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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).

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′