- Five minutes into the match and Jermaine Jones was already in hot water with the referee. Is there any doubt whatsoever that the volatile midfielder will get himself (and the team) in trouble next summer in Brazil at least once, with a bad card or a careless turnover?
- Other than a three or four minute spell early where things got a little, uh, “loose” in the back, the back line held up OK. That’s significant since the central pairing, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron, were matched up together for the first time.
- The outside backs, Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley are dealing well with Jamaica’s speed.
- Hardly a vintage Tim Howard performance so far. He had four chances to handle the ball under pressure and didn’t do particularly well with two of them. One shot was left in a really, really bad place and a corner kick fell a little too close him.
- Alejandro Bedoya is having a stinker. Bad passes, one poor cross, an inability to read his teammates, little chemistry with right back Evans, one badly missed tackle, etc. Landon Donovan (on the left, opposite Bedoya in a 4-4-2) isn’t doing great, either, but he’s Johann Cruyff compared to Bedoya, who really needed a big game.
- No surprise here considering no Michael Bradley to orchestrate, but the U.S. midfield is somewhere between ineffective and “blek.” Bradley makes things so much easier for everyone with his positioning and ability to play people into the right spots with his passes.
- Mix Diskerud, essentially playing in the “Bradley role,” isn’t having much influence.
- Aron Johannsson is making Jurgen Klinsmann look good for giving that first start. He is finding good spots near goal – just needs to do a little better on the finishing end.
- Plus, Johannsson’s technical work on the transition (hold-up play, that is) has been excellent.
- Jozy Altidore’s passing is off. You have to wonder how the mess at Sunderland is affecting his confidence and ability to generate the kind of quick, decisive action that really makes a player.
Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City all entered the UEFA Champions League at the group stage and they found out their fate on Thursday following the draw in Monaco.
[ MORE: UCL group stage draw ]
Right now Leicester, Arsenal and Spurs will be feeling pretty good about their chances of advancing to the UCL’s Round of 16. As for Man City, boy, it will be a tough route through the group stage once again for them.
[ MORE: Ronaldo wins top award ]
Below is a look at the toughness of the group stage draw for all four PL teams.
GROUP G: Leicester City, FC Porto, Club Brugge, Copenhagen
Their first-ever season in the UCL, the draw could not have gone any better for reigning PL champs Leicester in terms of their dreams of advancing. Claudio Ranieri‘s side have FC Porto, who will be a very tough test, but in Club Brugge and Copenhagen they drew two of the easier teams they could have faced. Overall, this is not a tough group especially when you see the full draw. Looks like the fairytale for the Foxes will go deep in the Champions League this season. Toughness ranking: 3/10
GROUP A: Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, FC Basel, Ludogorets
Arsenal will fancy their chances against PSG and when it comes to FC Basel and Ludrogorets they will expect to take two wins from each of these teams. But this is Arsenal so they’ll probably need a 3-0 win in their last group game to make the knockout rounds… Seriously, though, Arsene Wenger will be a relieved man to avoid the likes of Bayern Munich and Barelona in the group stage but Arsenal’s games against PSG will be pivotal in their chances of getting a good draw in the last 16. Overall, could’ve been a lot tougher. Toughness ranking: 4/10
GROUP C: FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchendgladbach, Celtic
It just had to happen for Pep Guardiola, didn’t it? He will return to the Nou Camp in his debut season at City to face his beloved Barcelona and Man City’s fans will be sick of the sight of Lionel Messi and Co. after they knocked them out of the competition in two of the last three seasons. That said, there will be two magnificent games between the giants with Barca the favorites to win the UCL this season. As for Monchengladbach, they are quietly a very strong team and even Celtic (who famously beat Barca in the group stage in 2012) will provide a tough challenge for City at Celtic Park in the away game. All in all, couldn’t have been tougher for City but they will likely squeeze through with Barca to the Round of 16.
Toughness ranking: 8/10
GROUP E: CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, Monaco
Maurcio Pochettino’s side will be grinning like a Cheshire cat with this draw. Arguably it is even easier than Leicester’s with CSKA Moscow perennial strugglers in the UCL, plus German side Bayer Leverkusen very beatable and Spurs have done well against Monaco in the Europa League recently. Overall, if Spurs don’t win this group they will be very disappointed. A great draw for the north London club. Toughness ranking: 3/10
Cristiano Ronaldo was named the Best Player in Europe by UEFA on Thursday in Monaco, following the group stage draw for the UEFA Champions League.
Ronaldo, 31, beat other finalists teammate and Welsh international Gareth Bale and France and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann to the award for the 2015-16 season. Barcelona duo Lionel Messi came fourth and Luis Suarez finished in fifth.
[ MORE: UCL group stage draw ]
The Portuguese striker scored 51 goals in 48 games for Real Madrid last season and led Portugal to its first-ever major title as a nation, winning the EURO 2016 trophy.
Ronaldo said on stage that he was “living his dream” by playing football as he won the award for a second time in his career, the list title coming in 2014.
Previous winners of this prestigious award, which takes into account the form of the player both for this club team in Europe and also for his national team, include Messi (the only other player to win the award twice), Andres Iniesta and Franck Ribery.
Premier League teams got off very lightly, overall, in the UEFA Champions League group stage draw.
The draw took place in Monaco on Thursday as reigning Leicester City were handed a very comfy group of opponents in Group G with FC Porto, Club Brugge and Copenhagen, as were Tottenham Hotspur who were placed in Group E with CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco.
Arsenal also got a very decent draw with Paris Saint-Germain, FC Basel and Ludogorets in Group A, but Manchester City once again got a very tough draw at the group stage along with FC Barcelona, Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic in Group C.
[ MORE: Full UCL schedule ]
Reigning champs Real Madrid have been drawn in Group F alongside Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw, with Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid drawn together in Group D.
Below is the group stage draw in full with the opening group games to take place on Sept. 13/14 and a further five group games taking place — each team plays one another home and away — between September and December. The knockout stages then begin in February 2017 ahead of the UCL final in Cardiff, Wales on June 3.
You can click on the link above for the full schedule for group games.
The second leg of the UEFA Europa League play-off round takes place on Thursday with the final 22 places in the group stage
West Ham United are drawing 1-1 from their first leg in Romania against Astra Giurgiu, the team who knocked them out in the qualifying rounds last season.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
Slaven Bilic‘s men have a vital away goal and will fancy their chances of getting past Astra this time as the second leg takes place at their new home at the London Stadium.
Plenty of the 22 ties hang in the balance with Shakhtar Donetsk, Sparta Prague and Olympiakos all with a little work to do to secure their spot in the next stage.
Premier League sides Southampton and Manchester United have already qualified for the Europa League group stage and the draw to decide their opponents will take place in Monaco on Friday.
Below is the full schedule for the second legs which take place on Thursday, while you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.
Europa League schedule
FK Qarabag vs. IFK Goteborg (0-1)
Brondby vs. Panathinaikos (0-3)
Grashoppers vs. Fenerbache (0-3)
Rosenborg vs. Austria Wien (1-2)
Slovan Liberec vs. AEK Larnaca (1-0)
Partizan Tirana vs. FC Krasnodar (0-4)
PAOK vs. Dinamo Tblisi (3-0)
Genk vs. NK Lokomotiva (2-2)
Osmanlispor vs. Midtjylland (1-0)
Sparta Prague vs. Sonderjyske (0-0)
West Ham United vs. Astra Giurgiu (1-1)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (1-2)
AZ Alkmaar vs. Vojvodina (0-3)
Anderlecht vs. Slavia Prague (3-0)
BATE Borisov vs. Astana (2-0)
FK Shkendija vs. Gent (1-2)
Hajduk Split vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv (1-2)
NK Maribor vs. Gabala (1-3)
Red Star Belgrade vs. Sassuolo (0-3)
St Etienne vs. Beitar Jerusalem (2-1)
Olympiakos vs. Arouca (1-0)
Rapid Wien vs. Trencin (4-0)