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…

Jonas nets 2 late goals to keep Benfica in title hunt

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Jonas scored two late goals to lead Benfica’s 3-1 comeback win at Pacos Ferreira on Saturday, keeping it close to Portuguese league leader FC Porto.

Jonas equalized in the 72nd minute and gave the defending champion the lead in the 88th.

[ MORE: Man United-Chelsea meet in giant Sunday PL clash ]

Rafa Silva added a third goal after the host was reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Gian dos Santos was shown a direct red card.

Luiz Phellype gave Pacos Ferreira the lead in the ninth.

The double increased Jonas’ league-leading tally to 27 goals.

Benfica moved to within two points of Porto before the pacesetter visits Portimonense on Sunday.

Sporting Lisbon is third at five points behind Porto. It hosts Moreirense on Monday.

Orlando City trades defender Jose Aja to Whitecaps for allocation money

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The Vancouver Whitecaps have struck a deal with an Eastern Conference side to help solidify their back line.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson leads Werder Bremen to win ]

On Saturday, the Cascadia club finalized a deal to acquire Orlando City defender Jose Aja in exchange for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) for 2019.

Additionally, Orlando could receive another $100,000 in TAM if Aja remains on the Whitecaps roster next season and a 2021 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick if Aja is in Canada for the 2020 campaign.

Aja has made 25 appearances for Orlando since coming to MLS in 2016 from his native Uruguay.

The timing of the deal is intriguing, given Tim Parker’s willingness to exit the Whitecaps ahead of the 2018 MLS season.

PST reported on Thursday that Parker is seeking a move back to the East Coast, and the New York-native is being tracked by several Eastern Conference sides, including the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and the Montreal Impact.

Parker is considered one of the top American defenders in MLS, and is actively seeking a massive pay raise ahead of the new season, after making just under $100,000 in 2017.

PL Sunday preview: Red Devils battle Chelsea at Old Trafford

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It will surely be one of the biggest fixtures of the season when Manchester United and Chelsea get together on Sunday, and for both clubs a victory could be vital in projecting their form for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting at Selhurst Park pits teams on opposite ends of the table against one another. Crystal Palace enters the weekend levels on points with 18th-place Swansea, while Tottenham could leap Chelsea for fourth if results go in favor of Spurs.

[ MORE: Liverpool continues to score at lightning pace against West Ham ]

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The injury bug has hit Palace hard as of late, with a total of 12 senior team players being left out of Roy Hodgson‘s squad. The list includes Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho, which won’t make things easy against a talented Spurs side.

Tottenham have had a ton of success in this fixture recently, winning the last five encounters and only allowing one goal in the process.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have hit the ground running in the second half of the season thus far, picking up a league-high 15 points in the Premier League since the start of 2018.

If there is a saving grace for the Eagles though, it is that Palace has been solid at home this season, and gone unbeaten in nine of its last 10 fixtures at Selhurst.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN

After a pair of draws from the PL sides kicked off their Champions League Round of 16 campaigns midweek, United and Chelsea can now focus their attention back to England; at least for the time being.

Jose Mourinho’s team came away from Seville with a crucial scoreless draw after the hosts tested goalkeeper David De Gea on numerous occasions, while Chelsea were close to pulling out a victory against Barcelona had it not been for a big-time mistake from Andreas Christensen late in the match.

Nonetheless, this is a fixture that always garners significant attention, especially from the Blues, who tend to have a better go of it. United has won just once against Chelsea in their last 14 fixtures, with the lone victory coming last season.

That said, Antonio Conte and his side have failed to exemplify consistency this year, and that includes road matches. The Blues have just two road wins in their last nine attempts across all competitions, which bodes well for the Red Devils.

The good news for Chelsea is the recent form of attacking duo Willian and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian was constantly in dangerous positions up the pitch against the Blaugrana in their recent UCL encounter, nabbing the lone goal for the Blues, while Hazard has scored six times in his last six PL matches.

The 2 Robbies: Unstoppable Liverpool, Man United-Chelsea and more

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In today’s episode, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe discuss Liverpool’s emphatic win over West Ham (0:17), breakdown an extremely complicated relegation situation where nearly half of the league is in jeopardy of going down (10:05), before closing the show with a preview of tomorrow’s Man United v. Chelsea match (28:10).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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