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USA 2-1 Ghana: Dwyer, Acosta power USMNT in Gold Cup tune-up

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The U.S. national team’s future is looking quite alright after all, if Saturday’s 2-1 victory, over Ghana, by Bruce Arena’s “B-team” Gold Cup squad is any indication.

Dom Dwyer and Kellyn Acosta got the goals for an experimental side which should see plenty of minutes starting next Saturday when the 2017 CONCACAF tournament kicks off.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The story of the first half was Dwyer. The 26-year-old English-born striker became an American citizen in March and made his USMNT debut on Saturday. After missing a pair of chances inside his first 15 minutes in the Red, White and Blue, Sporting Kansas City’s star striker hit pay dirt in the 19th minute (WATCH HERE).

Joe Corona fired from well outside the penalty area, his shot blocked and sent high into the air by a Ghanaian defender. Dwyer, who was only held onside by a late-arriving defender, lashed at the waist-high ball with his left foot, smashing it past Richard Ofori Antwi for a debut goal.

[ MORE: Saturday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Ghana’s way back into the game came and went in first-half stoppage time, as Jorge Villafaña got wrong side of his man and tugged at his jersey, gifting the Black Stars a penalty in the process. Brad Guzan bailed out the Santos Laguna left back with a save at his left-hand post to deny Asamoah Gyan with the final kick of the opening 45 minutes.

The story of the second half way the continued emergence of Acosta as arguably the USMNT’s best central midfielder, at the age of 21. Partnering Dax McCarty in the middle of the park, Acosta showed complete control of the game’s tempo and got himself on the scoresheet with a stunning free kick in the 52nd minute.

[ MORE: Germany, Chile set for Confed Cup final on Sunday ]

Ghana pulled a goal back right on the hour mark, as Gyan’s free kick upstaged that of Acosta. Perfectly placed and hit with power, Guzan was never getting to the upper-90 to deny Ghana’s all-time record goalscorer.

The Yanks kick off their Gold Cup campaign next Saturday, in Nashville, against Panama.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.