Player Ratings: Some good, some not so good in Chile’s 3-2 win over the U.S.

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A free-flowing January friendly in Chile started off well for the United States men’s national team before devolving into an all-too-familiar result: a blown lead.

While losing a second half lead or three isn’t the end of the world — the bevy of substitutions in friendlies provide lots of slop — allowing 9 goals and scoring zero over their last five second halves is a big concern for Jurgen Klinsmann.

[ MATCH RECAP: Chile 3-2 USMNT ]

Klinsmann opted for a 3-5-2 to start, a formation that provided some offense early and often but was anything but strong in the back. Let’s take a look at how each participant fared.

Starters (1-10, with 1-minnow, 5-average, 10-World Cup winner)

Nick Rimando – Made a couple of brilliant saves in the first half and had a heck of a time organizing his defense, but his work on the second Chilean goal was ugly. It’s easy to forget that Tim Howards don’t grow on trees. 5

Matt Besler – Beauty of an assist on Brek Shea’s early goal, and really calmed down in the latter stages. Couldn’t react on the first Chilean goal and, while you’d like to give a mulligan due to Jones’ newness at center back, Besler had some poor moments. 5

Jermaine Jones – Watching Jones play center back has a lot of Looney Tunes/Tasmanian Devil qualities to it. Jones lost his man on the first Chile goal and was out-jumped on what could’ve been a second (ruled out for offsides). Made some athletic plays as usual, but he may want to burn this match film. 5

Steve Birnbaum – Faded down the stretch but looked good for the better part of an hour, especially considering it was his first USMNT cap. Throw in doing a job in an unfamiliar formation and a decent scoring chance, and he was okay. 6

Brek Shea – He’s infuriating. Gifted with great size, pace, attacking instincts and a rocket for a left foot, Shea made Klinsmann look like a genius with his sixth minute goal. But he had a number of lackadaisical moments on-and-off the ball, and his petulant tackle late in the game could’ve easily landed him a red card. He didn’t show the defensive acumen to have, really, much defensive responsibility at all. 5

Mix Diskerud – His movement and assist on Jozy Altidore’s goal earned him a trip to high-five country, but there weren’t too many more standout moments for the New York City FC midfielder. There also weren’t glaring errors. 7

Clint Dempsey – His pace looked a touch slow , a bit like a veteran who hasn’t played since the MLS Cup Playoffs. Nothing too much to be worried about, as his link-up play with Altidore was good to see. 6

Michael Bradley – Klinsmann had him in a more comfortable, set back role, but the head coach must’ve smirked when Bradley lashed a shot off the cross bar in an advanced role late. 6

DeAndre Yedlin – Gave Chile nightmare moving forward, but also gave the opponents reason to be excited when was defended. Certainly wasn’t bad, though his raw nature shone through when he had a chance to score on a 1v1 in the first half. Was instrumental in the second U.S. goal, but also played a role in the second and third goals conceded. 6

Jozy Altidore – He continues to score goals with a USMNT jersey on, and Toronto FC fans should be plenty excited to see what the big man does in MLS. Made some strong, instinctive hold-up plays and the goal was super solid. Looked dead tired by the time he subbed out, and for about 20 minutes before that. 6

Bobby Wood – His poor club form was not fixed on Wednesday. Wood struggled to be a part of the play and may’ve made Yedlin’s missed cross look worse than it was by not going hard to the back post. Pulled after 45 minutes. 3

Subs

Lee Nguyen – Picked up a quick yellow and found the real estate pretty congested for most of his time on the pitch. Couldn’t put the game on his own terms, like we saw with New England this summer. 5

Chris Wondolowski – Flashed a good header across goal but the chances were limited by the time he subbed into the match. 5

Wil Trapp – Looked lost on Chile’s third goal and didn’t have a wondrous debut. That said, you can forgive jitters and ineffective play from an otherwise promising 22-year-old. 4

Gyasi Zardes – Like Trapp, he faced several, “This ain’t MLS” moments, but he looked more comfortable than the Crew midfielder. Created a dynamic chance late that almost fooled Herrera into giving up what would’ve been a huge equalizer. 5

Xabi Alonso: Liverpool-Real to be “such a special game”

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Xabi Alonso is part of a unique brand of footballer to have played with both Liverpool and Real Madrid.

The retired 36-year-old spent five seasons with each team, winning a UEFA Champions League with both, and now will watch his alma maters tangle for a UCL crown on Saturday.

[ MORE: Zidane praises Ronaldo ]

Alonso said he’s just rooting for “an unbelievable game to watch,” and seems like he’ll be happy either way.

“I have feelings for both clubs. I was lucky enough to win this trophy with both clubs so for me it’s difficult to pick one and I will be happy whatever happens, that’s for sure. For Liverpool, for Madrid [they are in] different circumstances, but it’s such a special game.”

The Spanish legend also seemed a bit torn as to whether Real’s experience or Liverpool’s newbie excitement could tilt the scales:

“For the Real Madrid guys, it’s the opposite. They have played so many finals in the last few years, so they can manage the situation better. Later it’s just 90 minutes for both sides, whatever happens. But the build-up is different.

“For sure it’s good to have that experience. But it’s good as well to have that excitement, that hunger, but you need to control as well the over-relaxation and the over-motivation.

“You need to find the right point of activation for the game. That’s not difficult because you know what it means to play in a Champions League final and you don’t have many chances during your whole career, and that’s one of the key psychological sides of this game. And the emotional side is almost as good as the football side.”

Maybe it’s simply playing both sides of the fence, and there’s no shame in that, but it does seem a hard match to choose. Both have been wildly inconsistent in league play as well as the group stage, but have been quite good in the knockout rounds.

It’s hard to pick against Real, but that’s why they play the games.

Zidane praises Ronaldo, says Real, Liverpool UCL experience “irrelevant”

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As Real Madrid prepares its bid to become the first three-peat winner of the European Cup since the mid-1970s, the Spanish giants still carrying the spirit of an outside, almost like an underdog.

[ MORE: Kane named England captain ]

You can hear it in Zinedine Zidane’s comments on himself, as he casually mentions that he’s not a great tactician.

There’s almost a feeling like he’s building up all of Madrid, including his players, to think of beating Liverpool in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final in Kiev like an upset.

And it comes off especially true when he discusses any criticism of his serial Ballon d’Or chaser, Cristiano Ronaldo:

“A player can go through some hard times, but when he does not score he does not get wound up. He knows that the next game he could maybe score two or three goals. That is what happened this year. That’s what makes him the best. There are players that do not thrive under pressure but some do thrive. He is one of those that does. The more you criticize him, the more you should beware. I am a quiet person and in the end, it is better to have Cristiano Ronaldo by your side because he shows year in year out that he is top dog. He will be vital, because he is the best there is.”

Zidane also said Real’s status as a two-time reigning champion, and Liverpool’s 11-year break between UCL finals, are “irrelevant.”

“We must prepare for the game, look at our opponent’s flaws and try to hurt them. It is one match and we are both playing away from home. We are ready and experience will not give us any edge at all. It’s a football match and we have to show that we want to win it.”

Transfer Gossip: Pep scouts de Ligt, Lewandowski to Chelsea?

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Just days after winning his first Premier League title, Pep Guardiola is already on the road, scouting for new signings.

One of these players that Manchester City is reportedly scouting – likely along with many European clubs – is Ajax’s young defensive wiz Matthijs de Ligt. Just 18-years old, de Ligt finished his second full season in the Ajax first team, playing 39 games across all competitions and scoring three goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The youngster was even fast-tracked into the Netherlands National Team, starved of quality defenders as they are, but he made some crucial errors that led to the Oranje missing the World Cup and a second-straight tournament.

Guardiola is eying de Ligt as the eventual replacement for Vincent Kompany, but there’s a chance Guardiola could wait to sign him with Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones ahead of de Ligt in the pecking order. However, considering how well Davinson Sanchez has done in his time in England this season, de Ligt could in theory have a similar performance, assuming he adjusts physically.

Either way, should de Ligt join Man City, they’ll have two of the brightest young defenders in European football.

Here’s a look at some other transfer rumors across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

Sources: Patrick Vieira move to Nice finalized

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New York City FC’s fantastic start to 2018 will have to continue without its manager, as Patrick Vieira is set to move overseas.

Multiple sources have told Pro Soccer Talk that Vieira’s move to Ligue 1 side OGC Nice –which was reported by PST over the weekend — has been finalized.

The deal is for a two-year contract with the French club, who finished eighth place in Ligue 1 during the 2017/18 campaign.

French outlet L’Equipe has reported that NYCFC won’t receive a buyout for the remainder of Vieira’s contract, which was set to run through the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season in December.

Vieira was at NYCFC training on Tuesday, and is expected to be once again on Wednesday, per a source familiar with the situation.

Tomorrow’s training session will likely be Vieira’s last though, and he won’t travel to coach NYCFC for the team’s MLS match on Friday night against the Houston Dynamo.

There aren’t any indications to this point as to whether or not NYCFC has an interim manager in mind to replace the outgoing Vieira.

The 41-year-old manager has spent the last two-plus seasons in New York City, guiding NYCFC to back-to-back second-place finishes in the Eastern Conference. He took over at the team in 2016, following the firing of the team’s first-ever manager Jason Kreis (now at Orlando City).

Vieira will be replacing Lucien Favre at Nice, who recently left the club at the conclusion of the Ligue 1 season. Favre has since taken the vacant managerial position at Borussia Dortmund.

Over recent months, Vieira has been linked to several other European jobs, including Saint Etienne (Ligue 1) and Southampton (Premier League), neither of which escalated to a serious level of interest.