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Copa America 2016: Will USMNT go young in 3rd-place game vs. Colombia?

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For the second straight year, Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. national team is still alive heading into the final weekend of an international tournament. For the second straight year, Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. national team is set to feature in the third-place game of an international tournament.

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

One of the biggest questions surrounding Saturday’s consolation clash against Colombia, a rematch of the two sides’ opening group stage game, in Phoenix, Ariz., is to do with the starting lineup Klinsmann will select — specifically, its international experience (or lack thereof) that many desire.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA 0-4 ARG | Player ratings ]

The order in which certain players should play vs. Colombia, most to least…

Goalkeeper

Brad GuzanTim Howard … Ethan Horvath — Guzan had something of a shocker in the semifinal drubbing at the hands of Argentina, and he’s the only one of the above three ‘keepers without a stable club situation at the moment (Howard is headed to the Colorado Rapids where he’ll see out the rest of his career in MLS, while Horvath is on the cusp of winning the full-time starting job at Molde in Norway). Recency bias is a real thing, and it’s something Guzan must correct and exploit in order to achieve a favorable move away from Aston Villa this summer.

UPDATE: Klinsmann has since announced that Howard will start Saturday’s game.

Defenders

John Brooks … DeAndre YedlinGeoff Cameron … Fabian Johnson … Matt Besler … Steve Birnbaum … Edgar Castillo … Michael Orozco — With the exception of the Besler-at-left back experiment against Ecuador in the quarterfinals, Klinsmann has chosen the same back four of five times this tournament, and it paid off in spades. Before shipping four goals against Argentina, the USMNT had given up just three goals in four games, none of which were scored from open play. That’s good! It’s also a youthful enough group (average age: 25.8) that they’ll still be at, or approaching, the primes of their respective careers as the 2018 World Cup approaches and begins. More reps together now can only mean good things for that group down the line.

From left to right: Johnson, Brooks, Cameron, Yedlin

UPDATE: Brooks reportedly left Friday’s training session with an apparent injury.

[ MORE: Gulati assigns significance of winning third-place game ]

Midfielders

Darlington Nagbe … Christian Pulisic … Michael Bradley … Jermaine Jones  … Alejandro Bedoya … Perry Kitchen … Graham Zusi … … … … … Kyle Beckerman — For better or for worse, Bradley and Jones are still the best two-way midfielders in the player pool, and if Klinsmann is committed to the 4-4-2 (like he’s ever been committed to a system before), they would have to start together in a must-win game. Bradley will be 30 years old in the summer of 2018; Jones, 36; which means there’s a good chance they’ll start together the USMNT’s opener in Russia.

The up-and-comer most likely to break up the Bradley-Jones duopoly is, of course, Nagbe. To this point, though, he’s played just 36 minutes at Copa America 2016, which makes you wonder, “Why, exactly, is he on the roster if only to play 36 minutes in five games?” Speaking of not getting playing time, Pulisic has played all of 69 minutes thus far. So much for the “we must use this tournament to give experience to the new guys” narrative.

From left to right: Pulisic, Bradley, Nagbe, Bedoya

Forwards

Bobby Wood … Gyasi Zardes … Clint Dempsey … … … … … Chris Wondolowski — Dempsey’s not going to be around forever, and while his partnership with Wood was the best thing the USMNT attack managed all tournament, it’s time to start addressing (at least mentally) “what comes next?”

Wood is the best pure no. 9 in the entire player pool, meaning with any luck, the 23-year-old Hamburg man will seize that starting job for the next five to eight years. Zardes is very much a “Klinsmann guy,” even if he’s yet to be handed a regular position or starting job at this point. Everything, at least on paper, says that Zardes is more of a forward than a winger, but the 24-year-old has proven more than serviceable in a wide deployment time after time. It’s time to find out if he can play as a striker at the international level, though, and what better time to do so than in a meaningless (stakes-wise) third-place game?

Mesut Ozil discusses critique of Turkish background

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Germany’s dismissal from the World Cup came as a shock to many, but one of its players received heavier scrutiny for off-the-field actions.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing move to Bayern ]

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil appeared in two of the three group stage matches for the Germans in Russia, however, his play was overshadowed by his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prior to the start of the tournament.

The meeting between the two caused several German media outlets to criticize Ozil due to the heated relations between the two European nations.

Additionally, Ozil says his brand was affected as well, with various sponsors pulling their support due to the meeting with Erdogan.

The 29-year-old is of Turkish and German descent, which would have made him eligible to represent either country.

Ozil took to Twitter on Sunday to discuss how the ordeal has affected how the media and sponsorship has affected him over the last month.

Barcelona, Sevilla to play Spanish Super Cup in Morocco

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La Liga champions Barcelona will meet Sevilla in the 2018 Spanish Super Cup in Tangier, Morocco on August 12.

[ MORE: Klopp talks Pulisic, Liverpool spending ]

The Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) announced the decision on Sunday, as Barca looks to kick off the 2018 season against last year’s Copa Del Rey runners’ up.

Lionel Messi and Co. defeated Sevilla, 5-0, in the 2017/18 Copa Del Rey final, giving the Blaugrana a domestic double for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign.

La Liga play opens up in Spain on August 19, however, the full fixture list will be revealed on Tuesday.

Ibrahimovic: MLS is “lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago”

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a major bright spot, as expected, in his debut season in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Alphonso Davies nearing Bayern Munich transfer ]

The LA Galaxy striker recorded a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union, raising his goal tally to 12 on the year — which ranks fourth-best in the league.

At the age of 36, Ibrahimovic has shown he’s more than capable of producing as a veteran, but it raises the question: how amazing would he have been in MLS had he joined sooner?

Following the Galaxy’s win over the Union, Ibrahimovic joked with media, suggesting he could have had the entire country in his hand if he had arrived in the United States sooner.

“They’re lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago,” Ibrahimovic said, “because I would be the president today.”

Puel insists Chelsea hasn’t inquired about goalkeeper Schmeichel

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Chelsea could very be in the market for a goalkeeper over the summer, but Leicester City’s manager insists that their number one isn’t being targeted by the Blues; or at least not yet.

[ MORE: Klopp discusses Christian Pulisic, Liverpool’s spending ]

With the Blues likely set to lose Belgium international Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, new manager Maurizio Sarri would have to look elsewhere to solidify the team’s goalkeeping situation.

One player that has drawn significant interest after a strong World Cup performance for Denmark is Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, who played a big role in the Foxes’ 2015/16 Premier League title.

Although Schmeichel would be a viable replacement for Courtois at Stamford Bridge, Leicester boss Claude Puel says Chelsea hasn’t expressed its interest to this point.

“No, there is no problem with this,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports. “There is a lot of speculation at this moment, it is normal.

“I think he [Ward] can bring more competition to the squad and more possibilities. It is a good thing to have competition between players in the squad to develop desire.

“It gives good focus and concentration.”

The Foxes recently brought in young Liverpool keeper Danny Ward, which raised further questions about the future of Schmeichel at Leicester.