WHO’S WHO: Breaking down US defenders, GKs on 30-man World Cup roster

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For years US Soccer supporters have been debating how the Yanks defense will line up and if it will shape up in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and Monday afternoon’s announcement of Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man provisional roster showed fans the 14 ingredients with which he’ll cook up a defense for Portugal, Germany and Ghana.

MORE: All the latest news on World Cup rosters

We’ll start with the simple: a large dose of Tim Howard. The recently-extended Everton man is coming off a career-best 15 clean sheets in the Premier League, and he’ll have to be strong if the States are to have any success in South America. Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan is finally free from the firing range that is standing between the sticks at Villa Park, while Nick Rimando will bring his MLS-tested stardom to camp.

Onto the men playing in front of them: Most are expecting Los Angeles center back Omar Gonzalez to be paired up with Sporting KC’s Matt Besler as the USMNT moves forward from its pairing of Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit. If Twitter tells me anything, it’s that US fans are more comfortable with the former than the latter.

Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron is the leader in the clubhouse to get a starting nod somewhere along the back line after he was a massive reason the Potters climbed to 9th in the Premier League table, playing nearly every minute at Britannia Stadium and away. Fabian Johnson has the versatility to play outside back and midfield, and there are legions of fans who likely wish he had the cloning ability to man both posts after another strong season with Hoffenheim.

John Anthony Brooks found his post-massive back tattoo form for Hertha Berlin and will look to impress more in camp than he has on the pitch for the States, where the youngster has looked confused and sometimes overmatched. DeAndre Yedlin is another youthful face on the backline, but has looked much better than Brooks all things equal.

Seeing the name of Michael Parkhurst won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed his success with Columbus this season. DaMarcus Beasley had a rough go as an employee of Puebla this year, but not on-the-field. Whether or not he was receiving paychecks or winning games, Beasley was an integral part of the Liga MX side whenever they had even a modicum of success. His national team renaissance is remarkable.

There are plenty of question marks in the unit, too. How will Timmy Chandler rebound from his torn meniscus, an injury that cost him the end of his Bundesliga season? Can Clarence Goodson replicate his success from the 2013 Gold Cup winning side? Where does Brad Evans fit into the picture?

For takes on the forwards who didn’t make the cut, read our “Who got snubbed?” post here

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

UCL wrap: Napoli, Celtic win big; Nwakaeme volleys beauty (video)

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A day after three of five road sides felt good with their work in first legs of the UEFA Champions League playoff round, it was the hosts time to celebrate good results.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL first legs ]

Home sides in Italy, Scotland, Greece, and Israel posted wins. Spanish side Sevilla did manage a road win.

Napoli 2-0 Nice

Chances and even possession was at a premium for the visitors, and Napoli found its breakthrough from one of the more overlooked gems in the world. Dries Mertens scored in the first half, his sixth career UCL goal, and Jorginho converted a second half penalty to give Napoli a foot in the group stage.

Adding insult was a pair of red cards in the 80th minute, the first to Vincent Koziello for a dangerous tackle (it was a harsh call) and Alassane Plea was given a second yellow for protesting the sending off.

Mertens’ goal was smooth as silk:

Celtic 5-0 Astana

A pair of Scott Sinclair goals joined an Astana own goal as the Bhoys went a long way towards avoiding the tight tie that made the last round tricky.

Olympiacos 2-1 Rijeka

Heber gave the visitors a halftime lead in the 42nd minute, but Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe equalized in the 66th minute to minimize the damage for Olympiacos, who would go on to win.

Istanbul Basaksehir 1-2 Sevilla

Remember Eljero Elia? The Dutchman’s on his eighth club and third since leaving Southampton after just a half season, but he’s given his Turkish side hope against mighty Sevilla after Sergio Escudero gave the Spanish side an early lead and Wissam Ben Yedder nabbed the winner.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-1 Maribor

Goals from Anthony Nwakaeme and Shir Tzedek boosted the Israeli hosts to a come-from-behind win.

In the case of the former, it was a beauty:

Brighton breaks transfer record (again) with Izquierdo (video)

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Brighton and Hove Albion have broken its transfer record.

A week after setting a new club standard with the signing of Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven, the Gulls have signed electric Colombian attacker Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge for over $15 million.

[ MORE: Matuidi medical at Juve ]

Izquierdo averaged a goal every other match for Brugge last season and broke through to the Colombian national team with two caps this summer, scoring in a friendly against Cameroon.

With Propper and Izquierdo, manager Chris Hughton has two more playmakers who can better set the table for a strike corps that has been questioned at the Premier League level.

Brighton lost to Man City 2-0 on Saturday and next faces Leicester City at King Power Stadium.

Matuidi having a medical at Juventus ahead of move from PSG

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi was having a medical at Juventus on Wednesday ahead of a potential move to the Serie A club.

Juventus said that Matuidi arrived at Turin airport in the afternoon and was undergoing tests.

Juventus will reportedly pay PSG 20 million euros ($23 million) plus bonuses for the 30-year-old Matuidi, who had a year left on his contract with the French club.

[ MORE: Wenger issues updates on Alexis, Ox, Wilshere ]

PSG, which is also trying to balance the books after buying Neymar for 222 million euros, could not afford to lose Matuidi on a free transfer.

Matuidi played nearly 300 games for PSG in all competitions after joining from Saint-Etienne in 2011.

After a difficult first season, he quickly became an integral part of the team for successive managers, Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc.

He flourished from a largely defensive midfielder to a robust, tireless runner with an eye for goal and an enormous work-rate.

Overcoming some technical deficiencies in his game, Matuidi gradually earned himself a place in the France lineup and became a key player at the 2014 World Cup and last year’s European Championship.

At the beginning of last season, after Blanc was fired and replaced by Unai Emery, he expressed a desire to leave PSG and already wanted to join Juventus. But the club blocked his move, considering him too important to leave, and he stayed for another season.

Altogether, Matuidi has scored 33 goals for PSG in 295 appearances, becoming a well-respected player among fans and teammates alike, often taking a public stance when others would not and when tensions arose within the club.

In all, Matuidi has won four league titles, three French Cups and four League Cups with PSG.

This story has been corrected to show that Neymar’s fee was 222 million euros, not 220 million euros.

Furious Cristiano Ronaldo responds to five-game ban

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out at the Spanish soccer federation after his five game ban for pushing a referee in the back was upheld.

Ronaldo, 32, pushed the ref after he was shown a second yellow card in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at Barcelona on Sunday.

It capped an eventful El Clasico for Ronaldo who arrived in the second half as a sub, then scored a stunner to put Real 2-1 up.

He received his first yellow for taking off his shirt and holding it up to the Nou Camp crowd to mock Lionel Messi for doing the same in a goal celebration in April at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ronaldo then received a second yellow for going down in the box under a challenge.

In an Instagram post the Real Madrid forward had the following to say about the decision which sees him banned for the second leg ag the Bernabeu on Wednesday as well as Real’s next four games.

“It seems to me exaggerated and ridiculous, this is called persecution.”