USMNT player ratings: How Klinsmann’s men fared against Guatemala

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In the USMNT’s final send-off match before the Gold Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann’s men cruised to a 4-0 win over Guatemala.

[ FULL RECAP: USA 4-0 Guatemala ]

After a less than convincing first half, Klinsmann made three substitutions at the break and the U.S. picked up the tempo, scoring three goals to head into the Gold Cup with some confidence. Let’s see how each player fared, as a lot of guys got some action in Nashville.

GK — Brad Guzan: 7/10 — Guzan wasn’t tested much, but when he was, he made the stops. Another clean sheet as fans don’t need to worry heading into a big tournament without Tim Howard.

LB — Fabian Johnson: 7/10 — Klinsmann has played Johnson all over the pitch, but it looks like he’s going to be starting at outside back come the Gold Cup. Always dangerous on the attack with the pace to get back and defend.

CB — John Brooks: 6/10 — The hero of the 2014 World Cup got an hour of time and didn’t have much to do defensively. Communication needs to improve between the backs on set pieces.

CB — Omar Gonzalez: 6/10 — See John Brooks, minus the World Cup hero part.

RB — Timmy Chandler: 7.5/10 — Chandler scored his first international goal on a rocket of a shot, and was very involved getting forward. There are still some questions about his defending, but a strong performance nonetheless.

LM — Graham Zusi: 5/10 — An uneventful first half saw Zusi subbed off at the break, and the strong play of his replacement Gyasi Zardes didn’t help the cause.

CM — Mix Diskerud: 6/10 — Sitting behind Michael Bradley in the middle, at times Mix looked great and at others he looked a bit lost. If the two start to click at the Gold Cup, the U.S. will have a very strong central midfield.

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CM — Michael Bradley: 8/10 — The only player to start all of the USMNT’s matches in 2015, Bradley was once again the best player on the pitch for Jurgen Klinsmann. With Chicharito out injured, Bradley could be the best player at the Gold Cup.

Germany v USA - International Friendly
Yedlin proved how big of a role he could play for the U.S. at the Gold Cup.

RM — DeAndre Yedlin: 8/10 — Yedlin got a much deserved start and proved why Tottenham was so keen to sign the youngster. Ridiculous speed on the outsides, his cross led to the opening goal for Klinsmann’s side.

FW — Jozy Altidore: 4/10 — Jozy really didn’t get involved much in the attack, and his penalty miss was bad. He’s going to have to be A LOT better next week.

FW — Clint Dempsey: 6.5/10 — Despite getting his captaincy taken away, Dempsey took it like a professional and responded with a goal. A good performance after missing the United States’ historic trip to Europe in June.

Subs

LB — Greg Garza: 6.5/10 — A late call-up to the Gold Cup roster, Garza played the second half and tried his hand at helping out on the attack. Unfortunately for Garza, Fabian Johnson is much more effective in that role.

CB — Ventura Alvarado: 6/10 — After starting in both wins against the Netherlands and Germany, the 22-year-old was relegated to the bench with the return of Omar Gonzalez. He’s still not experienced enough to be the team’s top center back.

CB — Tim Ream: 5/10 — Ream came in when the match was already won, and I’m not sure Klinsmann has plans for the Bolton Wanderer to see much playing time in the Gold Cup.

Germany v USA - International Friendly
Klinsmann was all smiles following Gyasi Zardes’ second half performance.

LM — Gyasi Zardes: 8/10 — Zardes came on at halftime and made his presence felt, really bringing a spark to the U.S. offense. He very well could have played his way into a starting role on Tuesday vs. Honduras.

CM — Alfredo Morales: 6/10 — More of a holding central midfielder, Morales didn’t fit into Klinsmann’s attacking lineup today. He did nothing wrong, so no news is good news?

FW — Chris Wondolowski: 7/10 — Wondo did what Wondo does, scoring a goal from tight quarters inside the box. He’s not going to impress you with dazzling runs, but he’s a poacher in front of the net.

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

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