What should Klinsmann be achieving with USMNT?

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There’s a lot of anguish and a growing feel of discontent among fans of the U.S. national team.

I know. I hear it.

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Following the CONCACAF Cup defeat to Mexico on Saturday I wrote a piece on the questions surrounding Jurgen Klinsmann’s side and how they have become a “rudderless ship drifting into the murky waters of obscurity on the international stage.”

Yeah. It has got that bad. In front of a crowd of under 10,000 (most of which seemed to be supporting the away team) for the 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday, it is becoming apparent that a large part of the USMNT fanbase is becoming disillusioned — regardless of the level of quality in the current player pool — with Klinsmann’s vision and the slow progress, if any, being made. The boos towards Klinsmann said it all.

[ MORE: U.S. lose to Costa Rica

Yet still, fans of the U.S. national team seem to be somewhat divided on that million dollar question: should he stay or should he go? Klinsmann, that is.

It all comes down to expectations. What does the average fan of the USMNT think is achievable? What do they want to see from their team and do they think they are seeing enough of it?

Four years into Klinsmann’s spell in charge of the U.S., and with another deal under his belt to lead the U.S. through the end of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, now is a good time to look at what has been achieved and the goals heading forward.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USA v Mexico ]

Klinsmann led the team to the 2013 Gold Cup. Great. It’s been done before, but still, a continental trophy should not be scoffed at. Okay, next up, has he been raising the profile of the USMNT across the globe? You can argue Klinsmann has done that too, as people across the world know his name, know what he has done as a player and a coach, which has helped to recruit plenty of youngsters (see: Julian Green, Gedion Zelalem) into selecting to represent the USA over other nations, mainly Germany. This factor, plus some marquee friendly wins over big European nations such as Italy, the Netherlands and Germany away from home, also stick out as people’s expectations have been lifted along the way. Not the whole time, but there have been enough flashes from this U.S. side to believe things were heading in the right direction.

[ MORE: Questions remain over USMNT, Klinsmann’s future ]

Okay, now the bad stuff which has tempered people’s expectations of what this team can achieve. Klinsmann went big on this summer being pivotal in his masterplan for U.S. Soccer. He is, after all, technical director too. Let’s not forget that. First up was 2015 Gold Cup success which would in turn see the USA qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup. The U.S. finished fourth in a terrible Gold Cup campaign and then lost the playoff game to Mexico at the weekend. He also, as technical director, said it was vital the U.S. qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. They have failed to do that automatically, but have a shot at redemption in Rio in March as they will face Colombia in a one-off playoff game. So there is hope there. Then, what else is there? The achievement of getting out of the “Group of Death” at the 2014 World Cup was heralded, as was the staying power against Belgium in the Round of 16 extratime defeat, and many believed that progress was being made.

Clint Dempsey & Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT — 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Clint Dempsey & Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT — 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Yet, in just over 12 months since the World Cup euphoria, things have soured. Talk of player unrest, Klinsmann’s intriguing battle between wanting players to play at the highest level in Europe, then picking them anyway when they return to Major League Soccer and him publicly throwing the likes of Alejandro Bedoya and then Fabian Johnson under the bus in recent weeks has seen things threaten to spiral out of control. Criticism of U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati has followed from many quarters as many questioned why he would hand Klinsmann a new long-term deal before the 2014 World Cup began last summer. The big question here is, what do U.S. fans expect? And perhaps more poignantly, are those expectation levels on Klinsmann, and his players, unfair?

[ MORE: Is this the end for Klinsmann? ]

Do they expect to win the World Cup? No. Do they expect to dominate the CONCACAF region? Yes, although many admit Mexico will always be sparring partners at the same level. Do they want to see their team scrap and fight for every ball and leave everything out on the pitch? Yes. And you can argue that 99 percent of the times Klinsmann’s players have been doing that, but in the friendly defeats to Brazil and Costa Rica recently, you get the sense that even some of his players are starting to wonder: “What are we doing here? Where are we going as a team? What are the goals?”

Klinsmann’s long-stated goal is to reach the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It is. It truly is. He told our own Arlo White about this nearly two years ago before the U.S. played friendlies against Scotland and Austria over in Europe.

Right now, that expectation and that goal from Klinsmann seems a long way off. There is a lot of hard work to do and that work will be ever harder if the fans and, more importantly, the players are not on his side.

As fans, as soccer observers reading this, what do you expect from the U.S. national team? Do you just want a team that makes you proud and punches above its weight? Bob Bradley’s team certainly did that as he won the 2007 Gold Cup and came runner up in 2009 and 2011. Bradley’s team also delivered a glorious run to the final of the 2009 Confederations Cup and a Round of 16 berth in the 2010 World Cup. He had players of a similar ability, if not inferior, to the ones Klinsmann is working with now. That issue of “player ability” is something which frequently clouds thee expectation issues U.S. fans are currently having.

Do you want a team that excites you and rips opponents apart? Do you want a team that can challenge in the latter stages of a World Cup? Of course you do. But it is all about managing expectations. About looking at the players and the coaches you have, and what your opponents have, and then seeing what is realistic.

Many of you are split down the middle as to whether Klinsmann is the right man to lead the U.S. into the next World Cup cycle which begins with CONCACAF qualifying games in November. Ask yourself this: is there anybody out there better for the job who the U.S. can get and are the players at his disposal good enough to deliver a deep run at a World Cup tournament under three years from now?

Then, and only if you’re honest, will you get the answer to the riddling equation which has been irking fans of the U.S. national team for quite some time.

What should you expect from the U.S. national team? And, are those expectations being met?

Leicester – Burnley: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Leicester – Burnley: Brendan Rodgers seeks to become just the 23rd manager to win 100 games in the Premier League, and becoming the fourth-fastest Brit to reach the mark, when Leicester City host Burnley at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2 pm ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

LEICESTER – BURNLEY BROM STREAM LIVE

Rodgers moved one step closer to his century of PL wins last weekend when the Foxes began their 2020-21 campaign with a 3-0 thrashing of newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. Burnley, on the other hand, are set for their season debut this weekend after their opening-day clash with Manchester United was rescheduled.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Leicester – Burnley this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Leicester – Burnley (INJURY REPORT)

Leicester will be missing three players Ricardo Pereira (knee), Jonny Evans (thigh), Filip Benkovic (groin) — with absolutely certainty, plus James Maddison (hip) is unlikely to feature and Wes Morgan (thigh) is expected to face a late fitness test to determine his availability.

Meanwhile, Burnley aren’t expecting to have Johann Berg Gudmundsson (knee) or Jack Cork (ankle).


What they’re saying: Leicester – Burnley

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, on transfer target Cengiz Under: “He’s a very, very good player. There have been negotiations with the club [Roma] and we’re hopeful there. We need a different kind of attacking player to help out at the top end of the pitch. It’s clear we have pace and power, but I feel we need more football in there.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche, on the club’s desperate transfer approach: “Lastminute.com — [it] started back in the day of Charlie Austin, two days before the first game of the season. There are many different ways that clubs operate. It is very difficult, it is tricky, but it’s the reality of it. I’ve been here eight years. This is not new news. I’ve been saying this for three years at least, saying we’ve got to stretch, we’ve got to pre-plan. But you can only offer these opinions. I don’t sign the checks, I can assure you.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Leicester (-165) are heavy betting favorites with Burnley (+460) widely expected to simply roll over and concede the three points up for grabs. Even the draw (+290) is though a bridge perhaps too far for the Clarets.

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Prediction: Leicester – Burnley

Leicester managed to shake off the rust and disappointment that was the end of the 2019-20 season (just two wins from nine games during “Project Restart”) and win going away last weekend. On the other hand, Burnley finished with just two losses from their final nine games, and won four of them. We’ll see if either side is in the midst of a trend, or simply a blip on the radar. Leicester 2-1 Burnley.


How to watch Leicester – Burnley stream and start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Newcastle – Brighton: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Newcastle v Brighton: A pair of sides that impressed on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Premier League season — but only one of them with anything to show for it — will meet at St. James’ Park on Sunday (Watch live at 9 am ET, online via Peacock).

NEWCASTLE – BRIGHTON STREAM LIVE

Newcastle United were far and away the better side in their season-opening victory away to West Ham United last weekend, while Brighton looked the better part of Chelsea’s equals for 54 minutes but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle v Brighton this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Newcastle v Brighton (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle will be without five players — Matty Longstaff (thigh), Martin Dubravka (ankle), Fabian Schar (shoulder), Paul Dummett (thigh), Dwight Gayle (knee) — leaving Steve Bruce with an increasingly thin squad.

Jose Iquierdo (knee), Florian Andone (knee) and Christian Walton (ankle) have all been ruled out for Sunday, with rising star Ben White (ankle) likely to face a late fitness test after picking up a minor injury last week.


What they’re saying

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, on starting with a win: “I’m like everybody else, we all like to get off to a start and we couldn’t have had a better week in terms of results. The players have hit the ground running, which was always part of the reason why we went after who we went after. We’ve got a chance to get off to an outstanding start.”

Brighton manager Graham Potter, on Newcastle: “Newcastle will be strong. They were worthy winners at West Ham and they will be a tough test for us. Impressive, the business they have done. They have added to the squad and they will be really strong. Everyone knows what Andy Carroll brings to the team and physically he is very strong, and aerially he is strong. Him and [Callum] Wilson will be a strong partnership.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

There’s almost nothing to separate Newcastle (+160) from Brighton (+185) as the oddsmakers see Sunday’s clash a near-tossup. Even the draw (+210) isn’t far out of line with either side winning.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

At the risk of placing too much importance upon a game in week no. 2, this one has the feel of an important litmus test for Newcastle. West Ham have been chaotic for quite some time now, but Brighton, despite finishing 15th last season, have appeared far more stable and trending upward under Potter. They’re likely a mid-table side this season, and Newcastle could be, too. In the end, it ends Newcastle 1-1 Brighton.


How to watch Newcastle v Brighton stream and start time

Kickoff: 9 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Europa League qualifying – playoff round draw results

Europa League draw
Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images
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Europa League draw results: Tottenham Hotspur will be rather pleased with their draw for the final round of UEFA Europa League qualifying — should they advance to reach it, of course — as they plod toward the group stage.

[ MORE: Is Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham a good idea? ]

After surviving their brush with disaster and embarrassment on Thursday, Jose Mourinho’s men will next be away to Macedonian side Shkendija in the third round of qualifying next Thursday. Should they come on top there, Tottenham will then host either Russian side Rostov or Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa the first week of October. The winner of that single-leg showdown will qualify for the group stage.

Elsewhere, Serie A giant AC Milan, who face Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt next week, were handed a slightly tougher draw: away to Turkish giant Besiktas or Portuguese side Rio Ave.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Diogo Jota to Liverpool; Yedlin to Besiktas ]

Scottish rivals Celtic and Rangers are also still alive in their quests to reach the group stage and learned their potential future opponents in the Europa League draw. Celtic, the nine-time reigning champions of Scotland, will face Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) or Buducnost (Montenegro) if they get past Riga (Latvia) first. Rangers will see Galatasaray or Hajduk Split (Croatia) if they advance past Dutch side Willem II next weekn.

Notable Europa League playoff round matchups

Shkendija/ Tottenham Hotspur v Rostov/Maccabi Haifa
Besiktas/Rio Ave v AC Milan/Bodo/Glimt
Sarajevo/Buducnost Podgorica v Riga/Celtic
Willem II/Rangers v Galatasaray/Hajduk Split
Rosenborg/Alanyaspor v Mura/PSV Eindhoven
St. Gallen/AEK Athens v Wolfsburg/ Desna Chernihiv
Sporting CP/ Aberdeen v LASK/ Dunajska Streda

Everton – West Brom: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Everton – West Brom: The Toffees and Baggies are set to kick off weekend no. 2 of the 2020-21 Premier League season on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 am ET, online via Peacock).

EVERTON – WEST BROM STREAM LIVE

Everton were one of the PL’s most impressive sides last weekend, as they began their campaign with a 1-0 victory away to Tottenham Hotspur. Most impressively, though, was the instant impact of three newcomers — James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure — who slotted into the team and played important parts in collecting three points on their debuts.

As for West Bromwich Albion, returning to life in the PL brought something of a rude awakening in the form of a 3-0 home defeat to Leicester City. After two seasons in the EFL Championship, West Brom undeniably have their work cut out for them if they’re to stay up this season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Everton – West Brom this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Everton – West Brom (INJURY REPORT)

Everton will be without four players — Mason Holgate (ankle), Cenk Tosun (knee), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (calf), Fabian Delph (calf) — none of whom were available for selection to the 18-man squad a week ago.

West Brom will be missing Danish forward Kenneth Zohore (calf), who also missed out on the opening weekend.


What they’re saying

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, on his squad’s depth: “They are experienced players, all three of them in different ways, James, Allan have international experience. Doucoure has played really well in the Premier League. They have brought more confidence to their teammates. We have a more competitive squad. It is difficult to do the lineup, difficult to make the bench and the most difficult part is to tell the player to stay home and watch the game on TV. But if we want to be a more competitive team we have to have competition in the squad.”

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on wanting more signings: “We would love to do it. It is important we bring a different type of striker to what we have into the club. We are trying to get it done but it’s not easy, but it is instrumental for us. Then the next phase is to improve the team from last season. We got Button the goalkeeper, we got Kipre from Wigan – two good additions to our squad. We’ve got [Branislav] Ivanovic, and now [Conor] Gallagher, and we’re hoping and trying to get a couple more. It’s not a secret — we have good numbers of strikers, but we’re looking to add a bit more quality.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Everton (-190) are, predictably, heavy favorites for this one, with West Brom checking in at +525. The draw is currently sitting +320, if you’re a firm believer that West Brom stand a chance.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

It’s a mighty tough schedule to start the season for West Brom, as they go from last season’s fifth-place finishers to a side with similar aspirations this season. For as long as James and Co., stay healthy and fit, Everton look set to be a handful and a half for bottom-half sides like West Brom. They will have to wait another week for their first points — and their first goal. Everton 2-0 West Brom.


How to watch Everton – West Brom stream and start time

Kickoff: 7:30 am ET Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock