About three months from now, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann will gather his team for a pre-World Cup training camp. Yes, it’s just about time to talk about pre-World Cup training camp. Oh. Joy.
Every pre-World Cup camp comes attached to friendlies (usually three) that will help sort the final lineup choices, combinations and such.
There’s still a lot of “I” crossing and “T” dotting for the federation, but we know a lot today about what the U.S. national team’s pre-World Cup schedule will look like.
Remember, unlike other years, there will be no friendly once Klinsmann’s men arrive into Brazil; teams may play friendlies up to five days before the competition begins, and the U.S. arrival schedule does not permit it. (Well, no “public” friendlies, that is, none that any of us will see. The team can play closed-door matches.)
- The federation has announced a March 5 match in Europe against Ukraine. Circle this one; the roster picked for the match in Ukraine promises to look very similar to Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster.
- The federation continues to work out details of a proposed early April match with Mexico, most likely in Arizona. As this is no FIFA date, look for an MLS-heavy assembly, similar to the lineup Klinsmann’s deployed in last week’s win over South Korea. (With one big exception: Michael Bradley will surely be part of this one.)
- The team will gather sometime in early- to mid-May at Stanford University outside San Francisco. ESPN FC’s Doug McIntyre reported earlier this week that a May 27 friendly would finish off that part of the camp. The report said potential opposition included Sweden, Serbia and Turkey.
- Word was out a few weeks ago that Red Bull Arena would probably host a match. Still no date for that one, but best bet is June 1. Coaches like to emulate the pace of first round games; June 2 would more accurately emulate actual World Cup schedule, but that’s a Monday.
- SI.com has reported that the team would depart from Florida for its base in Brazil on June 8, one day after its final match before actual tournament competition. The June 7 contest is all but booked for Jacksonville. You know who likes Jacksonville? Landon Donovan likes Jacksonville! Or have you forgotten about the man’s hat trick against Scotland there two years ago?
- The ESPN FC report cited Nigeria as the most likely opposition for the Jacksonville contest. That makes sense, as the next time Klinsmann’s bunch is on the field in an actual match, they’ll be up against another African team – in a match they probably have to win for any realistic hope of advancing out of the first round.
Mario Balotelli could soon have a new home, according to the BBC’s Phil McNulty.
The mercurial Italian striker, 26, has one league goal in each of his last two seasons (spent between Liverpool and AC Milan).
Jurgen Klopp is ready for Balotelli to find a home away from Anfield and McNulty says that place could be OGC Nice, where he’d join newly-signed ex-Bayern man Dante. Balotelli also had talks with Sion in Switzerland, according to the report.
The striker was a blazing hot commodity after scoring 17 goals for Manchester City in 2011-12, and again after netting 18 for AC Milan in 2013-14.
Balotelli has 13 goals in 33 caps for Italy, but hasn’t appeared for the national team since 2014.
After months and months of trying to land a big name striker, it seems West Ham has done just that.
David Amoyal of DiMarzio says that Juventus striker Simone Zaza is on his way to the London Stadium for a medical which will seal a $32 million transfer to West Ham.
[ MORE: Chelsea adds EURO champion ]
Zaza, 25, made his name as Sassuolo before moving to Juve last season, and forced his way into the national team. He has 14 caps with one goal, but is perhaps better remembered at this point for missing a penalty — with a creative run-up — in Italy’s final EURO game.
The striker had been linked with West Ham as far back as this time last season.
This move should help insure the Hammers avoid too many goalless outcome moving forward, even with Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew out for a while.
That’ll be music to Slaven Bilic‘s ears. The manager said, “The disappointment is massive” after his side couldn’t break down Astra Giurgiu and dropped out of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
Chelsea have added some depth at the very back.
Eduardo’s the name, and the 33-year-old Portuguese backstop arrives at Stamford Bridge with a decent resume, having been on the roster for his country’s EURO 2016 triumph.
[ MORE: Stambouli, Bentaleb reunited ]
USMNT fans will remember him from his time between the sticks for Portugal at the 2014 World Cup. He has 35 caps, and has been with Dinamo Zagreb since 2014.
‘All the colleagues I have always say the dream is to come to the Premier League, where there are the best clubs and the best players, and the opportunity to come here arrived at this moment.
‘I am happy to be here and I hope I meet the expectations people have for me.’
Eduardo certainly won’t be taking over for Thibaut Courtois, but will definitely provide competition for No. 2 Asmir Begovic.
West Ham dominated the game but not the score line against Romanian side Astra Giurgiu, who advanced to the UEFA Europa League group stage with a 1-0 win at London Stadium on Thursday.
Well-traveled French midfielder Filipe Teixeira did the damage for Astra Giurgiu, as the former West Brom and Barnsley man scored in the 45th minute to give the visitors a 2-1 lead on aggregate after the sides went 1-1 in Romania last week.
The Irons carried possession and a wealth of shots, but couldn’t find their way past Romanian international goalkeeper Silviu Lung, Jr.
[ MORE: Stambouli, Bentaleb reunited at Schalke ]
Sassuolo star Domenico Berardi scored in a 1-1 draw with Red Star Belgrade, completing a 4-1 score line.
Elsewhere, a hat trick from Slovan Liberec’s Jan Sykora led the Czech side to a 3-0 second leg win, and 4-0 aggregate defeat of Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.
Gent got a pair of goals from giant Malian striker Kalifa Coulibaly as the Belgians completed a 6-1 aggregate win over Shkendija.
West Ham United 0-1 (agg. 1-2) Astra Giurgiu
Astana 2-2 (agg. 4-2) BATE Borisov
Arouca 1-2 (agg. 1-3) Olympiacos
Midtjylland 0-3 (agg. 0-4) Osmanlispor
Trencin 2-0 (agg. 0-4) Rapid Wien
Lokomotiva 0-2 (agg. 2-4) Genk
AEK Larnaca 0-3 (agg. 0-4) Slovan Liberec
Dinamo Tbilisi 0-2 (agg. 0-5) PAOK
Austria Wien 2-1 (agg. 4-2) Rosenborg
Beitar Jerusalem 0-0 (agg. 1-2) Saint-Etienne
Vojvodina 0-0 (agg. 0-3) AZ Alkmaar
Gabala 0-1 (agg. 3-2) Maribor
Slavia Prague 0-3 (agg. 0-6) Anderlecht
Fenerbahce 2-0 (agg. 3-0) Grasshopper
Panathinaikos 1-1 (agg. 4-1) Brondby
Krasnodar 0-0 (agg. 4-0) Partizani Tirana
Gent 4-0 (agg. 6-1) Shkendija
Istanbul Basaksehir 0-2 (agg. 1-4) Shakhtar Donetsk
SonderjyskE 2-3 (agg. 2-3) Sparta Prague
Sassuolo 1-1 (agg. 4-1) Red Star Belgrade
Goteborg 0-3 (agg. 1-3) Qarabag
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-2 (agg. 3-3) Hajduk Split