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The rest of the way: USMNT’s road map to the World Cup

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The United States is 60 percent through the final round of World Cup qualifying, 10 percent further than two-thirds of the field.

All six sides will be on even footing in terms of matches played by the stroke of Midnight on Tuesday.

The magic number for an automatic World Cup spot and the fourth-place spot and an inter-confederation match versus the fifth-best Asian side can be figured out within a reasonable margin.

Since the start of the Hex, the third-place sides have won the following amount of points: 15, 16, 16, 17, 14.

The fourth-place sides have claimed 11, 16, 13, and 14 (The fourth place team in 1998, Costa Rica, won 12 points but that tournament only permitted three CONCACAF teams to advance to France).

Here’s how the Americans finish the Hex (Standings here):

Sept. 1 — HOME vs. Costa Rica (TBA)
Sept. 5 — AWAY to Honduras
Oct. 6 — HOME vs. Panama (Orlando, Fla.)
Oct. 10 — AWAY to Trinidad and Tobago

The story here, as always, is simple but not easy. The Yanks have won their last three home World Cup qualifiers against Panama by scores of 2-0, 2-0, and 6-0. In the same stretch, the Americans are 2W-2D versus Costa Rica at home.

As for trips to Honduras, the U.S. lost its last Hex match there but won the previous two. The Americans are 3W-2D-1L in its last six World Cup qualifiers at Trinidad and Tobago.

Given how the Yanks have traditionally fared at home, it would be stunning if they failed to claim four of six points from the final two matches. And it’s reasonable to expect they beat either Honduras or T&T for another three points.

Overall, another three wins would make it fairly improbable that the Americans would fail to qualify for Russia. Two wins and a draw could also do the trick. Anything less is extremely dicey in the race for third.

U.S. fans should root for Honduras to get a draw out of Panama on Tuesday. It would be terrific for T&T to do the same in Costa Rica, but that would be asking a lot of the Soca Warriors (granted they’ll be desperate).

Adidas reveals away kits for Mexico, Argentina, 7 other World Cup squads

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Fans of El Tri, La Albiceleste, Die Mannschaft and more can now get their hands on another set of 2018 World Cup jerseys.

Adidas unveiled the latest designs for the away kits of nine World Cup squads, including Mexico, Argentina and the defending champions Germany, with some of the team’s star players modeling the kits. Carlos Vela, Lionel Messi and Toni Kroos are all pictured in Adidas’ photo shoots with the new kits, and the uniforms are inspired by the kits worn at previous World Cups.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sweden, Colombia, Japan, Belgium and the host nation Russia are also included.

“For adidas, the World Cup has always been the stage to showcase some of our most iconic products, innovations and designs,” Juergen Rank, Senior Design Director said in a statement. “Many of these classic designs remain hugely popular with fans, and we want to continue to celebrate them while introducing new innovations, combining authenticity with progression.

“The new official World Cup away kits feature both the latest product technologies to ensure peak performance on the pitch and easily identifiable classic looks, making them perfectly suited to both the stadium and the street.”

Check out the latest kit release from Adidas below.

Ronaldo: “I always believe I am the best”

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You’ve got to appreciate the over-sized ego of Cristiano Ronaldo, even if it is deserved.

The 33-year-old Real Madrid striker was bestowed the 2017 Player of the Year award from the Portugal FA, earning 65 percent of the vote. But more than winning yet another trophy to add to his burgeoning case was what he told the media after accepting the award.

“We have to defend what is ours because there is always a Portuguese in the fight (for the top awards),” Ronaldo said, via AS. “I always believe and say that I am the best, whatever they say, and then I show it in the field. We are in the fight year after year.”

Ronaldo did score 42 goals last year for Real Madrid and has scored 18 goals in 2018 alone already for Los Blancos as the club look to go back-to-back-to-back in the UEFA Champions League.

Miazga: “We’re all ready to make an impression” with USMNT

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Last October, for reasons unknown, Matt Miazga didn’t make the U.S. Men’s National Team squad for its final two World Cup qualifiers.

Five months later, he’s risen to the top of the centerback depth chart.

[MORE: Digging into the USMNT roster]

The hulking centerback spoke on Tuesday as the USMNT started off its training camp in Cary, N.C., noting that the youth-laden squad wanted to make an impression to stay in the picture moving forward. With four years until the next World Cup and still more than a year until competitive matches, there is still plenty of shuffling and expanding of the player pool to do before then.

Have a listen to Miazga and enjoy the sights and sounds of the USMNT training camp ahead of its friendly match against Paraguay.


Banker Gaetano Micciche elected Serie A president

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MILAN (AP) Bank boss Gaetano Micciche has been elected president of Serie A.

Micciche, the president of Banca IMI, was chosen unanimously on Monday by the Italian league’s 20 clubs.

He succeeds Maurizio Beretta, who left the position nearly a year ago.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

The league has been under emergency leadership, first by former Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio then by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.

Malago recommended Micciche for the position.

The federation remains under emergency leadership following Tavecchio’s resignation in the wake of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.