When the coach Tab Ramos saw the group his U-20 side was drawn in, he knew the United States had an uphill battle.
With France and Ghana still to come, the U.S. were dismantled by Spain 4-1 in their opening match.
Many criticized Ramos’s attacking tactics which left the back line vulnerable, but he never abandoned them despite the scoreline. Following the match, the coach said he was pleased with not only his approach but his squad’s execution.
“It was a big gamble, to come out and play Spain on their side of the field,” Ramos said postmatch. “But with the way I see football, it’s a gamble I wanted to take. I did not want to play on our side of the field and still lose the game. I wanted to take a chance on winning the game and unfortunately it did not work out.”
The forward style didn’t see the U.S. leave the match entirely empty-handed, as Real Salt Lake’s Luis Gil eliminated Spain’s clean sheet with a fantastic 25-yard blast 13 minutes from the end.
“Obviously, today we played an excellent team,” said Ramos. “At the same time, we were able to do some of the things we wanted to do. We were able to take the ball from Spain, which hasn’t been easy. Even though the score doesn’t indicate it, for us, there were some very positive things.”
Barcelona’s Gerard Deulofeu impressed the most of anyone on the pitch, scoring a brace for Spain and running rampant through the U.S. back line. Ramos mentioned him by name following the match, saying “sometimes, great players will win the game no matter what you do.”
The U.S. will play France on Monday at 11 am ET in attempt to grab points and make it out of their incredibly difficult group.
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday