ARLINGTON, Texas – Player rotation within Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team for Wednesday’s Gold Cup semifinal was a given due to the taxing pace of the ongoing tournament.
But a couple of these are real surprises.
- Klinsmann brought Omar Gonzalez in for the tournament’s elimination matches. He remained with the Galaxy for a weekend contest, then joined the United States in Dallas, his hometown. So it was a bit surprising when Clarence Goodson (pictured) kept his spot alongside Matt Besler. Does this mean Besler has lapped Gonzalez in the center back depth pool, as we had already suspected? Or, is it just that Gonzalez has been available for just one practice, and that a limited day-before walk-through.
- Joe Corona has come along nicely in the tournament, contributing important goals along the way. But what do ya know, Alejandro Bedoya will man the right side tonight against Honduras.
- Stuart Holden is back in the starting lineup ahead of Mix Diskerud (as the linking man, nominally alongside holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman but generally free to advance further up the field.) Diskerud was OK, but did not have his best outing on Sunday against El Salvador. Holden, meanwhile, was held out completely for the first time in the tournament.
(MORE: Holden talks about Sunday and about his ongoing recovery)
- Eddie Johnson was preferred ahead of Chris Wondolowski, who was scoring almost at will earlier in the tourney but has been shut out in his last two starts.
- This isn’t a surprise: Landon Donovan is in the lineup. Of course he is! Here’s the bigger-picture significance: Donovan is the only U.S. man to play every minute of the tournament so far.
U.S. lineup: Nick Rimando; Michael Parkhurst, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson, DaMarcus Beasley (capt.); Kyle Beckerman, Stuart Holden, Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Torres; Landon Donovan; Eddie Johnson.
(MORE: U.S.-Honduras preview)
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.