Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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?

Everton’s Calvert-Lewin opens scoring with overhead kick (video)

Overhead kick
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a spectacular goal, and Arsenal’s chaotic defending gave him a big assist.

The Everton man had the Toffees up 1-0 inside of the first minute when he hammered an overhead kick past Bernd Leno.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Calvert-Lewin was first to react when David Luiz could only pop a swirling Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick high into the air.

The forward’s foot flew past Luiz’s mane — it withstood VAR review — after the Gunners looked confused by Sead Kolasinac following his mark into the 18.

The goal is Calvert-Lewin’s 12th of the PL season. He’s scored four in his last five league outings, and 10 in his last 12.

He has seven goals in nine matches under Carlo Ancelotti.

Wolves’ red-hot Jota too much for Norwich City

Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Diogo Jota scored twice and helped produce the third goal of Wolves 3-0 battering of Norwich City at the Molineux Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Mexican star Raul Jimenez scored the other goal for Wolves.

Wolves rise eighth with 39 points, five points off fourth and two back of fifth-place Manchester United.

Norwich City remains seven points back of 17th place with a league-worst goal differential sinking to minus-27.


Three things we learned

1. Red-hot JotaWolves’ 23-year-old attacker was coming off a hat trick versus Espanyol in Europa League play, and had two goals by the half-hour mark at the Molineux. That gives him five PL goals amongst his 14 in all competitions as Wolves threaten both the Europa League and, somehow, remain alive in the top four race.

2. Abject Norwich defending: Daniel Farke‘s men have been praised for continuing their forward-thinking, attack-minded football in the Premier League, but maybe they simply didn’t have the protectors to bunker down in front of Tim Krul. That’s a bit unfair, because it’s admirable that Farke wishes to entertain, but there’s no debating the mess that is the Canaries defense this year.

3. Jimenez is Mexico’s best: Club Leon’s coach made headlines this week when he called LAFC’s Carlos Vela the best Mexican player, and perhaps he’s No. 2, but there’s no North American in the world doing what Raul is doing in Europe. Jimenez went over 3,300 season minutes on Sunday, adding another goal to give him 22 with 10 assists. Only Rui Patricio, Conor Coady, and Joao Moutinho have played more than the El Tri star.

Man of the Match: Jota


Norwich City had two promising moments in the first seven minutes, as Max Aarons hit a terrific through ball that died with a Teemu Pukki extra touch. Then Pukki forced Rui Patricio into a save.

Kenny McLean cranked a shot to Patricio off a Puuki pass in the 11th minute.

A Norwich giveaway allowed Diogo Jota to dance into the 18, but he instead dribbled himself out of room and was tackled.

Jota made amends in the 19th minute, lashing home after a terrific team goal.

It might’ve been 2-0 had Alex Tettey not darted between Jota’s 23rd-minute pass to Raul Jimenez.

Jota got his second in the 30th off a corner kick, as Romain Saiss slashed a pass across the six that any of three Wolves would’ve put in for a two-goal lead.

Tim Krul made a great save on a Ruben Neves free kick after Jota was injured drawing the set piece atop the 18.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jota smashed the post moments before Jimenez deposited Wolves’ third goal of the game, a 3-0 lead arriving in the 50th minute.

Fernandes runs the show as Manchester United crushes Watford

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bruno Fernandes scored a goal and helped set up two as Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Anthony Martial recorded United’s second goal with a magical finish off his own rebound after Fernandes sent him through on goal, while Mason Greenwood added a late goal after a 1-2 with the Portuguese.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

United is now fifth with 41 points, three points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Watford had a goal chalked off by VAR, and remains in the bottom three with 24 points. That’s one point off 17th and two off 16th.


Three things we learned

1. Bruno as advertised: There was no question Fernandes addressed a need for the Old Trafford set, but few would’ve seen the Portuguese revolutionizing the team’s attack so quickly (and also underlining how badly United has missed Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba). It’s not silly to say Fernandes could’ve had four assists on the day. Magnificent stuff from the 25-year-old. No surprise he has Cristiano Ronaldo’s endorsement.

2. Greenwood shows another glimpse: The Mason Greenwood hype train hasn’t been as pronounced as Marcus Rashford’s of years past, and we’re grateful for that. But his shoulder move and sick cut before dribbling 50 yards to combine with Fernandes on the third goal of the game was gorgeous stuff. More hope for the future.

3. This: It’s easy to forget the heights of which somewhat-mercurial Anthony Martial is capable.

Man of the Match: Fernandes had four key passes and was perfect in his take-ons and ground duels. Incredible show.


Poor communication between Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic sprung Troy Deeney toward goal, but United left back Luke Shaw saved his teammates further blushes with a block.

Abdoulaye Doucoure then ran onto a dummied Gerard Deulofeu pass but found himself closed down by David De Gea.

United should’ve been up through Wan-Bissaka when Foster parried a cross onto his path, but the English back struck the ball tamely into the outside of the goal.

Bruno Fernandes led a terrific 38th-minute move, and Daniel James eventually teed up Fred for a shot that curled wide of the goal.

The January signing danced past Ben Foster and hit the deck when the Watford goalkeeper went to ground. VAR stayed with the call on the field, and Fernandes finished well with a little hop step.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Deeney looked to have made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute, thumping a. ball into the top of the goal when a corner kick was turned off the post by Craig Dawson‘s arm. It was attached to his body, but that does not matter in the attacking box.

Martial instead made it 2-0 off a Fernandes feed, collecting his own rebound before dribbling Watford dizzy and spinning a chip into the goal.

Fernandes spotted Maguire with a seeing-eye cross in the 69th, but the defender’s header was poor.

Greenwood scored his goal in the 75th, carrying the ball 50 yards before working a 1-2 with Fernandes and finishing with aplomb.

Odion Ighalo came close to getting on the board for his new club against his old one, but Adam Masina deflected his shot off the post.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Everton

Arsenal v. Everton watch live stream link
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton and Arsenal both look to stay in the top five discussion when they meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Carlo Ancelotti has Everton on 36 points, five back of fifth, while ex-Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta has the Gunners on 34 points.

[ WATCH: Arsenal v. Everton ]

Andre Gomes returns to Everton’s bench after his gruesome injury earlier this Fall, and Ancelotti makes five changes to his Starting XI. Ex-Arsenal man Alex Iwobi will start for the Toffees.

Nicolas Pepe rejoins Arsenal’s Starting XI after a Thursday match in the Europa League.

LINEUPS

Arsenal

Everton