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Jurgen Klinsmann names five key players USA will build World Cup squad around. Do you agree?

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With just a few friendlies to go between now and earlier June when the U.S. national team fly down to Brazil for arguably their toughest ever World Cup group campaign, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has revealed he already knows his core of starters.

Earmarking five names already inked into his starting XI in Brazil this summer, Klinsmann didn’t beat around the bush when broaching the topic of who he thinks will be starters at World Cup 2014.

Speaking to Scott French from MLSsoccer.com, Klinsmann stated that he already knows the five players the USA’s World Cup bid will be built around as they aim to make a splash in Brazil this summer.

Of course he did also note that things could change, but right now the USA’s head coach revealed who he expects to excel in Brazil and be the go-to guys for the Nats.

Here’s what Klinsmann had to say on the USA’s spine, following the month long January camp:

“I think Jozy [Altidore], once he’s keeping his playing rhythm and the quality he has, is our number one center forward that we have, and Clint [Dempsey] is the player behind him. We often talk about the spine of our team, which starts with Timmy [Howard] and then goes through midfield with Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, and then Clint and Jozy. I think this is something to build around. A lot of players that around these guys prove more and more their qualities, and they push for the starting spot and others push for getting into the roster at the end of the day.”

Do we agree with having these five players as the USMNT’s core?

  • Jozy Altidore
  • Clint Dempsey
  • Michael Bradley
  • Jermaine Jones
  • Tim Howard

There sure to be quite a few question marks surrounding at least four of these players, as these mainstays for the U.S. national team have gone through turbulent times in the last few months. Altidore has only scored two goals since his big money move to Premier League side Sunderland last summer, Dempsey has spent large spells out injured since his lucrative switch back to MLS with Seattle and then struggled a little on loan with Fulham this MLS offseason.

As for Bradley, he wasn’t playing regularly at AS Roma through no fault of his own, and has moved back to play at Toronto FC, while Jones has struggled to make an impact for FC Schalke in Germany and has joined Turkish club Besiktas on loan.

The only player from Klinsmann’s ‘core five’ who isn’t in a fluid situation right now is Howard, as the 34-year-old ‘keeper is as solid as ever for Everton in the PL.

(MORE: Can Geoff Cameron bump Brad Evans as first choice United States right back?)

By naming these five players as definite starters that the team will be built around in Brazil, will Klinsmann diminish the drive of his other players trying to getting in the starting XI? Or fuel it?

It could be looked at either way, but players such as Omar Gonzalez, Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi could be feeling a little miffed about being left out of the core group of players Klinsi referred too. Throw youngsters like Aron Johannsson into the mix who are looking to oust Altidore from the starting lineup, and you have a squad brimming with options outside the ‘core five.’

But, as we mentioned, with so many of Klinsmann’s key players going through transitional stages in their careers and struggling for form, should the USA really be relying on Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley and Jones to be the main men in Brazil this summer?

Thibaut Courtois committed to Chelsea despite links to PSG

WATFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Chelsea at Vicarage Road on February 3, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Thibaut Courtois has denied reports he could leave London for Paris Saint-Germain this summer after a disappointing season at Chelsea.

The 23-year-old goalkeeper missed a large portion of the season through injury and failed to regain his top form when healthy as the Blues struggled throughout the year.

With a new manager in Antonio Conte taking over in June, some believed Courtois would be sold to allow the Italian to bring in a goalkeeper of his choice.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid reach UCL final ]

Despite recent reports linking Courtois with a transfer to PSG that would make him the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, the Belgian international does not fancy a move to France.

Speaking to French newspaper Le Parisien, Courtois said he is happy at Chelsea and will “100-percent” be back at Stamford Bridge next season.

I have never had any contact with PSG. I have played a lot against PSG recently – twice last season, again this season in a friendly and twice more in the Champions League this year.

They are a good club who win their league easily. Me, I like playing in England. Paris is a very good club but I am happy at Chelsea.

I have a contract for three years, so I will say 100 per cent [be staying at Chelsea]. Rumours affect any club where things are going badly. People think the top players want to leave because they are not in the Champions League.

Those words show quite a change from Courtois’ opinion a few months ago, when he cast doubt over his Chelsea future.

At just 23, Courtois has already made more than 200 appearances in his career for Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. Although he did not have a standout season this year, Courtois has shown his talent as a potential top-five goalkeeper in the world and Conte would be wise to keep him.

Former CONMEBOL president has petition to stop extradition rejected

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ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) Paraguay’s top court has rejected a petition by Nicolas Leoz, the former head of the South American football confederation, to halt his extradition to the United States.

Leoz is being held under house arrest in Paraguay. He is accused of receiving millions in bribes and kickbacks and was among dozens of top officials indicted in the FIFA corruption scandal.

[ FOLLOW: Leicester City’s miracle ]

Leoz’s lawyer Ricardo Preda told The Associated Press that his petition was turned down, but that he would continue to appeal against the extradition.

Leoz was the head of CONMEBOL from 1986 until 2013 when he resigned, and was replaced by Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay.

Figueredo is under house arrest in Uruguay on similar charges. Figueredo was replaced by Juan Angel Napoul of Paraguay, who is under house arrest in Miami.

Cristiano Ronaldo back healthy for Real Madrid; will play vs. Man City

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 03:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid warms up during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Valdebebas training ground on May 3, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo is “100-percent” for Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal match against Manchester City.

Ronaldo missed the first leg at the Etihad while recovering from a thigh injury, which ended a scoreless draw.

[ MORE: UCL semifinal preview ]

The Champions League’s all-time leading scorer with 93 goals, Ronaldo has not featured for Real since suffering the injury in a La Liga match against Villarreal on April 20.

Real Madrid had the better of chances in the first leg in Manchester, but Joe Hart’s heroics stopped Zidane’s side from grabbing an all-important away goal. However, Ronaldo’s absence was clearly visible and his return is a massive boost for Real.

[ RELATED: Atletico Madrid eliminate Bayern Munich, advance to UCL final ]

Even if Ronaldo is not 100-percent fit as Zidane claims, his inclusion in the lineup is still vital for Real’s success. A threat in so many different aspects of the game, his presence alone can throw off opposing defenses, leaving more time and space for his teammates to expose a City back-line that has its flaws.

Premier League chairman: Leicester City made mugs of all of us

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 03:  Leicester reacts to Leicester City's Premier League Title Success on May 03, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore has been around football for a long time, but even he can’t explain Leicester City’s miraculous title run.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Leicester coverage ]

With the Foxes now officially champions of England, Scudamore hailed the achievement as “the biggest sporting story ever.”

Speaking to BBC Sport, the Premier League’s top exec said Leicester’s run has silenced all the bookmakers and critics who said it could never happen, but that he wouldn’t want it any other way.

It’s probably the biggest sporting story ever and the biggest sporting achievement ever.

Nobody saw it coming and even when it was halfway through the season nobody said it could be sustained.

We don’t know what the future holds because we’ve all become completely hopeless at predicting anything, including the bookmakers and everybody else – because this one nobody saw coming.

It’s made mugs of all of us and that is just the most fantastic feeling.

If the bookmakers had it as a 5,000-1 event, you would imagine you should achieve these type of things once every 5,000 years. It gives us 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of being able to say: ‘Leicester 2016. Just remember Leicester 2016.’

Pegged as pre-season favorites for relegation, Leicester defied the odds (5,000-1 odds) and claimed the most unlikely of championships. A top executive with the Premier League since 1999, even Scudamore had to admit he had a bit of egg on his face.

[ VOTE: What is the top moment from Leicester’s fairytale run? ]

Scudamore may not have believed in the Foxes, but few outside the city really did. One thing the chairman did have right though, is that we will all remember ‘Leicester 2016.’