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How will the USMNT lineup versus Mexico?

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Bruce Arena has some unique challenges in planning for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Mexico at Azteca.

For one thing, Mexico’s really good. Beyond that, Arena has to marshall his men into battle just three days after its last match day (as does El Tri boss Juan Carlos Ozorio).

That lack of rest, coupled with the thin air of Mexico City and Mexico’s electric attack, make getting a point a tall task.

[ MORE: Saturday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Let’s begin with any prospective iron men. Osorio is into heavy squad rotation, which doubles Arena’s need for fresh legs. Who could defy a lineup change?

Christian Pulisic — Your best player plays, especially when he’s got the legs of an 18-year-old (because he is an 18-year-old).

Geoff Cameron — The odds say that John Brooks will come out of the lineup having played a bunch despite his tweak against Venezuela, and Arena will want some semblance of consistency in front of Tim Howard

Howard — He’s their best goalkeeper and has Azteca experience.

Michael Bradley — While he didn’t shine against T&T, he connected on 41 of 44 passes and his experience matters especially with Clint Dempsey expected to start on the bench.

Jozy Altidore — The big striker missed the friendly against Venezuela for a family wedding, and may have enough in the tank to start alone or with Bobby Wood.

DeAndre Yedlin — Stellar against T&T, and his two-way play could be a major asset south of the border.

Our guess is that all six of those players start, with two of Altidore, Pulisic, and Yedlin subbed out depending on the scoreline after an hour.

Arena is going to turn to longtime LA Galaxy charge Omar Gonzalez in place of Brooks, and will slot DaMarcus Beasley in place of Jorge Villafana. The latter was terrific against T&T, but Arena will want something more steady defensively guarding Mexico’s right side.

This is a major spot to hand Kellyn Acosta a big start at an important position, but Arena may want to use another midfielder alongside Bradley to clog up the middle of the park. Dax McCarty could also feature here.

Assuming Altidore and Bobby Wood up top, here’s what it could look like:

Howard

Yedlin — Cameron — Gonzalez — Beasley

Bradley — Acosta

Pulisic ————— Bedoya

Wood — Altidore

If Arena goes defense with just one striker, that’ll be Wood to start and opens up a place for Paul Arriola, Johnson, or even Nagbe. The Timbers playmaker has a knack for something special on offense, and going with one striker would allow Arena some leeway with Nagbe’s occasional defensive shortcoming and propensity for turning the ball over. To be clear, this is also a concern with Pulisic but there’s a gap in class there.

Howard

Yedlin — Cameron — Gonzalez — Beasley

Bradley — McCarty

Arriola — Pulisic — Nagbe

Wood

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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More midweek action is coming up in the Premier League. Let the festive fun continue.

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The full TV schedule for this weekend is below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Tuesday
2:45 p.m. ET: Burnley vs. Stoke City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM

Wednesday
2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Brom – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.

(more…)

Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out: