Jurgen Klinsmann says it would’ve been “half a miracle” if U.S. clicked vs. Ukraine, USMNT missed MLS contingent

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With the USA’s 2-0 defeat to Ukraine highlighting some issues Jurgen Klinsmann must fix before the squad flies down to South America for the World Cup this summer, you have to remember one thing: he wasn’t able to select most of his squad for this friendly.

As Major League Soccer gears up for the start of the 2014 season this weekend, Klinsmann didn’t select any of his MLS contingent to travel to Cyprus on Monday night, then play on Wednesday before traveling home on Thursday and then playing in MLS on Saturday. Understandably the USMNT head coach thought that was too much, and used the Ukraine match to put his vast number of European-based players under the microscope.

Talking to reporters after the game, Klinsmann was asked if his team missed their MLS-based players in the loss to Ukraine.

“Definitely,” Klisnmann told MLSsoccer.com. “When you don’t have your main group together, there’s always going to be a bit of a drop of quality. That’s natural. That’s why our job is to zoom in and name 23 guys who are up to the task of the World Cup.”

One of the areas hardest hit by MLS absentees was the USA’s defense as both starting center backs, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, plus left back DaMarcus Beasley weren’t selected due to club commitments in the U.S. and Mexico. Klinsmann felt it was a great opportunity to look at others back there, but that he wasn’t expecting some miraculous galvanization of a makeshift back four.

“But we still got an opportunity to get Brooks back in there and we saw where Gooch is at,” Klinsmann said. “Geoff Cameron took the right back role and [Edgar] Castillo flew all the way from Tijuana and played, I thought, a decent game. So it’s understandable that it wasn’t clicking, it would be half a miracle if it was clicking. But we need these type of games.”

(MORE: Three things we learned in USA’s defeat to Ukraine)

Chucking four guys together on the back line is never easy, and you saw that on Wednesday. But with Besler and Gonzalez to come back into the lineup for the friendly against Mexico in Arizona next month, the USA’s domestic players will get a chance to show what they can do. The extra-depth Klinsmann will get from essentially having two very different squads is quite remarkable and a unique situation that most national team’s won’t have.

Despite a loss which left plenty of questions about the USA’s chances in Brazil this summer, it’s not all doom and gloom. The MLS cavalry is about to arrive. Let’s see what these guys can do first, before making any rash judgements.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?