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Ghana rout of South Korea puts U.S. weekend in different perspective

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After two days of considering what a 2-1 win over Nigeria meant for the United States’ World Cup readiness, a Group G rival has put that result in a more modest perspective. On Monday, Ghana, who has eliminated the U.S. from the last two World Cups, posted a decisive result over World Cup-qualified South Korea in Miami, with three goals from Jordan Ayew leading the Black Stars to a 4-0 win at Sun Life Stadium.

Coming of the bench early for an injured Majeed Waris, Ayew put his team in front in the 13rd minute  with a shot that deflected off midfielder Ki Song-Yeung. Captain Asamoah Gyan’s one-man transition just before halftime doubled Ghana’s lead moments before intermission.

In the 53rd minute, Ayew, whose brother André started for Kwesi Appiah’s team, scored from outside the area to extend his side’s lead. One minute from full-time, a close range finish completed the Marseille attacker’s hat trick, giving Ghana a four-goal win in the team’s final showing before facing the U.S. on June 16.

Appiah’s reaction after the match, courtesy of the Associated Press:

”It was a good friendly match,” coach James Appiah said. ”It was important we put out a good team. Everyone who paid to come in here got his money’s worth.”

Even so, Appiah said Ghana’s not quite ready for its game against the United States next Monday in Natal, Brazil.

”It’s fine we won, but we still have some work to do,” Appiah said.

Work to do or not, the bottom line was impressive for the Ghanaians, but for a U.S. fan, impressed may be one of an array of reactions to the lopsided result. Curiosity, concern, trepidation – after seeing what’s become a bogey team rout another World Cup qualifier one week before they face the U.S., fans would be rightfully concerned how their team’s shown against Nigeria compares to Ghana’s current level.

These are just friendlies, so there’s only so worried anybody should get about the results, yet the opponent Ghana routed makes it hard to dismiss outcome. Whereas two weeks ago the U.S. was having trouble breaking down Azerbaijan, Ghana just embarrassed a team that’s going to Brazil – one that made it to the Round of 16 four years ago. And though the Black Stars lost 1-0 to the Netherlands last week, that was a close match against a level of competition the U.S. hasn’t in its buildup. Given that match was in Rotterdam, the scoreline looks borderline impressive.

There’s a bottom line here that serves as a wet blanket for U.S. expectations. After a performance against Nigeria that was mildly lauded, the Americans don’t look so great anymore. That feels harsh  given these are only friendlies, the teams aren’t facing each other, and the game that counts is still seven days off, but there just isn’t any good news for the U.S. in a 4-0 win by Ghana.

If he and staff were likely on site in Miami, Jurgen Klinsmann got a new idea of what his team will be up against next Monday in Natal. Regardless, Ghana certainly looks more dangerous now than they did a few hours ago.

 

Albert Ruiz scores fastest hat trick to start game in NCAA history

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After being named the NCAA Soccer Men’s Player of the Week, Spanish junior Albert Ruiz went out and set the base for a repeat.

The Florida Gulf Coast striker scored three goals in three minutes and 19 seconds on Tuesday, and the Eagles are battering visiting Rutgers.

[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]

Not only that, but three goals all came before the game was 10 minutes old (9:02 to be exact). The team’s Twitter account says that’s a record to start a game, besting the record was set by Indiana’s Steve Burks on Oct. 6, 1973. Burks scored his three goals by the 11:41 mark of the first half.

If you look at the clock, too, we think it’s more like nine minutes on the dot.

Ruiz scored seven times in 11 games as a sophomore, and is battering that impressive mark this year. It’s not even halftime at FGCU, and he’s up to 11 goals in his ninth game of the season. That puts him into a tie with Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone for the most goals in men’s D1 soccer (and Ruiz has more than 45 minutes to play).

The 6-foot-2 forward is going to be attracting a lot of attention, especially considering this is his second hat trick in 10 days.

PST Extra: Breaking down the 1v2 clash between Spurs, Man City

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Manchester City visits White Hart Lane for a match-up of this early season’s first and second place Premier League clubs.

City will have one less day of rest than its Premier League rivals, though both are coming off road matches in Europe.

Spurs beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Tuesday, while Man City is battling Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany a day later.

[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]

A win would pull Spurs to within a point of the leaders, while a City victory would guarantee, at-worst, a five-point table advantage for Pep Guardiola‘s bunch.

Kickoff is at 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday, and our own Joe Prince-Wright has the preview for you with the latest PST Extra (above).

Spurs: Pochettino pleased with “must win”, Son admits “a lucky time”

Tottenham's Son Heung-min is hugged by Tottenham's manager Mauricio Pochettino after he scored 1-0 during the Champions League Group E soccer match between CSKA Moscow and Tottenham Hotspur, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
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While it’s easy to call any match “must win” after you’ve won, there’s little doubt how badly Spurs needed their 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

After making the long hike to Russia, Spurs controlled the match. Both Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min were lively but couldn’t break down the CSKA back line until Son finished a late chance.

From the BBC:

“That was a very important victory. Important to be in the race for the next round of the Champions League. This was a must win game, we are second in the group now but it is still all open.”

And Son admits it was a bit fortunate, as his shot was slowed by Akinfeev before inching across the line.

“This is a good time but also a lucky time. I try every game to score. We are very happy to win this game.”

Spurs are a point behind Monaco, who won at White Hart Lane in both teams’ Group E openers. Next up is a tricky visit from Bayer Leverkusen.

Ranieri laughs off England speculation with quip about bookmakers

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City speaks during a Leicester City press conference ahead of their Champions League match against FC Porto at The King Power Stadium on September 26, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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When it comes to quotes, Claudio Ranieri is one of the best.

The Leicester City manager was put on the spot after Tuesday’s 1-0 UEFA Champions League win over Porto, and handled it well.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Pulisic, BVB best Madrid ]

Asked about his name appearing on betting sites as a favorite to replace disgraced England boss Sam Allardycewho left the job Tuesday — Ranieri responded with a nod to Leicester’s long odds-defying Premier League title run.