There’s plenty of quality on the U.S. Gold Cup roster, surely enough to plow through group play against regional small fries Belize and Cuba, and hold its own against stronger Costa Rica.
But could there have been a little more quality, still?
(MORE: Klinsmann names Gold Cup roster)
And could there have been slightly more diversity from this roster to the one that just saw the United States so deftly navigate a four-week run of heavy-hitter friendlies and important World Cup qualifiers? For instance, don’t we all know what Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco bring to the party? And should Chris Wondolowski, nowhere near 2012 form and having gotten previous chances with the full U.S. team, be part of this Gold Cup Cup roster?
Here are five MLS men I would have liked to have seen in the Gold Cup mix (listed alphabetically):
- Juan Agudelo: Having gotten lost in the organizational chaos that is Chivas USA, Agudelo (pictured on the left) is looking increasingly settled at New England. Don’t forget, this guy is still just 20 years old. It just seems like he’s been around a lot longer.
- FC Dallas’ George John: He’s a better passer than Omar Gonzalez and equal in ball winning to Matt Besler, the current first choice men in central defense under Jurgen Klinsmann. And John is better in most areas than Orozco. So …
- Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee: He is in stunning form, scoring again and again for Chicago, now with goals in all seven matches with the Fire since coming over from the LA Galaxy. (His latest came in a U.S. Open Cup win over Orlando City.) Simply put, in form and confidence, Magee is in a much better place at the moment that Wondolowski.
- New York Red Bulls Dax McCarty: Injuries have prevented the New York Red Bulls central midfielder from being quite his dominant 2012 self, but he’s still got the right blend of technical merit, tenacity and know-how to gobble up the midfield on his good days.
- Philadelphia Union’s Amobi Okugo: Another center back, one having a great year for Philadelphia. Plus, his versatility – the Union man can also play as a holding midfielder – makes the 22-year-old American worth introducing into the full national team sooner rather than later.
High-flying left back Benjamin Mendy‘s Manchester City takeoff has been delayed by a thigh injury.
Pep Guardiola revealed Thursday that Mendy is doubtful for City’s Aug. 12 Premier League opener at Brighton and Hove Albion despite passing a medical to push through a $68 million move from Monaco.
Saying Mendy is “a little bit injured,” Guardiola said to expect an absence of two to three weeks.
[ MORE: LAFC hires Bob Bradley ]
The depth chart behind Mendy is incomplete, though City has added two right backs this offseason in Kyle Walker and Danilo.
The latter would be the front-runner to start in Mendy’s place, as he did in a 3-5-2 as Man City beat Real Madrid 4-1 on Wednesday.
Man City follows its opener at Brighton with a visit from Everton and a trip to Bournemouth.
Hard-nosed midfielder Rajda Nainggolan has been linked to Manchester United and Chelsea for some time, but Thursday linked up long-term with his present club.
Nainggolan, 29, signed a new deal with AS Roma through the 2020-21 season, putting the Belgian box-to-box mid at the heart of i Lupi‘s plans to chase down Juventus.
[ MORE: Chatting with De Rossi ]
Nainggolan has been in the last two Serie A Best XIs.
The 29-times capped Belgian has six goals for his national team, and has 255 Serie A appearances between Cagliari and Roma. Nainggolan has 31 goals and 18 assists in those matches, scooping 62 yellows and two send-offs but never being handed straight red.
While it’s a perceived blow for his Premier League suitors, it’s a welcome retention for Roma. He’s arguably the reason Roma was ready to part with Michael Bradley in 2014, and you can see why: He plays right up to the line but knows right where it lies.
ST. VEIT, Austria (AP) Local authorities in southern Austria have called off Sunday’s friendly match between Udinese and Hannover as the estimated number of spectators exceeds the capacity of the stadium.
The city of St. Veit says about 4,000 fans, including 280 potential football hooligans, were expected for the game at the ground of local amateur club FC Alpe Adria, which has a capacity of 2,430.
St. Veit mayor Gerhard Mock says “it’s a shame … but security comes first.”
It’s not immediately clear whether the match between the Italian and German top-flight teams can be moved to a larger venue. Both Udinese and Hannover are having their preseason training camps in the province of Carinthia.
Wayne Rooney will play his first competitive game for Everton in 13 years.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
That storyline will dominate Everton’s return to Europe as they kick off their 2017-18 UEFA Europa League campaign in front of a packed house at Goodison Park on Thursday.
The Toffees welcome Slovakian side MFK Ruzomberok for the first leg of the third qualifying round as they aim to make it back to the group stage for the first time since 2014-15.
Click on the link above to follow not only Everton’s game but all of the Europa League qualifiers going on across Europe this afternoon with the likes of AC Milan, Fenerbache, PSV, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao all in action.
If Ronald Koeman‘s side successfully navigate their way past Ruzomberok then they will be in the play-off round which is the final hurdle before the group stage.