League Cup Roundup: Manchester United embarrassed by Milton Keynes, 4-0

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Manchester United fans could be forgiven for summoning the spirit of Dante Hicks and bemoaning “I’m not even suppose to be here today.” It was the League Cup second round, a phase the team’s league finish normally allows them to miss, but after an embarrassing result Stadium mk, the Red Devils were given another reminder of how bad things have become.

With two goals each from William Grigg and Benik Afobe, Milton Keynes Dons, currently 51st on the English ladder (League One), posted a 4-0 victory over a United team that included David de Gea, Jonny Evans, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck, and Javier Hernández. Going 72 minutes without a shot on target, Louis van Gaal’s side exits the competition at this early stage for the first time in 19 years.

To the embarrassment of fans, they did so in what was often comic fashion. The first goal resulted from an Evans giveaway deep in this own half. Failure to hold the ball also allowed Ben Reeves to set up Afobe’s first, while a Marnick Vermijl giveaway (succeeded by three poor tackles) allowed MK Dons to pile on the feeble favorite.

In the long run, being rid of the League Cup may prove a blessing for a rebuilding squad, but on a day that started with elation, Manchester United was handed one of its most striking results in recent memory. For as bad as things got under David Moyes, the Scot never delivered this kind of result.

The loss was so bad, United blog The Busby Baby posted a nine-word review: “Help us, Angel di Maria. You’re our only hope.” The only thing accompanying the analysis? A video titled “The Exploding Whale.”

Other Premier League results

United wasn’t the only top-tier side to bow out early:

  • After penalty kicks, West Ham United lost at the Boleyn Ground, with third-tier Sheffield United scoring another upset for League One (1-1).
  • Andrew Mangan’s first half goal for Shrewsbury Town allowed the fourth division side to win at Leicester City (1-0), …
  • while a late penalty converted by Atdhe Nuhiu saw Sheffield Wednesday down Burnley, 1-0.

Elsewhere:

  • West Brom got the better of their trip to penalty kicks, defeating Oxford United 7-6 after extra time ended at 1-1;
  • Bafetimbi Gomis’s first competitive goal for Swansea City put Garry Monk’s team into the third round (1-0);
  • Southampton’s first victory under Ronald Koeman saw Saints win at Millwall (2-0);
  • John Egan’s own goal allowed Newcastle to claim a 1-0 result at Gillingham;
  • while Crystal Palace got a hat trick from Dwight Gayle in a 3-0 win at Walsall.

Full results

Port Vale 2-3 Cardiff City
Middlesbrough 3-1 Preston North End
Huddersfield Town 0-2 Nottingham Forest
Swansea City 1-0 Rotherham United
Watford 1-2 Doncaster Rovers
Millwall 0-2 Southampton
AFC Bournemouth 3-0 Northampton Town
Brentford 0-1 Fulham
Scunthorpe 0-1 Reading
Derby County 1-0 Charlton Athletic
West Ham United 1-1 (p.k., 4-5) Sheffield United
Swindon Town 2-3 (a.e.t) Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City 0-1 Shrewsbury Town
Crewe Alexandra 2-3 (a.e.t.) Bolton Wanderers
Gillingham 0-1 Newcastle United
Norwich City 2-1 Crawley Town
Nurley 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Walsall 0-3 Crystal Palace
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Oxford United
Milton Keynes Dons 4-0 Manchester United

Wednesday’s matches

Burton Albion vs. Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City vs. Portsmouth
Birmingham City vs. Sunderland
Bradford City vs. Leeds United
Aston Villa vs. Leyton Orient

USMNT eyeing the table as it kicks off training camp

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) Goalkeeper Tim Howard‘s uniform was filled with grass stains after the first day of training camp.

And this was considered a light workout.

“Just getting everybody back together, getting a sweat,” Howard said Monday after the U.S. squad went through a roughly 60-minute workout. “Day by day, we’re just trying to add on to the pile, put some concepts in and get some understanding between players.”

What awaits the squad in resumption of the final round of World Cup qualifying is certainly a gantlet. They have a game against Trinidad and Tobago on June 8 in Commerce City and then at Mexico three days later.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

There’s little margin for error, with the U.S. currently in fourth place in the six-team standings. They have three home and three away matches remaining. The top three teams qualify, with the fourth-place squad going to a playoff against Asia’s No. 5 nation.

“We need to keep climbing that table. We feel like this is a good opportunity to do it,” said Howard, now with the Colorado Rapids and who will feel right at home with the Trinidad game on his turf at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “One game, that’s as far as you can look. You can’t look to next week or the week after or two months from now.”

For now, Howard will be coach Bruce Arena’s goalkeeper over Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath and Nick Rimando, who all were invited to camp. But it’s an ongoing evaluation.

“We have good goalkeepers here. That’s the least of my worries, to be honest,” Arena said.

Given the short amount of time between games, Arena fully plans on using more players than usual. One particular competition to watch will be at right back between Timmy Chandler and DeAndre Yedlin.

“I have a close eye on everything,” Arena said. “We have a bunch of good players here. … We’re watching everybody and thinking about how we can best utilize everyone.”

[ MORE: Kroenke, Wenger meet; Decision looms ]

The roster features a solid blend of youth and experience. Leading the youngsters is Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder who last weekend became the youngest American to win a club medal in Europe.

On the veteran side are players such as Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley and Howard, all of whom have more than 30 World Cup qualifying appearances.

“We’re past the experimentation phase. These are all guys who the manager believes in whole-heartedly,” Howard said. “They’re not here for anything other than to play minutes, play important minutes.”

Arena couldn’t agree more.

“This is a nice group we have here. Hopefully, we can find the right balance in the team, putting them in the right position to complement them both individually and collectively,” Arena said. “If we can accomplish that, there’s no reason to believe we can’t be successful in these two games.”

Joining the camp in Colorado are a few players who weren’t with the squad in March. Guzan, Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood and Yedlin are all on the field. Guzan didn’t participate because his wife was expecting their second child, while the others were dealing with injuries, illnesses and yellow-card suspension.

Now, it’s a matter of getting their timing down – and accustomed to the altitude.

“There’s no reason to make it an excuse,” midfielder Paul Arriola said. “Just doing the best we can to acclimate to it.”

Arena’s squad will get things rolling in a friendly against Venezuela in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday.

“That’s a good game for us,” Arena said. “It gives us a little bit of exercise at lower altitude, which isn’t perfect for what we need to do to get ready here and Mexico City, but it’s a start. Think it will be good to give a chance to 16 players and build from there – get us ready for Trinidad and Mexico.”

Stam after Reading playoff final loss: “Tough to take”

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Jaap Stam has won silverware in three different leagues for five different teams, and has a Champions League title from his time at Manchester United.

He’s used to winning, and that includes his first stop as a full-time manager. And that makes Reading’s loss in Monday’s playoff final sting a bit more.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

Reading lost in penalty kicks and it’s not like the Royals were thoroughly outclassed by Huddersfield Town. But it still burns. From Sky Sports:

“You don’t want to play football to be in the grey areas, you want to get the max out of your career, win trophies and play at the highest level.

“It’s tough to take, but it has to be difficult. It’s not good to lose a game like this, you need to feel it and experience it and then take that forward if you get into the same moment again. The good players do that.”

Reading loses a trio of loan players — Lewis Grabban, Reece Oxford, and Jordon Mutch — as well as American midfielder Danny Williams. It won’t be easy for Reading to get back into the playoffs without an injection of money, but Stam’s first rodeo as a manager was a good ride that came up just short.

Wenger, Kroenke meet; Board to learn decision Tues.

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Wenger watch is entering its final hours.

The BBC is reporting that Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke met with longtime manager Arsene Wenger on Monday to discuss the Frenchman’s future, and that the decision was going to be made together.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

It seems almost certain that Wenger is going to come back to the Emirates Stadium. From the BBC:

The outcome is unclear but the decision rests solely with Wenger and Kroenke and will be relayed to directors at a Tuesday board meeting.

Fresh terms were agreed in principle some months ago, but nothing is signed.

There have been questions about whether Wenger would accept a sporting director being placed above him, and if Kroenke believes the repercussions of keeping the boss would negatively impact the business.

Barcelona to keep goalkeeper Ter Stegen until 2022

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has reached a deal to extend the contract of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen until June 2022.

The club said the new agreement, which has a buyout clause of 180 million euros ($201 million), will be signed on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Yaya to stay at Man City ]

Ter Stegen has been with the club since 2014, helping it win nine titles in three seasons.

The German goalkeeper has played 93 matches with Barcelona, conceding 90 goals in 71 wins, 10 draws and 12 losses.

Barcelona has already renewed the contracts of Javier Mascherano, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic. It is still working on new deals for Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.