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?

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.