What will Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT roster look like for 2015 Gold Cup?

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The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off in 97 days. I’m not entirely sure, but I do believe the 2014 World Cup just ended in Brazil and Germany were crowned world champions.

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Yet here we are, almost an entire year later with CONCACAF’s bi-annual tournament just three months away. Not to make July 7 seem any sooner than it really is, the U.S. national team has just three more exhibitions scheduled — vs. Mexico (April 15, in San Antonio) and at Netherlands (June 5) and Germany (June 10) — before Jurgen Klinsmann’s side begins its quest to retain their 2013 Copa Oro title.

With just three fixtures left between now and the time Klinsmann’s 23-man roster is due in to CONCACAF, it’s the perfect time to begin speculating what that roster may look like and pinpointing battles for the roster’s final places.

2015 Gold Cup roster projections — April 1 edition (in order of depth)

Goalkeepers (3)

source: AP
Brad Guzan

Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid

As things stand, Brad Guzan is the undisputed No. 1 of the USMNT, and even if/when Tim Howard returns from his self-imposed year-long break, it should stay that way. Sure, welcome Howard, a legend in his own right, back with open arms — just as Klinsmann should have done with Landon Donovan — but as the No. 2 ‘keeper fighting to win the job from Guzan.

Klinsmann and Bob Bradley have proved over the last 10 years that as long as Nick Rimando has a pulse, he’ll be on a USMNT tournament roster. This time, he enters camp as the No. 2, with young Bill Hamid hoping to prematurely usher those above him toward the exit door. He’s the man after 2018.

Missed the cut, but could/should go: William Yarbrough

[ MORE: Biggest winners and loses from the USMNT’s two March friendlies ]

Defenders (8)

source: AP
Matt Besler & Omar Gonzalez

Fabian Johnson, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, DeAndre Yedlin, Brek Shea, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, Timothy Chandler

Here’s where the questions begin. Will the three-man backline return after going away for two months, thus bringing into question the position of Jermaine Jones. Is DeAndre Yedlin a right back or winger, right now? Why can’t Fabian Johnson, a natural and really good left back, just play left back?

With only three games to be played before the Gold Cup, it’s hard to imagine Klinsmann trying to force the 3-5-2 into happening again. But then again, he’s Jurgen Klinsmann. Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez haven’t done much on the USMNT stage to lose their starting spots, but John Brooks, still just 22, has had a great season for Hertha Berlin and in recent USMNT appearances. In a perfect world, he forces Klinsmann’s hand and his play demands a starting place.

Missed the cut, but could/should go: Greg Garza, Tim Ream, Michael Orozco

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Denmark 1-1 USA ]

Midfielders (8)

source: AP
Michael Bradley & Jermaine Jones

Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams, Miguel Ibarra, Julian Green

If Jones is a midfielder again, what does that mean for Mix Diskerud and does it mean Michael Bradley is once again shoehorned into the No. 10 role? Couldn’t Diskerud play the 10 and Bradley, arguably the best player currently in CONCACAF, play his natural position, a deeper-lying role and hit inch-perfect balls like THIS all day long? That seems pretty simple to me.

Julian Green went to the World Cup, so there’s no way Klinsmann doesn’t select him for the Gold Cup a year later. Not doing so would, in a way, mean Klinsmann admitting his own misstep, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Alfredo Morales and Danny Williams act as predictable cover for Bradley and Jones, with Miguel Ibarra the truest wild card pick of the bunch.

Missed the cut, but could/should go: Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Lee Nguyen, Wil Trapp

[ MORE: On Klinsmann, and Bradley playing “out of position” ]

Forwards (4)

source: AP
Clint Dempsey & Jozy Altidore

Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Aron Johansson, Gyasi Zardes

There’s honestly very little to discus regarding the forwards — there’s not a ton of great options outside the obvious two or three regulars. Clint Dempsey’s “position” will always be a forward/midfielder hybrid, but he’s most likely to play alongside or just off the should of Jozy Altidore this summer, so he’s listed here as a forward.

Johannsson is the change-of-pace option when they need a goal late and/or Altidore is running on fumes.  Zardes goes as the unpredictable youngster most likely to play zero minutes, though his versatility to play as a wide attacker cutting in makes the 23-year-old an interesting change-of-pace option as well.

Missed the cut, but could/should go: Chris Wondolowski, Rubio Rubin, Bobby Wood

‘But hey this is MLS’: Wayne Rooney slams MLS’ travel arrangements

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Wayne Rooney is not a fan of MLS’ travel arrangements.

D.C. United lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday in Canada, and had to fly back to the nation’s capital before prepping for a midweek showdown with visiting New York Red Bulls. To the 33-year-old Englishmen the trip should’ve taken six hours, not half a day.

MLS is notoriously known for the lack of charter flights it offers its teams, a mere four per season is the reported amount each team is allocated. Traveling on commercial flights has caused routine delays for a slew of team’s this season, with certain teams arriving only hours before the first whistle in some cases.

Players, however, will reportedly push for better travel in the upcoming CBA negotiations. Not only for Rooney, but for the majority of professional athletes around the world, flying charter is customary.

Upon his arrival to D.C. in 2018, Rooney turned down first-class flights offered by the Black-and-Red, among other fine accommodations. “If you are going to be part of the team, you have to be part of the team,” Rooney said on his decision to reject first-class flights and private hotel rooms. “All in and do the same things. I don’t want special treatment — I wanted to be treated the same as the players. I’m part of this team.”

Rooney, despite being on his way out of D.C. to join Derby County in January, is certainly a part of the team.

He is also now a part of the complex fight for better travel in MLS.

Vela scores 24th, LAFC clinches playoff berth

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SANDY, Utah (AP) – Carlos Vela scored his MLS-leading 24th goal of the season, Tyler Miller had four saves and Los Angeles FC beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night to clinch a playoff berth.

LAFC played a man down after defender Walker Zimmerman, who was shown a yellow card for time wasting in the 17th minute, was given a red for unsporting behavior in the 48th., Real Salt Lake’s Aaron Herrera, who blocked two would-be goals in the first half, was shown a straight red for denial of a goal scoring opportunity on Vela, who then converted from the spot to make it 1-0 in the 64th minute.

Vela, whose 15 assists are tied with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers for the league lead, broke the MLS record for combined goals and assists. Sebastian Giovinco’s had 22 goals and 16 assists for Toronto FC in 2015.

Miller has eight shutouts this season for LAFC (18-3-4), who have won four consecutive games and seven of their last eight dating to June 28.

Adama Diomande side-netted a rising right-footer to cap the scoring in the 82nd minute.

Salt Lake (12-10-4) had its six-game unbeaten streak, including three straight wins, snapped and allowed multiple goals for the first time since a 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on June 1.

Lampard: ‘We need more personality’

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Frank Lampard‘s baptism of fire as Chelsea boss continued on Sunday, as the Blue coughed up a 1-0 lead and were lucky to draw at home against Leicester City.

[ MORE: Pulisic watch. How did he do?

After being hammered at Manchester United in their opening PL game last weekend, then losing to Liverpool on penalty kicks in the Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday, Chelsea started superbly against Leicester but only led 1-0 thanks to academy graduate Mason Mount scoring his first goal for the club.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports after the game, Lampard revealed he was not happy at all with the second half display and urged his young side to show more personality on the pitch.

“It was a really good start, fantastic, and we could’ve been two or three goals up. We were quick, bright, energetic, then we allowed Leicester back in the game and in the second half I was not very happy, we offered them too many chances on the counter attack,” Lampard said. “We can only look at ourselves. In all our matches I have been delighted in big passages of having the ball but we didn’t have enough angles or options to keep the ball moving. We have to have more personality, we saw that in midweek, but today we didn’t have that.”

The most disappointing thing for Lampard will be the way Leicester grabbed hold of the game in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers‘ side launched counter after counter as Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were overrun in midfield by James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, and both Maddison and Jamie Vardy should have won the games for the Foxes.

“You can attack, but still be in positions to not allow the counter-attack,” Lampard added. “I’m not here to play great attacking football and then concede counter-attack goals. We need to show more than we did. I was under no illusions that there would be moments like this. We have to work on the pitch on the things we can improve.”

Lampard is spot on with his assessment, but how does he change things?

The most obvious thing is that he needs his team to be more consistent. They’ve started their last three games fast but failed to make the most of big chances and have been made to pay for that with some sloppy passing in midfield.

It is still early days for Lampard in his first season as a PL boss, while many of his youngsters are also finding their feet in the top-flight. Chelsea’s fans will stay patient but the fact that have yet to grab a win shows there is plenty of work to do but the Blues have shown flashes of brilliance, usually at the start of games.

Having a consistent lineup is one thing, but Lampard now needs his players to be brave, show their personality and stand tall for the cause as he ushers in his new era. Too many of them went missing in the second half against Leicester at Stamford Bridge, which will be more than a little concerning for the Chelsea legend.

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform on home debut?

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Christian Pulisic made his home debut for Chelsea on Sunday, as the USMNT star started for the Blues against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: What did we learn? ]

How did the 20-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania get on during his first start in the Premier League?

The American playmaker played 70 minutes and although he, like Chelsea, started well, it’s safe to say he faded in the second half as the west London club gave up their lead and drew 1-1 against the Foxes.


2nd minute: Pulisic follows up after Schmeichel saved Mount’s effort but the Leicester goalkeper bundles the ball wide.

3rd minute: Gets free at the near post from the resulting corner but can’t flick the ball goalwards.

15th minute: Gives away a free kick for a foul on Ricardo Pereira.

19th minute: Cuts in from the left and plays a nice pass across the pitch to start an attack.

20th minute: Works back well defensively to put Pereira off his cross.

26th minute: Starts a great move which almost sees Kante score. Flicks it out to Emerson who finds Giroud to play in Kante.

27th minute: Pulisic pops up on the right flank and tries to cross into the box but his cross is blocked and goes out for a goal kick.

29th minute: The American switches flanks with Pedro and is now on the right wing.

30th minute: Pulisic races onto a loose ball but Schmeichel slides out and gets there just before him.

34th minute: Back on the left, taken down by Ayoze Perez as he runs towards the halfway line and looks to pass. Wins a free kick.

39th minute: A few nice touches on the ball but then loses the ball on the halfway line.

41st minute: Plays a bit of a strange back pass to Kepa which puts Chelsea under pressure.

45th minute: Pulisic blocks a cross as the ball smashes him in the ankle and he goes down injured.

46th minute: He is back on his feet and sends in a cross which is deflected out for a corner.

53rd minute: Drifts in from the left and plays a nice ball inside, moment laters plays it to Pedro who loses the ball.

63rd minute: Chases down a lost cause but Caglar Soyuncu calmly flicks the ball over his head.

66th minute: Cross comes in and looks like he is winding up for a bicycle kick but is bundled to the floor. No penalty kick.

70th minute: Shortly after Leicester equalize, Pulisic subbed off and replaced by Willian. A ripple of applause from the home fans.