twitter.com/s04_en

What could USMNT look like for November friendlies?

1 Comment

Bruce Arena is out, and the United States men’s national team could look very different the next time a ball is kicked by the men in red, white, and blue.

Tab Ramos is expected to take over on an interim basis, or at least be the prime candidate, before the Yanks play November friendlies in Europe next month (President Sunil Gulati said one is confirmed, and the second should be overseas).

[ VIDEO: Jermaine Jones’ fiery USMNT diatribe ]

Those will be the first of many friendlies, as the U.S. is not scheduled to play serious competitions until the Copa America and Gold Cup in the Summer of 2019. That’s what happens when you miss a World Cup, something that American soccer hasn’t experienced since the mid-1980s.

The U.S. could assemble a summer tournament this summer, but the twin tourneys in 2019 mean it has plenty of time to experiment seriously in search of a huge depth pool needed for a wild couple months.

That Gold Cup will be an important ask of the team’s depth, too, and it will be interesting to see how a new manager prioritizes his roster considering a title is needed to clinch a place in the 2021 Confederations Cup and avoid another CONCACAF Cup playoff.

Considering the wealth of promising domestic and overseas U-20 prospects and the fact that the United States has used more than 75 players in recent history, just about anything is possible for Ramos (or whoever takes over).

November’s call-ups are especially tricky. For one thing, they are in Europe and could be against very good competition as sides angle for form before the World Cup. Expect it to be heavily-based in overseas players and a sprinkling of MLS players who have been eliminated from the postseason.

The second legs of the MLS Conference semifinals will be held Nov. 5, one day before the international break. While we suppose Toronto FC leaders Michael Bradley or Jozy Altidore could set some sort of standard by demanding to be part of the phoenix rising from these disastrous Hex ashes, but it’s almost certain the following USMNT mainstays will have played in those Nov. 5 matches and will not be heading to Europe: Bradley, Altidore, Matt Besler, and Graham Zusi. Based on current seeding, the Americans will also be without Clint Dempsey, Dax McCarty, and Darlington Nagbe.

Bobby Wood (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

It seems likely guys like Christian Pulisic and Geoff Cameron will get a break, though there could also be “farewells” for some of the old guard (this seems more of a January thing given the MLS Playoffs).

We imagine guys like Alejandro Bedoya, Tim Ream, and Bobby Wood are going to be called in to help show guys the ropes

Hopefully, young Schalke star Weston McKennie is back from his thigh injury and fit for 90. Might U-17 and U-20 World Cup star Josh Sargent get a chance to dip his toes into an international break?

We’ll let you build you lineups from this corps, also expecting some surprises, and we’ll probably wind up going down a rabbit hole to build some of our own.

Who are we missing? Hit us up with your names, thoughts, and XIs in the comment section.


MLS-based, will miss playoffs, called up in October: Tim Howard, Alejandro Bedoya, Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes.

MLS-based, will miss playoffs, called up in last year: Bill Hamid, Joe Bendik, Brian Rowe, Steve Birnbaum, Jonathan Spector, Taylor Kemp, Keegan Roseberry, Chris Pontius, Kelyn Rowe, Jermaine Jones, Juan Agudelo, Dom Dwyer, CJ Sapong, Alan Gordon.

Europe- or Mexico-based, called up in October: Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Geoff Cameron, Christian Pulisic, Michael Orozco.

Europe- or Mexico-based, called up in last year: Ethan Horvath, William Yarbrough, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga, John Brooks (injured), Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Joe Corona, Kenny Saief (injured), Lynden Gooch, Julian Green, Caleb Stanko, Aron Johannsson.

MLS-based, will miss playoffs, not called up in last year: Christian Ramirez, Miguel Ibarra, Lee Nguyen, Ethan Finlay, Tommy Redding, Patrick Mullins, Russell Canouse, Derrick Jones, Andrew Farrell, Kyle Fisher, Chris Tierney.

Europe- or Mexico-based, not called up in last year: Danny Williams, Terrence Boyd, Mix Diskerud, Emerson Hyndman, Perry Kitchen, Alfredo Morales, Antonee Robinson.

Top U.S. youth prospects: Weston McKennie, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Sargent, Jonathan Gonzalez, Haji Wright.

Top U.S. youth prospects, could have MLS playoffs:  Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown, Tyler Adams, Brooks Lennon, Jonathan Lewis, Jesse Gonzalez.


Some far-fetched potential lineups (Remember – Anything is possible):

Serious Future XI

Horvath

 Carter-Vickers – Cameron – Miazga

Yedlin – Williams – McKennie – Pulisic

Arriola – Wood – Gooch

All-Europe XI

Horvath

Yedlin – Carter-Vickers – Miazga – Villafana

Chandler – Williams – McKennie – Pulisic

Wood – Johannsson

(Mostly) Farewell Tour XI

Howard

 Lichaj – Cameron – Ream – Beasley

Arriola – Williams – Bedoya – Johnson

Wondolowski – Wood

Few to no caps XI

Horvath

Farrell – Miazga – Carter-Vickers – Tierney

Rowe – Gonzalez – Morales – McKennie – Gooch

Ramirez

“This game belongs to the players” Wenger downplays Guardiola success

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger has stressed that Pep Guardiola has not changed the game of soccer over the last decade or so, maintaining that the players are the ones who make a team truly great.

Asked if Guardiola has “raised the bar” of managing in his time at the top, Wenger said, “No, because you look at Barcelona and they are still the best team in Europe. You have to accept that the modern game has changed with the recruitment of the best players in a short number of clubs.”

[ MORE: EFL Cup final preview ]

“We, as managers, can maybe impart our philosophy but this game belongs to the players because the importance of the players has become bigger than ever before.”

In fact, Wenger showed a twinge of jealousy at all the attention Guardiola is getting with the team blowing out the rest of the Premier League this season, referencing trophies in the recent past Arsenal has hoisted. “We are maybe underdogs but we have to believe in our quality. The history, the fact we have done it before, shows why not do it again?”

“At the end of the day, you have to be cool,” Wenger said, “because Manchester City is dominating the league in the head of everybody and so maybe we are more underdogs than in the FA Cup semi-final [last season when Arsenal beat Man City].”

Deportivo wastes penalty kick, remains winless under Seedorf

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) — Clarence Seedorf remained winless as Deportivo La Coruna coach after a 0-0 draw with Espanyol in the Spanish league on Friday.

Deportivo squandered chances including a second-half penalty kick taken by Lucas Perez. Its winless streak reached 10 games in all competitions.

It was the third game in a row without a victory since Seedorf took over to try to avoid relegation. Deportivo was 18th in the 20-team standings, in the relegation zone.

In addition to the missed penalty, Deportivo twice hit the posts in front of a supportive crowd at Riazor Stadium. The players left the field applauded by the local fans despite the setback.

Perez’s penalty attempt was saved by Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez in the 65th minute. Lopez, who earlier this season stopped a penalty taken by Lionel Messi, dived to his right to stop Perez’s low shot.

The match marked the Deportivo debut of veteran Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari. He played alongside Seedorf at AC Milan, and was signed this week after a trial period.

Espanyol, 15th in the standings, hasn’t won in seven matches, since it ended Barcelona’s 29-match unbeaten streak in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Espanyol’s last league win was in January, seven rounds ago.

Barcelona defends its seven-point lead in the standings when it hosts Girona on Saturday. Second-place Atletico Madrid visits Sevilla on Sunday.

Conte says he believes in his selection regarding Willian

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Antonio Conte has lashed out at anyone questioning why Brazilian winger Willian hasn’t played regularly.

Conte fired back at reporters when he was asked about Willian’s earlier lack of playing time at his pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s match on Sunday against Manchester United. “Do you think that I am stupid when I put Willy on the bench?”

[ MORE: Heynckes squashes Lewandowski to Premier League rumors ]

“I have to try and make the best decision for the team, no? Maybe last season we won the title, or did I forget something?”

The 29-year-old has made 29 Premier League appearances, but only 13 starts. He started in the midweek Champions League match against Barcelona and not only scored Chelsea’s only goal but also proved their most incisive player, prompting questions about his selection.

“Now he is playing because he deserves to play, not because there is some regret from the past,” Conte said. “For what? If a player deserves to play, and shows me during the training session that he is on top of his form, and wants to work defensively, he plays. If not, [he will] stay on the bench, stay in the stands.”

Instead of saying he wishes Willian had played more earlier in the season, he praised himself for giving the Brazilian the start at the appropriate time.

“He is playing now and I am very happy with my choice. Willian deserved to start in the previous game, and played well. I did a fantastic choice, and I want to take credit for that.”

EFL Cup Final preview: Arsenal, Manchester City fight for different types of glory

Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • These two clubs have never met in a major Cup final
  • With a win, Arsene Wenger would become the 8th PL manager to win all 3 major English trophies
  • Sergio Agüero has scored in all of his last 4 appearances against Arsenal

For Manchester City, it’s the first step of a potentially record-setting season. For Arsenal, it’s the Gunners’ best chance at securing a trophy.

The two teams are fighting for very different levels of glory as the two meet at Wembley Stadium on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Manchester City, despite losing to Wigan in the FA Cup just a week ago, would still be on track for a Double this season with a win against the Gunners. Meanwhile, Arsenal is outside the Premier League top four, and – as they have done each of the past two seasons in the FA Cup – could salvage an otherwise disappointing league season with a major Cup trophy.

Both teams will be struggling with selection in certain areas. Manchester City is likely missing Raheem Sterling, who could sit out due to an unspecified muscle injury according to Pep Guardiola in his pre-match press conference, while Fabian Delph is suspended after his sending off against Wigan in the FA Cup. That means either Danilo or 21-year-old Oleksandr Zinchencko would start at wing-back. Zinchenko is the likely candidate there, having appeared in four of City’s five EFL Cup games this season so far and playing almost every minute of those four matches. Gabriel Jesus, who missed more than two months with a knee injury, could be ready to make his early return. Claudio Bravo will continue to play in goal for the domestic Cup competitions.

Arsenal, meanwhile, is without new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan who is cup-tied to his previous club Manchester United, while Alexandre Lacazette is not yet recovered from his knee injury suffered in the North London derby, and Mesut Ozil could miss out with an illness. The Gunners are likely, however, to get Aaron Ramsey back in midfield after recovering from a groin injury, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can return to the lineup after his own cup tied absence in the Europa League midweek.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on playing Arsenal twice in a week: “We will be happy if we win, sad if we don’t but after the game we have another match against Arsenal. We are going to try and maintain our level, but finals are different, it is not what you have done in the past.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on playing Manchester City: “Manchester City have so many players that you think you have to stop that it is better to focus on the team plan than rather than on any individual. It’s true that I always used to use this competition with a youth team. For us it’s an opportunity. We’ll play with all the regular players.” 

Prediction

Arsenal has often come up big in hotly contested Cup matches, despite poor form in the surrounding competitions, so it would not be surprising to once again see Arsene Wenger hoist a trophy on Sunday to temporarily distract the fanbase and media from larger struggles. However, picking against this Manchester City team would be selection suicide, even after their disappointment against Wigan and considering the absence of under the radar star Raheem Sterling. Manchester City wins 3-1 with a pair of late goals to sink the Gunners, with a newly healthy Gabriel Jesus providing an influential injection off the bench in the final 20 minutes. Pep Guardiola raises another trophy at the site where he won the 2011 Champions League.