Updated U.S. World Cup roster outlook – Who’s in for Brazil?: MIDFIELDERS

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After the completion of the long January camp and the first United States match of a highly anticipated World Cup year (last weekend’s 2-0 win over South Korea), let’s look at which players appear to be shipshape for a golden seat on that charter into Brazil.

Don’t forget, the first match is just a little more than four months away.

MIDFIELDERS

If anyone made significant progress in January, they did so very quietly.

Long story short here: There are still lots  of decisions to be made.

Brad Davis, solidly on the bubble, needed a big camp and a big performance against South Korea to strengthen his position. While the longtime Houston Dynamo man didn’t exactly hurt himself, a bad turnover here and there and a failure to make a solid imprint on the game meant that it wasn’t the shining moment Davis really needed.

If anyone made significant progress in January, they did so very quietly.

Brad Davis, solidly on the bubble, needed a big camp and a big performance against South Korea to strengthen his position. While the longtime Houston Dynamo man didn’t exactly hurt himself, a bad turnover here and there and a failure to make a solid imprint on the game meant that it wasn’t the shining moment Davis really needed.

(MORE: Michael Bradley for  U.S. captain? You couldn’t do any better)

Mix Diskerud did OK, and he keeps inching ever closer to movement into that “roster lock” classification. Then again, by not grabbing hold of his opportunities any more forcefully than he has, Diskerud leaves himself open to a late charge from, say, Danny Williams, Sacha Kljestan or even Benny Feilhaber, who has moved into an “on the bubble” position since we last did this little roster examination exercise in October.

Speaking of the last time, Josh Gatt has fallen off the bubble list. Anyone who plays in Norway (or any of the Scandinavian lands) but wasn’t invited to the recent camp (as Diskerud was) probably isn’t having his name spoken in the ongoing U.S. coaching staff conversations.

On the other hand, you’d have to say Maurice Edu’s opportunity to get on the field (he’s now a featured piece of the puzzle at Philadelphia) will move him closer to the roster discussions, at very least.

Oh, and before anyone gets in a twist over Fabian Johnson exclusion, I added him to the list of defenders. In a perfect world, Johnson is probably a midfielder. (Those darting cuts inside from the left can be devastating!) But since he has played along the back line (left and right, in fact) for the United States, and given the team’s relative instability at both fullback spots, he’s probably just as likely to be in the rear guard as in the midfield.

  • Going to Brazil: Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi
  • On the bubble (2-3): Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Jose Torres, Danny Williams

(MORE: Which goalkeepers and defenders are locks, and who is on the bubble?)

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MLS Week 22: Schmid, LA Galaxy host Seattle, Chicago visits Sporting KC and more

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The annual LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders matchups are always filled with drama, but Thursday’s moves took the drama and interest in the match up a notch.

Sigi Schmid’s first game back in charge of the LA Galaxy will be against his former club, which fired him midway through the 2016 season. Schmid will also have a brand new signing to debut in Jonathan Dos Santos, the midfield brother of star forward Giovani Dos Santos.

Meanwhile, the second-place Chicago Fire from the Eastern Conference travel to face second-place Sporting Kansas City from the Western Conference, with both teams back to full strength with the Gold Cup completed.

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Here’s a look at this weekend’s full slate of matches around MLS.

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Chelsea loans Miazga back to Vitesse for second-straight season

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Matt Miazga is back again in the Netherlands.

Chelsea announced Friday that it had loaned the American international to Vitesse for the second-consecutive year on a season-long loan. Miazga made 19 starts last season in all competitions and another 10 appearances for Vitesse off the bench, with one goal scored in the run to the KNVB Cup title, the club’s first in its history,

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Despite his rise through the U.S. youth ranks and success with the New York Red Bulls in 2015 before moving to Chelsea, Miazga only made his first U.S. Men’s National Team start at the 2017 Gold Cup, playing the full 90 in the USA’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua.

Miazga went straight from the Gold Cup back to Vitesse to join up for preseason training.

“I look back with pleasure on my first year at Vitesse,” the 22-year-old Miazga told Vitesse’s website. “I felt very welcome and we have all made historic success. That success will be expanded this coming season and I will continue to develop myself. That’s why I returned as soon as possible after winning the Gold Cup. We are going to compete for the second prize in the club’s history. ”

While it’s disappointing that Miazga won’t be able to challenge for a place at Chelsea next season, he could do worse than facing the challenge of the Eredivisie’s huge array of talented attackers, and after another year of seasoning, he could be ready to play in England, with or without Chelsea.

More importantly for him, with the World Cup coming up, even though he’s on the fringe of the World Cup roster right now, getting regular matches in the Eredivisie will help his cause more than playing for Chelsea’s reserves.

Pulisic: Dortmund can win the league

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.

The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.

“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.

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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.

“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”

Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.

“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Bale’s agent laughs off speculation

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It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.

“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.

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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.

Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:

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