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

Dortmund hammer Freiburg but gain no ground on Bayern

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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

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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

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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”

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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.