Three things we learned from Leicester vs. Man City

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Leicester City dug-in and battled out a scoreless draw against Manchester City on Tuesday, as the Foxes enter 2016 second on the Premier League table.

A favorite to get relegated when the season began, Leicester’s run has been one of the most amazing stories in Premier League history.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

On the other hand, Manchester City sit third on the table but will be disappointed with their play as of late, as it is title or bust for Manuel Pellegrini‘s men.

Here are three things we learned at the King Power Stadium.

LEICESTER EYEING TOP FOUR FINISH

Claudio Ranieri has been coy on his ambitions with Leicester City, consistently saying 40 points and Premier League survival was the goal. Now with 39 points at the midway point of the season, the Foxes have proven a top four finish is in their reach.

Ranieri decided to switch up his usual formation against Manchester City, opting to give Gokhan Inler his first start in more than three months. By putting the seasoned veteran in the middle of the pitch, Ranieri showed respect to City’s attack and understood a draw would be a good result, leaving Jamie Vardy as a lone striker. With the match still scoreless an hour in, Ranieri took off Inler and put on a striker in Leonardo Ulloa, going back to his preferred 4-4-2 formation as the Foxes pushed on for a win.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Manchester United vs. Chelsea ]

If Ranieri wanted to, he could have gone for the win from the start, but he instead played for a result to stay tight towards the top of the table. Tonight’s performance showed Leicester can put in gritty performances against the best in the league.

MANCHESTER CITY’S POOR AWAY FORM MUST BE FIXED

Manchester City’s last win away from home came back on September 12 at Crystal Palace, and that match saw a stoppage time winner give City all three points. After Tuesday’s scoreless draw at Leicester, the Citizens’ record away from home is 3-3-3, tied for the worst away record of teams in the top half of the table.

City have scored just one goal in their last five away matches, and have only scored a total of eight goals on the road all season. The only teams to score fewer away goals than City are Newcastle, Swansea, and West Brom. If Manuel Pellegrini wants to win the Premier League title this year, which is the only option in the eyes of the City board and supporters, their away form must improve tenfold in the second half of the season.

AGUERO’S HEALTH KEY TO MAN CITY

Sergio Aguero is one of the elite strikers in Europe, and is the reigning Golden Boot winner in the Premier League. However, he has struggled throughout his career to stay fit, as he has missed nearly half of City’s matches this season.

[ MORE: Everton’s Steven Naismith set to join Norwich City in $12 million move ]

The Argentinian only managed 60 minutes against Leicester in just his second match back from a heel injury. It was clear Aguero is still trying to find his feet, as he was nowhere near top form on Tuesday. When Aguero is healthy, he causes all sorts of problems for an opposing defense. Not only is he a top goalscorer, but he also occupies the attention of the back-line, creating more space for the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, and David Silva. With the recent struggles scoring away from home, a healthy Sergio Aguero could be a quick fix to those problems.

U.S. Open Cup: Goals a-plenty as Atlanta, Minnesota advance

Frank de Boer justin Meram Atlanta United
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The first two quarterfinal berths in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were earned Tuesday with 3-2 away wins.

Columbus Crew 2-3 Atlanta United

A pair of goals from Brandon Vazquez helped Atlanta United overcome both the Columbus Crew and a 48-minute weather delay.

Miles Robinson also scored for Atlanta, while David Accam bagged a goal for the hosts.

A 71st minute Brad Guzan own goal set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the Five Stripes, but they navigated the obstacles and emerged into the quarterfinals

Atlanta will play the winner of FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC.

Houston Dynamo 2-3 Minnesota United

The Houston Dynamo thought they were cruising to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and instead just waltzed right out of the tournament.

Up 2-0 at home and at halftime, the Dynamo conceded three times in the final 24 minutes to bow out of the USOC.

The victor, who deserves full marks, is Minnesota United. Darwin Quintero struck twice and Mason Toye scored in the 89th minute as the Loons advanced to play the winner of New Mexico United and FC Dallas. No Texas Derby in the cup this year.

Berhalter names first USMNT Starting XI for Gold Cup

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Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Michael Bradley all start as the United States men’s national team will look a bit more like its best for Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Guyana.

The 10 p.m. ET kickoff in Minnesota will see the Yanks without injured Tyler Adams, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Sebastian Lletget, but Jozy Altidore has been relegated to the bench — perhaps not fully fit — behind Gyasi Zardes.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores, stats, lineups ]

The back line will see Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and Tim Ream, while Bradley, McKennie work atop them.

Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd will be out wide, with Christian Pulisic central underneath Zardes.

The substitutes are Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Omar Gonzalez, Wil Trapp, Jordan Morris, Reggie Cannon, Cristian Roldan, Daniel Lovitz, Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Lewis, Matt Miazga, Djordje Mihailovic.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Chinese club reportedly offers $15M contract to Newcastle’s Benitez

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It would be peak Newcastle United of recent seasons to lose their coach to a squabble over the sort of players the manager wants to sign.

Rafa Benitez‘s contract expires at the end of this month, and he makes decent money at St. James’ Park, but his $6 million pales in comparison the money being offered by a Chinese Super League club.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Benitez wants to stay at Newcastle, but his concerns aren’t about his wages as much as being allowed to build a contender under stingy owner Mike Ashley. With the team possibly getting a takeover, Benitez is not guaranteed the chance to improve his roster. Not to mention Newcastle operates under club-wide restrictions.

Sky Sports says, “the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia boss wants to be given the green light to sign players over the age of 26, which has been against club policy in previous years.”

Sky Sports reports that Benitez is mulling a $15 million offer from Dalian Yifang, the CSL team currently sitting in 11th place under former South Korea national team manager Kang-hee Choi.

Dalian Yifang currently employs transfer rumor mainstay Yannick Carrasco, as well as Marek Hamsik and young Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Boateng.

If Newcastle allows Benitez to leave and the takeover is not completed, it would be the most embarrassing thing for the club since Joe Kinnear couldn’t pronounce half of his players’ names. That’s saying something.

Gold Cup LIVE – USMNT meets Guyana after Panama, T&T tangle

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Gregg Berhalter’s shaky USMNT welcomes several of its star players into the fold when it kicks off its 2019 Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The match comes 2.5 hours after one between the two sides which conspired to keep the Yanks out of the 2018 World Cup.

While the USMNT played the biggest role in that monumental failure, Trinidad and Tobago is the team that beat the Yanks in Couva on the same night that Panama scored a ghost goal to push the U.S. into fifth in the Hex.

Guyana has lost to Haiti, Bermuda, and French Guiana in the last eight months, and it would be stunning if the U.S. didn’t post a generous amount of goals on the scoreboard even after miserable efforts against Jamaica’s B team and Venezuela.

Panama and T&T, on the other hand, should be a beauty, with Los Canaleros getting a bit older in the tooth and the Soca Warriors maturing a bit as a side.

Panama and T&T kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the USMNT expected to kickoff with Guyana a little after 10 p.m.