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Bruce Arena on USMNT: “We’re far from being in Russia”

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Bruce Arena has issued a warning to his 26-man U.S. national team squad ahead of their crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF region over the next week.

[ MORE: Arena names roster for WCQ’s

The U.S. host Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena this Friday, Sept. 1, and then travel to Honduras on Sept. 5 as two wins from those games could see them qualify for the World Cup in Russia next summer.

Given the fact Arena led the U.S. to Gold Cup success this summer, plus is currently on a 14-game unbeaten run since he took charge last November, life has been good for the USMNT in 2017. That doesn’t mean anything heading into this week.

Arena is not a man who beats about the bush and he is certainly not getting overconfident despite an impressive unbeaten run to begin his second-stint in charge of the USMNT.

“We’re far from being in Russia,” Arena told USSoccer.com. “I think one country is a little bit comfortable in this competition right now, which is Mexico with 14 points. Costa Rica is in pretty good shape with 11 points, then you have the U.S. with eight, Panama with seven, Honduras with five and Trinidad with three, so things can change real quickly over these next two games. We have to make sure we’re the team that secures points at home and hopefully get some points on the road. If we do that, we’re getting a lot closer to Russia. No one is safe, at this point and a lot of things are going to happen over this next weekend.”

Arena is right to be cautious.

The U.S. has a few issues to sort out defensively with both DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks out injured as Eric Lihaj and either Tim Ream or Matt Besler are expected to come into the back line.

It is true that Arena has worked wonders since taking charge from Jurgen Klinsmann back in November. He’s galvanized the squad and brought back a clear identity to the USMNT’s play following two-straight defeats against Mexico and Costa Rica to open up World Cup qualifying.

It is also true that anything less than four points against Costa Rica and Honduras will leave the U.S. in a tricky situation heading into the final two games of qualifying in the Hex in October against Panama at home and a trip to Trinidad & Tobago.

Bruce has rebuilt this team successfully. Now, it’s go time for the USMNT.

Manchester United to seek out those who continue offensive Lukaku chant

Andrew Matthews/PA via AP
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Some Manchester United supporters persisting in singing a chant glorifying Romelu Lukaku which has been deemed racist by many for its depiction of the player’s penis size.

Lukaku was among those to ask that fans stop singing the song, as did the club, but it was heard from the away end at St. Mary’s during Manchester United’s 1-0 win on Saturday (where Lukaku scored the winner).

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s gorgeous free kick ]

United responded with vigor after the match, releasing a statement claiming it would request closed circuit footage of the fans in attempts to ban those singing the song based on The Stone Roses’ “Made of Stone.”

WATCH: Coutinho spins gorgeous free kick past Schmeichel

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Minutes after setting up Mohamed Salah for a back door header for a 1-0 lead at Leicestwer City, Liverpool wizard Philippe Coutinho tacked on a goal of his own.

WATCH LEICESTER-LIVERPOOL ONLINE, HERE

Coutinho scored a beauty in the 23rd minute, as the Brazilian lorded over a free kick before spinning a goal just off the top of the wall and past a flying Kasper Schmeichel.

It looked like it was headed for the upper 90 even had it not taking its tiny deviation. The kick was a masterful effort from Coutinho.

Everton’s comeback win puts Koeman “in a totally different world”

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A quiz for you. Oumar Niasse‘s two goals:

  • A) Saved Ronald Koeman‘s job
  • B) Led Everton’s come back win
  • C) All of the above

Koeman admitted “there were a lot of emotions” in Everton’s 2-1 home win over Bournemouth on Saturday, as the Toffees got off the mat to post their first Premier League win since Aug. 12.

[ RECAP: Everton 2-1 Bournemouth ]

After a summer of spending, the Toffees were expected to compete for another berth in a European competition. Instead, a murderer’s row of early fixtures had Everton very low on the PL table.

Was Koeman able to stay calm as his team struggled at home against Bottom Three side Bournemouth?

“Calm after the game, yes. There were a lot of emotions. It was a difficult game, we did not create many chances and we took the right decision after 1-0 down to try something different – play two strikers and go more direct.

“It is a totally different world after winning. You have key moments during the season and this was a big win that will give everyone a boost.”

Apollon Limassol is next for the Toffees, followed by matches against Burnley and Brighton.

Jose Mourinho responds to sending off, Man United win

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho saw his side battle to a 1-0 win away at Southampton on Saturday as they kept their unbeaten start to the Premier League season going.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game after 20 minutes and although Saints had the better of the play in the second half, United’s defense held firm.

Towards the end of the game Mourinho was sent to the stands by referee Craig Pawson for encroachment as he stepped onto the pitch during the action.

What happened?

“I don’t know, you have to ask the referee,” Mourinho said.

He then wasted more time by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he briefly went into the stands before the final whistle was blown.

It remains to be seen if he will face a touchline ban or fine for his actions but speaking to Sky Sports, Mourinho focused on the performance of his team.

“It is not always possible to operate at high quality but fought hard. We did what many teams in the Premier League do for 90 minutes, which was play with five defenders at the back. Credit to Southampton, they tried to play. Pellegrino changed the team and sent on another striker to play more direct.

“It was a hard game but I am really happy. Romelu Lukaku’s work is so important for us. He scored his goal and worked hard like everybody else. Nobody feels the pressure to play always attacking football because so many teams play always defensively. I felt some of the boys were not sharp. I didn’t feel like we could score three or four goals like we sometimes do so the option was to make sure we got the points.”