Saborio head shot

Costa Rica may be without Alvaro Saborio against the U.S.

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Even with one of the Netherlands’ top scorers in camp with the United States, the Costa Ricans may have had the game’s most dangerous player on Friday. We know that Jozy Altidore hasn’t been able to replicate his Eredivisie output for Jurgen Klinsmann, and we also know what Alvaro Saborio’s capable of doing in the heights of the Rocky Mountains. The U.S. patchwork defense was going to have their hands full with the Real Salt Lake star, even if Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron are very familiar with the Costa Rican No. 9.

I say “was going to have their hands full” because the RSL striker picked up a knee injury today in practice. He’s a doubt for Friday’s qualifier in Denver.

Costa Rican outlet Deportes Repretel was one of the first to report the news, via their Facebook page. Rough translation:

Sound the alarms for the national team. Alvaro Saborío has picked up a left knee injury, and Jorge Luis Pinto confirms he’s doubtful to start Friday against the United States.

As Major League Soccer points out, Saborío is undefeated in four meetings against the United States (3-0-1). He has scored once and assisted on another. While Pinto has a number of other options for goals — Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Christian Bolaños, and Jairo Arrieta —  there isn’t a good like-for-like replacement for Saborío. If he’s out, Costa Rica may have to change their approach.

All of which will be a reprieve for the American defense. Gonzalez can handle Saborio, and Cameron’s no slouch, but Saborio is more than just a guy who’s going to butt heads with central defenders. Even the wide guys, whomever they are, will get a reprieve from Saborío’s absence …

If that happens. It’s only Wednesday. Saborío could wake up on Friday and be right as rain, though we should know more tomorrow.


EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.