DaMarcus Beasley to join 100 cap club, who else is in it?

Leave a comment

Tomorrow night in Cleveland, Ohio, the USMNT will play Belgium in a friendly.

We all know that.

But some of you may have forgotten that it will be a hugely significant night for one US player in particular. DaMarcus Beasley is in line to make his 100th appearance for the USA.

Take a bow sir. You’re about to enter US soccer history.

Throughout plenty of trials and tribulations in recent season, Beasley’s importance to the USMNT hasn’t wavered and his versatility in recent months has seen him take on plenty of new roles for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side. With an appearance against Belgium tomorrow, Beasley will reach the incredible landmark of 100 games for his national team.

The former PSV Eindhoven, Glasgow Rangers and Chicago Fire star is currently without a club. But with some good showings for the US over the next few weeks, surely “Beez” will figure all that out.

Anyway, we thought it would be nice to take a quick look at the illustrious company Beasley will now be in, as he becomes just the 13th player to reach a century of appearances for the Nats.

Cobi Jones (164 appearances)

The all-time leader in appearances, Jones epitomized the US national team for 12 years. A member of the national soccer hall of fame, Jones is weaven into the fabric of US soccer.

Landon Donovan (144 appearances)

Most USMNT fans are hoping Donovan racks up even more appearances than this. The 31-year-old LA forward is already the nation’s leading goalscorer with 49 goals. Will he ever get the chance to reach 50?

Jeff Agoos (134 appearances)

For over 15 years Agoos was a mainstay in central defense for the US, with his tough tackling and steely determination helping forge the USA’s identity as a soccer nation.

Marcelo Balboa (128 appearances)

Around almost as long as Agoos, Balboa anchored the US defense at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and along with pretty much all of these guys, was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Claudio Reyna (112 appearances)

The new Director of Football for New York City FC, Reyna was an international figurehead of the US side in his playing days.

Carlos Bocanegra (110 appearances)

Still hoping to add to this tally but not included in recent squads, Bocanegra has struggled this season in Europe after Rangers’ relegation meant he went out on loan to struggling Racing Santander in Spain. Surely this isn’t how Boca’s US career will end?

Paul Caliguiri (110 appearances)

A wily player who scored perhaps the most famous goal in US soccer history. “The shot heard around the world” sealed the USA’s qualification to the 1990 World Cup. Caliguiri is written into US soccer folklore.

Eric Wynalda (106 appearances)

Lethal striker who sits second all-time with 34 goals, Wynalda was renowned for his hard play and clinical finishing. Punditry and coaching have followed his playing career.

Kasey Keller (102 appearances)

Evergreen Keller bowed out of MLS in Seattle at the age of 41, and his status as the USA’s top ‘keeper remained for many seasons. Keller is now involved with TV broadcasts and is coaching with the US U-20 side.

Earnie Stewart (101 appearances)

The Dutch-American midfielder played all but one season of his career in Holland, as he flourished as a goalscoring midfielder. Stewart spent one year with D.C. United in MLS. Now he is the Director of Football at AZ Alkmaar.

Tony Meola (100 appearances)

The second goalkeeper to make this list, Meola shone in several MLS seasons. His most successful spell came with the Kansas City Wizards where he won MVP honors and an MLS Cup.

Joe-Max Moore (100 appearances)

One of the great USMNT midfielders, who shone overseas at Everton. Moore could have won many more caps but his career was ended early through injury. Great talent.

LIVE, UCL – Sevilla vs. Man United, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho has created a splash this morning by benching Paul Pogba despite utilizing a 3-man central midfield formation as Manchester United heads to Spain to take on Sevilla in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg meeting.

Pogba was left out of Saturday’s win over Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup due to illness, but having made the trip to Sevilla with the matchday squad, it seems his omission is instead due to tactical reasons. 21-year-old academy product Scott McTominay starts in Pogba’s place alongside Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera, with the Frenchman on the bench among the substitutes.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

The decision is surprising given Manchester United’s 16-point deficit in the Premier League table as they trail runaway favorites Manchester City, leaving the Champions League as the best competition remaining that the Red Devils have a shot to win.

Up front for Manchester United, Alexis Sanchez carries the creative load along with Juan Mata, with both supporting Romelu Lukaku at the striker position. Meanwhile, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof continue to work as the central defensive partnership, while Antonio Valencia captains the side as full-back, mirrored by Ashley Young on the other edge.

In the other matchup, Roma heads to the Ukraine to take on Shakhtar Donetsk, who finished 2nd in Group F three points behind Manchester City. The Ukranian side has only just returned from its winter break, with just a single game played since December 10th.

Roma, meanwhile, has pulled itself out of a rut just in time for the return of Champions League play, with three straight Serie A wins coming on the heels of a five-match winless run. They have scored eight goals over those three wins, with a pair of road clean sheets among the group. 20-year-old Turkish winger Cengiz Under is on fire over the win streak, scoring four goals over that span.


Today’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Sevilla vs. Manchester United – 2:45 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma – 2:45 p.m. ET

Reports: Mourinho to leave Paul Pogba out of Champions League lineup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to multiple reports across England, including the BBC, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is ready to leave Paul Pogba out of his starting lineup for Wednesday’s Champions League match against Sevilla despite utilizing a 4-3-3 formation with three central midfielders.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The reports state that Pogba will be left on the bench in favor of youngster Scott McTominay, who will start alongside Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic. Mourinho has spoken highly of McTominay recently, saying three days ago, “I think Scott deserves more than what he is getting.”

“Maybe it’s because he’s this kind of kid profile: a normal haircut, no tattoos, no big cars, no big watches, humble kid, arrive in the club when he was nine or 10,” Mourinho said in what many perceived to be a thinly veiled slap at Pogba.

Mourinho has held back from publicly criticizing his $125 million midfielder in the media, but his actions on the field suggest otherwise. The 24-year-old has failed to record 90 minutes in three straight Premier League matches, seeing his manager yank him before the full-time whistle in two and failing to make the starting lineup in the other, leaving many to speculate a rift between the two.

The decision is especially surprising given Juan Mata‘s comments earlier Wednesday that suggested Manchester United is prioritizing the Champions League, given their 16-point deficit to Manchester City in the Premier League table.

Pogba missed the 2-0 FA Cup win over Huddersfield on Saturday due to illness, but it’s hard to imagine that four days later that keeps the French superstar on the bench, especially given his ability to make the trip to Sevilla with the matchday squad.

Leicester City settles Financial Fair Play dispute with Football League

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Leicester City will owe the Football League a reduced fine after coming to an agreement with the English lower-league governing body over a dispute regarding the 2013/14 season.

The Foxes, who won the Championship that season and were promoted to the Premier League, were handed an official breach of Financial Fair Play rules after accruing a loss exceeding the allowed $11 million amount. However, Leicester City argued that the deficit was due to “allowable” amounts regarding promotion and academy costs.

After talks between the two parties, the EFL announced Leicester City will owe a reduced amount of $4.33 million. They could have owed up to $18 million, the differential between the allowed amount and their actual posted loss of $20.8 million.

In an official release, the EFL announced, “The EFL acknowledges that [Leicester City] did not make any deliberate attempt to infringe the Rules or to deceive and that the dispute arose out of genuine differences of interpretation of the Rules between the parties.”

After initially receiving word of the notice back in 2014, the Foxes had legally challenged the fine, but that had been put on hold after litigation began in 2015 between the EFL and Queens Park Rangers for a similar dispute. Bournemouth was also fined after incurring a significant loss in their 2014/15 promotion season. Teams that breach rules but are not promoted face transfer bans, such as Fulham, Bolton, and Nottingham Forest received through the 2014/15 season.

Who’s to blame? A closer look at Chelsea’s blunder late vs. Barcelona

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As our very own Joe Prince-Wright explained yesterday in the aftermath of Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League Round of 16, Antonio Conte could not have set his team up better for success at Stamford Bridge.

And yet, they walked away from the first leg with a disappointing result, one that could set up Barcelona with the advantage as they head to the Camp Nou in two weeks time.

So where did it all go wrong? That pass from Andreas Christensen, obviously – the one that gifted Lionel Messi a late goal. But is Christensen to blame? Or were there other culprits?

Clearly, the pass was ill-advised. Christensen sends the ball across his own box parallel to the goal mouth, which Andreas Iniesta easily pilfers and sends to Messi for his first goal against Chelsea. It was a pass they teach 7-year-olds not to make, one that even the youngest of dedicated soccer players knows to avoid.

Christensen makes an easy target, given that he is just 21 years old, has only just recently earned his way into the Blues starting lineup, and was the most obvious culprit having made the fateful pass.

However, upon closer inspection, it may not have even been meant to reach the far side of the field.

Christensen’s exasperated reaction suggests the pass was likely intended for Cesc Fabregas who sat at the top of the box under little pressure. Christensen was closed down on the far touchline with little room to operate, and his outlet to Fabregas in the middle of the field was a good option, even if the general idea of a pass in that direction is usually frowned upon. However, Christensen’s pass was just slightly behind Fabregas, and the Spaniard ultimately decided to let the ball go instead of chasing it down, leaving it for a less populated area of the field.

Unfortunately, with his back turned to the eventual destination of the pass, Fabregas was unaware that Iniesta had anticipated its flight path and was already making a run to steal the ball. When the veteran Barcelona midfielder reached the ball, he was challenged by a sliding Cesar Azpilicueta, who completely whiffed. While Christensen and Fabregas were culpable of putting the team in a dangerous situation, Azpilicueta’s tackle was an abomination. Azpilicueta actually reached the ball first, but inexplicably failed to make contact with the ball, allowing Iniesta to easily evade the slide and still take charge of the ball.

Andreas Christensen is the clear perpetrator, but Fabregas and Azpilicueta both contributed negatively to the situation, leaving Chelsea at a slight disadvantage heading into a hostile environment despite Antonio Conte’s best efforts. Sadly, Conte will be the one to shoulder the accountability at the end of the season if Chelsea goes out of the Champions League, even though he received top marks for the match, and his players let him down.