Three things we learned from USA’s 2-0 win over Panama

14 Comments

Goals from Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey helped snap the United States’ five-game winless streak today as they defeated Panama 2-0.

[ RECAP: USA 2-0 Panama ]

The win is only the second for Jurgen Klinsmann since the 2014 World Cup, and was a great result as the U.S. concluded its offseason friendly series.

KLINSMANN NEEDED A WIN TODAY

Despite the fact that this match was a friendly and had no major ramifications, this was a massive result for the U.S. Snapping the winless streak and finishing off this string of games with a win is just what Klinsmann needed. Throughout camp it seemed Klinsmann was trying to install a 3-5-2 formation, only to scrap the idea and change to a 4-4-2 after only one half against Chile. Today, Klinsmann went with a 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing players such as Clint Dempsey to play a more natural position. Dempsey was sharp playing behind a lone-striker in Altidore, and added another goal to his resume as well.

While we surely haven’t seen the last of Klinsmann’s 3-5-2 idea, he went with a quick fix to get the result he needed. Despite all the time spent trying to implement a new formation in camp, Klinsmann went for the win today. However, there were still some issues…

THE DEFENSE NEEDS SHORING UP

With much of the talk leading up to the game regarding what formation Klinsmann would use, he surprised many when he chose to go with a 4-2-3-1. Jermaine Jones played at center back once again and Brek Shea got the start at left back, leaving only two true defenders in the starting back four, DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Besler. Brek Shea used his attacking skills to get up the field and sent some good balls into the box, but can be suspect when it comes to defending. Yedlin was average on the right side today and was subbed off in the 72nd minute after a taking a nasty challenge. Hopefully it is just a minor injury for the Tottenham youngster.

[ RELATED: Player ratings from USA’s 2-0 win over Panama ]

Moving forward, Klinsmann will likely continue to change his pairings to find a solid defense. Jones played well today, but Panama rarely put tons of pressure on the U.S. defense. Is Brek Shea now an outside back for the USMNT, or was this a one-game stint? Everything starts with your back line, so the manager will surely be looking for more consistency moving forward.

IN THE END, IT COMES DOWN TO THE BIG NAMES

When talking about the USMNT, the two most high-profile field players are Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Look at the scoresheet from today, and those are the two goal scorers for the United States. While Klinsmann and company are obviously hoping for production from role players such as Mix Diskerud and Gyasi Zardes, in the end, you need your top players to come up clutch.

Both players scored today off pieces of individual skill, as Bradley curled one home directly from a corner kick, and Dempsey made a slick move to beat the goalkeeper and finish off a one-on-one opportunity. Coming into the match on a five-game winless skid, the U.S. needed it’s stars to step up, and thats exactly what they did.

 

Dortmund hammer Freiburg but gain no ground on Bayern

Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP
Leave a comment

Borussia Dortmund moved back within one point of Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich with a 4-0 win against Freiburg on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd ]

Dortmund went ahead in the 11th minute when 19-year-old Jadon Sancho scored from the six-yard box after a run by Marco Reus. It was Sancho’s 11th Bundesliga goal this season.

Dortmund added three after the interval with goals from Reus, Mario Gotze and Paco Alcacer with a penalty.

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

In the day’s other game, Hertha Berlin was held 0-0 at home by bottom side Hannover, which ended an eight-game losing streak.

On Saturday, Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0.

With four rounds left, Bayern leads with 70 points, Dortmund has 69 and Leipzig is third with 61.

La Liga: Real Madrid win to stay within striking distance of 2nd

Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: PSG crowned Ligue 1 champions with five games left ]

Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema bagged a hat trick (WATCH HERE) — his 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the league season (second-most, 12 behind Lionel Messi) — to send Real Madrid to a comfortable victory over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu. The result also keeps Los Blancos within four points of capital rivals Atletico Madrid in something of a battle for second place behind runaway leaders Barcelona.

Benzema has scored 10 goals in his last seven La Liga appearances, a run in which Madrid have complied a 5W-1D-1L record. Benzema failed to score in Zinedine Zidane’s re-debut as Madrid manager, but has scored eight goals in five games since.

Sunday’s game marked the 300th league appearance for midfielder and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric in a Real Madrid shirt.

Getafe 3-0 SevillaWATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Sevilla’s hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League following a one-year hiatus took a serious hit on Sunday, as Pablo Machin’s side was hammered by Getafe, the side which now occupies fourth place, two points ahead of them. Getafe continue to enjoy their meteoric rise through the Spanish ranks, as they were competing in the second division this time two years ago.

Two of the three goals the scored on Sunday came from the penalty spot, as Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina converted in the 35th and 45th+4′, respectively. Molina completed the scoring eight minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Valencia
Levante 2-2 Espanyol
Villarreal 2-1 Leganes

PSG wins French league after 2nd-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Klopp hails Liverpool mettle in face of “proper banana skin”

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp knows that more than a few clubs would’ve slipped up Sunday at Cardiff City, given the hosts’ desperation and the visitors’ midweek triumph, but his Reds stood up to the test.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool ]

Liverpool beat Cardiff City 2-0, scoring a pair of second half goals to go back atop the Premier League before Manchester City plays its final match-in-hand of the season in a midweek Manchester Derby.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said after his team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

He insists that he’s not feeling pressure as Liverpool may need to win every one of its matches and get help to capture its first Premier League crown.

“I only know about me and I didn’t feel it (the pressure) we have to do it like we do it. We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool has two banana skins left, a visit from Huddersfield and trip to Newcastle, closing out the league slate with Wolves at Anfield.