Now that we know the U.S. opponents, which 23 players should Jurgen Klinsmann bring to Brazil?

21 Comments

Surprisingly, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann never asks the media for their thoughts on which 23 players he should take to Brazil next year; as we keep saying, these 23 golden invitations mean absolutely everything to any professional soccer player.

But … if Klinsmann ever does get stuck and needs an extra opinion, by gosh, we’re ready.

Here’ who we would like to see on the United States 23-man roster next year in Brazil.

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Tim Howard, Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando

Quick explanations: This is the easiest position to pick. These are the guys, barring injury, going to Brazil. Klinsmann has said so with his selections all along; no reason to believe anything will change.

Defenders (8):

  • Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, John Brooks, Brad Evans, DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo

Quick explanations: Besler and Gonzalez are the starters, with Brooks likely to push them and Cameron ready to jump in (at this or a number of other positions). Any injuries to the center backs and Michael Orozco gets the call.

Next guy up: Edgar Castillo, who can provide some late-game push up the left flank.

Midfielders (8):

  • Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, Landon Donovan, Kyle Beckerman, Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud

Quick explanations: Yes, Brek Shea. He provides a skills set otherwise lacking in the U.S. pool. And, no, no Alejandro Bedoya; he needed to do more with those recent starting opportunities. Note that Johnson finds himself as a midfielder; we all know he can play left back or right back (started there against Mexico in the qualifying clincher, in fact). Same goes for Cameron above; he’s a similarly interchangeable part. In terms of performance and ability to fill various roles, Sacha Kljestan and Diskerud are virtually inseparable.

Next guy up: Sacha Kljestan, who provides the same great utility as Diskerud.

Forwards: (4):

  • Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson, Eddie Johnson

Quick explanations: This one more or less sorts itself out. Johannsson’s rise happened at a time when Herculez Gomez was trying to get healthy; here is a case where timing is everything.

Next guy up: Herculez Gomez, assuming he can get healthy.

Reports: Barcelona holding talks with Verratti’s agent

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona has their eyes set on a new Andres Iniesta.

Sure, projecting anyone to meet Ballon d’Or finalist standards is silly, but news that Barca has had multiple meetings with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti does inspire comparison hunting.

[ MORE: Klopp explains Lovren extension ]

An influential and creative central midfielder, the 24-year-old Verratti is 8.5 years younger than Iniesta and wowed Barca in the first leg of PSG’s ill-fated UEFA Champions League tie with the Catalans.

Mundo Deportivo, amongst others, reports that Verratti feels life at PSG has gotten stale and that Barca is one of the few clubs that represents a significant jump up in class. He’s also been linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United in the past few transfer windows.

Verratti has a contract through 2020-21, so any purchase will not be cheap considering PSG’s desire to continue growing its status as a UCL contender. The Italian is 21 times capped by the Azzurri.

Klopp talks new Lovren deal, Top Four worries, Watford

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool announced a new contract for Dejan Lovren on Friday, complete with the requisite “I love my club” comments from the defender.

Then Jurgen Klopp got his hands on a microphone.

The outspoken manager explained that re-signing Lovren to a new “long-term” deal ensures that the Croatian spends the best years of his career with the Reds.

[ MORE: Top PL Storylines ]

He also spoke plainly about Lovren’s perceived struggles and successes since arriving at Anfield from Southampton in 2014.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“If Dejan played for another club you would want to sign him – and pay a lot of money. He is 27, the best time is still to come.”

“If you’d asked fans after the Dortmund game they would said give him a 20-year contract. After the Palace game fans would have said ‘can we find another team who will have him?’ Truth is somewhere in between.”

Turning to Monday’s trip to Watford, Klopp isn’t concerned about the chance that his Reds will open the day outside the Top Four if Man City and Manchester United both win at the weekend.

He also says the Reds could have Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge at Vicarge Road, though Jordan Henderson remains out.

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Bournemouth

Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Sunderland won 2-1 on Nov. 5
  • Fourth meeting since 1990
  • Sunderland leads all-time 5W-3D-1L

Sunderland looks to keep its faint hopes of Premier League safety alive by managing a season sweep of Bournemouth when the two sides meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Black Cats are a mess, having lost to Tees-Wear Derby rivals Middlesbrough on Wednesday and living 12 points back of 17th place Swansea City.

Bournemouth battered Middlesbrough 4-0 last weekend to move seven points clear of the drop zone, and can finish the day in the top half with a win up north.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss David Moyes on calls for him to quit“I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose. There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis on Sunderland’s woes“It just show how things can happen when clubs are not run properly. If we do lose Sunderland from the Premier League it will be a real shame. They are an enormous club and playing at grounds like theirs is the pinnacle of anyone’s career.”

 

Prediction

The Black Cats haven’t quit, but manage two fewer points than they need, all but heading for the Championship after a 2-2 draw.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Hull City

Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Hull won 2-1 on Nov. 6
  • Tigers two points clear of drop zone
  • Saints lead all-time 23W-20D-15L

After back-to-back losses to Man City and Chelsea, Saints meet a different kind of desperation when Hull City arrives at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With a win, Hull can move five points clear of the final relegation spot and heap pressure on Swansea City, who plays Sunday. With a loss, Marco Silva’s men open the 17th place door for Swans.

[ MORE: JPW on Romeu the Destroyer ]

Since the start of the 2011-12 season in the Championship, Southampton has won six of seven matches against Hull. That seventh, however, was the match at the KCOM Stadium earlier this season, one that saw now-West Ham man Robert Snodgrass spur a Tigers comeback.

Saints open the day four points back of eighth place West Brom, and also hold a match-in-hand on the Baggies.

What they’re saying

Saints boss Claude Puel on slump busting“After two losses it’s important to move forward now and take points on Saturday in front of our own fans. We have to improve in the right areas and find a good balance of play, but also a good clinical edge in both penalty areas.”

Marco Silva on Hull’s away troubles““We have conceded goals on the counter-attack away from home in games when the result has been looking good for us – we cannot make it possible for our opponents to do this to us. The second goal we conceded at Stoke is an example of this – conceded at a time when we were in control of the game. Details like this are making the difference and these are things we must look to change. This is clear to me and I pass this on to my players.”

Prediction

Saints have more quality than Hull, but may not have as much fire in the belly. Still, home field means a lot here and Southampton should reverse the score line from November’s tilt. 2-1, with Manolo Gabbiadini and Dusan Tadic leading the way.