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Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.

Scott, dual Americans must top Cordeiro’s USMNT priorities

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With no national team in the World Cup and without a wild outsider laying claim to the U.S. presidential chair, many American soccer fans have let the United States men’s national team slip to the back of their minds.

And while that’s understandable, new boss Carlos Cordeiro needs his recruiters working hard in two areas: finding the top man to be U.S. technical director, and making sure the next Jonathan Gonzalez isn’t largely ignored while he decides to switch allegiances to Mexico.

[ MORE: American debuts as Chelsea tops Hull ]

He may not have a ton of convincing to do, thanks to current staffers, but there are a least a couple dozen short phone calls he should make on behalf of the men’s national team.

“Hey, I’m the new president. We’re going to hire some new soccer people and a USMNT manager, but I want you to know we know and care about you.”

LONDON: Scott holds off pressure from Evandro Goebel (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images).

Kyle Scott stands as one of three reminders just this month. The Chelsea 20-year-old center midfielder, born in Bath, represented England at U-16 level and Republic of Ireland at U-17 before switching to the U.S. for U-18 and U-20 duty.

He is, barring some unknown FIFA bylaws, another prospect who could fall between the cracks™.

Eight days ago, Bundesliga.com listed 10 young league talents who could “soon join the USA national team,” including teenagers like Bayern Munich youth Timothy Tillman, Malik Tillman, and Jalen Hawkins, as well as established players like Borussia Dortmund’s Jeremy Toljan (23).

Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep moved four Mexican-American prospects into the hopper when he wrote about three LA Galaxy prospects and NC State right back Manny Perez.

Plus: we’re all quite aware of Spurs center back Cameron Carter-Vickers.

I was critical of U.S. Soccer for implementing a number of significant measures last month in the run-up to the presidential election, things that might have been better with approval from the new president, but it’s worth noting that not a single one of these players needed to wait for a recruitment push from Tab Ramos or any number of influential people in the USSF set-up.

To be clear: playing in a German youth set-up doesn’t make a player superior to stateside prospects, and there are any number of perceived European academy washouts playing NCAA Soccer who won’t go on to sniff an MLS Draft slot, let alone a battle between Hoffenheim and Mainz.

But Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann were both very successful at convincing players, future stars and let-downs alike, to choose their American heritage. Whether Bruce Arena or Tim Howard thinks these players are American-blooded enough to succeed is irrelevant in my opinion, let the field sort that out.

But Cordeiro could go a long way toward currying favor with his new populace by finding the next Klinsmann-level super recruiter to make sure that the player pool is as deep as possible.

FA Cup fifth round preview, score picks

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The last 16 of the FA Cup takes place this weekend and there are plenty of big boys aiming to avoid upsets in the oldest knockout competition on the planet.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores here ]

Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are all still in the competition and all four are heavily favored to ease into the quarterfinals.

Where will the upsets be? Tottenham head to third-tier Rochdale to play on the freshly laid pitch at Spotland and we saw how they struggled at Newport in the fourth round, while Brighton host fourth-tier Coventry City who have already knocked out Stoke City on their way to the last 16.

Wigan have also beaten PL opponents on their way to the fifth round after dispatching Bournemouth and West Ham but they face a Manchester City side who are eyeing the quadruple.

Below is a look at the schedule in full, while I make my score prediction for each game.


FA Cup fifth round schedule

Friday
Leicester City vs. Sheffield United – 2:45 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Leicester to win 2-0)
Chelsea vs. Hull City – 3 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Chelsea to win 4-1)

Saturday
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Swansea City – 7:30 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Swansea to win 2-1)
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Coventry City – 10 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Coventry to win 2-1)
West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton – 10 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = 0-0 draw)
Huddersfield Town vs. Manchester United – 12:30 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = 1-1 draw)

Sunday
Rochdale vs. Tottenham Hotspur – 11 a.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Tottenham to win 3-0)

Monday
Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City – 2:55 p.m. ET (JPW’s pick = Man City to win, 3-1)

Report: Tottenham to offer Pochettino new contract

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Multiple reports claim that Tottenham Hotspur are ready to offer manager Mauricio Pochettino a new contract.

The Argentine coach, 45, has masterminded a complete rebuild of Spurs’ playing squad and philosophy since he arrived in 2014 and has led them to fifth, third and second place finishes in his three full seasons at the club, as well as reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stage this season.

Tottenham’s impressive 2-2 draw at Juventus on Tuesday in the Champions League has further enhanced his pedigree as one of the brightest managers in the game today.

Pochettino signed a new five-year contract in 2016 said to be worth over $7.5 million per year, but the former Espanyol and Southampton manager is reportedly attracting interest from Real Madrid and his former club Paris Saint-Germain.

That has led to Spurs being open to sit down with Pochettino at the end of this season to discuss a new contract with improved terms and to extend his stay past 2021. With Tottenham moving into their new $1.1 billion stadium at White Hart Lane for the start of next season, having Pochettino locked in is just as key to their future.

This news is significant as it reaffirms Spurs’ belief that Pochettino is at the heart of everything the club has planned. Harry Kane, Dele Alli and several stars have signed new deals in recent years and there is a much better chance of this Spurs squad staying together if Pochettino remains at the helm.

But if Real Madrid come calling in the summer, can Pochettino turn them down? It seems like that is the next logical step for his career after turning Spurs into perennial title contenders and moving them back to the Champions League with a hungry, young squad.

Now, the one thing we’re all wondering is how strange it will be to see Pochettino put his arm around himself when a photo is taken of him signing his new deal…

Tottenham come of age at Juventus

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Two years ago, heck, 12 months ago, this Tottenham Hotspur side would have crumbled and lost 4-0 to Juventus in Turin on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Spurs react to Juve draw

But this Tottenham side is different. They are maturing before our eyes this season and the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash was a coming of age party.

In the UCL knockout rounds for just the second time in club history (they crashed out in the UCL group stages last season) and the first time since 2010-11 when they reached the quarterfinals, expectation was in the air as you got the sense that all of the hard work this young Spurs side had put in since Pochettino arrived in 2014 had led to this point.

Trailing 2-0 after nine minutes amid a cauldron of a noise at the reigning Italian champions, a side who had been UCL runners up in two of the past three seasons, this wasn’t part of the plan.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men looked startled but, more importantly, not stunned.

Gonzalo Higuain’s two early goals instead sparked Spurs into life and even when they were 2-0 down they looked the most likely to win.

Harry Kane had a good chance saved by Gianluigi Buffon before he pulled one back in the first half as wave after wave of Tottenham attacks flooded towards the usually impenetrable Juvenuts goal. Kane’s goal was the first Juve had conceded in 2018 and the first in any of their last 17 games in all competitions.

The Italian giants aren’t used to being dominated in this manner but with Christian Eriksen pulling the strings and Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier powering along in central midfield, Juve were the team who looked stunned. That said, they could’ve gone 3-1 up right on half time as Spurs gave away a second penalty of the game but Higuain, on a hat trick, smashed his penalty kick against the crossbar.

By that point it would’ve been a travesty has Spurs gone in 3-1 down at half time, such was their dominance in the opening 45 minutes. After the break it was more of the same.

Juve sat back and had the occasional chance on the break with Higuain going close and Federico Bernardeschi forcing Hugo Lloris into a fine save, but it was Spurs who looked comfortable and at home at one of Europe’s great teams.

Eriksen deservedly equalized from a free kick to cap off a fine individual display and it was a night where he, along with Kane, Dele Alli, and so many of Spurs’ squad who have now been together for three full seasons, came of age.

The respect and admiration that Juve’s stalwarts Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini in particular showed to Spurs’ young team at the final whistle told the entire story. This was not a case of boys against men.

Pochettino applauded a job well done at the final whistle as his side take two away goals back to Wembley with them for the second leg on March 7. They must get the job done on home soil at what promises to be a famous night at Wembley, but there’s no longer an air of impending implosion around Tottenham as there had been in the past.

Going into that game Spurs will fancy their chances of putting Juve away early on. Their youthful exuberance saw them come a cropper at pivotal junctures like this, but this is a different Spurs team.

Eriksen is 26. Kane, 24. Alli, 21. Dier, 24. Dembele, 30. Lloris, 31. Vertonghen, 30. Over the past few weeks they’ve beaten Manchester United and Arsenal, comfortably, at home, plus drew away at Liverpool in a similarly pulsating encounter.

Tottenham’s players all know their roles and they’ve all endured the heartache of coming close, but not close enough to glory, especially in their last two title races.

It seems that this season Tottenham are maturing into a team who are not only a perennial top four team in the Premier League but one that can challenge for European glory. All of this has been achieved amidst playing at a temporary home stadium and question marks about how on earth they can keep their best players at the club.

Pochettino’s team have matured like a fine Argentinian Malbec from his homeland that one can only assume he admires and enjoys, but not quite as much as he’s enjoying the maturity and progress of the squad he’s now assembled.