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2017 Gold Cup: Group C preview

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Even without a familiar cast of characters, Mexico remains the favorite to reach the knockout phase in its group.

But, who will join El Tri in the quarterfinals?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2017 Gold Cup coverage ]

Jamaica looks to avenge its finals defeat to El Tri in the 2015 edition of the competition, while El Salvador attempts to defy the odds in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Curacao looks to make some noise in Group C and beyond as the nation plays in the tournament for the first time since 1973.

Here’s a full look at the four teams that will represent Group C at this summer’s Gold Cup.


Group C

Mexico

How it qualified: Automatic qualification as North American nation.

FIFA ranking: 16

One to watch: Erick “Cubo” Torres — The Houston Dynamo goalscorer is red-hot in 2017, so this may be Torres’ best chance to make an impression on the international scene for his native country.

Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio — The former MLS manager has opted for a younger, less experienced squad following El Tri’s run at the FIFA Confederations Cup. Even with drastic changes in the roster, Mexico is still considered one of the tournament favorites.

Chance of winning group: 70% — This Mexico side should still be far superior to its Group C competition despite not boasting a star-studded lineup.

El Salvador

How it qualified: Third place at 2017 Copa Centroamericana.

FIFA ranking: 103

One to watch: Rodolfo Zelaya — Zelaya will be the one for opposing backlines to watch this month, and he’s got 20 goals to prove just how dangerous he can be up top.

Manager: Eduardo Lara – El Salvador has never finished better than second at Gold Cup, and with the group its facing it’s difficult to figure out a scenario where Los Cuscatlecos make a run.

Chance of winning group: 0.5% — While it may not be out of the realm of possibilities for El Salvador to reach the knockout phase, it’s very hard to imagine them topping Mexico and one of the Caribbean sides.

Curacao

How it qualified: Winners at the 2017 Caribbean Cup.

FIFA ranking: 68

One to watch: Gino van Kessel — The Slavia Praha striker is second on Curacao in international goals (7), and Van Kessel will be the one to pace this team if they are to make a run in the competition.

Manager: Remko Bicentini — By no means is Curacao a power within CONCACAF, but the island nation is still riding its wave after defeating Jamaica to win the Caribbean Cup.

Chance of winning group: 14.5% — This team did manage to top Jamaica in the Caribbean Cup, so it’s not completely impossible that they could rack up a few wins in group play. They’d still have to get past Mexico, though.

Jamaica

How it qualified: Runners’ up at 2017 Caribbean Cup.

FIFA ranking: 76

One to watch: Kemar Lawrence — The New York Red Bulls left back has been one of the top outside defenders in MLS when healthy, and his ability to deliver dangerous crosses could pose a massive threat to opposing backlines at Gold Cup.

Manager: Theodore Whitmore — The good news for Whitmore is that with a predominantly MLS-driven roster there is a lot of familiarity with other nations in the competition.

Chances of winning group: 15% — The Reggae Boyz met Mexico in the last Gold Cup final, and with many of the same faces in this squad there’s a strong shot at revenge in Group C.

Julie Ertz scores in USWNT win, discovers good Eagles news after

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Whoever scheduled the U.S. Women’s National Team’s friendly against Denmark at the same time as the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night should really consider the Ertz family in the future.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup — Auba to Arsenal, Man City tracking Evans, Fred ]

While noted USWNT defender Julie Ertz and her team cruised past the Danes in a 5-1 victory, her husband, Zach, was playing a hand in the Philadelphia Eagles’ progression to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

With Julie not knowing what to expect following her team’s match, find out how she took the news of her husband’s triumph in the video below.

While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.

The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.

For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.

Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.

Report: LA FC near deal for Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez

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As this year’s MLS newcomers aim to fill out the rest of their roster, Los Angeles FC appears close to adding a goalkeeper.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to sign for Stoke this winter ]

Reports out of Honduras have stated that Luis Lopez is close to signing with the expansion side, which will suit up for manager Bob Bradley starting in March.

The 24-year-old Lopez most recently played for Real Espana in Honduras’ top flight, who won the league’s Aperatura season. Real currently sits third through one match to start the Clausura season.

At the moment, LA FC has just one other goalkeeper on its roster, former Seattle Sounders keeper Tyler Miller.

Additionally, the Real Espana goalkeeper has made 12 appearances for the Honduras national team.

Bayern beats Bremen 4-2 to go 16 points clear in Bundesliga

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BERLIN (AP) Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern Munich stretched its considerable Bundesliga lead even further Sunday with a 4-2 win over visiting Werder Bremen.

It’s the sixth consecutive round in which Bayern has extended its lead since a defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the 13th round – Jupp Heynckes’ only blot in 17 games across all competitions since he returned as coach.

[ MORE: Javi Gracia named new Watford manager ]

Bayern moved 16 points clear after 19 games.

Despite facing a relegation fight and aware of the side’s terrible record in Munich – Bayern scored at least five goals in each of Bremen’s last five visits – the visiting players showed they weren’t overawed and started brightly.

Max Kruse struck the post early on, and the visitors duly went ahead in the 25th minute when Kruse timed his pass perfectly for Jerome Gondorf to squeeze the ball past Sven Ulreich, through the goalkeeper’s legs.

But Bayern struck back with its first real chance minutes before the break. Thomas Mueller controlled Jerome Boateng’s cross on his chest with his first touch and profited from defender Milos Veljkovic‘s loss of balance as he scored with his next.

Lewandowski, who skipped Bayern’s previous game with a knee problem, put the home side in front with a powerful header from James Rodriguez’ corner with a half-hour remaining.

An own-goal from Niklas Suele gave Bremen renewed hope, but Lewandowski grabbed his league-leading 17th goal of the season minutes later with another header, this time Mueller providing the cross.

Mueller then sealed it late with his second of the game off a ball over the top from James. It was the 28-year-old’s 100th Bundesliga goal.

Mueller suggested Bayern’s nine-day break between games had a negative impact as the team had an even tougher week than usual in training.

“Perhaps that’s a small reason (for Bayern’s lackluster start),” Mueller said. “We certainly have to work on a few things, like we do after every game. We’re not yet where we want to be. But the team’s attitude and condition are excellent.”

SCHALKE DISAPPOINTS

Niclas Fuellkrug scored late for Hannover to grab a 1-1 draw at Schalke, denying the home side the opportunity to go second.

Much of the Schalke supporters’ attention was focused on Leon Goretzka, the Germany midfielder who agreed to join Bayern on a free transfer at the end of the season.

There were whistles for Goretzka as his name was called out before kickoff, and there were more any time he touched the ball before he was eventually taken off for Weston McKennie.

Some fans held a large banner declaring: “Neither money nor titles are worth more than our club.”

Marko Pjaca scored early on his first Bundesliga start after joining Schalke from Juventus, but the home side did not press its advantage and Fuellkrug earned the visitors a deserved share of the points. Hannover’s Felix Klaus hit the post in the first half.

Transfer rumor roundup: Auba to Arsenal, Man City target Evans, Fred

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With less than 10 days remaining in the winter transfer window in England, and other leagues not too far behind, teams are looking to bolster their rosters in an attempt to make title pushes come May.

[ MORE: Spurs, Saints play to 1-1 stalemate at St. Mary’s ]

Pro Soccer Talk takes a glance at some of Sunday’s biggest transfer stories and rumors, with an emphasis on those pertaining to the Premier League.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks to be on his way to the Emirates Stadium this month, as Arsenal aims to revamp its attack in the wake of Alexis Sanchez’s departure.

Goal is reporting that Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis is in Germany to help close the deal for the Gunners, who are also nearing a move for Manchester United attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan have a history together, having featured together in the Borussia Dortmund lineup.

Various reports still state that Dortmund is holding out for nearly $73 million in order for the Gunners to obtain Aubameyang’s services this window.


For awhile it seemed like Manchester City were the favorites to acquire Sanchez, but now the club has turned its attention elsewhere.

Goal is reporting that the Cityzens will instead go after West Bromwich Albion defender Jonny Evans and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.

Pep Guardiola‘s side is reportedly seeking a deeper bench heading into next month when the UEFA Champions League picks back up.

Man City currently holds a 12-point lead at the top of the PL table.


Chelsea has had some interest recently in some… interesting…. PL strikers, and now the Blues have apparently turned their attention to another lesser-known commodity.

It seems that the Blues have turned their attention to Burnley forward Ashley Barnes to serve as a secondary option in Antonio Conte‘s lineup.

Alvaro Morata remains the club’s go-to option up front, along with attackers Eden Hazard and Willian, but Chelsea has been seeking another forward to compliment the Spaniard for some time.

Additionally, Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi is in the mix as well for the Blues, despite only having scored two PL goals this season (eight in all comps).