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CONCACAF World Cup qualifying preview: Panama, Honduras hoping to make it

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One automatic qualification place and one playoff place remain up for grabs as matchday ten of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying gets underway Tuesday evening.

With simultaneous kickoffs at 8 p.m., the U.S. Men’s National Team, Honduras and Panama are all in contention for the final automatic qualifying spot or the playoff place to book a spot at the 2018 World Cup.

The USMNT controls its own destiny and is in with a win and most likely a draw, but Panama and Honduras have one advantage – both are playing at home against teams that have already qualified and have nothing left to play for.

Let’s take a quick look at the other two matches in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying:

Panama vs. Costa Rica

Los Canaleros have never made a World Cup finals. This may be their last chance for a while.

A golden generation of Panamanian players are all getting past their prime together, and this could be their last World Cup cycle together.

With 10 points and a -2 goal differential, Panama are currently in the pole position for the qualifying playoff place that would see them face either Syria or Australia.

But for what it’s worth, Costa Rica doesn’t plan on lying down. They remember how Jonathan Bornstein’s stoppage time goal sent them into the World Cup playoff, where they faced and fell to Uruguay, which went on to make it to the World Cup semifinals in South Africa.

“It will sound rude, but we are not interested in what benefits Panama or Honduras, we are not going to give the qualification to anyone,” Patrick Pemberton, Costa Rica goalkeeper said. “We are very aware of what happened to us in the United States, when they, being qualified, sent us to the playoffs for the World Cup in South Africa. That is why we do not intend to go to Panama to water the classification to anyone, much less to send them to the playoffs, we want to go to add three points, close the tie well.”

Honduras vs. Mexico

Honduras, like Panama has one goal on Tuesday. Make at least the World Cup playoff stage.

All that’s standing in Los Catrachos’ way is Mexico, but it won’t be the same El Tri that dazzled during the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Javier “Chicharito Hernandez received “special permission” to leave the Mexican National Team while star winger Hirving Lozano suffered an elbow injury, forcing him to return to his club PSV Eindhoven for treatment.

Perhaps Honduras then can take advantage of a slightly weaker El Tri to record a crucial win in the Olimpico Metropolitano Stadium, which is always a difficult stadium to play in. Mexico has managed two wins and a draw in its last three trips to San Pedro Sula.

LIVE, FA Cup: Swansea v Tottenham kicks off quarterfinals

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Swansea City host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (8:15 a.m. ET) at the Liberty Stadium with both teams perhaps having an eye on other things rather than winning the FA Cup.

[ LIVE: Follow Swansea-Spurs

Carlos Carvalhal‘s main aim for the Swans is to avoid relegation from the Premier League, while Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham will be fully focused on finishing in the top four.

In team news both Jordan and Andre Ayew miss out for Swansea as Carvalhal makes five changes, while Spurs are without the injured Harry Kane and make seven changes to their starting lineup with Hugo Lloris, Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli on the bench.


Swansea City: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Bartley, Mawson, Olsson, Ki Sung-Yeung, Carroll , Clucas, Dyer, Abraham. Subs: Mulder, Roberts, Fernandez, Britton, Byers, Routledge, Narsingh

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Sissoko, Lamela, Eriksen, Lucas, Son. Subs: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Foyth Dembele, Alli, Moura, Llorente

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

Cosmos, Miami FC petition USSF for 2018 U.S. Open Cup entry

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NASL’s decision to cancel the 2018 regular season has caused significant ramifications, with the latest forcing several clubs to be excluded from the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos and Miami FC — both of whom participated in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup have not been named among the eligible teams for the 2018 edition following NASL’s cancellation of the league season.

Now, the two teams have petitioned to U.S. Soccer and its new president, Carlos Cordeiro, to rethink its decision and allow the clubs to play despite not belonging to a professional league.

Both clubs do boast reserve teams though — New York Cosmos B and Miami 2 — which is the lead argument from each organization as to why U.S. Soccer should grant the teams an exemption and a spot in the tournament.

Cosmos B and Miami FC 2 will both play in the NPSL once again in 2018, with both rosters largely comprised of senior team players.

As it stands, 94 teams have been placed in the 2018 Open Cup field, as announced by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

Both open letters from the respective clubs can be found below.

Brazil’s Luis could miss World Cup after leg fracture

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MADRID (AP) Brazilian left back Filipe Luis has a leg fracture that could stop him going to the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Arsenal draws CSKA Moscow in Europa quarters ]

Atletico Madrid said Friday that Luis sustained the injury to his left leg in the second half of the Spanish team’s 5-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League round-of-16 match on Thursday.

The club did not say how long Luis will be sidelined. Similar injuries have required at least six weeks of recovery time and longer if surgery is required.

The 32-year-old Luis was called up by Brazil coach Tite for friendlies against Russia in Moscow on March 23 and against Germany in Berlin on March 27. Brazil’s first game at the World Cup is against Switzerland on June 17.

Luis was injured while trying to prevent Lokomotiv forward Eder taking a shot from inside the area in the 60th minute. He successfully cleared the ball but his leg was hit from behind.

Luis left the field on a stretcher and tests Friday in Madrid confirmed the fracture in his lower leg.

Atletico advanced 8-1 on aggregate after the victory in Russia.

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