Who’s most likely to rep the US in Brazil? Ranking the provisional 1-30

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This isn’t about who’s most important, or best-qualified to represent the United States at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. No, this is simply taking the 30 names Jurgen Klinsmann released today and evaluating which players, top to bottom, would be the most surprising omissions from the final 23.

For example, the three goalkeepers will be pretty high up on the list, as the Yanks will march into Brazil with three netminders.

Again, this isn’t a list of who I’d take, but who I feel is most likely to get the call. I’m not sure any player making the team would shock me, but cuts are another story. It’s an exciting time to support US Soccer and the next few weeks will be thrilling as Klinsmann culls his roster to 23 by June 2.

Without further ado, the most surprising cuts from US camp would be…

1. Michael Bradley — A two-way menace and the closest thing the States have to a world-class midfielder.

2. Tim Howard — 
Fifteen clean sheets at Everton and the most dependable player in his unit.

3. Jermaine Jones — At this point, if Klinsmann returned home to find his house on fire and Jones laughing while spraying a flamethrower all over his garden gnomes, I’d expect Klinsmann to say, “Hey, it happens,” crack open a beer and pat Jones on the back.

4. Geoff Cameron
5. Fabian Johnson — three players with versatility to burn/reliability to their games
6. Graham Zusi

7. Clint Dempsey — remains the face of the national team, has earned benefit of the doubt.

8. DaMarcus Beasley — still pacey after all these years, calm veteran influence.

9. Jozy Altidore — because “What if he puts it altogether?” isn’t limited to fans, but coaches.

10. Matt Besler
11. Omar Gonzalez — because you need to call your center back pairing well in advance.

12. Brad Guzan — because this is how it works.

13. Landon Donovan — many would put him further down the list, but cutting Landon Donovan would still be cutting Landon Donovan, right?

14. Kyle Beckerman — because center of the pitch depth is important, and Klinsmann has relied on him more often than not.

15. Nick Rimando — again, because this is how it works (though Southampton’s Cody Cropper sure wishes he could have a say here).

16. Michael Parkhurst — because form and experience matter, and he has both.

17. Aron Johannsson
18. Terrence Boyd — because it’s super hard to score 17 and 20 goals, respectively.

19. Julian Green — because Klinsmann sold him on this chance, and he’d have to clearly fail this chance.

20. Ale Bedoya — his form at Nantes dipped for a while, but he was still playing regularly in Ligue 1.

21. Brad Davis — again, this ranking is by surprise. He deserves to make this team and he will if healthy.

22. Chris Wondolowski — because of all the forwards, he’s the “easiest” one to dismiss (which is a shame)

23. Clarence Goodson
24. Brad Evans — because Evans either of these players being 23 on your 23 works just fine, but one gives you center back depth and more experience on the stage.

25. Maurice Edu
— just don’t see him making this much of a jump back into the side this late in a cycle.

26. Timmy Chandler — when healthy, so intriguing and so good, but coming off a torn meniscus and no matches at the end of the Bundesliga season?

27. Joe Corona a big unknown and X-factor in this group at age 23.
28. Mix Diskerud — at 23, may not be his time yet.
29. DeAndre Yedlin — youth is served… but just for camp.
30. John Anthony Brooks
— has looked out of place, but gets his camp invite.

Champions League wrap: Ajax, RB Leipzig, Salzburg win; Barca held

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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While Liverpool and Chelsea lost in shutout fashion, only three other teams saw zeroes next to their names after 90 minutes of UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ UCL: Scores, full lineups, stats, box scores ]

You may be surprised to see that Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund kept each other off the board, while Lille was cooked by Ajax.

Red Bull Salzburg 6-2 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team to a win in a UEFA Champions League game. The Red Bull Salzburg boss got a hat trick from red-hot 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who has 17 goals in nine matches this season and is also the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Ajax 3-0 Lille

Mexico’s Edson Alvarez now has two goals in two career UEFA Champions League games, as he joined Quincy Promes on the score sheet in a 2-0 win. American-Dutch right back Sergino Dest played 90 minutes in the win, and Nicolás Tagliafico recorded two assists. USMNT forward Timothy Weah was again absent with a hamstring tear.

Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona

Lionel Messi spent most of the match on the bench, and Marco Reus missed a Jadon Sancho-won penalty thanks to a Marc-Andre ter Stegen save.

And what a save it was!

Elsewhere

Chelsea 0-1 Valencia — RECAP
Napoli 2-0 Liverpool — RECAP
Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Benfica 1-2 RB Leipzig

Barkley sails late penalty as Chelsea falls at home

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Ross Barkley missed a late penalty as Chelsea lost its UEFA Champions League opener 1-0 to Valencia on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Rodrigo scored the lone goal, and Valencia will be thrilled to collect all three points in London.

Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea, who out-attempted Valencia 22-8 on the day.


Three things we learned

1. Pulisic down the pecking order: The American star didn’t start, and wasn’t the first name called when Mason Mount was injured. Granted Pedro played a little deeper, but not a good week for the Hershey-born Pulisic

2. Wide men the danger men: Willian was the likely Man of the Match for Chelsea despite the lack of goals, and full backs Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta were also key to the resutl.

3. Penalty drama: VAR gave Chelsea a chance to level from the spot, but Ross Barkley stepped ahead of Willian and missed the chance. The Brazilian looked aggrieved before and after the miss, and Barkley looked mighty confident right until the moment he missed his shot. Sort yourself out!

Man of the Match: Willian — No wonder he was angry to see Barkley demand the penalty, as a Willian goal would’ve been a fitting result for his clever and industrious day at the office.


Valencia keeper Jasper Cillesen made two stops early, denying Tammy Abraham to concede a corner before collecting a Marcos Alonso header on the ensuing set piece.

Would it be Christian Pulisic time when Mason Mount left the match with injury following a challenge from former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin? Nope. Pedro was called upon to fill the void.

It was a sleepy second half, with Pedro conceding a free kick to Valencia that didn’t amount to anything exciting.

Those who stuck around were rewarded with late drama, as Valencia took the lead through a Rodrigo flick off a free kick.

However, Valencia then had to watch through its fingers as Chelsea was gifted a chance at the spot through VAR when Fikayo Tomori headed a ball off the arm of Daniel Wass.

Willian was upset to see Ross Barkley take the penalty, and the English midfielder probably wishes he let someone else take it after missing over the bar.

Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

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The good news is that Liverpool lost to Napoli last season in the UEFA Champions League, then went on to win the whole darn thing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jose Callejon won a late penalty that Dries Mertens converted, and Fernando Llorente took advantage of a Virgil Van Dijk error to pad the lead as Napoli held serve at home with a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeepers immense: No, he’s not Alisson Becker, but Adrian is probably the biggest reason Liverpool didn’t open its UCL defense with a loss. He made a pair of early stops on Dries Mertens before a show-stopping effort in the second half. Napoli got two fine saves from Alex Meret, including a terrific denial of Mohamed Salah in the 65th.

2. Salah, Mane can’t deliver in key moments: Take away Salah’s penalty in the UCL Final, and Liverpool’s two top threats have not accounted for a goal in four matches inside the competition. Mane was mostly good on the day, but misled Salah on an early second half pass which would have almost certainly been a goal. Salah simply had an off day

3. Callejon sells the drama: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson lost a 50/50 with Jose Callejon, who ran into the fulback and hit the deck to win a penalty. That was the difference here, as Mertens beat Adrian.

Man of the Match: Meret was especially good, the 22-year-old Italian goalkeeper big in several key moments to edge Mertens for the honor.


Napoli thought it had gone ahead through El Tri star Hirving Lozano, who nodded over the line following two Alisson Becker saves on Dries Mertens, but the Mexican was offside.

Sadio Mane had a 20th minute chance at the other end, but pumped a point blank low shot to Napoli keeper Alex Meret which led to a corner kick.

Fabinho intervened in the 53rd minute as Napoli emerged from the locker room with energy, but the best chance of the early second half was flubbed in uncharacteristic fashion: Sadio Mane was through 2v1 with Mohamed Salah but made a miserable pass to his teammate.

The first goal arrived when Callejon tapped the ball past Robertson and leapt into the defender to earn a penalty from referee Felix Brych.

It was 2-0 in stoppage time when Fernando Llorente ran onto a Virgil van Dijk error and passed beyond Adrian.

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.

Elsewhere

Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig