USMNT-Guatemala talking points: Zusi’s return; Not this summer’s Chapines

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With Graham Zusi back in the fold, the United States now has eight available starters who played in the summer’s 4-0 thrashing of Guatemala in the Gold Cup.

The Yanks, however, also have all 11 of the starters who put on the red, blue and black (!!!) of the USMNT for Friday’s 2-0 loss in Guatemala City. Woof.

Those two paragraphs, in a nutshell, are part of the new dichotomy of the United States’ relationship with Guatemala. Twenty-one years of controlling matches, several of them decisive, square up with Friday’s fright show.

[ MORE: Full USMNT-Guatemala preview ]

Here’s the thing that’s been lost in the backlash of Friday’s loss: While the U.S. has no excuses for its performance and deservedly lost, Guatemala only had one starter who played in the 4-0 loss last Spring: goalkeeper and Man of the Match honoree Paulo Motta.

Guatemala is seemingly a much better side now under Walter Claveri, who happens to be reaping the rewards of a breakout few months from attacker Gerson Tinoco. They were far better organized, and didn’t wilt under U.S. pressure (though the Yanks also whiffed on several chances to score, highlighted by Clint Dempsey‘s second-half shot right at Motta).

United States' Geoff Cameron, right, and Guatemala's Jose Contreras jump for the ball during a 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying soccer match at Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City, Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/ Moises Castillo)
Cameron (AP Photo/ Moises Castillo)

But can Guatemala do it on a cold night in Columbus?

[ MORE: Klinsmann defends Friday’s lineup ]

Jurgen Klinsmann’s team needs a win — not even a draw will do — in the worst way come Tuesday in Columbus, and remains without two of its most in-form players now that both Fabian Johnson and John Anthony Brooks have headed back to Germany with knocks.

Klinsmann didn’t have the luxury of consistent veteran Geoff Cameron for the Gold Cup as the Stoke City man took the summer off after a season of injuries at the Brittania Stadium. He’ll easy replace Timmy Chandler (and then some) even after the German defender scored in that March match.

Brad Guzan could be back in goal on Tuesday, as Tim Howard failed to make game-saving saves even if hung out to dry by his defense. Guzan has not shown well for Aston Villa in recent weeks. David Bingham and William Yarbrough are also in U.S. camp, but Klinsmann’s not going to pin a World Cup’s worth of hopes on a lesser-known entity.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings from loss to Guatemala ]

Zusi, honestly, could be a big key to stabilizing the unit. The Yanks went 3-1 when he started in 2015, the lone loss being the Gold Cup shootout against Panama. He played in all four World Cup matches and picked up assists against Portugal and Ghana.

Moreso than the performances, “San Zusi” should bring calm and measured intensity. And even if Alejandro Bedoya can go, Zusi is more comfortable on the left side than the Nantes midfielder. That would allow DeAndre Yedlin to pair up with Bedoya while Zusi works with Edgar Castillo.

Now another big “if” comes in the form of Jozy Altidore, who could start up top with Bobby Wood and move Dempsey either deeper or off the pitch. Dropping Bradley back into the defensive midfield role above Cameron and either Omar Gonzalez or Steve Birnbaum. That would give the U.S. XI more potency on set pieces and in attack overall.

Again, the U.S. should win this contest. Should doesn’t often mean well in recent USMNT history, but that’s what you have to work with until at least Tuesday evening’s kick.

VIDEO: Breaking down some celebrated Premier League derbies

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The kickoffs aren’t coming back soon, so we’re finding solace in anticipating the biggest matches on the Premier League calendar.

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Certain rivalries are circled on the fixture list when it arrives each summer, the sort of games that seem to level the playing field regardless of the gulf in class.

Is Arsenal struggling? No better way to bounce back than Spurs.

Liverpool sliding a bit? It’ll snap back to form when Everton hits Anfield.

PST lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright has prepped up for several of these derbies over the years, and here’s a cheat sheet for those new and a tasty summation for those missing their hated foes.

Liverpool-Manchester City

Arsenal-Tottenham Hotspur


Manchester City-Manchester United

Chelsea-Tottenham Hotspur

Bournemouth’s Howe takes voluntary pay cut, first PL manager to do so

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is the first Premier League manager to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus suspension.

Howe joins Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, and assistant manager Jason Tindall in taking “significant, voluntary” pay cuts.

Howe is the longest-serving manager in the PL. He started with Bournemouth’s academy in 1994 and spent just a few short seasons away from home (Portsmouth and Swindon Town) during his playing career.

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The club has also furloughed employees throughout the organization. From a Bournemouth statement:

There is no script for moments like this. No tactics and no set plays to find a winning formula. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees is protected when the season returns.

We have also advised a number of staff across all areas of the club that they will be temporarily furloughed, as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world.

Surely Howe won’t be the last during this uncertain time for clubs and businesses all over the world.

Ex-Marseille president first coronavirus-related death in Senegal

Pape Diouf
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, died Tuesday in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus. It was the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death, according to the health ministry. He was 68.

Diouf, who was president of Marseille from 2005-09, had been treated since Saturday in intensive care in Dakar, health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said.

Senegal President Macky Sall wrote on his official Twitter account that he had followed Diouf’s health closely after he was admitted for treatment.

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“I pay tribute to this great figure in sport,” Sall wrote. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital who spared no effort to save him.”

Relatives said Diouf was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the West Africa region.

In its most recent count, Senegal has reported 190 cases of the coronavirus, with 45 of those having recovered.

Diouf was a charismatic and popular leader who was close to the fans and players at Marseille, the only French team to win the European club title.

“Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and (is) one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of Diouf.

Shortly before his time at the club ended, Diouf signed Didier Deschamps as the new coach and Deschamps won the French league title and League Cup in his first season in charge. It was Marseille’s first league title in 18 years.

Deschamps, who coached France to World Cup success two years ago, described Diouf as “a man of convictions, a spirited man, passionate about football” adding that his “sudden and brutal death deeply saddens me.”

“I could measure his popularity, which was immense with the Marseille people whose hearts he had won,” Deschamps said on L’Equipe’s website.

The French soccer league called Diouf’s death “a moment of immense sadness for French soccer.”

Diouf was born in Chad to Senegalese parents. After arriving in Marseille at the age of 18, he became a sports journalist and then a players’ agent.

Diouf was not afraid to take risks in signing unheralded players, such as the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena from third-tier side Libourne in 2006 when he was 21.

The 1.67-meter (5 feet, 5 inches) Valbuena went on to prove Diouf right, and all the doubters wrong, playing 52 times for France.

“A great man with a great heart,” Valbuena said. “We were hypnotized by his speeches, he had a lot of charisma.”

Diouf was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in 2012, one of the country’s highest honors.

Pugmire reported from Paris. AP reporter Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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Report: Griezmann plus cash could finally get Neymar back to Barcelona

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Neymar’s long-rumored return to Barcelona hasn’t quite reached the point of exhaustion, but it’s close.

A new report has said Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain may be coming to terms with what’s been a fairly obvious swap deal for some time.

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According to Sky Sports, PSG would send Neymar to Barcelona in return for French hero Antoine Griezmann and money.

The $167 million price tag attached to Neymar is significantly more than the $110 million on Griezmann, and there’s no doubt the former is more of a gamechanger at this point on their careers.

While Neymar gets both the #whenhealthy and #whenavailable tags to his rep, he’s scored 18 times with 10 assists in 22 matches across all competitions this year.

Before the full phrase ‘Ligue 1’ exits your lips, he’s scored against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Galatasaray, Liverpool, Anderlecht, and Red Star Belgrade in his three seasons with PSG.

Griezmann is a full year older than Neymar and, while one of the world’s elite attackers, he’s a step below the Brazilian’s tier. He’s also said to want to keep finding his way at Barca, with Gerard Pique and others ready to lend support.