A few study points ahead of U.S.-Scotland tonight

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Points to ponder tonight as the United States meets Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla., where a crowd of more than 40,000 is expected to see the Jurgen Klinsmann and his U.S. team finally get their important May-June run of matches underway.

(Update with U.S. lineup: Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Geoff Cameron, Carlos Bocanegra, Fabian Johnson … Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Jermain Jones … Landon Donovan, Terrence Boyd, Jose Torres.)

The match is on NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET.

The old problem that refuses to be fixed, left back: Whether Klinsmann’s choice is Edgar Castillo or Fabian Johnson (I suspect Johnson will get the call), this is a spot of particular interest. Then again, when hasn’t it been?

If one of these two can’t assertively lock down the deal, Jurgen Klinsmann might have to reach deeper into the personnel reserves; Eric Lichaj is probably next on the list. Given the way Klinsmann wants the team to play, with more proactive attacking and less reactive defending, I think we can safely say the days of Carlos Bocanegra as a stop-gap left back are long gone. Bottom line, it’s a big chance for Castillo or Johnson. Don’t forget, this has been Johnson’s spot lately at Hoffenheim in Bundesliga matches.

How does Oguchi Onyewu look?: This will be our first look at Onyewu in a national team shirt since last October, when he started in Klinsmann’s first win as U.S. boss, against Honduras.

As you watch, don’t just asses how Onyewu deals with Scotland’s strikers. They won’t be the best he’ll come up against over the next three weeks – not by a long stretch. Rather, watch for how many times he claims possession in a way that allows him then to distribute with clarity. And watch those passes closely. Is he connecting cleanly with midfielders? Is he doing so quickly upon winning possession, getting the attack moving and demanding that Scotland organize quickly? Is he varying the outlet efforts, with some into a forward’s feet, some out wide and some into the central midfielders?

Klinsmann mentioned Friday that Geoff Cameron and Clarence Goodson are right behind Onyewu on the depth chart, and no matter what happens tonight, it’s safe to say that Cameron owns a big skill edge over Onyewu when it comes to distribution. Goodson, too, for that matter.

Formation? I guess so: I know some people will be all Tweet-y and fired up over Klinsmann’s choice of formation. Me? I’ve seen enough tactical flexibility in his first nine months to declare that one match won’t tell us much about a bigger formation picture. Whatever we see today, that doesn’t mean that’s what we’ll see over the next two friendlies, nor in the qualifiers immediately after.

Klinsmann on Friday:

As I mention often, I’m not locked into one specific system. My overall approach is that I would like to go forward, be attacking-minded, have more possession, push up the back-four line higher and play out of the back. All of these elements that we’re getting to step-by-step, I think we see them coming along and getting better and better. Now if those elements come out of a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, or whatever system you want to choose, it doesn’t really matter.”

Who mans the center of the field? This remains a stacked position. Given Michael Bradley’s Serie A success and his clear impact on games in the U.S. shirt when involved under Klinsmann, I’d love to see the midfield assembly built around him. Given the lack of width on the roster, it looks like the arrangement will be heavy with holding mids and possession-oriented mids. That’s Bradley. The width will come from Steve Cherundolo on the right and from his counterpart on the left side of the back line.

Klinsmann’s other centrally stationed options: Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Joe Corona and Jose Torres. Torres and Corona would be used higher in the formation, as they are surely more attacker than defender.

And speaking of Torres: I really am curious to see if Torres can prosper in Klinsmann’s system? The Pachuca man fell off the side of the Earth, U.S. team-wise, after South Africa 2010. Then he was hurt for some of Klinsmann’s early matches in charge. So here we are. What have you got, kid?

Klinsmann will appreciate Torres’ ability to hold the ball, a skill lacking around some corners of the American player pool. Former coach Bob Bradley didn’t want a lot of jacking around with the ball; he wanted it moving forward. Klinsmann is more amenable to a little, er, jacking around. The only problem I see: how will Torres cope with a Scottish midfield and back line that will surely play as rough as the night’s referee allows?

World Cup 2022 Group A: Qatar, Senegal, Netherlands, Ecuador, final table, fixtures, rankings

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Group A in the 2022 World Cup was intriguing, as hosts Qatar were dumped out, while Ecuador started well but faded as African champs Senegal finished second in the group and the Netherlands finished top.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

Even thought Senegal were missing main man Sadio Mane through injury, they rallied to win their final two group games including an intense finale against Ecuador.

The Netherlands were unbeaten throughout the group stage and took care of business with minimum fuss.

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

Below is everything you need for 2022 World Cup Group A.


Group A schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands  – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 2-0 Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

How To Watch Group A matches live

  • When: November 20-29, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group A table

1. Netherlands — 7 points (+9)
2. Senegal — 6 points (+1)
3. Ecuador — 4 points (+1)
4. Qatar — 0 (-4) – ELIMINATED


Qatar

Current FIFA world ranking: 49
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 0
How they qualified: As hosts
Coach: Felix Sanchez
Key players: Abdelkarim Hassan, Almoez Ali, Hassan Al-Haydos

Senegal

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly

Netherlands

Current FIFA world ranking: 8
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group G)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Key players: Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong

Ecuador

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan


Senegal edges epic battle with Ecuador to clinch last 16 spot

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Senegal beat Ecuador to reach the last 16 of the World Cup, as the Lions of Terranga rallied to knock out the South Americans.

FULL MATCH REPLAY

Ismaila Sarr put Senegal ahead from the penalty spot but Moises Caicedo equalized in the second half and a draw would have been enough to send Ecuador through at Senegal’s expense.

[ MORE: Group A – Table, rankings, results, schedule ]

Cometh the hour, cometh the man as Senegal’s captain Kalidou Koulibaly scored the winner to send his country through to the knockout rounds for just the second time in their history.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub


Stars of the show

Kalidou Koulibaly: Scored the famous goal to send Senegal through and was dominant at the back. Led by example.

Ismaila Sarr: Another of one Senegal’s stars stood tall as he scored the opener and gave them an outlet. Sadio Mane would be proud of this display.


How to watch Ecuador vs Senegal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Tuesday, November 29
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

GOAL! Moments later Koulibaly puts Senegal back in front. What drama. Now Senegal are going through instead of Ecuador.

GOAL! Ecuador equalize. Brighton’s Moises Caicedo slots home after a flick on. As it stands, Ecuador going through ahead of Senegal.

GOAL! Hincapie clatters into Ismaila Sarr and he slots home the resulting spot kick. Senegal lead.

What a start from Senegal! Idrissa Gana Gueye slams a shot wide and Ismaila Sarr sees a deflected effort fly just wide. Ecuador have yet to get going.


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Enner Valencia has obviously been the main man for Ecuador with his three goals so far but Gonzalo Plata and Michael Estrada have been excellent alongside him in attack. Brighton duo Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan have been superb too, while Angelo Preciado has been electric down the right flank.

Senegal’s defense has looked a bit shaky, even with Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly back there. In midfield Idrissa Gana Gueye was much better against Qatar and Ismaila Sarr continues to do his best to fill the huge void left by Sadio Mane.


Ecuador quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan

Senegal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly


Iran vs USA: How to watch live, USMNT stream link, team news

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The USA seeks a return to the knockout rounds and that’ll only come with a win over Iran at 2pm ET Tuesday inside Al Thumama Stadium in Al Khor.

STREAM LIVE IRAN v USA

It doesn’t matter what Wales does vs England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan because England already has four points and a draw would give Iran four as well.

The Yanks’ two draws mandate a win-or-go-home mentality on Saturday and there are multiple generations worth of redemption up for grabs after the USMNT was felled by Iran at the 1998 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2018 tourney in Russia.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

How can Gregg Berhalter unlock the USMNT attack to get the goal or goals he’ll need to reach a date with Group B’s winner or runner-up?

Here is everything you need for Iran vs USA.


How to watch Iran vs USA live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Tuesday Nov. 29
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Iran, it’s about riding the momentum of a huge win after finding inspiration in a huge loss. There’s an ocean’s worth of difference in emotion between the 6-2 tournament-opening loss to England in Al Rayyan and the 2-0 triumph over Wales In the same city. Can Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun succeed where Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could not and break down the USMNT defense for a goal?

Meanwhile, the Yanks may still be lamenting a 1-1 draw with Wales as much as they are celebrating a strong performance that kept them unbeaten against England at the World Cup after a scoreless draw with Gareth Southgate’s men In Al Khor. Gregg Berhalter has to find a way to unlock the USMNT’s final-third woes when they hit Al Khor on Tuesday.

There has also been some off-field tension brewing between the U.S. and Iran surrounding this game, as Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams responded to in a tense press conference amid questions from the Iranian press.


Iran quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

USA quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams

USMNT scenarios to advance: How can USA qualify for the World Cup last 16?’

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Everyone wants to figure out the USMNT scenarios to reach the knockout rounds.

“How can the USMNT qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup and make it out of the group stage?”

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock

That is the question you will hear time and time again ahead of their Group B finale against Iran on Tuesday, November 29 at 2pm ET.

This is intense.

[ MORE: Group B schedule, rankings, table ]

As the information below tells you, the USMNT scenarios is now very simple for Gregg Berhalter’s young side.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

After their draws against Wales and England to kick off Group B play, it all goes down to the final 90 minutes against Iran to see whether or not they can reach the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar.


Group B table heading into final group stage game

1. England – 4 points (+4 GD)
2. Iran – 3 points (-2)
3. USA – 2 points (0 GD)
4. Wales – 1 point (-2 GD)


Group B remaining schedule

Tuesday, November 29: Wales vs England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Tuesday November 29: Iran vs USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


How the USA can qualify for the last 16

  • Win against Iran

How the USA will not qualify for the last 16

  • Draw against Iran
  • Lose against Iran