Miguel Herrera staying focused, saying all the right things ahead of Mexico’s second leg with New Zealand

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It’s been a long time since the Mexican national team has been able to speak with confidence after a match, but thanks to their 5-1, Wednesday win over New ZealandEl Tri have reason to believe things have finally turned around. After stumbling to fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, the 2011 Gold Cup winners were forced into a playoff against Oceania’s champions, but thanks to Club América coach Miguel Herrera and seven of his Aguilas, the tricolor can get back to the old frontrunners’ clichés.

[REVIEW: Club America-heavy Mexico throttle New Zealand, take four-goal lead in World Cup playoff]

“We are going in with the idea that this is 0-0 and we aren’t going to risk anything,” Herrera told ESPN spanish-languare show Jorge Ramos y Su Banda. “We are going into [Tuesday’s] match with the same attitude of being as or even more determined than we were in the previous match.”

Up four goals, it may be difficult for Mexico to maintain the same intensity that saw New Zealand routed on Wednesday. But for Herrera, there’s a bigger picture, even if it’s unclear he’ll be Mexico’s coach after the playoff’s second leg.

Set to return to his job with Club América, Herrera still needs to keep Mexico’s longer term goals in mind. Qualifying for the World Cup is the primary objective, but more broadly, El Tri needs to start playing to their potential, something that transcends two games against the All Whites.

It’s a task that precludes any temptation for Herrera and the seven Club América players he started o start looking toward Liga MX’s playoffs.

“Until we qualify we won’t think about anything else but that,” Herrera said, asked about the Mexican league. “The 23 players I have here are the national team, they don’t belong to any club right now.”

After Wednesday’s success, there’ve been suggestions Herrera be offered El Tri‘s full-time position; however, win or lose, the 45-year-old’s set to shift his focus back to Club América. The Aguilas face eight place Tigres in the first round of the Apertura’s liguilla, having finished first in the league’s qualification stage.

Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

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BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

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A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

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The Best: Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi — Is there a front-runner?

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While France Football has its Ballon d’Or winner somewhere on a 30-man shortlist, FIFA’s “Best” men’s player is down to an unsurprising three ahead of Monday afternoon’s ceremony.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are up for the award, and there was no major summer tournament outside of the Confederations Cup — only Ronaldo participated — to help tilt the scales in one’s favor this summer.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

Of course, Ronaldo claimed another UEFA Champions League crown, but was far from the simple standout of the club. In international play, both Ronaldo and Messi’s World Cup qualifying campaigns came down to the wire while Neymar captained Brazil’s dominant ride through CONMEBOL.

The award, which is said to be for on- and off-field behavior, was voted on by national coaches, national captains, select members of the media and fans.

Ronaldo is the favorite according to hardware, while Messi’s numbers and Neymar’s playmaking both can lay claim to the throne.

Stats since start of 2017

Lionel Messi

Club goals: 46
Club assists: 16
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 4
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Neymar

Club goals: 24
Club assists: 21
Country caps: 6
Country goals: 2
Country assists: 3
Accolades: World Cup qualifier, Copa Del Rey winner

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club goals: 31
Club assists: 7
Country caps: 11
Country goals: 11
Country assists: 4
Accolades: Confederations Cup semifinal, World Cup qualifier, Champions League winner, La Liga winner

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Mbappe wins Golden Boy over Rashford, Pulisic, Gabriel Jesus

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Paris Saint-Germain, France, and (former) Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe has claimed the Golden Boy Award over Ousmane Dembele, Christian Pulisic, and others.

[ MORE: TFC sets MLS record ]

The Golden Boy is chosen from the top Under-21 players in Europe, and the short list had the above names and 22 more including Gabriel Jesus, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Marcus Rashford.

Mbappe, still 18 until Dec. 20, has four goals and four assists this season for PSG after scoring 26 goals with 14 assists for Monaco last season. He also has a goal for France.

The teenager likely played the biggest role at the biggest club last season, though Donnarumma was exceptional at Milan, Jesus’ injury conspired against him at Man City, and Marcus Rashford was very good for United.

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