Five things to look forward to as USA face Czech Republic

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With the USA back in action on Wednesday against the Czech Republic (Watch live on NBCSN, 2:15 p.m. ET and online here) there is plenty to look forward to as the cycle towards the 2018 World Cup begins.

[RELATED: Preview – USA vs. Czech Rep.]

This match is the USA’s first game since the 2014 World Cup, where the U.S. made it out of the “Group of the Death” but went out in the round of 16 after a 2-1 defeat to Belgium.

[WATCH: USA vs. Czech Rep., live on NBCSN]

Plenty of players from this summer are missing, as 15 of Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad after under the age of 24. He is giving youth a chance to shine in the ‘city of spires’ on Wednesday.

Here are five things to look forward to ahead of the match in Prague.

New kids on the block

College kids. Teenagers. Debutants. Klinsmann has selected them all and plans to give them a chance against the Czechs. From Jordan Morris, a Sophomore at Stanford University, to Emerson Hyndman, a teenager for Fulham in England, American fans have a whole host of players to see for the first time. Here’s our in-depth look at the new guys.

Altidore’s role as a leader

On Tuesday U.S. boss Klinsmann confirmed that Jozy Altidore would be his captain in the absence of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and other veterans. Altidore, 24, is still young but seems to have been around for a while. Klinsmann believes in him and the Sunderland man has been given a huge amount of responsibility at such a young age. After seeing his World Cup cut short due to injury, Altidore is looking to make up for lost time in the Stars and Stripes. Now, he’s the skipper.

Can Guzan step up

In the absence of Tim Howard, who is taking a one-year sabbatical away from the U.S. national team, Aston Villa ‘keeper and long-time U.S. backup Brad Guzan finally has a chance to stake his claim to be the regular incumbent between the posts. Guzan and Nick Rimando will each get 45 minutes to impress in Prague, but many feel it’s Guzan’s job to lose for the foreseeable future.

Last chance saloon?

This may seem crazy to be saying this, but with a host of talented youngsters already playing in the Eredivisie, Bundelisga and England being called into this squad, could this be a last chance for some more experienced guys to shine? Bolton’s Tim Ream got a call up and could be in that boat, while Brek Shea’s situation at Stoke City (no games this season and no loan deal lined up) seems to be dire. How many more chances will those two get to play for the USA? Their talent is undoubted but the young guns are breathing down their necks.

Yanks on European soil

Okay, this last point is more of a rallying call. The USA have fared pretty well on foreign soil in recent years. A 1-0 win away in Italy, a 4-3 win in Bosnia, 0-0 draw vs. Scotland and a few narrow losses thrown in here and there to Belgium, France and Austria… not bad. It is always fun to see the U.S. head over to Europe and compete against teams from ‘soccer’s homeland’ and do battle behind enemy lines. This game in Prague will be no different.

Arsenal 4-1 West Ham: Big win for Wenger

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  • Monreal scores fifth of season
  • Arnautovic answers
  • Lacazette thunders home beauty

Aaron Ramsey‘s hopeful cross turned into a match-winning goal as Arsenal beat West Ham United 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Substitute striker Alexandre Lacazette scored a beautiful insurance goal en route to a brace for Arsenal, who moves four points clear of Burnley in the race for sixth. West Ham is six points clear of the drop zone with four matches to play.

Nacho Monreal gave Arsenal a lead and Marko Arnautovic equalized to set the stage for the winner, a ball unclaimed by neither Declan Rice nor Joe Hart.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal had almost all of the ball, but a slip in defense forced Gunners goalkeeper David Ospina to make a nice parry on Marko Arnautovic’s shot from the right of the box.

Nacho Monreal caused a West Ham turnover deep in West Ham territory, and found Danny Welbeck for a hard shot that bounded wide of the far post.

Granit Xhaka was saved in his 35th minute free kick bid and Welbeck couldn’t get on top of a Hector Bellerin cross to head home less than a minute later.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Monreal put Arsenal ahead in the 51st minute with a low finish past Joe Hart off a corner kick, but the lead didn’t last much more than 10 minutes.

Cheikhou Kouyate‘s shot was blocked to Manuel Lanzini, who quickly fed Arnautovic for a finish.

Stoke City 1-1 Burnley: Dual disappointment

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  • Ndiaye opens scoring
  • Diouf assists, then misses big chance
  • Barnes levels for Burnley

Neither Burnley not Stoke City will be pleased with a 1-1 draw at the bet365 Stadium on Sunday.

Badou Ndiaye gave Stoke a first half lead en route to a hopeful three points which could help save the side’s Premier League status, but Ashley Barnes‘ fortunate equalizer gave the Clarets a point.

Stoke has 29 points, four behind 17th place Swansea. Burnley sits four points behind Arsenal with one more match played in the race for sixth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Stoke led in the 11th minute through a very nice team goal, as Joe Allen found Ndiaye in the middle of the pitch. The midfielder worked a 1-2 with Mame Biram Diouf before sneaking a shot inside a tiny window.

Ashley Barnes bid to level the score when he collected a Kieran Westwood diagonal ball, but his curling effort from the left failed to find the goal.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson curled a free kick over the Stoke wall, and Jack Butland did well to save for a corner.

Diouf flubbed a chance to make it 2-0 when an Ndiaye cross found him alone near the back post.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Butland made an outstanding save to force a Burnley corner in the 55th minute.

Barnes continued his villainous streak all match, and saw Butland’s slap save bound off his thigh and across the line to level the score in the 62nd minute.

Gudmundsson dragged a stoppage time shot millimeters wide of the far post.

LIVE, FA Cup semifinal: Chelsea v. Southampton

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Chelsea and Southampton clash in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on Sunday (10 a.m. ET kick off) for the right to play Manchester United in the final on May 19.

[ LIVE: Updates from Wembley ]

Antonio Conte led Chelsea to the FA Cup final last season but they lost to Arsenal. Even though the Blues are up against it to finish in the top four in the league, winning the cup would be a big success for Conte.

Saints haven’t made a cup semifinal since 2003 when they lost to Arsenal in the final. Mark Hughes‘ side are entrenched in the relegation zone and have a bigger challenge than making the final.

[ MORE: Minute-by-minute on Chelsea v Saints

Click on the links above to follow the action live, while we will have reaction and analysis live from Wembley right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

Arrests made after violent soccer riot in South Africa

AP Photo/Bongani Mbatha - African News Agency
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DURBAN, South Africa (AP) Police say two people have been arrested and more arrests are imminent after a violent riot at a South African soccer game on Saturday night, when hundreds of fans ripped up parts of the stadium, invaded the field, and seriously assaulted at least one security guard.

Players had to run for the safety of the dressing rooms as the fans swept onto the field soon after the final whistle.

[ MORE: The latest Arsene Wenger news ]

Police responded with stun grenades to disperse the rioters, and television pictures showed riot police storming the field and a white armored police vehicle racing across the edge of the pitch.

South African Police Services spokeswoman Nqobile Gwala on Sunday confirmed the arrests and said the two people were facing charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.

The violence mainly by Kaizer Chiefs fans followed their team’s 2-0 loss to Free State Stars in the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup competition at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the east coast city of Durban, one of the stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup.

In the most disturbing scenes, a female security guard was set upon by a group of supporters on the field. She lay on the ground as they hit her with plastic chairs. A man then kicked her twice in the head. After the second kick she lay motionless and face down on the grass.

Police spokeswoman Gwala did not say if anyone had died in the violence, saying police had no information yet from stadium or medical authorities on any deaths.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela resigned after the game.