Dempsey at the gun, Brooks at the death deliver victory for the U.S., 2-1 over Ghana

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The fastest goal in the team’s World Cup history looked like it would unrewarded, but thanks late heroics from a halftime substitute, the United States has its first opening game victory since 2002. Heading home a Graham Zusi corner in the 86th minute, 21-year-old John Brooks gave the U.S. a 2-1 win over the Black Stars, exorcising some lingering demons in the process.

The U.S. was eliminated by Ghana from the last two World Cups, with the Black Stars’ 2-1 in extra time at South Africa 2010 sending the nation to its first quarterfinal. On Monday, however, the U.S. led for 85 minutes, with only André Ayew’s 82nd minute equalizer giving the four-time African champions hope of salvaging a result.

That equalizer came after Clint Dempsey set a U.S. record 34 seconds in, finishing from just outside the six-yard box to give his team an early 1-0 lead. Four minutes before the end of regulation time, Brooks restored the U.S.’s advantage, giving the team its first perfect start since defeating Portugal at World Cup 2002.

[ MORE: USMNT Man of the Match | Six talking points | Injury update ]

With Germany defeating the Seleccao earlier on Monday, the U.S. moves into a tie atop Group G, labeled by many as Brazil 2014’s Group of Death. Goal difference gives the favored Germans the edge among the two perfect teams, but with a hobbled Portugal up next, the U.S.’s win over Ghana represents a huge step toward securing a spot in the tournament’s final 16.

That match will take place on Sunday in the Amazonian city of Manaus, where conditions should mimic the 78 percent humidity that slowed the Americans tonight in Natal. Ghana, in the meantime, will face Germany in Fortaleza, with tonight’s loss meaning the Black Stars will in all likelihood need a result from the 2010 semifinalists.

With the first attacking movement of the game, the U.S. were on the board. Pressuring the Ghanaian defense into an early turnover, the U.S.’s quick throw-in from the left gave captain Clint Dempsey a chance to go one-on-one against central defender John Boye. Leaning left before cutting right, Dempsey moved in on goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, who was left to kick in vain at a left-footed shot that found the far corner. After 34 seconds, with the sixth-fastest goal in World Cup history, the U.S. was up, 1-0.

Come the half-hour mark, the game assumed the posture it would take into halftime, with a U.S. defense that congested the middle of the park forcing the Ghanaians to play from high and wide. Sharp reads from Tim Howard stifled attempts to pass through the defense, while the Black Stars had no luck getting behind fullbacks DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson. Come halftime, the U.S. had retained its 1-0 lead, with both teams registering one shot on target.

Along the way, however, the U.S. lost starting striker Jozy Altidore to injury, with the Sunderland forward replaced by Aron Johannsson after going down with a left hamstring injury in the 21st minute. In the middle of the half, a leg to the face of Dempsey from Ghanaian defender Jonathan Mensah left the team’s captain with a bloody nose, while another hamstring problem, this time afflicting defender Matt Besler, saw Brooks come on at halftime. By the 46th minute, Jürgen Klinsmann had used two of his substitutions.

source: AP
United States’ Clint Dempsey leaps as he celebrates after scoring the opening goal  between Ghana and the United States. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Despite the changes, the second half began as the first ended, with Ghana left to probe the edges to the U.S. defense, with their sequences usually ending with a ball rolled to Howard. Ten minutes into the half, a long-range shot from Sulley Muntari and an open header for Asamoah Gyan gave the U.S. its first scare, with a 17-yard header from Gyan two minutes later drawing a diving save from Howard.

By the time Ghana’s captain forced a 64th minute block from Geoff Cameron, the effects of Besler’s loss were clear. The U.S. defense, particularly after the introduction of Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, had lost control.

In the 82nd minute, Ghana’s work paid off when Gyan dragged Cameron away from goal to create a chance for Ayew. Laying the ball off for the Marseille attacker, Gyan created space between the U.S. center backs for the one-time shot, with Howard beat inside his right post for the late equalizer.

Four minutes later, the U.S. had restored its lead, with two substitutes delivering victory in the sauna of Natal. Off a corner from the right, Graham Zusi’s out-swinging ball found Brooks at the edge of the six-yard box, with the Hertha Berlin defender heading down and into the Ghanaian goal to deliver full points.

[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

When the ball reached the back of Kwarasey’s net, the fight left the Ghanaians. Lifted to its crest four minutes earlier, the team that’d vanquished the Americans in Nuremberg and Rustenburg had seen the tables turn, with a U.S. side they’d expected to beat landing the final blow. Not only was Ghana’s mastery of the Americans over, but the Black Stars had lost suffered a major blow to their knockout round hopes.

The U.S., on the other hand, sit even with Germany at the top, and although Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal await, the players can take a moment to savor a moment their predecessors could not. A nemesis has been fallen, and in the process, the U.S. may have laid the groundwork to improve on its 2006 and 2010 results.

Lineups:

Ghana: Kwarasey; Opare, Mensah, Boye, Asamoah; Rabiu (Essien 71′), Atsu (Adomah 78′), Muntari, J. Ayew (Boateng 59′); Gyan, A. Ayew

Goals: A. Ayew 82′

United States: Howard, Johnson, Cameron, Besler (Brooks 46′), Beasley, Beckerman, Jones, Bradley, Bedoya (Zusi 77′), Dempsey, Altidore (Johannsson 23′)

Goals: Dempsey 1′, Brooks 86′

Premier League odds: Matchweek 34

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Check out the EPL betting odds for the games in Matchweek 34, as the Premier League return continues with games coming thick and fast.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Take a look below at the odds for the Premier League games in midweek, as the action has resumed following the suspension on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Click on the link above to watch all of the games live via our platforms here at NBC Sports, while below are the individual EPL betting odds for each game via DraftKings.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League predictions ]

Also, click play on the video above to watch my predictions for the games and where you should focus your attention this weekend as the Premier League action continues to come right at us.


Matchweek 33

Tuesday, July 7: (+650) Crystal Palace v. Chelsea (-220), Tie: +335
Tuesday, July 7: (-152) Watford v. Norwich (+440), Tie: +285
Tuesday, July 7: (+125) Arsenal v. Leicester (+220), Tie: +245
Wednesday, July 8: (-835) Man City v. Newcastle (+2000), Tie: +245
Wednesday, July 8: (+310) Sheffield United v. Wolves (+107), Tie: +210
Wednesday, July 8: (+104) West Ham v. Burnley (+285), Tie: +235
Wednesday, July 8: (+510) Brighton v. Liverpool (-182), Tie: +320
Thursday, July 9: (+100) Everton v. Southampton (+270), Tie: +255
Thursday, July 9: (+425) Bournemouth v. Tottenham (-157), Tie: +310
Thursday, July 9: (+900) Aston Villa v. Man United (-315), Tie: +420

Crystal Palace – Chelsea preview: How to watch, odds, team news, prediction

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Crystal Palace – Chelsea promises to be an intriguing clash at Selhurst Park on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a London derby.

Christian Pulisic continues to be the main man for Chelsea as the USMNT star put in another superb display in their 3-0 win against Watford and the Blues remain on track to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.

CRYSTAL PALACE – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

As for Palace, they have lost their last three games on the trot without scoring and Roy Hodgson’s side look destined for a midtable finish.

Below is everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace – Chelsea on Tuesday.


Team news

Palace will be without James Tomkins, Jeffrey Schlupp and Martin Kelly, while Hodgson may bring back Cheikhou Kouyate, Scott Dann and James McCarthy as they were rested.

Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic through injury, as Fikayo Tomori is also out.

What they’re saying

Roy Hodgson on facing Chelsea: “They a very, very good team with many, many good players and, irrespective of our own position in this moment in time, all we can do is prepare for it, get ready for it and look forward to it – I do look forward to it, and I know all the players are looking forward to the game. I know we will do our best, work very hard and make life as difficult for them as possible. But we 100% aware of all the challenges, with the quality that they have, that they’re going to present us.”

Frank Lampard on the threat of Man United to their place in the top four: “They’re closest, they’re a very strong team, they’re in great form for a long period of time. They have got really good individual players. You have seen the momentum they have gained across their front three, all scoring, lots of goals. They’re the biggest threat from behind, but this is the Premier League. It looks that way today, but it’s how each team finishes the season.”

Odds and ends

Crystal Palace are huge underdogs (+650) as Chelsea (-220) are the red-hot favorites given their three wins from their first four games of the restart. The tie at +335 is where the value is at because as we saw with Chelsea’s shock defeat at West Ham last week, they can be dominated from set pieces and hit on the counter. Those two aspects are huge strengths of Palace’s game.

Prediction

We are all expecting a Chelsea win here but don’t be surprised if Wilfried Zaha has a day at makes it a very tough outing for this leaky Chelsea defense. Palace have been fired up and shocked Chelsea before but I think the Blues, led by Pulisic, have too much for Palace. 3-1 to Chelsea.

Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Saint-Maximin to Arsenal

Kai Havertz to Chelsea
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In the latest Premier League transfer news Kai Havertz to Chelsea continues to gather steam, while Allan Saint-Maximin is linked with a move to Arsenal.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Starting in west London, Kai Havertz continues to be linked with Chelsea and a report from the Daily Express says that Frank Lampard is willing to sell six players to sign the Bayer Leverkusen and Germany 21-year-old.

Per the report, Marcos Alonso, Michy Batshuayi, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Kenedy, Danny Drinkwater and Emerson Palmeri are the players Chelsea want to offload in order to afford a move for Havertz, plus bring in a new left back.

Havertz has been a star for Leverkusen during the 2019-20 season but they just missed out on qualifying for the Champions League and lost in the German Cup final at the weekend. Havertz is due to play for Bayer in the UEFA Europa League in August, but will he be a Chelsea player by then?

With Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech joining Chelsea this summer, Lampard has a host of attacking options to choose from but Havertz is seen as one of the top young attacking midfield talents and he can also play as a false nine. Chelsea would have to spend close to $112 million to sign him but if they can replace quantity with quality, this has to be the way to go for Lampard.

Chelsea are in a strong financial position given the money they saved during their FIFA transfer ban and with the market values currently low due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have pounced to sign Werner and Ziyech.

Saint-Maximin to Arsenal
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Switching to north London, Allan Saint-Maximin has been linked with a move to Arsenal once again. Saint-Maximin, 23, has been sensational since arriving at Newcastle from Nice last summer for $19 million.

The French winger is full of tricks and flicks and his unpredictability is key to his success, with four goals and four assists in all competitions.

According to a report from Le10 Sport in France, Arsenal are among the clubs trying to sign him this summer with Tottenham and Napoli also in the running. It is reported that Arsenal have contacted Saint-Maximin’s agents to see what he thinks about a move to north London.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette potentially leaving this summer, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli, Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka would be Arsenal’s main attacking threats, so they could do with some reinforcements in this area. Especially as Mesut Ozil appears to be out of Mikel Arteta’s plans.

Saint-Maximin certainly has the talent to be a main main on a top six team in the Premier League. Could we see his famous Gucci headband and somersaults coming to the Emirates Stadium?

MLS schedule for Orlando tournament; How to watch

MLS schedule, how to watch Orlando
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Here is your MLS schedule for the Orlando tournament in July with details on how to watch the action, as well as full details for their ‘MLS is Back’ tournament in Orlando in July, with all 26 teams taking part at the Wide World of Sports complex at the Disney resort.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

The tournament will kick off on July 8 with a group stage, then the Round of 16 will take place on July 25-28, the quarterfinals on July 30-August 1, semifinals on August 5-6 and the final on August 11.

Check out the MLS schedule for the Orlando tournament in full below, with MLS how to watch details too as this competition will see MLS return after four months off.

Essentially, this is a World Cup tournament between the 26 MLS teams, as the league also revealed that the regular season would continue at home MLS stadiums after the tournament as strict protocols to deal with the coronavirus pandemic will be in place.

Here are some key details on the “MLS is back” tournament and how to watch MLS, as how teams perform will be rewarded with CCL spots, prize money and more:

  • All 26 MLS clubs participating; all matches in Orlando
  • Group stage followed by knockout rounds
  • Group stage games which end in a draw will have penalty shootout
  • Teams will play a minimum of three games, maximum of seven
  • Each of the 39 group-stage games will count for points toward the 2020 regular-season standings
  • Winner earns 2021 CONCACAF Champions League spot
  • Players can earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool
  • Pre-tournament draw to assign groups
  • Regular season continues after tournament

MLS commissioner Don Garber also revealed that the league will honor George Floyd and they are deeply committed to addressing issues of racial injustice, violence against the black community and inequality.

“The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play,” Garber said. “We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its Clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long.”

The 26 MLS teams will be split into six groups, with Orlando City, Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake listed as top seeds (the four MLS Cup semifinalists from last season, plus hosts Orlando City and RSL where the next-highest points finisher from last season). Nashville will be moved into the Eastern Conference for the remainder of the 2020 season to make this format possible.

Here are some more details on dates and specifics for the tournament, with how to watch the MLS games as the draw for the group stage and bracket is above and the MLS schedule in Orlando is below in full.

MLS tournament details

  • June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
  • July 8: MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins
  • July 25-28: Round of 16 begins
  • July 30- Aug. 1: Tournament Quarterfinals
  • August 5-6: Tournament Semifinals
  • August 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final
  • Tournament date: July 8 – August 11
  • 54 matches (39 group stage; 15 knockout round)
  • 26 matchdays
  • Format: Group Stage, Round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Championship
  • Minimum Matches: Three per club
  • Maximum Matches: Seven per finalist
  • The 26 teams will be split into six groups.
  • The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one of six teams and two with four teams each.
  • The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.
  • Each team will play three group stage matches over the course of 16 consecutive days.
  • The top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage, beginning with the Round of 16.
  • If two or more clubs are tied on points in the group stage, MLS regular season tiebreaking procedures are used.
  • The tiebreakers for determining the four 3rd-placed clubs are: (1) points, (2) goal differential, (3) goals scored, (4) fewest disciplinary points.

MLS schedule Orlando tournament

Wednesday, 8 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Orlando City SC Inter Miami CF Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Nashville SC Chicago Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Thursday, 9 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET New York City FC Philadelphia Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET Montreal New England Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET FC Dallas Vancouver Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Friday, 10 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Toronto FC D.C. Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Seattle San Jose Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Saturday, 11 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Atlanta New York Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET FC Cincinnati Columbus Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Sunday, 12 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Sporting KC Minnesota Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Real Salt Lake Colorado Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Monday, 13 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Los Angeles FC Houston Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Los Angeles Portland Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET Inter Miami CF Chicago Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET Philadelphia Nashville SC Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Orlando City SC New York City FC Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Wednesday, 15 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET Seattle FC Dallas Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET Montreal Toronto FC Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Vancouver San Jose Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Thursday, 16 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET Atlanta FC Cincinnati Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET D.C. New England Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Columbus New York Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Friday, 17 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Sporting KC Colorado Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Real Salt Lake Minnesota Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Saturday, 18 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Portland Houston Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Los Angeles FC Los Angeles Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Sunday, 19 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET New York City FC Chicago Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Philadelphia Inter Miami CF Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Monday, 20 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET Orlando City SC Nashville SC Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET FC Dallas San Jose Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Seattle Vancouver Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET Toronto FC New England Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET Atlanta Columbus Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Montreal D.C. Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
9:00 AM ET Real Salt Lake Sporting KC Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
8:00 PM ET FC Cincinnati New York Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Colorado Minnesota Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
Thursday, 23 July 2020
Time/Result Home Away Venue
8:00 PM ET Los Angeles Houston Disney Wide World of Sports Complex
10:30 PM ET Los Angeles FC Portland Disney Wide World of Sports Complex

How to watch MLS

Tournament: MLS is Back tournament in Orlando
Channels: ESPN, Fox Sports
Dates: July 8 to August 11