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Candidates to become the USMNT’s GM

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On Wednesday our own Nick Mendola shared his thoughts on the state of play and the general feeling around the U.S. Soccer community after Carlos Cordeiro was elected as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation last weekend.

[ MORE: JPW talks with Carlos Cordeiro ] 

That got me thinking about one of Cordeiro’s main campaign pledges: to appoint a GM for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.

Focusing on the USMNT to start with because, let’s face it, they’re in a bit of a mess and a huge transition period, below is a look at six candidates who Cordeiro could turn to in order to get the USMNT back on track.

A GM will likely be tasked with hiring a new head coach, so we will get a pretty good idea on who the new coach may be depending on who lands this position.


Garth Lagerwey
The current Seattle Sounders GM and President of Soccer and former Real Salt Lake GM has already distanced himself from reports that he could take the same position with the USMNT. That said, he would be a great hire. Lagerwey’s philosophy of developing young talent saw RSL become the poster club in MLS on how to prosper from a youth academy and have a clear playing philosophy throughout the club. He would be a very smart hire, but can U.S. Soccer convince him to leave an MLS powerhouse in Seattle? That will be tough.

Carlos Bocanegra
Now, Carlos has been in his job at Atlanta United for less than a few years but you can’t argue with his results. The former USMNT captain has seamlessly transitioned into life in the front office but it certainly helps to have Arthur Blank’s money backing your decisions to entice young talent from South America and also Gerardo “Tata” Martino to become your coach. Boca appears to have a clear plan and strategy and ATL were the success story of MLS in 2017. If Bocanegra arrives as GM, would Martino follow as the head coach? That could be an intriguing double whammy for the USMNT and stack the chips in Bocanegra’s favor. Still, getting Boca and Martino to leave ATL would be very, very tough.

Nelson Rodriguez
A long-time MLS official who has worked high up in the league office and recently worked wonders to help turn around the ailing Chicago Fire in his role of Club President and GM. Rodriguez previously worked with U.S. Soccer as Managing Director of National Team Advisory Services, but in his roles across MLS he has worked closely with Don Garber and helped to develop main areas of the league. Is he a good fit for this GM role? Probably not. Rodriguez does plenty of work on the business side of things, but there could certainly be a place for him within this new national team structure for U.S. Soccer.

Earnie Stewart
Now, we all know that big things were promised when Earnie Stewart took over the Sporting Director role with the Philadelphia Union in 2016, but he’s only one man. The Union continue to have one of the best academy setups in MLS and Stewart does have one hand tied behind his back when it comes to actually bringing in star players to improve the team in Philly. He doesn’t have financial backing in the way that Bocanegra does at Atlanta United, but he does have plenty of experience in Europe to more than pad his resume. Stewart worked wonders at AZ Alkmaar and the former USMNT star would certainly seem like a good fit for this GM role given his experience domestically and internationally.

Tim Bezbatchenko
This guy has done an amazing job at Toronto FC. There’s no other way to put it. “Bez” is a young, hungry GM who has risen through the soccer ranks quickly and is highly thought of within Major League Soccer’s upper echelons where he served as Senior Director of Player Relations and Competition. Since he moved to Toronto in 2013, it’s been a long road to success for Bez and he was certainly helped out by big bucks being through at Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley. That said, the way he’s built that roster at TFC and brought everyone together at the club must be applauded. Like Lagerwey, he has a very good gig in Toronto and is on the cusp of creating a dynastic team. At the age of 36, is he ready to move on to a huge challenge with the national team?

Claudio Reyna
Been at the helm since Day One at New York City FC as the Director of Football Operations and his playing credentials as captain America speaks for itself. Reyna has been outspoken when it comes to the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and it appears he has a few ideas on how to change things at the very top. Will he be given a chance to do that considering his scathing words against the current regime? After five years with NYCFC, maybe now is a good time to move on to the next project. Reyna’s son Gio is one of the top prospects in the U.S. player pool, which is an intriguing sidenote.

Mourinho: “Paul made a big effort”

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had fine words for Paul Pogba, but was tickled by the performance of 21-year-old Scott McTominay in the Red Devils scoreless draw with Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

[ RECAP: Sevilla 0-0 Man Utd ]

The visitors emerged unscathed, though without an away goal, and Mourinho raised eyebrows when he kept Pogba on the bench to start the match. The young McTominay started the match, and was paired with Pogba once Ander Herrera left the match with injury.

When a reporter asked Mourinho about McTominay after the match, the boss asked if he could give the reporter a hug before elaborating (via the BBC):

“In the press conference, the questions were about Paul [Pogba] but the question should be about the kid. He was fantastic. He did everything well. He put pressure on Ever Banega and stopped him playing, he’s their playmaker. I think Scott was brilliant.

“I think Paul made a big effort to try to give the team what I asked of him. Paul replaced Ander, he tried to bring to the game the same kind of qualities. He lost a couple of possessions but he also gave us stability because we had a good percentage of possession for the way we played.”

Mourinho was sure to include Nemanja Matic as a big part of the midfield trio.

The Pogba-Mourinho questions aren’t going to go away any time soon, though it should be noted — perhaps strongly — that the player was ill this weekend and United has to face Chelsea in Premier League play this weekend.

Still, he couldn’t help but mention how much he believes “Old Trafford has missed a big European night,” and how he’s looking forward to a potentially big win come March 13.

Nil-nil in Seville as De Gea stars

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  • English sides unbeaten vs. La Liga in UCL season (2-6)
  • Pogba subs into match for Herrera, 17′
  • De Gea with seven saves for United

David De Gea was the star as Manchester United escaped Sevilla with a scoreless draw in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Sevilla won a corner kick within 90 seconds, but the ball made its way through the 18 without finding a receiver.

Ander Herrera sprung Alexis Sanchez down the middle, but Jesus Navas cut across to catch the Chilean and thwart the United chance.

Navas then dragged a shot across goal and past a diving David De Gea but inches wide of the far post.

A Herrera injury — yes, another injury United supporters — meant Paul Pogba would join the fray after just 17 minutes with the key position in the 4-3-3.

Lukaku botched a terrific diagonal cross from Sanchez with a blast over the goal in the 25th minute.

The 38th minute saw Scott McTominay pump a ball right at Sergio Rico for the Sevilla backstop’s first save, and Angl Correa’s low shot was collected by De Gea for a third Red Devils save.

De Gea then made a leaping save on Steven N’Zonzi’s redirection of a bicycle kick just before halftime, and then slapped Luis Muriel’s header over the bar before the whistle.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

De Gea nabbed another save, his sixth in the contest, when Clement Lenglet got his head on an Ever Banega free kick in the 64th minute.

A Sanchez giveaway provided Sevilla the chance to counter, and Muriel couldn’t get the step back needed to power a header past De Gea.

United had a goal pulled back in the 83rd minute as the ball struck Lukaku’s arm in the build-up.

Fred’s vicious free kick leads Shakhtar over Roma

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Facundo Ferreyra and Fred scored second half goals to lead Shakhtar Donetsk past AS Roma 2-1 at the Donbass Arena in Wednesday’s first leg of the clubs’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Cendig Under scored his fifth goal in four matches as AS Roma did manage an away goal before the March 13 second leg in Rome.

Fred has been linked with a summer move to Man City, and the banger of a free kick showed part of the reason the Brazilian is in demand.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Roma is bidding to make its first UEFA Champions League quarterfinal since 2007-08 when they went out at the hands of Manchester United, while Shakhtar last made the quarters only to be dismissed by Barcelona in 2010-11.

Ukrainian backstop Andriy Pyatov had an early save on Edin Dzeko off a cross from Aleksandar Kolarov, two minutes after Kolarov mailed a free kick over the bar.

Kolarov and Dzeko remained big parts of the story line, though Pyatov and the Shakhtar defense stood tall.

Dzeko would wind up assisting the opener, and it was the in form Under who’d bury his chance.

Not soon after the break, though, Yaroslav Rakitskiy cued up Ferreyra for the equalizer.

And Fred but the hosts ahead with this outstanding free kick, what they’d call a “bar down bingo” in hockey.

Madrid beats Leganes 3-1 in game postponed from December

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid overcame the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and other regular starters Wednesday, coming from behind to defeat Leganes 3-1 Wednesday in a Spanish league match postponed from last year.

The result allowed the defending champions to regain third place from Valencia, but it did little to put Zinedine Zidane’s team back in the title race as it still trails leader Barcelona by 14 points after 24 matches. Madrid is seven points behind second-place Atletico Madrid.

[ MORE: Messi defies Conte’s successful tactics ]

Less than a month ago, Leganes jolted Madrid into a crisis by eliminating the Spanish powerhouse from the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

The hosts from southern Madrid went ahead less than 10 minutes into the match on Wednesday, but Madrid answered with first-half goals by Lucas Vazquez and Casemiro. Sergio Ramos sealed the victory by converting a 90th-minute penalty kick.

The league match was rescheduled from the 16th round because of Madrid’s participation in the Club World Cup in December, a competition it won.

Only in its second season in the first division, Leganes had a promising start to the campaign but has struggled recently. It hasn’t won in six matches and has lost four straight, dropping to 13th with 29 points.

Madrid has won four in a row, including 3-1 against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League last week.

Ronaldo, who scored twice against PSG and has 10 goals in his last six matches, was rested on Wednesday along with goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Marcelo, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are trying to recover from injuries in time for next month’s return match against PSG in Paris.

Leganes opened the scoring with a goal by Unai Bustinza six minutes into the match at Butarque Stadium. The defender dived in front of the ball as Madrid left back Theo Hernandez tried to clear it from near the goal line. The ball ricocheted off Bustinza’s head and shoulder and went into the net.

Madrid equalized five minutes later with Vazquez’s low shot into the far corner from inside the area after a through ball by Casemiro, and 20 minutes later it was the Brazilian defensive midfielder who found the net from close range after a pass by Vazquez.

Ramos scored from the penalty spot after Mateo Kovacic was pushed inside the area in the closing minutes.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

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