United States is rolling like never before in Gold Cup play

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ARLINGTON, Texas – The United States has never been so dominant in a Gold Cup. Not even close, really.

Sure, it’s an odd-duck of a tournament in some ways, sometimes unadorned with the best and brightest from participating countries, which is the case this time around.

Still, it says something that Jurgen Klinsmann’s men are rolling like never before in the regional competition, still not stretched a bit as Landon Donovan keeps leading the way. The United States didn’t just beat Honduras 3-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal, the Americans scored more goals than ever in a Gold Cup semifinal, which have traditionally been far more competitive than the contest in Texas.

The entire tournament is usually more difficult. Don’t forget, just two years ago the United States lost to Panama in the group stage. And the 1-0 semifinal win over Panama (yes, same team) a few days later was a bit of a struggle.

The word “struggle” has certainly not been linked to this year’s event.

[MORE: Circling back on Jurgen Klinsmann’s lineup changes.]

They were dominant in the group stage (posting a 11-2 goal difference), which wasn’t a huge surprise. But the ease with which Klinsmann’s bunch are dispatching these teams in the elimination round is truly eye-opening.

El Salvador was in the game for a little while in Sunday’s quarterfinal but eventually succumbed to the U.S. pressure in the 5-1 afternoon.

Honduras was never even in the Wednesday’s contest outside Dallas. Solid positional play and tackling from Kyle Beckerman and Stuart Holden in the middle helped the United States grab hold of the game early, allowing time for Donovan and Eddie Johnson to do their thing.

Behind the U.S. central midfield pairing, Clarence Goodson and Matt Besler were sharp and confident, so Honduras never established any sort of offensive foothold on the game.

[MORE: The overshadowed streak – Landon Donovan’s]

Even when Honduras nicked a goal on a set piece, the United States (Donovan … again!) re-established its two-goal lead about two minutes later.

By remaining in control throughout, the Americans were able to provide some much deserved relieve to Donovan, now the tournament’s co-leading scorer. He had played every minute of the Gold Cup (the only U.S. man to do so) before leaving to a heavy applause in the 72nd. Kyle Beckerman, likewise a busy man in the tournament, was also able to get about 20 minutes off. Both will be back in the starting lineup Sunday, presumably.

Speaking of Sunday, it’s on to Chicago for this bunch for the tournament final – and the current version has reason to feel very, very good about things.

[MORE: Decision to come on Klinsmann’s finals fate.]

Honduran manager Luis Fernando Suárez said nothing can be guaranteed, obviously, for Sunday’s match at Soldier Field, but called the United States the “most complete team” in the tournament. “They beat us in just about every aspect of the game tonight,” he said.  “The football they have played so far proves they are the favorites.”

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.

Villa: Seeing Pirlo retire showed me that I have to train harder

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New York City FC has quickly become one of Major League Soccer’s most exciting clubs in three short seasons, and a lot of its success can be attributed to be David Villa.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron named MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

The Spanish international has been with the club since completing a move to MLS in 2014, and has easily been NYCFC’s most important signing since the team’s inception.

Despite boasting an impressive 22 goals in 2017 for Patrick Vieira’s side, Villa knows that his days in MLS are starting to count down after one of the legends of the international game recently announced his retirement.

“[Seeing Andrea Pirlo retire showed me] that I have to train harder every day if I want to continue extending my career. Someday I will leave, as will everyone, it’s a fact of life. But I’m going to fight to make it as late as possible,” Villa told Marca.

Villa, 35, received a one-year extension to his contract in 2017, leaving his future with NYCFC up in the air beyond next season.

Additionally, the forward says that he constantly receives positive feedback about MLS and he knows that there is a lot of interest from players outside the United States in the developing league.

“Really, quite a few [have reached out],” he said. “The MLS is growing a lot and is having more and more global impact. Many have called me and are interested in what’s going on here.”