Thanks to Jose Villarreal and Luis Gil, the U.S. U-20s are one step closer to this summer’s World Cup, with the team’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday giving the team Group A at the CONCACAF tournament in Puebla, Mexico. Now the team faces a in-and-in Tuesday against Canada in the competition’s quarterfinals.
The four quarterfinal victors will clinch spots in the 2012 U-20 World Cup, which begins in Turkey on June 21.
The U.S. had already clinched a place in the knockout round after Haiti lost to Costa Rica on Wednesday. With the victory over the Ticos, the U.S., winners of Group A, avoided the first place team in Group B. Costa Rica gets that honor, slated to play Cuba on Tuesday.
Friday’s only goal came early in the second half when Gil lofted a corner into the middle of the area. Villarreal rose uncontested to head a shot toward Jairo Monge’s goal line, the Costa Rican keeper unable to react to a well-headed ball that became the game’s only score.
Gil now has a goal and an assist in the tournament having scored in the third minute of Monday’s 2-1 victory over Haiti.
Per U.S. Soccer’s report, head coach Tab Ramos deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation against Costa Rica, a setup that featured Villarreal at its tip. Gil, Sporting KC draftee Mikey Lopez, Columbus prospects Shane O’Neill and Wil Trapp, and Chivas USA defender Juan Pablo Ocegueda were other Major League Soccer representatives in the U.S.’s starting lineup.
The tournament continues Saturday with Jamaica facing Panama while Mexico takes on El Salvador. All four teams, having already clinched spots in the quarterfinals, are jockeying for position in the knockout round.
Here are the highlights, courtesy of FOX Soccer.
Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.
Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.
The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.
[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]
Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.
Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.
LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.
The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.
Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.
Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.
Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.
FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.
[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]
Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.
Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”
Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.
That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.
[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]
Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.
Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.
Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.