HOUSTON – The easy picks are Kyle Beckerman, Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi and Eddie Johnson, all of whom seem lead pipe locks to start Tuesday against Canada.
(Let’s make that “overmatched” Canada – but that’s another story.)
Based on what I saw last night at the public practice, on what I’ve heard from the three weeks of workouts at the Home Depot Center and on, well, just some good, old-fashioned dart throwing, this is my best guess on how Jurgen Klinsmann will line up his men for tonight’s 8 p.m. CT kickoff in Houston.
Apologies, right away, on the completely lame lack of guess at goalkeeper. Tally Hall was especially strong early in the camp, from what I understand, but Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid caught up and, well, each one has been as solid as the other two. Being honest, I have no idea.
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- There aren’t a lot of natural outside backs in camp, so Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow are great bets to play at some point, if they don’t start.
- LA Galaxy veteran A.J. DeLaGarza has mostly been working as a center back in camp, but we know he can also play on the right. That’s where his previous caps were earned. So he could wind up anywhere along the back line. But I do expect Matt Besler to get his first cap alongside Gonzalez in the middle of the U.S. defense.
- Brad Davis is one of the more experienced men in camp, even if he has just five U.S. caps and no time previously under Klinsmann. Still, considering the lack of midfield options here in Houston, and since this is the Dynamo man’s hometown and home stadium, I like him to start.
- Beckerman has played 11 times under Klinsmann, including seven starts. He’s been the undisputed camp leader. He’ll be in the first 11.
- Zusi could find himself along the right as we saw him last year, although that was in a 4-3-3 look, which is a different set of responsibilities. With Zusi in the middle, the possibilities along the right include Gatt, Brad Evans, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud and Benny Feilhaber. Clearly, the attack structure would look different with “wingers” like Gatt or Bedoya out there, as opposed guys who want to lean inside, like Diskerud, Evans or Feilhaber.
- Remember, Gatt closed out 2012 in the starting lineup in the U.S. draw with Russia. And by most accounts, that was a good day for the winger.
- Johnson and Juan Agudelo are the two most talented strikers in camp, although Chris Wondolowski will almost certain get on the field at some point.
Play until you hear the referee’s whistle. In theory, so simple. In practice, it only takes a single second of concentration lapse to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.
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Such is life for Karyn Forbes, member of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team. In the above video, you’ll observe Forbes, a 24-year-old midfielder, giving away perhaps the most bizarre penalty kick you’ll ever see. You’ll have to watch for yourself to believe it.
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Unfortunately for Forbes, though the whole of the ball might have crossed the whole of the end line, the referee did not blow her whistle… not until Forbes picked the ball up with her hands and carried it to her goalkeeper.
BERLIN (AP) The German Football League (DFL) has given the go-ahead for the possible testing of video replays in the Bundesliga over a two-year pilot phase.
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The DFL says it will be lodging an application with FIFA to take part if the pilot phase is approved by the International Football Association Board at its next annual general meeting on March 5.
The DFL says video replays could be used by a “team of impartial match officials for the purpose of avoiding any evidently incorrect decisions” and that the pilot phase would be preceded by “intensive preparations.”
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These would include the settlement of costs among FIFA, the IFAB, the DFL and German football federation, as well as training for the candidates.
West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.
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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.
“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”
Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.
Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?
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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.
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Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.