Maykel Reyes has Cuba on the verge of some U-20 history

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Whoever this Maykel Reyes kid is, he’s got his team on the verge of history. Thanks to three goals from the 19-year-old, Cuba is on the verge of qualifying for the U-20 World Cup, and while they still have to beat Costa Rica on Tuesday to get there, Reyes’s scoring prowess suggests the Cubans have a chance at another upset.

They started the tournament with one, defeating Canada 2-1 on Monday. Reyes grabbed both goals in what proved to be Group B’s decisive match, taking advantage of a Canadian defensive mistake for a 69th minute opener. Nine minutes later, Reyes converted on a corner kick to seal Cuba’s victory.

Two days later, Reyes was on the scoresheet again, scoring the third goal in Cuba’s 3-0 victory over Nicaragua. The win secured Group B for the Cubans, eventually helping them avoid the United States in the quarterfinals. It also make Reyes the tournament’s first three-goal scorer.

Despite a great start to the tournament in Puebla, the quarterfinal represents a make-or-break for Cuba, as well as everybody else. Win and you move on to June’s World Cup in Turkey. Lose and all your group stage exploits go for naught. You miss out on this summer’s finals.

That wouldn’t be new for the Cubans, who have never qualified for a U-20 World Cup, but thanks to Reyes, the team is 90 minutes away from making history. Unfortunately, Cuba being Cuba, we don’t know much about the 19-year-old attacker who has one senior national team appearance.

We know he took part in last year’s Olympic qualifying tournament, playing as a 19-year-old in the U-23 event. In Nashville he scored Cuba’s only goal as the team finished last in a group that included El Salvador, Canada, and the United States.

In Caribbean qualifying for U-20s, Reyes added three more goals, though he went scoreless in four games during the region’s final qualifying stage. Given the hot start to his international career, it was a veritable cold streak for the teenager.

Now the Cuban striker has found another hot streak, giving him seven goals in 11 U-level appearances. He’s also the early scoring leader at CONCACAF’s U-20s.

For the rest of our information, we have to rely on what we’ve seen on the field. On his first goal against Canada, Reyes showed he can use both feet before eventually punching his shot past Maxime Crepeau. The second goal was more opportunism than a display of skill.

Against Nicaragua, Reyes was able to get behind the defense to earn an early penalty kick, eventually giving the Cubans an early lead. On a number of other occasions, Reyes we able to turn the Nicaraguan defense, with his work finally rewarded in the second half when he headed home his team’s final goal.

Cuba’s going to be an underdog on Tuesday against Costa Rica, but if Reyes stays hot, the team may yet punch their first ticket to a U-20 World Cup. Against a Ticos team that has only scored once in the tournament, one Reyes goal may be all the Cubans need to make history.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 11 — Time to settle Groups A & B

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Day 12 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Monday, and with it begins the final round of group games to decide the 16 teams headed to the knockout rounds. For the next four days, we’ll be treated to four games each day.

Also, the end of 8 a.m. ET kickoffs. Hooray for sleeping in.

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

First up, the conclusion of Group A, where both the hosts, Russia, and Uruguay have already advanced with wins in their first two games. Now, the two meet in the southwestern city of Samara to determine who’ll go through to the round of 16 as the group winners, and who’ll be the runners-up. Most likely awaiting either of them will be Spain and Portugal, pending the order in which they finish in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Speaking of Group B, Spain will finish group play against fourth-place and points-less Morocco, while Portugal have a tricky meeting with third-place Iran, who sit just a point behind the reigning European champions. The winner of Group B will face the runners-up of Group A, and vice versa.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

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


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 25

Group A
Uruguay vs. Russia: Samara, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt: Volgograd, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group B
Spain vs. Morocco: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Iran vs. Portugal: Saransk, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Transfer rumor roundup: Emery raiding Sevilla; Wilshere’s suitor(s)

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Unai Emery has reportedly been in contact with at least one former player, Ever Banega, in an attempt to convince the Argentine midfielder to join him at Arsenal.

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Banega, who’ll turn 30 on Friday, played two seasons under Emery at Sevilla — where they won back-to-back Europa League titles (Banega was only at the club for the second and third of three straight from 2013-2016).

With Banega reportedly on the fence about whether or not to leave Sevilla again — he only just returned last summer after one season at Inter Milan — Emery is said to have made a personal call after Arsenal’s bid of roughly $23 million triggered the release clause in Banega’s contract. Sevilla will join Arsenal in the Europa League next season after finishing seventh in La Liga.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Jack Wilshere announced last week that he will leave Arsenal this summer — thus opening up the handful of games for which he was healthy and fit to play each season, perhaps for Banega — which leads us nicely to the final bit of transfer talk for Sunday: West Ham are interested in the 26-year-old, but are reportedly only willing to offer him a one-year contract.

The Hammers’ hesitancy is, of course, a response to his years-long battle with injuries — he’s made just 66 appearances over the last four PL seasons (three with Arsenal, one on loan to Bournemouth).

Two other clubs to keep an eye on, as they’ve reportedly indicated interest in Wilshere and/or been in contact already: Everton and Juventus.

Durmaz condemns Sweden fans’ racist abuse after World Cup loss

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KRASNODAR, Russia (AP) — Sweden midfielder Jimmy Durmaz says the racist abuse aimed at him over social media following the 2-1 loss to Germany at the World Cup has been “completely unacceptable.”

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

After coming on as a substitute, Durmaz gave away the free kick that led to Toni Kroos curling in an injury-time winner in Saturday’s group game. Durmaz has since been subjected to online abuse, including threats to his family.

Before a training session on Sunday, Durmaz — standing in front of the rest of the Sweden squad and beside coach Janne Andersson — read out a statement to the media from a mobile phone.

“When you threaten me, when you call me ‘Arab devil,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘Taliban,’ then you have gone far beyond the limit,” Durmaz said in the statement, which was published on the Swedish Football Association’s website.

“And even worse, when you go after my family, my children, threaten them. Who does such a thing? It is completely unacceptable.”

Durmaz was born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“I am Swedish and I am proud to play in the Swedish national team. That’s the biggest thing you can do as a football player,” he said in the statement. “I will never let any racists destroy that pride. We must all stand against all forms of racism.”

The Swedish FA has reported the abuse toward Durmaz to police.

“We do not tolerate a player being exposed to threats and violations,” said Hakan Sjostrand, secretary general of the Swedish FA. “It is unpleasant and very upsetting to see the treatment that Jimmy Durmaz has suffered. Completely unacceptable.”

The loss to Germany left Sweden tied on three points with its opponent. Both countries are three points behind Mexico with one game left. Sweden plays Mexico in Yekaterinburg on Wednesday, with Germany taking on South Korea at the same time.