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How will the USMNT lineup against Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday?

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The United States is likely moving onto the final round of World Cup qualifying, where it will join Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, and likely Honduras (There’s an outside shot Canada fills the sixth spot instead).

At stake Tuesday in Jacksonville is the top spot in Group C, thanks largely to Guatemala’s upset of the USMNT in Guatemala City on March 25.

[ MORE: What it takes for U.S. to not advance ]

You could argue that winning the group is in some ways a defeat. While the Yanks and T&T would both prefer to earn all three points on Tuesday — a tie gives T&T the top spot —  the first placed team will open the Hex with Mexico at home and, probably, Costa Rica on the road.

While that also means that those matches are out-of-the-way, there’s a legit chance the group winner could find itself in a hole after a pair of matches.

Still, there’s little doubt the U.S. will go for the win, and Jurgen Klinsmann has a few things to consider when choosing his starters. DeAndre Yedlin is suspended through yellow card accumulation, and Matt Besler has returned home to be with his wife and newborn daughter.

John Brooks, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, and Gyasi Zardes will again miss out through injury, though Michael Bradley and Michael Orozco return from injury.

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There are so many challenges to this particular XI. Cameron has been an American rock and center back, so moving him to right back for Yedlin means the Americans would be down to their fourth and fifth choice center backs. That seems unlikely.

And what does Klinsmann do with a somewhat muddled midfield? Michael Bradley won’t be kept out of the lineup, and Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, and Fabian Johnson were all quite good against Saint Vincent and The Grenadines.

The most straight-forward changes would be this:

Howard

Orozco — Cameron — Birnbaum — Johnson

Beckerman

Zusi — Bradley — Bedoya

Wood — Altidore

Honestly, it seems fairly likely. Though some minor changes are possible:

  • Cameron goes to right back, and Omar Gonzalez pairs with Birnbaum at CB.
  • Acosta, Johnson stay on left, Bedoya moves to right mid, Zusi out.
  • Bradley lies deep, Beckerman comes out.
  • Bradley and Beckerman play deep; Wood, Bedoya, Johnson beneath Altidore.

Now those are all assuming that Klinsmann doesn’t opt to insert Sacha Kljestan and/or Christian Pulisic after scintillating turns as 66th minute subs against SVG. The idea of trying both of them before the Hex is more than for entertainment purposes.

Here’s a way Klinsmann could do it:

Howard

Orozco — Cameron — Birnbaum — Johnson

Bradley

 Kljestan — Bedoya — Pulisic

Wood — Altidore

What do you think?

Report: Liverpool paid Man City $1.2 million in ‘spy’ settlement

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A report from The Times states that Liverpool paid Manchester City over $1.2 million back in 2013 over a complaint about City’s scouting system being hacked.

Our partners at Sky Sports say their sources confirm the payment was made, while they also have a statement from Liverpool on the matter.

“Liverpool Football Club does not provide any comment on any allegations relating to legal agreements it may or may not have entered into with any other club, organisation or individual.”

Per the original report, the settlement was agreed without Liverpool or any individuals connected to them accepting liability. Plus, the allegations and information were never put up in a court of law.

Three scouts moved from Man City to Liverpool less than a year before the settlement was reached.

Man City allege that two of those scouts, plus current Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards, were involved in accessing a database via the Scott7 system.

City brought in experts to see if their system had been hacked.

The Times says this would be “the biggest incident of alleged misbehavior by one top-flight club to another in the Premier League’s history.”

That is spot on.

Of course, employees move from one Premier League club to another all of the time, and there is nothing that suggests this is more widespread.

But the private settlement becoming public knowledge will no doubt stir up plenty of controversy as Liverpool and Man City go head-to-head for the Premier League title once again.

Rodgers not too bothered by VAR as Leicester City back in Top Four

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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping his cool about the Foxes’ decent start to the Premier League season.

The Foxes beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move back into the Top Four, four points behind leaders Liverpool.

[ MORE: Match recap | Pochettino reacts ]

Leicester has now beaten Spurs, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United, drawn Wolves and Chelsea, and lost away to Manchester United last week (in a match it was arguably superior to the hosts).

Rodgers loved his team’s day, which was challenged by VAR taking away goals from both sides, but knows the big picture is a big challenge.

“A brilliant team performance,” he said. “Very early days, we have had a tough start. We will get into the New Year and see where we are February, March.”

As for VAR, Rodgers saw an early Leicester goal pulled back for offside, but the system also determined that Heung-Min Son was offside by the finest bit of his rotator cuff before Serge Aurier made it 2-0 to Spurs.

Back to 1-0, Leicester equalized within moments through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison scored a wonder-strike to win it for the hosts.

“It’s what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. Worked both ways for us today. … We spoke with the players in pre season about VAR. You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.”

Pochettino says VAR call inspired Leicester; Twitter has knives out

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Mauricio Pochettino worked a marvel with the English language in describing how VAR affected the late stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 loss to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Spurs looked to have doubled its home lead with 20 minutes to play when Serge Aurier belted a far post shot past the reach of Kasper Schmeichel, but a lengthy video review showed Heung-Min Son‘s shoulder was maybe possibly offside.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham ]

Clear and obvious? Mehhhhhhh.

Pochettino, oddly enough, chose not to debate the call but instead focused on the momentum he believes it provided to Leicester City en route to Ricardo Pereira‘s near-immediate answer and James Maddison‘s late winner.

“After 80 minutes, the game was going to be over. You gave massive belief to the team that was already dead. After we conceded the goal 1-1, we had some chances to score the second goal, but that’s what makes the Premier League the most beautiful league. You can never stop.”

He was optimistic on the overall performance following a disheartening 2-2 draw with Olympiacos at midweek, as Spurs threw away a 2-0 first half lead over the Greek hosts.

“Very disappointed because we lost the three points but in thinking the big picture I am very optimistic because the team showed great reaction after Olympiacos.”

Meanwhile, much of the rest of Twitter’s soccer world was a bit less forgiving of VAR. Even Leicester City legend Gary Lineker sent venom to the Video Assistant Referee.

Man City scores five times in first 18 minutes v. Watford (video)

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What a start. Emphasize it, bold it, underline it.

Manchester City scored five goals in the first 18 minutes of play on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, relegating Watford to also-ran status before the match was a quarter finished.

[ STREAM: Man City v. Watford ]

It took 54 seconds for De Bruyne to assist David Silva with an outstanding opener, but Gerard Deulofeu nearly answered when he danced around Nicolas Otamendi to force a conceded corner out of Ederson.

Silva, marked for Inter Miami in a mid-week report, was the finisher for the 55th time in his Premier League career and 72nd for his club.

Ben Foster then gave away a useless penalty when he slapped a through ball out of bounds before felling Riyad Mahrez for an easy penalty. Aguero stepped to the spot calm as you like and dispatched the No. 2 to the scoreboard.

That was hardly the end to Watford’s woes, as Mahrez dazzled with a dribble through the heart of the field to earn a free kick atop the 18. There was only one destination, given the series of events. 3-0.

Bernardo Silva then got in on the act, when Otamendi nodded a De Bruyne corner to the back post for a prone finish and 4-0.

Not to be outdone, Otamendi was back post for a finish of his own, giving City its fifth goal off an Aguero assist.