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Three things we learned from the USMNT’s blowout of Saint Vincent & The Grenadines

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It comes as little surprise that the United States roared past Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in its penultimate game of third round qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

Bobby Wood, Matt Besler, and Jozy Altidore scored first half goals before the Yanks took their foot off the gas pedal. The foot went back down, in no small part due to SVG’s continual fouling, and the U.S. came away with a 6-0 win.

Christian Pulisic added a pair in the second half, with Sacha Kljestan deservedly adding one of his own.

1) Jozy Altidore is a CONCACAF killer — We can argue about whether a healthy Altidore could’ve been the difference for the Yanks at the 2014 World Cup, but no one is debating whether the USMNT’s third leading all-time scorer isn’t a match-up problem for almost every CONCACAF team.

Altidore is in-form for Toronto FC right now, and his hold-up play bought Fabian Johnson and Bobby Wood acres of space. The only way for SVG to handle him was to grab him, and this led to multiple dangerous free kicks for the United States.

The 26-year-old is 22 goals behind Landon Donovan for the Yanks’ all-time standard, and 7 back of Clint Dempsey. While neither was an out-and-out forward, it’s only a question of when (barring grievous injury).

2) Yes, it was against minnows… but those 66th minute subs — Christian Pulisic and Sacha Kljestan picked apart the SVG with little regard for emotions and feelings for the home crowd.

That their motivation was such is no surprise, for every different reasons. Kljestan is 7 years removed from a hat trick against Sweden that hoped to signal the start of something special, and he’s been electric for New York Red Bulls (but hasn’t seen a USMNT recall until now).

[ MORE: Men in Blazers chat with Pulisic ]

As for Pulisic, we’re at a loss for words. Borussia Dortmund’s teenage magician thrilled with two goals and an assist, and drew SVG defenders like magnets. Even considering the opposition, it’s fun to daydream about what this kid will be like at an older age (like the 18 he turns later this month).

Both deserve more time on Tuesday. If Trinidad and Tobago handles its business against Guatemala tonight, that means Tuesday is for the group. Seems like a good spot to put a little pressure on Pulisic (but not too much).

3) It’s borderline crazy that the hosts finished with 11 men — Saint Vincent and the Grenadines borrowed the Honduran playbook by fouling and fouling hard for the duration of the contest. There were multiple flying kung-fu style kicks that should’ve been red cards, and only one brought the yellow out (and a penalty kick to the USMNT that Jozy Altidore converted).

[ WATCH: Pulisic, Kljestan combine… twice ]

The U.S. maintained its composure on the whole, and nearly avoided all cards. One, a yellow to DeAndre Yedlin, will hamper Jurgen Klinsman in roster selection for Tuesday’s home match against Trinidad and Tobago.

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Crystal Palace

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Sheffield United host Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on Sunrday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Blades fans will enjoy their first home game back in the Premier League.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Chris Wilder, the lifelong United fan who is now their manager, will be emotional and fans of the Yorkshire club will create a heated atmosphere for opponents to visit this season.

In team news Sheffield United are unchanged from the team which drew at Bournemouth last week, with club captain Billy Sharp on the bench.

Crystal Palace bring in star man Wilfried Zaha who starts up top


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Zidane says Bale will stay at Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale is staying at Real Madrid.

The Welshman was not wanted by manager Zinedine Zidane, who stated that publicly on many occasions over the summer.

But Bale started and grabbed an assist as 10-man Real beat Celta Vigo 3-1 in their La Liga opener on Saturday and it seems like Zidane is ready to brush all of this Bale talk under the carpet.

“He’s going to stay and we all have to think of that as a positive thing,” Zidane said. “The injury to Eden Hazard was bad luck for us but it didn’t change the plans we had for Bale in this game. Gareth and everyone else here is going to show this shirt the respect it deserves.”

After his move to China broke down at the last minute amid conflicting reports blaming Bale and the club for the collapse of the deal, his future at Real has seemed pretty much dead in the water.

Adding in a serious injury to Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard picking up a knock, and all of a sudden Bale is needed again. But for how long?

He was linked with a loan move to Bayern Munich but Philippe Coutinho moved to Bavaria instead, and Bale wasn’t chased by Premier League clubs during the summer due to his huge wage demands. With the transfer window across many European countries closing at the end of this month, he has run out of options to leave a club where the hierarchy and fans don’t want him.

Bale, 30, is now stuck at Real and he has another three years left on his contract. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the man who has won four Champions League trophies at Real, yet has become the main villain at the Santiago Bernabeu as fans lambast him for playing golf and not learning to speak Spanish fluently during his six years in Spain.

Ibrahimovic scores twice, 10-man Galaxy ties Sounders 2-2

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in each half and the LA Galaxy tied the Seattle Sounders 2-2 on Saturday night despite playing nearly the entire match down a man.

The Galaxy’s Daniel Steres was sent off in the sixth minute for the denial of obvious goal opportunity.

Ibrahimovic tied it at 1 for the Galaxy (13-11-2) with a header in the 45th minute. In the 65th minute, he was taken down by Kim Kee-hee while going for a header in the area and converted the penalty, making it 2-1 with his 20th goal of the season.

LA defender Jorgen Skjelvik scored an own goal in the 82nd minute when he inadvertently deflected goalkeeper David Bingham’s attempted clearance into the Galaxy net.

Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 42nd minute for the Sounders (11-8-7). Harry Shipp hustled to round up a loose ball and fed it to an open Ruidiaz, who slotted it home.

MLS Wrap: What we learned

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Three unanswered goals from FC Dallas to earn a draw, a late Jozy Altidore goal and Chicago cruises past Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union: Saturday’s early slate of games had it all. Here’s what we learned from the busy action.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Montreal, Dallas split points in six-goal thriller

The Montreal Impact, up 3-0 in the 56th minute, probably thought they had the game in the bag. Dallas said, ‘not so fast.’

With three unanswered goals – one of those in stoppage time – Dallas did the unthinkable, stunning the Impact and flying back home with a point that tastes like three.

Dallas, like practically everyone else in the West this season, is dreaming of cracking into the final seven. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen. What was palpable on Saturday, however, is that Dallas played with a lot of determination on the road and with all the odds against them.


Chicago gets by Philadelphia with ease

The Philadelphia Union are good but not good enough to beat the Chicago Fire, apparently.

It could have been the league’s well-known parity, or the fact that the Union were on the road, but the Fire were able to squeeze out the three points, winning 2-0 with 10 men. Nicolas Gaitan earned a straight red right before halftime.

The Union, a proven side time and time again this season, alternatively, have questions to answer and a set of defects that were unearth Saturday (including finishing) to polish up on. But as they shown several times this season after suffering loses, they’ll bounce back under Jim Curtin.

The Fire (33 points) sit one point behind Montreal, Toronto and Orlando, while Philadelphia (45 points) remain clear leaders in the Eastern Conference.


 

NYCFC too much for Cincinnati 

NYCFC had quite the showing.

With Valentin Castellanos and Heber recording a brace each, Allan Cruz’s goal stood no chance. City, who are now third in the Eastern Conference with 41 points (one behind Atlanta), are clearly in midseason form, while FC Cincinnati is yet to win under Ron Jans.

With a defense that has allowed 61 goals – like the one above – Jans’ rest of the season is looking bleaker than brighter. But then again, it’s with a team he purely adopted. It worth noting that New York’s attack has produced eight goals in the last three games, so maybe that was the determining factor.

 

 


 

Altidore earns last-minute draw for Toronto

Like in many other instances, it was Altidore to the rescue for Toronto FC.

Its goal No. 10 for the 29-year-old goal, making it his fourth season with double digit goals. Jonathan Osorio, too, pitched in a goal in the 42nd minute. 26 games in, this is exactly when Greg Vanney needs his big-time players to step up.

The Columbus Crew, in contrast, can’t catch a break. Once again the superior team, a lack of finishing and defensive concentration make it three-straight draws for the Caleb Porter’s men. With seven games to go and seven points out of playoff contention, even a late run might not be enough for a postseason regular.