BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: (L-R) Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis and Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert talk before the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace at Villa Park on December 26, 2013 in Birmingham, England.

Premier League transfer window grade: Crystal Palace

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Window Shopping: Tony Pulis spent two months looking at Ian Holloway’s knick-knacks and decided to clear the shelf, allowing 12 players to leave Crystal Palace by the end of the January window. Eight of those players will return in June, but for players like Kevin Phillips and Jimmy Kébé, the arrival of a new boss has meant playing time must be found elsewhere. Kébé will spend the next month searching for it through the growing muck at Leeds United, while Phillips has pulled what we like to call ‘The Kevin Phillips’ – dropping down to the Championship by joining Leicester City.

Arriving at Selhurst is a diverse collection of talent parts that should allow Pulis to craft a spot in next season’s Premier League. Tom Ince is the headliner, with the celebrated attacking midfield prospect electing to move on loan from Blackpool. Jason Puncheon provides some added scoring punch. Scott Dann may be able to rekindle his former Premier League self under Pulis, while Joe Ledley’s move away from Celtic provides another reminder of how far the Scottish league has fallen.

Even after Sunday’s loss to Arsenal, Palace is out of the drop, but there are enough parts here to provide Pulis with some needed options as he tries to avoid his first relegation. From attack to midfield, defense to goal (with former Wolves’ keeper Wayne Hennessey), Palace has bolstered. At worst, there’s now enough depth to preclude one or two injuries from derailing their survival hopes.

Players In: Jason Banton (MK Dons, return from loan), Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton, undisclosed), Scott Dann (Blackburn, undisclosed), Joe Ledley (Celtic, undisclosed), Jason Puncheon (Southampton, undisclosed), Tom Ince (Blackpool, loan)

Players Out: Jerome Williams (Forest Green, loan), Jason Banton (Plymouth, undisclosed), Jimmy Kébé (Leeds, loan), Alex Wynter (Sutton United, loan), Ryan Inniss (Luton, loan), Kevin Phillips (Leicester City, free), Matthew Parsons (Plymouth, undisclosed), Kwesi Appiah (Notts County, loan), Jack Hunt (Barnsley, loan), Florian Marange (Sochaux, free), Stephen Dobbie (Blackpool, loan), Jose Angel Campaña (Nürnberg, loan)

RECAP: All the deals on deadline day

Grade: B

If the new Eagles’ boss entered January hoping to make room and bolster, he accomplished both. Finding homes for 12 players, four leaving on permanent moves, Pulis has done his spring cleaning in winter, with the players being brought in all looking like useful parts.

In that way, this wasn’t just shuffling the deck. In Ince and Ledley, Pulis brought in the type of players he didn’t have at his disposal. There’s an upside to Dann that could make him a value buy (assuming that undisclosed fee is reasonably low). Puncheon provides the goals that Cameron Jerome has been unable to find, while Hennessey gives the team depth should anything happen to Julian Speroni.

It wasn’t spectacular, but Crystal Palace’s January window was eminently solid. It was the Tony Pulis of transfer windows.


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.

JPW’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 but the veteran is likely to start if fit. 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 “JPW’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.