Guatemala v United States

U.S. player ratings from Friday’s win over Gautemala

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Game grades from Friday night’s 6-0 win over a young Guatemalan side. Remember, it’s just Guatemala. The Americans begin Gold Cup play Tuesday in Portland against Belize.

STARTERS

GK Nick Rimando (5): Some real issue communicating with the men in front of him. There were two instances in each half where information being exchanged with teammates just wasn’t good enough, and it nearly put the United States in trouble. Otherwise not asked to make many saves. Good work with his feet, if occasionally a little too casual.

RB Michael Parkhurst (5): Very slow to move into the attack. If Parkhurst cannot help drive the attack from the back against a young Guetamalan side (read: not very good), what chance will he have against much better opposition? First cross was at the 52nd minute (and it was a well-shaped one.)

CB Oguchi Onyewu (6): Strong defending and clearing, but sometimes leaden and overly safe with his passing.  A little variety here and there will be needed against the Gold Cup opponents ahead, who are sure to pack the back. Along with Goodson, there was some occasional trouble locating Guatemala’s one striker, Minor Lopez, in the game’s early minutes.

CB Clarence Goodson (7) Tried to move ball forward with more urgency than his central partner, although not with consistently great results. Got over quickly to support Beasley, allowing the U.S. left side to push the attack from their side. Deserved the fifth U.S. goal as he is usually dangerous on set pieces when appearing internationally.

LB DaMarcus Beasley (8): Perhaps the best U.S. player in the first 45, combining well with Edgar Castillo, supplying good crosses through a keen sense of when to spring forward. And it’s nice that Beasley, aiming for his fourth World Cup, still has the legs to get there.

DM Kyle Beckerman (6): Handled the ball a lot (as you expect at that spot) and managed to almost always do something positive with it, although not at the high tempo the guys would later in that position. Gave lots of protection to his center backs. Should have scored in 21st minute, but fanned on a point-blank shot.

(MORE: What we learned from Friday’s victory in San Diego)

CM Jose Torres (5): Stationed slightly higher than Beckerman as a linking central midfielder, as Michael Bradley does these days.  But he was no Michael Bradley, just too casual or sloppy with the ball. This has the look of another opportunity that has come and gone for him, as he didn’t impress the way the second half central mid subs certainly did.

CM Joe Corona (5): He was either an early victim of an overly clogged midfield or he was the reason for it. Stationed behind Herculez Gomez in the original 4-2-3-1, he wasn’t involved and drifted unhelpfully close to the holding men behind him. Found a little more joy when he switched with Donovan, moving out to the right.

RW Landon Donovan (8): Surprisingly rickety in the first 10 minutes, most evident in two early give-aways. (Dare we even say “nervous?”) But he settled down and turned positively alive with movement and ideas when switched to a dual forward role alongside Gomez. By the second half, he was among the best U.S. men – which he should be, of course. I mean, it’s Landon Donovan! Forced a penalty kick, converted it, finished well on Holden’s arrangement and set up another goal.

LW Edgar Castillo (7): Was a primary reason the U.S. left side (along with Beasley) was significantly more dangerous than the right.  His first touches weren’t always tip top, but Castillo did manage some tidy work in tight spaces here and there and was aggressive in attacking desire. Worked inside frequently, able to do so because of Beasley’s ability to work the wing.

CF Herculez Gomez (7): Sixth goal for the United States (Friday’s opener) was typical Gomez stuff, staying with the play through diligent effort, circulating his run and finding himself alone at the far post to calmly put away the goal. After the switch into a 4-4-2, saw more of the ball and always provided an outlet, usually working the right side. He’s definitely got goals in him for the coming Gold Cup.

SUBSTITUTES

Stuart Holden (8): Entered at halftime for Beckerman. Good variety of midfield passing, short, long, diagonal, forward, switching passes, etc. A couple of really swell passes to open up the defense, like the chipped beauty into Donovan for a goal. A highly productive 45 minutes for one of the most-watched U.S. men of the night.

Mix Diskerud (7): Entered at halftime for Torres. Good work in partnering with Holden in the middle of the 4-4-2. Lots of technical work done at the high tempo that Jurgen Kinsmann wants. Only nit-pick is tackling that could have been better.

Chris Wondolowski (6): Entered the 59th for Gomez. Found himself unopposed with the ball at his feet when Donovan’s sly pass bounced around 18 yards from goal, then finished with confident perfection for first U.S. goal.

Brek Shea (7): Entered in the 59th for Castillo. Lots of good bursts down the left helped keep the Guatemalan defense in trouble once Klinsmann made lots of changes at the hour mark. Looked like a man determined to get back into Klinsmann’s good graces. Only nitpick was some inconsistency in shooting and crossing, although he certainly made plenty of opportunities for himself to do so.

Alejandro Bedoya (5): Entered in the 59th for Corona. Popped up in the right spot for the last U.S. goal, but not much else. A shell of what Shea was on the other side, with imprecise touches and generally not enough mark on a game that was tilting heavily toward the visitors defensive end.

Will Bruin (5): Entered in the 73rd for Donovan. Got into a couple of good spots near goal but couldn’t quite finish the movement.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal ]

In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).

Week 26: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Top-four battle royal

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, right, lifts the ball over Leicester City’s goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel but fails to score during their English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City at the White Hart Lane stadium in London Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
AP Photo/Alastair Grant
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Whoever says, “No one could have ever predicted Leicester City would be top of the league on Valentine’s Day,” is wrong.

One group of Premier League savants knew: the PL schedule makers, which is why this Sunday shall henceforth be known as “Super Duper Mega Uber Sunday,” as it’s 3rd versus 1st, and 4th versus 2nd.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Top-four battle royal, part 1

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — Sunday, 7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

Will Arsenal “Arsenal it up?” Will Leicester finally fall apart and blow the PL title, as they were supposed to have done weeks months ago? The battle of narratives in so strong in this one. Are Leicester really title favorites? Upon further review, they are. No PL team has won more points away from home this season than Leicester (28). Is another giant-slaying on the cards for the Foxes? At this point, who would be crazy enough to doubt them?

[ MORE: PL schedule, stream links ]

Top-four battle royal, part 2

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — Sunday, 11:15 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The last time Tottenham were ahead of Man City this late in the season will have to have been the final day of the 2009-10 season, when Spurs qualified for the UEFA Champions League just ahead of City. Heading into Sunday, a single point is all that separates the sides. When they met earlier this season, Spurs hammered City, to the tune of 4-1. The importance of three points speaks for itself, as either side could surge into a commanding place in the title race with a victory on Sunday.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings | Schedule | Stats ]

Man United’s top-four hopes hanging by a thread

Sunderland vs. Manchester United — Saturday, 6:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

As the PL’s top-four teams have kept winning in recent weeks, so too have Man United, to an extent. With that, the Red Devils are no closer to Champions League qualification today than they were three weeks ago before their mini-run of 11 points from six games. Only Aston Villa (10), who are rock bottom of the league, have won fewer points at home this season than Sunderland (12). United are currently six points back of 4th, so with at least two of the four sides ahead of them guaranteed to drop points on Sunday, it’s a big, big weekend for United to take of their own business and apply a little pressure.

[ MORE: The latest on those Mourinho-to-United rumors ]

The Fallen On Hard Times But Someone Has To Win (Maybe) Derby

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET (Premier League Extra Time)

When 2016 began, Crystal Palace were 5th in the PL. Unfortunately for them, the clock also struck midnight on what had been a hugely successful season to that point — five losses and one draw since, and they’re now 12th in the league table. The story is eerily similar for Watford, who were 7th after a Boxing Day draw with Chelsea — five losses, a draw and a win later, they’re 10th. A single point is all that separates Saturday’s combatants desperately hoping to regain their early-season form.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Is Roberto Martinez’s employment under review? It might be

Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

Everton will be a fascinating club to watch as the 2015-16 season winds down. There’s essentially no chance of them finishing in the top-four or -five (12 and 6 points back, respectively), and they look essentially the same side that massively disappointed en route to an 11th-place finish last season — they’re atrocious and hugely naive defensively, which has been a characteristic of Roberto Martinez-managed teams since, well, the beginning of his managerial career. $100 million is a lot of money to spend over four transfer windows without any discernible progress.

Men In Blazers podcast: Leicester, Spurs continue to defy the odds

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3-1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

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