Jurgen Klinsmann’s post-game comments after Jamaican win

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It took his team about 60 minutes to wear down  and then crack open Jamaica, but the eventual 2-0 win over the visitors clinched first place in the final round qualifying group for manager Jurgen Klinsmann and his team.

Here are the “highlights” of what the manager had to say, starting with an explanation of why it took so long for the United States to find its feet Friday at Sporting Park.

Klinsmann said the first half “obviously did not go as they would have liked” and that he urged his team to find another gear at intermission:

Well, we expected a tight game. Jamaica is not coming here to give us points. … They are very well organized. They closed the spaces down in the first half. They are physically a strong team and they can always hurt you on a counter break. They hung in there and made sure we didn’t find those gaps to create chances.

“We said at halftime, ‘Guys, you have to raise the bar here. You have to raise the tempo.’ That’s what we did. After 55 or 60 minutes, we passed it through faster, there were a lot of positive sequences, one touch, and that’s how you open up any team. I felt on the bench it was just a matter of time until we got the first goal.”

It doesn’t sound like there was any “message sending” in regards to Landon Donovan’s halftime removal. Klinsmann did say, however, that the left-sided midfielder’s halftime substitution (never a great moment for any player – and surely not something that has happened often in Donovan’s career) was not about those recent ankle issues.

The sub at halftime, we discussed as a coaching staff, as we always do. There were options that we had. We thought we had to do something to speed up the game. We thought Landon had trouble getting into the game, but he was not the only one, other players as well in the first half.

“We talked about moving Landon up top with Jozy, but we thought Aron [Johannsson, who would have been replaced in that case] had some chances and maybe he puts one in. And then it was a simple performance-based decision, but it is no problem at all.”

Later, Klinsmann was asked what he hopes Donovan “takes from” being removed at half. Again, the manager more or less shrugged. He said it was “no big deal.” And it probably isn’t … because we are talking about Landon Donovan, after all. The guy has a lot of good performances with the national team to balance out a stinker here and there. It’s different with a younger guy who hasn’t proven himself the way Donovan has over such a long period.

We spoke right after the game, I told him [Donovan] we wanted to make a change, we thought that you are not getting into the game the way you hoped to. Everybody has a bad game, and some other guys had a bad game, too. It’s no big deal.”

Klinsmann also said DaMarcus Beasley’s second-half removal was due to a hamstring issue, which the manager said puts his starting left back in question for Tuesday’s match in Panama.

Related, he said discussions would take place tonight on any roster changes ahead of Tuesday’s match. “There will be a couple of changes. Not many, but a couple,” Klinsmann said. Remember, Clarence Goodson, Chris Wondolowski and others were in the stands tonight, not dressed for the contest.

On the starting lineup, Klinsmann said he thought Alejandro Bedoya deserved a start after a good spell with his club and thanks to those late, bright performances in the Gold Cup. He admitted it was a difficult choice not to start Graham Zusi.

Graham was fine with that. I told Graham to be ready at halftime, that ‘You are going to play in your home stadium, don’t worry about that.”

Klinsmann is not a manager who is blind to such things, a player’s desire to perform in front of his home fans and such. (Not all coaches care about that stuff.) The manager noted that his goal would be “a special memory for him. He deserves that.”

(MORE: Aron Johannsson’s first U.S. start not perfect, but promising)

(MORE: Initial takeaways from U.S. win over Jamaica)

(MORE: 10 quick halftime thoughts from U.S.-Jamaica qualifier)

Luis Enrique leaves with feeling of mission accomplished

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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique leaves Barcelona with no regrets and the feeling of mission accomplished.

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The coach capped his three-year stint with the Catalan club by winning the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.

Now it’s time to enjoy some much-needed time off after three “intense” seasons, and let the club move on under fresh leadership.

“There is no sadness at all, just happiness,” Luis Enrique said. “I’m the one who decided to stop, and I think that it was a wonderful decision for me, for the players and for the team as well. The intensity of this profession demands maximum dedication every single day and there is a natural wear out.”

He said players always need new challenges and will benefit from a change in leadership, and the club will certainly keep winning despite his departure.

After missing out on the league this season, the Copa del Rey was Barcelona’s second title of the campaign to go along with the Spanish Super Cup, but Luis Enrique has won nearly everything since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014. The former midfielder led Barcelona to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015. He also managed the league-Copa double in 2016, and also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2015.

He said he was “proud” to have helped Barcelona fans celebrate so many accomplishments during his time at the helm.

“If someone had told me when I arrived that I would have the opportunity to help my team win nine titles out of 13 that we played, I’d say that these would be good numbers,” he said. “It would have been nice to have won La Liga and contended for the Champions League title this season, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I believe that the fans recognized the effort and the sacrifice of all the players throughout the season. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make them happy.”

Luis Enrique said he was also lucky to have had the chance to coach a player like Lionel Messi.

“He is extraordinary, extraterrestrial,” Luis Enrique said about the Argentina forward, who scored the team’s first goal on Saturday. “I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Messi at his best, performing at the highest level. He is the very best, without a doubt.”

Neymar and Paco Alcacer also scored at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to help Barcelona win its third straight Copa del Rey title, and 29th all-time.

Luis Enrique celebrated with his seven-year-old daughter by his side, waving his winner’s trophy and singing the club’s anthem in front of the Barcelona fans who traveled to Madrid.

Barcelona is expected to announce this week that its new coach will be Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao a few days ago.

Luis Enrique’s future remains up in the air.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, really. I’m open to every possibility, including changing sports,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said, with a smile on his face. “I do know that I’m very competitive and it’s been like this since I was born. Right now I’m looking forward to the opportunity of enjoying my friends and my family.”

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Report: Reus could miss six months after sustaining knee damage

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Marco Reus missed much of the 2016/17 season with injuries, and the Borussia Dortmund attacker had that unfortunate spell continue on Saturday.

[ MORE: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U-20 World Cup ]

The 27-year-old exited the club’s DFB Pokal final win against Eintracht Frankfurt at halftime after suffering a knee injury.

According to German outlet Bild, Reus will miss at least six months as he rehabs and prepares to make a comeback.

Despite the bad news for Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel’s men captured the title behind goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Day 9: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U20 World Cup

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Five teams booked their place in the knockout phase at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, including Tab Ramos and the U.S. after the Americans picked up a valuable point to finish atop Group F.

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USMNT U-20s 1-1 Saudi Arabia

An unbeaten record in group play has Ramos and Co. moving on to the Round of 16, where the U.S. will meet New Zealand. Brooks Lennon inked his name on the scoresheet for the first time at this month’s World Cup just prior to halftime, before Abdulelah Alamri equalized with almost a quarter hour left to play.

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador

A draw was all Senegal needed to ensure it would continue its run at the World Cup, while Ecuador fell short of a final 16 bid after only managing two draws during Group F play.

New Zealand 0-2 France

With nine goals for and none conceded during Group E play, France remains one of the heavy hitters at the conclusion of the group phase. Les Bleus received a strong contribution from Bastia winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who netted twice in the first half.

Honduras 2-0 Vietnam

Honduras scored twice in the final 14 minutes-plus added time but neither nation reaches the Round of 16 with Sunday’s result.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

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The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”