Preview: USMNT to face Brazil in final tune-up for CONCACAF playoff vs. Mexico

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Who: USA vs. Brazil
When: Tuesday, Sept. 8, 8 pm ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

The countdown is on and the days are ticking away quickly — 33 and counting — until the U.S. national team clashes with Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, a one-game playoff for the confederation’s spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup, at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 10.

Following a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Peru on Friday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT squad has one last chance to either state their case for a place in the team to face El Tri next month, or fine-tune and forge partnerships in key areas of the field, when they take on Brazil at Gillette Stadium Tuesday night.

[ MORE: If you’ve ever questioned Jurgen Klinsmann, you don’t understand soccer ]

CAPTAIN BRADLEY RETURNS; DEMPSEY NOT WITH TEAM

Michael Bradley, who remained with his club team, Toronto FC, through the weekend, has joined the USMNT ahead of Tuesday’s game as originally planned. Meanwhile, Klinsmann elected to not bring Clint Dempsey into camp in favor of leaving him with his club team, Seattle Sounders, as he returns from a hamstring injury and regain full fitness.

“I had a good conversation with Clint,” Klinsmann said. “He’s still not 100 percent and we agreed it’s best to let him stay with Seattle to allow him to continue making progress ahead of next month’s match against Mexico.”

Klinsmann made another pair of changes for Tuesday’s game, as defender Matt Besler was released from cap to rejoin Sporting Kansas City ahead of a league game Wednesday night. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough was also released to rejoin his club team, Club Leon. Stanford University forward Jordan Morris and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson were also added to the roster.

[ MORE: USMNT beats Peru, 2-1 | Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

MORE TURNOVER ALONG THE BACKLINE

With the departure of Besler, an assumed and deserved starter at center back, John Brooks looks set to retain the starting job at left-sided center back despite a poor showing at the 2015 Gold Cup and struggling through his 63-minute shift against Peru. Besler’s 27 minutes against Peru showed, yet again, that the 28-year-old is much better suited to start meaningful games at this point than the 22-year-old German-born behemoth.

Starting alongside Brooks against Peru was Omar Gonzalez, who struggle plenty himself before being replace by Ventura Alvarado at halftime. Alvarado, of course, was Brooks’ regular partner during the Gold Cup, a failure of a tournament in which the USMNT finished fourth. Besler and Gonzalez, when played together, have put in stellar shift after stellar shift along the backline.

Tim Ream looks to be the answer at left back, for now at least, with Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley currently injured. Geoff Cameron, who now starts at center back for Stoke City, looks locked in at right back due to Timothy Chandler’s absence (injury). Cameron, of course, was a regular starter at right back in the Premier League before Klinsmann instructed to win a starting center back job in order to be considered for the position with the USMNT.

[ MORE: Cameron relishing homecoming to beloved Boston, as USMNT faces Brazil ]

FULL ROSTERS

USA

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Andrew Wooten (SV Sandhausen), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

BRAZIL

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Alisson (Internacional)
DEFENDERS (8): David Luiz (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Gabriel Paulista (Arsenal), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Filipe Luiz (Atletico Madrid), Danilo (Real Madrid), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Luis Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Elias (Corinthians), Ramirez (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Firmino (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Lucas Lima (Santos)
FORWARDS (4): Neymar (Barcelona), Lucas (PSG), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)

UCL wrap: PSG runs over Real; Atalanta clobbered on debut

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Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League goals, and Angel Di Maria go together pretty well.

[ MORE: Man Utd extends Lindelof ]

The man who scored a decisive goal for Real in a UCL Final scored two as Paris Saint-Germain throttled the 10-time champions in France without Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, and Neymar.

PSG 3-0 Real Madrid

If it’s possible for Zinedine Zidane to feel heat under his seat, it’s probably happening right about now.

Real Madrid was absolutely cooked by a clinical PSG missing its trident, with Di Maria scoring two goals in the win.

Juan Bernat was exceptional in the win, and set up two goals including Thomas Meunier’s late insurance tally.

Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 Atalanta

The Serie A visitors made their UEFA Champions League debut, and boy did it fall flat.

Down 1-0 early on a Marin Leovac opener, Atalanta surrendered a hat trick to Mislav Orsic in the loss. The 26-year-old midfielder is fresh off his first cap for Croatia. More seem on the horizon, yeah?

Considering their group includes Man City and Shakhtar Donetsk, La Dea won’t appreciate losing four goals in the differential column against a perceived bottom dweller for the group.

Elsewhere

Olympiacos 2-2 Tottenham — RECAP, Pochettino reaction
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Man City — RECAP
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Juventus — RECAP
Club Brugge 0-0 Galatasaray
Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Lokomotiv Moscow
Bayern Munich 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Atletico Madrid erases 2-goal deficit in Juventus draw

Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s going to like Diego Simeone a little bit less today — if possible — as the Argentine manager engineered a come-from-behind draw to get a measure of revenge for last season’s knockout round ouster.

[ RELATED: Shakhtar 0-3 Man City ]

And Ronaldo won’t be too happy with himself, either, as the Juve star missed a chance to win it in stoppage time, moments after Atletico Madrid had scored the final goal of 2-2 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.

That left Mexican star Hector Herrera the unabashed hero, as he headed home in stoppage time.

Juve scored a beauty to open it, with Juan Cuadrado spinning a left-footed wonder strike that painted the side netting.

Blaise Matuidi had Juve up 2-0, but Atleti pulled one back via a Stefan Savic header off a set piece in the 70th minute.

That’s when Herrera nodded his goal home.

But Ronaldo… how often has he scored this kind of goal in this competition?

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Man City midfield controls Shakhtar in Ukraine

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Manchester City got its UEFA Champions League run off to a convincing start, easing some nerves from the weekend with a 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan set each other up for goals, Gabriel Jesus also scored, and Fernandinho partnered with Nicolas Otamendi at center back to earn the clean sheet.


Three things we learned

1. Midfield runs the match: Center backs aren’t all that vital if the ball never gets to them, and Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri were exceptional (even with the latter taking an early yellow card). Rodri completed every single one of his 82 passes in helping City control the park, departing with less than a quarter-hour to play.

2. De Bruyne dangerous on an off day: Kevin De Bruyne just couldn’t find that final ball, constantly in dangerous areas but unable to execute that moment. Credited with three key passes including th, his shooting was the glaring difference between 3-0 and 5-0.

3. Shakhtar shows creative flair: Taison and Marlos both showed a knack for taking on defenders, each credited with four dribbles on the day. It was Shakhtar’s best chance to break down a disciplined City, and the closest the hosts came to succeeding on the day.

Man of the Match: Rodri


A Kevin De Bruyne free kick provided an early threat, but Rodri’s header was a bit off and unable to open the scoring in Ukraine.

Shakhtar then had a nice spell of possession, but City was up to the task. Rodri led a chance in the other direction and sent a ball back De Bruyne for a header, which was wide like the first.

Mahrez put City ahead on a rebound after Ilkay Gundogan took a Gabriel Jesus feed and pushed the ball off the post.

The Algerian didn’t need a post to return the favor, sending a delightful pass into the path of Gundogan for a smooth finish an 2-0.

De Bruyne finally got his assist when he took care of a bounding ball to Jesus for a chop into the goal.

Pochettino: ‘We didn’t respect the plan’ v. Olympiacos

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A “very disappointed” Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino was left seething after his team threw away a 2-0 lead in Greece, drawing Olympiacos in its first UEFA Champions League match of the season.

Even with that lead at halftime in Piraeus, Pochettino warned his players that it wasn’t going well.

[ RECAP: Olympiacos 2-2 Spurs ]

“From the beginning we had a plan,” Pochettino said, via Football.London. “We didn’t respect the plan. I told the players at half-time. We scored two goals but if you only analyze the performance it wasn’t great. We conceded a lot of chances to them and the first goal was so painful. We didn’t translate that type of aggression these type of games demand.”

Olympiacos entered the match with a reputation for fine defense, allowing only one goal in their last 10 outings, so Pochettino would’ve been happy with the finishing.

But Spurs were again sloppy at the back, and blew the same lead it tossed aside in last month’s North London Derby.

Olympiacos away is a step up from Palace at home, but this did not often look like the team that bossed Roy Hodgson‘s Eagles to the tune of 4-0 at the weekend.

“How many times we didn’t anticipate today and how we weren’t proactive like we were against Crystal Palace? At this level you need to match your opponent. That is the first demand.”

Tottenham has three matches before its next UCL encounter, Oct. 1, versus Bayern.