then alongside in a more conventional 4-4-2 in the second half. And that third U.S. goal, all the way through, from the swell dummy to the delicate little chip over the goalkeeper, was top-class stuff.
- In all honesty, it’s fair to begin asking if Carlos Bocanegra can play at this level anymore? He’s playing in the Spanish second division, and on a bad team at that. So, I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the speed of the international game catches him sometimes unawares.
- It certainly did on that first goal, when the U.S. back line was all over the place. The line was too high, Bocanegra and Cameron were too far apart and then the U.S. captain simply didn’t have the foot speed to catch … Ruiz? Ruiz is a lot of things, but “fast” isn’t one of them.
- Klinsmann: “We didn’t need to take that first goal. The good thing was the response. We turned it right around.”
Three total hours of football.
One goal in total.
Yeah, we’d say Saturday’s Premier League matches are waiting for a breakthrough or three.
Southampton 0-0 Hull City — STREAM (NBCSN)
The Tigers registered the first three shots of a testy game, but are yet to find the goal which will worry Swansea City ahead of Sunday.
Sunderland 0-0 Bournemouth — STREAM (CNBC)
Artur Boruc has several saves for the Cherries as Sunderland works hard to avoid becoming the first relegated club of the Premier League season.
West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Leicester City — STREAM
Vardy punished Pulis’ plans when Leicester took advantage of a poor back pass from Allan Nyom. Shinji Okazaki sent Vardy on goal, and the striker hit to the near post to beat a splayed Ben Foster.
Stoke City 0-0 West Ham United — STREAM
Winner goes top half which, suffice it to say, is not the way either side envisioned 2016-17 playing out.
Four Premier League games are coming your way on Saturday.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]
Relegation haunted Sunderland host Bournemouth knowing they could be relegated with a defeat and other results going against them. Hull, who hover just above the relegation zone head to Southampton, while Stoke City welcome West Ham to the bet365 and West Brom welcome Leicester in a Midlands derby.
You can see every goal as it goes in on Premier League Goal Rush by clicking on the link below.
[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]
For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being very similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window.
The feature game this weekend on “Goal Rush” will be Southampton and as goals and incidents occur around the league, you will be transported to the action as it happens.
More info is available here, plus the schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below. You can stream each game live by clicking on the links below or above.
10 a.m. ET: Southampton vs. Hull City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sunderland vs. Bournemouth – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Stoke City vs. West Ham – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. Leicester City – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
Fresh from the announcement that Tottenham will play all of their home games in the 2017-18 season at Wembley Stadium, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has shared his thoughts on the years ahead for Spurs.
[ MORE: Spurs’ US connection continues ]
He is far from positive about Spurs temporarily moving across north London to Wembley while their new 61,000 capacity stadium, on the site of their current White Hart Lane home, is finished.
Wenger, 67, spoke about Spurs’ stadium move ahead of the final North London Derby at the old White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and gave his rivals a little advice after he oversaw Arsenal’s move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.
“Much more [difficult] than you imagine it,” Wenger said. “First of all because you face financial restrictions, like we did. Although it might be less in the future because we have more income. Secondly as well because you don’t feel at home like you were before. And you need to recreate a kind of history to feel comfortable and to feel that you play at home. I would say [it takes] two years.”
With Spurs on the verge of finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years (and the first time since Wenger has been at the club) the power struggle in north London has never been closer. Even if Wenger doesn’t want to admit it…
Yes, it will take them time to adjust to their new stadium when they move in as planned for the 2018-19 season but in the meantime Spurs’ record at Wembley has been appalling this season. Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have won just one of the five games they played there with two defeats in the UEFA Champions League as they played their group stage game at the home of English soccer.
Aside from the obvious difficulties of moving from their atmospheric and historic current home at White Hart Lane, there are some pretty cool plans for Spurs to say farewell to their home of 118 years.
Perhaps the coolest is that every season ticket holder this season will receive a key chain which shows off blades of grass from the final White Hart Lane pitch.
With a busy week behind us it’s time to stock of who the stars players in the Premier League are.
[ MORE: Power Rankings archive ]
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League.
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections of the top 20 players in the PL right now.
- Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Up 1
- Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) – Up 3
- Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – New entry
- Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Up 9
- Vincent Kompany (Man City – Up 14
- Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – Down 4
- Leroy Sane (Man City) – Down 3
- Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – Down 2
- Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Down 6
- Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) – Even
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – New entry
- Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace) – Down 5
- N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – Down 1
- Diego Costa (Chelsea) – New entry
- Harry Maguire (Hull City) – Up 1
- Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) – Down 1
- Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) – New entry
- Josh King (Bournemouth) – New entry
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) – New entry
- David De Gea (Man United) – Even