With Klinsmann’s Gold Cup 23 out, who makes your USMNT XI for the group stage?

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With a bevy of MLS and Liga MX players — as well as Stanford upstart Jordan Morris — cut from the list, U.S. supporters can turn their attention to next month’s Gold Cup with a better idea of what’s in store for the Yanks’ lineup.

Klinsmann cannot trot out the same XI from either of this month’s historic friendly wins over Germany and the Netherlands. Gone from the 4-3 win over Holland is Brek Shea, and both Danny Williams and Juan Agudelo started the 2-1 win at Germany.

[ MORE: Roster in full ]

Those wins do give us a good base for what Klinsmann is planning for the Gold Cup. After a July 3 friendly with Group C’s Guatemala, the Yanks have a tricky tournament opener on July 7 vs. Honduras in Frisco, Texas before July 10’s match with Haiti and the group stage finale on July 13 against Panama.

Right off the bat, Klinsmann could opt for consistency and play 10 players who earned a start earlier this month, simply by inserting Jozy Altidore (then injured) into the top of a 4-4-2


Chandler — Brooks — Alvarado — Johnson

Morales — Beckerman — Bradley — Zardes

Johannsson — Altidore

Since it’s Klinsmann, we doubt it’ll be that tidy. Altidore is the team’s leading scorer this season, and it seems likely he’ll dance back into the XI, but there are questions as to how Klinsmann wants to use Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach finished their season very well with the hybrid 27-year-old back in an advanced wing-type position). With Graham Zusi and Ale Bedoya in the fold, Johnson could easily play back.

[ USWNT: Rapinoe’s suspension will hurt the team ]

And will he trust Alvarado with the keys to the spot alongside John Brooks despite the presence of Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream, neither of whom have seen regular U.S. minutes in a while? Could Brad Evans unseat Timmy Chandler, whose play has been mercurial at best?

Furthermore, what role does Klinsmann see for Dempsey? Is he a surefire starter and integral part of any XI, or has the play of the side without him put Mix Diskerud or Gyasi Zardes into a more prominent position (not that those are like-for-like swaps).

Here’s an educated guess at a bit of an unorthodox, offense-forward 4-4-2:


Yedlin — Brooks — Gonzalez — Johnson

Bedoya — Beckerman — Bradley — Diskerud

Altidore — Dempsey

And a look at a formation that focuses on Altidore as target man:


Chandler — Brooks — Alvarado — Johnson

Morales — Beckerman

Bedoya — Bradley — Dempsey


Of course, there are plenty of other intriguing options, depending on Klinsmann’s choice for Bradley (the following seeming unlikely):


Yedlin — Brooks — Gonzalez — Johnson

Beckerman — Bradley

Bedoya — Dempsey — Diskerud


The Toronto FC man has been very good in an advanced role in recent matches with Beckerman as cover, but sliding him further back in the mix — which seems unlikely — would allow him some freedom while also positioning him in a box-to-box marathon man role.

But all of these keep Gyasi Zardes and Aron Johannsson out of the mix. What do you think Klinsmann will do come July 7? And will July 3 be a test for his formation against Honduras, or a chance for some “lesser lights” to make their case?

Leicester City’s Rodgers: ‘Good news’ on Vardy injury

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Brendan Rodgers says there’s good news when it comes to the injury suffered by Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s 4-1 blowout of West Ham United on Wednesday.

Vardy hurt his glute in the win, temporarily returning to the match after treatment from the trainer but ultimately subbing off before halftime.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

“It wasn’t his hamstring, so that’s good news for us,” Rodgers said, via The Leicester Mercury.

“He just felt a twinge in his glute, so we just have to wait and see on that in the next day or so. Thankfully his hamstring is okay and he just felt some pain in his glute, so we will have to assess that over the next few days.”

Vardy has a Premier League-best 17 goals, one more than Man City’s Sergio Aguero.

He was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted one of Ayoze Perez’s two goals on the day. Perez’s seven goals are second on Leicester, while James Maddison‘s six are third.

Iheanacho has six goals and three assists in 485 minutes and there’s reason to believe he can feast off Leicester’s playmaking if Vardy needs a match or two to heal.

Whether he can fill Vardy’s shoes in the long-term is a big question, especially as Leicester aims to return for the Champions League.

Transfer rumor roundup: Willian Jose to Spurs, Bournemouth after Croatian CB

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London could get itself another Willian.

Willian Jose, 28, was left out of Real Sociedad’s squad at his request on Wednesday, with the club Tweeting that he’d prefer not to play until his situation is resolved.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Jose Mourinho said he would not comment on another team’s players, but Willian Jose could help Spurs bridge the gap to Harry Kane‘s return.

Willian Jose has been a double-digit scorer for Real Sociedad in La Liga for the previous three seasons, and is well on his way to another 10-goal campaign. He’s got eight goals in 20 matches this season.

Bournemouth needs defensive help, and is reportedly rivaling Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers for Portuguese giant Toni Borevkovic.

The 22-year-old Croatian has one goal in just over 3000 minutes with the side since arriving from domestic side NK Rudes.

He’s averaging 1.3 interceptions, .9 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game in league play.

Rio Ave sits seventh in Portugal’s top flight and is managed by former Premier League boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Dropped points in Top Four race point to wild February

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Regardless of whether Wolves end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season on Thursday, there will be five teams within seven points of fourth place heading into Matchweek 25.

Chelsea has 40, a comfortable-enough six-point lead on Manchester United, Spurs, and Wolves (who meet Liverpool at 3 p.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com). Sheffield United has 33 points.

February, specifically the next three matchweeks, will see the teams inside that group learn a lot more about their fates, and give Chelsea and Sheffield United big opportunities to cement their places in the Top Four and Seven, respectively.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

In the case of the latter, it’s because the Blades are the only team in the bunch who don’t face a Top Four six-pointer; Chris Wilder‘s men will meet Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Brighton, while the others will be beating up each other.

Chelsea’s path is fraught, but a big opportunity. The Blues travel to Leicester City before hosting both Manchester United and Spurs. Nine points there would effectively Top Four-proof Frank Lampard‘s side.

By the way, how’s this for a hot take? If any of Chelsea, Man Utd, or Spurs find their center forward or playmaker help in the window, they’ll have a leg up on their Top Four rivals. And, really, is that extra few million pounds worth the spoils of the Champions League? Yup.

Bruno Fernandes is not (yet) with United, and the Red Devils face Wolves and Chelsea in their next two matches. Spurs have City and Chelsea. Tumult is probable!

A draw with Newcastle and loss at Watford dampened Wolves’ hopes of riding into fourth. Beginning with Thursday’s visit from Liverpool, however, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men face three of the Top Seven and then a visit from Norwich City. It’s not over.

And don’t entirely rule out Leicester City from dropping into the fray; The Foxes host Chelsea and Man City, and visit Wolves.

One more nod, however improbable: Arsenal sits 10 points back of fourth but meets Burnley, Newcastle, and Everton over those three match weeks. A perfect run could have the Gunners thinking big (Man City is after that, alas).

Matchday 25
Leicester City v. Chelsea
Crystal Palace v. Sheffield United
Manchester United v. Wolves
Spurs v. Man City

Matchday 25
Sheffield United v. Bournemouth
Wolves v. Leicester City
Chelsea v. Manchester United
Aston Villa v. Tottenham Hotspur

Matchday 27
Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v. Man City
Wolves v. Norwich City
Sheffield United v. Brighton
Manchester United v. Watford

Spurs play Wolves the next week, too!

Mourinho: Spurs don’t have attacking depth, but do have ‘family’

Mourinho on Spurs win
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In this “whole new Jose Mourinho” world, the key word is family.

Mourinho said it six times in his post-match presser after Tottenham Hotspur scrapped to a 2-1 defeat of Norwich City on Wednesday in London.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Spurs had an early lead disappear when Ryan Sessegnon gave away a penalty to Max Aarons, and Teemu Pukki converted it for a 70th-minute deadlock.

Heung-Min Son scored nine minutes later. It was a win that is good for the whole family.

From Football.London:

“It was fantastic what happened after the 1-1, which happens in a difficult moment for us where I look to the bench and I don’t have attacking players to change the game the team is a little bit fatigued, especially Lucas, Son and of course Lamela. I took him off because he was in trouble and he is a player who is coming from very important and long injury, so very difficult.

“How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire.”

Mourinho also praised Giovani Lo Celso‘s work on the wing for attack-short Spurs as “a good experience for the family,” and Paulo Gazzaniga‘s support for returned goalkeeper Hugo Lloris as “a good member of the family and he is such a special friend of Hugo.”

I mean, I’m getting the warm and fuzzies.

Clearly, Mourinho is stressing unity and there’s a bit of bunker mentality involved, as the manager mentioned some dicey calls not going their way against Watford, Liverpool, and now Norwich.