Still out injured, but improving.
That is the diagnosis of U.S. forward Jozy Altidore, as national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann confirmed that the striker will miss the pivotal Group G finale vs. Germany on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters about Altidore’s fitness, Klinsmann confirmed that “Jozy is recovering really well. … This game comes still too early for him.” ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap confirmed the news from the USMNT’s training base in Sao Paulo on Tuesday morning.
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After pulling up with a strained hamstring midway through the first half in Natal during the USA’s opening World Cup match vs Ghana, many believed Altidore would not appear again this World Cup. However the 24-year-old Sunderland forward does seem to be making good progress and if Klinsmann’s optimism is anything to go by, the USA’s main offensive threat could be ready to go for the knockout rounds.
With Clint Dempsey leading the line well vs. Portugal in Altidore’s absence, the U.S. has yet to feel the full impact of the bustling forwards not being out there to bully opposition defenses. Yet this is a blow for the USA’s hopes against Germany, as Altidore ripped a second-string German defense to shreds by grabbing a goal and an assist in a 4-3 friendly win in Washington D.C. last summer.
It was always going to be a big ask for the New Jersey native to be fit for this crucial match. The U.S. must move on and face the Germans without their go-to man up top. Not ideal, but not disastrous. Not yet, anyway.
The U.S. Men’s National Team won’t have a busy schedule throughout the summer, but Dave Sarachan and his side will get a tiny taste of the World Cup in September.
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ESPN FC is reporting that the USMNT will likely face Brazil and Mexico — both of whom will travel to Russia in June — later this year, as the U.S. Soccer Federation is in the process of finalizing both friendlies.
The matches are set to be played during the September international window, which runs from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11.
Both fixtures will reportedly be played in the United States, although venues haven’t been determined yet.
The U.S. has already begun booking a slate of difficult matches to round out 2018, with England and Italy already confirmed opponents for the Yanks in November.
The Yanks are 1-17-0 all-time against Brazil in all competitions, while the U.S. hasn’t faced Mexico since its 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca in June 2017 during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.
The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.
Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.
Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.
Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.
A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.
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Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.
The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.
The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.
Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.
The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.
Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg