Player Ratings: See how the US players fared against Azerbaijan

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The U.S. national team beat 2-0 Azerbaijan on Tuesday night in San Francisco thank to goals late on from Mikkel Diskerud and Aron Johannsson, with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann given plenty of food for thought.

Players such as Brad Davis and Alejandro Bedoya shone, while others struggled to impose themselves against a nation ranked 85th in the world.

How will the USMNT cope in Brazil?

[MORE: Diskerud, Johannsson come throughThree things | Subs shine]

With the first warm up game out of the way, it’s time to give each player a mark out of 10 for their performance as the countdown to Brazil looms large.

Here it goes…

USMNT player ratings vs. Azerbaijan

Tim Howard – 6

Barely called upon to make a save the entire match. Howard’s throws were exemplary and he captained the USA with his usual coolness. Standard. Shutout. Enough said.

Fabian Johnson – 6

Practically anonymous in the first half. Didn’t have much defending to do at right back but in the second period he bombed on well at times and supported Bedoya. Promising signs from the Hoffenheim defender.

Geoff Cameron – 7

Composed on the ball and showcased his ability to play raking passes to get the USMNT on the front foot, Cameron did his chances of starting at CB in Brazil no harm at all with this performance. Replaced at HT by Gonzalez after a job well done.

Matt Besler – 6

Committed as ever and positionally sound, Besler is a lock to start in Brazil and he looked settled alongside Cameron in the first half. Won headers and tidied up, a few stray passes early on will have annoyed him.

DaMarcus Beasley – 6

Tested defensively and coped with the pressure in the first half, Beasley made a few brief forays forward but had little impact offensively. Replaced at half time by Chandler.

Graham Zusi – 6

Great deliveries on set pieces and showed his quality on the ball whenever he got the chance. A 45 minute run out for the Floridian who showed some good touches in midfield.

Michael Bradley – 7

Used in an advanced midfield role at the point of the diamond, Bradley made some superb runs but still looked a little uneasy in having to integrate the attack from just behind the forwards. His positioning was good and his shot was blocked on the line that led to Diskerud’s game-winner.

Jermaine Jones – 6

Wasteful in possession at times, Jones stuck to his task just in front of the back four and plugged the gaps well. Worked hard to make himself available. He wasn’t tested defensively.

Alejandro Bedoya – 6

Some pacey bursts down the left flank caused Azerbaijan problems but his final pass needs some work. Switched over to the right flank in the second half and again worked hard. Good movement.

Chris Wondolowski – 6

After his last minute inclusion in the starting lineup due to Dempsey’s injury, Wondo could’ve scored twice in the opening 15 minutes. First he headed straight at the ‘keeper from five-yards out then he had another headed from a set piece well saved. Lively but replaced after 60 minutes by Johannsson.

Jozy Altidore – 7

Good hold up play which bodes well for the World Cup where he is likely to be isolated on his own for large periods of time. Altidore still looks to be lacking in confidence but is a real handful. Won the free kick that led to the games only goal.

SUBS

Omar Gonzalez – 6

Looked a little shaky after replacing Cameron at half time with his knee taped extravagantly. Wasn’t tested much. His fitness is still a huge question mark ahead of the World Cup.

Timmy Chandler – 6

One stray shot way over the bar and another which deflected just wide, he looked solid slotting in at left back. Chandler showed he is a good option in defense and is versatile.

Brad Davis – STAR MAN 8

Should have won a penalty kick just after coming on at half time but the referee bizarrely awarded a free kick. Davis looked lively cutting in from the left flank and caused plenty of problems. Proved he has an impact off the bench after delivering both set pieces which led to goals for Diskerud and Johannsson.

DeAndre Yedlin – 6

Had 30 minutes to show what he could do and showed he was solid defensively. A few rash challenges. Lets put that down to youthful exuberance, as the Seattle youngster wasn’t afraid to get stuck in.

Aron Johannsson – 7

Struggled to impact the game for the final 30 minutes after replacing Wondolowski but then popped up to score a great header. Job done.

Mix Diskerud – 7

Replaced Bedoya late on as the USA’s final sub, Diskerud pounced to scored his third goal for the U.S. to win this game. The Rosenborg midfielder proved he has a knack of changing games off the bench.

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.

Report: Frank De Boer accepts Crystal Palace job

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Frank de Boer is widely expected to be named new Crystal Palace manager this week, as he has reportedly accepted the job after having been offered the position this week.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The 47-year-old Dutchman has been out of work since he was fired by Inter Milan in November. He lasted just 84 days at the San Siro, where he managed to win just five of 14 games. Inter Milan is Inter Milan, though, and that’s something worth remembering when critiquing Palace’s impending appointment of De Boer.

Palace are also widely expected to back De Boer in the transfer market this summer, in a big way. Kelechi Iheanacho is the biggest name linked with a move to Selhurst Park, as the 20-year-old Nigerian striker is reportedly unwanted by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.