Netherlands 3-4 USA: USMNT plays the role of comeback kids in Amsterdam

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With just 32 days remaining until the start of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. national team kicked off its final round of pre-Gold Cup roster announcement friendlies on Friday. The Yanks’ late rally from a two-goal deficit reversed the Americans’ trend of conceding late goals, instead scoring a pair of their own inside the game’s final five minutes to beat the Netherlands, 4-3 (full highlights below), in Amsterdam.

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Victory for the USA was their first-ever win over Holland as Gus Hiddink’s side were great going forward, hitting the woodwork twice late on, but were all over the place at the back and the U.S. took full advantage.

The lineup deployed by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was short a number of key contributors — Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Jozy Altidore, to name a few — and averaged 23.5 years of age among its 11 members, and yet somehow, it was five younger-for-older substitutions in the second half that tilted the game in the USMNT’s favor.

The game’s first real chance fell to the feet of Gyasi Zardes in the 15th minute. The LA Galaxy striker pounced on the botched clearance of two Dutch defenders outside their own six-yard box. Zardes made a quick turn eight yards out from goal and fired a quick snap-shot on goal, but Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a quick-reaction kick save.

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After struggling to do so very early on, Klinsmann’s side found its footing and the Yanks settled into a nice spell of possession and looked the more dangerous side for the ensuing 10 minutes. Michael Bradley, captaining the USMNT on his 97th international appearance, fired a low, left-footed shot off Cillessen’s left-hand post in the 19th minute, and Fabian Johnson’s follow-up shot went inches wide of the opposite post.

In the 26th minute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar lost U.S. defender John Brooks, got behind the American backline and raced in, one on one, with Guzan. Brooks made a desperate recovery run, though, reeling the Dutch marksman in and made the last-ditch block of Huntelaar’s shot.

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Less than a minute later, Huntelaar wouldn’t waste his next chance, a header from 11 yards out. Manchester United new boy Memphis Depay served up the in-swinging cross, which eluded Brooks and fellow center back Ventura Alvarado, and found the head of Huntelaar, who finished like the prolific goalscorer he is (40th international goal).

The USMT equalized just six minutes later, though, when Zardes used the entirety of his 6-foot-2 frame to get on the end of Johnson’s out-swinging cross to the back post. Zardes applied the outside-of-the-foot finish from an extremely tight angle, and the ball found the back of the net after a deflection off Cillessen for his first international goal.

[ RELATED: Klinsmann reacts to USMNT’s wild win in Amsterdam ]

The second half began with the Dutch pouring more pressure on the U.S. defense in the 47th minute, as Robin van Persie headed Daley Blind’s left-footed cross goalward, only to see Guzan palm the ball away from close range. The rebound then fell to Van Persie, whose quick backheel was cleared away from goal by Kyle Beckerman.

A minute later, Huntelaar doubled his tally and restored the Dutch lead when he headed home Gregory van der Wiel’s cross from the right, beating Michael Orozco at the near post and beating Guzan once again.

Four minutes later, Huntelaar nearly completed his hat trick, if not for a deflection off Depay six yards out from goal. Huntelaar’s first-time shot from outside the penalty area looked destined to challenge Guzan once again, but the goal-bound ball glanced off Depay, wrong-footing the American ‘keeper and finding the back of the net to make the score 3-1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Gold Cup 2015 | MLS ]

Following four substitutions in quick succession, the Yanks pulled a goal back in the 70th minute, when Bradley played DeAndre Yedlin into the Dutch penalty area, where his simple, squared cross found the boot of a seriously overlapping Brooks for the easy finish at the back post.

Danny Williams pulled the USMNT level in the 89th minute with a fierce strike and deflection outside the penalty area, which beat Cillessen at the near post. A minute later, Bradley played Jordan Morris down the right side of the Dutch penalty area, where he crossed to the top of the six-yard box and Bobby Wood redirected the ball inside the far post for an unlikely 4-3 comeback victory.

The USMNT returns to action next Wednesday, June 10, when they’ll face the current World Cup holders, Germany, in a friendly in Cologne, Germany.

LINEUPS

Netherlands: Cillessen, Janmaat (van der Wiel 46′), Bruma, Martins Indi, Blind, Clasie (Sneijder 78′), Wijnaldum, Promes (Narsingh 46′), van Persie (Propper 56′), Depay, Huntelaar (de Jong 78′)

Goals: Huntelaar (27′, 49′), Depay (53′)

USMNT: Guzan, Shea (Yedlin 57′), Brooks, Alvarado (Orozco 46′), Chandler, Morales (Diskerud 56′), Beckerman (Williams 63′), Bradley, Zardes (Morris 81′), Johannsson (Wood 65′), Johnson

Goals: Zardes (33′), Brooks (70′), Williams (89′), Wood (90′)

Schedule for 2019 Club World Cup announced

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The schedule for the 2019 FIFA World Club Cup has been confirmed.

Liverpool will represent UEFA in the global competition in Qatar from December 11-21, as Jurgen Klopp‘s side will play at least two games.

The Premier League side will face either Liga MX side Monterrey or the winner of Al Saad SC/Hienghene Sport in the semifinal on Dec. 17, then four days later will play in either the third-place match or the final.

Below is the schedule in full.


First round
Match 1: Al Sadd SC v Hienghene Sport – December 11

Second round
Match 2: Monterrey v. Winner of Match 1 – December 14
Match 3: AFC Champions v. Esperance Sportive de Tunis – December 14

Fifth-place match
Match 4: Loser Match 2 v. Loser Match 3 – December 17

Semifinals
Match 5: CONMEBOL champions v. Winners of Match 3 – December 17
Match 6: Winners Match 2 v. Liverpool – December 18

Third-place match
Match 7: Loser Match 6 v. Loser Match 5 – December 21

Final
Match 8: Winners Match 6 v. Winners Match 5 – December 21

Rooney lambasts MLS over domestic salaries

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It is quite clear Wayne Rooney is leaving Major League Soccer in December to head back to England.

Before he leaves for a player-coach role at Derby County, he’s hellbent on having his say. He is keen to air some grievances.

Like a free-spirited floor manager who is working out his notice before moving on, Rooney has once again taken a shot at MLS. This time he has hit out over salaries domestic players in the U.S. and Canada receive.

In an interview with ESPN, Rooney, 33, doubled down after his recent criticism of travel issues regarding charter flights not being available for all away trips.

“I feel that American players get underpaid,” Rooney said. “I feel they deserve to get more money to stay in line with football in the rest of the world and in terms of the American sports. I’m not saying it to benefit me, I obviously won’t be in the league next season. I think it’s only fair to those players who are putting in the same work as all have to earn the right to earn more money for doing it.”

Has Rooney got a point? He has, but it is a complex area to delve in to.

With more money set aside in recent seasons for Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), it is easier for MLS franchises to spend more money on overseas additions, and they often do that rather than use it on domestic players.

If you are a non-Designated Player in MLS, the maximum salary you can earn is $10,192-a-week. Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and others clearly don’t have to worry about their salary as DPs, but it is commendable that they are lending their voices to the cause. Rooney could just sit their and take his DP salary, but he’s not. So, he’s obviously seen something that needs to be addressed.

Do MLS players deserve to be paid higher? Of course. But it is still a growing league and is far away from the average salary in Europe’s top leagues. The average wage in MLS is around $7,000 per week, while in the Premier League it is around $70,000 per week.

With MLS expanding to new markets and attracting new interest from all over the globe, you’d expect the players who helped make the league what it is, the veteran U.S. and Canadian players, to be rewarded for their loyalty. But in the current system, it doesn’t work like that.

Why is Rooney speaking out now? The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) runs out on Jan. 31, 2020 and there is talk of a strike unless more charter flights and freedom of movement between MLS teams is granted.

Given his profile, having Rooney lead the charge makes sense. Expect to hear a lot more about the MLS’ upcoming CBA talks with the MLS Players Association (MLSPA).

Inter’s Conte fumes over media’s fixation on formations

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ROME (AP) Only three rounds into his Serie A return, new Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte is already fed up with the local media’s obsession with tactics and the “modulo” – Italian for formation.

Known for his three-man defense, Conte was asked if he would change to a more traditional four-man backline.

“Only in Italy are we fixated on formations,” Conte snapped at a reporter’s question over the “modulo.” “I’ve coached in England and they’re not the least bit interested in that there. I want to see courage and intensity, which we’re trying to express. The rest is all crap.”

When Conte guided Juventus to three straight Serie A titles from 2012-14, his “BBC” defense of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini was the backbone of the club’s success.

When he took over Chelsea in 2016, he used a 4-1-4-1 formation during dispiriting early-season losses to Arsenal and Liverpool before quickly changing to a 3-4-2-1 with David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill going on to anchor the defense in a campaign that ended with the Premier League title.

At Inter, Conte is using Diego Godin, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar to anchor a 3-5-2 and Inter has started with three wins from three matches to open up a two-point lead over Bologna and eight-time defending champion Juventus.

It’s the first time Juventus has not been atop the standings since March 2018.

Inter’s early success will be tested against struggling AC Milan in the city derby on Saturday.

“Modern football evolves and you have to keep up with the times,” Conte said. “Enthusiasm isn’t tied to results but rather what we’re trying to do. Rome was not built in a day.”

MANDZUKIC TO QATAR?

Mario Mandzukic could be on his way to Qatar after being left off Juventus’ squad for the Champions League group stage.

“There are market opportunities that present themselves. Mario has been a very important player for us over the years, he proved himself at every level, there is a possibility and in agreement with him, the coach and his agent, we decided it was best he didn’t come on this trip,” Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici said before Juve’s scoreless draw at Fiorentina on Saturday, confirming that there was an offer from Qatar for the striker.

Mandzukic scored goals in the double figures across all competitions for Juventus each of the past four seasons but new coach Maurizio Sarri has preferred to use Gonzalo Higuain in support of Cristiano Ronaldo this season.

Midfielder Emre Can was also left off the Champions League squad, and had to apologize to the club after saying he was “furious” over the decision.

WOMEN’S SERIE A

Italy’s run to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup has put more of a spotlight on the women’s Serie A.

The 12-team league opened its season over the weekend with the three favorites, two-time defending champion Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina the only teams to post victories.

Juventus’ 2-1 win over Empoli and Milan’s 3-0 shutout of Roma were shown live on Italy’s Sky satellite TV service Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Fiorentina’s 4-2 derby victory at Florentia San Gimignano was broadcast live via the club’s Twitter feed .

The Gazzetta dello Sport had a full page of coverage Sunday and Monday.

Inter Milan, making its debut in the top division, drew 2-2 with Verona.

Among the national team players to score were Cristiana Girelli for Juventus and Milan captain Valentina Giacinti, who led the league with 21 goals in 21 matches last season.

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

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Alex Morgan out for season with knee injury

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We knew Alex Morgan was hurt. You could see it, I could see it, we all could see it. Yet she insisted all throughout the 2019 Women’s World Cup, “I’m ok.”

Now we confirmation that she wasn’t ok.

Morgan announced she will miss the rest of the 2019 NWSL season for the Orlando Pride with a knee injury, confirming she’s been dealing with the problem since the World Cup. “I’m disappointed I won’t be able to compete with the Pride for the remainder of 2019 due to a knee injury I’ve been managing since the World Cup,” Morgan wrote on Instagram, “and that I can’t be there to help my teammates and my club have more success.”

The Pride are bottom of the NWSL table, with just four wins in 21 matches this season. Morgan has played in just six of those, four before the World Cup and two after, without scoring or assisting a single goal. Orlando won just one of the six games Morgan appeared in, the most recent one on August 21 against second-placed Chicago. Meanwhile, they were shut out in four of the six games she appeared in, with Morgan registering just one lone shot among the six appearances.

“I have already started physical therapy in LA and am eager to get back on the field doing what I love,” Morgan said without offering any other details on her injury.

The 30-year-old USWNT star scored five goals in their opening match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup against Thailand, assisting three more as the U.S. won 13-0. However, she was a consistent target for physical play in the ensuing match against Sweden and was seemingly injured in the 33rd minute, leading Jill Ellis to withdraw the striker at halftime. Morgan did not appear herself over the rest of the tournament, scoring just one more goal the rest of the way and at times looking unusually off the pace. Opposing teams copied Sweden’s strategy, targeting Morgan throughout the tournament with repeated kicks, fouls, and physical play.

“his year has had the highest of highs but along with that comes challenges and sometimes even falling short of my goals I set for myself in 2019,” Morgan wrote in her announcement.