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USMNT-Panama preview: Gold Cup effort begins

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The host United States men’s national team is not the favorite to win this summer’s Gold Cup, with recent results combining with a B-team to put Bruce Arena’s squad in the mix to claim a title but far from likely.

The Americans’ toughest test of a straight-forward group is Saturday’s opener in Nashville, when the Yanks meet up with fellow Hex side Panama for a 4:30 p.m. ET battle.

The U.S. is 6W-2D-1L in nine Gold Cup matches versus Panama, with one of those wins coming in penalty kicks following the 2005 final.

Panama has drawn three-straight World Cup qualifiers since a loss at Trinidad and Tobago, one of those stalemates being the point it snared from a home match against the United States in March.

[ MORE: Gold Cup predictions | 3 USMNT keys ]

Los Canaleros will look plenty different from that crew, at least at the back. Jaime Penedo, Roman Torres, Felipe Baloy, and Adolfo Machado all started versus the Yanks but aren’t on the Gold Cup roster.

Fortunately for Panama, there are loads of questions for the Yanks forwards to answer. Dom Dwyer has exactly one cap, though he scored in that match (Saturday’s win over Ghana). Juan Agudelo has three caps in the year and a half, and Jordan Morris has two international goals in 16 caps and hasn’t scored since April in goal-happy MLS.

There are so many players staring at significant chances to become a part of the mix for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, assuming the U.S. completes its qualifying turnaround. Gyasi Zardes has fallen off the map after looking set to become an American mainstay, while Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe, Justin Morrow, and Eric Lichaj all represent veteran options at positions of depth need for the Yanks.

All five of those names could be in their best window to make a World Cup roster considering what’s coming up in the pipeline. Yes, all sorts of prospects peter out, but look no further than Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan to see the size of the challenge that awaits players in their late twenties and early thirties who sit outside the roster.

Montreal fires Biello after Impact loses nine of last 10

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Mauro Biello is out.

The Montreal Impact have parted ways with its entire coaching staff following a terrible end to a disappointing 2017 season which failed to see them build on an Eastern Conference Finals run.

[ MORE: Yaya Toure to NYCFC? ]

Montreal lost nine of its last 10 despite beating Toronto FC in Toronto, finishing with 39 points. That’s 11 points out of a playoff spot, which looked all but certain before their miserable finish to the campaign.

This despite an MVP caliber season from recently-extended Ignacio Piatti, who scored 17 goals with five assists. That the Impact failed was a bit baffling, especially following the midseason addition of Blerim Dzemaili, who chipped in seven goals and 10 assists in 22 matches.

There are some interesting pieces for the next boss, should 24-year-old Anthony Jackson-Hamel and 18-year-old Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla stick around.

The 45-year-old Biello finishes his first managerial gig following a playing career with the Impact (pre-MLS), Rochester Rhinos, and several indoor sides including the Impact, Toronto Thunderhawks, and Buffalo Blizzard.

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Notable stats from the Premier League weekend — Week 9

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What numbers jump out following another entertaining three days in the Premier League? We culled the web, with help from Opta, to find out.

[ MORE: Yaya Toure to NYCFC? ]


— 80,827 — The amount of fans at Wembley Stadium for Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-1 demolition of Liverpool, a new Premier League record.

— 6 — Spurs’ three-goal loss dropped Liverpool to a minus-2 goal differential, leaving just six Premier League sides with a positive goal differential: Man City (28), Man Utd (18), Spurs (13), Chelsea (7), Arsenal (5), Newcastle United (2).

4 — Number of teams that would have a positive goal differential had they not played City this season (Liverpool, Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley).

— 65.5 — Percent possession for Manchester City this season, the top number in the league. Some more City superlatives:

  • 62.7 percent aerial duels won, tops in the league.
  • 18.9 shots per game, tops in the league.
  • 82.9 percent pass accuracy — say it with us — tops in the league.

— $190,000,000 — Money spent by Everton this summer, which fired Koeman on Monday following a 5-2 home loss to Arsenal.

— 0 — Shots on target by Crystal Palace in a 1-0 loss at Newcastle, one week after beating Chelsea at Selhurst Park.

— 7 — After beating Burnley and Bournemouth to start the season, West Brom has not won in seven PL contests.

— 19 — Goals allowed by Stoke City since its only clean sheet of the season, a 1-0 win over Arsenal.

— 23 — Sofiane Boufal’s magnificent match-winning goal against West Brom was his first Premier League marker in 23 outings.

— 37 — The percent possession for West Brom in Premier League matches this season, the worst mark in the league.

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Report: Mourinho to get bumper $89 million extension at Man Utd

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Jose Mourinho is in the third month of his second season in charge of Manchester United, and may join Antonio Conte as men to get a second contract early in his term.

Goal.com says Paris Saint-Germain’s interest in Mourinho will spur United chairman Ed Woodward into action.

Unlike Conte, who received improved terms and the same length at Chelsea, the report says Mourinho will get a new five-year deal.

[ MORE: Yaya Toure to NYCFC? ]

The report says Mourinho’s terms would be worth almost $89 million over the length of the deal, close to $18 million per season.

The 54-year-old has never spent more than four years at a club, his longest stay as an assistant as Barcelona. Last season, he won the Europa League and League Cup for United while finishing sixth in the Premier League.

This season, United is off to a second-place start, leading Spurs on goal differential following a first loss of the season Saturday at Huddersfield Town.

This is about money and security for Mourinho who, let’s face it, probably won’t stay at United for five seasons. It would go against his record, and it’s difficult to imagine he’ll buck his career trend and make it five years. The new deal would be a raise, keep him from PSG for now, and probably will do the trick.

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Report: Yaya Toure lined up by New York City FC

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There are few details, but a report tabbed as exclusive by The Manchester Evening News says a new midfield force could be headed to Major League Soccer.

Yaya Toure’s resurgent 2016-17 has not been followed by a busy 2017-18, at least not yet, as the report says Yaya is set to head to New York City FC following the departure of Andrea Pirlo.

[ MORE: Koeman fired | Who’s in line? ]

Toure, who turns 35 in May, has regularly been on the subs bench for Pep Guardiola this season after signing a one-year contract. He’s played 29 minutes as a sub over the last two Premier League matches, and his lone start came in a League Cup win over West Brom, where he captained City.

Toure has 59 goals and 33 assists in 222 Premier League matches.

The Ivorian is not a pace monger, but neither were Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard and both were effective when healthy in MLS. Toure’s powerful presence in the midfield could be worth the wage packet and headache, but we’d pay a penny for Patrick Vieira’s thoughts.

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