Advice from U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard’s on defending free kicks: don’t foul in the first place

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KANSAS CITY – The United States back line has been the least of its trouble, a slip from Clarence Goodson here, or a slide there from Geoff Cameron notwithstanding.

Three of five goals conceded by the United States in five matches have come on direct free kicks. One of those was in the second half against Guatemala back in June, when Marco Pappa reminded everyone that he can hit a swell free kick, and that he change the game in an instant when handed a good dead ball situation.

Two months later, the United States went up a goal against Jamaica down in Kingston. But fouls from U.S. midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu provided the home team with two big opportunities to aim direct free kicks at Tim Howard’s goal. Sure enough, they converted both, spelling the difference in a 2-1 Jamaican victory.

So, the problem isn’t defending per se. It’s fouling in dangerous areas, which leads to free kicks, which … well, you can connect the dots.

I asked Tim Howard today if there was anything in particular the United States defenders and midfielders could work on to quash this alarming tendencies for fouling in dangerous spot, or if it was just an awareness issue?

“Yeah, just not doing it,” he said.

Howard recalled a run at Everton where something similar was happening, where too many free kicks and corner kicks were proving painful and costly. The manager addressed it by harping on the need to avoid giving away those chances.

“If you can drill it into people’s heads, they don’t do it,” Howard said.

“That’s just getting lazy, not concentrating, getting a little bit fatigued. I think it’s the easy way out of defending, to give away fouls in dangerous areas. I think, 25 yards from goal, the only way you should give away fouls is if the guy is clear in one goal. Otherwise you’ve got to trust your defenders, you’ve got to trust your goalkeeper. You just can’t give away fouls.”

source:  It’s a particularly prickly issue in this one because Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz is a peach at drawing fouls. And Pappa (right), as we know, can finish them.

“It’s tricky,” U.S. center back Geoff Cameron said,” because he looks to initiate the contact. But then if there’s too much contact, he’s looking to draw the foul.”

There’s one more issue to consider here, however, that works to the U.S. advantage. Clint Dempsey reminded reporters just before Monday’s evening workout at Livestrong Sporting Park that “home cooking” and CONCACAF tend to cook up well together. He pointed out the number of juicy opportunities on free kicks the other fellows tend to get when the Americans are visiting. But in fairness, he knows the Americans get a bunch of them at home, too. (They certainly did against Jamaica last month in Columbus.)

So, maybe it won’t be such a problem tomorrow, after all.

Manchester United vs Leeds, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Manchester United welcomes Leeds to Old Trafford on Wednesday as a stung foe heads to Manchester days after a managerial change (watch live, 3pm ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday, and fellow American boss Chris Armas will be among the men guiding the club as it seeks a new boss and a way out of the relegation scrap.

Marsch helped Leeds bound out of the bottom three last season but the club has struggled of late and enters this Premier League midweek match in 17th only by virtue of tiebreakers.

STREAM LIVE MANCHESTER UNITED vs LEEDS

Man United, meanwhile, has won four-straight across all competitions ahead of two-straight matches against Leeds (the second, at Elland Road, is Sunday).

The Red Devils can pull level with second-place Man City on points with a win on Tuesday

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United vs Leeds.

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How to watch Manchester United vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Marcus Rashford had scored in six of United’s last seven Premier League matches and he’s zipped up the PL goals list as one of just six players with at least 10 goals this season.

One player Rashford is likely to pass is fellow 10-goal man Rodrigo, who will not play for Leeds. The visitors will be looking to new signings Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie to help lead the way, while Wilfried Gnonto and Jack Harrison seem likely to keep pestering opponents with pace.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antony (lower leg). OUT: Mason Greenwood (suspension), Anthony Martial (undisclosed), Scott McTominay (other), Casemiro (suspension), Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee)

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Sonny Perkins (ankle). OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Adam Forshaw (groin), Archie Gray (ankle), Rodrigo (ankle/foot)

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

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After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham, Brentford and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy season so far.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – February 5

Premier League schedule
NBC’s Premier League scoreboard page


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Southampton vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Southampton host Wolves in a huge relegation six-pointer in the Premier League and all of the pressure is on the hosts.

STREAM LIVE SOUTHAMPTON vs WOLVES

After a dreadful run of form which has seen new manager Nathan Jones lose six of his first seven Premier League games in charge, including a 3-0 drubbing at Brentford last week, Southampton sit bottom of the table. However, they are just three points from safety and badly need a win to unite their fanbase, players and coaching staff.

Wolves are looking so much better under new manager Julen Lopetegui as they hammered Liverpool 3-0 last time out to move further away from the bottom three. Lopetegui has won three of his six Premier League games in charge but they remain just two points off the relegation zone.

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Here’s everything you need for Southampton vs Wolves.


How to watch Southampton vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

Saints are in freefall and if they lose this game it feels like Nathan Jones will lose his job. The Welsh coach went on a bizarre rant following their shellacking at Brentford and said he has pandered to others and hasn’t done his job properly ever since he arrived at Southampton in November. The owners are backing him, for now, but in midweek they admitted results have to improve. After spending big on deadline day to bring in forwards Paul Onuachu and Kamaldeen Sulemana, now is the time for Southampton to drag themselves off the bottom. If not, they could have a third manager of the season very soon.

Wolves were brilliant against Liverpool and have found a great system for the players they have with the 4-4-2 working wonders. Lopetegui is famed for having a solid foundation defensively but the big change has been Wolves being much better on the counter and finally finishing off chances. After bringing in Sarabia, Cunha, Lemina and Dawson in January they have added experience and quality in key areas and it seems to have given the entire club a lift.


Southampton team news, injuries, lineup options

Kyle Walker-Peters should be fully fit after a recent hamstring issue, while Alex McCarthy remains a doubt and Valentino Livramento and Juan Larios are definitely out. Onuachu and Sulemana should start, while Nathan Jones has favored a 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks so it will be intriguing to see if he persists with that despite fan unrest towards his tactics.

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

Chiquinho, Sasa Kalajdzic and Boubacar Traore remain out, while Pedro Neto will miss this game. Mario Lemina is a doubt, while Hwang Hee-chan is out after suffering a thigh injury. Adama Traore, Daniel Podence and Joao Moutinho could come into the starting lineup given these injuries.



 

West Ham vs Chelsea: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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West Ham host Chelsea on Saturday in a massive London derby as both teams aim to kick-start their respective campaigns.

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs CHELSEA

The Hammers have improved in recent weeks as they beat Everton and drew at Newcastle last time out. David Moyes’ men are still hovering just above the relegation zone but it looks like they will now kick on in the second half of the season and they usually fare well against their bitter London rivals Chelsea.

As for the Blues, they have won just once in their last six Premier League games but they are becoming very tough to beat, and score against, under Graham Potter. Three shutouts in a row have them on a three-game unbeaten run and now they have all of their January additions on board, expect Chelsea to climb closer to the top four.

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Here’s everything you need for West Ham vs Chelsea.


How to watch West Ham vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch

The Hammers are slowly getting back to their best and Nayef Aguerd has been in fine form at center back and is now fully fit after arriving in the summer. Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta and Michail Antonio have been among the goals in recent games and there is a menacing look to West Ham on the counter.

Chelsea’s new signing Enzo Fernandez made a great impact on his debut against Fulham last time out, while Badiashile has also impressed at center back, while Mudryk and Madueke are both getting up to speed on the wing. Joao Felix will finally be available again after he missed the last three games due to his red card on debut.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

Kurt Zouma (thigh) and Maxwel Cornet (calf) remain out, while Gianluca Scamacca is battling back from a knee injury. Alphonse Areola and Thilo Kehrer are struggling with hamstring issues. It will be intriguing to see if Moyes starts with January signing Danny Ings up top in this game or if he continues with Michail Antonio as the focal point.

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja remain out, while Wesley Fofana and Mateo Kovacic are close to being available. Denis Zakaria and Edouard Mendy are out too, but Joao Felix is back from suspension which gives Potter a very lively option up top and it would be no surprise if the Portuguese stars starts this game.