Cameron believes the USA are heading in the right direction.

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


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.

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

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Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.

Men in Blazers podcast: The Leicester fairytale goes on

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Pellegrini updates status of Joe Hart’s hamstring injury

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.

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Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.

Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).