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Stock up, stock down after the U.S.’s draw with Mexico

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Rising

Kyle Beckerman – Barring a complete collapse, the Real Salt Lake anchor was going to Brazil no matter what, but after seeing over 70 minutes of what a midfield with him and Michael Bradley looks like, you can’t help but wonder if Beckerman should get more time. It’s not about whether he’s better than Jermaine Jones. There’s a reason why Jones is so accomplished at club level. Its’ more about what Beckerman allows his team’s best player to do.

Going with a two-man midfield is going to be precarious against Germany and Portugal, part of the reason Beckerman might see playing time (as the base of a three) regardless, but against a team like Ghana, allowing Bradley the freedom of knowing there’s a steady anchor behind him could be the way to go. And Beckerman is more suited to that role than Jones.

Brad Davis – Davis got the surprise start over Landon Donovan, and on an early first half set piece, he showed the unique quality he brings to the squad. His play over the course of 90 minutes against international-caliber opposition may leave U.S. fans with worries, but with the huge 23-man rosters teams can take to the World Cup, you can afford to select a specialist.

Last 10 minutes, down a goal, against an opponent whose no longer fighting for the ball? Might as well bring on your dead ball specialist and try to find Omar Gonzalez in the box. After last night, Brad Davis seems a lot closer to Brazil.

Michael Parkhurst – A second straight credible job at left back – what’s probably his worst position in defense. That flexibility might not only get him to Brazil, it may allow Jurgen Klinsmann to take some players who, unlikely to get playing time, can get some valuable experience for the next cycle. If may also make room for some bubble players, like …

Chris Wondolowski – The dream is not only still alive, it’s thriving. Wondolowski, transcending all the skepticism that has accompanied his place at the fringe of the national team, may be pushing his way into the 23. That flexibility that players like Parkhurst, Fabian Johnson, DeMarcus Beasley, and Brad Evans provide? It opens up spots for Klinsmann to say “you know what? Chris has done enough. He’s one of our 23. He’s another late match option.”

And when we see him move the way he did on Michael Bradley’s first half header, who’s to say he can’t actually be useful? Full credit to Wondolowski. He continues to defy expectations.

source: Getty ImagesFalling

Landon Donovan – According to ESPN’s coverage, Klinsmann felt Donovan hadn’t looked 100 percent in training ahead of Wednesday’s match, something that could be interpreted as a fitness concern or just a failure to perform.

It could also be something even more subtle. The players go through a battery of tests every time they’re called into the national team camp, measures that help Klinsmann’s staff round out the picture as to how the player’s training at club level.

For whatever reason, be it on the field or off, Donovan just didn’t measure up. He’ll have work to do in May, but given where he appears to be on the depth chart, is he really a lock? I’m sticking with “yes,” but it seems fair to wonder.

Omar Gonzalez – This deserves its own post. Suffice to say, the LA Galaxy star didn’t do himself any favors last night. Perhaps his role on both goals can be explained in isolation, but Gonzalez seems to require a lot of explanations of late, a discussion that goes beyond what we see in the highlight reels.

DeAndre Yedlin – Yedlin “falling” is more about perception and selection than his performance. In his very limited time on Wednesday, he was fine, but many thought that time would begin at minute one, not 23 minutes from the final whistle.

The situation is analogous to the whole DeAndre Yedlin phenomenon. Initial reaction to his debut last season was irrationally positive, but then the blowback went too far. All along, a young right back with the talent to grow into one MLS’s best has done just that: Grow.

As the right back situation’s become cloudier, we’ve caught ourselves asking if Yedlin might be actually be a first team option. When Tony Beltran got the call in Klinsmann’s starting XI, we were reminded: We gotten ahead of ourselves once more.

But just because Yedlin didn’t start, there’s no need to over-correct. He might not be as close to Brazil as we thought, but Wednesday wasn’t a set back, either. Let’s just meditate on this one, avoid being too bold about Yedlin’s potential, and see where he ends up …

Except when we’re talking about my MLS Team of the Month. Yedlin was totally in that.

Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Liverpool

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  A person selling club merchandise outside the stadium wears a mask of former Leicester City Manager Claudio Ranieri prior to the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Leicester City welcome Liverpool to the King Power Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Foxes begin life without Claudio Ranieri.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Craig Shakespeare is in caretaker charge of Leicester as they’ve lost five games on the spin in the Premier League and now find themselves in the relegation zone. The last thing they would is a Liverpool side fresh after two weeks without a game.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men smell blood in the water as they’ve already ripped Leicester apart once this season, beating the reigning champions 4-1 at Anfield back in September.

In team news Leicester start with Okazaki and Vardy up top in what looks like a straight-up 4-4-2 formation, while Liverpool bring in Emre Can for the injured Jordan Henderson and Lucas starts at center back with Dejan Lovren out.

LINEUPS

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Drinkwater, Ndidi, Mahrez, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Zieler; Chilwell, Gray, Amarety, King, Ulloa, Slimani

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Alexander, Klavan, Stewart, Moreno, Origi, Woodburn,

Togo striker Kone saves opposing goalkeeper in Czech league

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PRAGUE (AP) For the fourth time in his career, striker Francis Kone rushed to the rescue on the soccer field to help save someone’s life.

The Togo international jumped into action on Saturday when the opposing goalkeeper in a Czech league match was lying motionless after a collision with a teammate.

Kone, who plays for Czech club Slovacko, reacted quickly and was able to stop Bohemians goalkeeper Martin Borkovec from swallowing his tongue, allowing him to breathe freely. The incident happened in the 29th minute after Borkovec collided with teammate Daniel Krch.

After the match, Kone revealed it was the fourth time he had been able to help in such circumstances following two incidents in Africa and one in Thailand.

Borkovec thanked Kone on Facebook “for his quick action in saving me.”

The league called Kone the “hero” of the match.

Premier League Playback: Ranking the chance of relegation

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With 12 games to go in the Premier League season, the bottom seven teams are starting to get cut off from the rest of the league.

Just like at the top of the table, this is the “business end” of the campaign and strange things start to happen.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Team who looked dead and buried start to rise (see: Hull and Swansea, already) and others start to sink from midtable and towards the abyss with Bournemouth and particularly Leicester City struggling.

[ MORE: Premier League standings | Schedule

Below is a look at the seven main contenders for the three relegation spots, focusing on the toughest games they have remaining, their reasons for optimism and a percentage chance of relegation.

[ MORE: Full PL Playback archive ]

Even if you have points on the board right now, momentum means everything at this time of the season…


Bournemouth

Points: 26
Reason for optimism: The quality Eddie Howe‘s side possess on the ball will see them create chances, so there’s that. However, they have to score two or three goals a game recently to get a win. They have four of the the current top six coming up, then finish the season with four of their last five games against relegation rivals. That will test the nerve of this talented yet inexperienced team.
Toughest games remaining: at Man United (Mar. 4), at Liverpool (Apr. 5), vs. Chelsea (Apr. 8), at Tottenham (Apr. 15)
Relegation percentage: 50%

Swansea City

Points: 24
Reason for optimism: Things are looking much more solid in defense since Paul Clement arrived. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente continue to score and assist, plus the Swans look dangerous on the break. Plenty of reasons to believe they’ll continue to pull away from the bottom three. Will complacency set in though? Swans next four games are against Burnley, Hull, Bournemouth and Boro. Huge few weeks ahead and then an easier finish to the season, on paper.
Toughest games remaining: vs. Tottenham (Apr. 4), at Man United (Apr. 29), vs. Everton (May 6)
Relegation percentage: 20%

Middlesbrough
Points: 22
Reason for optimism: They’ve got the fifth defensive record in the PL, so they can hang in there. That’s a good trait to have when the pressure is on. They just need a goalscorer to pop up with the goods. A run of three games against relegation rivals at the beginning of April is likely to decide their fate with four very tough games to finish the season.
Toughest games remaining: vs. Man United (Mar. 19), vs. Arsenal (Apr. 15), vs. Man City (Apr. 29), at Chelsea (May 6), at Liverpool (May 21)
Relegation percentage: 50%

Crystal Palace
Points: 22
Reason for optimism: Big Sam has never been relegated as a Premier League manager. Simple. That said, this task is tougher than he thought. The 1-0 win against Boro proved they can grind out a victory when they need to. Still, they have five of the current top six left to play in their final 12 games of the season. It will be a flip of the coin for the Eagles.
Toughest games remaining: At Chelsea (Apr. 1), vs. Arsenal (Apr. 8), at Liverpool (Apr. 22), at Man City (May 6), at Man United (May 21)
Relegation percentage: 50%

Leicester City

Points: 21
Reason for optimism: Scrapping the barrel here… Their incredible runs to safety in 2015 and then for the PL title in 2016 (that did happen, right!?) gives them experience in high-pressure situation. One big marquee win can help get momentum going again, either in the PL or by getting past Sevilla in the return leg. Claudio Ranieri‘s sacking could give the Foxes the jolt they badly need but it must happen soon.
Toughest games remaining: vs. Liverpool (Feb. 27), at Everton (Apr. 8), vs. Tottenham (Apr. 22), at Man City (May 13),
Relegation percentage: 50%

Hull City

Points: 21
Reason for optimism: Marco Silva’s side are much improved and have just two games remaining against the big boys. So many relegation scraps coming up. They look tough to break down and dangerous on the break. That’s a great combo at this point in the season. They have momentum among the teams at the bottom.
Toughest games remaining: at Everton (Mar. 18), at Man City (Apr. 8), vs. Tottenham (May 21),
Relegation percentage: 30%

Sunderland

Points: 19
Reason for optimism: Well, just look at pretty much the last four seasons. Down and out time and time again, somehow Sunderland survive. That’s the only reason for optimism. Oh, and Jermain Defoe‘s goals. David Moyes needs a miracle, especially what those remaining games…
Toughest games remaining: vs. Man City (Mar. 5), vs. Man United (Apr. 8), at Arsenal (Apr. 22), at Chelsea (May 21)
Relegation percentage: 70%


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.

VIDEO: Remembering Jamie Vardy’s magic vs. Liverpool

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Just over 12 months ago Leicester City beat Liverpool on a raucous evening at the King Power Stadium to ignite real belief into their Premier League title charge.

We all know how that turned out…

[ PREVIEW: Leicester host Liverpool

A year on and boy, Leicester could use some magic from Vardy as they host Liverpool on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Foxes fired Claudio Ranieri last Thursday and the reigning champions have slipped into the relegation zone over the weekend as they’re in freefall with five defeats on the spin and they’ve failed to score in their last six PL games.

Click play on the video above to see Vardy’s wonderful volley from distance as the England international was in full flow on his way to 24 goals for the season. He has just five in the PL this season, three of which came in the 4-2 win against Manchester City at the KP back in December.

Again, caretaker Craig Shakespeare needs some magic from somewhere on Monday if the Foxes are going to gain momentum in their battle against relegation.