US U-20 World Cup roster announced, as Yedlin, Gil, Villarreal all make it

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Tab Ramos has announced the United States 21-man squad for the upcoming Under-20 World Cup in Turkey later this month.

After competing at the Toulon Tournament in France during the past week or so, Ramos’ plans have been taking shape. Although now he has added some extra MLS experience to the ranks, with the likes of Jose Villarreal, Luis Gil, DeAndre Yedlin and Shane O’Neill making the final roster.

In all, nine players from MLS clubs made the roster as the United States will start their Group A campaign vs. Spain on June 21. They will then take on France on June 24, before closing out group play with a clash against on June 27.

In a statement via U.S. soccer, Ramos spoke more about the challenge in constructing his squad from such a large pool of players.

“This has been a difficult process because we’ve built a team. It’s not like we were passed on a team from U-18 that just came onto here. We started from scratch. We looked at I think 79 players through our process to come up with our final 21. It definitely wasn’t easy.”

But ultimately the former USMNT star, turned head coach of the U-20’s, is delighted with the players at his disposal.

“We’re very happy about the group we selected,” Ramos said. “Obviously it’s always difficult. Wednesday night we were up till late selecting the final couple players. It’s always hard to let a player go who’s worked so hard to get here, and we know that we have 35 players who are deserving of going to the World Cup.”

With so much top young talent to choose from, Ramos’ job is still not an easy one. The US were drawn in the dreaded “Group of Death” in the World Cup, with two of the top nations in the world in Spain and France. It will be a great measuring stick to see what stage the youth international level is at in the USA. In comparison with some of the so called leaders of youth development in European soccer, I feel the US doesn’t have that much further to go. But I could be wrong. Let’s wait and see.

GOALKEEPERS (3) : 1-Cody Cropper (Southampton FC/England), 12-Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara Univ.), 21-Zach Steffen (FC DELCO)

DEFENDERS (7) : 13-Eric Miller (Creighton Univ.), 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda (CD Guadalajara/Mexico), 5-Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), 18-Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy), 4-Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg/Germany), 14-Javan Torre (UCLA), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)

MIDFIELDERS (5) : 16-Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), 10-Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), 8-Benji Joya (Santos Laguna/Mexico), 15-Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

FORWARDS (6) : 20-Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna/Mexico), 17-Danny Garcia (Univ. of North Carolina), 7-Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire), 19-Alonso Hernandez (Monterrey/Mexico), 9-Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern/Germany), 11-Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy)

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.