Three things we learned from USMNT’s comeback win vs. Peru

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The U.S. national team beat Peru 2-1 in a friendly on a balmy night at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on Friday.

[ VIDEO: Watch Altidore score twice ]

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side went behind to Daniel Chavez’s deflected early strike but in the second half they came flying out of the traps as a nine-minute double from Jozy Altidore turned the game on its head and help dissolve some of the negativity following the Gold Cup disappointment earlier this summer.

[ MORE: Recap – USA 2-1 Peru ]

Here’s three things we learned from the USA’s spirited comeback win, as they head to Gillette Stadium on Tuesday to take on Brazil in their final warmup before the huge Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico on Oct. 10.

CENTER BACK CONUNDRUM CONTINUES

Ever since the World Cup last summer the U.S. has failed to get a settled partnership at center back. That continued on Friday. With Omar Gonzalez and John Brooks starting against Peru, neither looked particularly comfortable and on Peru’s first goal you could see Gonzalez’s unease at having a Peruvian attacker running at him with five-yards of pace. The LA Galaxy man mysteriously dropped off and then turned his back as Daniel Chavez’s shot hit him and looped over Brad Guzan to give Peru the lead. Was Gonzalez to blame?

It was perhaps no surprise to see Gonalzez replaced at half time but the man who replaced him was a little shocking as Ventura Alvarado (who had a rough Gold Cup to say the least) came on in his place. What on earth does Geoff Cameron have to do to play in central defense for the U.S.?

He arrived at half time but played out of position at right back. This is a man who has excelled for Stoke City and started all four games of the current Premier League season at center back, plus has been handed a new long-term deal by the Potters this summer. Somehow he cannot find a place in Klinsmann’s defense as a central defender. Cameron missed the Gold Cup due to Stoke requesting that he rested this summer but he must surely start vs. Brazil on Tuesday. Tim Ream, another center back who was shunted out of position to left back, put in a solid shift and maybe Ream and Cameron should be starting together in quite possibly the only central defensive partnership Klinsmann has yet to try out. If experimentation is the name of the game ahead of the Mexico game next month, then why not, right? Both Alvarado and Brooks were guilty of giving the ball away early in the second half, then Matt Besler did well in the air after replacing Brooks for the final 30 minutes of the match. Brad Guzan did have to pull off a stunning double save with the score at 1-1 and 30 seconds later Altidore scored the game-winner. All of those center back changes inside 90 minutes proves one thing: Klinsmann still has no idea who his best central defensive duo is.

PACE OF ZARDES, YEDLIN CAN BE DEADLY

All night long DeAndre Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes gave Peru plenty of problems out wide with their pace. Zardes, in particular, soared down the left flank several times at the start and end of the first half forcing Pedro Gallese into two good stops after racing clear of his marker. Yedlin also caused some problems down the right as Klinsmann played with two out-and-out wingers from the start in a flat four across midfield in a 4-4-2 formation. As you can see in the video below, Zardes and Yedlin created chaos and combined to tee-up Altidore’s game-winning goal in the 68th minute as Yedlin first ran at Peru, then Zardes got off a shot which was tapped home at the back post.

However, the only issue with these two is that Zardes is usually a striker and Yedlin is usually a right back. That means that both men use their pace expertly to get in dangerous positions but at times either the final ball or cross into the box was not quite good enough. That will come with time but the main thing is that their pace is dangerous and if they actually play in front of two regular full backs (Ream at left back and Michael Orozco at right back both prefer to play centrally and failed to support their wingers going forward in the first half) then they can develop a relationship and work in tandem with a full back down the flank. They have the raw athleticism but if Zardes and Yedlin — 24 years old and 22 respectively — can hone their attacking skills and pick the right pass in the final third, you have two very strong wingers who will frighten most teams. Positive stuff.

ALTIDORE HANGS IN THERE

Ending things on a positive note, Jozy Altidore has now scored five times in his last three games and the Toronto FC forward finally looks to be shaking off his fitness concerns which have plagued him for the past six months. Altidore, 25, was left out of the USA’s squad by Klinsmann for the knockout stages of the Gold Cup and the U.S. missed him. Now he’s back and despite a few giveaways, looked sharp against Peru as his clever flick in the box won the penalty kick which changed the game in the 59th minute. Altidore saw that spot kick saved but he tucked away the rebound and he was in the right place at the right time nine minutes later to complete the turnaround. Wearing the captain’s armband for the night in Michael Bradley’s absence, Altidore proved, once again, how important he is to this team and with 29 goals from 84 matches for the U.S., his record at the international level speaks for itself. A job well done for Altidore, as he’s hung in there after a tough period.

Gold Cup: Mexico secures place in knockout round with win over Canada; Martinique over Cuba

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The Mexico National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup has been very focused on introducing inexperienced players into the squad, and yet, it was a veteran on Wednesday that reminded everyone how much he still has left in the tank.

Mexico captain Andres Guardado, who came off the bench for the injured Erick Gutierrez in the first half, scored a brace as Mexico held off a surging Canada late in the match. Guardado’s first goal was an absolute golazo from 30-yards out, while his second showcased his poise and calm in the box.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Mexico – as is custom for El Tri – controlled possession and looked very confident on the ball, zipping it around midfield and at times, playing on a faster speed than Canada, it seemed. However, with Canada sitting in a low defensive block, it took until the 40th minute for Mexico to get on the board through Roberto Alvarado finishing into an empty net after a big save from Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada pushed higher up the field in the second half and seemed to be turning the tide before Guardado picked up a loose ball – and there may have been a foul on Canada – and el Principito unleashed a rocket that Borjan had no chance to keep out.

Canada made six changes in the starting lineup from its first game and it was the introductions of Scott Arfield, Jonathan Osorio and Jonathan David in the second half that began to get Canada back into the game. A mistake by centerback Nestor Araujo in the 75th minute, trying to be fancy with a Cruyff turn allowed David to advance down the Mexico goal on a breakaway. After a cutback, David played Luca Cavallini in the box and Cavallini scored to cut it to 2-1.

However, Guardado, and LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna, put the game away for good two minutes later. Antuna got around his defender and centered to Guardado. The wily midfielder took three Canada defenders out of the play with a quick touch to his right, before scoring a deflected goal off the post and in.

Earlier in the evening, Martinique recorded a dominant 3-0 victory over ten-man Cuba. Star striker Kevin Parsemain didn’t score, though he did play a role in Martinique’s third goal with an outstanding back-heel pass.

Copa America: Watch Newcastle’s Almiron sets up Paraguay opener with 60-yard sprint (video)

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For the second time in as many games, Argentina has allowed it’s opponent to score the first goal. This time, it has Miguel Almiron to thank.

Starting with a dummy that lead to a more than 60-yard sprint to the end-line, Almiron showcased his top-line speed, strength, and dribbling ability as he lead Paraguay down the field in transition, eventually crossing into the middle. It was there that Olimpia’s Richard Sanchez met the cross and sliced it home to put Paraguay up 1-0 in the first half.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Atlanta United fans saw plenty of that blazing speed during Almiron’s two years in the U.S. If Newcastle fans get to witness this in person more this coming season, Almiron will be a fan-favorite.

 

 

Transfer Roundup: Neymar to cost $337 million? Could Jorginho follow Sarri to Juve?

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Will he stay or will he go?

That’s the main question surrounding Neymar this summer. If reports out of France – and there are many – are to be believed, Neymar will have to stay.

[READ: Landon Donovan to lead USL franchise]

Le Parisien reported on Wednesday that if Neymar was to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer, it would cost an insane $337 million (€300 million) in transfer fees. With that price, and UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, it pretty much rules out any club from Europe from signing the Brazilian star. Neymar has recently been linked with a move back to Barcelona, with $112 million and other players reportedly included in a deal from Barcelona to PSG.

There’s so many moving pieces involved in any case. Antoine Griezmann is expected to leave Atletico Madrid, with Barcelona the rumored destination. But if Neymar goes to Barcelona, could Griezmann head to PSG? Meanwhile PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi pretty much called out Neymar for some of his off the field – and on the pitch – antics, likely hurting their relationship.

So while it seems like Neymar – and PSG – may want the relationship to end, PSG won’t miss out on getting its money back.

Here’s more transfer stories from around Europe:


Jorginho to Juventus? 

Jorginho is to Maurizio Sarri like red wine is to a medium-rare steak. They just go great together.

With Sarri moving to Juventus, that raises the question that Jorginho, who moved with Sarri to Chelsea, could move back to Italy this summer. There’s plenty of reasons why it could make sense. Despite playing 56 times for the Blues, including helping lead them to the UEFA Europa League title, he took plenty of criticism from the media and fans for his lack of defensive ability. Fans were also upset with Sarri’s insistence of playing Jorginho at the 6, and not at the 6 or as part of a double pivot with N’Golo Kante. In Premier League games that Chelsea was undone, it was because Jorginho was overrun in midfield.

Jorginho meanwhile could go back to Italy, where he has citizenship, plays for the national team and enjoyed so much success with Napoli.

According to reports out of Italy, Jorginho’s agent said that the player is happy in London, but they would wait and see what happens next from Juventus.

“Chelsea have a four-year contract with the man,” Joao Santos said, via Football Italia. “We’ll wait a few days to figure out whether there is any truth in this interest mentioned in the papers. His past at Napoli won’t be an issue, because Jorginho is a professional. Right now, Jorginho is happy at Chelsea. He found a great atmosphere and we can’t really say that he’d like to go elsewhere, but anything can happen on the transfer market. We’ll wait and see…”

Follow Live: Mexico faces Canada in Gold Cup doubleheader nightcap

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From Mile High USA, Denver, Colo., the 2019 Gold Cup continues with a highly-anticipated matchup between Mexico and Canada.

El Tri is coming off a 6-0 rout of Cuba in the opener at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last week, while Canada thrashed Martinique, 4-0 in its opener. All of which leads to Wednesday, when an up-start Canada faces a young and firing Mexico in the 10 p.m. ET nightcap.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna, a late addition to the squad, scored a hat-trick against Cuba and is one of the many young players getting their first chance to impress new Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Meanwhile, Canada is having a recent resurgence, with young stars Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye all making an early impact.

Meanwhile, Cuba and Martinique now battle it out in the first match of the night from Denver at 8 p.m., with both sides hoping for three points and a chance to emerge from the group in third place. Cuba has already lost one player to asylum in the U.S., but it’s unclear what kind of impact that will have on the team.

Follow along with us on the link above and in the comments below.