What Jurgen Klinsmann said about Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson


A few of us saw a little something in Sacha Kljestan’s evening in Glasgow, as the Anderlecht man was assigned the “Dempsey” role, playing ahead of two midfielders and behind striker Jozy Altidore in the match against Scotland.

His ratings from some of the respected, uh, “ratings agencies,” weren’t bad. The New York Times, Soccer America, and ESPN.com all gave Kljestan a grade that was somewhere between “not bad” and “pretty good.”

But the only gradebook that really counts, as we know, belongs to Jurgen Klinsmann; the U.S. manager will make the career-defining choices next May, assigning 23 men to his World Cup roster for a trip into Brazil. And, well … Klinsmann didn’t sound overly impressed.

(MORE: What we learned in Friday’s draw with Scotland)

He did mention that Kljestan was in a less familiar role, playing higher up the field than he typically does for Anderlecht in Belgium. That said …

He did OK, but it was tricky for him because we wanted him to play in between their two lines, the back line and the midfield line, and to find him in those spaces closer to Jozy, rather than further back. His instinct tells him to drop a little deeper because that’s what he does at Anderlecht, and then suddenly we had three midfielders in the same area with Jermaine [Jones], Michael [Bradley] and Sacha. That’s not what we wanted. We wanted to find people between their two lines of four, so it was a bit tricky for him.”

Thing is, tough role or no, Kljestan is in a position, like a few others, where he needs to make an impression – even if that means making a gourmet meal from leftovers. At seven months until the World Cup, it is what it is at this point.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann was more positive in his assessments of Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson, who helped their cases for Brazilian roster placement.

Johannsson keeps moving up, perhaps already having lapped Herculez Gomez, who fell behind initially due to some summer injury trouble. Shea helps himself every time he gets the ball, points himself forward and tells himself “Go!”  Thing is, the United States has so little of that, so Shea provides a real change of pace. When a certain problem needs solving, he’s the only solution on this roster.

For everything that Klinsmann said about Shea and Johannsson, read his post-game comments here.

Alexis Sanchez says he “expected better” from himself at Manchester United

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Alexis Sanchez isn’t happy with his performance so far at Manchester United.

The Chilean superstar has scored just one goal for the Red Devils in 10 appearances since joining from Arsenal, and the club has lost three of those games and has been knocked out of the Champions League by Sevilla.

Speaking with Chilean media on national team duty in Sweden, Sanchez said he expects more of himself and that he’s so far let himself down. “As I am self-demanding, I expected something better,” Sanchez said. “After my arrival at United, it was hard to change everything very quickly. I even hesitated to come here [to join the national team].”

Chile missed out on World Cup qualification, and has friendlies with Sweden and Denmark scheduled over the next week. With so little at stake, Sanchez was poised to take time off from the national team, but says he was convinced by Manchester City goalkeeper and Chilean captain Claudio Bravo to stick it out.

“The change of club was something that was very abrupt – it was the first time I’ve changed clubs in January – but many things have happened in my life that are difficult,” Sanchez said. “I had asked permission to miss these games, but then I thought better and spoke with Claudio and told him that we should all be united.”

Once the international break is over, Manchester United resumes Premier League play against Swansea at the end of March before an April 7th derby meeting with Manchester City.

James Collins injured in West Ham friendly

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West Ham defender James Collins hobbled off the field in the 29th minute of the Hammers’ friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday, a big blow to the club’s already paper-thin back line.

With the league on an international break, West Ham agreed to play a friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge to help raise money for National League club that could be in serious financial trouble. However, it could be detrimental to the short-term future of the Hammers, who are hoping to stave off relegation, sitting just two points above the drop.

The 34-year-old defender has missed significant time this season due to injury, with an ankle injury keeping Collins out for nearly three months in 2017. West Ham has lost just four of the 12 Premier League matches Collins has appeared in this season, with three clean sheets. However, two of those have come in the club’s last three games, thrashed by a combined 7-1 scoreline between 90 minutes against Liverpool and Burnley.

The injury comes at the worst possible time, with West Ham set to play Southampton in a critical relegation matchup between teams in the in 17th and 18th in the Premier League table. The Hammers are already without defender Winston Reid who remains out for the season with a knee injury, while the club sold center-back Jose Fonte to Chinese club Dalian Yifang F.C. in late February.

West Ham was hoping to do its part to help save the London club. Former director Glyn Hopkin abruptly resigned and pulled all financial backing in early February, leaving the club fearing for its immediate future. They reportedly need $353,000 just to stay afloat the rest of the season, even with zero club debt.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.