U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

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The first post-World Cup camp for the U.S. will be an exploration of young talent, with an almost entirely Europe-based squad allowing opportunities to a number of players looking to breakthrough in the 2018 cycle. Here’s a quick look at a few of the names that hope to become more familiar over the next four years:

Cody Cropper – The Southampton keeper isn’t new to U.S. rosters, but at 21 years old, Cropper’s is a name that could become more prominent in Klinsmann’s selections between now and Russia. With a long jam of goalkeepers under Ronald Koeman’s watch, time in practice with Klinsmann and goalkeeping coach Chris Wood is particularly crucial. Cropper won’t get the same minutes Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson see back in MLS.

Age: 21
Caps: 0
Club: Has yet to make a league appearance for Southampton or his previous club, Ipswich Town.

Greg Garza – The Texas-born wide-man is known to national team hardcores, but yet to be capped at the senior level, the former U-20 contributor is still an unknown to the broader fan base. A 23-year-old with a development history that touches Brazil (São Paulo FC), Texas (Dallas Texas), and Portugal (Sporting Club), Garza has become a starter for Tijuana in Liga MX. Capable of playing both fullback and wing, the 5’8″ Xolo offers the versatility that’s become characteristic of Klinsmann’s wide options.

Age: 23
Caps: 0
Club: 34 appearances and 21 starts over the last three seasons for Tijuana in Liga MX.

Joe Gyau – Like Julian Green, Gyau is a Tampa-born player poised to make an impact in Germany, only instead of being nurtured by Bayern Munich, the left winger (who can also play through the middle) has had to navigate his way through the Bundesliga. Originally starting with Hoffenheim’s second team as an 18-year-old, Gyau moved to St. Pauli and back to Hoffenheim before landing with Borussia Dortmund this season. Like BVB and Bayern, Gyau could develop a productive rivalry with Green going forward.

Age: 21
Caps: 0
Club: Has made six appearances in the 2.Bundesliga this season for Borussia Dortmund II, scoring twice in 497 minutes.

source: Getty ImagesEmerson Hyndman (right) – The 18-year-old midfielder’s connection with Schellas Hyndman has made him a fixture on this site for some time, but after taking the leap to England in 2011, the grandson of the former FC Dallas coach has found his own reason to make headlines. The former FC Dallas academy member has made two starts for Fulham this season, and while it’s uncertain the central midfielder has cemented a role under Felix Magath, playing at such a young age portends to a bright future for the U.S.’s U-17 contributor.

Age: 18
Caps: 0
Club: Has played 180 minutes across two starts for Fulham, making the 18 one other time through four games this season.

Alfredo Morales – One of five callups not playing with a first division team, Morales hasn’t seen a top-flight match since his time with Hertha in 2011-12. That hasn’t kept the Berlin-born midfielder/defender off the U.S. radar, though a cap against the Czech Republic would be the 24-year-old’s first in 19 months. Having received his first callup in Nov. 2011, Morales has long been on the fringe of the senior national team, a status he’ll hope to improve during his time in Prague.

Age: 24
Caps: 1
Club: Morales has started all three games for Inglostadt this season, scoring the team’s opening goal of the campaign on Aug. 2 at St. Pauli.

Rubio Rubin (pictured, top) – Perhaps the most exciting of the new callups, Rubin has made an immediate impact since arriving at FC Utrecht this summer, winning a spot in Robby Alflen’s plans when it was originally assumed the 18-year-old attacker would have to work his way through the reserves. A former Timbers and IMG Academy product, Rubin has been a standout at U.S. U-levels, winning U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year honor in 2012 (Wil Trapp won it last year). Though he’s Mexico-eligible, Rubin’s on track to compete for a spot in 2018, having said his future lies with the U.S. national team.

Age: 18
Caps: 0
Club: Rubin came back from a preseason concussion to log 90 minutes in his Eredivisie debut Aug. 17 versus Willem II.

Bobby Wood – Like Morales, 1860 Munich’s Wood is a fringe national teamer whose trying to develop in Germany’s second division. Beyond position (Wood’s a forward), the other main difference between him and Morales is age. Whereas the Inglostadt midfielder is entering his prime, Wood is only 21. After serving as a substitute for most of last year, the versatile Californian has now assumed a starting role, playing wide left in Ricardo Moniz’s 4-2-3-1.

Age: 21
Caps: 1
Club: Wood failed to score last year in 605 minutes (21 appearances) for the Sixty’ers and has yet to register a goal this season.

Guardiola: I’m staying at Man City and I love this challenge

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This year’s managerial merry-go-round tells us that nothing should surprise us, and there are few high-profile jobs that feel safe from changes at any given time.

Manchester City is one of them, but upheaval at old club Bayern Munich and uncertainty at Barcelona have had many linking Pep Guardiola with an early exit from the Etihad Stadium.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City v. Chelsea ]

But as Chuck D warned us so long ago, don’t believe the hype; Guardiola says he’s very happy at Man City and not quitting on the project or the season.

“We don’t have a joker in our pocket,” he said. “I know, all around the world, people are saying the Premier League is done.”

“But if people think I am going to resign for these results, they don’t know me. I like this challenge. I love to be in this position. If the club wants me next season, I want to be here 100 percent.”

Few would be surprise if Man City went on a wild run of wins, especially once Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane return to the team. The reason folks think the Premier League is over is the idea that Liverpool would lose nine more points than City seems so unlikely (though they do meet again).

Milan hoping to woo “great champion” Zlatan next week

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Serie A mainstays AC Milan are trying to woo Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the San Siro.

The full-court press makes sense, as it will take some financial sacrifices for Ibrahimovic to join the side given Financial Fair Play problems in Milan.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City v. Chelsea ]

Coach Stefano Pioli called Zlatan “a great champion” while admitting he has to focus on the table and not transfers, while former AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani issued a glowing call for the Swede to return to town.

From Football-Italia.com:

“It would be romantic if he returned. But I have a rule, I don’t talk about teams I’m not involved with anymore. I’m only a fan of Milan now. Still, his arrival would enrich Italian football, similar to when Cristiano Ronaldo came to Italy.”

Man, they know how to speak this guy’s language, don’t they?

Sky Sports says Ibrahimovic’s agent will meet with Milan again next week in the hopes of convincing him to take a lower wage deal, and the 38-year-old showed he’s willing to take one for the team during his stint with the LA Galaxy.

The move makes too much sense, with Milan’s 11 goals well below its expected goal number. They need a finisher, and Zlatan sure does that. And if lower wages means Zlatan gets to play mercenary for five months while proving he’s got the goods for a big wage for 2020-21, that’s an easy concession for the striker.

U.S. U-17 keeper Odunze learning from Schmeichel at Leicester City

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Leicester City’s huge secret was told to the world at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil, where imposing goalkeeper Chituru Odunze made several big saves in the United States’ quick exit from the group stage.

Odunze, who turned 17 last month, joined the Premier League outfit from the Vancouver Whitecaps last season, and is already getting some first team training time.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man City v. Chelsea ]

This is all good news for a USMNT program which has a long history of goalkeepers shining at the top levels in Europe, including Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, and now Zach Steffen.

Odunze admits to being pleased at the tests provided by Jamie Vardy and the Leicester attackers, but says he’s learning more from the expertise on show from a trio of wise first team goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Ward, and Eldin Jakupovic.

Schmeichel is a Premier League winner, Jakupovic a former regular PL starter with Hull City, and Ward helped Huddersfield Town to promotion during a loan from Liverpool. From The Leicester Mercury:

“They’re all really good role models at the club, and they sort of take you under their wing. They’ve taught me to calm down and be confident in my abilities,” Odunze said. “Of course, there are little pieces of technical information they give me while we’re training, but a lot of the lasting information I get from them is mental.”

The 17-year-old has a monstrous frame, so learning from Schmeichel and company at such a young age while getting tested by the Foxes’ electric attackers is a great combination. He is 2W-2L at the U18 Premier League level.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v. Chelsea

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Manchester City and Chelsea both defend their slimmed title hopes when they meet Saturday at the Etihad Stadium (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

City is hoping to avoid a second-straight loss after dropping nine points behind prohibitive title favorites Liverpool last match day, while Frank Lampard‘s Blues know a loss could see them drop as many as 11 points behind the Reds.

And, of course, a win will give either side the table advantage over the other.

Ederson and David Silva are available again for Man City. Christian Pulisicis in contention to play” for Chelsea after missing the international break with the United States.

A Champions League match day follows this one, with Man City meeting Shakhtar Donetsk in Manchester on Tuesday and Chelsea in Spain to meet Valencia one day later.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester City: OUT — Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — None.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek. QUESTIONABLE — Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi.


Probable lineups

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; Rodri, Gundogan, B.Silva, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Aguero.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Alonso; Kovacic, Kante, Mount, Pulisic, Willian; Abraham.


What they’re saying

City’s Pep Guardiola on Frank Lampard’s young managerial career: “From my experience, experience doesn’t count much. I would say that when you know the club it is a good advantage and Frank Lampard knows Chelsea perfectly and everything behind the scenes – media, fans, players – so that is good. When I arrived (at Barcelona) not many people trusted me, honestly. Few, few people. Maybe the president, sporting director and not many. “Maybe Frank was similar at Derby. It was a big club, he didn’t take results in the beginning and people said he didn’t have experience. Look now.”

Frank Lampard on being above Man City after 12 matches: “For us to be in that position is something I am pleased with, I actually want more as well. I look at ourselves and don’t consider others, only where we could have got more points too, and there are times where we could have done. At the same time it is nice to be up there and around it. It’s a great test tomorrow, head to head to see where we’re at. It won’t be the end story, anyone can go to Manchester City and lose, they are such a strong outfit. That is what Pep Guardiola and the club have built over recent years. So I won’t be making huge judgements win or lose tomorrow without a doubt.”


Prediction

Could go either way, couldn’t it, but it feels more likely we see a vintage, defiant bounce back effort from City that looks a bit too easy given Chelsea’s strengths. This is the first big league test for Chelsea since its narrow loss to Liverpool on Sept. 22. We see the six-match winning streak ending via a 3-1 final score.