USA v Germany: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

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.

Youthful Tottenham Hotspur lose to Juventus in ICC opener

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 26:  Cameron Carter-Vickers of Tottenham Hotspur and Paulo Dybala of Juventus FC compete for the ball during the 2016 International Champions Cup match between Juventus FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 26, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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Italian champs Juventus beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia on Tuesday as Paulo Dybala and Medhi Benatia both scored in the first half and Erik Lamela pulled one back for Spurs in the second half.

[ MORE: United to let four go ]

The International Champions Cup clash saw both teams field plenty of youngsters but Juve put the result to bed inside the opening 15 minutes with two well-taken goals.

New Spurs signings Vincent Janseen and Victor Wanyama started the game, while U.S. youth international Cameron Carter-Vickers started at center back and DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench but came on at half time and played left back.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s young side defended poorly early on but he will have been pleased to come through the game without any injuries — plus youngster Marcus Edwards impressing off the bench — and Spurs’ attention will now switch to playing Atletico Madrid in Melbourne on Friday.

Dybala scored after just six minutes with the first effort of the game as young Spurs defender Dominic Ball gave the ball away and Carter-Vickers couldn’t clear the ball which led to Dybala smashing home with his left foot. 1-0 to Juve.

A strong Juventus side continued to pin Spurs back as Miralem Pjanic becoming more influential and Dybala hammered a shot towards the to corner after Carter-Vickers was caught out but Michel Vorm tipped it over.

From the resulting corner Benatia headed home across the goal and despite protests of a push by Benatia from Spurs’ players, the goal stood. 2-0 to the Italian champs.

Spurs began to grow into the game after their initial struggles and looked dangerous from wide areas but Janseen was a frustrated figure up front, while William Miller went down in the box under a heavy challenge but no penalty kick was awarded.

At half time Pochettino made four changes with Josh Onoma, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela and Yedlin coming on, with the USMNT man slotting in at left back before playing the final 12 minutes at right back as he showed plenty of promise going forward.

Pjanic was set clean through in the second half but skewed his effort over the bar when he should’ve hit the target and at the other end Lamela struck a low left-footed effort just wide of the far post via a deflection.

After a flurry of subs for both teams Lamela pulled one back for Spurs. Wanyama won the ball back 40-yards out in a central area and Lamela drilled a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-1.

Lamela had a great chance to equalize late on but hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper, while Shayon Harrison was also kept out as Spurs couldn’t find an equalizer with the first game of their tour of Australia ending in defeat.

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

instagram.com/cristiano/
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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.