What now for USMNT following 4-0 win against Guatemala?

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U.S. Men’s National Team fans alike were left dazed and confused following their team’s unconvincing performance against Guatemala last Friday.

[ MORE: USMNT knocks off Guatemala in must-win WCQ matchup ]

However, Jurgen Klinsmann’s group came out and turned things around significantly on Tuesday, when the USMNT captured a dominating 4-0 victory against the same Los Chapines team.

[ MORE: Player ratings for USMNT-Guatemala ]

Despite the win though, the elephant in the room remains the same for the U.S.: where does the USMNT go from here?

It’s a loaded question really. While the Americans currently sit second in Group C for CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the fact of the matter remains that the team was handed a more than favorable draw to begin with. Tuesday’s win may have masked the bitter taste from a few days prior, but anyone that has seen the nation’s progression (or lack there of) over recent years will still be concerned.

Let’s take a look at some of the storylines that still plague the U.S.:

Who steps up scoring when Dempsey is gone?

Jozy Altidore notched his third goal of WCQ against Guatemala, but this is a recurring issue that the U.S. has faced for some time now. Other than Dempsey and Altidore, Geoff Cameron, primarily a defender, is the only other American player with more than one goal throughout qualifying thus far. The emergence of Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris in the future is something that the Americans will surely be banking on, but while the two have shown flashes of brilliance at times in their young international careers, it’s simply too soon to definitely say that either is a viable option moving forward.

The U.S. has struggled for some time in the search for their Robert Lewandowski or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While both players are a tad unrealistic to emulate, you see my point. Chris Wondolowski, Terrence Boyd and Aron Johannsson are just a few of the names that have come and gone for the Americans, with nobody truly making an impact at forward.

Defense still a major concern

Guatemala simply isn’t a very good team. That was what was so troubling about the 2-0 loss just days before last night’s win. A poorly contested header off a corner kick, followed by a goal conceded from a goal kick that went the length of the field are plays that should be seen as worrisome for the U.S.. The injuries to John Brooks, Matt Besler and Fabian Johnson were immense, so this situation is a bit tricky to assess, however, Klinsmann’s tactics have done the team no favors at times.

On Tuesday, there was a noticeable difference at the back with DeAndre Yedlin and Cameron playing at right back and centerback, respectively. While Cameron prefers a defensive midfield role best, centerback is still a very real option for the Stoke City player as the U.S. looks to bring in a new generation of defenders over the next few years, including Matt Miazga, Tim Parker and Cameron Carter-Vickers. Finding a consistent back four should be Klinsmann’s number one target before the Hexagonal (assuming they qualify).

Bradley best with Beckerman at DM

While Michael Bradley isn’t necessarily the most creative midfielder in the game of football, he is one of the U.S.’ most valuable players, especially in the midfield. The Toronto FC man has been a staple of the American team dating back to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but there have been noticeable differences in his game over the years.

Tuesday was a prime example.

When Kyle Beckerman is playing a holding role behind Bradley, the captain makes better decisions and doesn’t force as many mistakes as he does when he has to handle more of the team’s defensive capabilities. Bradley is at his best when he is buzzing around the pitch, picking the ball up in the defensive half and then distributing it to the wings or carrying it up himself. With the 28-year-old still firmly established as a core member of the team’s midfield, it’s essential that the U.S. finds ample cover for him to maximize his play.

Klinsmann Era must be seen out barring WCQ collapse

Pundits and die-hard supporters have been calling for the German’s head since the U.S. bailed out of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which was played on American soil. If there were ever a time for the U.S. to have fired Klinsmann it would have been following the disappointment of Gold Cup, or more so after the CONCACAF playoff that saw the Americans fall to rival Mexico.

One thing that can’t be denied is that Klinsmann’s tactical decisions have been head-scratching on many occasions throughout his tenure. Klinsmann will forever be remembered for not taking Landon Donovan to the 2014 World Cup, but in reality, he has bigger fish to fry at this point in his coaching career,

At a time where the U.S. and many other CONCACAF nations are struggling to find consistency, Klinsmann has to do some serious soul-searching over the coming months. While the Copa America Centenario will be seen as a massive tournament because of the competition that it brings to America the bigger goal at hand will always be World Cup qualification. Klinsmann’s goal, and it’s certainly a challenging one, must be establish an identity in the team. The Guatemala win showed that the U.S. is capable of getting wins when the chips are stacked against them, but it shouldn’t take a do-or-die scenario to instill that kind of urgency.

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Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)

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If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.