Will Donovan make Klinsmann’s USMNT roster?

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Point proved Landon, you’re still pretty good.

Last night Landon Donovan fired a timely reminder to USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, as to what he can offer to the national team in upcoming qualifiers.

Klinsmann is set to announce his USMNT squad later today.

Everyone will be checking to see if Donovan has done enough to force his way back into the German’s plans.

Donovan dismantled the Philadelphia Union in a 4-1 win, with the LA Galaxy star scoring late and assisting on the two go-ahead goals. Donovan’s dazzling display piled more pressure on Klinsmann to include him in the upcoming roster for the USA’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras next month.

Does he deserve a call up? That question is still dividing many USMNT fans.

After a sensational second half against Philadelphia down by the banks of the Delaware River on Wednesday night, LD proved he is back to his best. He said as much. “I think aside from the plays that really made the goals, I just felt like I was more aggressive. I was running at people again,” Donovan said. “I felt back to my old self. It was a nice feeling.”

(More: Donovan, “Ill get my way back in” with USMNT)

So with Donovan putting in his best performance since returning from his self-imposed sabbatical over the early months of 2013, is now the right time for Klinsmann to introduce him back to the national team setup?

I think so.

Donovan hasn’t played for the US since their famous 1-0 victory in Mexico last August. And let’s face it, they haven’t exactly set the world alight without him. They’ve not done poorly. But as I have reflected in other blogs, if you have the chance to include Donovan in a USMNT squad, you do it. Even if it is off the bench, he has to be involved somehow. And Klinsmann must recognize this.

The US will be facing a hostile crowd in Jamaica. Donovan’s experience could be crucial there. Not even on the field but just to help the younger members of the squad stay focused on the game. Then home matches against Panama and Honduras could be extremely tricky affairs, with the Hex so closely contested after the opening three games.

(More: Donovan won’t be included in Klinsmann’s USMNT squad for World Cup qualifiers)

Panama and Honduras will sit back and soak up the pressure. It will be hard for Klinsmann’s side to break them down. Donovan is the perfect man to stay patient and either spark the Nats offense from the bench or come up clutch late on, as he has done many times in the past.

It seems as if I am championing Donovan’s case pretty hard. It’s hard not to. As Donovan said yesterday “I’ll get my way back in.” If that performance, and those assists, and that goal last night doesn’t do that, then I don’t know what more you can do, Landon.

(MORE: Donovan deserves better than a Gold Cup squeeze)

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga