At halftime: Cavani nets penalty for 1-0 Uruguay lead over Costa Rica – FOLLOW LIVE

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Very physical play in the penalty area came back to bite Costa Rica, as they trail Uruguay 1-0 at the halftime break.

Los Ticos were toying with a penalty since the opening whistle, pushing and shoving Uruguayan attackers in the box on a number of occasions before the referee finally gave one in the 24th minute.

Edinson Cavani buried the penalty into the bottom-right corner, and Uruguay eased themselves ahead.

Yeltsin Tejeda was also lucky to not be sent off after an ugly two-footed challenge, further proving their over-enthusiasm coming into this game.

The South Americans looked the more dangerous by far, but Costa Rica wasn’t without chances of their own in a very attacking game.

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Goals:

24′ – On a free kick into the box, Diego Lugano was taken down in the box rugby-style by Junior Diaz, and the referee awarded a penalty which Cavani slotted neatly into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Other key moments:

15′ – The service from Cristian Rodriguez wasn’t really that good, but a few deflections led to a Diego Godin tap-in that was rightly called back for offside.

16′ – Godin’s goal called back sparked Uruguay, and they had another chance a minute later but Cavani whiffed badly and didn’t even come close on the big opportunity.

22′ – Yeltsin Tejeda went in two feet studs up on Rodriguez, but somehow got away with no card whatsoever.  The Costa Ricans flirted with disaster on a number of occasions with their physical play, but somehow got out of the half with nary a card to their name. The ensuing free kick led directly to Uruguay’s penalty.

27′ – Costa Rica had their best chance yet when Joel Campbell, given plenty of space, took aim and fired from well outside the box, but he just barely missed a wonder strike past the top right corner.

43′ – A Costa Rican corner saw Uruguay’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera sucked too far in, but the ball fell inches out of reach of Alvaro Gonzalez’s head at the back post.

44′ – Uruguay pushed down the other end, and Diego Forlan nearly picked himself out a spectacular chipped goal, but Keylor Navas tracked back and leaped to save the ball bound for the corner.

LINEUPS:

Uruguay – Muslera; Pereira, Lugano, Godin, Canaceres; Gargano, Arevalo, Rodriguez, Stuani; Forlan, Cavani.

Goals: Cavani 24′

Costa Rica – Navas; Duarte, Umana, Gamboa, Gonzalez, Diaz; Borges, Tejada; Ruiz, Campbell, Bolanos.

Questions for the second half:

  • Will Costa Rica put together a sustained attack? Trailing by 1, they’re not out of this match by any means, but in order to have a serious chance at leveling they need to build a solid attack, which they’ve been unable to do. There have been a fair amount of bright moments, but nothing more.
  • Can Uruguay put the game away? Despite their dominance on the base level, they’ve held just 50% of possession and Costa Rica has held their fair share of half-chances. Can the South Americans double their lead? The longer this match stays at 1-0 the more the confidence of Los Ticos will rise.

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”

Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

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Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.

Ballack acknowledges difficult decision ahead for John Terry

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For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.

[ WATCH: Zaha nets first international goal for Ivory Coast ]

With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.

[ MORE: Everton’s Coleman breaks leg on Ireland duty ]

Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.

“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.

“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.

“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.

For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.

Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.