Everton 0-1 Sunderland: Black Cats hang on after Howard’s red card (video)

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Bottom club Sunderland pulled off a huge shock at Goodison Park on Boxing Day, as the Black Cats handed Everton their first home defeat of 2013.

Gus Poyet’s men had the Toffees to thank for grabbing all three points as USMNT ‘keeper was red carded after bringing down Ki Sung-Yueng in the box after Leon Osman was caught in possession.

Ki stepped up and dispatched the decisive spot kick to give Sunderland a 1-0 lead that they hung on to for dear life.

The Mackems had ‘keeper Vito Mannone to thank for their magnificent away win, as the former Arsenal goalkeeper made a string of fine saves to stop the Toffees who put on a brave showing with 10-men. For most of the second half it was all Everton but Bryan Oviedo, Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka and Romelu Lukaku were all thwarted by Mannone’s heroics.

With the vital three points, Sunderland still remain bottom but are now just three points off safety. As for Everton, the defeat sees them stay in fifth.

The Toffees started on the front foot as Oviedo struck a fierce effort on goal that Mannone saved. Then the game changing moment arrived…

In the 23rd minute disaster struck as Howard was sent off as he played a short ball to Osman on the edge of his own box from a goal kick. Osman was caught in possession by Sunderland’s Ki, and as the South Korean ran in on goal Howard brought him down and was handed a straight-red card by referee Lee Probert.

Joel Robles then replaced Osman, as the Spanish ‘keepers first act was to face Ki’s penalty but the Sunderland man stroked the ball just past Robles’ outstretched right hand to put the Black Cats up 1-0.

(MORE: Boxing Day Roundup)

Everton had dug themselves a massive whole to get out of, as Sunderland sat back and soaked up the pressure easily for the remainder of the first half.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

After the break, Sunderland should have scored in the 48th minute as a ball from the left was knocked down and Modibo Diakite hit his shot over the bar with the goal beckoning.

To Everton’s credit despite being down a man they kept pressing for an equalizer and created plenty of opportunities from set pieces. Jagielka and Lukaku forced Mannone into a magnificent double stop in the 55th minute, as the Toffees spirit shone through.

Barkley came off the bench and made an impact as his long-range effort was palmed away by Mannone as Everton looked the more likely to score throughout the second half. Sunderland’s goalkeeper Mannone was fast becoming man of the match as he pulled off a terrific sprawling stop from Oviedo’s powerful effort that was arrowing towards the top corner.

After all of Everton’s pressure Fletcher was put clean through but he dallied on the ball and the chance came and went.

However the Everton surge continued as Barkely smashed a free kick towards the top corner that Mannone saved brilliantly, then from the following corner Sunderland cleared off the line and Lukaku hit the post late on.

Somehow Sunderland survived to pick up a crucial victory.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo, Coleman, Mirallas (Barkley, 45) , McCarthy, Barry, Osman (Robles, 24), Pienaar (Jelavic, 76), Lukaku

Sunderland: Mannone, Celustka, Bardsley, Diakite, Roberge, Cattermole, Ki, Colback (Giaccherini, 70), Larsson, Borini, Fletcher (Altidore, 87)

Goal: Ki (25)

Report: American teenager linked with Manchester United

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The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for more Christian Pulisic-like players, and another star-in-the-making could be on his way to Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Three keys for USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

American teenager Will Vint is reportedly being pursued by Premier League giants Manchester United after previously having trialed with Fulham and Everton.

Vint, the 15-year-old son Everton academy director Peter Vint, has reportedly impressed the Red Devils while on trial as of late. Additionally, the teen’s Instagram page describes him as a “Footballer at Manchester United.”

The number of Americans in England’s top flight have dwindled down over recent years, however, USMNT mainstays like Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan (moving to Atlanta United) still reside in the PL.

Chapecoense announces match against Colombia’s Nacional

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SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian club Chapecoense will play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 4 in what will be an emotional home match.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina XI to face Bolivia ]

In November, 19 members of the Brazilian team died in an air crash outside Medellin as they travelled to play Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Out of 77 passengers, 71 died in the incident, including players, journalists, and club officials.

Chapecoense says they will play at 22,000-seat Arena Conda in southern Brazil in the first leg of the Recopa Sudamericana.

The tragedy made Atletico Nacional pronounce Chapecoense as champions, and the South American confederation agreed.

The Recopa Sudamericana is between the champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.

Aguero left off Argentina starting XI to face Bolivia

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Sao Paolo striker Lucas Pratto will receive a fantastic opportunity on Tuesday when Argentina faces Bolivia in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT travels to Panama in CONCACAF WCQ ]

It just so happens that Pratto’s gain is a major letdown for one of the Premier League’s top strikers. The 28-year-old is tied for second this qualifying campaign for Argentina with two goals.

La Albiceleste have announced their starting lineup ahead of tomorrow’s clash in Bolivia, which features mainstays Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Meanwhile, Aguero — who started in Argentina’s 1-0 win over Chile on Thursday — is the lone change from manager Edgardo Bauza.

The Copa America runners’ up are currently depleted with a combination of injuries and suspensions. Four players will miss Tuesday’s meeting in La Paz due to suspension, including Gonzalo Higuain, Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia.

Elsewhere, Gabriel Mercado and Emmanuel Mas will each miss the match after sustaining respective hamstring and knee injuries.

Argentina currently sits third in the CONMEBOL table while Bolivia is in danger of elimination with a loss on Tuesday. La Verde have managed just seven points in the first 13 rounds of World Cup qualifying.

Three keys for USMNT against Panama

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Coming off of Friday night’s dominating effort against Honduras, the U.S. Men’s National Team looks for their second win in five nights when Bruce Arena and co. head to Panama.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT goes for second win in Hex on Tuesday ]

Strong performances from players like Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic have USMNT fans buzzing ahead of Tuesday’s clash in Panama City, but there are several questions that lie ahead for Arena as the U.S. goes for its second win in the Hexagonal.

How does Arena cope with injuries?

The only downside of the team’s 6-0 win over Panama on Friday was the aftereffects if the match. John Brooks, Sebastian Lletget, Michael Orozco and Jordan Morris are no longer with the USMNT after sustaining injuries/illnesses, leaving Arena shorthanded as the Stars and Stripes head into the Estadio Rommel Fernández.

While Clint Dempsey’s emphatic national team return will provide Arena with some assurances up front, along with the emergence of Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic, there are some questions in the midfield and defense for the U.S.

Jermaine Jones is available to return from his one-match suspension and could potentially fill the void left by Sebastian Lletget after his injury on Friday. While, Alejandro Bedoya — who replaced Lletget in the Honduras match — will also be in line for a starting spot.

Defensively is where it gets a bit tricky though, as Arena has to make up for an already-depleted backline. There was no DeAndre Yedlin or Fabian Johnson coming into this round of qualifiers, and John Brooks’ release from camp leaves the defense even thinner. Tim Ream appears to be Arena’s next choice to start at centerback with Brooks unavailable, but will he stick with Omar Gonzalez in the center or slide Geoff Cameron back into the middle?

It seems like the latter choice, especially given Cameron’s experience in the central defense, but that would mean Arena has to slot somebody else into the right back position. Graham Zusi has had slight experience in that role as of late, but it could be a bit of a gamble for Arena in another high-stakes match.

Bradley must control the middle once again

Forget Michael Bradley’s superb goal, which lifted the U.S. lead to 2-0 on Friday, it was the captain’s overall performance that is exactly what should be expected from the center midfielder.

Bradley completions/MLSSoccer

In 90 minutes of play against Los Catrachos, Bradley only missed on six passes while also making several successful tackles and recoveries to limit the Honduras attack.

The loss of Lletget is definitely a significant one for the Americans, given his lively movement going both ways. However, LA Galaxy teammate will likely be in line to replace the vibrant midfielder on Tuesday as he returns from a one-match suspension.

In regards to Bradley though, the U.S. veteran is at his best when he is able to move freely throughout the midfield, but Jones’ inclusion could present more of a burden for the Toronto FC player.

Jones is still a very capable midfielder, but he simply doesn’t have the pace to match that of a Lletget, which leaves Bradley more liable for covering ground defensively in front of the backline.

On top of that, the back four will see more changes on Tuesday after Brooks’ exit from the USMNT, making Bradley’s role all the more critical when facing players like Luis Tejada and Gabriel Torres.

[ MORE: CONCACAF qualifiers resume Tuesday afternoon ]

Dempsey/Pulisic bond continues to evolve

It couldn’t have gone much better for the pair on Friday night as Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic were directly involved in five of the game’s six goals.

The budding relationship between the two key attackers though is an intriguing one, and will likely determine just how successful this USMNT can be down the road. At 34, Dempsey is certainly on the back end of his career, however, his effort against Honduras shows just how dangerous the Seattle Sounders man can be, even after missing significant time due to a heart problem.

Meanwhile, Pulisic continues to shine in European with giants Dortmund, appearing both in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League. The two likely won’t be together on the international scene for long, perhaps only until the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but the partnership is something to monitor over the next year-plus.

Not only does the duo represent a dangerous one-two punch in the attack but also a changing of the guard. Dempsey has been one of the most talented USMNT players in the nation’s history, and many believe Pulisic has the talent to match or even surpass that of the 55-time goalscorer.

We’ve seen it before when Landon Donovan was phased out of the U.S. squad and Dempsey was essentially handed the reigns of the attack, and this time Pulisic will be doing so with much more time to make an impact. The 18-year-old already has four international goals in 12 appearances, and if he improves on that goalscoring pace the U.S. will be enjoying his presence for many years to come.