Jurgen Klinsmann, Mix Diskerud and comments that may sound harsh – but probably aren’t

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HOUSTON – If there is one guiding tenet of Jurgen Klinsmann’s philosophy that he has poured as a foundation of his program, it’s the constant drive for individual improvement.

Doing well with your club? Fantastic. Now do more!

Doing well enough to join the national team? Wonderful! Now do more.

Getting into some games for our United States of America? You go, boy! Now what else you got?

A bigger club wants you? Suh-weet!  But, uh, you still gotta keep improving.

We saw the very same thing under Bob Bradley, who pulled the first-timers aside and explained in no uncertain terms that arrival into the team was a starting point. Loose translation: “You are not there yet, kid … so don’t think you are.”

Klinsmann has just made that comprehensive crusade for personal advance – I like to call it the “blessedness of discontent” – a bigger slice of the overall program management pie.

(MORE: Who is this year national team breakout player?)

We see it again today with Mix Diskerud, the technically gifted and versatile midfielder who is pushing his way up the order. His nearby competition seems to be Benny Feilhaber (also in the current camp) and Sacha Kljestan (not in the camp).

All are roughly the same kind of player, technically gifted “tweeners” who aren’t really midfield hard men, aren’t really classic playmakers and aren’t really two-way linking men or hell-bent work horses. But they all have some qualities of each position.

At any rate, Klinsmann clearly sees something in Diskerud, 22, who recently moved to Norway’s top side, Rosenborg. Klinsmann says the coaches see Diskerud’s good qualities … but that they notice his current limitations, too.

Mix brings a lot of qualities, but he also needs to learn to become more robust, to become more physical, to not be kind of just moving around and not getting into real battles. You know, battles are everywhere; we all go into battles. This is something he will pick up the more he is playing in a certain environment, and so we are there to kind of guide him in that process.”

By the way, none of this is ever said with a derisive lean. For Klinsmann, it’s always about going farther, about pushing ahead.

Which is why I would imagine last week’s comments from Klinsmann on Clint Dempsey probably sounded surprising. They did sound harsh. But anyone who has followed the preternaturally positive U.S. manager has heard him say the same thing. Over and over. It’s never about criticizing the last move, although you could certainly have read his comments on Dempsey in last week’s Wall Street Journal piece that way. Rather, it’s Klinsmann’s colloquial way of saying “Great! Now what? Where will you take it from here.”

Brazil to play Austria in final warmup game for World Cup

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VIENNA (AP) The Austrian soccer federation says Brazil will play its final warmup game for the World Cup against Austria on June 10, a week before the five-time world champions take on Switzerland in their Group E opener.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of friendly ]

The match will be played in Vienna at Ernst Happel Stadium, the same venue where both teams last met in a 2014 friendly, which Brazil won 2-1.

Brazil has further build-up games against World Cup host Russia (March 23), world champion Germany (March 27) and Croatia (June 3) ahead of the June 14-July 15 tournament, where it also meets Costa Rica and Serbia in the group stage.

Austria failed to qualify for the World Cup but will also play friendlies against Russia on May 30 and Germany on June 2.

Fiorentina renames training ground for Davide Astori

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Fiorentina’s training ground has been renamed “Centro Sportivo Davide Astori” in honor of the club’s deceased captain.

[ MORE: Manneh added to USMNT squad ]

Davide Astori died in his team hotel room on March 4, shocking the Italian soccer world and triggering tributes around the world of soccer.

The respected Italian national team center back has had number retired by both Fiorentina and former club Cagliari.

Thousands packed a Florence piazza to salute the player en route to his funeral, and the club won its first match after his passing following vivid pre- and in-match tributes.

Kekuta Manneh added to USMNT roster for Paraguay game

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CHICAGO (AP) Mexican league midfielder Kekuta Manneh was added to the U.S. roster Monday for a March 27 exhibition against Paraguay at Cary, North Carolina.

The 27-year-old was born in Ghana and became a U.S. citizen two years ago while playing with Vancouver. He was traded to Columbus in March 2017 and signed with Pachuca in December.

[ MORE: Southampton momentum? ]

He is among eight players on the 23-man roster who could make their national team debuts. The others are goalkeeper Alex Bono; defenders Shaq Moore, Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson; midfielders Marky Delgado and Tim Weah; and forward Andrija Novakovich

Four others have played just once: goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and midfielders Weston McKennie and Kenny Saief.

After failing to qualify for the World Cup, the U.S. will not play a competitive match until this summer.

The revised roster:

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland, Denmark), Zack Steffen (Columbus).

Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town, England), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, England), Matt Miazga (Vitesse, Netherlands), Shaq Moore (Levante, Spain), Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk, Belgium), Antonee Robinson (Bolton, England), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna, Mexico), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle, England).

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Marky Delgado (Toronto), Kekuta Manneh (Pachuca, Mexico), Weston McKennie (Schalke, Germany), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta), Cristian Roldan (Seattle), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht, Belgium), Wil Trapp (Columbus), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain, France).

Forwards: Andrija Novakovich (Telstar, Netherlands), Rubio Rubin (Tijuana, Mexico), Bobby Wood (Hamburg, Germany).

Further crowd trouble could see Lyon’s European ban made active

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Lyon has not enjoyed sportsmanship on and off the pitch this season.

You’ll remember an ugly incident between its players and Everton fans this season, but it’s been Lyon’s support which has had the Ligue 1 club under the microscope for some time.

[ MORE: (Very) Fresh faces for USMNT ]

Lyon had a two-year ban suspended in April, and antics before Thursday’s Europa League match versus CSKA Moscow could see the French side’s suspension from European competition put into action. From the BBC:

Lyon have been charged with racist behaviour, crowd disturbances, throwing objects and setting off fireworks and blocking stairways.

Police say up to 150 ultras attacked officers outside Lyon’s stadium on Thursday.