Highlights and context: Video of another impressive friendly for the U.S.

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By now, you’ve probably heard: The U.S. Men’s National Team got another good result on Wednesday. Yes, it was only a friendly, and as we’ve often seen when Jurgen Klinsmann’s team takes a step up in class, there were long portions of this game where the U.S. looked two steps behind their hosts.

But just as they did in Genoa and Mexico City, the U.S. got a result, and while this one won’t settle into history next to those wins, it was still an encouraging night in Krasnodar. Two goals against a defense that hasn’t conceded in World Cup qualifying may inspire some much-needed confidence in the U.S. attack.

For now, let’s do the highlights and then consider where Wendesday’s result ranks among the U.S.’s 2012 results.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYlkBTGoy7Q]

If the U.S. defense hadn’t have gift wrapped two goals for the Russians, we could be talked about the U.S.’s third huge road win of the year. That the back line isn’t usually that error-prone should give the team some solace, though the leaks plugged by Tim Howard need to be aggressed before February.

But that’s 2013, and with this season-ending result against Russia, it seems a good time to look back and ask where today’s result ranks among the U.S.’s 14 games of 2012.

With the States having gone 9-2-3, here are the results that jump out:

4. 1-0 win in Panama – Fans have good reason to be nervous about the final round of World Cup qualifying, but a road win with the January camp’s roster should give followers reason to believe the U.S. can have success in Panama City.

3. 2-2 draw in Russia – Two comebacks, the second in the 94th minute, gave Russia their first blemish since Fabio Capello’s July debut.

2. 1-0 win in Italy – The Azzurri may not be the power they once were, but they’re still one of the world’s elite soccer nations. A win in Italy is something players will remember.

1. 1-0 win in Mexico – Taking a weak squad to Azteca (and starting an experimental Geoff Cameron-Maurice Edu pair in central defense), the U.S. looked destined for another loss in Mexico. Instead, Michael Orozco Fiscal’s goal gave the States their first every victory at Azteca.

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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