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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.

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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

Facebook, Amazon Prime could bid for Premier League streaming rights

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One day in the not-too-distant future, we could be watching Premier League games on Facebook or Amazon’s streaming services.

That’s according to Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who confirmed that both Facebook and Amazon are expected to to bid for the Premier League’s broadcast rights when they open again in 2022.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

“Absolutely I think they’ll enter the mix,” Woodward said. “Anecdotally there was strong interest in the last cycle, and we’re hearing that around the Premier League table, but we’re also hearing that from a European perspective as well in terms of interest in the Champions League and Europa League rights.

“In the wider picture you have to look at what’s happening elsewhere at the moment.There isn’t any clear European sale to these kind of partners at the moment. But looking at the interest Facebook and Amazon had in the Indian Premier League rights, anecdotally it sounded like very big numbers.

“So I do think we are going to see an increase in engagement from these and we would welcome the interest. I think it’s going to be increasingly important to digitally engage with fans, and we think we can be complementary to partners like this coming in.”

According to reports, Facebook bid $600 million to stream India’s cricket league aptly named the Indian Premier League but lost out to 21st Century Fox’s Star India, which bid for the television and streaming rights together.

Currently, NBC owns the Premier League rights in the U.S., including streaming rights, but perhaps in the future we could see separate deals for television and streaming sites.

However, more than likely, pressure from Facebook and Amazon Prime could drive the cost of the rights up, ensuring an even bigger payout for all 20 Premier League clubs.

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

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Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.