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USMNT 2-0 T&T: Pulisic on parade

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  • Yanks move into Top 3 slot
  • Pulisic scores two (video)
  • Altidore, Yedlin assist

Christian Pulisic scored his sixth and seventh international goals to give the USMNT’s World Cup hopes a major boost following a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Commerce City, Colorado, on Thursday.

The U.S. now heads to Mexico for Sunday’s qualifier at Azteca, and stands a good chance of finishing this international break in an automatic World Cup qualifying slot.

Trinidad and Tobago stays dead last in the Hex table, with three points. Costa Rica hosts Panama, and Honduras visits Mexico later Thursday.

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The touches weren’t there to start, even if the ideas were going forward. Clint Dempsey plugged consecutive through balls into Trinidad legs, and Jorge Villafana’s chest level cross sailed through the box.

Through 10 minutes, it was scoreless and T&T would have to be happy with its play.

Dempsey had a shot from 19 yards after Bradley sprayed a diagonal ball to Villafana, who moved it to Johnson and onto the former Fulham man. Moments later, Yedlin cued up Altidore from the right side, but the Toronto FC striker went for a fancy back leg finish and whiffed on his shot.

Yedlin was on the end of a terrific ball to the end line, but Altidore got a late start on reaching a cut back. Then Brooks lashed a shot that was parried from trouble by Jan-Michael Williams, who then stopped a strong offering from Altidore. It was coming.

[ MORE: Pulisic projects win in Mexico ]

A relentless run from Pulisic morphed into a gilt-edge chance, and the Borussia Dortmund teenage claimed a deflection when his left-footed lash went over the bar.

Trinidad’s first real chance came when Khaleem Hyland was gifted an acre of space and his long rip flew wide of goal.

Yet it was still 0-0 after the half hour mark, and the Yanks nearly threw it away when Kenwyne Jones beat Brooks to a cross and headed the ball off the bar.

Villafana then tested Williams, and Dempsey chased down the rebound to feed Altidore. The big man’s header was popped over the bar by Williams for a corner.

Now the 37th minute, Nagbe chipped a pass to Altidore that wound up headed over the bar.

[ MORE: USWNT tops Sweden ]

Howard needed to make another stop on a shot through traffic in the 42nd minute, but the U.S. was superior over 45 minutes despite the 0-0 score line.

A Molino cross just missed Nathan Lewis in the 51st minute, and despite its dominance the U.S. was lucky to not trail (again).

The Americans finally scored thanks to Nagbe, who had struggled with his touch but produced a wonderful goal by dribbling into a 1-2 with Dempsey before Yedlin sent a ball into the goal mouth for Pulisic’s sliding finish.

Lewis had a goal called back for offside off the ensuing kickoff.

Williams was injured in the 56th minute, the no-doubt Man of the Match at that point needing a break after scrambling to stop Pulisic and Altidore.

Pulisic nabbed his second when Yedlin played square to Altidore, who snapped a ball beyond the defense for the youngster to bend near post.

Substitutes Kellyn Acosta and Bobby Wood teamed up for a late chance that the latter snapped off the post from 16 yards.

VIDEO: Thirsty goalkeeper concedes bizarre goal

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Rule number one for a goalkeeper: always pay attention to the action if you’re going to take a swig from your water bottle in the net.

Duisburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken didn’t pay attention and he will see this clip played over and over again as he conceded a bizarre goal in the German second tier against Ingolstadt.

Take a look at the video below to see the unbelievable scenes as the commentary team sum it up best with  their stunned reaction.


Mourinho on Conte feud, facing Chelsea again

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Jose Mourinho will meet Chelsea once again on Sunday as the Manchester United manager welcomes his former club to Old Trafford (Watch live, 9:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Mourinho, 55, has been involved in a public spat with Antonio Conte in recent months but the Portuguese refused to dredge up any more abuse for the current Chelsea manager ahead of this crucial top four clash.

The duo traded insults earlier this year as Mourinho suggested Conte and other managerial rivals “acted like clowns” on the sidelines, while Conte said Mourinho perhaps had “demenza senile” and Mourinho hit back with a quip about Conte’s four-month ban for not reporting alleged match-fixing in Italy. The spat ended when Conte said Mourinho was a “little man” and “fake” and said he would not forget the comments.

“The real meaning [of this game] is two of the best teams in England, two of the biggest clubs, are playing a match,” Mourinho said when asked about Conte.

Mourinho has lost three of the four games he’s played against Chelsea since he became United’s manager and in the first defeat, a 4-0 hammering in the league in October 2016, he reacted angrily to overzealous celebrations from Conte on the sidelines.

Speaking to the media about Chelsea, Mourinho played down any sentimental feelings he has for the club he led to three Premier League titles over two spells in charge.

“To play against Chelsea will mean less and less and less with the years,” Mourinho said. “So of course I left already a couple of years ago, and next season [it will be] three years ago, so step by step that feeling of: ‘I was the Chelsea manager’ or ‘I was their manager’ for them I think disappears. I have a good relation with the [Chelsea] board.

“I don’t forget how nice they were to me in a difficult period with the departure of my father. They show me in that moment they feel me as a friend that did his best for the club and always respects the club. So the board know the relation with me is always good. With the players, I don’t have any problem, any regret, any stone on my shoes, no problem at all. And the fans are fans. With many of them in the street I feel that empathy and that relation that normally should be a connection and feeling forever. When I play at Stamford Bridge some reactions from the fans are just reactions.”

Mourinho is still admired and thanked by the vast majority of Chelsea’s fanbase but there is always going to be a small contingent who hurl abuse at Mourinho simply because he isn’t their manager anymore.

Since he was fired as their boss in December 2015, the “Special One” has been complimentary of his time at Chelsea but when he managed United in 2016 at Stamford Bridge, he wasn’t subjected to chants of “you’re not special anymore!” from the home fans, to which he held up three fingers to signify how many league titles he delivered.

Mourinho isn’t talking about his spat with Conte ahead of this game, but let’s see how things play out on Sunday. If Chelsea stroll into Old Trafford and win to throw United’s top four hopes into doubt, Mourinho will likely come out swinging.

Watch Live: Leicester City v. Stoke City

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Leicester City host Stoke City on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com) at the King Power Stadium.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Leicester currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League table and have one eye on finishing in the top six, while Stoke are second from bottom in the table but are just six points from the top 10.

In team news Leicester start Riyad Mahrez with Demarai Gray and Marc Albrighton in an attacking lineup, while Stoke bring in USMNT man Geoff Cameron in midfield with Stafyldis and Martins Indi coming into defense.

LINEUPS

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Maguire, Morgan, Chilwell, Ndidi, James, Mahrez, Albrighton, Gray, Vardy. Subs: Jakupovic, Dragovic, Fuchs, Iborra, Silva, Diabate, Iheanacho.

Stoke City: Butland; Bauer, Martins Indi, Zouma, Stafyldis; Cameron, Badou, Allen; Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting; Diouf. Subs: Grant, Pieters, Jese, Johnson, Adam, Ramadan, Campbell

“This game belongs to the players” Wenger downplays Guardiola success

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Arsene Wenger has stressed that Pep Guardiola has not changed the game of soccer over the last decade or so, maintaining that the players are the ones who make a team truly great.

Asked if Guardiola has “raised the bar” of managing in his time at the top, Wenger said, “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe. You have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a short number of clubs.”

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“We, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy but this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.”

In fact, Wenger showed a twinge of jealousy at all the attention Guardiola is getting with the team blowing out the rest of the Premier League this season, referencing trophies in the recent past Arsenal has hoisted. “We are maybe underdogs but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again?”

“At the end of the day, you have to be cool,” Wenger said, “because Manchester City is dominating the league in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final [last season when Arsenal beat Man City].”