Player ratings for USMNT vs. Jamaica: Not many high-fives for eliminated Yanks

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The United States men’s national team ended its run of five-straight Gold Cup finals and put its Confederations Cup bid in jeopardy with a first half worth of missed chances and poor decisions in a 2-1 semifinal loss to Jamaica on Wednesday night.

[ MATCH RECAP: USMNT 1-2 Jamaica ]

Jurgen Klinsmann’s substitutions were odd and ineffective, as only Michael Bradley could find the net despite an off-kilter Jamaican goalkeeper in backup Ryan Thompson, who plays in the U.S. third tier.

So how did the lads do individually? There will be some debate with our critique of the goalkeeper position, but we doubt there’ll be much defense of anyone after a Georgia Dome flameout.

Starting XI

Brad Guzan 3/10 – Tim Howard announced earlier that he’d back in September, and the U.S. could’ve used the Everton man on Wednesday. First, Guzan was out of position when Mattocks beat Brooks to flick over him. Then, whether it’s rarely called or not, his throw outside the 18 gave Giles Barnes as free kick.

Brad Evans 5/10 – A welcome respite from Timmy Chandler’s wanton dribbling, Evans made some decent tackles and didn’t cost the team much. Some big throws helped his cause.

John Brooks 4/10 – Wasn’t horrible, but had Mattocks in front of him on Jamaica’s first goal. Then again…

Ventura Alvarado 3/10 – …Alvarado was literally marking no one on the Mattocks goal.

He was simply not good enough, or at least not ready. Was Omar Gonzalez hurt? He’s played a shaky center back, made poor decisions and — perhaps most troubling — looked like his instincts were off.

Fabian Johnson 7/10 – The States’ best player, perhaps in the tournament. Bombs forward, gets back, tackles. Klinsmann would take 11 of him.

Kyle Beckerman 3/10 (off 66′) – Quite poor after an early and needless yellow card took him off his game. Passes were off and his decisions, too.

Michael Bradley 7/10 – Faded down the stretch, but was the States’ No. 1 threat on the night. Classic captain hustle to not quit on the play that became their goal.

Ale Bedoya (off 77′) 5/10 — Not a great night for the Nantes man, though he delivered a few good late crosses.

Clint Dempsey 5/10 – Brilliant for the tournament, but off on the night. Was missing the zip we expect from “Deuce”.

Gyasi Zardes 3/10 – Out of position, sure, but his touch betrayed him quite badly. Case in point was the seven-foot pass he missed to Johnson inside the 18.

Aron Johannsson (off 73′) 5/10 – Missed an easy header that should’ve tied the game late, and that really colors a productive first half that just missed its finishing touch.

Subs

Mix Diskerud (on 66′) 5/10 — Unsure I can envision more than one time he was on the ball in 24 minutes.

Alan Gordon (on 73′) 5/10 — Put himself in the required positions, although his lack of speed was exposed.

DeAndre Yedlin (on 77′) 5/10 — A menace for the first 8 minutes, he then took a useless foul that allowed Jamaica to waste three precious minutes.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.

Clark County “declines to prosecute” Ronaldo for rape

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not face sexual assault charges for a June 2009 incident in the United States, attorneys say.

An American woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Juventus superstar last year, claiming that Ronaldo forced himself upon her while she was in a prone position in his hotel room.

[ MORE: Bayern keen on Zaha ]

Ronaldo had expressed belief that he would be cleared of the claims, and claimed that graphic documents produced by German publication Der Spiegel were altered and fabricated.

Las Vegas police issued a warrant in a bid to get Ronaldo’s DNA, and the DA’s office says the woman’s refusal to name her attacker stopped them for collecting “vital evidence.” The woman reached a civil settlement with Ronaldo in 2010.

From News3LV.com:

“Based upon a review of the information presented at this time, the allegations of sexual assault against Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the D.A.’s office said. “Therefore, no charges will be forthcoming.”

Bayern Munich kicking the tires on big Zaha bid

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A sensational report is linking Wilfried Zaha not just with a move away from Crystal Palace, but a move clear of the Premier League altogether.

90min.com says that Bayern Munich has turned to Zaha, having been rebuffed in their pursuit of Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.

Palace wants $100 million for Zaha, but so far has only received a $50 million offer from Arsenal for his services. Reports Monday said Arsenal is upping its bid, and offering a loan of Reiss Nelson as a make-good. Palace has had good Fortune with loans from the big boys of the PL, in particular with Ruben Loftus-Cheek two seasons ago.

A lot of this makes sense for all parties, apart from Sane, and it will be interesting to see if the report brings a bigger bid from the Gunners.

Zaha is a sensational player, and has created chances year-after-year for the Eagles. He wants to taste the Champions League, but Palace is not willing to let him go for (much) less than its asking price given its sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United.

Bayern will spend less on Zaha than it would on Gareth Bale or Sane, and get a determined player who is very much in his prime. Zaha would also get the chance to showcase himself with actual breathing room on the pitch, thanks to Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, and others.

And Palace, of course, will end up with between $80-100 million and the knowledge that it won’t need to mark Zaha on a Premier League pitch. More importantly, the money raised from Zaha and Wan-Bissaka will allow them to strengthen at nearly every position (above what they have now, not above AWB and Zaha).