At halftime: Chile are calm, collected and winning 2-0 over erratic Spain

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Story of the half: The 5-1 loss to the Netherlands is looking less and less like a one-off.

Like the opener, Spain look sluggish, old and devoid of ideas. Yes, Diego Costa has found some holes on occasion but he hasn’t come close to scoring. La Furia Roja are in need of a spark if they’re to avoid an early trip home.

Chile, on the other hand, look very comfortable. In defense, they are pressing high and giving Spain fits. When they have had chances, they’ve taken them.

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Goals:

20′ – After Claudio Bravo’s long ball to midfield, Xabi Alonso collected and looked to pass back but Alexis Sanchez was there to intercept. Sanchez quickly found Arturo Vidal on the one-two pass and then brilliantly split the Spain defense to find Charles Aranzguiz, who cut a pass to the back post for Eduardo Vargas. Iker Casillas challenged, Vargas pivoted to the right and dispatched low to score from 6 yards out.

43′ – Sanchez’ free-kick from 25 yards out was punched by Casillas into the middle of the box where Aranzguiz hit a one-time, outside-of-the-foot stab into the corner. Horrible goalkeeping by Casillas, who should have done better.

Other key moments: 15′ – Diego Costa with a smooth-dribbling 35 yard run into the box, mis-hit his shot low and wide of the far post where Andres Iniesta collected it and served it into a sea of players only for Xabi Alonso to emerge with the ball unmarked but his point-blank shot was well saved by Claudio Bravo. 27′ – A Pedro floater from the left was skimmed on by David Silva and found the on-rushing Costa, who’s left-footed shot was off-the-mark, largely due to the stellar shut-down defending of Gonzalo Jara. Some of the crowd thought it was in. In reality, simply a bad mis-hit by Costa.

LINEUPS:

Spain – Casillas; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta; Silva, Costa, Pedro

Chile -Bravo; Jara, Silva, Medel; Mena, Aránguiz, Díaz, Isla; Vargas, Vidal, Sánchez Goals: 20′ Vargas; 43′ Aranzguiz

Key Players:

  • Alexis Sanchez – Always dangerous, Sanchez seems particularly up for this match going against a number of Barcelona teammates.
  • Diego Costa – Has gotten through Chile’s defense twice only to spurn his efforts. Must be more clinical around goal if Spain are to have a chance.
  • Claudio Bravo – Did well to deny Costa on a few occasions but may need to be flawless if Chile are to collect all three points.
  • Charles Aranzguiz – A goal and an assist today, looking sharp and to make a name for himself.

Numbers to know:

  • 50 – Lost balls by Spain, compared to 45 by Chile
  • 9 – Fouls committed by each side
  • 247 – Total passes by Spain, compared to 178 by Chile

Questions for the second half:

  • Is the high press the death of Spain’s tiki-taka? For a six year period of time after Euro 2008, no one could keep up with Spain. But over the last two years and particularly now, Spain has struggled against the high press. Today, Chile is employing it brilliantly making Spain look slow. Don’t expect a style change mid-match or even mid-tournament, but La Furia Roja need a spark if they’re to avoid an early exit. Time to give some younger players a look?
  • How good is Chile? If they pull this one out those calls of ‘dark horse’ will grow louder and louder.

Rashford’s childhood hero played for USMNT (Take one guess)

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But can he grow a beard?

Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.

“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”

[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]

Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.

The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.

Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham United

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David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.

Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.

West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.

Dempsey still happy to accept USMNT role (which is good)

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Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.

[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]

The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.

From SoundersFC.com:

“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.

“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”

There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).

If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.

I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.

Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.

Beckham reportedly wants Steve Bruce in Miami

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He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?

Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]

It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.

Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).

Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.