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.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.