Donovan’s exit brings questions of who is next

source: AP
As Landon Donovan exits the international scene, the question is, ‘Who is next for the USMNT?’ (AP Photo)

BRISTOL, Conn. – Sixteen years ago, then U-17 U.S. men’s national team coach John Ellinger couldn’t stop talking about a special player coming up through the ranks. He was gifted on and off the ball, had pace – oh, and he was only 15 years old.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati remembers that time well. It was when he first discovered Landon Donovan, who after Friday’s game vs. Ecuador in East Hartford, Conn., will end his historic career with the United States.

“It’s been a pretty extraordinary 16 years,” Gulati said Friday.

But Friday brings the end of an era. Friday brings mixed emotion, as these sort of sendoffs always do. Friday is a celebration of what’s been done, but also mourning of sorts of what no longer will be.

[MORE: Through it all, Donovan did things his way]

And as the otherwise very young group of players brought in by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann exemplifies, U.S. Soccer now faces a question surrounding not so much of what, but who is next.

“Believe it or not, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about finding the next –” Donovan gets cut-off by Gulati. “I do!” the U.S. Soccer president says.

“But I do spend a lot of time thinking about, ‘How do we develop real players?’” Donovan continues. “By real players I don’t mean a guy who is scoring a hat trick or making an incredible save or playing well against a certain player in the world. I mean, ‘How do we find guys that have 10- or 15-year careers that are meaningful to help the sport progress?’”

Gulati’s job, along with Klinsmann’s and the rest of U.S. Soccer’s, is identifying and developing those types of players. Too often, Donovan says, you hear about a player for a year or two and people think that maybe he’s the next ‘it’ guy, before he promptly drops off most radars.

“There have been other players along the way where people say, ‘this could be the one,’” Gulati said. “Not the next Messi or Maradona or whatever, but it generally doesn’t work out that way.”

Is it 21-year-old DeAndre Yedlin – a Tottenham player-to-be – or 19-year-old Julian Green, now on loan at Hamburg? Both showed brief moments of promise at this year’s World Cup. Could it be Joe Gyau, a 22-year-old Dortmund player who intrigued U.S. fans in his first senior U.S. cap last month?

It may not be any of them, nor anyone in this current camp, who build anything close to a career like Donovan’s. Clint Dempsey can take claim to being the next biggest guy in the spotlight, but he is 31.

There won’t be another Landon Donovan, but for U.S. Soccer to progress, there will need to be someone who can at least be similarly as successful as Donovan. That, as other countries have learned following the retirement of their stars, could take generations.

“That’s going to take a long time,” Gulati said. “But more high-quality players that can help us, impact players on the field – that’s what we do every. Looking for those players, hoping to find those players.”

Donovan suggested that the issues are as much cultural as they are technical or tactical.

“If you can produce a Messi, that helps. But I’ll remind you that Messi doesn’t go out and drink beer every night. He’s at home preparing himself and doing the right things.”

Donovan says he looks forward to not having to worry about tomorrows, and how basic life decisions might affect his play the next day (he calls it a “mental weight”). He isn’t quite at the point of not having to worry about tomorrow – the LA Galaxy play on Sunday in Dallas – but he’s close. On Friday, Donovan gets one more chance to do things right with the United States, in front of his family, his friends, and about 35,000 fans.

Is Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham a good idea?

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Gareth Bale to Tottenham is a transfer which is romantic. It has Spurs fans everywhere reminiscing about the good old days of eight years ago when he was ripping up the Premier League. This season-long loan deal probably has Bale dreaming of being a star in the PL once again.

But is this Gareth Bale to Tottenham a good idea? Is joining this Tottenham a good idea for Gareth Bale?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Bale, 31, has been hit by injuries hard in recent seasons but we’re talking about a player who has won four UEFA Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and every other major trophy possible since he left Tottenham for Real Madrid in 2013.

The Welshman has always performed well for his country and is capable of scoring sensational goals and taking a game by the scruff of the neck at key moments. But can he do this week in, week out at Tottenham and in the Premier League right now? Does he have to?

As the ProSoccerTalk lads point out in the video above, Bale will have a lot more help from this current Spurs squad compared to when he bailed out (pardon the pun) Andre Villas-Boas’ side time and time again in the past. Harry Kane and Heung-min Son will carry the main goalscoring burden and Bale is around to help Spurs with his big game experience.

That should suit him well.

Jose Mourinho loves to bring in star players as short-term solutions because, well, he is rarely around for longer than three years at a club. See: Ibrahimovic, Zlatan and Sanchez, Alexis. He wants to win now and wants to be successful now and Bale helps Spurs immediately, as long as he can stay fit.

This is a risky deal for Bale and Tottenham, though. Best case scenario for Bale is that he flourishes and with a year left on his contract at Real Madrid he’s in a good position to get another big deal elsewhere, maybe even at Tottenham. Worst case scenario, Spurs have just blown a load of cash chasing nostalgia and Bale will return to Real Madrid next summer with his tail between his legs.

There’s no doubting his quality but with Tottenham, Bale and Mourinho all involved, this feels like we should be warming up our popcorn in the microwave.

Whichever way it goes, it will be eventful.

Premier League injuries, 2020-21

Premier League injuries
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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Premier League injuries: With the 2020-21 Premier League season set to kick off this weekend, it’s time to take a look at the players who might be unavailable for the opening weekend.

[ MORE: 2020-21 Premier League season previews, all 20 clubs ]

Prior to every matchweek of the 2020-21 season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Note: Any player listed for COVID-19 reasons — whether a positive test or additional precautions — will always be deemed “questionable” until they make their return to action.

Arsenal injuries

QUESTIONABLE: David Luiz (back) | OUT: Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh), Pablo Mari (ankle), Calum Chambers (knee)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed El Mohamady (thigh)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

QUERSTIONABLE: Ben White (ankle) | OUT: Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee), Christian Walton (ankle)

Burnley injuries

OUT: Jack Cork (ankle)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Timo Werner (thigh), Hakim Ziyech (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh), Ben Chilwell (ankle), Thiago Silva (undisclosed) | OUT: Mateo Kovacic (suspension)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT: James Tomkins (thigh), Mamadou Sakho (thigh), Nathan Ferguson (knee), Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Christian Benteke (ankle), Gary Cahill (thigh), Jairo Riedewald (undisclosed)

Everton injuries

OUT: Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Fabian Delph (calf)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Jean Michael Seri (undisclosed), Stefan Johansen (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin)

Leicester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Wes Morgan (thigh) | OUT: Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin)

Liverpool injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Xherdan Shakiri (undisclosed), Konstantinos Tsimikas (COVID-19) | OUT: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee)

Manchester City injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (knee), Bernardo Silva (undisclosed) | OUT: Aymeric Laporte (COVID-19), Riyad Mahrez (COVID-19)

Manchester United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (COVID-19) | OUT: Axel Tuanzebe (ankle), Phil Jones (knee)

Newcastle United injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Matty Longstaff (thigh) | OUT: Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee)

Sheffield United injuries

OUT: Lys Mousset (ankle)

Southampton injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Nathan Redmond (knock) | OUT: Stuart Armstrong (thigh)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

QUESTIONABLE: Serge Aurier (undisclosed) | OUT: Japhet Tanganga (thigh)

West Bromwich Albion injuries

OUT: Kenneth Zohore (calf)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Jack Wilshere (ankle)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Jonny (knee)

VIDEO: ProSoccerTalk team unfiltered – Review, preview, Power Rankings and more

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ProSoccerTalk is now on video as well as in written format. Unleash the beast, as they say.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Each week Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards will tell us what they learned from the Premier League action, rank their top five PL players based on current form, preview the upcoming weekend and handle any other news from around the soccer world.

Expect opinions, analysis and insight, as well as plenty of friendly banter along the way.

Basically, they have these chats on their own anyway so we thought we would record them and let them loose on the Premier League, USMNT and everything in-between. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lighthearted look at all of the action from across the soccer world each week.

With JPW is based in England and heading to Premier League games and traveling to stadiums/ training grounds, plus Andy and Nick based Stateside, we will be checking in with them regularly to get their views on just about anything when it comes to Pro Soccer. Because, well, ProSoccerTalk.

Follow the ProSoccerTalk lads on Twitter below, and click play on the video above to watch ProSocccerTalk this week in full.

League Cup fourth round draw results

League Cup draw
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Following the completion of the second round of the League Cup on Thursday, the draw for the fourth round was held prior to the third round, which is set to be played next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

[ MORE: Spurs come from behind to beat 9-man Plovdiv in UEL qualifier ]

The potential gem of the round depends upon Chelsea beating EFL Championship side Barnsley, and Tottenham Hotspur getting past EFL League Two Leyton Orient. Liverpool v Arsenal is another tasty possibility.

The draws for the third and fourth rounds of the 2020-21 League Cup are as follows…

League Cup third round draw

Lincoln City v Liverpool
Bristol City v Aston Villa
Morecambe v Newcastle United
Luton Town v Manchester United
Preston North End v Brighton
Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday
Manchester City v Bournemouth
West Ham United v Hull City
Millwall v Burnley
Chelsea v Barnsley
Stoke City v Gillingham
Leicester City v Arsenal
West Brom v Brentford
Newport County v Watford
Fleetwood Town v Everton
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur

League Cup fourth round draw

Lincoln City/Liverpool v Leicester City/Arsenal
Millwall/Burnley v Manchester City/Bournemouth
West Brom/Brentford v Fulham/Sheffield Wednesday
Fleetwood Town/Everton v West Ham United/Hull City
Bristol City/Aston Villa v Stoke City/Gillingham
Leyton Orient/Tottenham v Chelsea/Barnsley
Newport County/Watford v Morecambe/Newcastle United
Preston North End/Brighton v Luton Town/Manchester United