A 23-man roster that seemed set for two matches has seen considerable shrinkage over the past few hours.
Michael Bradley’s ankle, rolled during pregame warmups Friday in Costa Rica, will be the most watched bone or joint in U.S. soccer over the next few days. The United States clearly needs its midfield brain to function at highest efficiency Tuesday at Crew Stadium against a reeling and vulnerable Mexico. (Well, it needs Bradley for pretty much every big match over the next few years – but we’re mostly just talking about Tuesday’s border battle for now.)
Those yellow cards to Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler and (most needlessly) Jozy Altidore will further shorten the list of potential selections. So … where will the presumed reinforcements come from?
- Clarence Goodson is the most obvious man to call on. Even if Anthony Brooks is called into duty – a pretty big ask for the emerging Bundesliga man, making a World Cup qualifier debut against the region’s fallen giant – Goodson can still provide needed, veteran stability and cover. If Klinsmann doesn’t summon another center back, he takes a mighty risk; Michael Orozco or Michael Parkhurst would be the only other center back options, but using either one in the middle removes an outside back option, where the United States is already perilously thin. (Assuming Orozco remains an outside back option, considering his predictably wobbly night as a makeshift right back on Friday.)
- The need to add another forward doesn’t seem quite as pressing. If Klinsmann does want additional cover, look for Alan Gordon or Chris Wondolowski from San Jose. However, removing Earthquakes’ teammate Goodson from San Jose’s weekend match, which would almost surely happen since the Quakes play late Sunday, less than 48 hours prior to U.S. kickoff in Columbus, might complicate the calculus on that one.
- Will Bruin or Jack McInerney are further striker options, but considering their lack of minutes in the recent Gold Cup they seem highly unlikely ones.
- If Bradley (pictured above) cannot get healthy in time, replacement options include Sacha Kljestan (not likely considering the travel involved) or Joe Corona (more likely considering the far less substantial distance.) The most likely scenario here seems to be Jones moving into Bradley’s linking role as we saw Friday, with Kyle Beckerman screening the defense. Or Jones could screen and Mix Diskerud would become the linking man.
With Wayne Rooney‘s future left uncertain at Old Trafford, could a potential return to Everton be in the works?
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Toffees manager Ronald Koeman certainly hopes so.
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Rooney, 31, has fallen out of favor with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho recently, leaving the Englishman on the brink of a move away from the Red Devils.
The veteran attacker has posted just one goal and two assists in eight Premier League matches this season, leaving Koeman optimistic about a Rooney return to Goodison Park for the first time since 2004.
“First of all, I think it is a great player, and he has still not finished his career,” he said. “I do not know how his situation is, and I need to respect that situation. That’s not my problem.
“But even when we get one time the possibility that Rooney is an option for Everton, I’m very pleased.”
While it’s merely speculation at this point that Rooney will in fact leave Old Trafford this season, Mourinho’s recent tendencies of dropping the attacker suggest that the long-time England goalscorer will find a new destination.
Koeman has reinvigorated Everton since his arrival over the summer, bringing the Toffees up to sixth in the PL.
Following a third straight year without playoff soccer, the Houston Dynamo have turned to face in an attempt to revitalize the club.
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The Dynamo announced on Friday that the team has hired Wilmer Cabrera as the organization’s fourth head coach in franchise history, following a recent coaching stint with the Dynamo’s USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.
“I am excited to join the Houston Dynamo. It’s a great club with a great history, and I am ready for the challenge,” Cabrera said via a press release from the club. “I look forward to working with the ownership group, management, our staff and the players to return the Dynamo to the level that the club and our fans deserve and expect.”
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Cabrera, 48, holds a wealth of experience as both a player and manager, which includes his playing days with the Colombia national team during the 1980s and 1990s. The former defender previously managed now-defunct MLS side Chivas USA as well as the U.S. Under-17 national team.
Antonio Conte has been called a mastermind in the past for his unconventional tactics. Now, it’s those same tactics that are making him look the part of a genius yet again at Stamford Bridge.
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Since changing his system to a 3-4-3 following Chelsea’s gutting 3-0 defeat against Arsenal last month, the Blues have gone on to win three straight Premier League matches, including a recent 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United on Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge.
As important as the results are for Chelsea at the moment, the even more impressive aspect is the way that the Blues are winning matches. In their three consecutive victories, Conte’s side has failed to concede a goal, which has helped bring Chelsea to within a point at the summit of the PL.
Not only do the supporters appreciate Conte’s willingness to adapt and build a team that plays up to its greatest potential, but defender Cesar Azpilicueta is one of the many players that have uttered similar sentiments about the Italian’s tactics.
“I find it good. The most important thing for me is the team and since we changed the system we haven’t conceded goals in the Premier League,” he told Sky Sports.
“I try to play my part in the team. The most important part of the system is the spirit of the team and the way we work. The tactics make a difference but what was most pleasing was the way the team work made it happen. Some players have different roles now but we have all week to work on that and we have a very clear idea what to do in the game. We have different options from the attacking fullbacks now.”
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Azpilicueta has been one of three key figures for Chelsea at the back since Conte made the switch defensively, joining Gary Cahill
and David Luiz
in a partnership that looks hard to crack at the moment.
Despite some talks linking a possible two or even three nation bid for the 2026 World Cup, Mexico has opened the door for El Tri to host the world’s biggest football competition for a record third time.
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Mexico Football Federation president Decio de Maria recently told ESPN that he and his country are prepared to go ahead with a bid for the 2026 edition of the tournament with or without any hypothetically joint bid.
“I don’t know [whether we would pursue a joint bid] but the rules are already open to it,” De Maria said. “What was agreed upon makes the path perfectly clear.
“Mexico will be in the hunt to host the 2026 World Cup.”
In addition to Mexico, the United States has been considered an early favorite to be named hosts in 2026 after losing out to Qatar for the 2022 competition. The U.S., Mexico and Canada have also been linked with a joint bid between the three CONCACAF nations, as the region looks to bring the World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994 (when the U.S. hosted).
Mexico previously hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986, and is one of four nations to have held the tournament on home soil more than once.