US start Cameron, Besler at CB in diamond formation vs. Azerbaijan

Leave a comment

The USA have gone for a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond for their friendly against Azerbaijan in San Francisco on Tuesday night.

With Omar Gonzalez still nursing a knee injury, Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron starts at center back alongside Matt Besler in a new-look U.S. backline.

Left-footed Fabian Johnson is deployed at right back, while DaMarcus Beasley continues at left back. In midfield Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones form a formidable partnership in the engine room with Graham Zusi on the right and Alejandro Bedoya on the left. The diamond formation has been preferred with Bradley supporting the forwards and Jones playing as a pure holding midfielder.

Experimenting with formations and personnel is what these warm up games are all about.

Captain Clint Dempsey will be alongside Jozy Altidore in attack, as Jurgen Klinsmann selected what looks like his strongest XI from the start against Azerbaijan. The Eurasian nation are ranked 85th in the world but should provide the USMNT with a stern test as they prepare for their World Cup opener in Brazil in less than 20 days.

One of the most interesting areas to analyze will be in defense where Cameron and Besler have only started one game together in the past, a 2-0 win over Jamaica in October. With Gonzalez struggling to be fully fit, many are calling for Cameron and Besler to be the first-choice partnership in the heart of the USMNT’s defense this summer.

Let’s see how they fare at Candlestick Park in the first of three warm up games before the U.S. depart for Brazil.

U.S. starting lineup vs. Azerbaijan

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Jones, Zusi, Bedoya, Bradley; Dempsey, Altidore

LAFC selects Urena, 4 others in MLS Expansion Draft

Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.

Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.

The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.

Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.

LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.

The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.

WATCH LIVE: Three Premier League matches

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
Leave a comment

Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.

Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.

Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]

FIFA bans Colombia midfielder Cardona 5 games for gesture

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.

FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.

[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]

Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.

Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”

Spurs’ Alderweireld won’t return until February

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.

That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.

[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]

Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.

Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.

Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.