Uruguay accuse Neymar of diving ahead of Confederations Cup semi

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We all know about the protests and antics taking place off the field in Brazil during the 2013 Confederations Cup. But on the pitch, the Brazilian national team have been in fine form.

After winning all three of their group games and registering a +7 goal differential, Brazil face South American rivals Uruguay this afternoon in a semifinal clash. With Brazil wary of Uruguay’s strikers and Uruguay singling out one individual.

Both teams know each other extremely well, and despite a planned protest by over 100,000 Brazilians before the game, expect plenty of violence on the field as the two CONMEBOL giants go head-to-head.

And Uruguayan captain Diego Lugano has added fuel to the fire, after accusing Brazilian superstar Neymar of fooling referees into awarding free kicks… Diving to you and I.

“At this Confederations Cup it’s not just a case of someone being very apt at pretending to be fouled – Neymar is very lightweight. He can drop to the ground and fool the referees, and the rivals.”

Lugano certainly doesn’t take any prisoners with his tough-tackling displays and Neymar should expect a few of those this afternoon. Tempers will flare in this clash to make the Confederations Cup final and with Luis Suárez involved… anything can happen.

Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil side seem to have finally found their identity and with a tough exterior, the likes of Neymar can influence the game and assert their attacking impetus on proceedings.

(MORE: Confederations Cup semifinal preview; Brazil vs. Uruguay, Spain vs. Italy)

However that is exactly why Brazil are wary of Uruguay, with Suárez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan highlighted as the dangermen.

“Those three are very powerful forwards. Individually, they can decide a game,” goalkeeper Julio Cesar said. “I know all of them very well and we must pay attention because any lapse in concentration could see them decide the game.”

However Uruguay have flattered to deceive during this tournament. They hammered Tahiti 8-0 and narrowly defeated Nigeria after a 2-1 defeat to Spain in the opening game. Óscar Tabarez will probably switch to a formation that can adapt to a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3 at the drop of a hat.

But despite the Brazilians being wary of Uruguay’s attacking panache, Scolari’s side will get the main share of possession and must do something with it. If they don’t then Uruguay will make them pay, they are solid, won’t give up many chances and Brazil will find it tough going to make the final.

(MORE: More protests planned around Confederations Cup semifinal on Wednesday)

La Celeste will look to hit Brazil on the break with Cavani and Suarez lethal finishers when given the chance. Throw Forlan into the mix and there will be plenty of Uruguayans lining up to land the hammer blow if Brazil slip up. Everything is set up for a wonderful game in Belo Horizonte this afternoon. You can watch the game live on ESPN at 2:30pm ET in the US.

STREAM: CONCACAF tripleheader concludes with USMNT

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CONCACAF’s bottom three sides in the Hex standings look to make the table incredibly tight as World Cup qualifying finds three-straight matches on the docket beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Los Catrachos were creamed 6-0 by the U.S. on Friday, and return home hoping a wounded Costa Rica remains vulnerable. Honduras is dead last on goal differential, but three points would be huge and put them level with Los Ticos. Costa Rica won its first two matches before falling to Mexico on Friday.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico

El Tri has two wins and a draw from their first three Hex matches, and will be without Rafa Marquez on Tuesday. A win guarantees Mexico the top spot heading into the next round of matches in June. The Soca Warriors surprised some with their 1-0 win over visiting Panama on Tuesday. Mexico is a different class.

Panama vs. USMNT

Despite its miserable start, the U.S. can find itself as high as second with a win and help from Honduras. The injuries remain plenty for the Yanks, who are without Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Sebastian Lletget, and John Brooks. Panama has allowed just a single goal through three Hex matches, but also has only managed one.

AFC and Oceania wrap: Iran, New Zealand take next steps

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With CONMEBOL and CONCACAF serving as the main course later Tuesday, the morning and afternoon saw big World Cup qualifiers on the other side of the world.

[ MORE: Three keys for USA v Panama ] 

Asian qualifying

Iran is on the verge of qualification for Russia 2018 after Persepolis star Mehdi Taremi bagged his ninth international goal in a 1-0 home win over China.

Iran leads Group A by four points, but second-place South Korea and third-place Uzbekistan kept pace with 1-0 home wins of their own. Hong Jeong-ho scored in South Korea’s win over Syria, while Odil Ahmendov’s 65th minute free kick was enough to push Uzbekistan past Qatar.

The goalkeeping was… less than ideal.

Over in Group B, shutouts were the name of the game for high-powered hosts as well.

Japan stayed atop the group with a 4-0 win over Thailand, as a trio of players with Premier League experience — Maya Yoshida, Shinji Kagawa, and Shinji Okazaki — joined Gent’s Yuya Kubo on the scoreboard.

Saudi Arabia is level with Japan on points thanks to Yahya Al-Shehri’s post-halftime goal in a 1-0 win over Iraq, while Australia saw off United Arab Emirates thanks to goals from Burton Albion’s Jackson Irvine and Ingolstadt’s Mathew Leckie.

That leaves Australia three points behind Saudi Arabia and Japan in the race for two of three automatic spots. The Socceroos hosts the Green Falcons in June before an August trip to Saitama in a pair of matches which will decide who goes directly to Russia and who has to win a pair of playoffs: One against the Group A’s third-place team and another against CONCACAF’s fourth place side.

Oceania qualifying

New Zealand took the next step in collecting Oceania’s berth in the intercontinental playoff with a 2-0 win over Fiji in Wellington. PEC Zwolle winger Ryan Thomas bagged a brace for the All Whites.

New Zealand will next face either Tahiti, Solomon Islands, or Papua New Guinea over two legs in late August and early September for the right to battle the fifth place CONMEBOL team for a World Cup berth. That could be Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, or even Colombia.

Tahiti hosts Papua New Guinea at 1 a.m. EDT Wednesday, and will be the odds-on favorite to face New Zealand with a win.

After further tests, Lletget to miss 4-6 months

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So much for initial reports.

Less than 24 hours after the LA Galaxy announced that Sebastian Lletget had come through his injury on USMNT duty with no structural damage, a specialist found something worse.

Lletget has a Lisfranc injury and requires surgery, meaning the Galaxy and the U.S. will be without the midfielder for four to six months.

[ MORE: Spurs eager for U.S. return ]

Lletget, 24, spent a half-decade with West Ham but couldn’t break into the squad before returning to the U.S. last summer. He became a mainstay for the Galaxy, earning a call-up to the national team.

He scored his first USMNT goal on Friday to open the World Cup qualifier against Honduras, but was injured after a hard sliding tackle from Ever Alvarado.

Galaxy has depth beyond Lletget and Jermaine Jones, with Rafael Garcia, Joao Pedro, and Baggio Husidic able to fill a similar role, but this one stings for the Galaxy. Get well, Sebastian.

Scouting report: Everton target Orlando’s Cyle Larin

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Reports have been suggesting the Orlando City’s star striker Cyle Larin is attracting some serious interest from Premier League side Everton.

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Larin, 21, has started the MLS season off in red-hot form and the report suggests the Toffees have bid $4 million for his talents. They’ll likely have to up that offer for the Canadian national team star.

What is Larin all about?

With Romelu Lukaku seeming to be heading towards the exit door this summer as his contract saga rumbles on, it’s not outlandish to state that Larin has a very similar style to the prolific Belgian international. Of course, he has yet to test himself in the PL and Lukaku’s boots would be a big pair to fill if Larin did arrive at Goodison Park as some kind of replacement in the coming months, yet when you watch Larin play there are so many similarities between the pair.

Ronald Koeman is always eager to give youth a chance and with Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all getting regular minutes this season, so Larin would get chances to impress if he ended up on Merseyside.

Here are some key stats Toffees fans will want to know too:

  • 17 – Number of goals Larin scored in his debut MLS season, the most-ever by a Rookie
  • Larin has scored all three of Orlando’s goals so far in the 2017 MLS season
  • He has scored 39 goals in 68 appearances for Orlando since arriving in 2015
  • For Canada, he has five goals in 19 appearances after making his debut as a teenager
  • Larin became the first-ever Canadian to be selected as the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft when he joined Orlando in 2015

Click play on the video above to see Larin’s best moments so far in MLS, as he continues his impressive development.