Players of U.S. celebrate a goal during their international friendly soccer match against Bosnia in Sarajevo

Costa Rica loss solidifies Michael Bradley as the most valuable USMNT player


It was on the lips of many US fans minutes before kickoff, but if it wasn’t clear then, it is now – Michael Bradley is without a doubt the most important player on, or not on, the pitch for the United States.

The 26-year-old midfielder went down with a severly sprained ankle just minutes before kickoff against Costa Rica, and the US never recovered, losing 3-1.  And with a player like Bradley, you don’t fully appreciate his contributions until they disappear.

Without their anchor, the first 20 minutes for the USMNT were frantic, panicky, and out of control.

The Costa Ricans were able to freely play through their wing backs from the midfield out wide, and they in turn fed their attackers flooding the box. They tossed men forward with pace, and yet there was no midfield disconnect because of the US disorganization.

Geoff Cameron stepped in, but without Bradley to feed his teammates, it was like a football team trying to play without a quarterback. You can snap it to the running back, but it won’t have close to the same effect.

So where do the United States go from here? Bradley was reportedly on crutches for most of the match, although he apparently could put some weight on his foot. It’s a mystery that Jurgen Klinsmann will have exactly three days to solve – a little more time than the 10 minutes he had to resolve the issue before the Costa Rican tie.

To compound the issue, Cameron will also be unavailable for selection against Mexico on Tuesday due to yellow card accumulation.

So does Mix Diskerud get a start? His lack of experience will prove a major miss in a huge match against a hated rival. Will Kyle Beckerman slide into a defensive role? He can certainly hold down the fort but doesn’t have nearly the passing ability Bradley brings.

There in lies problem. Bradley is the whole package; any combination of replacements will bring you some parts but not the entire deal.

So who do you have to replace Bradley, along with the suspended Cameron, Jozy Altidore, and Matt Besler?

Aston Villa 2-3 Watford: Hornets win thrilling encounter

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  • Villa without a win in 13
  • Ighalo scores eighth goal in PL
  • Gomes seriously injured
  • Watford up to 11th

Watford beat Aston Vila 3-2 at Villa Park on Saturday with the Hornets heaping more misery on Villa and their new manager Remi Garde.

Quique Sanchez Flores’ side went 1-0 up through Odion Ighalo‘s fine finish but Micah Richards headed home to make it 1-1 at the break. In the second half an own goal from Alan Hutton restored Watford’s lead and Troy Deeney added another before Jordan Ayew scored to make it 3-2 but Villa couldn’t find an equalizer.

With the defeat Villa remain winless in 13 and rooted to the bottom of the Premier League on five points. As for Watford, they rise up to 11th place on 19 points.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

After an even start Watford began to pose a real threat in the final third and they deservedly went ahead in the 17th minute. A sustained spell of pressure saw the ball drop to Ben Watson 25-yards out and his volley found Ighalo who tucked home his eighth goal of the PL season. 1-0 to the Hornets.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

The visitors should have been 2-0 up after Deeney played in Etienne Capoue but he hit his shot straight at Brad Guzan who stood tall. At the other end Ayew forced Heurelho Gomes into a smart save down low and then somehow managed to drag an effort wide from six-yards out with a chance eerily similar to Ighalo’s opener. Before half time Villa pushed hard with Ayew and Scott Sinclair going close and then captain Richards headed home a pinpoint free kick from Jordan Veretout to make it 1-1. Game on.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Villa started well but there was a lengthy delay as Gomes suffered a serious looking injury when colliding with his own player Craig Cathcart. Gomes was stretchered off the pitch with oxygen and Giedrius Arlauskis came on to make his Premier League debut.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Watford then went ahead as the ball was played through to Ighalo in the box and as Hutton went to make the tackle he poked the ball past his own goalkeeper and into the net. 2-1 to Watford and it was soon 3-1 as Ighalo’s shot was blocked and looped up into the air for Deeney to head home.

Villa had hope late on following Ayew’s tremendous finish from the edge of the box to make it 3-2 and despite 10 minutes of stoppage added on, Watford looked the more likely to score another as Flores’ side heaped more pressure on struggling Villa who haven’t won since the opening day of the season.

Bournemouth 3-3 Everton: Cherries, Toffees stage a stoppage-time thriller

SWANSEA, WALES - NOVEMBER 21:  Bournemouth player Junior Stanislas in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Liberty Stadium on November 21, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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Everton was knocking on the door of the Top Five, but those feisty Bournemouth Cherries wanted none of it.

The Dean Court faithful received a second-half treat on Saturday, with Bournemouth climbing back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to salvage a point.

Junior Stanislas scored in the 87th minute to tie the game at two, then one-upped Ross Barkley‘s 95th minute hero work with a 98th minute header to leave the match 3-3.

Romelu Lukaku and Ramiro Funes Mori each scored first-half goals as the Toffees moved to sixth with 23 points, one back of Spurs.

Adam Smith scored a gorgeous 25-yard hammer for the Cherries before Stanislas struck twice to snare a point. They remain 19th with nine points, one shy of safety.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Dan Gosling nearly beat Tim Howard to put the home side up in the third minute, but his bounding shot skidded right of the far post.

The Cherries back line held Everton at bay, and Adam Federici cleaned up a trio of messes midway through the first.

Funes Mori finally put the Toffees ahead when his well-timed jump helped him power a corner home for his first goal at Everton.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Everton at Vitality Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
(Getty Images)

And Lukaku belted a second past Federici, neatly trapping a bouncing pass before laying into a tough-angled shot to make it 2-0.

Smith struck late for Bournemouth, a gorgeous goal. Given ages to shoot, he crushed a high shot upper 90.

And hold on! Stanislas accepted Joshua King‘s assist to level things in the 87th minute, an awful capitulation from Everton.

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score ]  

Barkley added to the heroics when he latched onto a loose ball outside the six and gave Everton what appeared to be a late winner, but Stanislas rose high to get his second equalizer moments later.

Sunderland 2-0 Stoke City: 10-man Potters implode

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  • Shawcross sent off in 2nd half
  • Van Aanholt, Watmore on target
  • Sunderland out of drop zone
  • Stoke lose for first time in four

Sunderland beat 10-man Stoke City 2-0 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday to lift themselves out of the Premier League’s relegation zone.

Ryan Shawcross getting sent off for two yellow cards early in the second half changed the game as the Black Cats took advantage with late goals from Patrick Van Aanholt and Duncan Watmore sealing the win.

Sam Allardyce‘s side have now won back-to-back games and sit outside the relegation zone on 12 points. Stoke remain in midtable on 19 points.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Early on Jermain Defoe sent a shot just wide after good play between him and Seb Larsson, as Sunderland were patient in attack and solid at the back.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

For the remainder of the first half Stoke pushed for the opener and went close on two occasions. Erik Pieters sent a teasing ball into the six-yard box and Costel Pantilimon saved superbly from Jonathan Walters as the Potters looked certain to take the lead. Charlie Adam had an effort which landed on the top of the net, while Defoe had to come off injured with what looked like a hamstring issue.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Stoke were immediately up against it with Shawcross shown a second yellow card for bringing down Watmore. In truth, it looked like he got some of the ball but Stoke’s skipper was sent off and the Potters were down to 10-men.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Geoff Cameron came on to try and help shore up the defense but Jack Butland denied Jeremain Lens and Sunderland poured forward with Allardyce’s men smelling blood. In the 82nd minute the opening goal arrived as a quick free kick made it to Van Aanholt and he rifled the ball past Butland to make it 1-0. Relief at the Stadium of Light.

Watmore — dubbed “The Ginger Messi” by locals — then struck to double the lead as he latched onto DeAndre Yedlin‘s long throw and drilled home to secure back-to-back wins for Allardyce’s side.

Man City 3-1 Southampton: Slick City punish Saints

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  • De Bruyne, Delph put City 2-0 up
  • Long pulled one back
  • City momentarily go top
  • Saints suffer back-to-back defeats

Manchester City beat Southampton 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday with the Citizens riding a fast start to victory.

Kevin De Bruyne and Fabian Delph put City 2-0 up by half time but Saints came back into the game with Shane Long heading home and Dusan Tadic going close, however Aleksandar Kolarov made it 3-1.

With the win City move to 29 points, while Saints remain on 20.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

City came flying out of the traps with Sterling playing a great one-two and striking a low shot which Stekelenburg saved well and cleared well with the ball played back to him.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

The Citizens were all over Saints as Aleksandar Kolarov whipped in a free kick that Stekelenburg clawed out of the top corner and held onto the rebound well under pressure. Nine minutes in the opening goal arrived with Maya Yoshida giving the ball away cheaply to Sterling and he ran into the box and set up De Bruyne to head home. 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Wave after wave after City attack continued in the pouring rain in Manchester with Oriol Romeu giving the ball away cheaply but Stekelenburg saved well from Yaya Toure.

Steven Davis then appeared to block Fernandinho‘s effort on the line with his hand but the officials missed it and from the resulting corner City went 2-0 up. The ball was half cleared to Delph and his shot struck Virgil Van Dijk and deflected in.

Moments later Van Dijk strolled forward from the back and drilled a superb effort towards the top corner but the ball rattled off the bar and out. Victor Wanyama then had an overhead kick saved well by Willy Cabellero but Saints’ skipper Jose Fonte went off injured before the break.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Saints improved in the second half and soon halved the deficit. Substitute Tadic took a quick free kick to Sadio Mane and his cross found Long at the back post who rose like a salmon to head home. 2-1 and Southampton were in the ascendancy.

Tadic danced through City’s defense and almost chipped Caballero, then Fernandinho seemed to block Steven Davis’ rebound with his arm as Southampton piled forward at every opportunity in the second half.

Tadic then had another shot which Caballero saved well down low but City sealed the win as they broke and De Bruyne’s pass found Kolarov who hammered home. 3-1 to the Citizens and that’s how it finished despite Saints pressing to get back into the game.