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Should the U.S. Olympic setback vs. Honduras fall on Klinsmann?

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It’s not over yet; This much must be noted as we swim through the murky waters of reaction after the U.S. U-23 side blinked in the face of instant qualification to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Honduras got a pair of goals from Alberth Elis, a 19-year-old Olimpia player with a pair of caps for his senior team, as the U.S. road to Rio got much trickier after a 2-0 loss in Utah.

Now, the States need to beat either Canada or Mexico just to get a shot at CONMEBOL playoff qualifier Colombia.

[ MATCH RECAP: Yanks’ Olympic hopes take terrific blow vs. Honduras ]

Keep in mind that Colombia finished second in CONMEBOL’s qualification tournament, thanks to Brazil’s status as host nation. A side that did not lose in the South American Youth Football Championship, one with 19-year-old Chelsea star-in-waiting Joao Rodriguez and Juventus prospect Andres Tello, awaits the U.S. should it win the third place game.

What does this tell us about the Yanks under the guidance of Jurgen Klinsmann? And maybe the better question is does it tell us anything at all?

The States allowed a total of two goals in a three-match unbeaten group play, both after the 80th minute of play with multi-goal leads in hand.

Yet with the money on the line Saturday, the U.S. puked. Honduras was livelier, and worked the Yanks into such frustration that head coach Andreas Herzog was tossed from the contest.

[ EDWARDS: The case for firing Klinsmann with a loss vs. Mexico ]

So to the question at-hand: Should Klinsmann bear most of this burden, some, or not much at all? He took over the U.S. technical director position on July 29, 2011, when this entire roster was between the ages of 14-18.

That moves to 15-18 if you discount the youngest player, Spurs’ Cameron Carter-Vickers, who looked formidable in the qualifying tournament. Is that a realistic timeframe to implement major change, considering that the U-23s bombed out of 2012 qualifying in group play while being directed by Caleb Porter?

To rewind: With group advancement on the line, they drew El Salvador 3-3. El Salvador. The lineup for that final match has plenty of names MLS and USMNT fans will know well: Hamid (Johnson ’39); Sarkodie, Opara, Kitchen, Villafana, Diskerud, Okugo, Corona (Stephens 88′), Adu (Gyau 90+’), Boyd, Shea.

Klinsmann’s position as senior team coach is easier to quantify; results and player selection fall squarely on his shoulders. But should his guidance as technical director have made a bigger impact on this unit, one with six players getting regular minutes in MLS, a keeper amongst the most prominent in Norway, and players on the First Team set-ups in the top flights of Germany, Switzerland and Scotland?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

It’s hard to say, isn’t it? Yet if the senior team loses tonight against Mexico, it will be all hands on deck in discussing whether Klinsmann should stay in the U.S. set up (And if they win, somehow it’ll be, “The Confederations Cup is a minor tournament” and “Mexico wins are nice, but we’re supposed to beat them.”).

I admit to being on the fence with Klinsmann, somehow, which is hard to do when most voices seem diametrically opposed; Either the German hero is working with a substandard pot of ingredients to put together an elite side, or he’s poisoning everything that’s good and holy about the U.S. Soccer universe.

There are no easy answers here. For those who think it’s simple, I ask how? For sanity’s sake, let’s hope for a big “W” tonight.

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Leaked image shows big fines that face Chelsea rule breakers

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Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.

A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.

If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.

And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.

From The Telegraph:

Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.

The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.

The full list of fines is below.

Kompany: Liverpool’s Premier League title ghosts should ‘be to City’s advantage’

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Vincent Kompany says history could help Manchester City climb back into the Premier League title race even after his former team dropped nine points back of first place Liverpool.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

Now at Anderlecht, the center back also said history might’ve played a role in City’s 3-1 setback at Anfield. In a rare bit of explicit honesty, the often interesting Kompany said that players do deal with demons of a club’s past.

“We always struggle at Anfield,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “I said that on Super Sunday, you’re fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that’s difficult, it’s two games in one game: You’re playing a great team and you’re fighting history.”

“Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool. They will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years. That should be to City’s advantage I still think.”

Do you buy that? Most of the buzz around the Premier League is that this Liverpool is a different team than even the dominant one of last season, and City has suffered big injury problems. The Reds players almost went out of their way last year to say they weren’t worried about blowing their table lead last season (which was bigger, later in the season).

Kompany also said that he believes City doesn’t need to add a center back in January, which is bonkers unless he’s coming back, but the Belgian has proven time and again that he’s one of the better minds in the game.

The guy did title  his MBA dissertation, “How professional football clubs in the Premier League can benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement” after all. Then again, I’m not sure any of our dissertations on the same topic would’ve been approved had we done that.

Liverpool’s Salah to miss Egypt’s first two AFCON qualifiers

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Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.

Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).

Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).

Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).

Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.