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USMNT’s January camp has recent history of producing reliable first-teamers

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As the years have gone by, and U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has had more and more time to make his mark on the U.S. program — expanding the player pool sits atop the list of positives of his tenure — the USMNT’s annual January camp has become less about debuting stars of the future, and more about extending an opportunity for the lesser heralded American player to shine — about one player each of Klinsmann’s four full years in the job.

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As such, recent history has shown January camp is much less likely to produce a future standout for the USMNT, and much more likely to unearth a hidden gym capable of becoming a regular contributor. The following players have used January call-ups and debuts to launch their USMNT careers to varied successes…

Gyasi Zardes, forward, January camp class of 2015 — Zardes made a staggering 19 appearances for the USMNT in 2015, after emerging the main bright spot in last year’s camp and ensuing friendlies. In his first 19 caps, Zardes managed to bag three goals while playing mostly as a left winger in Klinsmann’s 4-2-3-1(-ish) system. Like the rest of the names on this list, Zardes hasn’t been, and likely never will be, a superstar for the USMNT, but remains a useful and growing contributor 12 months after his debut.

[ MORE: USA vs. Iceland preview — USMNT kicks off 2016 on Sunday ]

DeAndre Yedlin, defender, January camp class of 2014 — Yedlin’s USMNT debut came on Feb. 1, 2014, and six short months later, the now-22-year-old had become an overnight sensation at the 2014 World Cup and signed for Premier League giant Tottenham Hotspur. Now on loan at Sunderland, Yedlin remains a first-team regular for the USMNT, if not a full-time starter. Yet another reminder: sports are all about opportunities, and what you do with them when they come along.

[ MORE: 5 USMNT players with the most to gain from upcoming friendlies ]

Matt Besler, defender, January camp class of 2013 — There has been no more timely emergence of a must-start-every-game player in quite some time than Besler, who in two months’ time in 2012 went from making his USMNT debut in January, to part of the team that drew 0-0 at Mexico’s Estadio Azteca in March, to anchoring the defense during a series of World Cup qualifiers in June. Three years later, Besler is still a virtually undroppable player.

[ MORE: Matt Miazga unveiled by Chelsea | Hiddink: “Squad player for future” ]

Graham Zusi, midfielder, January camp class of 2012 — Zusi’s rise from “nice MLS player” to USMNT regular happened pretty quickly; after making his debut in January 2012, the Sporting Kansas City attacker had amassed 28 of his 32 caps thus far by the end of 2014. That run obviously included the 2014 World Cup, where Zusi notched a pair of assists as the USMNT advanced to the round of 16. Now somewhat on the outside looking in, Zusi is just an injury or two — or a red-hot month or two of club form — away from being right back in the picture.

[ MORE: Freddy Adu is cool with his soccer career, and we should be too ]

Class of 2016 newcomers to keep an eye on

Perry Kitchen, midfielder, free agent

Tony Tchani, midfielder, Columbus Crew SC

Ethan Finlay, midfielder, Columbus Crew SC

Tim Parker, defender, Vancouver Whitecaps

Kellyn Acosta, midfielder, FC Dallas

Matt Polster, midfielder/defender, Chicago Fire

Gold Cup: Mexico secures place in knockout round with win over Canada; Martinique over Cuba

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The Mexico National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup has been very focused on introducing inexperienced players into the squad, and yet, it was a veteran on Wednesday that reminded everyone how much he still has left in the tank.

Mexico captain Andres Guardado, who came off the bench for the injured Erick Gutierrez in the first half, scored a brace as Mexico held off a surging Canada late in the match. Guardado’s first goal was an absolute golazo from 30-yards out, while his second showcased his poise and calm in the box.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Mexico – as is custom for El Tri – controlled possession and looked very confident on the ball, zipping it around midfield and at times, playing on a faster speed than Canada, it seemed. However, with Canada sitting in a low defensive block, it took until the 40th minute for Mexico to get on the board through Roberto Alvarado finishing into an empty net after a big save from Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada pushed higher up the field in the second half and seemed to be turning the tide before Guardado picked up a loose ball – and there may have been a foul on Canada – and el Principito unleashed a rocket that Borjan had no chance to keep out.

Canada made six changes in the starting lineup from its first game and it was the introductions of Scott Arfield, Jonathan Osorio and Jonathan David in the second half that began to get Canada back into the game. A mistake by centerback Nestor Araujo in the 75th minute, trying to be fancy with a Cruyff turn allowed David to advance down the Mexico goal on a breakaway. After a cutback, David played Luca Cavallini in the box and Cavallini scored to cut it to 2-1.

However, Guardado, and LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna, put the game away for good two minutes later. Antuna got around his defender and centered to Guardado. The wily midfielder took three Canada defenders out of the play with a quick touch to his right, before scoring a deflected goal off the post and in.

Earlier in the evening, Martinique recorded a dominant 3-0 victory over ten-man Cuba. Star striker Kevin Parsemain didn’t score, though he did play a role in Martinique’s third goal with an outstanding back-heel pass.

Copa America: Watch Newcastle’s Almiron sets up Paraguay opener with 60-yard sprint (video)

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For the second time in as many games, Argentina has allowed it’s opponent to score the first goal. This time, it has Miguel Almiron to thank.

Starting with a dummy that lead to a more than 60-yard sprint to the end-line, Almiron showcased his top-line speed, strength, and dribbling ability as he lead Paraguay down the field in transition, eventually crossing into the middle. It was there that Olimpia’s Richard Sanchez met the cross and sliced it home to put Paraguay up 1-0 in the first half.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Atlanta United fans saw plenty of that blazing speed during Almiron’s two years in the U.S. If Newcastle fans get to witness this in person more this coming season, Almiron will be a fan-favorite.

 

 

Transfer Roundup: Neymar to cost $337 million? Could Jorginho follow Sarri to Juve?

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Will he stay or will he go?

That’s the main question surrounding Neymar this summer. If reports out of France – and there are many – are to be believed, Neymar will have to stay.

[READ: Landon Donovan to lead USL franchise]

Le Parisien reported on Wednesday that if Neymar was to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer, it would cost an insane $337 million (€300 million) in transfer fees. With that price, and UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, it pretty much rules out any club from Europe from signing the Brazilian star. Neymar has recently been linked with a move back to Barcelona, with $112 million and other players reportedly included in a deal from Barcelona to PSG.

There’s so many moving pieces involved in any case. Antoine Griezmann is expected to leave Atletico Madrid, with Barcelona the rumored destination. But if Neymar goes to Barcelona, could Griezmann head to PSG? Meanwhile PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi pretty much called out Neymar for some of his off the field – and on the pitch – antics, likely hurting their relationship.

So while it seems like Neymar – and PSG – may want the relationship to end, PSG won’t miss out on getting its money back.

Here’s more transfer stories from around Europe:


Jorginho to Juventus? 

Jorginho is to Maurizio Sarri like red wine is to a medium-rare steak. They just go great together.

With Sarri moving to Juventus, that raises the question that Jorginho, who moved with Sarri to Chelsea, could move back to Italy this summer. There’s plenty of reasons why it could make sense. Despite playing 56 times for the Blues, including helping lead them to the UEFA Europa League title, he took plenty of criticism from the media and fans for his lack of defensive ability. Fans were also upset with Sarri’s insistence of playing Jorginho at the 6, and not at the 6 or as part of a double pivot with N’Golo Kante. In Premier League games that Chelsea was undone, it was because Jorginho was overrun in midfield.

Jorginho meanwhile could go back to Italy, where he has citizenship, plays for the national team and enjoyed so much success with Napoli.

According to reports out of Italy, Jorginho’s agent said that the player is happy in London, but they would wait and see what happens next from Juventus.

“Chelsea have a four-year contract with the man,” Joao Santos said, via Football Italia. “We’ll wait a few days to figure out whether there is any truth in this interest mentioned in the papers. His past at Napoli won’t be an issue, because Jorginho is a professional. Right now, Jorginho is happy at Chelsea. He found a great atmosphere and we can’t really say that he’d like to go elsewhere, but anything can happen on the transfer market. We’ll wait and see…”

Follow Live: Mexico faces Canada in Gold Cup doubleheader nightcap

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From Mile High USA, Denver, Colo., the 2019 Gold Cup continues with a highly-anticipated matchup between Mexico and Canada.

El Tri is coming off a 6-0 rout of Cuba in the opener at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last week, while Canada thrashed Martinique, 4-0 in its opener. All of which leads to Wednesday, when an up-start Canada faces a young and firing Mexico in the 10 p.m. ET nightcap.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna, a late addition to the squad, scored a hat-trick against Cuba and is one of the many young players getting their first chance to impress new Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Meanwhile, Canada is having a recent resurgence, with young stars Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye all making an early impact.

Meanwhile, Cuba and Martinique now battle it out in the first match of the night from Denver at 8 p.m., with both sides hoping for three points and a chance to emerge from the group in third place. Cuba has already lost one player to asylum in the U.S., but it’s unclear what kind of impact that will have on the team.

Follow along with us on the link above and in the comments below.