Which U.S. players have the biggest opportunities tonight against Jamaica?

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KANSAS CITY — Fate has conspired to give a few World Cup hopefuls an additional chance at impressing U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann.

That’s the same Jurgen Klinsmann who tipped his hand just a little more Thursday when he said, almost matter of factly, that there “aren’t many suprises coming around the corner.”

What he meant was that none of us should expect some young buck who has yet to spend a minute with the national team to burst spectacularly onto the scene.

But it’s also a reminder that his core group will continue to be the core group; chances to gather his top players are dwindling, down to five FIFA dates between now at training camp time for Brazil.

That said, there are some choices ahead for the U.S. boss. Injuries to some of the front line men mean a few guys who weren’t going to get a chance tonight in Kansas City now may get one. So, here are the players who have the most to gain from some kind of standout night at Sporting Park:

Alejandro Bedoya: This is a great chance to follow up on some good work near the end of the Gold Cup. The lack of true wingers around the U.S. program will help, but Klinsmann won’t take Bedoya (pictured, on the left) just because he can play out wide; he’s got to be effective at it. Clearly, Klinsmann isn’t afraid to deploy guys to the wings who are better suited for inside positions, Eddie Johnson and Graham Zusi as good examples.

Aron Johannsson: Klinsmann knows by now what Chris Wondolowski can and cannot do. With the recent Icelandic-American addition to the player pool … not so much. Again, the chances to impress are shrinking fast. Johannsson has lots of potential; Klinsmann needs to see that the young striker is far enough along that he could be useful by next summer is Brazil.

Terrence Boyd: Between Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Herculez Gomez, there just is not much room on the roster for young strikers. For guys like Boyd and Johannsson, they’ll have to force Klinsmann into considering them. How can they do that? Well, scoring a goal or two in a World Cup qualifier (even a mostly meaningless one like tonight’s) is a fantastic start.

Sacha Kljestan: Micheal Bradley is easily Klinsmann’s most important man, and the brain of this U.S. bunch will find himself on the field every possible minute he can be. That said, the team needs a Plan B in that linking midfield role. (Other than Jermaine Jones, that is, who mans the position when Bradley doesn’t). Either way, they need one more versatile, two-way man like Bradley. It’s probably going to be Mix Diskerud or Kljestan, and at the moment Diskerud is a little ahead.

Brad Davis: The Houston Dynamo man sits on the bubble. Davis has been on the list for some World Cup qualifiers this year, so that’s a check mark for him. And his set piece service can come in handy if Landon Donovan or Graham Zusi are not around, for whatever reason. All that said, nothing is guaranteed for the 31-year-old midfielder, and a few good minutes against Jamaica (likely off the bench, since he played Wednesday for Houston) sure wouldn’t hurt.

Brad Evans: The U.S. right back spot is wide, wide open. Longtime fixture Steve Cherundolo remains in the picture, but even if the Bundesliga vet regains his health and good form, the team needs a backup, and nobody has stepped up forcefully to lay claim to it. Klinsmann seems determined to use Geoff Cameron as a center back or a reserve holding midfielder (Klinsmann said Thursday that center back was Cameron’s best spot). So Evans, Michael Parkhurst and others remain in the hunt. (Fabian Johnson, too, although he is better suited on the left.)

(MORE: Helping to explain tonight’s goofy kickoff time)

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.