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.

WATCH: PL Download — Crystal Palace: South London and Proud

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Check out the latest episode of Premier League Download, a look inside Crystal Palace and the club’s passionate supporters.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Win, lose or draw it’s always a party for the fans of Crystal Palace and Roger Bennett travels to Selhurst Park to learn how the beloved team went from Championship strugglers to a Premier League success story.

[ WATCH: Past episodes of PL Download ]

Klopp: “Perfect result” caps off perfect week for Liverpool

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Eight days, three games, three wins, seven goals scored and just two conceded — Liverpool’s week, by the numbers.

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From the thrashing of Manchester City last Saturday, to advancing to the knockout stage of the Europa League on Thursday, to grinding out a 1-0 home win over Swansea City on Sunday, it’s been another solid week for the Reds and still-new manager Jurgen Klopp, who now find themselves all the way up to sixth in the Premier League, just four points outside the top-four.

[ MORE: Sunday’s PL roundup — Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs all draw ]

Following Sunday’s triumph as Anfield, Klopp was his usual jovial self and rightfully pleased with his side’s results over the last eight days. Klopp, speaking in his post-game television interview (above video):

“A perfect result against a strong opponent — a very, very good defending opponent. [The Liverpool players] did a good job in the last week — a good reaction on their results; they defended really good; closed their gaps. … It was a difficult game. We had to change in the second half. … It was difficult — the wind and the opponent, but the result is perfect.”

“All we need is (defensive) stability. Everybody can see our skills on offense when we can play and have a little bit of space. Of course we can create more chances and can play better passes in some situations, but for a few players it’s really hard in this moment because they have to play always. … I’m really proud tonight.”

Easily the toughest part of competing in Europa League is the quick return to Premier League action from Thursday to Sunday, well over half the time against a side that didn’t any one of Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Playing in the Europa League has cost clubs like Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur an unbelievable (though, relatively unquantifiable) number of points in their respective bids to break back into the PL’s top-four over the last few seasons. There’s a reason Slaven Bilic‘s West Ham United essentially punted on the Europa League back in August.

Premier League Sunday roundup: Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs all draw; Reds win

NORWICH, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29:  Petr Cech of Arsenal looks dejected as Lewis Grabban of Norwich City (7) scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road on November 29, 2015 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images
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The Europa League slate helped give us a quartet of Sunday morning Premier League fixtures, but only five goals through those four games.

Only Liverpool seized the chance to make a move up the table, as James Milner‘s penalty conversion moved the Reds closer to the Top Four, while Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal all settled for draws.

[ SUNDAY RUMORS: Vardy, Neymar, Stones all in the headlines ]

And Arsenal is facing a worsening injury crisis

Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Chelsea — RECAP

The most notable storyline heading into this match was Diego Costa‘s reported feud with Jose Mourinho, and the Chelsea boss opted to use Pedro up top instead of his best center forward. The play was even, and Chelsea probably looked the better for a goal, and Costa remained unused before tossing his bib toward Mourinho. Surely more to come. From the Spurs’ angle, the North London side missed a chance to assert itself as a title contestant. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side remains four points back of first place.

Liverpool 1-0 Swansea CityRECAP

Not much to like here, and Liverpool could’ve scored several times before Swans’ Neil Taylor gave up a penalty by keeping his arms out as he turned away from Jordon Ibe’s cross. James Milner converted, sending Jurgen Klopp‘s side closer to the Top Four (four points back of No. 4 Arsenal).

Norwich City 1-1 Arsenal — RECAP

Speaking of the Gunners, they scored a goal off a John Ruddy gaffe, but lost Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez to injury, also sacrificing an equalizer when Robbie Brady and Lewis Grabban teamed up to get the better of Gabriel Paulista and Petr Cech. Heady times for title hopes at the Emirates, but Sunderland and Aston Villa are next.

West Ham United 1-1 West Bromwich Albion — RECAP

A simply-gorgeous free kick goal from Mauro Zarate was on of several good bits of work by the home side, but Winston Reid picked up an own goal on his 150th West Ham appearance to leave this one a draw.

Liverpool 1-0 Swansea City: Milner’s PK the difference for Reds

James Milner, Liverpool FC
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Jurgen Klopp‘s resurgent Liverpool is within four points of the Top Four after a second-half penalty helped the Reds to a 1-0 win over Swansea City at Anfield on Sunday.

James Milner converted a Jordon Ibe-won PK to boost Liverpool to 23 points, good for sixth place.

Swansea is in 15th place with just 14 points, having cooled off considerably.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool nearly opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Adam Lallana slipped Jordon Ibe in on goal, but Kyle Bartley slid to tackle the ball off the goal post.

The opening 20 minutes belonged to the Reds, with timely tackles and deflections saving Swansea on several occasions.

Nothing got through.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score ]  

Liverpool went ahead on a PK. converted the chance after Ibe’s cross was handled by Neil Taylor.

Swansea looked better from the goal onward, but couldn’t find an equalizer.