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USMNT-Mexico preview: Long odds at Azteca

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The Mexican national team presents a massive challenge to the United States, especially at Azteca, but the Yanks have some unusual advantages ahead of Sunday’s contest.

For one thing, El Tri has to prepare for next week’s Confederations Cup and joins the USMNT as teams playing on only three days rest.

But Mexico is also limited by a quartet of injuries, including impactful players Andres Guardado, Miguel Layun, and old American nemesis Rafa Marquez.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up versus Mexico? ]

That’s not enough to level the playing field, even in the thin air of Azteca, but it’s a start for an American side known if anything for its relentless work rate and endurance.

The rivalry remains lopsided — Mexico has 38 wins and 14 draws in 66 matches — and El Tri has consecutive wins in big matches since ending its six-match winless run against the U.S.

The 2015 CONCACAF Cup was far worse than the 3-2 score line indicates, and Marquez’s late winner in November’s World Cup qualifier in Columbus was a fair winner as Mexico ended the Yanks’ Dos a Cero hex in the Hex.

Forget the rivalry for a second, one which stretches across years, and focus on form. Mexico is doing quite well since its disappointing Copa America Centenario ended with a loss to Ecuador.

While the ensuing Gold Cup win was more referee-aided than dominant, it kicked off an incredible run that boasts a record of 23W-9D-2L.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

All-time leading goal scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is obviously a major threat, but just been a part of what’s been working for Mexico. El Tri has 11 goals in 2017, and nine different players have hit the score sheet.

It was a 3-5-2 in Thursday’s 3-0 win over Honduras, and Mexican center back Oswaldo Alanis was a menace. The 28-year-old Guadalajara man was credited with six takeaways, scored a goal, and missed on only two of 45 passes.

Will Bruce Arena consider a matching three-back outfit? It would be experimentation of the highest order, but also coming in a match in which few expect three points. More likely, does the U.S. boast the incisive passing help break down that five-man midfield?

With a long trip to Russia and a place in the World Cup almost secure — Mexico has a seven-point lead on fourth place Panama — there’s a very slight possibility the Yanks can catch Mexico looking ahead to Portugal, New Zealand, and hosts Russia in the Confederations Cup. It’s just one of many things the Americans need to succeed in Sunday’s brutal test.

VIDEO: A sneak peek of Everton’s Europa League journey – Part 2

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In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.

Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.

[ MORE: Live Europa League scores

[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ] 

http://www.nbcsports.com/video/everton-unseen-part-2-everton-host-mfk-ruzomberok-europa-league

FIFA to send in emergency team to run Cameroon football

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.

The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.

FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.

CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.

FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”

Transfer Roundup: Tottenham complete signing of Sanchez, Clucas joins Swansea

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Tottenham reportedly broke the bank for its first transfer of the summer.

The North London club confirmed that it had completed a transfer with Ajax for defender Davinson Sanchez after the Colombian international passed a medical. According to The Telegraph, the deal is worth around $54 million, a club record. The deal is subject to acquisition of Sanchez’s work permit but given the transfer fee and him being in Colombia’s squad, it’s likely a mere formality at this point.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The 21-year-old defender brings speed and strength to Tottenham’s backline as well as a year of seasoning in the Eredivisie, which features plenty of attacking talent. Sanchez will battle with Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen for a place in Spurs’ three-man backline.

It’s a risk moving to a new club a year ahead of the World Cup, but Sanchez is hoping that with appearances in the UEFA Champions League and Premier League up for grabs, he can do well enough to keep his place in the Colombia National Team squad.

Here’s some more transfer news from across England:

(more…)

Liverpool bombard Hoffenheim with three-goal first half

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Liverpool got off to a flying start in the second leg of its UEFA Champions League tie with Hoffenheim.

With the loyal Anfield crowd behind the team, the Reds scored three goals in the first 21 minutes, two of them from Emre Can to put Liverpool well in control of the tie.

Can’s opener was followed by a goal from Mo Salah before the German international scored a wide-open goal at the back post to make it 3-0 and 5-1 on aggregate. Sadio Mane played a big role in both of Can’s goals.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann went to the bench right after the third goal and brought on Mark Uth, who promptly scored to bright a little hope back to the German club.

Here’s a look at the flying first half of goals for Liverpool.

Emre Can 10′

Mohamed Salah 18′

Emre Can 21′

Mark Uth 28′