Game on: Lineups, talking points as U.S., Belgium close out World Cup’s Round of 16

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In search of their second knockout win at a World Cup, the Unites States has made a major change to a starting lineup that is still without first choice striker Jozy Altidore. When Jurgen Klinsmann’s side kicks off against Belgium at 4:00 p.m. Eastern in Salvador, Brazil, central defender Geoff Cameron will be back in the team, but not at the expense of his replacement, Omar Gonzalez. Instead, Gonzalez will start next to Matt Besler as Cameron’s moved into midfield, pushing Kyle Beckerman to the bench.

On the other side, Belgian captain Vincent Kompany is in Marc Wilmots’ starting XI, which has elected to keep striker Divock Origi in the lineup. Romelu Lukaku, who started the team’s first two games at striker, has been dropped to the bench, though the real danger remains in the Belgians’ next line of three. Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Dries Mertens will not only stress the U.S.’s back seven, they’ll force wingers Graham Zusi and Alejandro Bedoya to maintain the same defensive intensity we saw against Germany.

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Here are your starting XIs, with U.S. Soccer announcing the Americans’ as a 4-3-3:

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; Mertens, De Bruyne, Hazard; Origi.

United States: Howard; Johnson, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley; Cameron, Bradley, Jones; Zusi, Dempsey, Bedoya

Talking points

– Can Belgium play on the front foot? One of the talking points coming out of group stage was Belgium’s performance – a perfect 3-0-0 opening stage that included three lackluster wins. For a team with as much talent as any side in the tournament, it was an unconvincing opening round, with some analysts back home noting the Red Devils have trouble when forced to play on the front foot. Against the U.S., life’s not going to be any different. Can the Belgians deliver as favorites?

– What’s the cost, benefit of dropping Kyle Beckerman? In terms of the international game, the Real Salt Lake holder is a limited player, but over the U.S.’s first three games, Jurgen Klinsmann was able to offset his weaknesses by putting him in a straight-forward but important role. And Beckerman responded. Throughout the group stage, he was far more a strength than a weakness. Now, in dropping him in favor of Cameron, Klinsmann is going with a better athlete who has more experience against high-level competition. He’s also going with somebody who no longer spends much time in midfield.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

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The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.