U.S. call up European contingent for Ukraine friendly, Bayern star Green will train

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Jurgen Klinsmann sprung a few surprises when naming his U.S. national team roster for the friendly against Ukraine on next week.

Klinsmann has called up 24 players for the training camp in Frankfurt, Germany before next Wednesday’s friendly vs. Ukraine which will take place in Larnaca, Cyprus at 2 p.m. ET after political unrest has swept across Ukraine in recent weeks.

For the U.S. the big news is that 18-year-old Bayern Munich star Julian Green will be in camp for the first time, but is not yet eligible to play for the USMNT as the German youth international would have to complete a one-time switch to commit himself to the USA.

(MORE: Klinsmann hails U.S. youngster Julian Green, how influential could he be?)

There are recalls for European based defenders such as Tim Ream and Oguchi Onyewu who are both playing in the English Championship, while youngsters Cody Cropper (Southampton) and Will Packwood (Birmingham City) get a chance to be around the squad.

Klisnmann has once again gone for a Euro heavy squad, with Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Brad Guzan and Tim Howard joining from their Premier League teams. Only three players included come from North America sides as Edgar Castillo, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey are involved as Klinsmann stated this is one last chance for the Euro-based Yanks to show him what they’ve got.

“This game is a huge opportunity, mainly for our European-based players, for those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the FIFA World Cup,” said Klinsmann. “With this game being the only chance for these players before our World Cup preparation camp begins, it’s even more important they have a good showing.”

(MORE: U.S. national team friendly with Ukraine switched to Cyprus after political unrest)

Of course this match was originally slated to be played in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv but political unrest has escalated in recent weeks and after dozens were killed in anti-government protests in the capital city Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. The U.S. request to switch the match to a neutral venue was accepted, as next Wednesday’s game will now be played in Cyprus.

Below are full details of the U.S. squad to face Ukraine, as Klinsmann’s team are ranked 13th in FIFA’s latest World Rankings and Ukraine sit just five places behind in 18th. The squad will meet up on Sunday March 2 in Frankfurt to train for two days, before heading to Cyprus to play Ukraine at a neutral venue.

U.S. national team squad for friendly vs. Ukraine, March 5 in Cyprus

Goalkeepers: Cody Cropper, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard

Defenders: Anthony Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Edgar Castillo, Alfedo Morales, Oguchi Onyewu, Will Packwood, Tim Ream

Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Danny Williams

Forwards: Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Julian Green (only for training), Aron Johannsson

La Liga: Real Madrid win wild one, now just 17 points behind Barca

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona ties club-record 31-game unbeaten run ]

Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

So long as they manage to hold off Sevilla for fourth place (Champions League qualification), Real Madrid will quickly move on from their disastrous 2017-18 season, spend a half-billion dollars in the summer and pretend like the 12 preceding months never even happened.

For a brief period on Saturday — nearly 30 minutes including the halftime intermission — that plan appeared fatally flawed and at risk. After going 1-0 up away to Real Betis courtesy of Marco Asensio’s 11th-minute opener, Los Blancos found themselves in big trouble after Aissa Mandi leveled things up in the 33rd minute, followed by a Nacho own goal four minutes later.

Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Ramos drew the visitors level, followed by another from Asensio in the 59th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-2 six minutes later, at which point Madrid appeared home free.

Sergio Leon pulled Betis to within one in the 85th minute, but Karim Benzema restored the two-goal lead in the 91st, less than two minutes after replacing Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

With Barcelona still unbeaten on the La Liga season, the title is all but decided with more than three months still to play. That hasn’t stopped Atleti, though, as Diego Simeone’s side, which has lost just once in the league, continues to pursue Lionel Messi and Co. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao moved Los Rojiblancos back to within seven points of Barca with a dozen games, and one head-to-head matchup, still to play.

Kevin Gameiro scored what turned out to be the winner in the 67th minute, followed not long after by Diego Costa‘s second league goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) to make it 2-0.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 3-0 Levante
Espanyol 1-1 Villarreal

VAR provider apologizes for wrong image of offside Man Utd goal

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Whether or not you’re in favor of the use of video-assistant refereeing the world over — and, more specifically, English soccer — one thing on which we can all agree has become abundantly clear: VAR’s maiden voyage has been a chaotic, poorly conducted mess.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho demands VAR calls be “perfect” ]

Any change to the game’s century-old rules and practices — especially of VAR’s monumental proportions — must be implemented and executed without a hitch. Any issues that had arisen prior to this weekend were minor in significance and import, but that all changed on Saturday, when Manchester United’s Juan Mata had a goal wiped away by VAR (WATCH HERE).

Mata appeared to have timed his run perfectly and been onside before slotting home to put Man United 2-0 ahead of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round. After consulting the off-site video assistant, the goal was taken off the board. While the slightest bit of Mata’s knee appeared to have been in an offside position, the issue lies in the fact that the images provided to television broadcasters, by VAR provider Hawkeye, displayed a clearly crooked line of demarcation.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

Hawkeye issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for the faulty image provided to broadcasters, but insisted that a correct version of the image was seen by the refereed:

“A technical error led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawkeye to BT Sport on Saturday. To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologize.”

In the end, by the most stringent interpretation of the law, VAR got the call correct. But that won’t matter one iota in the court of public opinion, as one mistake as simple as a crooked line gives the impression that the entire operation is haphazard and not fit for practice.

Juventus suffers blow with apparent Higuain injury

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The back-and-forth battle at the top of Serie A continued on Sunday as Juventus topped Torino at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, however, the visitors suffered a big injury scare in the process.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup ]

Alex Sandro‘s winner came in the 33rd minute, but the focus of the match will leave all eyes on Gonzalo Higuain — who exited after just a quarter of an hour.

The Argentine international was looking to latch onto a through ball from Miralem Pjanic in the fifth minute, before jumping over an oncoming Salvatore Sirigu — goalkeeper for Torino.

Higuain appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle, though, and while he attempted to continue on in the match he was substituted off for Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes later.

The extent of Higuain’s injury is unknown to this point, however, it comes at a very bad time for Juventus.

The Italian giants are heavily involved in the Serie A title race, holding a two-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table.

Additionally, Juve has important fixtures coming up in both the Coppa Italia and Champions League against Atalanta and Tottenham, respectively. Higuain and Co. are level at 2-2 with Spurs heading into their UCL second leg in early March, and Juve will surely need the striker’s presence to have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.