Whom should Jurgen Klinsmann call in for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico?

17 Comments

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.

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.