Updated U.S. World Cup roster outlook – Who’s in for Brazil?: MIDFIELDERS

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After the completion of the long January camp and the first United States match of a highly anticipated World Cup year (last weekend’s 2-0 win over South Korea), let’s look at which players appear to be shipshape for a golden seat on that charter into Brazil.

Don’t forget, the first match is just a little more than four months away.

MIDFIELDERS

If anyone made significant progress in January, they did so very quietly.

Long story short here: There are still lots  of decisions to be made.

Brad Davis, solidly on the bubble, needed a big camp and a big performance against South Korea to strengthen his position. While the longtime Houston Dynamo man didn’t exactly hurt himself, a bad turnover here and there and a failure to make a solid imprint on the game meant that it wasn’t the shining moment Davis really needed.

If anyone made significant progress in January, they did so very quietly.

Brad Davis, solidly on the bubble, needed a big camp and a big performance against South Korea to strengthen his position. While the longtime Houston Dynamo man didn’t exactly hurt himself, a bad turnover here and there and a failure to make a solid imprint on the game meant that it wasn’t the shining moment Davis really needed.

(MORE: Michael Bradley for  U.S. captain? You couldn’t do any better)

Mix Diskerud did OK, and he keeps inching ever closer to movement into that “roster lock” classification. Then again, by not grabbing hold of his opportunities any more forcefully than he has, Diskerud leaves himself open to a late charge from, say, Danny Williams, Sacha Kljestan or even Benny Feilhaber, who has moved into an “on the bubble” position since we last did this little roster examination exercise in October.

Speaking of the last time, Josh Gatt has fallen off the bubble list. Anyone who plays in Norway (or any of the Scandinavian lands) but wasn’t invited to the recent camp (as Diskerud was) probably isn’t having his name spoken in the ongoing U.S. coaching staff conversations.

On the other hand, you’d have to say Maurice Edu’s opportunity to get on the field (he’s now a featured piece of the puzzle at Philadelphia) will move him closer to the roster discussions, at very least.

Oh, and before anyone gets in a twist over Fabian Johnson exclusion, I added him to the list of defenders. In a perfect world, Johnson is probably a midfielder. (Those darting cuts inside from the left can be devastating!) But since he has played along the back line (left and right, in fact) for the United States, and given the team’s relative instability at both fullback spots, he’s probably just as likely to be in the rear guard as in the midfield.

  • Going to Brazil: Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi
  • On the bubble (2-3): Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea, Jose Torres, Danny Williams

(MORE: Which goalkeepers and defenders are locks, and who is on the bubble?)

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Watch Live: Arsenal v. Brighton, Sheffield Utd v. Newcastle

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Matchweek 15 of the 2019-20 Premier League season wraps up on Thursday, with two more midweek clashes featuring two mid-table sides, and two more from much nearer to the relegation zone, in action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

First up, PL new boys (and 9th-place side) Sheffield United will host 14th-place Newcastle United, who sit just two points outside the relegation zone ahead of kickoff. 45 minutes later, 10th-place Arsenal will host 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game as Arsenal interim manager.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

The schedule for Thursday’s two games is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


2:30 p.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Newcastle United [STREAM]
3:15 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion [STREAM]

Marco Silva fired by Everton

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Marco Silva has been fired as manager of Everton, making him the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job in the last 16 days.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Silva reported for a regular day’s work at Everton’s training ground on Thursday, a day after suffering a 5-2 defeat to local rivals Liverpool, all while a conference call was expected to take place involving the relevant figures: owner Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenright, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and director of football Marcel Brands.

15 games into the 2019-20 PL season, the Toffees currently sit 18th in the league table with less than a point per game — relegation territory — on the back of three straight losses and just four wins all season. Silva’s only victory since mid-October came against fellow bottom-four side Southampton nearly a month ago.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

It’s not just the number of losses for Everton (now up to nine) on the season thus far, but many of the sides to which they’ve lost (newly promoted Aston Villa, 12th-place Bournemouth, newly promoted Sheffield United, 11th-place Burnley, 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion and 19th-place Norwich, to name a few) that forced them further and further down the table and made relegation a semi-serious threat, at least for the time being.

Atleti escapes major punishment for fans’ Griezmann threats

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid escaped major punishment Wednesday after its fans made threatening chants against former player Antoine Griezmann during last weekend’s La Liga match against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The Spanish league had denounced the club after some fans chanted “Die Griezmann” in Sunday’s match, won by Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Spanish soccer federation said it would fine Atletico $333 because the game was disrupted, but it did not cite the chants against Griezmann. The fine was prompted mainly because fans threw objects — including an umbrella — onto the field.

The Spanish league had denounced the club to the federation’s anti-violence committee, saying about 2,000 fans from Atletico’s “ultras” section made the chants for about 20 seconds before the start of the second half, and again later in the game.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Griezmann left Atletico for Barcelona at the end of last season in a transfer worth more than $132 million.

The France forward was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball at the Metropolitano on Sunday. It was his first match at Atletico’s stadium since leaving the club.

Klopp to take first team to Club World Cup, leave youth for EFL Cup

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Jurgen Klopp has chosen his strongest possible Liverpool squad to take to the Club World Cup later this month, leaving a reserve- and youth-laden team behind to compete in the EFL Cup during the same period.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Liverpool will head to Doha, Qatar, for the Club World Cup, where they’ll play their semifinal fixture against one of Monterrey (Mexico), Al-Saad (Qatar) or Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia) on Dec. 18. The day prior, on Dec. 17, the Reds will also play away to Aston Villa in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. With the club’s star-studded first team in Qatar, progression to the semifinals of the League Cup will be down to a team full of teenage prospects.

Only defender Joel Matip and midfielder Fabinho, both of whom are currently injured and unavailable, were left out of the Club World Cup squad.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Players suffering from illness or injury prior to Liverpool’s first Club World Cup game can be replaced in the squad up to 24 hours before kickoff.

Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan

Defenders: Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams

Forwards: Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster, Divock Origi