Player ratings: The good and bad from USMNT’s WCQ opener

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The U.S. national team is off and running in its qualification bid ahead of the 2018 World Cup after a 6-1 hammering of CONCACAF minnows St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday in St. Louis.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

As always, a handful of players stood out on the night, a handful were generally “meh,” and the rest were just kind of there. The good, and the bad, from an all-around professional performance…

Brad Guzan — GK — 6/10: The no. 1-a or 1-b USMNT goalkeeper faced two shots all night long, one of which found the back of the net through little fault of his own. Suffice to say, it was a very uneventful night for the Aston Villa shot-stopper.

Tim Ream — LB — 6.5/10: The USMNT held just over 83 percent of possession in this game, which meant defensive duties were very few and far between for anyone along the backline. We’ll have to judge Ream’s contributions going forward more than anything, and since that’s not exactly his forte as a center back being played out wide, well, what’s there to be said?

Matt Besler — CB — 6.5: It was just nice to see Besler anchoring the USMNT defense alongside Geoff Cameron once again, a sure sign (we hope) that Jurgen Klinsmann realizes his best partnership at center back and will be rolling with the two for the foreseeable future (Matt Miazga’s potential for excellence excepted).

Geoff Cameron — CB — 7/10: Scored a goal and defended for 64 minutes against a side that, to that point, held less than 18 percent of possession. Translation: there was a whole lot for Cameron to do Friday night. Neither half of the USMNT’s best center back partnership was injured, which is all that matters on this night.

DeAndre Yedlin — RB — 7/10: Here’s what we know about Yedlin: he’s dynamic going forward as a right back and he still has some learning to do defensively. On Friday, both of these things were on display, though the former more so than the latter. His assist for Bobby Wood’s equalizer showed a bit of class in the final third perhaps unexpected from the 22-year-old.

[ FULL RECAP: USA 6-1 SVG — USMNT thrashes minnows after early deficit ]

Fabian Johnson — LM — 8.5/10: Scored a goal and (second-)assisted on two more; would have had another assist if Bobby Wood had finished his one-on-one chance early in the first half. It’s pretty clear that Johnson offers the USMNT most as a wide midfielder, but the problem remains that a suitable replacement at left back (or right back) is still missing.

Michael Bradley — CM — 6.5/10: We’ve seen it once, we’ve seen it a thousand times — the Bradley-Jones partnership, at least as a two, simply does/will not work against quality competition. The opening minutes highlighted these struggles once again, as neither (very good on their own merits) midfielder provided protection for a defense that found itself defending attackers in acres of wide open space. Reminder: Jones will be four months short of 37 years old when the 2018 World Cup kicks off.

Jermaine Jones — CM — 6/10: See: Bradley, Michael, above.

Gyasi Zardes — RM — 7.5/10: Zardes bagged the USMNT’s fifth goal on Friday, the third of his still-young international career. It was a well-taken goal, and Zardes was pretty regularly a handful up and down the right wing all game long. The aspect of Zardes’s game which still needs some work — the defensive half — wasn’t put to the test very often, so we’ll hold off on given the 24-year-old higher marks until he shows out for 90 minutes against a stronger opponent.

[ MORE: Zardes reportedly the subject of $3-million bid from England ]

Jozy Altidore — FW — 8/10: Altidore scored twice, the 30th and 31st goals of his international career. The first was the product of a devastating set-piece routine that St. Vincent and the Grenadines struggled with all game long, and the second showed a bit of composure and creativity inside the penalty area. All in all, it was a good night from Altidore, though it much to do with the quickly built chemistry between him and his strike partner on the night.

Bobby Wood — FW — 8.5/10: (Disclaimer: it was only St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but…) For too long, the USMNT has been completely disjointed between the midfield and forward(s). Bobby Wood might just be the answer to that problem, as he’s so effective dropping off the forward line, linking play between the two units and making intelligent, dangerous runs thereafter. He might just be the perfect strike partner for Altidore.

[ MORE: Donovan, on U.S. roster: “Where’s Dempsey?” ]

Subs

Darlington Nagbe — LM — 6/10: Nagbe is officially cap-tied to the USMNT, which almost feels worthy of a 10/10 rating on the night, but I’ll refrain. As far as international debuts go, Nagbe was fine — nothing spectacular, nothing overly worrisome. He’s a good player, and he’ll be good for the USMNT.

Matt Miazga — CB — 6/10: Speaking of a cap-tying worthy of a 10/10, the New York Red Bulls center back, who also holds a Polish passport, is now and forever an official member of the USMNT program. Miazga really had very little to do, considering the USMNT’s possession percentage actually increased from 82 percent after he entered the game. Just like Zardes, he’s good and will be good.

Jordan Morris — FW — 6.5/10: Of the three subs, Morris spent the least amount of time on the field (22 minutes), but was the most lively and involved. Morris is probably better suited playing alongside a quicker striker, a la Wood, than the burly Altidore, but he brings some of the same qualities to the underneath striker’s role as Wood, so he remains an option off the bench no matter who’s already on the field.

MLS Saturday wrap: Quakes keep firing; Toronto, SKC falter

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MLS doesn’t have too many days like Saturday, with four away teams collecting wins on a seven-match docket.

The surprise is lessened a bit by the identity of the losing hosts: struggling Vancouver, Colorado, and Sporting KC: Wow, that last one is taking some getting used to, isn’t it?).

[ MORE: Where will Bale go? ]

In a league where only two of 24 teams are above .500 on the road (DC United and LAFC), it’s still saying something about a hot weekend in these United States of America (and Canada).

Columbus Crew 2-1 Montreal Impact

The Crew’s early advantage looked like business as usual by halftime, as Caleb Porter’s struggling men conceded in stoppage time, but David Accam netted right after the break to give Columbus a much-needed three points.

Toronto FC 1-3 Houston Dynamo

TFC opened the door for New England or Orlando City to climb into the top seven by going into an early hole and failing to rally. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore came off the bench, the latter scoring, but the Reds did little on Alejandro Pozuelo’s day off and the Dynamo get a big road win to move without touching distance of a playoff position.

This is not adequate defense.

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Chicago Fire

Marco Fabian scored a beauty and Anthony Fontana also netted as the Union assured themselves another week atop the Eastern Conference. Chicago remains winless away from home.

Sporting KC 0-2 FC Dallas

What in the world is going on? SKC could not find the net with more than one of their 17 shot attempts, and fell five points back of a playoff spot. Worse, the hosts allowed sixth-place Dallas to move five points clear of them.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 New York City FC

It didn’t take long for youngster Sebastian Anderson to go from hero to goat, as the soon-to-be 17-year-old gave the Rapids a sixth minute lead before taking a red card 27 minutes later. Heber and Alexandru Mitrita scored late in each half to drive NYCFC’s dreams of the top spot in the East. The visitors are now seven points back of first, but have four matches-in-hand on Philadelphia.

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Minnesota United

Darwin Quintero and Marcelo Silva traded goals in a fair result.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1-3 San Jose Earthquakes

Make it three-straight wins for the Quakes, who rode Cali Clasico momentum and overcame an early Doneil Henry goal through Vako, Chris Wondolowski, and the in-form Magnus Eriksson.

Kane scores from midfield to beat Juve

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Harry Kane lobbed Wojciech Szczesny from nearly 50 yards to send Tottenham Hotspur past Juventus early Sunday morning.

Maybe he wanted to embarrass a former North London Derby rival, or perhaps he just wanted to avoid penalties.

The goal was made more remarkable by Kane’s blast radius including two men marking him near the Juve part of the center circle.

[ MORE: Where will Bale go? ]

It was an entertaining International Champions Cup match on Sunday morning, with goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Gianluigi Buffon plenty busy.

Tanguy Ndombele came off the bench to assist and impress for Spurs and Matthijs de Ligt making his Juve debut as a sub.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored for Juve, and the latter probably should’ve won it with a dragged shot in the 83rd minute.

Spurs goals came courtesy of Erik Lamela, who tapped in a rebound of a bullet shot from 17-year-old Ryan Parrott, and Moura.

The Brazilian was fed into the box by a sweet Ndombele pass moments after the new Spurs midfielder subbed into the match.

Here is Ronaldo’s goal.

Bale leaving Real Madrid; Where to?

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Gareth Bale is not going to play for Real Madrid this season. The jersey he will pull onto his body remains a mystery.

Real manager Zinedine Zidane said that “it’d be better” for the club and player if he was sold tomorrow, claiming it’s nothing personal but that Bale is simply not in his plans.

[ MORE: Watford chasing Sarr ]

Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett poured gasoline on those comments by blasting the French legend as “a disgrace,” saying the player and agent are “working on” an exit.

From Marca.com:

“Zidane is a disgrace,” Barnett told AFP. “He shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid.”

Obviously it’s far from disgraceful for Zidane to publicly admit that a massive player and personality may no longer fit the bill, and Barnett’s harsh words are more than agent talk: He wants a higher fee than will come from Real saying, “He’s 10000000000% available.”

Barnett does represent Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw, and there are so many reasons to think the Welshman could move to Manchester United. A return to Spurs is obviously romantic, but the club’s wage structure would be a concern to deeming this a fit.

Bale wasn’t fantastic last season, posting eight goals and three assists in under 1800 La Liga minutes and adding three goals and two assists in under 500 Champions League minutes (In fact, he was the 14th ranked player in UCL advanced stats according to Who Scored).

He is not far removed from monster campaigns with Real, and it’s no surprise that his production would drop off in a world without Cristiano Ronaldo around him (and vice versa, to a lesser degree).

There are a lot of reasons to wonder whether Mauricio Pochettino and Daniel Levy would consider what it takes to bring Bale to town. It would instantly and realistically elevate the discussion about whether Spurs could seriously rival Liverpool and Man City for a Premier League title while adding Champions League mettle as well.

The idea of Bale playing with Harry Kane the way he worked with Ronaldo and Karim Benzema is electric, though the prospective move took a hit by Zidane’s lack of love for Christian Eriksen.

Bayern Munich is another potential avenue for Bale, as is the Chinese Super League.

But we wonder if the 30-year-old would sign up for massive David Beckham wages at Inter Miami with a loan to a Champions League side for a season ahead of the Super Becks’ opening campaign in MLS. What better way to engender some fan interest amongst Floridians and Manchester United fans than a nice loan? We’re sure Zlatan brought some Red Devils’ eyes to LA, for what it’s worth. Spurs would work here, too, as would any side hopeful of expanding their American imprint.

Maybe Bale isn’t ready for that step. He’d surely prefer adding to his four Champions League titles and probably likes the idea of doing some bigger things for Wales, but there’s a lot of dough in America and really it’s not going to cost him his place with the Welsh side (though concerns about competition would be legit).

Russian fans clash with baton-wielding police at stadium

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian soccer fans have criticized what they consider heavy-handed policing after clashes at a league game.

Video footage posted online shows police in riot gear beating Spartak Moscow fans on the stadium concourse after a game Saturday with FC Rostov, including two who have fallen to the ground. Fans have alleged they were kept tightly packed in the corridor after the game and then attacked by police with batons.

[ VIDEO: Nketiah leads Arsenal win ]

The Russian Football Union has told the Sport-Express newspaper that it is calling for an investigation and that “this kind of situation should not be repeated at stadiums.”

The Russian Premier League says in a statement that it is satisfied police acted correctly and accused Spartak fans of trying to free fellow supporters arrested earlier over allegations of throwing pyrotechnics.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports