NBC’s Match of the Day panel had some lingering questions to address on Saturday, with the day’s results providing new context to debates surrounding Manchester United, Joe Hart, and Martin Jol. When Robbies Earle and Mustoe joined Rebecca Lowe to break down the day’s action, they also addressed the new light shined on some of the Premier League’s persisting puzzles.
First up is Sunderland and Manchester United, with Earle and Mustoe reflecting on the game of two halves at the Stadium of Light. The first half was Sunderland’s, but only able to take on goal from their efforts, the hosts left the door open for Manchester United, who saw 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj step through it. That the Red Devils needed the young attacker’s double, however, casts some doubt on the quality David Moyes saw in his team’s performance.
Next up is Everton’s visit to Manchester City, where the Citizens sent the Toffees home with their first loss of the season. Coming off his mid-week display against Bayern Munich, Joe Hart was bound to be the center of attention, but as both Mustoe and Earle agree, he couldn’t be faulted on Romelu Lukaku’s opener:
Like Hart, Fulham coach Martin Jol alleviated some pressure on himself this weekend. Ahead of his team’s Saturday match with Stoke, the Cottagers boss was thought to be leading the post-Di Canio sack race. With his team’s win over the visiting Potters, has Jol saved his job? Earle and Mustoe think so. For now.
The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
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The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.
Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.
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In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.
Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.
Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.
The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.
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Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.
With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.
Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:
What a special moment in my professional life!
Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.
I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.
Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.
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While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.