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Player ratings: Few positives in USMNT’s Copa America loss to Colombia

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Remember that U.S. national team optimism we all felt four or five hours ago? Well, it’s all out the window after the USMNT’s 2-0 defeat to Colombia in the 2016 Copa America Centenario opener Friday night.

[ FULL RECAP: USA 0-2 Colombia ]

More so than anything, for the manner in which they accepted their fate and failed to put up a fight. Below are player ratings for the USMNT, none of which are favorable…

Goalkeeper/defenders

GK – Brad Guzan: 5.5 — Very little the Aston Villa ‘keeper could have done on either one of Colombia’s goals. Made five saves on the night.

LB – Fabian Johnson: 6 — Outside of less than a handful of moments, Juan Cuadrado had a totally forgettable night. Prior to kickoff, it was Johnson, who played all of two games at left back for Borussia Monchengladbach this season, the biggest liability and likeliest to be skinned again and again. Width in the attack was lacking, though, and that was (fairly or unfairly) another big ask of Johnson.

CB – John Brooks: 7 — Carlos Bacca, who prior to kickoff many foresaw giving Brooks trouble for 90 minutes, was mostly kept quiet (three shots, one on target). Long balls were easily dispatched; the gaps between Brooks and Geoff Cameron was minimal; he was commanding in a way we’ve rarely (never?) seen from the 23-year-old (yup).

CB – Geoff Cameron: 5 — Totally lost Cristian Zapata, his man, on the game’s opening goal. Despite claiming he was picked, Cameron took the longest route had his head turned the wrong direction at the wrong time as the corner kick came in.

RB – DeAndre Yedlin: 6 — Responsible for the penalty kick that made it 2-0, but made a heroic sliding block on Carlos Bacca halfway through the second half that would have surely made it 3-0, if not for his intervention.

[ MORE: Three things JPW learned from USA 0-2 Colombia ]

Midfielders

MF – Michael Bradley: 4 — One of the worst performances Bradley has ever put forth for the Stars and Stripes. His giveaway led directly to the penalty (second goal), and it was far from the only one on the night. Short memory certainly required after this one.

MF – Jermaine Jones: 5 — If there’s one instance in which Jones is particularly terrible: when the opposition presses fast and furious in the middle third of the field. Colombia did just that, and Jones’ inability to make quick decision and precise passes were a huge hindrance.

MF – Alejandro Bedoya: 5 — Easily the best American player in the USMNT’s final pre-Copa friendlies, Bedoya struggled in much the same way Jones did. He also relied on Bradley to play him the ball quickly in transition and, well, as discussed above, that just didn’t happen.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

Forwards

FW – Bobby Wood: 5 — Herculez Gomez, working as a studio analyst for this game, said it best. Can’t blame that on Wood, per se, but he’s the one who flounders on the field.

FW – Clint Dempsey: 6.5 — He’s not a no. 9, and he’s certainly not a no. 10 — he’s the underneath forward in a 4-4-2, if you’re wondering — asking Dempsey to lead the line is a sin at the feet of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. With that said, Dempsey managed to be the most dangerous attacker over the 90 minutes.

FW – Gyasi Zardes: 6 — That designation actually belonged to Zardes through 30 — maybe even 45 — minutes, but he faded badly in the second half.

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

Substitutes

MF – Darlington Nagbe: 5.5 — At his best, Nagbe gets on the ball two, three or four times every possession, and runs at defenders, creating space for the following pass and the pass after that and so on. With Colombia pressing the way they did, good luck.

FW – Christian Pulisic: 5.5 — By the time Pulisic and Nagbe entered the game (66th minute), Colombia had dropped the line of confrontation by about 10 or 15 yards and, while still pressing the with the forwards and wingers, offered precisely zero space either through the center or out wide.

MF – Graham Zusi: N/A — Too little time to make an impact (86th-minute sub), and he didn’t

Watch Live: Leicester City v. Man City

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Manchester City can put Leicester City deep in its rearview mirror when the two sides meet at the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Leicester opens the day four points back of the second-place visitors. The Foxes also saw Chelsea move four points back with a win over Spurs.

[ STREAM: Leicester City v. Man City ]

Aymeric Laporte again pairs with Fernandinho in Man City’s back line, keeping John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi on the bench.

Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez start on the bench for Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes.

LINEUPS

Leicester City

Man City

VIDEO: Messi scores first half hat trick for Barcelona

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Lionel Messi scored a first half hat trick for Barcelona against Eibar on Saturday.

Messi, 33, is warming up quite well for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg as he tore Eibar’s defense to shreds to put them 3-0 up at the break.

In a week where Messi and Barcelona have been in the news amid an emergency signing of Martin Braithwaite, a social media spying scandal and plenty of criticism of sporting director Eric Abidal, the Argentine ace got back to doing what he does best.

Barcelona sat in second place in the La Liga table heading into this weekend, one point behind Real Madrid.

Giroud vows “start of a good run” for Chelsea ahead of UCL

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OIivier Giroud knows he’s given Frank Lampard food for thought as Chelsea improved its top four stock with a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Giroud scored the first goal in making just his third Premier League start and eighth league appearance under Lampard, and now has two goals in 375 minutes this season. The other came against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Frenchman now has 79 Premier League goals, and the ex-Arsenal man will be doubly thrilled to that four of them have now come against Spurs.

“I was lucky the ball came back after hitting the post and I tried to finish,” Giroud said, via the BBC. “It was a good feeling for me, a good moment and I’m so happy for the team to win today. It’s been three months I didn’t start, it’s been a special day for me and all of us.”

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts ]

Giroud said that this was bigger for Chelsea than it was for him, though.

“It was a very important game for us today. I want to talk about the team spirit. We’ve shown great character today. We knew it was maybe a kind of turning point. We lost a bit of confidence. It was nice to bounce back and get this win, a hard win against a rival, so I feel relieved today.

“Tottenham is obviously a rival for the Champions League race, so we are pleased to put them four points behind us. This is the start of a good run, I hope, now we need to focus on the Champions League. This game would be nice for the confidence and for the changing room.”

Chelsea meets Bayern Munich on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge before a trip to Bournemouth on Feb. 29. The breathing room on fifth place is welcome.

Jose Mourinho defends players “trying to do miracles,” explains Dele move

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Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho says he can have no complaints with his shorthanded men following a 2-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho pointed to the absence of strikers Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane as well as a Champions League match in midweek.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“Look at Chelsea they played a World Cup-winning striker up front, England’s second striker on the bench, and Belgium’s second striker in the stands,” he said, via Football.London. “We had no strikers on the pitch, no strikers on the bench and two in the hospital.”

Chelsea were the much better side on the day, with Olivier Giroud making a statement to Frank Lampard about his ability as a center forward.

And Mourinho felt sufficiently shorthanded on the day, especially given the exhausting 1-0 loss to RB Leipzig at midweek.

“Lucas, Lo Celso, Bergwijn,” he said. “These boys that are playing every minute and trying to do miracles in positions that are not their positions. I cannot complain.”

Mourinho also defended keeping Dele Alli on the bench for the first time in his tenure as Spurs boss.

“We had strange game plans but we needed to have them. Like Lamela who played well, people think I’m stupid that I don’t play him, but he’s constantly communicating with me in the warm-up, can I play or not. He was telling me his feelings.”

Spurs will finish the weekend four points back of the top four and as many as two back of fifth. They have eight days until another big match, March 1 versus Wolves.