U.S. soccer player Benny Feilhaber in Co

Jurgen Klinsmann addresses Benny Feilhaber’s status

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It’s interesting to see where Jurgen Klinsmann strategically picks his spots to be a little more revealing about those highly scrutinized personnel choices.

Sometimes he just says “This Guy” is ahead of “That Guy” and leaves it there. (Still more than you get from some coaches.)

Other times, the U.S. manager drops the bucket deeper into the knowledge well and pulls out a little more for consumption from a thirsty public. We get that today with the mercurial Benny Feilhaber.

So many U.S. Soccer supporters wonder why Feilhaber, a technically gifted midfielder who was part of the American World Cup team two-and-half years back in South Africa, cannot gain more traction under Klinsmann.

Feilhaber had one appearance last year. It lasted 61 minutes in a February friendly … then he was gone. For the rest of the year Feilhaber got as many minutes as Thomas Dooley – and he hasn’t been part of the program for 15 years.

So the January camp and the friendly against Canada represented huge opportunity for Feilhaber, who hasn’t always assimilated smoothly into the larger group dynamic. Klinsmann said Monday that Feilhaber had a good camp and left a “really positive impression” on the staff.

“And also he played a really decent second half against Canada,” Klinsmann said.

(MORE: Foursome of notable omissions, including Feilhaber)

So why, then, was Feilhaber not part of the 24-man selection announced Monday for this week’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras? Clearly, the technical ability is there. Even Klinsmann says so.

“He’s right there! He is always in our discussion when we put a roster together,” Klinsmann said via teleconference Monday.

When asked (OK … When I asked … ) if Klinsmann could help us understand what Feilhaber needed to get himself past this plateau, the U.S. coach did take us a little deeper.

“We want him to become more of a ‘pusher’ in terms of being more involved in the game. And on a consistent basis, meaning every couple minutes, every two or three minutes. Here and there it seems like he is fading out and then coming back in.

“He’s a little inconsistent, but he’s working on that. That has to do obviously with the technical approach, but also with the physicality of the game, the rhythm and the pace of the game.”

Klinsmann mentioned conversations with Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes about this very subject and predicted that SKC’s demanding coach will push Feilhaber to improve on those very elements. Given Sporting’s high pressure, go-go style, Feilhaber will have little choice. If he drifts or becomes too static for SKC it will be obvious to everyone to see, because his teammates will be zipping and zooming at a measurably greater speed around him.

Klinsmann also mentioned “time lines” and “urgency.” Here the message to all players could not be clearer: It’s time! Make a move now, get into the qualifiers – or risk being left behind for Brazil 2014. That, of course, is almost every soccer players’ dream, to find themselves in a World Cup.

“We think he absolutely has the qualities, has the technical ability to be part of the inner circle of the national team,” Klinsmann said. “Not being called in for this game doesn’t mean he’s out of the picture.

“We expect for Benny to push it now, to show with his club team and when he has a chance coming into our group. Because with World Cup qualifiers and [this summer’s CONCACAF] Gold Cup, there will be opportunities for Benny coming up.”

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.