News and notes on United States national team

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A scattering of news and notes on the United States national team as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side prepares to gather Sunday in Cleveland ahead of five big matches, including three World Cup qualifiers in June:

Brad Evans has been added to the U.S. contingent set to assemble this weekend. Evans is a heady midfielder who can play a number of positions through the middle third. But don’t forget this: he can also play at right back, where he as appeared previously for the national team. Given the injury to Timothy Chandler and the absence of habitually under  appreciated Steve Cherundolo, that’s a very good thing.

The June 18 match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah is sold out. No surprise there considering the size of the ground and that past U.S. matches in Salt Lake sold well.

Sacha Kljestan is a champion. Again. We talked about that one yesterday.

Everyone will be excited about the match against Germany (June 2 … the full U.S. schedule for the coming weeks is below) will gobble up most of the attention. It’s Klinsmann’s old team against his new one, you know? Plus, it’s the match selected for U.S. Soccer to celebrate its centennial.

But considering all the German absences, and considering the stacked and packed roster Belgium is bringing, the tougher match may well be May 29 in Cleveland. The lowlands country defines “up and comer” in European soccer at the moment.

The Belgian roster includes Chelsea livewire attacker Eden Hazard, Spurs midfielder Moussa Dembele, Everton guiding light Marouane Fellaini, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, Aston Villa scorer Christian Benteke and quite a few others namey names of European soccer.

More on the Belgian roster is here.

The arrivals of Danny Williams and Fabian Johnson into the United States camp will be delayed – which in this case represents good news. Williams was not involved but Johnson did play as a huge Hoffenhiem win on the final Bundesliga match day. And it wasn’t just any win – their side downed powerhouse Borussia Dortmund, 2-1, in one of the most dramatic Bundesliga matches this year.

The result put Hoffenheim in a playoff against FC Kaiserslautern; the winner of the two-legged series will be a Bundesliga side next year, while the loser sets up for a season in 2. Bundesliga. That would represent a drop for Hoffenheim … and wouldn’t be good for Williams or Johnson.

Those German playoff matches are May 23 and 27.

Details of how it all unfolded are here from the official Bundesliga site and also here from U.S. Soccer.

U.S. Soccer says the ticket sales are at about 18,500 for the Belgian friendly, about 32,000 for the qualifier in Seattle and 39,000 for the friendly against Germany in Washington, D.C.

The schedule (up to Gold Cup activity later this summer) is here:

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FA Cup: Man Utd drawn vs. Brighton in QF; Chelsea to face Leicester

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Three more Premier League sides joined Chelsea and Leicester City in the quarterfinals of the 2017-18 FA Cup on Saturday, followed by the draw for the final eight…

[ WATCH: Lionel Messi finds Luis Suarez with a brilliant through ball ]

Huddersfield Town 0-2 Manchester United

Romelu Lukaku‘s first season at Man United has been, on the whole, quietly fruitful (12 PL goals, plus another 8 in other competitions), though his $96-million price tag continues to loom large. On Saturday, the big Belgian fired the Red Devils into the final eight with a brace against fellow Premier Leaguers Huddersfield.

It was 1-0 after just three minutes, when Lukaku slotted home to finish a quick counter attack set forth by a brilliant through ball from Juan Mata.

Mata made it 2-0 just before halftime, but the goal was wiped away after utilizing the video-assistant refereeing system. They don’t get much closer than this one.

United’s second came 10 minutes into the second half, when Alexis Sanchez took his turn playing Lukaku into acres of wide open space.

When the draw was made following the conclusion of Saturday’s game, we learned that United will host another PL side, Brighton & Hove Albion, in the next round.

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Coventry City

That’s because Brighton brushed aside League 2 side Coventry City to reach their first quarterfinal since 1986.

Jurgen Locadia, Connor Goldson and Leonardo Ulloa bagged the goals for the ‘Gulls.

West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Southampton

Southampton are also through to the quarterfinals, thanks to their 2-1 victory away to West Brom. Salomon Rondon’s stunning volley undoubtedly stole the headlines (WATCH HERE), but Saints are the ones to advance, thanks to goals scored by Wesley Hoedt (11th minute) and Dusan Tadic (56th).

In the next round, Southampton will be away to the winner of Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City (Monday, 2:55 p.m. ET).

Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Swansea City

The last thing relegation battlers Swansea City would have wanted is for a replay to be shoehorned into their remaining schedule, but Carlos Carvalhal’s side was unable to best Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, thus a replay at the Liberty Stadium on a yet-to-be-determined date over the next month.

Full quarterfinal draw

Sheffield Wednesday/Swansea City vs. Rochdale/Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City vs. Chelsea
Wigan Athletic/Manchester City vs. Southampton

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Rochdale vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 11 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City — 2:55 p.m. ET

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern wins it late, Leverkusen goes second

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It looked like Bayern Munich was on pace to drop points for just the fifth time this season, but then the club’s star striker stepped up in the biggest of moments.

[ MORE: TFC on the brink of adding Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ager Aketxe ]

The German leaders came back to pick up a 2-1 victory on the road at Wolfsburg after Robert Lewandowski converted a penalty kick in stoppage time.

Sandro Wagner’s second-half header had pulled the match level off of an Arjen Robben cross in the 64th minute. Robben atoned for an earlier penalty-kick miss, which would have tied the match ten minutes prior.

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke were each big winners on the day, with the two clubs moving into the top four.

Leverkusen’s 2-1 win on the road against Hertha Berlin saw Heiko Herrlich and his side move up to second place in the Bundesliga, albeit a lengthy distance behind leaders Bayern.

Schalke took care of business at home against Hoffenheim, bringing the Miners one step closer to the top four. The side is now level on 37 points with Borussia Dortmund for fourth, but the Christian Pulisic and Co. currently boast a superior goal differential.

Below are all of Saturday’s scores from around Germany’s top flight.

Cologne 1-1 Hannover 96
Hertha Berlin 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Freiburg 1-0 Werder Bremen
Wolfsburg 1-1 Bayern Munich
Schalke 2-1 Hoffenheim

Rodchenkov to AP: Russian footballers immune from drug bans

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Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov claims he helped soccer players in the country to avoid being caught doping after he followed government orders to ensure cheating was covered up.

[ MORE: Mourinho denies Pogba exit rumors ]

The former Russian anti-doping laboratory director told The Associated Press in response to questions through his lawyer that an instruction to avoid scandal came from Vitaly Mutko. Mutko is the former Russian sports minister who serves as deputy prime minster despite being at the center of the doping deception controversy exposed by Rodchenkov.

The focus is sharpening on doping practices in Russian soccer with the World Cup kicking off in Moscow in four months.

Rodchenkov says “Russian footballers were immune from doping-control actions or sanctions.”

Rodchenkov claimed Mutko said “avoid any scandal by hiding positive results” and that “doping would be handled internally”.

Video: Rondon’s exquisite volley not enough to save West Brom

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Salomon Rondon’s second-half volley was not only a beauty, but one of tremendous difficulty.

Unfortunately for he and his West Bromwich Albion side, though, it wasn’t enough for the Baggies to survive in this season’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Southampton.

[ MORE: Brilliant Messi through ball sends Suarez in for Barcelona opener ]

The Saints progressed to the quarterfinals on Saturday behind goals from Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic, and join fellow Premier League sides Chelsea, Brighton & Hove and Leicester City in the final eight.

Tadic’s goal came in the 56th minute, doubling the Southampton lead, but Rondon’s quality volley two minutes later provided West Brom with a temporary moment of relief (below).