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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Queiroz: Iran has one “match point” left in World Cup group stage

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Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…

Spain gets win after Iran loses equalizer to VAR

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  • Spain goal: Costa (54′)
  • Iranian goal disallowed
  • Next: Spain-Morocco, Portugal-Iran

Iran had an equalizer taken away via Video Assistant Referee and Spain picked up its first win of the 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 win in Kazan on Wednesday.

Diego Costa scored Spain’s goal, as La Furia Roja joined Portugal atop Group B on four points. Iran has three, while eliminated Morocco has yet to get a result.

Team Melli lost their chance to sit atop the group when Saeid Ezatolahi rebound was ruled to have come after an offside touch from a teammate.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Spain certainly had its chances in the first half hour, capped off by an attempted overhead kick from David Silva.

Man City’s 32-year-old attacker had a great deal of chances in the contest, and would see a deflected rip bound wide of the goal during three minutes of first half stoppag time.

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

After Gerard Pique missed an in-tight chance to start the second half, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand made an outstanding punch save on Isco before punching away the rebound bid.

Iran found its first true chance of the match in the 53rd minute, with Karim Ansarifard lashing into a shot from 15 yards that tore into the outside of the goal.

It was moments later that Spain went ahead, Costa getting a goal when a clearance bounding off his shin and into the net.

Mehdi Taremi flicked a header wide of the goal, and Iran thought it had an equalizer through Saeid Ezatolahi only for VAR to step in and call offside on the previous Iranian to touch the ball.

It was off, but only just.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Beiranvand was again on the scene for a 70th minute goal mouth scramble following a drawn-up corner kick by Spain.

Taremi pounded a header over the goal after a Vahid Amiri nutmeg of Pique led to a back post cross.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL duo eyeing Asensio and more

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The ongoing World Cup hasn’t halted the transfer talk across global soccer, and on Wednesday there are a number of potentially intriguing storylines.


Two Premier League sides are chasing Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, including Chelsea and Manchester United, while they will have to battle Paris Saint-Germain as well.

Although Asensio is prepared to stay in Spain next season, he wants to be assured of playing time under new manager Julen Lopetegui, who recently joined the club.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos.


Juventus continues to have several players at the center of transfer rumors, and Miralem Pjanic is a name that keeps popping up.

The midfielder won’t come cheap though, with Juve reportedly set to ask for $92.6 million in the event that a club wants to acquire Pjanic.

Barcelona is rumored to be seeking a move for Pjanic with Andres Iniesta now heading to Vissel Kobe in the J-League.


New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is reportedly looking to bring several of his former Napoli players to Stamford Bridge, including Belgium star Dries Mertens.

The Blues are seeking more attacking options ahead of the fall, and the veteran Mertens has become a proven commodity in front of goal over the course of his Serie A career.

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

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The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

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

Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.