Player ratings: Alvarado, Bradley impress in 2-0 USMNT win over Mexico

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It would be cruel to be too hard on any participant in Wednesday’s match between the United States and Mexico.

For one thing, there were a lot of new faces in different places for both sides due to the existence of this match outside of the international window.

[ MATCH RECAP: USMNT 2-0 Mexico ]

And the other thing, and it’s a big one, is the tough turf set-up at the Alamodome, which looked more like a Northeast pitch in late Fall than indoors in April in Texas.

For what it’s worth and for all his perceived and real flaws, Jurgen Klinsmann remains unbeaten as USMNT head coach versus Mexico. That means something to me (3W-3D).

Though on the other hand given the rosters, the States should’ve won… and did. Let’s see who shone brightest.

U.S. player ratings (out of 10)

Nick Rimando – 6

Struggled with kicks and first touch, but who wasn’t going to struggle on that playground-looking pitch? Had one extremely dicey first experience with a Diskerud back pass.

Greg Garza — 6

He was fine. Couple nice tackles, though saved by Alvarado on more than one occasion before subbing out at halftime.

Omar Gonzalez — 7

Strong at both ends of the pitch. One dicey moment from joining his center back mate as the high mark for players in this match.

Ventura Alvarado — 8

The 22-year-old Club America man made a very strong case for himself on Wednesday, and begs to be included in the Omar Gonzalez, John Anthony Brooks, Michael Orozco discussion at center back. Stole the ball that led to Agudelo’s goal.

DeAndre Yedlin — 6

“Quick, busy and active” could’ve been the motto for the team on the night, and Yedlin did fairly well on his side. Hopefully the Premier League training ground (and pitch) will continue to fast track his defensive acumen. His cutting runs and offensive flair may already be there.

Kyle Beckerman — 6

Killer tackle on Cubo Torres near halftime to eliminate a threat outside the 18. How horrible to watch him go down with what could be a Real Salt Lake-crippling injury on that surface? It was called a “left thigh contusion” on the broadcast, but the ice was on his knee.

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Mix Diskerud — 7

Like him more and more each time I see him play. For a player with real flair, he grinds and hustles at both ends of the field. A fixture for years, you’d have to think. How long will he stay at New York City FC if he keeps this up (Not that he has to leave, but you get what I mean)?

Michael Bradley — 8

Thought he played with purpose and provided some solid set piece service. Did the work to start Morris’ goal, and looked much more comfortable in his advanced role (and could he have been even better on much improved turf?). Classic Bradley service on the Agudelo ball, especially considering the surface (Have we mentioned the surface?).

Re-ignite the position discussion.

Joe Corona — 6

His highs were high and his lows were low. Clearly this is a guy Klinsmann would like to catch on, but subbed off at halftime for Miguel Ibarra.

Jordan Morris — 7

Go ‘head, young buck. Speedy as all get out, and made some handsome runs in the first half. Held up well against men. Of course, the goal was nice. Right place, right time, right pace, right shot. Come on, you Cardinal.

Gyasi Zardes — 6

Active and clean, given the field. Considering there was neither Jozy Altidore nor Clint Dempsey to take attention from him, and he was starting next to a college sophomore? Not bad. Ran well.

Subs 

William Yarbrough (halftime) — 7

Composed. Laid off shots wide of the frame and was positionally-sound. Didn’t seem as troubled by turf.

Miguel Ibarra (halftime) — 6

Was just fine. Obviously anyone who gets on this pitch for this team is a good ambassador for the NASL.

Brek Shea (halftime) — 6

Nice flying run up the left near the end of the match. Could be a legit left back in time, and his body frame would make him a freak at the position.

Perry Kitchen (63′) — 6

Came on when Beckerman suffered his knee injury. Showed no hesitation, and almost put a cracker in on goal.

Juan Agudelo (65′) — 7

Good on you, Juan. The 22-year-old took down a high diagonal ball from XXXX, got the benefit of a slipping Mexican defender and a waltz across the edge of the 18 before besting the keeper with a low shot to make it Dos a Cero.

Brad Evans (81′) — 6

Came in at right back with something to prove after vocally calling his World Cup roster omission a mistake. Made a hard, crunching tackle as the clock struck 85.

FIFA propose salary cap, transfer fee talks

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed talks with leagues across the globe about potentially implementing a salary cap and limits on transfer fees as the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The leader of soccer’s world-governing body released a lengthy video statement Saturday, in which he also asked league associations to work together to find the best solutions for the club and international calendar moving forward.

Last week he said FIFA wanted a ‘common sense’ approach to players who are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and that players showing messages of support should be ‘applauded and not punished’ despite FIFA’s previously strict rules around players sharing political, religious or personal messages during games.

FIFA are working on a financial package which they hope to discuss with members and finalize in their next council meeting later this month but recent talks with associations across the globe have suggested a salary cap or transfer fees limit could work.

Here is what the FIFA chief had to say specifically when it comes to soccer adapting to the changing financial environment.

“On the financial and governance aspects, I also heard some interesting proposals on a wide range of topics,” Infantino said. “From salary caps to transfer-fee caps or other taxation mechanisms, to the possible obligation for governing bodies, competition organisers and clubs to build reserves or to contribute to a reserve fund which can be of assistance in hours of need such as now.

“I personally advocate for clearer and stricter financial regulations, imposing full transparency and good governance principles, and not only limiting this to the transfer system, but to the entire football ecosystem. FIFA is doing already a lot of work on this area, even if we face some strong vested interests who fight against our plea for a better global governance in our sport.

“Dear friends, we will need your full support and commitment to move to the next level of good governance in football globally. I think that these and other measures, projects and ideas should be discussed at all levels. I know that this is something that will spark intense debate, but debate is healthy, and we should speak about it all together – as we stand together during this difficult period.”

Quite how a salary cap or a limit on transfer fees would work remain to be seen but given the huge financial burden places on clubs during the coronavirus pandemic, it is a very plausible solution to help stop clubs from going out of business.

With governing bodies such as UEFA placing strict financial fair play rules on clubs to stop them from spending beyond their means, FIFA doing something similar would be possible.

Would clubs, leagues and associations sign up for these new rules? In the short-term, probably. Long-term, it would be tough. Nobody knows how long sports, and society, will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and even if a vaccine is found and fans can return to stadiums and things go back to relative normality, the financial implications of the past four to five months is likely to be felt for years to come.

The salary cap system will not work for every league or even every region but as we’ve seen in Major League Soccer, it can bring stability and certain leagues need that across the globe.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

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Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that there were zero positive results out of 1,195 COVID-19 tests taken on Thursday June 4 and Friday June 5.

The last three rounds of testing has now seen one positive result as Tottenham Hotspur confirmed the individual that tested positive earlier week was one of their players or staff.

With the sixth round of testing now completed in the Premier League, a total of 6,274 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 13 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as full contact training is now up and running and a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full on the latest result:


The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 4 June and Friday 5 June, 1,195 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.
Round 4: 28-29 May – 1,130 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 5: 1-2 June – 1,197 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 6: 4-5 June – 1,195 tested, with zero testing positive


Watford season restart preview

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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Watford are up next.

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Focusing on Nigel Pearson’s Watford, they have battled back from an awful first half of the season (which included having three different managers) to drag themselves out of the relegation zone as things stand. However, there is plenty of hard work ahead for the Hornets as they try to preserve their Premier League status.

[ MORE: Every PL season restart preview ] 

Let’s take a closer look at all things Watford when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Watford were rock bottom and looked doomed heading into December but the turnaround since Nigel Pearson arrived has been remarkable. They won once in their opening 17 Premier League games of the season as first Javi Gracia then Quique Sanchez Flores were sacked, and Nigel Pearson arrived to bring organization and defensive stability. He has done more than that as home wins over Man United, Aston Villa, Wolves and Liverpool has breathed new life into their season. Now, Watford are still only out of the relegation zone on goal difference (one goal, to be exact) and if Aston Villa win their game in-hand they are back in the bottom three. That said, any Watford fan would have bitten your hand off in December had you offered them this scenario heading into the final nine games of the season. Their home form should see them over the line but there are plenty of tetchy games coming up between now and late July for Watford. If Troy Deeney can return to training and action, that will be a big boost, but losing Gerard Deulofeu to a serious knee injury just before the suspension was a cruel blow as he’d been the catalyst to turn their season around.


Tactical analysis: There’s no doubt Watford have the talent to be further up the table, just as it showed last season when they were battling in the top half for most of the campaign (before their famed second half of the season slump hit) and reached the FA Cup final. Putting players in the right positions is key and Abdoulaye Doucure has been vital to their turnaround in form. His surging runs from midfield were not impacting play enough earlier this season but Pearson has moved him into almost a No.10 role and he’s flourished. With Etienne Capoue and Will Hughes in deeper central midfield roles behind Doucoure, they have found the right balance in the engine room. The French midfielder causes havoc and has defenses dropping off, which allows the wingers and forwards around him to find space. Defensively, Ben Foster has been great all season in goal and Pearson is very good in setting up his teams to be tough to break down in two solid blocks and then lethal on the counter. Ismaila Sarr has settled down in his first season in the Premier League (Liverpool know all about that) and he will have a big say in their battle against the drop as he will cut in from the right flank. Watford are now sturdy and if Andre Gray can hold the ball up in Deeney’s absence, Sarr and Doucoure will give him plenty of support in attack.


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Foster —–

— Feminia — Cathcart — Kabasele — Masina —

—- Capoue —- Hughes —- 

— Sarr — Doucoure — Pereyra —

—– Deeney —–


Remaining schedule:
Home: Leicester, Southampton, Norwich, Newcastle, Man City
Away: Burnley, Chelsea, West Ham, Arsenal

Predicted finish: They don’t have the easiest run-in but given the fact they’ve beaten Man United and Liverpool, we know this Watford side under Pearson has a shock up their sleeve. Wins against relegation rivals Norwich and West Ham will be key and they will likely need two more wins from their other seven games to have a chance. That is doable and I think with Bournemouth and Aston Villa having a very tough run-in, Watford will just stay up. Just. No matter what happens, Pearson has done a fine job to organize them and he is a master at orchestrating great escapes against relegation.

Dortmund beat Hertha on day of Bundesliga protests (video)

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Borussia Dortmund beat Hertha Berlin 1-0 in a hard-fought encounter at the Westfalenstadion, as Saturday saw Black Lives Matter protests and messages of support take place across the Bundesliga in Germany.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule

Dortmund and Hertha led the protests, as players and staff from both teams knelt as one before kick off to show support for the movement sweeping across the USA, Europe and now the world.

After Bayern Munich’s players wore armbands which read ‘Black Lives Matter’ and had warm-up shirts which called for an end to racism, while Dortmund had warm-up shirts on which read ‘No Justice, No Peace’ among other messages of support after widespread protests in the USA.

As for the action once the game started at Dortmund, Jadon Sancho (who last weekend paid tribute to George Floyd) went close on several occasions throughout but a battling and in-form Hertha came close to taking a shock lead in the second half but Alexander Esswein dragged his shot inches wide.

Moments later Dortmund finally broke through as Sancho clipped the ball into Julian Brandt who nodded down for Emre Can to calmly slot home and seal all three points.

The victory means Dortmund are steady in second place but are seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich with four games remaining. Hertha lost for the first time since the restart but remain well in the hunt for Europa League qualification.

Below are videos of the protests from both clubs, plus the game-winner for Can which just about keeps Dortmund in the title race.