Will the young USMNT defense remain vs. Belgium tomorrow?

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When the US national team steps onto the field against Belgium tomorrow night in Cleveland, several different defenders could be used in all kinds of different ways by Jurgen Klinsmann.

Everything is up in the air. It is pandemonium. But that is fantastic. The US now has so many great options at the back.

First of all, let’s just remind you that USMNT stalwarts Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and Oguchi Onyewu aren’t in the squad.

The relative youngsters — Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron — who impressed against Costa Rica and Mexico in March are here to stay.

These new guys aren’t going anywhere.

They’re the future of the US national team and now Klinsmann has an embarrassment of riches in defense. But after their domestic campaigns just finishing, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Edgar Castillo will miss the friendly with Belgium and meet up with the USMNT for the friendly with Germany in D.C. on June 2.

So the US is a little short at the back right now. But that’s okay, there is plenty of talent that made it to Cleveland.

But how will Klinsi align all that talent? Well, left back is still a troubled area but with DaMarcus Beasley confirmed as a starter for his 100th game tomorrow, Klinsmann will likely start with him on the left.

The central pairing may be the same two players who excelled at the Azteca. Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler proved Major League Soccer is producing top quality defenders for Klinsmann to use. Their ascension through the ranks after impressing in the January national team camp has been just one of the reasons why the experienced trio of Cherundolo, Bocanegra and Onyewu have been left off this roster.

At right back, plenty of options remain with Clarence Goodson and Geoff Cameron solid options. It seems as though Cameron is the most likely to start there, meaning the same back four that got a shutout in Mexico will start against Belgium.

I can’t argue with that. The performance in that key qualifier was one of the best defensive displays I’ve seen from a US side, and their have been plenty of stellar ones over the years. That’s what the US does best.

But, will a lack of experience hurt the team in next month’s qualifiers? Goodson is the most experienced defender on this current roster, the Brondby defender is 31-years-old and has 35 caps. Besler and Gonzalez have eight caps between them. The other four defenders haven’t got more than 15 each.

However as they showed in the Azteca, experience doesn’t count much for these days. Getting it done does.

I’m certainly looking forward to seeing these inexperienced international defenders making their mark with the USMNT. Roll on Wednesday night.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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