Jurgen Klinsmann talks injuries, absences ahead of USMNT’s Tuesday qualifier vs. Panama

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SEATTLE, Wash. — Expect more than your typical glut of lineup speculation ahead of their qualifier against Panama, because with collection of nagging injuries and one key suspension, the U.S. will have to come up with a new tweak ahead of their Tuesday’s match in Seattle.

Don’t feel too bad, for them, though. Panama’s already suffered a huge loss, with veteran target man Blas Pérez ruled out with gastrointestinal problems. With the possible exception of Michael Bradley, there’s no loss the U.S. could suffer that would have as big an effect on their Tuesday chances.

Klinsmann deserves some credit for that. It’s been a rough haul, in the minds of many U.S. Men’s National Team fans, but Klinsmann has forged a team that’s capable of dealing with a myriad of obstacles. Dempsey tired? Altidore slumping? Howard out, or full backs falling by the wayside? In Klinsmann’s mind, those are things good teams should be training to overcome.

(MORE: Adaptability evident on left side of U.S. defense.)

So although availability issues are effecting the likes of Jones, Zusi, and Gomez ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier, Klinsmann remains positive. And he’s not calling in any reinforcements.

“At the moment we’re all good with the squad we have,” the U.S. boss said, asked Saturday whether injury concerns would spur reinforcements ahead of Panama or the following clash, with Honduras. “There’s not need that we need to bring in more players, as of today … even if we don’t dress 23. We’re good. We’re covered everywhere.”

During halftime of Saturday’s Sounders-Whitecaps match, Klinsmann address five players’ status, contributors ranging from vital starters to potential bench options.

Graham Zusi

On Friday, Zusi picked up a yellow card ahead of Jamaica’s only goal, a booking that sees him suspended for Tuesday’s match.

While Klinsmann laments the loss, he’s keeping the suspension in perspective:

“It’s a pity because [Zusi’s] in a really good shape right now, (and) not only providing great assists for Jozy – that happened two games in a row. His overall game is very consistent, very sharp. Defensively he’s helping the team a lot.

“It’s a bummer for him, but we went into those games with quite a few players on yellow cards, and this is what happens. These moments happen. You have to fix them. There are enough players on our roster that (they) can cover (for) him and come in and play their role.

“It’s a pity he’s not there.”

(MORE: Jamaica-to-Seattle gives U.S. long trip, quick turnaround.)

Jermaine Jones

Having suffered a concussion in the second half against Jamaica, the Schalke midfielder could prove the U.S.’s more vital loss. Whomever comes in to partner Michael Bradley (assuming Klinsmann even stays with the same formation if Jones is out) would represent a distinct style change from the Jones’ bulldozing presence.

“Jermaine, he will get a couple of tests on Monday morning, so we’re taking it slow on him.”

For Klinsmann’s quote you can infer Jones may be excused from Sunday’s practice at CenturyLink.

Herculez Gomez

The new Tijuana man would be a possibility on the right with Zusi suspended … if he were healthy. Klinsmann, however, confirmed Gomez’s right knee problem will likely keep him out of the Panama match:

“Herc is one step at a time. It’s probably going to be too early Tuesday night.”

(MORE: The data collection from the U.S. defense’s 2013 performances.)

Danny Williams

Williams has been a source of minor controversy and misunderstanding, his Instagram pictures en route to Las Vegas lacking the context Klinsmann provided Saturday night.

“With Danny Williams, we tried everyday – catching up, catching up. We looked at him, and I took the decision together with the coach at Hoffenheim to release him and let him go on vacation and get him some rest and then start the next season on fresh foot, basically. He came with us to Seattle and then from here he left us and went on vacation.”

Brek Shea

The Stoke City wide man hasn’t been with the team, but his name come up Saturday as a possible option, with the tall Texan back in his old stomping grounds, rehabilitating a calf injury:

“We’re going to test him in the upcoming week. He did a lot of work in Dallas. We have another place to have added performance (testing) in Dallas, so we want to run him through a test barrier, we call it, and see where he’s at.

“There’s no rush for him coming back into the group. He’s going to be also available for the Gold Cup.

“Right now, we feel like we’re covered everywhere, so no hurry on Brek, but we’re pleased that he has no complaints high now on his calf, so every day is a good day to catch up.

LIVE – Champions League playoff: Nice-Napoli headlines action

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With Celtic (just about) booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday, four more teams will join them.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Napoli, Olympiacos, Sevilla and Hapoel Be’er Sheva all have narrow leads heading into the second legs which sets things up rather nicely for the winner takes all second legs. Olympiacos and Be’er Sheva will be feeling particularly nervous after conceding at home in the first leg.

On Wednesday five more ties takes place across Europe with Liverpool looking to book their spot in the UCL group stage against Hoffenheim.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all four matches.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs

Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli lead 2-0 on aggregate)
Astana 4-3 Celtic (Celtic advance 8-4 on aggregate)
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel Be’er Sheva lead 2-1 on aggregate)

LIVE – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

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Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Grimsby Town vs. Derby County
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm

Celtic qualify for UEFA Champions League group stage

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Celtic survived a scare in Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second season on the trot.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Brendan Rodgers‘ side beat FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff last week at Celtic Park but the trip to Kazakhstan proved much trickier with Astana leading 4-1 late in the game which had pulled the score back to 6-4 on aggregate.

However, Scott Sinclair had scored a priceless away goal to make it 1-1 at half time and despite a late flurry of goals for the hosts Olivier Ntcham scored a deflected effort and Leigh Griffiths wrapped things up late on as Celtic lost 4-3 on the night but went through 8-4 on aggregate.

Last season the Scottish champions went out in the UCL group stage after being drawn with Manchester City, Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach and will be hoping for a kinder draw this time around.

Premier League clubs on League Cup upset alert

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The second round of the League Cup (known as the Carabao Cup in 2017-18 for sponsorship reasons) kicks off on Tuesday with 13 Premier League clubs in action.

[ MORE: League Cup scores live ]

All 13 have been drawn against lower-league opposition and those klaxons you can hear signify upset alerts.

Below is a look at how each Premier League club will get on as they enter the competition on Tuesday and Wednesday with a ranking on each game out of 10, with 10 being the most likely for an upset to occur.

Remember: the seven PL teams in European competition will enter the League Cup in the third round.


Upset alert ranking for PL clubs

Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 8/10
Brighton vs. Barnet – 4/10
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom – 7/10
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City – 6/10
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth – 7/10
Watford vs. Bristol City – 5/10
MK Dons vs. Swansea City – 5/10

Wednesday
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest – 6/10
Southampton vs. Wolves – 7/10
Huddersfield Town vs. Rotherham United – 7/10
Cheltenham vs. West Ham United – 8/10
Stoke City vs. Rochdale – 6/10
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley – 6/10