HARRISON, NJ - JUNE 01:  John Brooks #6 of United States and teammates Clint Dempsey #8,Michael Bradley #4,Geoff Cameron #20 and Julian Green #16 wait for the corner kick in the second half against Turkey during an international friendly match at Red Bull Arena on June 1, 2014 in Harrison, New Jersey.The United States defeated Turkey 2-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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USMNT snub: No US players in CONCACAF Best XI of 2016

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Well, this is a little surprising.

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CONCACAF released its Best XI from 2016 on Wednesday and there were zero U.S. national team players in the list of 11.


Players from Mexico and Costa Rica dominate, while Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, Jamaican defender Wes Morgan and French forward Andre-Pierre Gignac were also included. The top 11 players were selected after either playing for a national team or club team in the CONCACAF region.

Only one player from Major League Soccer made the list, Ronald Mataritta of New York City FC.

Still, the fact that USMNT defenders Geoff Cameron and John Brooks didn’t get in the Best XI of 2016 after their heroics at the Copa America Centenario is quite mind-boggling. No offense against Morgan or Mexico’s Rafael Marquez, but come on. Also, surely Christian Pulisic or Jozy Altidore would have been worthy additions to this team?

Then again, when you see the highlight video below, most of the winners are shown scoring or playing well against the USMNT. That could go a little way to explain why there are no U.S. players on this list…

Below is the team in full. Intrigued to hear your comments in the section below.

Chicharito: My “only interest” is staying at Bayer Leverkusen

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Javier Hernandez of Bayer Leverkusen is put under pressure from Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Wembley Stadium on November 2, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s slow first half of the season had many pegging him for a move away from Bayer Leverkusen, even to Major League Soccer or Liga MX.

But the 28-year-old striker, back on his home continent for training camp, isn’t interested in leaving Bayer despite nabbing just 7 goals in 23 games.

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Hernandez told Kicker that he’s unaware of transfer interest, which is a bit dishonest unless he lives in a bubble. But it’s also a way to strongly reinforce his status at Bayer.

He didn’t exactly leave the window open. From Sky:

“Jonas Boldt and Rudi Voeller (Leverkusen’s team manager and sports director) have said nothing to me about other clubs,” he told magazine Kicker at Leverkusen’s Orlando training camp.

“The only things I have heard are rumours. No one has tried to contact me or my agent. I am happy here. My only interest is to stay here at Bayer Leverkusen.”

It’s just not time for a move across the pond, unless he needs to be closer to family.

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US, Mexico could team up and meet FIFA’s World Cup need

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 28:  FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF President speak during the 11th Dubai International Sports Conference on December 28, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images
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ZURICH (AP) The United States and Mexico could team up and meet FIFA’s need for the biggest-ever World Cup in 2026 being staged by the most host nations.

Canada has also joined the North American neighbors for informal talks about a three-way bid in a contest that FIFA will complete during American President-elect Donald Trump’s first term, according to persons familiar with the talks. They spoke on grounds of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

FIFA’s decision Tuesday to expand the 2026 tournament – to 48 teams from 32, playing 80 games instead of 64 – increased the chances of co-hosting to share the load.

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“In some regions not only does it make more sense, it’s the only sense,” said FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani, who leads the Canadian soccer federation. “I think when more countries share (hosting) it’s an opportunity to grow the game.”

Asked specifically about a potential three-way bid with the U.S. and Mexico, Montagliani said: “It’s definitely a possibility because the rules now allow for it.

“I also respect the fact that each country has the possibility to put on the World Cup (alone) and I think the discussions will happen quite soon as to what is our region is going to look like at this World Cup as I think it is an opportunity for CONCACAF.”

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati also took part in a unanimous FIFA Council decision.

Though Mexico soccer leader Decio de Maria does not sit on FIFA’s strategy-setting panel, he was also in Zurich with a top-level delegation from the regional soccer body, known as CONCACAF.

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The region was already favored to get its first World Cup since the U.S.-hosted 1994 edition, even before Tuesday’s expansion decision. It now demands more high-quality training camps, hotels and transport for 48 teams, plus FIFA officials and hundreds of thousands of visiting fans.

“It means the number of countries that can host it without building major infrastructure and stadiums is limited,” said Gulati, adding his board has a “fundamental decision” whether to bid. The U.S. could go alone, or bid with one or both neighbors.

Uniting the U.S. and Mexico could win support from more than 20 Spanish-speaking federations among 211 FIFA members that now choose the World Cup hosts.

It should also appeal to FIFA’s sense of soccer having a role in society, amid tense cross-border relations caused by Trump’s outspoken comments on Mexico.

“Listen, I’m a football guy, I’m not a politician,” said Montagliani, who like Gulati speaks fluent Spanish. “The only thing I know from afar about Trump is that he’s a big sports guy and he’s proven that in the past … so you would hope that football will trump politics. No pun intended.”

FIFA typically looks for strong government support, and has it in the next two World Cup host nations Russia and Qatar. Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko is a FIFA Council member and attended Tuesday’s meeting.

FIFA has allowed co-costing at just one of 22 World Cups from 1930 through 2022, which included Mexico hosting alone in 1970 and ’86. FIFA’s former leaders later pledged not to repeat their “two of everything” experience of 2002 in Japan and South Korea.

Still, Infantino campaigned for the presidency last year promising an open mind about pan-regional hosting.

FIFA’s target is May 2020 to choose the 2026 host, though that could change during meetings being held in Bahrain in May.

Asked if bidding could be accelerated if only three candidates emerged, and who all wanted to work together, Infantino said: “It is premature to discuss about it now.”

USMNT World Cup qualifiers moved up slightly

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Jermaine Jones #13 of the United States protects the ball against Hector Herrera #16 of Mexico during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Qualifier at Rose Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
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CHICAGO (AP) The United States’ World Cup qualifiers in June have been moved up slightly because of Mexico’s participation in the Confederations Cup.

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Tuesday that the Americans’ home game against Trinidad and Tobago will be played June 8, a day earlier than first scheduled. The Americans’ match at Mexico will be played June 11, two days ahead of the original date.

Mexico plays its Confederations Cup opener against Portugal on June 18 in Kazan, Russia.

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After the U.S. lost its opening two games in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, coach Jurgen Klinsmann was fired and replaced by Bruce Arena, the U.S. coach from 1998-2006.

The Americans resume qualifying at home against Honduras on March 24, then play four days later at Panama.

USMNT, Mexico learn dates, venues for 2017 Gold Cup

GLENDALE, AZ - JUNE 25:  Frank Fabra #18 of Colombia and DeAndre Yedlin #2 of United States challenge for a header during the 2016 Copa America Centenario third place match at University of Phoenix Stadium on June 25, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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Bruce Arena’s task of leading the USMNT back into a Gold Cup Final will begin in Nashville.

The Yanks will be in Group B for the Gold Cup as the seeded team, while Mexico will be seeded in Group C.

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The U.S. will play at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on July 8, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on July 12, and FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on July 15.

Mexico plays July 9 in San Diego, July 13 in Denver, and July 16 in San Antonio.

Already qualified to the tournament are Canada, Curacao, Martinique, and French Guiana. Next month’s Copa Centroamericana will determine four of the remaining five slots, with a playoff spot deciding the fifth.

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