USA 6-1 SVG: USMNT thrashes minnows after early deficit in WCQ

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The U.S. national team’s quest to qualify for its eighth straight World Cup, the 2018 tournament in Russia, got off to a rip-roaring start Friday night — but only after going a goal down very early on to CONCACAF minnows St. Vincent and the Grenadines — with a 6-1 come-from-behind victory in St. Louis (full highlights below).

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

St. Vincent and the Grenadines took their early through Oalex Anderson, a striker for Seattle Sounders II, the MLS club’s USL side. Anderson won the ball 30 yards from goal, ran at the USMNT’s defense, cut inside past DeAndre Yedlin and rifled a right-footed shot inside the far post for the most improbable of early leads.

The Americans drew level six minutes later, when Michael Bradley played Yedlin toward the end line with a simple through ball; Yedlin lifted a delicate cross to the near post, where Bobby Wood was waiting and applied the looping, headed finish over the outstretched goalkeeper, Winslow McDowall. The goal was the first of Wood’s international career as a starter, and the first he has ever scored before the 88th minute.

Wood very nearly gave the USMNT its first lead in the 16th minute after Fabian Johnson slipped a through ball to Wood inside the St. Vincent and the Grenadines penalty area, but Wood’s eventual strike, a floated effort toward the far post, sailed wide of the post.

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

It was Johnson who gave the USMNT its first lead of WCQ in the 29th minute. The full back-turned-winger sent in a right-footed free kick from just outside of the penalty area and received a favorable deflection from a defender in the wall, wrong-footing McDowall as the ball found net at the far post.

Two minutes later, Jozy Altidore made it 3-1 to the USMNT with a simple header from three yards out. Jermaine Jones flicked on Johnson’s corner kick from the near post to the far post, where Altidore was waiting, completely unmarked. The Toronto FC striker, still just 26 years old, attacked the floating ball with purpose and bagged the ninth WCQ goal of his international career (30 total).

It was the same corner-kick routine that made the score 3-1, used to make the score 4-1 six minutes after halftime. Johnson’s corner kick found Wood at the near port, Wood flicked the ball on and this time it was Geoff Cameron waiting at the back post to head home for his third international goal and his first in WCQ.

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

Gyasi Zardes made it 5-1 with his third career international goal in the 58th minute. Altidore ran at the opposing defense and played a through ball for Zardes, who cut inside from the right wing and fired low and just inside the far post.

Altidore was the beneficiary of a wicked deflection in the 74th minute to make the score 6-1, but it was the build-up through Zardes, Jones and Altidore that impressed the most. Zardes and Jones played a quick one-two at the top of the penalty area, which then freed Altidore a bit deeper in the box. Altidore faked one way and went the other, rifling his shot off of a defender and into the back of the net.

The USMNT will continue its campaign to qualify for the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday, when they play away to Trinidad and Tobago, who kicked off their bid to qualify Friday night away to Guatemala.

Watford chasing Rennes, Senegal star Sarr

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Watford may capture one of the rising stars of the game.

Ismaila Sarr would cost the Hornets a club transfer record fee, and Sky Sports says that Watford and Rennes are about $10 million apart.

The Ligue 1 side reportedly wants $34 million for the Senegal national team right wing.

[ VIDEO: Nketiah leads Arsenal win ]

Sarr, 21, scored a goal and an assist in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, playing opposite Sadio Mane of Liverpool.

He posted 13 goals with 14 assists last season between Ligue 1, the French Cup, and the Europa League. He was the lone Rennes player to score against Arsenal in the UEL Round of 16.

Watford has held onto Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dodi Lukebakio this offseason. Lukebakio is also a 21-year-old right wing, and had a sensational loan season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2019-20.

Nketiah leads Arsenal past Fiorentina (video)

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Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal beat Fiorentina 3-0 in Charlotte on Saturday.

Joe Willock also scored for the Gunners, which beat Colorado Rapids and Bayern Munich in their first two matches of the preseason and meet Real Madrid in Maryland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Fiorentina took 18 of the match’s 30 shots, though Arsenal had nearly 60 percent of the ball.

Nketiah, 20, scored against Burnley in last season’s Premier League finale and then late against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

He was deft in a high-pressure spot for this one.

Premier League friendlies: Watford beats Bayer, Man Utd over Inter

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Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Girona 1-2 Bournemouth

Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.

Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.

Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Pascal Gross scored with an early free kick — a Megan Rapinoe special — but Tom Cairney scored twice after halftime for the Championship side.

Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City

The Foxes collected a second win over a lower league side this week, with Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton on the board.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)

New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.

Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley

Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Robbie Brady scored as the Clarets overcame an early Nick Pope goal to beat Port Vale, but the Premier League side couldn’t do much in a simultaneous friendly at Crewe.

Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)

Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.

Preston North End 1-3 Southampton

Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.

Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored as the Hornets collected a win over Champions League competition.

Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)

Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.

WATCH: Marco Fabian smashes set piece goal

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Marco Fabian sent a missile toward goal, and perhaps it’s good the goalkeeper didn’t get to the hand-breaking shot.

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead over Chicago on Saturday in Chester, Pennsylvania, thanks to the Mexican midfielder.

[ REPORT: Man Utd locks up De Gea ]

It was a pretty set piece from Jim Curtin’s men, a backwards played free kick was laid off to Fabian for his audacious rip.

Fabian hasn’t had a wonderful 2019 season, but his fourth goal of the season will give Union supporters hope that he’ll pick up his form and make the already East-leading side all the more dangerous.