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)

Pique says Neymar “does not know what to do”

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has spoken out about the Neymar saga, stating that he and his fellow teammates are trying to lend their comrade a hand as he looks to sort out his future between Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking ahead of the El Clasico preseason match in Miami, Pique told reporters, “Neymar and I we are very close and I want him to stay and I know the situation. Right now he doesn’t know what to do and we are trying to help him, the ones [on the team] that are more close to him to take the right decision.”

[ MORE: Miazga loaned back to Vitesse ]

Pique was the source of intrigue a five days ago when he posted a Tweet with picture of himself and Neymar and the caption “He stays.” The defender was forced to clarify later saying that his post was only a hopeful prediction of the future rather than a bit of breaking news.

“It depends on what he wants,” Pique said at the pre-match press conference. “He can be in all the clubs in all the world. He can be in Paris, Barcelona, Chelsea or City. All the clubs will want him. It’s about your priorities. What do you want? Do you want more money? Do you want to win titles?”

Then, Pique used his knowledge of American sports to make a comparison, perhaps indirectly referencing Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. “It’s happening here and it’s happening in the NBA as well. There are some players that are not earning all the money that they deserve to win titles. So sometimes you have to take decisions in life and it’s all about priorities.”

Meanwhile, club captain Iniesta was also asked about Neymar, and he said he just wants a decision soon. “We [as players] just want peace which will benefit everyone – the players, the club and everything surrounding it.”

Former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol also spoke out about Neymar’s situation, telling Spanish publication Marca that he thinks Neymar should make his decision soon to erase the uncertainty.

Cheers! Czech soccer club shapes dugouts like beer cans

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PRAGUE (AP) Czech club Viktoria Plzen has come up with innovative beer-can shaped dugouts that truly represent the city.

The club from Plzen, or Pilsen in English, is known as the Czech capital of beer which gave the world the golden “pilsner” lager in 1842.

This week, it unveiled the new dugouts at its Doosan Arena that look exactly like beer cans.

Plzen manager general Adolf Sadek said it was a joint idea from the club and the nearby Gambrinus brewery.

“Such dugouts are unique and I daresay no other club has them,” Sadek said.

Added Gambrinus brewer Zdenek Polak, “Beer and football belong to each other.”

Players welcomed the novelty, particularly with leather heated seats.

The dugouts will first be tested in Viktoria’s season opener against Dukla Prague on Saturday.

Report: USMNT’s Paul Arriola attracting MLS, European interest

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Several U.S. Men’s National Team players made strong impressions on Bruce Arena and Co. at this month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup — which resulted in a Stars and Stripes title.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push to top in latest MLS Power Rankings ]

One of those players is Club Tijuana attacker Paul Arriola, whose performance for the USMNT and in Mexico have drawn him significant interest from MLS, Portugal and the Netherlands, according to Goal USA.

The report from Goal states that a “half dozen” sides in MLS have shown interest in Arriola, including Real Salt Lake.

Arriola, 22, has played for Xolos in Liga MX since 2013 after finishing up his academy career with the LA Galaxy.

The Galaxy would hold the rights to Arriola if he were to join MLS due to a Homegrown claim, despite the forward only spending one season with the club’s academy from 2012 to 2013.

Chanot, Wallace among missing for NYCFC’s clash at Toronto

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Patrick Vieira’s men have been flying high as of late, but New York City FC’s difficult schedule continues over the weekend north of the border.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push towards top of PST MLS Power Rankings ]

NYCFC will take on Toronto FC on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, but the third-place side in the Eastern Conference will have to do so without six first-team players.

[ MORE: MLS Week 22 preview — Sigi makes LA debut against Sounders ]

A number of injuries will keep out regulars like center back Maxime Chanot, winger Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita, while Miguel Camargo, Khiry Shelton and 16-year-old midfielder/defender James Sands are also sidelined ahead of the Toronto clash.

Wallace and Camargo each sustained injuries during the CONCACAF Gold Cup while on duty with Costa Rica and Panama, respectively.

The two sides settled for a 2-2 draw when they last met on July 19 at Yankee Stadium, but an NYCFC victory could mean a strong push for Vieira and Co. towards the top of the East.

As the table stands, NYCFC currently sits just three points Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference through 21 matches, while the Chicago Fire are lumped in between the two clubs on 38 points.

Meanwhile, TFC will continue to deal with a couple injuries of its own as Steven Beitashour and Benoit Cheyrou remain out with abdominal and calf ailments, respectively.