Quick thoughts on the U.S.’s starting lineup for Mexico

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The starting XI was just announced, and there are three surprises – calls which range from “I can kind of see that” to “what’s going on here.”

From least to most surprising:

1. Chris Wondolowski starts at forward over Eddie Johnson – This one is a little strange because Johnson is generally perceived to be closer to Brazil than “Wondo,” but the reasons why some see him as a lock don’t necessarily mean he’s above Wondolowski on the number nine’s depth chart. When Johnson has played, he’s been used wide more often than not, so in a camp where there were only two options to start at forward in front of Clint Dempsey, it’s not a total shock that Wondo got the call.

2. Tony Beltran starts at right back over DeAndre Yedlin – This may be surprising, but it is informative. Up until tonight’s lineup was announced, the path to Brazil seemed to be clearing out for Yedlin, and while that may still be the case, Beltran getting the call ahead of him does hint at how far Yedlin has to go. Maybe Klinsmann just didn’t want to throw the young right back in against Mexico, or maybe the January call up was more of a first time look than an indication of where the Seattle defender falls in the pecking order. Regardless, Yedlin, widely thought of as a likely starter tonight, begins the match on the bench.

3. Brad Davis starts at left midfield over Landon Donovan – Fans are not going to be happy about this one, but Brad Davis has clearly impressed Jurgen Klinsmann. Again. This isn’t new — the Houston star has regularly gotten more time than many predict — but starting over Landon Donovan is a mild shock. Whereas the LA Galaxy star was seen as potentially vying with Fabian Johnson for the starting spot in Brazil, now we have to reconsider where he (as well as Davis) fall on the depth chart. It will be interesting to hear Klinsmann’s rationale post-match

Here’s the full lineup (graphic to the upper right):

Starting XI: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Michael Parkhurst; Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis; Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski

Bench: Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Julian Green, Bill Hamid, Eddie Johnson, Sean Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, Luis Gil

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.

NASL side to broadcast all its matches on Twitter

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It’s fair to expect the San Francisco Deltas to be trendsetters in tech given their location and pedigree, and the first-year NASL club is doing just that.

The Deltas announced Wednesday that all of their home matches will be broadcast live on Twitter — in English, Spanish, and Portuguese — making them the first North American pro club to broadcast all of their matches on social media.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Twitter senior executive Josh McFarland had previously named as one of the investors in the Deltas, which makes the announcement even more natural. Other investors include tech execs from around the Silicon Valley.

Zlatan: Guardiola falling out “still drives me”

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Time heals all wounds, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic can still feel the scars from his falling out with Pep Guardiola.

The megawatt personalities saw their relationship deteriorate at Barcelona, with Ibrahimovic loaned to AC Milan one year after scoring 21 goals in 45 matches for Guardiola and the Blaugranas.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs Honduras? ]

Ibrahimovic never played for Barca again, and now has a chance to stare down Man City’s Guardiola in a Manchester Derby which could alter the Top Four fortunes of both sides. And he’s still powered by Pep.

From The Guardian, quoting a Sky Sports Italia interview:

“The problem wasn’t with me, it was with him, and he never came to terms with it. I don’t know what his problem was with me. It is something that drives me, gives me adrenaline and extra motivation. It is normal after what has happened. I’m using it as a positive, not negative.”

United visits City at the Etihad Stadium on April 27, and Ibrahimovic will be extra motivated (if that’s possible for the Swede, who seemingly would be fired up to beat someone in arcade bubble hockey).