El Salvador v United States - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup

SI reports that Landon Donovan out for upcoming United States national team friendlies

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Chances are, Landon Donovan’s absence from the upcoming U.S. national team friendlies is about his recent ankle issues and nothing more.

But when SI.com’s Grant Wahl reported Sunday that Donovan would not be included in upcoming matches against Scotland and Austria, some speculation was bound to fall.

The United States meets Scotland on Friday at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, and then travels into Austria for a match next week in Vienna. Neither team qualified for the upcoming World Cup.

U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann wants the strongest squad possible for the friendlies. In fact, he wants the very best bunch he can assemble for every camp and every match from now until the World Cup begins in just over six months. The time for kicking tires on new players is pretty much over; it’s all about polishing and refining, and that means calling the best players available whenever the team gets together.

Donovan is almost certainly one of his top 23 men. (That’s the magic number, since next year’s World Cup roster will be the usual 23-man assembly.)

But any absence is bound to fuel speculation, given Donovan’s complicated relationship with professional soccer and with the U.S. national team over the last couple of years.

The national team and Major League Soccer all-time scoring leader hurt his ankle during an MLS match on Sept. 14. After sitting out for about two weeks, Donovan was back on the field for an important contest against Portland on Sept. 29, but later said it probably would have been wise to remain out longer.

He kept playing through the MLS playoff stretch drive, and then into the post-season until the Galaxy was eliminated. (Which happened just days ago as the Galaxy fell to Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinals.)

So it’s logical to assume this is just about getting his ankle right.

Still, there was that odd instant in one of the final World Cup qualifying matches, where Donovan left at halftime in Kansas City against Jamaica, a surprising moment that appeared performance based. So, there’s your beginning point for speculation of further fissure between Donovan and Klinsmann.

VIDEO: Henrikh Mkhitaryan scores beauty for Man United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United controls the ball under pressure from Aaron Cresswell of West Ham United during the EFL Cup quarter final match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on November 30, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Here he comes.

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed for Manchester United in the summer big things were expected.

It’s taken him a while to settle but now the Armenian playmaker has scored his first goal for United with a stunning superb solo effort against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League.

Watch the video below to see Mkhitaryan put United 1-0 up.

What a goal.

VIDEO: Is this the worst open goal miss in history?

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My goodness.

You truly have to see this a few times to believe it is possible.

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Stunning footage from a game between National Vatera and Makedonikos Kozanis in Greece’s four-tier last weekend has emerged as Kozanis striker Thanasis Takidis goes clean through on goal, gets one yard out but then somehow delays his shot and is blocked on the line by a defender, then the ball gets away from him.

Watch the clip above to see probably the worst miss you will ever see.

I mean, come on man…

Kashima beats Auckland City 2-1 in opener of Club World Cup

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 08:  Daigo Nishi of Kashima Antlers heads the ball over Angel Berlanga of Auckland City during the FIFA Club World Cup Play-off for Quarter Final match between Kashima Antlers and Auckland City at International Stadium Yokohama on December 8, 2016 in Yokohama, Japan.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) Japanese champion Kashima Antlers beat Auckland City of New Zealand 2-1 in the opening game of the Club World Cup on Thursday.

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Kim Dae-wook headed Auckland ahead five minutes after half time, but substitute Shuhei Akasaki equalized for the J-League champions in the 67th minute.

Fellow sub Mu Kanazaki then completed the comeback in the 88th, heading home from close range after Shoma Doi nodded a deep Shuto Yamamoto cross from the left back.

Kashima advanced to a quarterfinal against African champion Mamelodi Sundowns in Osaka on Sunday.

The winner of that game will face Copa Libertadores winner Atletico Nacional in the semifinal Wednesday. European powerhouse Real Madrid also enters the tournament from the semifinal stage.

The use of video replays was available during the match but there were no official reviews. The technology is there to be used only for correcting clear errors in game-changing decisions.

Previews of all 10 Premier League games – Week 15

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10:  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur (10) reacts after a challenge during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on April 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Week 15 of the Premier League season has arrived with Manchester United hosting Tottenham, Liverpool welcoming West Ham and Leicester City and Manchester City clashing at the King Power Stadium.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live, here ] 

With some intense relegation battles between Swansea City and Sunderland and Hull City and Crystal Palace, there is plenty on the line as the festive season really starts to heat up.

Below are previews, score predictions and everything else you need to know about all 10 games this weekend.


Chelsea vs. West Brom

Leicester City vs. Manchester City

Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool vs. West Ham

Arsenal vs. Stoke City

Southampton vs. Middlesbrough

Swansea City vs. Sunderland

Watford vs. Everton

Hull vs. Crystal Palace

Burnley vs. Bournemouth