Rubio Rubin, just 18, shows plenty of promise on U.S. national team debut

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LONDON — On Friday night at Craven Cottage against the No.3-ranked team in the world, 18-year-old striker Rubio Rubin was thrown in at the deep end by Jurgen Klinsmann.

[ RELATED: Player ratings for USA ]

It was sink or swim time, and in his own words Rubin did “fine.” He’s being modest, it was one of the best debuts from a U.S. teenager in recent memory.

After making nine appearances for FC Utrecht in Holland’s Eredivisie this season, Rubin has been in the past couple of U.S. national team squads but earned his first cap in London among hostile surroundings where a cacophony of Colombian noise filled the air in West London. That didn’t put Rubin off.

“Nah, I wasn’t nervous at all going into the game,” Rubin said nonchalantly. “I just wanted to go out there and do my best, work hard for the team. I wanted to work to get a win today but unfortunately that didn’t happen today. If I played 10 minutes or 90 minutes I am always going to do my best as possible. Coach called me in to start and it didn’t change anything. I just go out there and do my best.”

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from USA vs. Colombia ]

This kid is confident and twice came close through headers either side of half time and was integral in winning the USA’s penalty kick for their only goal in the 9th minute, as Rubin provided Jozy Altidore with a perfect foil as they started up top together. That delighted the USA’s head coach.

“I saw an 18-year-old kid, Rubio Rubin, show that he is coming through the system which is exciting to see,” Klinsmann beamed. “We saw individual performances that were just fun to watch.”

[ RELATED: Altidore could have had “four or five goals at World Cup” ]

Rubin is looking forward to developing a close partnership with Altidore and on this showing the 18-year-old is ready to take up a more prominent role with the USA. Speaking to reporters after the game, Altidore revealed that he’s always talking with Rubin after coming through the Dutch top-flight himself. Their bond was evident against Colombia.

“Jozy and I have been practicing this whole week with each other and just seeing how we play,” Rubin said. “He knows how to play with me and I know how to play with him. Everything is not perfect right now but if we continue to play together we are going to bond and that just happens over time.”

Rubin’s big moment to score a memorable debut goal, which would have put the USA 2-0 up, arrived in the 47th minute as Alejandro Bedoya got the ball on the left flank and he picked out the Oregon native at the back post. But as Rubin stooped to get in front of Colombia’s Pablo Armero, he sent a spectacular diving header just past the post.

“I just played behind the defenders back and right when the ball was going to be played, I went in front of him [Armero] but unfortunately I kind of mishit the ball a little bit,’ Rubin explained. “It was an unfortunate chance that I missed, I wish I could have put it away.”

That missed chance aside, Rubin showed so much promise for a teenager starting his first game up top and he put in a great shift for 67 minutes until he was replaced by Bobby Wood. In the lead up to Colombia’s goal you could argue that he could have shielded the ball better, but that’s something he must learn from occasions such as this. That said, with the likes of Chris Wondolowski, Aron Johansson and others failing to take chances up top over the past six months, there’s definitely a chance for the American forward to fastrack his way into the national team.

Klinsmann wanted his young players to get a taste of a hostile atmosphere against a great team on foreign soil to help aid their development. Rubin was a big winner from this match against Colombia and he enjoyed his special night among a sea of yellow in West London.

“Yeah, there were a lot of Colombians out here today. It was like a home game for Colombia,” Rubin smiled. “I didn’t even believe how many Colombians are living in London. It was definitely one of the biggest matches I’ve played in.”

On this showing, he will get to play in plenty more for the USA.

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.