Three things we learned from USA vs. Colombia

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The U.S. national team kicked off its Copa America 2016 campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Colombia at Levi’s Stadium on Friday.

[ MORE: Positive vibes despite defeat ]

Two first half goals from Cristian Zapata and James Rodriguez did the damage as Jurgen Klinsmann looked frustrated but not too discouraged as his side battled hard but Clint Dempsey was thrice denied when big chances arrived.

[ MORE: Klinsmann reacts to loss ] 

The thousands of Colombian fans in the stands roared on their team to victory as they took hold of Group A of a tournament which celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the Copa America.

[ MORE: Brave Dempsey display ]

Here’s what we learned from a steamy Santa Clara as the Copa America on U.S. soil is officially underway.


MAN MARKING NIGHTMARE

The U.S. has started the game fairly brightly. Geoff Cameron had strode out of defense, performing a majestic Roulette before setting Gyasi Zardes on his way as Colombia scrambled his cross clear. Things were looking good for Klinsmann’s side. Then, man marking hit them hard.

In the seventh minute Edwin Cardona’s corner kick found Zapata in three-yards of space on the penalty spot and he hammered home a controlled first-time volley. 1-0 to Colombia. Momentum, gone.

The video below shows how the play developed and Colombia’s captain James Rodriguez must be given huge credit for his part in this. Watch how he wraps up Michael Bradley and pushes him into the path of Cameron which allows Zapata to steal a few yards. It was a clear case of man-marking gone wrong for USA. What can you do about it?

If you’re marking zonally then the chances of you getting picked off go down. You aren’t running around the box keeping an eye on one man. Yes, zonal marking has its flaws and you can often get caught flat-footed and there’s no way either has been proven to be more successful over the years.

That said, the man marking mix up set the tone for the U.S. after a bright start and although Colombia wasn’t at their best, they didn’t need to be to get the win. Klinsmann’s boys had two slip ups with the man-marking incident and DeAndre Yedlin‘s handball for the penalty kick and that was that. Playing against CONMEBOL’s best this summer, the U.S. were taught a lesson in ruthlessness.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USA 0-2 Colombia ]


DEMPSEY DILEMMA 

Clint Dempsey is still a very talented player and on Friday he came close three times with a curling shot, a header cleared off the line and a free kick which was saved superbly. He had to do most of the work on his own and in a position which isn’t his strongest. You’ve probably heard that before about Deuce.

Dempsey won his 125th cap and for most of the game he looked isolated and frustrated on his own in the central position. Just like at the 2014 World Cup, Dempsey showed he is not an out-and-out central striker but once again he was thrown up there and he dug deep.

He came close on multiple occasions and came closest when Sebastian Perez hacked his header off the line in the 60th minute as Dempsey looked to have grabbed a key goal for the U.S. just like he has so many times in the past. He then forced David Opsina into a wonderful save as his free kick (below) looked to be soaring into the top corner and he also had another snapshot deflected wide late on.

He kept plugging away up top but Dempsey is a mercurial talent coming towards the end of his career. He is someone Klinsmann can’t afford to cast aside and he needs to play him in his best position to get the best out of him. That’s No. 10.

If the U.S. wants to get out of this group, play Dempsey in his best position. If not, then don’t play him at all.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]


TIME TO START PULISIC, NAGBE

At this point, what have the U.S. got to lose?

In the 66th minute both Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe arrived on the pitch to huge cheers. They should start the next game against Costa Rica. The duo have that something extra, that little spark to unlock defenses and keep the ball. The U.S. looked cumbersome in the final third on Friday, often clipping the ball up to Dempsey and expecting him to do it all on his own. Why not start Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes through the middle, then place Nagbe off one flank and Pulisic on another with Michael Bradley and Dempsey in central midfield in a diamond?

Klinsmann has stated earlier this week that he isn’t wiling to play too many youngsters in this tournament because it’s a big deal and he wants to do well. However, the duo are ready. Chuck them in.

Pulisic is a teen sensation used to playing in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund and Nagbe is a talisman for the reigning MLS champs. The tournament experience they can gain from playing in the next two games will hold them in good stead for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It’s two years away and as we saw on Friday, the likes of Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya have been given plenty of time to impress but they both under performed and failed to dictate the tempo.

It’s time to hand the keys to the younger guys for the next two games. At this point, what’s the worst that can happen?

Ukraine to join Spain-Portugal host bid for 2030 World Cup

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NYON, Switzerland — Hosting World Cup matches in 2030 would be “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war,” Ukrainian soccer federation president Andriy Pavelko said Wednesday after his country launched a joint bid with Spain and Portugal.

The leaders of the three soccer federations joined together at UEFA headquarters to present a campaign they hope will connect people beyond the world of sports.

“This is the dream of millions of Ukrainian fans,” Pavelko said at a news conference, “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war or are still in the occupied territories and over whom the Ukrainian flag will surely fly soon.”

Pavelko said the project is backed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The expected Spain-Portugal bid, which has been in the works for more than three years, previously was made UEFA’s preferred candidate. FIFA will vote on the host in 2024.

“Now it’s not the Iberian bid, it’s the European bid,” Spain soccer federation president Luis Rubiales said at the launch. “Together we represent the power of transformation football has in society.”

No details were given about how many games at the 48-team World Cup would be staged in Ukraine or in which cities. The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosted the finals of the 2012 European Championship and the 2018 Champions League.

The European bid is expected to face a South American candidacy with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Saudi Arabia, which has built close ties to FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, has been preparing a multi-continent bid potentially including Egypt and Greece. It is unclear how Greece would be approved by UEFA to be part of that.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Crystal Palace vs Leeds: How to watch, live stream link, team news, lineups

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Crystal Palace and Leeds meet Sunday at Selhurst Park in a bid to snap twin four-match winless runs in Premier League play (watch live, 9am ET Sunday on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

Palace has won just once this season, drawing three times and sitting outside the relegation zone on goal differential.

STREAM LIVE CRYSTAL PALACE vs LEEDS

Leeds have three more points, good for 12th on the table.

Former Hudson River derby rival manager Jesse Marsch and Patrick Vieira will both look to kick their seasons forward with a much-needed win in South London.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace vs Leeds.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Crystal Palace vs Leeds live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9am ET, Sunday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Palace has given up 11 goals this season and expected goals say that perhaps it should be worse for the Eagles, who have received four of their seven goals from one man: Wilfried Zaha.

Leeds won’t have Luis Sinisterra, who was sent off last week, but Brenden Aaronson and Rodrigo have been producing plenty of attacking moments. Finish has to come next, although Leeds’ 10 goals puts it middle of the pack. Perhaps Patrick Bamford is ready to deliver the goods?


Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Joachim Andersen (calf). OUT: Nathan Ferguson (ankle), Nathaniel Clyne (ankle), Jack Butland (wrist), James McArthur (groin).

Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Adam Forshaw (ankle). OUT: Stuart Dallas (thigh), Archie Gray (toe), Luis Sinisterra (suspension).

Newcastle vs Brentford: How to watch, live stream link, team news, lineups

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Newcastle looks to run its Premier League unbeaten run to five when it hosts Brentford at St. James’ Park on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

The Magpies beat up 10-man Fulham last weekend to pick up their second win of the season. Eddie Howe’s team has only lost once, a controversial setback at Liverpool, and sits seventh with 11 points.

STREAM LIVE NEWCASTLE vs BRENTFORD

Brentford’s only collected one fewer point than their Saturday hosts, but the Bees have been blanked in consecutive outings and failed to find a way past Bournemouth in a scoreless draw on Oct. 1.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Newcastle vs Brentford.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Newcastle vs Brentford live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Exciting forward Allan Saint-Maximin could return for Newcastle, making an already cohesive unit more dangerous. The 25-year-old has a goal and two assists in four appearances this season and scored in this fixture, a 3-3 draw, last season.

Brentford has scored the fifth-most goals in the Premier League this season — quite good — but only six teams have conceded more than the Bees. Goalkeeper David Raya has made 30 saves, tied for third in the Premier League with… Nick Pope. So perhaps it’s time to expect fireworks.


Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Allan Saint-Maximin (thigh). OUT: Karl Darlow (ankle), Alexander Isak (thigh), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Matt Ritchie (calf), Emil Krafth (knee).

Brentford team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Ethan Pinnock (knee). OUT: Keane Lewis-Potter (ankle), Pontus Jansson (thigh), Christian Norgaard (tendonitis)

Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

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For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, we get it: There’s something rather dull about not wondering the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, but just the number of his final tally.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 14 goals from eight games has him seven goals clear of the next closest challenger: Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

His third hat trick of the season, joined by three Phil Foden goals in Man City’s 6-3 derby win over United, keeps him on pace for more than 60 goals this season, a mark that would

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total, it’s already becoming clear that projecting him for the Premier League record is not farfetched at all.

Take a look at these digits. Haaland isn’t just punching in goals; He’s made an almost seamless transition to Pep Guardiola’s system, producing chances for others in addition to his powerful self-positioning.

Erling Haaland
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Haaland is unlikely to hit even 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record is very well under assault

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Haaland also could topple the record for goal involvements (goals plus assists) in a single season, including beating the 42-game record. Alan Shearer put up 47 over 42, while Thierry Henry holds the 38-game record with 44.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

  1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 14
  2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 7
  3. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 6
  4. Phil Foden, Man City — 5
  5. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 5
  6. James Maddison, Leicester City — 5
  7. Roberto Firmino, Liverpool — 5
  8. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 5
  9. Leandro Trossard — Brighton — 5
  10. Three tied with four. (Alexis Mac Allister, Rodrigo, Wilfried Zaha)