Sepp Blatter believes FIFA has a responsibility to shape society

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Even while they prepare to be the world’s center of attention with the 2014 World Cup, FIFA are busy trying to polish up their reputation. It’s been tarnished recently, with more and more allegations uncovered about the underhanded ways in which Qatar went about securing votes for the 2022 World Cup.

Then, of course, there’s Brazil. The country spent an estimated $11.5 billion to ready themselves for the World Cup, yet many of the planned infrastructure projects were never even begun. Stadiums are still not complete, planned railway upgrades have yet to be finished, and six in ten believe hosting the tournament will be bad for Brazil.

Protests that began last summer are expected to continue through the World Cup, with citizens making their opinions heard on education, healthcare and public transportation (or lack thereof).

Brazil president Dilma Rousseff appealed to the people of Brazil on Tuesday, asking them to come together and support the tournament. But Sepp Blatter has a different idea in mind. Speaking to the FIFA Congress on Wednesday, Blatter said:

FIFA is shaping society. My vision for FIFA in this changing world is that we must become one of today’s pioneers of hope. Football is about freedom, equality and respect. People have the right to want a better world for their children to grow up in. Football should be a force for positive change in the world and not an obstructor to it. And so should FIFA.

One wonders just how much the FIFA president believes his own words. The organization awarded the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar, neither of which promote freedom in regards to sexuality. Despite increasingly public demonstrations of racism, FIFA has yet to crack down – although Blatter insists it will happen. Last year, a female executive resigned from FIFA’s governance committee, accusing the organization of blatant sexism.

Blatter may talk a good talk. But most soccer fans are skeptical of his ability to walk that walk. In fact, they’re more likely to believe they’ll see soccer played on another planet first – as Blatter so intriguingly mused about in the same speech.

AT HALF: Lletget, Bradley, Dempsey spur USMNT to 3-0 lead

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The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes is off to a flying start.

As it stands, the 3-0 halftime lead provided by Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey has the Yanks up from sixth to fourth in the Hex table.

Sebastian Lletget scored a fifth minute goal to ease the tensions of the Avaya Stadium crowd in San Jose, though he’d leave the match with injury before the match was 20 minutes old.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal.

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks, Cameron; Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′)

LIVE – USMNT looks to right ship vs. Honduras

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The United States starts to make amends for its 0-2 start to the final round of World Cup qualifying with a match against Honduras on Friday in San Jose.

Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job and Bruce Arena will try things differently

[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]

Most importantly for Arena, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are available this time around.

Cameron starts at right back, with John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez in the center of the back four. Jorge Villafana slots into the mix at left back.

Captain Michael Bradley will sit atop the midfield, with Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, and Christian Pulisic in the midfield.

Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the forwards. Kickoff is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT from Avaya Stadium.

Minnesota’s Molino lifts Trinidad and Tobago to big win (video)

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Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.

Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.

[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]

Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.

The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.

The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.

WATCH: Zaha drives Russia nuts with mazy dribble goal

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Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.

With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.

He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.

Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.