For over 70 minutes the U.S. national team struggled to break down Azerbaijan in San Francisco on Tuesday night.
Then the substitutes showed up and started to make a massive impact on a match that badly needed it. Both goals came from guys who jumped off the bench in Mikkel Diskerud and Aron Johannsson. Job done.
Brad Davis arrived as a sub at half time with plenty of energy, had a big hand in both goals and was a constant pest in the 2-0 friendly win.
Jurgen Klinsmann will be delighted with the impact his subs had and we will surely see the following three guys given plenty more minutes against Turkey and Nigeria in the final two sendoff games before the World Cup begins.
[MORE: Diskerud, Johannsson come through| Player ratings | Three things]
Let’s break it down and see if Davis, Diskerud and Johannsson can force their way into the USA’s starting lineup.
The Houston Dynamo winger was a huge plus for Jurgen Klinsmann as he whipped in a great free kick which led to Diskerud’s opener, then delivered another pacey set piece from a corner for Johannsson to head home. You know what you are going to get with Davis. He will get his head down, get wide and whip in great deliveries. He also found some great pockets of space in and around the box and should’ve won a PK. Could it be a straight-shot between Graham Zusi, Alejandro Bedoya and Davis for two of the three wide spots in Brazil? You betcha.
After 18 games Diskerud has scored three goals for the U.S. and once again proved he has the required impact off the bench by scoring after just four minutes on the pitch. The Rosenborg midfielder is seen as a bit of a luxury player by most USMNT fans as his slick passing and slight frame fit in with his long flowing locks. Haircuts aside, his role as a playmaker could see him jump off the bench plenty of times in Brazil if the USA are failing to unlock the opponents defense. Mix can finish and almost had another goal after a super run from the right. Right place, right time… that’s a good habit to have around tournament time. However that ‘supersub’ moniker could be exactly what sees Mix remain on the bench.
In truth, Johannsson didn’t do much for the 30 minutes he was on the field as a second half sub. Then… bang. The AZ Alkmaar striker had once chance and scored one goal with a clinical header. What more can you ask for from your striker? After a red-hot season in Holland with AZ (Johannsson scored 26 goals in 51 games) the Icelandic-American forward is the most potent attacker the USMNT possesses. If he continues to score against Turkey and Nigeria in the next two games, do you start him over Jozy Altidore in Brazil? Or do you start him alongside Altidore and push Clint Dempsey back into midfield? Johannsson seems hell-bent to make Klinsmann’s decision regarding his strikers an incredibly tough one.
It isn’t always the score at the end of the match that matters, and Orlando City proved that with its recent friendly to benefit those affected by hurricanes in Puerto Rico.
[ MORE: Whitecaps announce USL affiliation with expansion side Fresno FC ]
Orlando City faced off with the Puerto Rico national team on Nov. 4, which the Lions won 6-1, but it was the club’s humanitarian efforts that proved to be the real story from the event.
The club announced that it raised $327,530 from the match, with all proceeds from the event going directly to the Puerto Rican people.
“I’m very proud of what our Club and our partners were able to accomplish,” Orlando City SC owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said in a team statement. “What we did meant more than just raising funds for Puerto Rico. Once again, we came together as a community to rally behind something bigger than us all.”
The Vancouver Whitecaps will continue their stake in USL next season, but it won’t be with their current affiliate.
[ MORE: Caleb Porter out with the Portland Timbers ]
The Western Conference side announced on Friday that it will bring a new affiliate into USL in 2018 as Fresno FC makes its debut in the Division II league.
In the wake of this decision by the Whitecaps, the club’s current USL side, Vancouver Whitecaps 2, won’t be returning to the league in the near future.
“First of all, we would like to thank every person who has worked tirelessly with Whitecaps FC 2 over the past three seasons,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “With both the USL and Canadian soccer landscapes evolving, now is the right time to make this change for our club. We are delighted to be working with Fresno FC, where the USL will provide the opportunity for high-level competition that will benefit our first team in MLS in the future. We expect that the internal competition for playing time at Fresno FC will provide a tremendous and challenging environment for our top young players.”
The relationship between Vancouver and Fresno will operate similarly to the club’s former status with Whitecaps 2, which allows the senior team to send players down and sign them to MLS contracts when seen fit by the club.
Former MLS manager Frank Yallop serves as general manager for the new USL side, while Adam Smith has been named Fresno’s first head coach.
Chris Coleman has been a hot name in the managerial game after making noise with Wales at the 2016 EURO Championships.
[ MORE: Man United looks to rebound against Newcastle ]
It appears the 47-year-old is about to embark on a new adventure though, with several reports indicating that Coleman will take over at Sunderland, who currently plays in the English Championship.
The Welsh FA revealed the following statement on Friday:
“We are extremely disappointed to see Chris’ tenure as Wales manager come to an end,” said Chief Executive Jonathan Ford.
“The FAW and Wales as a nation will be eternally grateful for the job he has done over the last six years as National Team Manager, from travelling the length and breadth of Wales outside of the media spotlight to talk to players and supporters, to guiding us to the semi-finals of the European Championships.
“We wish Chris the very best of luck for the future as he returns to club management, a desire for which he has always been honest and open about.”
The Black Cats currently sit dead last (24th place) in England’s second flight on 10 points through its opening 16 matches.
Sunderland finished the 2016/17 season at the bottom of the Premier League table, before being relegated ahead of the current campaign.
[ MORE: Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Rojo could return this weekend for Man United ]
Coleman helped guide the Welsh to the semifinals at EURO 2016, where his side fell to eventual champions Portugal. The Welsh had never previously qualified for the European Championships and hasn’t reached the World Cup since 1958.
- Red Devils unbeaten in 31 of last 32 home fixtures vs. Newcastle
- Newcastle winless in its last six PL matches
- Lukaku hasn’t scored in United’s last seven games
Manchester United hosts Newcastle United on Saturday from Old Trafford (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) as the Red Devils could potentially welcome back several of it biggest stars for the match.
WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo could return for Jose Mourinho’s side this weekend, as Man United looks to bounce back from its 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Nov. 5.
The ex-Sweden international Ibrahimovic hasn’t appeared in a match since April 2017, after being United’s top goalscorer a season ago.
The Red Devils will have to deal with the absence of Phil Jones at the back, though, as the England international misses out on the match with a thigh injury.
Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu and Jamaal Lascelles, which certainly hurts the squad’s attack, while Mikel Merino and Paul Dummett remain sidelined with respective injuries.
What they’re saying
Jose Mourinho, on Paul Pogba’s status: “I can say now because he’s back – I don’t like to speak while he’s injured – you can clearly see there is a Manchester United this season before Paul’s injury and after Paul’s injury. There are qualities in our football, qualities that influence our approach in matches, with Pogba and without Pogba. Simple as that.”
Rafa Benitez, on growing pains of being a young side: “We are a newly-promoted club that has to settle down in the Premier League. We have a young squad, so it’s a learning process for everyone and losing some games is part of the process. Hopefully we can stop that this weekend, but we know it has to be like this. We have to think that the target is to stay in the Premier League, then after try to go as high as we can in the table.”
Newcastle has had its share of struggles this season, and running into a Man United side that is gaining full fitness is a dangerous task. The Red Devils are a tough squad to beat at home, so Rafa Benitez and Co. have their hands full. Man United 2-0 Newcastle