Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones return to clubs as U.S. national team makes several roster changes

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Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Tim Howard (pictured) and Matt Besler, all starters in Friday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier win over Jamaica, have returned to their respective clubs and did not accompany the team on its charter Saturday down into Panama.

U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said Donovan continues to struggle with an ankle injury he collected last month while playing for the LA Galaxy against D.C. United – although the U.S. manager also said late on Friday that the injury had nothing to do with Donovan’s halftime removal against Jamaica.

The U.S. Soccer release is here.

Klinsmann didn’t sound overly concerned about Donovan’s ankle, but did express more concern over Jones’ knee injury; you might remember reports two weeks ago that the gritty and volatile Schalke man, first on the U.S. depth chart at holding midfielder, would undergo surgery this month to repair some damage to the knee.

Those reports turned out to be false, although it’s clear that an issue does exist; at some point Jones will probably need surgery to repair the apparent meniscus damage, possibly around the German winter break coming up in just over two months.

Besler and Howard were previously planned changes, Klinsmann said. Besler’s return to Sporting Kansas City makes him available for Friday’s match at home against D.C. United. Donovan, meanwhile, can participate for Los Angeles on Wednesday against Montreal, assuming the ankle allows. Playoff positioning (or maybe even a playoff spot in L.A.’s case) is on the line.

Clarence Goodson, who was with the United States on Friday but sitting in the stands, will most likely partner with Geoff Cameron on Tuesday in Panama City.

This also means Brad Guzan will get a start against Panama, a logical move considering he’s the team’s No. 2 goalkeeper, and considering that he keeps closing the gap on Howard for starting duty. Remember, it was Guzan in goal for the critical, turning stretch in March, the memorable win over Costa Rica outside Denver and the scoreless draw with Mexico at Azteca.

Interestingly, DaMarcus Beasley is on the roster for Tuesday’s match; he left Friday’s contest and was set to undergo medical evaluation today before the team left Kansas City.

(MORE: Discussion of Jurgen Klinsmann’s post-game comments Friday)

(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)

The U.S. roster for Tuesday’s final World Cup qualifier looks like this:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Orozco (Puebla)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes).

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.