Luis Gil

U-20 World Cup D-Day arrives, as U.S. must beat Ghana to advance


Everything is on the line for the US youngsters against Ghana this afternoon, as Tab Ramos’ under-20 side face their final Group A game, with one thing in their mind: three points.

The US know whoever wins will likely advance to the knockout stages of the U-20 World Cup in Turkey, it’s a good old fashioned do or die encounter.

The USA’s chance to advance is in their own hands… for now.

After being battered into submission for large spells during their Group A opener, a 4-1 loss to Spain, the US bounced back by snatching a late-tie against France in Istanbul which set up today’s pivotal clash in Kayseri, Central Turkey.

But with so much pressure piled onto one game Real Salt Lake attacker Luis Gil is calm and collected ahead of the Ghana clash.

“I think we just need to shoot more,” Gil told reporters. “We can be more aggressive in taking on guys one-on-one, get them on their heels early so that way we’ll make space [for shooters].”

As the USA need a win, Gil’s mantra of increased offensive output will be the best method the US youngsters can adopt, if they’re going to extend their stay in Turkey. Ghana have lost both games, letting in four goals in the process as they were dismantled by France in the opener.

(MORE: US snatch late tie against France, keeps hope alive in U-20 World Cup)

To team news, and in midfield Ramos has plenty of options but he is missing Santos Laguna youngster Benji Joya through suspension. Sporting KC youngster Mikey Lopez could step in or captain Caleb Stanko could return to the lineup after being dropped against France.

Either way, Ramos can shuffle his squad around accordingly as the future of the US national team face a winner-takes-all match in the Turkey.

You can watch the US U-20 national team take on Ghana at 1pm ET on Thursday, live on ESPNU and

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia