Three things we learned from the USMNT’s wild win over Netherlands

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AMSTERDAM — The United States men’s national team defeated the Netherlands 4-3 in a wild match at Amsterdam Arena.

[ RECAP: Netherlands 3-4 USMNT ]

Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t have his full side for the friendly, playing without key men Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Jermaine Jones. With a makeshift back line forced to mark the likes of Memphis Depay and Robin Van Persie, the U.S. recovered from a terrible ten minute stretch in the second half to come from behind for a shocking win thanks to two late goals from Danny Williams and Bobby Wood.

Here’s three things we learned from the match, as the USMNT will look to build on this win with the Gold Cup coming in July.

KLINSMANN IS STILL FIGURING OUT HIS FORMATION

The starting lineups came out with the USMNT in a 4-3-3, with Gyasi Zardes and Fabian Johnson flanking Aron Johannsson up top. It was a bold move by Klinsmann to start in this formation, considering the second-tier back line he was forced to play against the potent Dutch attack. With the speed of Holland on the outsides, Zardes and Johnson were forced to track back on defense quite a bit in the first half, playing more in a winger role than as strikers.

To start the second half, Klinsmann switched to a 4-2-3-1, with Kyle Beckerman and Alfredo Morales sitting in defensive central midfield roles, while Michael Bradley centered Zardes and Johnson. That change didn’t work out as planned, as the Netherlands scored twice in the first ten minutes of the half. The U.S. was unlucky as the third goal took a deflection leaving Brad Guzan helpless in goal, but the play was all Holland coming out of the break.

Yes, the USMNT pulled out a win, and yes they were playing against a Netherlands side that is ranked number six in the world. But with the Gold Cup coming up in July, Klinsmann needs to start getting some consistency in his tactics so the side is confident and comfortable when the games really matter.

YEDLIN WILL BE KEY AT THE GOLD CUP

After the Dutch scored two quick goals to open the second half, Jurgen Klinsmann made some changes, with DeAndre Yedlin replacing Brek Shea. The young Tottenham man immediately got involved in the play, using his fresh legs to add some spark to the U.S. attack. Yedlin is one of the few players who has the natural speed to keep up with the Oranje, and that was on full display when he helped create the United States’ second goal.

Yedlin took a beautiful through ball from Michael Bradley in behind the Dutch defense and found John Brooks wide open in the box for an easy tap in. Considering Yedlin was being marked by Manchester United’s Daley Blind, it was quite impressive to see him breeze by the back line.

At the Gold Cup in July, Yedlin will be one of the fastest players for the USMNT and his presence on the attack will be key to success. However, he must remember his responsibilities defensively first, making sure to track back as well as contributing to the offense.

Brad Guzan made several key stops for the USMNT.

YOU CAN NEVER COUNT OUT THE STARS AND STRIPES

After the first ten minutes of the second half, it looked like the United States was down and out. Playing against a top Dutch side that looked to be firing on all cylinders, Klinsmann’s men battled back. Substitutes Danny Williams and Bobby Wood both scored late, late goals to help the Stars and Stripes come from 3-1 down to leave Amsterdam with a 4-3 win.

While surely going down two goals isn’t in the plans, the guts shown by a relatively young U.S. side is a great positive moving forward to the Gold Cup. Gyasi Zardes scored his first goal, while Bobby Wood and Danny Williams scored off the bench for the USMNT, and doing so in Amsterdam against the Dutch should work wonders for their confidence.

A match is 90 minutes long, and you have to play every minute. This match shows that no matter what, the U.S. is going to fight to the final whistle.

Josef Martinez scores 2 more in win, including sensational solo work

AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Josef Martinez scored his 25th and 26th goals of the MLS season, and if he challenges his MLS record of 31, he may also stare down soccer royalty.

The Venezuelan striker scored two more on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat of FC Cincinnati in Ohio to give him goals in 15-straight league contests.

He now has 76 goals in 80 MLS games, which is good.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

On the season, he’s six goals shy of matching the Major League Soccer record he set with last season’s 31 regular season goals.

According to MLSSoccer.com, he’s six games shy of tying Lionel Messi’s world record for consecutive league matches with a goal.

Even that’s a little tricky: Messi scored in 21-straight games in which he was eligible for selection, but 19-straight before missing two matches for injury. In that remarkable run of 21, he also had a run of six-straight braces.

It’s not really worth it to attempt to compare the two streaks: If Martinez gets to 21 (or even 19), it’s amazing stuff and worth celebrating on a worldwide level. Everyone has a bad game every now and again, but Martinez still finds the score sheet in ’em.

Look at the magician’s tricks he used for this one, including a back heel first touch and two freeze-frame cut moves. That’s not even mentioning the finish.

USWNT announces final matches of World Cup-winning year

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CHICAGO (AP) The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team will wrap up 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that the U.S. will face Sweden in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 7 and Costa Rica in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The team is wrapping up its World Cup victory tour next month with matches against South Korea on Oct. 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

Coach Jill Ellis is stepping down following the match in Chicago after leading the team to a pair of consecutive World Cup titles.

The United States is 15-1-2 this year and currently riding a 14-game winning streak.

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

Report: Mane to get big raise, Liverpool contract through 2025

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Liverpool’s Senegalese sensation looks set to stay at Anfield deep into his 30s.

Sadio Mane is in talks with the Reds hierarchy over a new deal that will run through 2024-25, and pay him more than $15 million per season.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Mane, 27, currently has a deal through 2023, but surely wouldn’t mind a raise. And Liverpool will be happy to tie him down on Merseyside a bit longer.

He’s scored six times in seven matches this season, also grabbing an assist. That’s on a better pace than his 26 goals and five assists over 50 appearances in 2018/19.

Mane has 70 Premier League goals at the moment. Do you tip him to eclipse 100 while still at Anfield? 125?

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men are in Portugal to meet Braga, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

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