U.S. World Cup 2014 roster outlook: GOALKEEPERS AND DEFENDERS

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The goalkeeper position has been a given throughout the cycle, but just over one month before of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s pre-World Cup camp convenes, the defense is coming into focus, too. Perhaps the order of the depth chart isn’t as clear as in goal, where the position’s one (Tim Howard), two (Brad Guzan), and three (Nick Rimando) are indisputable, but the names on the tickets are becoming evident. We don’t know who’ll make it into Jurgen Klinsmann’s ideal 11, but we’re starting to get a good idea of the options.

In the wake of last week’s friendly against Mexico, here’s how we see the U.S. roster picture for Brazil 2014:

GOALKEEPERS

This is where I apply analysis to something that’s obvious. If you’re unaware that Tim Howard will be starting June 16 against Ghana, you probably don’t know who the U.S. number one is, let alone which goalkeepers will serve as backups. Sorry, but introducing Howard, Guzan, and Rimando’s beyond the scope of this post.

The goalkeeping situation is so clear, we don’t even bother with a bubble, but it’s probably worth mentioning who’d get called in should somebody get injured. Like the main roster, that picture is crystal clear. If one man goes down, the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson will get the call. D.C. United’s Bill Hamid waits in the wings’ wings.

  • Going to Brazil: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando
  • On the bubble: none

DEFENDERS

There’s still an inordinate amount of incredulity about why Klinsmann’s using natural midfielders at fullback, but whether fans like it or not, the picture is pretty evident. Players like DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans are not only locked into the squad, they could start in Brazil. Critics may not see the virtues of Evans over somebody like Geoff Cameron, but Klinsmann does. As far as the final squad (and lineup) is concerned, that’s all that matters.

Not that there’s any doubt about Cameron’s spot, either. He’s a lock, as are Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, and Clarence Goodson. We’ve added Michael Parkhurst to the group, too. Given his versatility, performances against South Korea and Mexico, and the gap between the Columbus captain and the rest of the list, Parkhurst’s likely to go.

As for the rest of that list, odds are nobody from “the bubble” makes it. That’s partially because of the versatility of players like Parkhurst and Cameron, partially because Fabian Johnson, a possible starter at left midfield, could also get time at left back. There just aren’t backup spots that need to be filled, and once you look at the needs at midfield and forward, the roster’s flexibility looks more likely to be used there rather than in defense.

  • Going to Brazil: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson, Fabian Johnson, Michael Parkhurst
  • On the bubble (zero-to-one spots available): Tony Beltran, Anthony Brooks, Edgar Castillo, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco, DeAndre Yedlin

MORE: Goalkeepers and defenders | Midfielders | Forwards

Mourinho on muted celebrations from Lukaku, himself

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There’s a lot of buzz about celebrating, and not celebrating, when it comes to Manchester United.

Star striker Romelu Lukaku’s post-goal actions were muted for a second-straight week, and manager Jose Mourinho appeared nonchalant on the bench.

[ RECAP: WBA 1-2 Man Utd ]

For Lukaku, that could be down to his status as a former West Brom player (and to be sure he was quite energetic in support of Jesse Lingard’s insurance goal).

As for Mourinho, this is a man who was quite critical of Man City’s celebrations after winning a derby at Old Trafford. And Jose isn’t one to let a story line die unnecessarily.

Here’s Mourinho when asked about Lukaku’s non-celebration, from the BBC:

“Maybe he looks to the bench and sees his manager doesn’t celebrate. Maybe he loves West Brom. Maybe he remembers the team that helped him early in his career.

“I will celebrate if my team scores a winning goal in the last minute. But you have to have more maturity and keep your feet on the ground. If some guys want to be kids until the last day of their careers or if they want to act to the cameras then they can. But if we score an important goal then I can do anything.”

United is back to within 11 points of leaders Man City, and it’s a massive mountain to climb for the Red Devils. Yet Ander Herrera, who was terrific again on Sunday, said the directive is simple: control what you can.

“We won three titles last season, which was very good. It is true that the top of the table is difficult to reach right now but this is Premier League, you never know. Our aim is just to keep winning games.”

The side’s 41 points through 18 matches would’ve been enough to lead the Premier League in two of the previous four seasons. No one’s going to tell United to be content with where they stand, but it’s been a fine season for Mourinho’s men so far.

WATCH: Liverpool battering Bournemouth with highlight reel half

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Philippe Coutinho is capable of elite magic, and he conjured up some fantasy on Sunday at the Vitality Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch via NBCSports.com ]

Liverpool and Bournemouth were scoreless when the Brazilian dribbled past Simon Francis and Lewis Cook on a mazy run, taking Andrew Robertson‘s square pass and dancing through daylight.

If only there were a body cam on Adam Smith, who was chasing Coutinho the whole time!

Dejan Lovren — does this require we say “of all people?” — then scored a diving header after Roberto Firmino saved a wayward corner kick.

And Mohamed Salah, what else can you say about the 20-goal scorer (in all competitions)?

Salah would get his goal in stunning fashion, bodying off a defender before dribbling past two more to finish with an off-balance belt past Begovic.

Kaka calls it a career; Won World Cup, Ballon d’Or

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson
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He’s the last Ballon d’Or winner neither named Messi nor Ronaldo, and he’s calling it a career.

Kaka announced his retirement on Sunday after a gleaming career on three continents.

Born Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, Kaka won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and also boasts two Confederations Cup wins amongst his 92 caps and 29 international goals.

[ MAN CITY-SPURS: 3 things |  Studs and duds ]

Kaka debuted for Sao Paolo in 2001, and left for AC Milan three seasons later. Thrice names in the UEFA Team of the Year and twice the Serie A Footballer of the Year, Kaka won Serie A with Milan and La Liga with Real Madrid.

He spent the final three seasons of his career in Major League Soccer with Orlando City SC, and was magnificent. The 35-year-old scored 25 goals with 19 assists for the Lions.

West Brom 1-2 Manchester United: Red Devils hang on

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  • United back into second
  • Lukaku scores 10th PL goal of season
  • Baggies winless in 16

Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard scored first half goals and Manchester United held on to beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the Hawthorns on Sunday.

Gareth Barry scored the Baggies’ lone goal, as Alan Pardew‘s men sit 19th and without a win since August.

United pulls three points ahead of Chelsea, and is 11 points back of Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Brom wasn’t intimidated by the task at hand, and James McClean was particularly lively as the Baggies tried to find an opener.

But United quickly settled into control through possession, albeit without any effective incisiveness.

That changed when Lukaku rose to deposit a trademark header beyond the reach of Ben Foster, converting Marcus Rashford‘s cross with power.

After a moment of danger provided by Allan Nyom and Salomon Rondon, United made it 2-0 when Lingard took a lay-off from Juan Mata and hit a shot that Ahmed Hegazi deflected past Foster.

Jake Livermore forced David De Gea into a low save in the 44th minute.

 

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Baggies pulled one back as both Evans and Barry could’ve tapped in a loose ball off a corner kick.

Barry did, and United was on its heels. Credit Alan Pardew for his substitutes of Barry, Chris Brunt, and Jay Rodriguez (though they were, after all, on the bench).

Rodriguez powered a header off Brunt’s cross wide of the near post with about five minutes to play.

And a scramble in front nearly put the Baggies level, but De Gea was there. The keeper was kicked by Ahmed Hegazi and came up smarting.