Honduras squad falling apart ahead of clash with U.S.

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When the U.S. Men’s National Team plays Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in Salt Lake City next Tuesday, the away side will be much more patchwork than originally thought.

It was already known that Honduran center back Muma Bernardez would be suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

This morning, they’re dropping like flies.

It’s come out that Bernardez’s defensive partner Maynor Figueroa will miss the clash due to injury, per Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy:

The Figueroa injury isn’t any real surprise – he hasn’t featured in months since injuring his groin in April playing for Wigan.

However, the surprises are coming. Telemundo’s Andres Cantor is reporting via Twitter that Revolutions striker Jerry Bengtson has left the team for undisclosed reasons and will not take part in the U.S. match:

A report on MLSsoccer.com has suggested Bengtson was so furious at being left out of the team’s 2-0 win over Jamaica that he had a spat with manager Luis Fernando Suarez, and then left the team on his own for Boston when the rest of the squad made a flight connection in Houston on their way to Salt Lake City.

Finally, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated has reported that Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia could also miss the match with an injury:

Bernardez, Bengston, and Boniek Garcia all started in the 1-0 loss to Costa Rica last Saturday.  Bengtson, however, did not play in their 2-0 win over Jamaica on Tuesday, while Boniek Garcia grabbed both goals. Bengtson was the only Honduran to score when they last faced the United States, a 2-1 victory for the Stars and Stripes.

The U.S. team shouldn’t really make too many changes if any regarding this news, but it’s a positive for the home side ahead of a hugely important match.

Three points would give the U.S. nine of a possible nine points during this round of qualification matches and would put them in an absolutely wonderful position atop the hexagonal group with almost guaranteed qualification only 4 matches from the finish.

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

[ MORE: Go behind the scenes at NYCFC’s new training facility ]

Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.

Report: USMNT likely to face Brazil, Mexico in September friendlies

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The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t have a busy schedule throughout the summer, but Dave Sarachan and his side will get a tiny taste of the World Cup in September.

[ MORE: Chivas’ Almeyda exhales after CCL title win ]

ESPN FC is reporting that the USMNT will likely face Brazil and Mexico — both of whom will travel to Russia in June — later this year, as the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of finalizing both friendlies.

The matches are set to be played during the September international window, which runs from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11.

Both fixtures will reportedly be played in the United States, although venues haven’t been determined yet.

The U.S. has already begun booking a slate of difficult matches to round out 2018, with England and Italy already confirmed opponents for the Yanks in November.

The Yanks are 1-17-0 all-time against Brazil in all competitions, while the U.S. hasn’t faced Mexico since its 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca in June 2017 during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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