Chile 3-2 USMNT: Another lead disintegrates for Klinsmann’s crew

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Friendlies or not, these blown leads and miserable second halves have grown pretty old.

First half goals from Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore had the United States men’s national team up 2-1 at the break, with Roberto Gutierrez scoring Chile’s goal in the 10th minute. Two second-half finishes from Mark Gonzalez earned Chile a 3-2 win.

A trio of U.S. players made their international bows, with Steve Birnbaum (DC United) starting in the back while Gyasi Zardes (L.A. Galaxy) and Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew) coming off the bench.

[ MORE: English FA charge Costa | No. 1 villain? ]

And the Yanks were again victimized by poor organization after substitutions. It’s fair to note that the six substitutions of a friendly are a bigger hiccup than the three in a formal competition, but the U.S. has been outscored 9-0 in its last five second halves.

Some have speculated that Jurgen Klinsmann wouldn’t have lined his men up in a 3-5-2 had DeAndre Yedlin not been allowed to go to Chile, and the speedy youngster gave the States plenty of thrills on Wednesday night while also showing his marking and finishing remain quite raw.

Shea was on the business end of a through ball from Matt Besler, and the Orlando City man ripped a left-footer past Johnny Herrera to open the scoring in the sixth minute (Watch the goal here).

And while Gutierrez victimized Jones and Besler to tie it at 1 four minutes later, the States attack did a number on Chile’s back line on the go-ahead goal (Watch the goal here). DeAndre Yedlin won a throw-in after a pacy right-wing run before finding Mix Diskerud, who laid off for Altidore in a spot the big man rarely misses from (at least in a U.S. jersey).

It was 2-1 after 45 minutes. Here’s how we recapped Half No. 1.

Lee Nguyen entered the game at halftime for the Yanks, moving Clint Dempsey up to forward as an ineffective Bobby Wood subbed off.

Nick Rimando had his share of scares, but there’s no doubt the Real Salt Lake man made a pair of huge saves in the match’s first hour. Most impressive was his bailing out Jones after some Diego Valdes thievery near the U.S. 18.

Michael Bradley put a screamer off the cross bar in the 61st minute. Moments later, Rimando bailed Steve Birnbaum out of a potential own goal, though it’s unfair to mention Birnbaum’s name for the first time now. The DC United defender played well in his first cap.

As the States made subs, Chile began to find its home form. At times, the excuse that the Yanks are mostly out of season and Chile are 4-5 games into theirs seemed decent.

And then came the equalizer on a stunner from Mark Gonzalez, who absolutely fooled Nick Rimando and lifted a shot over the goalkeeper’s right arm.

source: APGonzalez added a second less than 10 minutes later, finding a rebound and pounding a shot that took a turn off Birnbaum and into the net.

Substitute Chris Wondolowski nearly headed a neat cross from Michael Bradley home, but Herrera made a nice save on the San Jose striker.

Shea could’ve seen red for a high challenge late in the match, but was only shown yellow.

Zardes had a good chance in stoppage time, but his low shot was parried away by Herrera, who had a strong match.

The States next game is in California on Feb. 8 against Panama.

Lineups

USMNT: Rimando; Birnbaum, Jones, Besler; Yedlin, Bradley, Dempsey (Zardes, 68′), Diskerud (Trapp, 60′), Shea; Altidore (Wondolowski, 75′), Wood (Nguyen, 46′)

Goals: Shea (6′), Altidore (31′)

Chile: Herrera, O. González, Rojas, Pulgar, Cornejo, Espinoza, Valdés (Delgado, 59′), Medel (Diaz, 79′), Carrasco, M. González (Sagal, 90+1′), Gutiérrez

Goals: Gutierrez (10′), M. Gonzalez 2 (66′, 75′)

Wenger: I’ll decide my future in September

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Arsene Wenger, former manager of Arsenal for more than 20 years, is famous for many things. One is either his indicative nature, or ability to show prudence when making decisions, depending on how you see it.

Wenger has been without a job for the first time in more than two decades, and he’s been taking his time deciding on what his future will be. There no doubt have been plenty of offers for him, whether to be a club coach, national team coach or a media pundit on any number of television networks across the globe.

[READ: Salah named to UEFA POY shortlist]

“I decided not to decide,” Wenger said in an interview with Corse Matin while on vacation in Corsica  “I was intoxicated (with soccer) so long that I made a promise to make no decision until September.”

In a follow-up question about whether he would go into another field, such as politics, Wenger rejected that, so it appears he still sees his future in soccer. But in the meantime, he’s been busy playing sports and relaxing by the ocean.

“Yes, (it’s been) very good,” Wenger said of his time off, “even better than I thought. When you have been as busy as I have been, you always fear a little emptiness.

“But I quickly organized myself in this new stage of my life, I do a lot of sport, here I eat with my friends, copiously, I talk a lot too, I can stay for hours watching the horizon, I read all day, at the moment a book by Philip Roth, I Married a Communist.”

In the question and answer, Wenger also backed former Arsenal star Thierry Henry to take over at Bordeaux, as has been rumored, though he warned he wasn’t sure if Henry was truly ready to sacrifice everything to be a manager.

“Yes, he wants to do it, he is intelligent and he has the qualities,” Wenger said. “The existential question that we always ask ourselves is whether we are ready to sacrifice our life for the coaching profession.”

Salah, Ronaldo and Modric on UEFA Player of Year shortlist

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Mohamed Salah‘s magical season for Liverpool could help him usurp what had been a hegemony at the top of UEFA’s yearly awards.

[READ: Morata admits to struggles in Conte’s system]

Salah, along with former teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric were all nominated for UEFA’s Player of the Year award. Salah led Liverpool to an improbable run to the Champions League final, scoring 10 goals and dishing out five assists in 13 Champions League matches.

Ronaldo of course won his third-straight Champions League title last season and fifth overall while leading all goalscorers in the competition for the sixth-straight season. And Modric, starring for Real Madrid along with Ronaldo before the latter left for Juventus, won his third-straight title and led Croatia to the World Cup final in Russia.

Here’s the rest of the top 10. The Men’s Player of the Year, along with Women’s Player of the Year and Champions League Best XI will be announced on August 30. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have combined to win the last four awards.

4. Antoine Griezmann (Atlético & France) – 72 points
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 55 points
6. Kylian Mbappé (Paris & France) – 43 points
7. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City & Belgium) – 28 points
8. Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid & France) – 23 points
9. Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium) – 15 points
10. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain) – 12 points

Morata admits difficult adapting to Conte’s system last season

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Alvaro Morata, coming off one of the worst 12 months of his career, is off to a fast start.

If you ask the Spanish striker, it’s thanks to the manager.

Speaking to Chelsea TV, Morata described how he struggled during the 2017-2018 season thanks to former manager Antonio Conte‘s more direct style of play, which forced Morata to play more with his back to goal and control long balls in the air.

[READ: Bale powers Real Madrid to win]

“I think for me the most important thing is the mode we play,” Morata said, praising the 4-3-3 formation the Blues play now under Maurizio Sarri. “Last year it was direct, I had to protect the ball in the air and that’s not my best quality. Now I can attack the spaces, play one-touch and go into the area for the crosses which is better for me.

“The last year was very hard for me, not just with confidence. The injury [last season] was very bad for me and my head, but when the ball goes into the net everything changes. Your mind isn’t blocked anymore and I hope now I can score a lot of goals.”

Morata provided a cool turn and finish for Chelsea in its 3-2 win over Arsenal on Saturday, a classic touch after a season in which Morata didn’t look like himself. It kept Morata home for the summer, having missed out on Spain’s World Cup campaign, which ended in defeat on penalties in the Round of 16 to Russia. Perhaps a Morata high on confidence could have helped them.

With Olivier Giroud more suited to play a game in the air or a hold-up game, it appears that Morata is in position to take advantage of the change of playing style, and we could see his best this season for Chelsea.

Tottenham to host first Champions League fixture at Wembley

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What seemed like a given was finally made official on Monday. Tottenham will host its first UEFA Champions League match at Wembley Stadium.

[READ: D.C. United wins fourth in a row]

The club announced that its first Champions League match, set to be held on either September 18/19 or October 2/3, will be held at England’s national stadium, as safety concerns have kept the new White Hart Lane from opening on time. The draw for the Champions League group stage will be held on August 30, following the conclusion of the Playoff Round, which is set to get underway this week.

Tottenham has already moved upcoming fixtures against Liverpool and Cardiff City to Wembley Stadium, but the venue for Tottenham’s highly-anticipated home match against Manchester City on October 28 has yet to be determined.

Due to the stadium delays, Tottenham can also apply to the FA to play their League Cup match in September on the road, regardless of the draw.