Coming off the heels of their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of their hated blue rivals, David Moyes will be very happy to have his main goalscorer back.
Dutch striker Robin van Persie will return to action this weekend after a week on the sidelines with a thigh injury.
Without him, Manchester United scored two goals in two matches, also beating Liverpool 1-0 in the Capital One Cup midweek.
Van Persie was sorely missed in the Machester derby as Vincent Kompany and…company…(*cringe*) locked down Wayne Rooney and United had nowhere else to turn in the attack.
Against West Brom at Old Trafford this weekend, David Moyes confirmed that last year’s Golden Boot winner will take part, although his role has not yet been determined.
“Robin will be back involved somewhere,” said Moyes. “Whether we use him or whether we don’t, he has trained today and is back fit. We will see exactly where he is but he has trained.”
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For the most part, the U.S. national team systematically dismantled Bolivia, to the tune of a 4-0 victory (as it should have done), in its final pre-2016 Copa America Centenario tune-up Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park. We learned a few things about Jurgen Klinsmann’s side ahead of Friday’s tournament opener…
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]
Klinsmann settles on the right midfield … finally
Michael Bradley is the USMNT’s no. 6. End of story. His ability to play himself (and teammates) out of trouble at all times and hit (quick) long balls out to the wings changes the point of attack in an instant. The USMNT actually resembles a dangerous attacking side in these brief moments. (He’s also the quickest thinker in the player pool, doing things like this to set up goals.) Not to mention, he’s got the wheels to recover tons of space when a quick counter is inevitably launched the other way — something that Kyle Beckerman, for everything he’s been to the USMNT the last few years, simply doesn’t have anymore.
Alejandro Bedoya was easily the standout performer Saturday night, though, bagging a pair of first-half assists as the USMNT took a 2-0 lead into halftime. Speaking of circulating the ball quickly, Bedoya’s first-time chipped helper was the only ball that puts Gyasi Zardes into space with enough time to compose himself and beat the goalkeeper the way he did for the opener. With Bradley and Jermaine Jones capably waging the possession battle a bit deeper, Bedoya has the license — and ability — to flair out wide when a pocket of space presents itself (reference: USMNT goals scored in above links).
At their best playing with width
Matt Besler and Michael Orozco, who are center backs by nature, started the game at left and right back respectively. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world defensively, but tasked with overlapping a pair of narrow-sitting wide players ahead of them, Zardes and Bobby Wood, much was left to be desired.
Klinsmann brought Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, full back-winger hybrids by nature, on at halftime, and things opened up all over the field. Bolivia’s full backs had to stay wide, given their speed and (actual) ability to pick out a cross. Remember those long diagonals from Bradley that we talked about above? It was open season for “The General,” who played the decisive ball over the top to free Wood down the left, at which point his cross for Zardes was the final piece for a 3-0 lead.
USMNT (finally) has impact subs … if they’re not going to start
Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic are the future — feel free to debate amongst yourselves whether or not they should instead be the present; I won’t stop you — but for now, they’re the impact substitutes the USMNT has been missing for so long. The dynamic duo came on after 63 minutes on Saturday, and immediately they looked the link up and run at opposition defenders every time on the ball.
Whether on the halfway line or the edge of the opposition penalty area, it’s quick one- and two-touch passing and moving from these two, as was the case in the 69th minute, when Nagbe turned one defender inside the box before sliding a simple square ball to Pulisic. The 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund prodigy made no mistake on the finish and bagged his first senior international goal.
At this point, perhaps they’re best suited for 30 minutes of running at tired defenders with heavy legs. At some point, though — in the not-so-distant future — they need to be given the opportunity to prove themselves as 90-minute players.
- Bedoya sets up two first half goals
- Zardes gets brace
- Pulisic becomes youngest U.S. scorer
- Brooks scores, too.
Don’t look now, but the United States men’s national team is looking pretty darn good ahead of Friday’s Copa America Centenario opener against Colombia.
Gyasi Zardes scored twice, while John Brooks and Christian Pulisic also scored in a comfortable 4-0 win over Bolivia at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Saturday night.
Pulisic became the youngest USMNT goal scorer in history with his second half goal, set up by Darlington Nagbe. Alejandro Bedoya had a hand in two goals as well for Jurgen Klinsmann’s Yanks, who open up Copa America play on Friday against Colombia.
[ MORE: Real Madrid wins Champions League ]
Bolivia is no power, but the Yanks gave them little room to maneuver after 20 minutes of play.
The U.S. started Matt Besler and Michael Orozco at fullback thanks to Edgar Castillo not having arrived yet to replace Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson having played in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Ecuador.
Bolivia had moments early, specifically on a 15th minute set piece that saw New York Cosmos striker Yasmani Duk a split second offside in heading wide of goal.
Zardes put the Yanks ahead in the 26th minute on a cool bit of passing. Geoff Cameron found Clint Dempsey, who clipped the ball over to Alejandro Bedoya. The Nantes midfielder played a pretty ball through to Zardes, who calmly fired past a charging Guillermo Viscarra. 1-0.
This game was very chippy, with Bolivia doing the little nasty things to go with big, card-worthy fouls. The Yanks kept their composure, though, and made it 2-0 when Bedoya slid to knock the ball outside the six for Brooks to pass home with his left foot.
Bobby Wood made a lightning quick cut while running onto a Clint Dempsey pass, only to see his shot saved Viscarra on the edge of stoppage time.
[ WATCH: USMNT’s first two goals ]
The Yanks made a pair of changes at halftime, introducing DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson for Orozco and Besler.
There was a terrific build-up for the Yanks on goal No. 3, as Bradley played a gorgeous diagonal ball into the box for Wood. The Bundesliga striker worked his man and then fed Zardes for a left-footed, close-range goal. 3-0.
It took 67 minutes for Bolivia to really trouble Guzan, but the Aston Villa keeper rose to the challenge when Brooks and Fabian Johnson were a bit lax in returning to the back line.
USMNT: Guzan; Besler (Johnson, HT), Brooks, Cameron, Orozco (Yedlin, HT); Bradley (Zusi, 73′), Jones, Bedoya (Nagbe, 64′); Wood, Zardes (Pulisic, 64′), Dempsey (Wondolowski, 73′).
Goals: Zardes (26′, 54′), Brooks (37′), Pulisic (69′)
Two new faces combined to make history for the United States men’s national team on Saturday.
Darlington Nagbe laid off for Christian Pulisic in the 69th minute, who became the youngest player in USMNT history to score a goal.
The 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund player calmly slotted past Bolivia goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra to make it 4-0 against Bolivia in Kansas City.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 29, 2016
Both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Toronto FC’s defense looked like previous versions of themselves in New York Red Bulls 3-0 blowout of TFC on Saturday in New Jersey.
For the former, that’s good. For the latter? Not-so-much.
BWP scored the fastest hat trick to start a match in MLS history, netting in the fourth, 25th and 27th minutes.
New York saw Gonzalo Veron took a needless red card before half, but the Red Bulls held strong to keep a clean sheet for Luis Robles.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 29, 2016