U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

5 Comments

The first post-World Cup camp for the U.S. will be an exploration of young talent, with an almost entirely Europe-based squad allowing opportunities to a number of players looking to breakthrough in the 2018 cycle. Here’s a quick look at a few of the names that hope to become more familiar over the next four years:

Cody Cropper – The Southampton keeper isn’t new to U.S. rosters, but at 21 years old, Cropper’s is a name that could become more prominent in Klinsmann’s selections between now and Russia. With a long jam of goalkeepers under Ronald Koeman’s watch, time in practice with Klinsmann and goalkeeping coach Chris Wood is particularly crucial. Cropper won’t get the same minutes Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson see back in MLS.

Age: 21
Caps: 0
Club: Has yet to make a league appearance for Southampton or his previous club, Ipswich Town.

Greg Garza – The Texas-born wide-man is known to national team hardcores, but yet to be capped at the senior level, the former U-20 contributor is still an unknown to the broader fan base. A 23-year-old with a development history that touches Brazil (São Paulo FC), Texas (Dallas Texas), and Portugal (Sporting Club), Garza has become a starter for Tijuana in Liga MX. Capable of playing both fullback and wing, the 5’8″ Xolo offers the versatility that’s become characteristic of Klinsmann’s wide options.

Age: 23
Caps: 0
Club: 34 appearances and 21 starts over the last three seasons for Tijuana in Liga MX.

Joe Gyau – Like Julian Green, Gyau is a Tampa-born player poised to make an impact in Germany, only instead of being nurtured by Bayern Munich, the left winger (who can also play through the middle) has had to navigate his way through the Bundesliga. Originally starting with Hoffenheim’s second team as an 18-year-old, Gyau moved to St. Pauli and back to Hoffenheim before landing with Borussia Dortmund this season. Like BVB and Bayern, Gyau could develop a productive rivalry with Green going forward.

Age: 21
Caps: 0
Club: Has made six appearances in the 2.Bundesliga this season for Borussia Dortmund II, scoring twice in 497 minutes.

source: Getty ImagesEmerson Hyndman (right) – The 18-year-old midfielder’s connection with Schellas Hyndman has made him a fixture on this site for some time, but after taking the leap to England in 2011, the grandson of the former FC Dallas coach has found his own reason to make headlines. The former FC Dallas academy member has made two starts for Fulham this season, and while it’s uncertain the central midfielder has cemented a role under Felix Magath, playing at such a young age portends to a bright future for the U.S.’s U-17 contributor.

Age: 18
Caps: 0
Club: Has played 180 minutes across two starts for Fulham, making the 18 one other time through four games this season.

Alfredo Morales – One of five callups not playing with a first division team, Morales hasn’t seen a top-flight match since his time with Hertha in 2011-12. That hasn’t kept the Berlin-born midfielder/defender off the U.S. radar, though a cap against the Czech Republic would be the 24-year-old’s first in 19 months. Having received his first callup in Nov. 2011, Morales has long been on the fringe of the senior national team, a status he’ll hope to improve during his time in Prague.

Age: 24
Caps: 1
Club: Morales has started all three games for Inglostadt this season, scoring the team’s opening goal of the campaign on Aug. 2 at St. Pauli.

Rubio Rubin (pictured, top) – Perhaps the most exciting of the new callups, Rubin has made an immediate impact since arriving at FC Utrecht this summer, winning a spot in Robby Alflen’s plans when it was originally assumed the 18-year-old attacker would have to work his way through the reserves. A former Timbers and IMG Academy product, Rubin has been a standout at U.S. U-levels, winning U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year honor in 2012 (Wil Trapp won it last year). Though he’s Mexico-eligible, Rubin’s on track to compete for a spot in 2018, having said his future lies with the U.S. national team.

Age: 18
Caps: 0
Club: Rubin came back from a preseason concussion to log 90 minutes in his Eredivisie debut Aug. 17 versus Willem II.

Bobby Wood – Like Morales, 1860 Munich’s Wood is a fringe national teamer whose trying to develop in Germany’s second division. Beyond position (Wood’s a forward), the other main difference between him and Morales is age. Whereas the Inglostadt midfielder is entering his prime, Wood is only 21. After serving as a substitute for most of last year, the versatile Californian has now assumed a starting role, playing wide left in Ricardo Moniz’s 4-2-3-1.

Age: 21
Caps: 1
Club: Wood failed to score last year in 605 minutes (21 appearances) for the Sixty’ers and has yet to register a goal this season.

VAR decisions at World Cup to be explained on giant screens

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images Sport
Leave a comment

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fans attending World Cup matches in Russia won’t be left wondering about the reasons behind decisions of the video assistant referee.

After the VAR’s decision is made, replays will be shown on giant screens inside the stadiums accompanied by a written explanation.

It’s all part of the VAR information system that FIFA unveiled Wednesday .

[ MORE: Man Utd makes historic hire ]

FIFA will place someone in the VOR (video operations room) who will listen in to the VAR’s decisions and communicate them to both TV commentators and stadium personnel operating the giant screens.

“So we will have graphics on the giant screens, we will have replays after the decision on the giant screens, and we will also inform the fans about the outcome of a VAR incident and review,” said Sebastian Runge, group leader of football innovation at FIFA.

With the VAR making its tournament debut during the June 14-July 15 World Cup, FIFA is holding its final training camp this month for the 99 match officials – 36 referees and 63 assistants – who have been selected to go to Russia.

Thirteen VARs have been pre-selected and are being trained at Italy’s Coverciano complex, and FIFA referees chief Pierluigi Collina said more VARs and VAR assistants will be chosen from the 99 match officials.

Three of the 13 VARs come from Italy’s Serie A and two from Germany’s Bundesliga – elite competitions that already use video assistants.

The VAR can support the referee in four game-changing situations: goals and offenses leading up to a goal, penalty decisions and offenses leading up to a penalty, direct red card incidents and cases of mistaken identity.

Still, VARs in both Italy and Germany have received vehement criticism for long delays and bungled decisions this season.

On Monday, Mainz was awarded a penalty during halftime against a rival Freiburg side that had already left the pitch for the break – prompting the unusual scene of a team returning from the changing room to defend a penalty.

“Yesterday we had already discussed this incident here and gave match officials and VARs clear indication about what should be done if something similar in FIFA competition – specifically the World Cup – happens,” Collina said without providing further detail.

Collina added that the VAR should not be overused, adding that ideally it would intervene at all in a match.

“The goal of VAR is to avoid major mistakes,” Collina said. “The objective is not to have clear and obvious mistakes committed on the field of play. This is the target, the goal is not to re-referee the match using technology.

“There will continue to be incidents when a final answer will not be given and there will be different opinions,” Collina added.

Among other items involving the VAR:

MOSCOW CONTROL CENTER

FIFA will follow the Bundesliga model of a central control center for the VAR rather than using trucks outside stadiums.

“We will have all of the referees based in Moscow so there won’t be any stress in terms of travel,” Collina said.

For each match, Collina will select one VAR and three assistant VARs.

Training operation rooms presented to media included six monitors for the VARs and two more for technical assistants enabling the VARs to see requested replays.

There could be up to four technical assistants in the room for World Cup matches.

OFFSIDE CAMERAS

FIFA will install two extra cameras at matches to monitor offside decisions.

The cameras will be in addition to the 33 cameras used for broadcasters and they will be installed under stadium roofs.

Broadcasters will not have direct access to the cameras but if they are used by the VAR then broadcasters can show the video.

Runge added that three dimensional technology – considered the ultimate strategy for determining offside – is not ready for real-time access yet.

SWEAT AND STRESS

VARs will not officiate more than one match per day.

“It’s not like watching a match on the sofa sipping coffee,” Collina said.

Collina, who officiated Brazil’s 2-0 win over Germany in the 2002 World Cup final, explained why the VARs will wear track suits similar to referees’ on-pitch attire.

“The reason is at the end they sweat as much as someone on the field, because the tension is very high,” Collina said. “They can’t do two matches per day – it’s too stressful.”

COMMS AND HACKING

The Moscow control center will be connected to match officials via a fiber optic network.

If the network fails, the backup plan includes an old-fashioned land telephone line and a telephone stationed near the fourth referee for emergency use.

“Worst-case scenario includes a backup plan on site. That’s when the IBC is down – no power, no fiber network,” Runge said. “Then we have a plan in place where the fourth official would become the VAR and the fourth official would be replaced by the reserve referee.

“We have a cabin in the broadcast compound from where we send all of the feeds to the IBC anyway. That cabin can be turned into a smaller, light version of the VOR.”

Hacking has also been considered.

“We are aware that there might be something but our IT department put measurements in place that will protect us from that,” Runge said.

POST-MATCH BRIEFINGS

In extraordinary circumstances, FIFA will hold post-match briefings to explain decisions in greater detail.

“If something should happen that we think should properly and accurately be explained – and it doesn’t matter if it’s related to VAR or something different – if it is a matter to explain the background of a decision, as an exception certainly we will do it,” Collina said.

“But it won’t be a post-match press conference for every match, explaining every single decision taken during every single match.”

More AP soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf

Could PSG, Manchester United solve each other’s problems?

Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s late on a Wednesday night without the UEFA Champions League, so let’s dance on a theoretical floor, shall we?

One of the more widely-praised transfers of the year came when Manchester United and Arsenal decided to swap problematic players with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez.

While neither has been perfect in their new homes, both have had starring performances and could (should?) fit in neatly come a full offseason worth of preparation.

More swaps like these should happen more often given the glut of managerial changes across major European leagues, with square pegs sometimes finding round holes when the boss arrives in town.

And have we got a sensational swap lined up for you. And no, it’s not Jose Mourinho for Unai Emery (though should it be? Nah, forget it).

If Paul Pogba is to leave Old Trafford this summer, there are scant few teams who could afford his transfer fee. Likewise, Paris Saint-Germain has Financial Fair Play all over its case and cannot simply make moves to better build its team for the Champions League by splashing cash all over the place.

PSG bought the two most expensive players of all-time last summer in Neymar ($281m) and Kylian Mbappe ($181m). The latter is going nowhere unless FIFA intervenes, 19 years old and becoming a more complete playmaker since heading to PSG from Monaco.

The former, well, that’s a bit trickier.

Neymar has been hurt, and while there’s no doubt his absence is the primary reason PSG was eliminated by Real Madrid, his time at the Parc Des Princes has hit more than a few speed bumps, with the Edinson Cavani PK drama and more.

So if Neymar is “worth” $281 million, could he head to United in exchange for a pair of Frenchmen in Pogba and Anthony Martial?

Areola

Alves — Silva– Marquinhos — Berchiche

Verratti — Rabiot

Pogba

Mbappe — Cavani — Martial

It’s imperfect given Alexis Sanchez’s preference to also play left wing, but going to a 4-3-3 like this for Jose Mourinho would allow a certain amount of freelancing for his trident.

De Gea

Valencia — Smalling — Bailly — Young/new LB

Matic — Herrera — McTominay

Sanchez — Lukaku — Neymar

Mixing in Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata off the bench and for Cup games is not a bad luxury, plus we know United is going to splash a lot more cash to improve the center midfield and fullback depth.

There could also be a 3-4-3 of excellent repute here:

De Gea

Smalling — Jones — Bailly

Valencia — Herrera — Matic — Lingard

Alexis — Lukaku — Neymar

Ronaldo scores late to lead Real Madrid draw (video)

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo’s done it again, because of course he did.

The Real Madrid megastar, 33, redirected a Luka Modric shot in the 87th minute to help Real to a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu on Wednesday in the club’s last match before the UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against Bayern Munich.

[ MORE: Man Utd makes historic hire ]

Real is three points behind Atletico Madrid, which visits Real Sociedad on Thursday, and 15 points behind still unbeaten Barcelona. The final Clasico of the season is May 6 at the Camp Nou.

Ronaldo continued his bounce back from a slow start to the La Liga season. After scoring only four times in his first 14 matches, CR7 has netted in eight-straight league matches and has 24 goals in total (Add in other competitions, and Ronaldo’s bagged 41 goals in 39 matches).

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Southampton

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Foxes won 4-1 on Dec. 13 at St. Mary’s
  • Southampton five points back of 17th
  • Saints lead all-time 32W-27D-26L

Southampton is running out of time to save its Premier League status, and makes up its match-in-hand on several clubs with a visit to Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET, online via NBC Sports Gold).

Saints are five points back of 17th place Swansea City, though the Welsh side has also played 33 matches. They are six points behind Crystal Palace and seven back of Huddersfield Town and West Ham United.

Leicester is eighth after losing to Burnley, its Europa League hopes dashed with Everton and Newcastle nipping at their heels.

What they’re saying

Leicester City’s Claude Puel on finishing strong: “The right way, it is important to keep this momentum until the end and we will see when the players start in the game. [They must] give their best and maintain a good level in the team. We keep a serious ambition and we need to secure our place in the top half of the table. A lot of teams are close behind us so we need to continue.”

Saints’ Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on life in the relegation fight“The next few weeks is life-changing. Wherever our paths go, and wherever all our ways go, whether it’s short-term or long-term, this will all change our lives, this will all change our way of looking on football. I promise you, I promise to the fans, and I promise to the people standing outside, there is not one single person inside here who wants to be in this situation. There is not one person who actually thinks ‘Oh, this may be good for me in a way.’ Everyone is suffering.

Prediction

Claude Puel will be further motivated to get over on his old side, but Saints have a lot of firepower for what should be a wide-open game against sometimes-dicey back lines (often dicey in the case of Southampton). 2-2.