Ticos Peligrosos: Snapshots of Costa Rica’s potential goal scorers

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Who will start in the U.S. defense? Captain Davis have us his “educated guesses,” but as Jurgen Klinsmann made clear in Thursday’s press conference, he wants to keep people on their toes. That means no hints for us and, by extension, no information for the Costa Ricans. Whomever is going to fill the gaps at left and right back, we won’t find out for a few more hours.

Regardless of who starts, the challenges remain the same. Costa Rica has a deep, rich, and diverse group of potential goal scorers, with these five the most likely candidates to give the U.S. a scare tonight at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park:

1. Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)

The Real Salt Lake No. 9 has 30 international goals in 80 appearances. The rest of Jorge Luis Pinto’s team has 37 combined.

With earlier rumors he may miss the match subsequently dispelled, Saborio’s expected to be front-and-center in the Costa Rican attack.

Stat line: Three goals in as many games for RSL this season; 17 in 33 league appearances last year.

2. Bryan Ruiz (Fulham, England)

Ruiz will be familiar to American soccer fans not only from his CONCACAF exploits but from the season he shared at Fulham with Clint Dempsey before the U.S. captain moved on.

Fast, skilled, and versatile, Ruiz is capable attacking any weakness in the U.S. defense, be that creating for Saborio or putting his shots on goal. His 10 international goals are tied for second in Pinto’s squad.

Stat line: Two goals in 20 appearances for Fulham this season; Two in 27 games last.

3. Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew)

Amid speculation Costa Rica will set up conservatively in Colorado, it’s unlikely Arrieta will start. If he does, he’ll be the workhorse that opens things up for Saborío and Ruiz.

But Arrieta’s more than a worker bee, as his Major League Soccer goal totals can attest. He may have only two goals in his international career, but that’s in nine appearances. Arrieta’s been a late comer.

Stat line: One goal in three games for Columbus this season; Nine in 18 games after joining the Crew mid-way through the 2012 season.

4. Joel Campbell (Real Betis, Spain, on loan from Arsenal)

Raw but with tremendous physical talent, Campbell’s speed and shooting ability make him a potential game-breaker, whether he’s deployed as a wide man or a more traditional forward. Only 20 years old, he’s already been capped 20 times and racked up seven international goals, including one against Spain in Nov. 2011.

Stat line: Two goals in 20 Spanish Primera Division games. Last year, between two levels of French soccer, Campbell had four goals in 30 games.

5. Celso Borges (AIK, Sweden)

Borges is one of three players on this team that has scored double-digit international goals. At 24 years old, he’s racked up 10 goals in 46 international appearances.

Capable of playing striker as well as central midfield, Borges gives Costa Rica the potential of a late-arriving threat that can take advantage of the space created by Saborío and Ruiz.

Interestingly, all 10 of his international goals have come in competitive matches (none in friendlies).

Stat line: Eight goals in 29 games last year in the Swedish first division.

 

Report: Toronto to send Giovinco to Tigres for Valencia, cash

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An Mexican site reports that Tigres UANL is ready to send Enner Valencia and cash to Toronto FC to land Sebastian Giovinco.

Normally that’s seem a bit wild for TFC to send their perennial MLS MVP candidate packing, but the club has been hesitant to meet Giovinco’s terms on a new contract.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

And Valencia is nearly three years younger and a bit bigger than Giovinco.

Valencia scored in bunches for Tigres after arriving from West Ham, scoring nine goals with an assist in 16 Apertura matches including three multi-goal games. He then saw his numbers dip to two goals and three assists in 11 Clausura appearances.

Giovinco, meanwhile, has six goals and six assists in 15 matches between MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League.

It would be a significant risk for TFC, though the idea of pairing up Enner Valencia and Jozy Altidore is a physical nightmare for MLS defenses.

Whoops! Unai Emery puts up Arsenal message on web site

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Arsenal’s next manager is very close to being officially Unai Emery.

That is unless, the Gunners’ brass has its mind changed by his sloppy web savvy.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Emery — or his people, or hackers — mistakenly put up a graphic featuring the Spanish coach, the Arsenal logo, and the phrase “Proud to be a part of the Arsenal family” before taking it down in short order.

Emery is expected to take over for Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium this summer. Something tells us we’ll have an announcement on Wednesday or even later tonight…

State TV: Ghana president orders arrest of FIFA executive

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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday ordered police to arrest football federation head Kwesi Nyantakyi, a member of the powerful FIFA Council, over allegations of fraud.

Akufo-Addo’s order was announced by the state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

Abu Jinapor, deputy chief of staff at the president’s office, said the order for Nyantakyi to be arrested and investigated related to an undercover documentary that purports to show the football official asking businessmen for money in return for access to the president and other senior government officials.

“It was a clear case of defrauding by false pretense,” Jinapor said, adding that Akufo-Addo’s order came after he watched excerpts from the documentary, which has not yet been broadcast.

Nyantakyi is president of the Ghana Football Association, a vice president of the Confederation of African Football, and has been a member of the ruling FIFA Council since 2016. He was the FIFA official chosen to oversee the football competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ghanaian media reported that Nyantakyi was not in Ghana at the time of the president’s order but was returning home.

Nyantakyi has been accused of improper behavior before when a British media investigation just before the 2014 World Cup claimed he had been willing to allow the Ghana national team to play in games that could be fixed by others. He denied the allegation.

Premier League managerial power rankings

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There’s a new sheriff at West Ham United, and it’s no small-time boss.

Former Premier League champion manager Manuel Pellegrini is taking over the London side, which had us wondering how high he’d move up the acclaim ladder upon hiring (as of post time).

[ MORE: Brighton nabs World Cup defender ]

With the 20th spot still open — will it be Fulham or Aston Villa — the Arsenal and Everton jobs vacant for now, and both Neil Warnock and Nuno Espirito Santo yet to manage their clubs in the top flight, we rank the power status of the 15 other active Premier League bosses.

15. Javi Gracia, Watford — Manager don’t usually last long at Vicarage Road, and Gracia doesn’t have a record for sticking around clubs for too long himself.

14. Mark Hughes, Southampton — Saints stayed in the Premier League, and Hughes deserves credit for pushing the buttons on a talented squad.

13. Claude Puel, Leicester City — A disappointing finish to his season keeps Leicester outside the Europa League, and so he has a bit more to prove after an impressive reclamation job at the King Power Stadium.

12. David Wagner, Huddersfield Town — Keeping Town in the Premier League was impressive, but we’re not sure how much we learned about the long-term prognosis of Jurgen Klopp‘s best pal.

11. Chris Hughton, Brighton and Hove Albion — He’d led several clubs to Premier League promotion, and coaxed fine seasons out of what appeared to be a subpar defense at season’s open.

10. Eddie Howe, Bournemouth — One of the brightest young managerial minds, can he take the next step on the South Coast?

9. Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace — What he did upon inheriting and then overseeing one of the worst starts in Premier League history was nothing short of brilliant. Clearly he hasn’t stopped learning unlike many other PL “retreads.”

8. Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham — What will a few years outside the Premier League, if anything, have done to the one-time Man City leader. Don’t forget: The season City won the PL season, he coaxed 20-plus goal campaigns in all competitions from Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo, and Yaya Toure.

7. Antonio Conte, Chelsea — Tactically and experience-wise, he’s so much higher on the list. Regardless of the mess at Chelsea, better was needed this season.

6. Sean Dyche, Burnley — Guiding tiny Burnley to the Europa League is as impressive a feat as any outside of what Guardiola did this year and Claudio Ranieri did at Leicester City.

— BONUS — 6b. Unai Emery, if hired at Arsenal —

5. Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United — Considering his resume, it shouldn’t be as surprising that he kept United up despite his owner refusing to green-light a real answer at center forward. Worked career years out of Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.

4. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool — The Champions League final says something, especially in a year he sold Philippe Coutinho, but his team still lacks the consistency of the three men in front of him.

3. Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham Hotspur — Spurs have smartly spent and kept their stars around, but their financial outlay arguably should not have them consistently finishing ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal.

2. Jose Mourinho, Manchester United — Still a defensive marvel, still a genius, still somewhat hilarious… but we all know who No. 1 is…

  1. Pep Guardiola, Manchester City