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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?

Leagues Cup: Lampson leads LA; Fire out

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There’s no shame in Liga MX being a superior league to Major League Soccer, but it would be nice to get more showings of strength from the rapidly improving top flight for Canada and the United States.

The Leagues Cup provided that chance for four teams of MLS, who could make a statement with three quick victories over the next two months. In at least one of Tuesday’s cases, a side’s backups and reserves gave its club the chance to take it more seriously in the semifinals.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]

The Mexican sides, by and large, spend more money deeper into their squad, and most of the clubs were established well before still relatively young MLS.

Throw in both MLS sides clearly ignoring the tournament in favor of weekend league outings, and what could’ve been a really cool tournament could’ve also wasted a lot of peoples’ time on Wednesday despite MLS having the distinct advantage of being hosts for all four quarterfinals.

Godspeed, LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul

Chicago opted to keep many of its first-choice players on the bench or out of the 18, and it showed in an easy win for away side.

Cruz Azul out-attempted the Fire by a 14-5 margin, and held 69 percent of possession. Fire backstop Richard Sanchez was forced to make six saves, but Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez scored late in each half to plug a couple of away goals onto the board.

Alvarado’s goal was simply magical.

LA Galaxy 2-2 (3-1 pens) Club Tijuana

The resilient hosts took the favored visitors to penalties, where

Servando Carrasco gave LA a lead, and Matt Lampson stopped Erick “Cubo” Torres only to see Efrain Alvarez clanked the next effort off the post. Ariel Nahuelpán then leveled the score before Gibran Lajud made a save for Tijuana

But Lampson answered the bell, and it was 1-1 after three rounds each. He made another save on Angel Sepulveda’s poor penalty, and Giancarlo Gonzalez sent the Galaxy into the semifinals.

Tijuana had most of the ball, nearly doubled LA’s passes, and out-attempted the Galaxy 20-7.

Emmanuel Boateng turned a Kai Koreniuk shot past Gibran Lajud for a 27th minute lead, but TJ tied the score within six minutes and took the lead just before halftime.

Dave Romney had an answer after halftime with a thundering header off an Efrain Alvarez corner kick, and LA was back in business with 37 minutes to play.

Tijuana’s Miller Bolanos hit the post in the 70th, but the danger was largely non-existent the rest of the way aside from wasted free kicks.

LA’s Julian Araujo was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

10-man Real Madrid comes back to draw 10-man Arsenal

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Maybe Zinedine Zidane ought to rethink his stance on Gareth Bale?

Of course it’s just preseason, but the on-the-market Real Match forward subbed into Tuesday’s match in Maryland on Tuesday and spearheaded a comeback 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

Real won in penalties, as all International Champions Cup matches must have a winner.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

Real was down a man after 10 minutes when Nacho Fernandez handled a ball on the goal line, and Arsenal also went down a man when Sokratis Papastathopoulos saw his second yellow of the contest in the 40th minute.

Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty, then set-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a goal 14 minutes later as the Gunners handled their business early.

The chemistry between two remains very real.

Real started new boys Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, and Luka Jovic in addition to Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos.

Bale came in for Hazard at halftime and poked a 57th minute rebound home and Marcelo set up Marco Asensio two minutes later to complete the comeback.

Asensio, sadly, would only last a few more minutes, needing to be stretchered off with injury.

Champions League wrap: PSV strikes late to win thriller (video)

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Five first legs of the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round are in the books, including a thrilling back-and-forth with a show-stopping stoppage time winner.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]


PSV Eindhoven 3-2 FC Basel

Bruma scored a debut opener for the Dutch hosts, who fell behind 2-1 in the 79th minute before Sam Lammers and Donyell Malen struck in the 89th minute and second minute of stoppage, respectively, to put PSV ahead.

Basel will be okay taken two away goals home via Albian Aljeti and Omar Alderete.

Lammers came in for Mexican star Hirving Lozano in the 79th minute to score the leveler within 10 minutes before Malen, who went the full 90, kept his focus to deliver this clever winner.

The New Saints 0-2 Copenhagen

Pieros Sotiriou and Robert Skov scored on either side of halftime to give the Danish powers a healthy advantage heading into the second leg.

Elsewhere
FK Sutjeska 0-1 APOEL Nicosia
Saburtalo 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Olympiacos

Wednesday
BATE Borisov v. Rosenborg — 1 p.m. ET
Ferencvaros v. Valletta — 2 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2 p.m. ET
Maribor v. AIK — 2:15 p.m. ET
Red Star Belgrade v. HJK Helsinki — 2:45 p.m. ET
Dundalk v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Nomme Kalju — 2:45 p.m. ET

Rodgers says no close bids for Maguire

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Those tired of seeing Harry Maguire‘s name in the headlines, hoping his transfer saga had concluded with weekend reports that Manchester United agreed to a fee with Leicester City, well, they are going to be sorely disappointed.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers credited Maguire for his professionalism — the center back scored in a friendly win on Tuesday — and said that the club’s vice chairman Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha has not received a fitting bid for the 26 year old’s services.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“There’s no big pressure to sell any player. If a player does leave Leicester City, then the player would need to be met because we have a top-level player, coveted by top-level clubs and I respect that,” Rodgers said. “Harry is on a long contract here and there’s been no valuation or near to that which would make Top have a look.”

Nooooooooooo.

Look, we’ve still got a few weeks until the close of the window, and every supporter has a target they want their club to acquire and some have some assets they hope stay in the same shirt at the deadline.

The Maguire story is getting a bit tedious now. He wants to go to Manchester United, but Rodgers is happy to keep him at Leicester. Maguire’s not the player who will quit on the club if he’s not sold, and Leicester’s hope of landing a replacement will dip as the deadline draws nearer and clubs like Burnley (James Tarkowski) realize their replacements options have been lessened by the wait.