Brazil v United States

Analyzing Klinsmann’s cuts (and we’re not just talking Landon, folks)

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Well, there you have it: the United States is heading into a World Cup without the biggest name in US Soccer history.

But Landon Donovan isn’t the only player to have missed the final cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s trek into Brazil to face Group G opponents Germany, Ghana and Portugal. As JK goes youth movement — some would say a 2018 movement  — let’s take a look at the unlucky seven, whose ages are: 32, 28, 30, 32, 29, 23 and 23.

Landon Donovan: So much to be said here (and you’ll want to stay tuned for Richard Farley’s scheduled piece on LD’s omission). Donovan carries the hearts of so many U.S. faithful, but should this move really be as surprising as it is for some? He’s 32 and has lost a step. Icon? Yes. Feature player? Debatable.

There’s already plenty of fan outrage on this cut, and surely Klinsmann is displaying plenty of guts. Why not make the omission when the 30-man roster was named? It leads you to believe something happened at camp to show Klinsmann that Donovan wasn’t the player he wanted. That seems out of place.

Then again, this is a player who took a soccer sabbatical during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying when his place was not secure. You could easily see that as something that rubbed Klinsmann in an extremely awkward way. Either way, the Donovan era is over. Wow.

Maurice Edu: A part of you has to feel for Edu as much as any of these cuts. He’s struggled to establish himself anywhere since Rangers fell apart, and his time in Philadelphia has clearly showed that he’s still got something left in the tank. Yet between 2012 and his return to MLS, Edu played in just 12 matches for club (One for Stoke, and 11 on loan to Bursaspor).

RELATED: Soccerly details more on those staying home

Throw in the fact that his “no goal” in the last World Cup should’ve stood as one of the most important goals in American history, and it feels like he’s dealt with 4 years of “What ifs?” and will deal with some more.

Michael Parkhurst: It almost felt like Parkhurst’s revitalization and strong play for Columbus had him as even money to make the roster. You have to think the 30-year-old’s age was the biggest factor in his removal. And, again, you’re also forgiven if you think Klinsmann’s staring at 2018 almost as much as 2014.

Clarence Goodson: I projected that either Goodson or Evans would make it, and clearly I’m a genius. We’ll never know if Goodson’s return to Major League Soccer was a factor in Klinsmann’s decision, but the defender was strong in Gold Cup play. It’s a big of surprise that his size and experience weren’t enough to move him onto the 23.

source: Getty ImagesBrad Evans: Maybe there was only room for two Brads? The versatile 29-year-old Sounders player seemed a bit of a long shot but had performed well sliding in at right back for the States. A breakout year was not enough to push his climb to a World Cup to the summit.

Joe Corona: The 23-year-old San Diego State man was one of just a few Liga MX players to make his way onto the 30-man roster, and could not last through the final cuts. With 124 appearances for Tijuana, and 10 goals, at his young age, it’s unlikely we’ve heard the last of him.

Terrence Boyd: Klinsmann wants his best players in the best leagues, and while Boyd’s 20 goals in Austria featured some in the UEFA Europa League, they were still scored in an Austrian league that would struggle to compare with Major League Soccer, Liga MX or Eredivisie. Boyd may have a future here, but it won’t come at the expense of Julian Green. The inclusion of Green makes you wonder if there was a roster promise involved…

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.