Thumbs up on Clint Dempsey, but Timmy Chandler situation concerning for U.S. national team

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Jurgen Klinsmann had a few things to say on U.S. Soccer this morning. Some of it good – and some of it quite concerning.

The good is on Clint Dempsey’s groin injury.

“Clint has a minor groin injury which should be fine within the next couple of days. We’re going to take it a bit easy in the beginning, and from there we don’t expect any problems,” Klinsmann said.

The not so good is about promising defender Timmy Chandler, who isn’t coming into camp.

(Update: More PST perspective on the Chandler affair is here.)

I think it’s time for all U.S. Socccer fans to say this about the promising outside back. And say it out loud so it sinks in. “He’s just not that into us.”

I have had long conversations with Timmy about where he is in his professional career and his commitment to playing international football. He has expressed his appreciation for all the opportunities we have given him, but he also feels at this point he needs to take a break. It’s disappointing not having him as a part of the team at this important juncture of building our team, but ultimately a player must decide what is best for him. The door is certainly not closed on Timmy, but in the moment we move on without him.”

I spoke to U.S. Soccer spokesman Michael Kammarman, who referred all questions to Klinsmann.

In the past, Chandler’s words and actions have always indicated he was “all in” for the U.S. cause, never mind the dual citizenship and the fact that he grew up in Germany.

But recall that last summer he kept his distance from the U.S. camp. And more importantly, recall that he has yet to play in an official FIFA tournament. That means he’s still eligible to appear for Germany. And at 22 years old, it’s quite likely that he’s still holding out hope of appearing for his native country.

If he comes to this camp and appears in one of the upcoming qualifiers, he’s tied to the United States.

U.S. Soccer may or may not continue to believe that Chandler is in the personnel mix. But if I’m wagering, I’m saying his future in the U.S. shirt stands highly in doubt.

It’s hard to see this odd situation any other way (a player who prefers not to play internationally); it looks for all the world like he’s holding out for Germany.

Clinical Russia tops Egypt to reach knockout rounds

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  • Russia goals: Fathy o.g. (48′), Cheryshev (59′), Dzyuba (62′)
  • Egypt: Salah (PK, 73′)
  • Next: Russia-Uruguay, Egypt-Saudi Arabia

Hosts Russia scored a trio of second half goals to clinch the first spot in the 2018 World Cup’s Round of 16 with a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg.

The loss means Egypt is 0-2, the Pharoahs unable to find momentum despite the return of Mohamed Salah. Egypt needs a wild combination of factors to stay alive for the knockout rounds, and is likely heading home.

Salah won and converted a penalty for Egypt, while Denis Cheryshev, Artem Dzyuba, and an Egyptian own goal accounted for Russia’s goals.

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Some sloppy play out of the back allowed Golovin a shot from outside the 18 but he hit his effort wide of the frame.

Egypt stayed in the mix though, and a Russian mistake  deep in its own end forced Zhirkov to concede a corner with a desperation intervention that stopped Mo Salah from a doorstep opportunity.

Salah then won a yard of space but fired wide in the 42nd minute after Zhirkov stopped him from going to his right peg.

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Russia went ahead through an Egypt own goal from Fathy, who was jostling for position with Artem Dzyuba and turned Roman Zobnin’s mishit inside his net.

After Cheryshev made it 2-0, Dzyuba took an Ilya Kutepov long ball out of the air with his chest before turning past Ahmed Hegazy and blasting Russia’s third goal home.

Salah won a penalty in the 73rd minute, one initially ruled a free kick, and the Liverpool man blasted his shot home.

Neymar limps out of Brazil training

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Having drawn against Switzerland in its opener, Brazil now faces renewed concerns over the health of its megastar forward.

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Neymar’s right foot was “still not 100 percent” when he took the field for the 1-1 draw on Sunday, and the 26-year-old left practice early two days later.

He missed nearly three months after fracturing his foot for PSG under pressure by Marseille’s Dimitri Payet, but returned to score for Brazil in friendly defeats of Croatia and Austria. Neymar has 55 goals in 85 caps.

Neymar was favoring his right foot as he limped off the pitch, two days after being fouled 10 times against Switzerland. Fox reports that Neymar will be fine to practice on Wednesday, but the situation bears close observation.

Neymar was injured in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals when Juan Zuniga kneed him in the back.

Salah returns to Egypt starting lineup

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A familiar name returned to the starting lineup for Egypt on Tuesday afternoon.

Egypt named star Mohamed Salah in its starting XI, after resting Salah in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Uguruay on June 15. Salah has been recovering from an injured shoulder that he suffered during the UEFA Champions League final in late May.

Salah makes his World Cup debut now against the host nation, Russia, at 2:00 p.m.

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Senegal hold off late charge, defeat Poland on controversial goal

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Two matches, two upsets.

For the second time on Tuesday, an underdog took down a favorite as Senegal defeated Poland, 2-1, with the game-winning goal decided in controversial fashion.

In the 60th minute, M’baye Niang was waved onto the field by the referee while the ball was still in play in the middle of the field, and Niang raced on to the end of a Gregorz Krychowiak backpass that stunned the Poland defense. Niang arrived at the pass a second quicker than goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, allowing the Senegal winger to score into an empty net.

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The VAR checked the goal but it was allowed, as it was a subjective decision of the referee to allow Niang back on the field following an injury, and not a clear and obvious error.

Senegal took the lead in the first half on the counter attack. With Poland slow in transition, Sadio Mane found Idrissa Gueye in space at the top of the box. After two touches, Gueye fired a strike to the far post in the 37th minute that took a wicked deflection off Poland defender Thiago Cionek and left Szczesny helpless.

Poland struggled all game against the pace and physicality of Senegal and the Lions of Teranga were very smart in controlling possession and switching the field, forcing the Poland squad to tire quickly.

Krychowiak did breathe some life into the game with a header goal off a free kick in the 86th minute, but despite some poor clock management from Senegal, its defense was able to hold off Poland’s last-ditch chance to tie the game, going level with Japan on three points at the top of Group H.