USMNT player ratings: Johnson, Bradley, Dempsey diamonds in a rough, ugly win

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We highly doubt any U.S. fans were impressed by more than 2-3 players in Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener, and that’s okay.

Rarely does a tournament start with a team firing on all cylinders, and even more rare is those pistons firing for three weeks.

[ MATCH REPORT: USMNT 2-1 Honduras ]

There was a little to like, a little to hate and a lot to “meh” over in the USMNT’s 2-1 win over Honduras. Yes, they got three points from the toughest fixture of group play. No, they didn’t look good doing it.

The good news? Plenty of alternatives on Jurgen Klinsmann’s bench (Why didn’t Ale Bedoya start?) and some good work from the new (and old) captain.

Starting XI

Brad Guzan 6/10 — Made one good and one great save in the first half. Didn’t make any big mistakes, and had a heck of a task in organizing that back four.

Fabian Johnson 8/10 — The Monchengladbach man was strong as usual, this time at outside back. His versatility and effectiveness at both back and winger is stunning, and his through ball to Yedlin for what should’ve been 2-0 was fantastic.

Ventura Alvarado 3/10 — He’s a man out of his depth. I get the allure of two 22-year-old center backs growing as a pair for 10 years or whatever, but Klinsmann needs to pull the plug soon or against any attack of merit.

John Anthony Brooks 6/10 — Wasn’t the No. 1 or No. 2 problem on the back line. Had his hands full in making up for Alvarado’s tire fire.

Timmy Chandler (off 63′) 5/10 — Not his best and definitely not his worst. Klinsmann clearly adores him.

Kyle Beckerman 6/10 — An average night’s work of doing the unspectacular job asked of him.

Gyasi Zardes (off 87′) 4/10 — As Andy Edwards rightly points out in his “Three Things” post, Zardes is out of position and shouldn’t be asked to defend. But he was asked to, and his answer was, “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… what do I do?”

source: Getty Images
Yedlin (Steve Nurenberg/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Michael Bradley 7/10 — The captain was far from perfect, missing some passes and letting his high motor run a little too hot at times, but he was very good. There isn’t anyone with his skill set on the team, and his free kicks were productive.

DeAndre Yedlin 4/10 — He’s very fast, but not ready technically to be cast in a 90-minute advanced role. Should’ve scored. Maybe twice. Not his best night by a long shot.

Jozy Altidore (off 59′) 6/10 — It was his shot that turned into Dempsey’s first goal, and he did some nice things in holding up the play.

Clint Dempsey 9/10 — Deuce scored his 42nd and 43rd goals with his noggin, and showed that his penchant for being in, and getting to, the right place isn’t going away any time soon.

Subs

Chris Wondolowski (on 59′) 5/10 — Just because he wasn’t the sub the game needed, nor the one any of us wanted, doesn’t change the fact that he did some nice things. Made a solid, unheralded late steal with the game still very much in the balance.

Brad Evans (on 63′) 6/10 — Maybe you didn’t even notice him, but it was defensive addition by subtraction when he replaced Chandler.

Graham Zusi (on 87′) N/A  He only played six minutes, and I’d still take him over Zardes if the formation remains the same moving forward.

Nuno ‘proud of the boys’ after Wolves’ magical UEL run ends

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Nuno proud, but frustrated: Wolves’ 2019-20 campaign kicked off 383 days ago, on July 25, and finally ended on Tuesday in a late, heartbreaking defeat to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

From those early-round UEL qualifiers, to another fine season in the Premier League (finishing 7th), to reaching the quarterfinals, it’s been an incredible, dramatic, exhausting road for Nuno Espirito Santo and his players.

Speaking after the game, Espirito Santo revealed he was experiencing equal part pride and frustration at the way their season had just ended. Pride for meeting the challenges they faced along the way, and frustration for the missed opportunity — quotes from the BBC:

“We have frustration, in the last minutes it is something that has happened to us many times. We required focus on a set piece. I am proud of the boys, we played a tough team and we had moments, small details, small margins.

“That happens in football. We came this far and now it’s over. Let’s rest and look to the future. We need more players to help us, it’s a small squad.

“Sevilla made us run, we made a big effort to control it but of course there were players who gave everything and the legs and brain doesn’t work so good. We must be proud of ourselves, admit we made mistakes during the season that we need to rectify to compete at a high level. We must work harder and become stronger.

“We are here because we did things good the previous season. European football is something that we chase because we want to improve and compete agianst the best. The Premier League is challenging enough, it’s like playing the Champions League every week.”

The Wolves players will now have the next week or two off before reporting for the first day of 2020-21 preseason later this month. The 2020-21 Premier League season is currently scheduled for Sept. 12.

Europa League: Wolves knocked out by late Sevilla winner

Europa League Wolves
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Europa League: Wolves’ magical run through the Europa League came to an end on Tuesday, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side was knocked out in the quarterfinals by UEL specialists Sevilla.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Sevilla

Sevilla were quite comfortably the better side on the night, the side with the vast majority of the scoring chances, and thoroughly deserving semifinalists. Julen Lopetegui’s side will face Manchester United in the semis on Sunday.

It didn’t come easily for Sevilla, though. The game remained level at 0-0 for 87 minutes, until Lucas Ocampos rose above the crowd to head home his 16th goal of the season in the 88th minute.

Wolves had the game’s first — and virtually their only — chance to go ahead inside the first quarter-hour, but Raul Jimenez was denied from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. The real story here, however, is the ease with which Adama Traore left the pack behind and dribbled the ball 81 yards before Diego Carlos cut him down from behind.

Jimenez’s blunder from the spot was one of just two shots on target — both by Jimenez — that Wolves could muster in the game.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

Sevilla began to ramp up the pressure after halftime and went dangerously close to breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark, as Youssef En-Nesyri weaved his way through traffic inside the penalty area before firing a low strike on goal. Fortunately for Wolves, Rui Patricio was all over and denied En-Nesyri his wondergoal.

Ever Banega forced Patricio to make a vital save of his curling free kick in the 77th minute, but again the Portuguese was up to the challenge. He scrambled across goal and rose high to get a hand on the ball and push it over the crossbar.

Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Basel 4-1 in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal. They will face Inter Milan in the second semifinal next Monday.

Other Europa League scores

Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Basel
Man United 1-0 Copenhagen (Monday)
Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Monday)

Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David

Lille sign Jonathan David
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Lille sign Jonathan David: Lille announced on Tuesday their signing of Canadian star Jonathan David from Belgian side Gent for a reported transfer fee of $35 million.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

The fee paid is a record not only for a Canadian player, but also makes David Lille’s club-record signing and the most expensive player ever sold by a Belgian club.

David had been linked with a move to dozens of clubs across Europe, including a handful of Premier League sides, in recent weeks but it would appear that Lille’s recent success with young players starring in the first team, before selling them to those bigger European sides for massive profits, was an important factor in David’s decision to move to Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Hojbjerg from Southampton; Walker-Peters to Saints ]

The 20-year-old operates predominantly as a center forward but has, on rare occasions, played as a second striker underneath the main man. David racked up 48 goals and 20 assists in his two seasons at Gent, including a number of standout performances in the Europa League.

Wolves – Sevilla: How to watch, start time, prediction

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Wolves – Sevilla should be an epic UEFA Europa League quarterfinal on Tuesday (start time, 3pm ET) in Duisburg, Germany as both teams will fancy their chances of winning the trophy if they advance.

Remember: these ties are one-legged encounters so the winner on the night will advance to the semifinal.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves have come through the qualifying rounds to get this far as the Premier League side have been in the 2019-20 Europa League for over a year, while Sevilla are the unofficial top dogs in the competition having won it more times than any team in history.

The La Liga side finished fourth this season in Spain under Julen Lopetegui, while Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League and know the only way they will be playing in Europe next season is if they win this competition and there qualify for the Champions League.

Ahead of a huge night for Wolves, below is a look at how to watch Wolves – Sevilla in the USA, the betting odds, prediction and much more.


Team news

What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo praised Sevilla and knows his team have a big challenge ahead, while he backed his team to take the next step on their three-year journey together:

“It’s been a long journey, not only this season. A long journey that started three seasons ago in the Championship. It’s basically the same group of players. It was about trying to build a team, creating an identity, and we look forward to tomorrow to compete well and play a good game. We’ve been able to create an identity. It’s one of the most precious things in football – having an identity, based on a style of play and how we deal and socialize with our rules and tasks, how we deal with problems that happen. Trying to create a team, recruiting players, some take time, some not, but this is what it’s all about. We have to manage the result and I’m very proud of how we’ve done things and now I can say we have our own identity. It’s based on strong foundations of respect and hard work, and this is what we want to show tomorrow – a good team, with an identity, committed to the challenge.”

Sevilla star Lucas Ocamps on the threat Wolves possess: “Anyone who watches a little football has already seen them play. I feel like they are very competitive and physical. They have great players and they come here hungry for glory to beat us. I think it will be evenly matched because we’ll have the same desire and it’s going to be tough.”


Odds for Wolves – Sevilla – Full Europa League, Champions League odds

Wolves are the underdogs (pardon the pun) as they are +235 to beat Sevilla who are +120, but the tie at +230 is interesting. We can see this going to extra time and maybe even penalty kicks.


Prediction for Wolves – Sevilla

Wolves love upsetting the odds and Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will be looking to exploit Sevilla on the counter, but Sevilla are a savvy team and are third favorites to win the Europa League yet again. Wolves are dangerous but I’m going for a Sevilla win after extra time. 2-1.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com