Americans in English Premier League, weekend report

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How U.S. men in England’s Premier League performed Saturday and Sunday in Round 13:

Clint Dempsey, Tottenham Hotspur: Duece made a big contribution to a worthy win at White Hart Lane. His little scoop pass to put Gareth Bale clean through for Spurs’ second goal was truly wonderful stuff. And Dempsey’s added a quick little pass to help along possession on the home team’s third in a 3-1 victory over London rival West Ham.

Brad Friedel, Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas went with French international Hugo Lloris for this one. It was a great week for Lloris (he was huge in a 0-0 draw against Lazio in a mid-week Europa League match), which makes it a less-than-great week for Friedel.

Tim Howard, Everton: A slow first half for the U.S. No. 1 got slightly busier in the second 45. Howard can’t be completely happy with the way he dealt with Sebastien Bassong’s stoppage time header. Hard to call it a gaffe (especially in an EPL round that had a couple of real doozies from other ‘keepers) but perhaps he could have pushed the initial header away to preserve all three points. Otherwise, Howard was his usual steady self in the 1-1 draw at home with Norwich. His work included a solid stop on the goal line as Anthony Pilkington put a sturdy, 85th minute header on goal.

Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: Mostly unbothered in a drab 0-0 contest with Arsenal, the U.S. international did kick away an Aaron Ramsey shot with a swell foot save. No goals at home will not help the struggling side (still in the relegation zone), but Guzan certainly isn’t to blame for that.

Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa: Came in at left back for Villa but never looked comfortable, especially against a fresh Andrey Arshavin in the scoreless contest.

Geoff Cameron, Stoke City: The former Houston Dynamo man has mostly settled in at right back for Tony Pulis’ men, but he was on the left Saturday for the Potters, who took all three points against mostly lifeless Fulham at the Britannia Stadium. His only nick was a second-half yellow card. Mid-table now (12th) is a good place for Stoke.

Maurice Edu, Stoke City: The U.S. international did not make Pulis’ 18-man selection for Stoke.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

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We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

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In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.