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.

MLS Best XI unveiled with awesome foosball video

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Major League Soccer, wow, this is terrific #content.

MLS released its Best XI on Monday with a dynamite video of the players passing the ball from Zack Steffen in goal to Josef Martinez up top… via a virtual foosball table.

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.

My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.

2018 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Wayne Rooney (DC)

WATCH: Striker scores potentially unprecedented goal while helping teammate

Photo by John Thys/EuroFootball/Getty Images
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“Look, I know you’re injured, but I’m gonna be right back. Got a goal to score for us.”

Maccabi Petah Tikva forward Habib Habibou scored what can only be described as an unprecedented goal — at least in terms of being captured on video — Israel this weekend.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Habibou, 31, and his club were locked in scoreless tussle with Maccabi Netanya on Saturday when one of his teammates was injured in the box.

The CAR striker, formerly of Zulte Waregem and Royal Charleroi, was taking care of said teammate when he spotted an 87th minute spilled rebound.

What was he gonna do, really, other than dart onto the loose ball, score the match-winner, and then return to his ailing mate?

Petah Tikva won 1-0.

Juventus executive: Bring season Serie A game abroad

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Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci likes La Liga’s idea of taking a regular season match outside of its domestic borders.

Ricci would like Serie A to explore a similar move, saying Italian soccer can only benefit from putting its brand in other markets.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Serie A lags behind other top European league in TV money, which has hindered its ability to recruit top end talent relative to its competitors.

Ricci says if American sports see value in bringing their top leagues to Europe, it holds that the reverse would be true. From the BBC:

“If we look at some other more developed leagues in terms of commercial strategy; the NBA and NFL, they are exporting one or two of their matches abroad, to the UK or elsewhere in Europe. I think it is a good strategy. It is a way to export something that is not an exhibition.”

Would a regular season match bring any more eyes or attention than the International Champions Cup, at least enough to offset the sacrifice of atmosphere? It seems doubtful, but the money is the key here. Italy wants to catch up with Spain, Germany, and England.

FC Cincinnati switches crest ahead of MLS debut

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FC Cincinnati has unveiled its crest for 2019’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.

FCC will draft up to five current MLS players in the Expansion Draft on Dec. 11. Teams will announce their protected lists on Dec. 10.

Cincinnati will play in the Eastern Conference. It won the USL regular season championship under coach Alan Koch in 2018.