Luis Aragonés, architect of current Spanish national team, passed away Saturday in Madrid

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Former Spain men’s national team head coach Luis Aragonés — the man who forged the team that’s won their last three major competitions — passed away Saturday in Madrid. He was 75 years old.

Aragonés was head coach of La Roja when Spain claimed the European Championships in 2008, building a team that would eventually win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. It was the high point of a 35-year managerial career that started with Atlético Mardid in 1974, ended with Fenerbahçe in 2009, and included spells at Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Espanyol and Real Betis.

Aragonés had been suffering with a form of leukaemia, with his physical state kept secret from the Spanish press. Earlier this week, however, that worsening condition forced Aragonés to be hospitalized. He died early Saturday morning.

One Sunday at the Vicente Calderón, Atlético fans unveiled a large banner (above) commemorating the man who played and coached a combined 25 seasons at the club.

Born in Madrid, Aragonés enjoyed an 18-year playing career starting in 1957, going on to make 372 Primera División appearances with Atlético. Upon retiring as the club’s all-time leading scorer, Aragonés became the Atleti head coach, embarking on a managerial career that could see him claim six major honors. In 1977, he won his only league title, leading Atlético to the top of La Liga.

His legacy, however, will be that of a man who returned Spain to prominence. In guiding La Roja to a European title in 2008, Aragonés saw his national team end a 44-year drought without a major honor.

Helping unite a team often divided along regional lines, Aragonés instilled the style that has persisted through the tenure of his successor. For that, current Spain head coach Vicente Del Bosque expressed his gratitude:

“Without a doubt he marked the road in this final successful phase,” Del Bosque said. “I felt a great deal of appreciation toward him.”

Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o, who played for Aragonés at Mallorca, tweeted out his condolences.

“My heart is in profound pain on this day, as a great man has left us. More than a coach, Luis Aragonés was like a father to me. I keep wonderful memories of our relationship and of my experience at Mallorca. Dear papa, thank you for all you have tought us, you will be missed.”

Manchester City striker Álvaro Negredo also added his sentiments. From Twitter:

“Today and forever the football world will cry your loss but you will always be by our side. Rest In Peace Luis Aragones”

How will USMNT line up vs. Mexico in CONCACAF Cup?

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You probably don’t need reminding, but just in case you do, the U.S. national team face Mexico in a huge one-off CONCACAF Cup game on Saturday at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

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The winner will represent CONCACAF at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia as Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT side are the underdogs against El Tri.

With plenty of struggles and a hangover from the 2015 Gold Cup failure, Klinsmann is under pressure and getting his team selection spot on will be crucial if the USA are going to get past Mexico in front of over 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl.

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Below I suggest three possible starting lineups, then give my conclusion on how I think the U.S. will lineup.

Let us know if you agree by posting your own lineups in the comments section below.

Klinsmann’s choice

—– Guzan —–

— Johnson — Cameron — Besler — Ream —

Jones —– Bradley

— Bedoya — Dempsey — Zardes —

—– Altidore —–

Mix-and-match XI

—– Howard —–

— Cameron — Besler — Ream — Beasley —

—– Williams —–

— Yedlin — Bradley — Zusi —

— Altidore — Zardes —

Stopping Mexico

—– Howard —–

— Johnson — Besler — Ream — Beasley —

—– Cameron —–

— Dempsey — Williams — Bradley — Jones —

— Altidore —


I think Klinsmann’s choice is the way to go, although Tim Howard‘s presence in goal over Brad Guzan would certainly help strengthen the USA’s defense. A center back pairing of Cameron and Besler must happen, while having Johnson in at right back will be a boost and Ream’s size may see him get the nod over Beasely. In midfield I’d go with Jones and Bradley sitting in front of othe back four and then that would allow, Zardes, Bedoya and Dempsey to support Altidore up top.

The final selection is ultra-defensive, but given the form of his team and Mexico’s attacking talents, Klinsmann may start more defensive and then change tact as the game goes on. Having all of your most-experienced players on the pitch will prove vital to succeeding at the Rose Bowl, therefore, even though the Mix-and-Match XI looks speedy and is dangerous, I’d expect to see “Klinsmann’s choice” or “Stopping Mexico” to be more like the starting lineup on Saturday.

“Legends World Cup” hope to bring Beckham, Zidane to Mexico

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David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane coaxed out of retirement to play in a “Legends World Cup” you say?

Well, that got my attention.

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According to an interview with the BBC’s world service, the organizers of the 2017 Legends World Cup are hoping to entice both Becks and Zizou to roll back the years and represent their nations in Mexico.

Beckham, 40, and Zidane, 43, are already putting their boots back on to captain a Great Britain and Ireland XI vs. a World XI for a friendly at Old Trafford on November 14 to raise money for UNICEF, and former Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos, 48, has urged the duo to take part in the tournament in 2017 where he will coach Mexico’s team.

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From the BBC:

“I want to see Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Brazilian Ronaldo,” said Campos, 48, the flamboyant ex-Mexico goalkeeper who will coach his country.

“Everybody wants to see Argentina’s Diego Maradona, but he can’t play. He’s too old.”

The tournament is scheduled to take place at the beginning of 2017, with 12 teams in total — four from the Americas, six from Europe and one each from Africa and Asia — taking part.

Given the age (players must be aged between 35-45) and caliber of the players Campos and Co. are trying to recruit, let’s have a think about who would play for the U.S.

Landon Donovan and Brian McBride up front? Brad Friedel in goal? Let us know who would make the squad.