Player ratings: USMNT 1, Czech Republic 0. Which youngsters shone?

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A young United States team survived a bevy of substitutions and a big character test from the Czech Republic in a 1-0 road win on Wednesday on NBCSN.

The States played very well in the first half, but needed to adapt to an inspired Czech squad despite making several subs in the second half.

[ VIDEO: Watch full replay of the game ]

How did they play? Let us tell you our thoughts on a scale of 1-10, as we once again embark on the seemingly-arbitrary task of assigning value to 17 men, some of whom played less than a half-hour.

[ GAME STORY: US holds on to win in Czech Republic ]

Starting XI

Brad Guzan (8) – Didn’t have much to do at all, and kept the sheet clean. Made himself available to his defenders and cleared some trouble well. Didn’t hurt himself at all in the competition to be No. 1. He kept a clean sheet, so how do we not give him a 10? I don’t know.

Fabian Johnson (7) – It’s clear the young unit was instructed to find Johnson on the right flank and get ready for his crosses. While they weren’t always pinpoint, Johnson did well on both sides of the ball. Was part of the unit that closed things down late.

Michael Orozco (7) – Seemed to really understand his chance and embrace it, though perhaps too aggressively. Left some holes, but also played a very physical game.

John Anthony Brooks (6) – Headstrong and adventurous, you can see why he gives Hertha Berlin massive headaches. He’s capable of the sublime — ask Ghana — but also played with the ball inside his own half within the first 10 minutes, successfully fending off a Czech challenge, and lashed an unruly-length shot wide of the goal.

Ale Bedoya (7) – Did a bit of a late-Donovan spin, being in the right place at the right time to neatly tap in a goal. Still an offense-first player.

Joe Corona (6) – Honestly can’t pinpoint too many moments where the youngster really stood out, for better or for worse.

Mix Diskerud (9) – Made the steal that Bedoya banged home. Orchestrated a young attack and looked comfortable taking chances. Asked more questions as to why he didn’t get the chance to reinvigorate the States off the bench at World Cup.

Julian Green (6) – Was active and lively, but struggled with his aim (especially on corner kicks). A young man playing a young game, he’ll have wanted a better

Jozy Altidore (6) – Wearing the captain’s arm band, Altidore was a little clumsy with his touch but was a physical force to be reckoned with.

Joe Gyau (8) – Showed some serious panache with the ball, dribbling out of a double team along the touch line in his own half. Looked comfortable for a man on debut, willing to shoot on net early off an Altidore pass. Made a young mistake that nearly lead to an equalizer in the 69th minute, and seemed to wear down late.

[ VIDEO: Klinsmann says its semis or bust in 2018 World Cup ]

Substitutions

Nick Rimando (10). – Made a strong left-footed save on Krejci, who was sprung 1v1 on goal after a free kick. Also saved the side’s bacon after a Gyau giveaway. Made two incredible saves late, and has forced the question of whether he shouldn’t be No. 1 while Tim Howard is away. He is still 35, though.

Greg Garza (6) – Made a neat save of an electric Czech counter attack in the 76th minute.

Tim Ream (7) – Also had a big clear in the goal mouth after the aforementioned Gyau giveaway.

Alfredo Morales (5) – Not entirely visible until a high, harsh challenge in injury time helped earn him a yellow card.

Brek Shea (5) – Didn’t do much aside from a few fouls that may’ve not been fouls. Still, needed to do something and failed to do much

Emerson Hyndman (5) – Making his debut at 18, he committed a miserable giveaway in the 84th minute before racing back to win the ball on a clean tackle.

US lineup

United States: Guzan (Rimando, 46′), F. Johnson, Orozco (Ream, 46′), Brooks, Chandler (Garza, 63′); Bedoya, Corona (Shea, 63′), Diskerud (Morales, 63′); Green, Altidore, Gyau

Goals: Bedoya (39)

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”

Boa Esporte goalkeeper back to prison as murder appeal denied

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The risk clearly wasn’t worth it for Boa Esporte.

The Brazilian club signed Bruno Fernandes de Souza in March, not long after the convicted murderer and goalkeeper was released from prison on appeal.

Fernandes, 32, had been jailed for ordering the murder of a lover, who was fed to dogs by the killer. Boa Esporte lost several big sponsors for signing him, but vocally defended the move.

The owner, Rone Moraes da Costa, said he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to revive his career. Fernandes admitted his mistakes but said he wasn’t “a bad guy”.

According to the Associated Press:

“Brazil’s Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to deny an appeal to Boa Esporte goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was released in March while appealing a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of Eliza Samudio.”

So it’s back to jail for Fernandes, and we’ll be waiting with baited breath to hear from Boa Esporte’s owner.

Conte: Chelsea “ready to fight to the end”

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Following Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs and Tuesday’s blowout of Southampton — the 4-2 score line didn’t tell the story of the second half — Antonio Conte is fired up for Chelsea to complete its Premier League title run.

The manager admits that his side was under pressure after Spurs narrowed the table gap to four points last week, but the wins have eased the Blues’ burden.

Chelsea had lost two of four PL matches before the weekend.

From Football.London:

“I think we passed a big, big psychological step after the defeat to United. We lost three points and had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham and then another tough game in the league. In that moment we had a really important test and our answer was very good.

“We must think that this race is open, we have reached the final of the FA Cup. The situation in the league is totally open. We are ready to fight to the end. We must be proud for the job we are doing and to fight to the end.”

Spurs can bring the gap back to four with a win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but have a tougher run-in with five matches to play. As long as the gap is within six points, anything is possible, but the Blues have certainly answered the bell over the past four days.

Chelsea: Big win “feels like a massive step” to title

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“It feels like a massive step to be honest,” said game-changing goal scorer Gary Cahill of Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea’s Premier League lead stands at seven points after the win, which saw a dominant second half from the hosts.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Perhaps it was cued up by Cahill’s first half stoppage time header, which boosted the Blues to a 2-1 lead just before the whistle.

Cahill darted in front of Diego Costa‘s scissor kick attempt to power a header past Fraser Forster.

“(Costa) tried to claim it afterward as well,” Cahill said. “When the ball’s just lofted over, it’s dying to be attacked. We went into halftime with our tails up and it was a big boost for us.”

Cesc Fabregas said Southampton surprised the Blues tactically, leading to an entertaining first half that could’ve seen either side ahead before half.

“We needed a little bit of time to adapt to what they did because we prepared for something else,” he said.

Fabregas said the win was big with second-place Spurs watching at home. Tottenham plays at Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

“We needed a good response after the Man United game. We have to keep going with five games to go, to keep it up and make the last push. It would be a big shame if now we relaxed. We just have to push now more than ever,” he said.

“It’s a statement for (Spurs), for us, for everyone, but most of all for us.”
Eden Hazard agreed.
“We scored four beautiful goals,” said the Belgian, who scored the game’s first goal. “It’s good to play before and put pressure on them.”