At halftime: goalless in a tepid match between Netherlands and Mexico

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Looking for a 12th man in Netherlands vs. Mexico? Look no further than the weather, which was edging 100 degrees at kickoff. By the break, both sides looked worse for wear, although it was the Dutch that seemed to be wilting the fastest. Will they manage to make more than one (off-target) shot in the second half?

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Goals

None. Not even any real chances.

Other key moments

7′: Jasper Cillessen makes the interesting decision to charge out of goal in an attempt to stop Paul Aguilar from going through on goal, but his kick only drops the ball even further into danger. Fortunately his oranje defense manages to clear.

9′: We already have our first substitution and no, it does not appear to be due to heat stroke. A limping Nigel de Jong is replaced by Bruno Martins Indi … who did not start as he is still recovering from a “slight” concussion.

17′: The Dutch defense flounders once again, giving Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta plenty of space. Peralta shoots, but it goes just wide.

20′: Mexico likely should’ve been awarded a penalty, what with Ron Vlaar kicking  Héctor Herrera in the face and everything.

32′: We’ve just had our first official water break of the World Cup! And…that was about all the excitement this match could offer.

45+2′: Arjen Robben grabs onto a ball from Robin van Persie, but he’s almost immediately taken out by Rafa Márquez  and Héctor Moreno. The Dutch have a good shout for a penalty, but the referee waves play on. Likely hoping to get into the airconditioning as soon as possible.

LINEUPS

Netherlands: Cillessen; De Vrij, Vlaar, Blind; Kuyt, Verhaegh, De Jong, Wijnaldum, Sneijder; Van Persie, Robben

Mexico: Ochoa; Rodriguez, Salcido, Marquez, Aguilar, Layun; Herrera, Moreno, Guardado, Dos Santos; Peralta

Question for the second half

What are we doing kicking off at 1 p.m. in Fortaleza?
This is the first time we’ve had an early kickoff at Estádio Castelão. It’s understandable that Brazil wanted to spread out this World Cup, of course. But a quick glance at Google shows that highs in June are regularly above 85, but what’s worse is that the humidity hovers around 90%, even reaching up to 100%. While leagues do play in these sorts of conditions, it’s typical that they will schedule kickoff for 7 p.m. or later, hoping to avoid the worst heat of the day.

While it can be argued that teams should have prepared for just these sorts of conditions, it should also be taken into consideration that the players just don’t look well. Is a bout of heat stroke really worth it?

It’s most likely that Mexico will be able to take advantage, looking the fitter side and probably more accustomed to the high temperatures. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come at the expense of a player’s health.

Premier League vet Kenwyne Jones retires at age 33

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It wasn’t the season that Kenwyne Jones had expected in his first Major League Soccer season, but the veteran Trinidad & Tobago striker had himself quite the career.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

Jones, 33, announced his retirement on Monday after boasting an extensive career in England prior to finishing up his playing with Atlanta United.

Atlanta opted not to renew Jones’ contract with the club after scoring twice in 17 appearances this season for the expansion side.

The Trinidadian posted the following message to supporters on Twitter this afternoon.

Jones spent nine seasons in the Premier League, including stints with Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland.

Additionally, the forward played for Al Jazira from UAE in 2016 before moving on loan to Central in his native Trinidad prior to his arrival in Atlanta’s debut MLS season.

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.