Barclays Premier League World Cup update: Day 2

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Each evening, PST will update you on how the Barclays Premier League’s stars are performing at the 2014 World Cup. Here are the returns after the day two in Brazil.

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE:

Robin van Persie, ST, Netherlands/Manchester United – Van Persie gave Red Devil fans hope for the future as he scored an iconic diving header as well as another, making his new Manchester United manager and current Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal incredibly happy. He even sprinted directly for van Gaal after scoring his first, and is poised to become Manchester United captain after another dazzling performance for his country.

Mile Jedinak, MF, Australia/Crystal Palace – Jedinak played the same role he does for Crystal Palace in Cuiaba – the dirty work.  The Palace midfielder cleaned up a number of messes in the midfield for Australia, and got forward a few times as Chile took its foot off the gas pedal.

Javier Hernandez, FW, Mexico/Manchester United – Chicharito struggled again for Mexico, coming on as a substitute after El Tri had already scored and completely bungling a beautiful opportunity to put them 2-0 up in stoppage time.  The goal was gaping from close range, but he pulled a Fernando Torres and rocketed it way over the bar. Hernandez is going to continue to find playing time hard to come by.

source: Getty Images
Ron Vlaar’s early heroics set the stage for the Dutch push in the second half – he was vital to their victory.

Ron Vlaar, D, Aston Villa/Netherlands – Vlaar was one of the best players on the field for the Netherlands, saving the day plenty of times early as the Dutch defense started shaky, setting the stage for their flurry of goals later on.

Cesar Azpilicueta, D, Chelsea/Spain – The defender/winger went the full 90 minutes, starting strong along with his squad and finishing poorly. He was in the attack – somewhat – as Spain pushed early, but failed miserably to mark the rotation of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben on the wings as the Dutch made their second-half push.

David Silva, FW, Spain/Manchester City – Silva was one of the few Spaniards to prove consistently dangerous up front. He just missed with a header, and fed Diego Costa a number of times, although the striker failed to turn any of those chances into anything in front of goal.  On a day where Spain seriously struggled, Silva was a bright spot. Changes are sure to come for Vicente del Bosque, but look for Silva to remain in the lineup.

Fernando Torres, ST, Spain/Chelsea – Torres came on for the ineffective Diego Costa in the 62nd minute, but by then the game was all Dutch, and he saw little to cheer about.

Jonathan de Guzman, MF, Netherlands/Swansea City – On a day of success for just about everyone surrounding the Dutch team, de Guzman was actually one of the few negatives. The midfielder gave away possession many times in dangerous areas, and was rightly subbed out in the 62nd minute.  He left with a yellow card for his efforts.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto, D, Cameroon/Tottenham – The Cameroonian ‘fro struggled to keep up with Mexico’s attack, and faced relentless pressure as the Mexicans held much of the possession and earned a deserved win.

Stephane M’bia, MF, Cameroon/QPR – M’bia passed the ball well and got forward, completing 35 of his 36 passes including 11/12 in the attacking third.  He also completed 3/3 take-ons, proving one of the only threats for Cameroon going forward.

Gary Medel, D/MF, Chile/Cardiff City – Cardiff were relegated from the Premier League, but they’ll no question appreciate Medel’s performance for Chile. He was a force in the middle of a defensive partnership comprised of two defensive midfielders, and Medel proved versatile in the role. However, he was out-jumped on Cahill’s goal.

Henry, Aguero discuss playing up top under Pep

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
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One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.

Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.

That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:

HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.

AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.

I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.

In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”

HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.

I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.

Aguero has been linked with Real Madrid given the tumult at City.

PHOTO: Liverpool unveils 125th anniversary kit for next season

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Liverpool rolled out its 125th anniversary kit, featuring a special crest to celebrate the occasion.

The Liver bird has 1892 on one side and 2017 on the other, with “125 YEARS” spelled out underneath the club’s emblem.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

The red shirt with a gold crest has a white V-neck and white at the ends of the sleeves. The goalkeeper kit is green.

The jersey will be available on May 19, and was announced last month.

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Jara’s goal lifts Pachuca to CONCACAF Champions League crown

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.

The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.

[ PL PREVIEW: Manchester Derby ]

Major League Soccer teams were eliminated in the semifinals, with FC Dallas falling to Pachuca and Vancouver Whitecaps losing to Tigres.

Beginning with the 2017-18 tournament, qualified MLS and Liga MX teams will not enter the tournament until the Round of 16. The entire tournament will be held in the same calendar year.

USMNT: Brooks out with hip strain; World Cup qualifiers loom

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John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.

That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.

Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.

The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.