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

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Despite trailing at halftime, the USMNT came from behind to defeat Peru 2-1 at RFK Stadium tonight. Jozy Altidore bagged both goals for the U.S., who will now look ahead to Tuesday’s match against Brazil

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While getting a win is always the end result, tonight’s performance was more about getting ready for the CONCACAF playoff match against Mexico, coming up in October. With players looking to prove to Jurgen Klinsmann they deserve to start in that Rose Bowl match, let’s take a look at how they fared against Peru.

GK — Brad Guzan: 9/10 — With Tim Howard returning to the fold for the USMNT, Guzan confirmed that he’s fully capable of being the No. 1. The goal took a bad deflection that left Guzan helpless, and his amazing double-save was the turning point in the match.

LB — Tim Ream: 8/10 — Ream got a much-deserved start in the defense tonight, and should hold onto his spot after putting in a strong performance. It’s a surprise he hasn’t gotten more of a run with the USMNT over his career.

CB — John Brooks: 6/10 — Brooks was average defensively tonight, but he’ll be most remembered for a terrible miss from close-range in the first half. Still not sure how his shot went so far over the bar.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from the USMNT’s comeback win vs. Peru ]

CB — Omar Gonzalez: 5/10 — A tough day for Gonzalez, who was taken off at halftime. He gave his mark too much space on the ball, and the ensuing shot deflected off of him and into the back of the net. Center-back remains an issue for the U.S.

RB — Michael Orozco: 7/10 — You didn’t hear Orozco’s name that much during his half of play, but sometimes that’s a good thing for a defender. Expect Geoff Cameron to start in his place moving forward.

Gyasi Zardes continues to impress for the USMNT.

LM — Gyasi Zardes: 9/10 — Zardes played as a traditional outside-midfielder today rather than his preferred winger or striker role, but he was once again one of the best players on the pitch. His speed and willingness to take on defenders caused big problems for Peru, as Zardes’ growth over the past year has been monumental.

CM — Jermaine Jones: 6/10 — Jones returned to the side after missing the Gold Cup through injury, and managed over an hour on the pitch. When Michael Bradley returns to the side, Jones will likely move to the bench.

CM — Alejandro Bedoya: 6/10 — Bedoya only got a half of play tonight, being replaced by Mix Diskerud at the break. Playing in the middle of the pitch in a 4-4-2 formation doesn’t necessarily suit his skill-set the best.

RM — DeAndre Yedlin: 8/10 — Yedlin has been played all over the pitch by Klinsmann, but tonight found himself as an outside midfielder. Similar to Zardes, his speed was a handful as the youngster was very impressive, constantly streaking forward on the attack.

FW — Jozy Altidore: 8/10 — Jozy’s form for the national team has been poor as of late, but he was handed the captain’s armband tonight and delivered with two goals. He’s still not at the top of his game, but when a striker scores twice, it’s a successful night.

FW — Bobby Wood: 6/10 — A quiet night for Bobby Wood, who didn’t see much of the ball up top. Still not a top-choice for Klinsmann in the attack.

Subs:

Panama v United States
Besler helped clean up the defense off the bench tonight.

CB — Matt Besler: 8/10 — While the starting center-backs struggled, Matt Besler looked much, much better when he came on for John Brooks. Sound defensively and very confident on the ball.

CB — Ventura Alvarado: 6/10 — Alvarado replaced Omar Gonzalez at halftime, but he struggled at center-back as well. He’s not the most trustworthy with the ball at his feet.

RB — Geoff Cameron: 8/10 — One of the biggest surprises tonight was not seeing Cameron’s name in the starting lineup. The Stoke City man came on at halftime and helped tighten things defensively, and his patented long-throw led to Altidore’s penalty.

CM — Mix Diskerud: 7/10 — Dikserud has struggled recently for both the USMNT and NYCFC, but looked a bit better tonight against Peru. Similar to Jermaine Jones, the center of the pitch will belong to Michael Bradley when he returns.

CM — Danny Williams: 6/10 — Williams only got 20 minutes of play tonight, so it’s hard to judge his performance. He’s a question mark for the U.S. roster when they face Mexico in October.

FW — Aron Johannsson: 7/10 — Johannsson made some strong runs when he came in off the bench, and at times was dangerous after being kept quiet in a few of his previous appearances for the USMNT. If the goals start to come, he could be a difference maker.

Petr Cech earns win with 2 penalty saves in hockey debut

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Former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper joined English fourth-division hockey team Guildford Phoenix four days ago and made his debut on Sunday.

He did not disappoint.

The 37-year-old saved two penalties in the shootout, earning Man of the Match honors.

Cech is reportedly a fan of the Guilford Flames, the first-division side who use the Phoenix as their developmental side. He was signed to be the team’s third-choice goalkeeper, just a chance for him to get in on the action before his body gives way for good, but he was given a chance to play right away. He wore number 39, a nod to famous Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek. His custom helmet was adorned with Arsenal and Chelsea colors. Regulation finished level at 2-2 before Cech’s shootout heroics.

“I wanted to win, that was the main thing, and I’m glad we did,” Cech said after the match. “I was surprised that I wasn’t more nervous. I didn’t know what to expect so it was nice how quickly my body switched into matchday mode.”

Giroud upset with reserve role at Chelsea

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Olivier Giroud does not look back on his transfer to Chelsea and wish he had done things differently, but that doesn’t mean things are all sunshine and roses for the 33-year-old.

Giroud, who moved to Chelsea from Arsenal in the winter of 2018 after six years with the Gunners, has played just 43 times in the Premier League, averaging just 35 minutes per appearance. That has him frustrated, hoping to prove his loyalty to the club and work harder than the other options up front.

“I had competitors in attack – [Alvaro] Morata, [Gonzalo] Higuain, who ended up leaving,” Giroud said. “I won at the end: I played the final of the FA Cup in 2018 and the [Europa League] final in 2019. Once again, I’m starting the year in a difficult situation. But as my brother says, I have always built myself in the face of adversity.”

Giroud is trying to be smart about how he approaches the competition for time with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi, but he says it is emotionally taxing.

“You do not have to be fatalistic in certain situations,” Giroud says about keeping a level head. “I have always been respectful and humble. Even if I do not agree with the coach, I do not criticize him. But in myself, I cannot accept it because I know what I’m worth on a pitch.”

The French international has made just three league appearances this season, mostly thanks to Abraham’s scalding form. Abraham, still just 22 years old, has snatched his opportunity for first-team minutes with eight goals in eight games to start the campaign. That has left Giroud on the sidelines for each of the last five league games, missing out on a spot in the matchday squad altogether for the last three.

Despite his struggles at the club level, Giroud has maintained his place in the French national team, missing just five matches of France’s last 64 games, including 37 of the last 39.

James says he was not knocked unconscious in Wales draw

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Head injury awareness again rose to the forefront in the 1-1 draw between Wales and Croatia in Cardiff when Daniel James went down after colliding with a pair of opponents.

The Manchester United winger looked to almost sure have been knocked unconscious when Domagoj Vida’s knee appeared to tap the back of his head while challenging for a ball in the air. Vida went toppling over the back of teammate Borna Barisic who ducked out of the way, but it was James who many were concerned for as he lay motionless on his back with his eyes closed.

Yet James was allowed to come back onto the field and completed the full 90 minutes, sparking criticism from injury advocates and fans who were concerned for James’ safety on the field, at potential risk for even more serious consequences should he indeed have suffered a concussion.

After the game however, despite what fans saw as James lie on the turf, the 21-year-old insisted he was not knocked unconscious. “I’m fine,” James claimed after the match, speaking to Sky Sports. “I think he just caught me in the head but I didn’t get knocked out fortunately.”

Wales boss Ryan Giggs backed up the decision as well, calling James’ motionless display “a bit of acting.”

“The medical staff went over, he was compos mentis and we did all the checks at half-time and he was fine,” Giggs said, referring to the latin phrase for “of sound mind.”

If James was indeed faking unconsciousness, it’s natural to wonder if he should face a fine from UEFA for looking to con referees, and in the process possibly confusing the independent neurologists on site assigned to assess head injuries.

ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who has been outspoken over the past few years advocating for head injury awareness after his career was cut short by concussions, took to Twitter to criticize Wales for allowing James back into the game. Twellman, who was on the ESPN call of the broadcast with Ian Darke, said more needs to be done to prevent players from being able to force their way back onto the field, lest someone be killed by second impact syndrome.

Former Hull City player Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire after a serious skull fracture saw him fighting for his life, was also seriously concerned about the incident.

Interestingly enough, later in the match just seconds after the second half restart, young Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu was whalloped from behind by Croatia’s Bruno Petkovic in a wild and reckless aerial challenge. Petkovic’s elbow went clattering into the back of Ampadu’s head, and the was left writhing on the ground holding his head. The Chelsea youngster was taken off the field and immediately replaced by Joe Morrell, while Petkovic was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

Kane reflects on Tottenham, England struggles

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Harry Kane keeps finding the back of the net, but his teams keep losing.

The 26-year-old striker has bagged five Premier League goals in eight games for Spurs thus far, plus another seven goals for England in five Euro 2020 qualifiers this cycle. Yet Tottenham sits ninth in the table after three losses already this season, while England slumped to its first Euro defeat last time out, putting its seeding at the Euro finals next summer in jeopardy.

Kane is hoping to be a leader through the tough times for both club and country, wearing the armband for both as it currently stands.

“I think you need to lead by example,” Kane said ahead of England’s visit to Bulgaria on Monday. “Not getting too down when you lose a game, not getting too high when you win games. It is a long, old season for club and country ahead – a lot of games to be played so there are going to be tough periods.”

Kane has taken over the England captaincy on a permanent basis, and is filling in for the injured Hugo Lloris at Tottenham. “I am still the same person,” he said. “I still try and lead by example on and off the pitch and I will continue to do that. I have been in high pressure situations before in my career, whether that is going through goal droughts, playing in high-pressure games or not playing well as a team. It is something I will take in my stride and improve on.”

Leading by example includes finding the back of the net, while also supporting teammates both on and off the pitch. He knows even if he’s in good personal form on the stat sheet, there’s always ways to improve and help the squads through tough times.

“I am scoring goals but can I get more assists, create more chances? So yeah, I always look at little things I can get better at. Yes, the England form has been good but as ever, it can be better. We will see if I can continue scoring. It has been a good campaign but important I do not stop now.”