Pochettino confident on title-push after out-pressing Pep

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LONDON — Mauricio Pochettino won the tactical battle against Pep Guardiola on Sunday as Tottenham Hotspur inflicted the first defeat of Pep’s reign at City.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Going into the game Guardiola’s side had won six-straight matches in the Premier League but they were coming up against a Spurs side who were the only other unbeaten PL team. With both teams playing a very similar philosophy, it was set to be a close, tight encounter.

It wasn’t.

Tottenham set the tone early and Man City never recovered. High-pressing expertly is Pochettino’s penchant and he out-did Guardiola. Man City’s manager admitted that post-game but had a little shot at Spurs too: “In two or three years my team will be better,” Guardiola said.

In the here and the now they weren’t but I see what Pep was trying to say.

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Pochettino is now in his third season at Spurs and once again his young side seem to be improving and developing under his intense philosophy. With Spurs now the only unbeaten team in the PL, Pochettino was asked about the staying power of his side.

Consistency is key but Pochettino, who hailed this performance as “nearly perfect,” has high hopes for his side who pushed Leicester all the way for the Premier League title last season.

“It is too early in the season to talk about aims but it is important to be consistent If we can play like this, how we played today, why can we not be consistent throughout the season?” Pochettino said. “That is a big effort but that is the way that we work and we want to play. I think today was a good example that we want to follow and to build our pressure.”

The pressure was intense and too much for City to handle.

The excellent Heung-Min Son dropped deep and ran at John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi time and time again in a central forward role, with Dele Alli, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen all breaking from midfield. Spurs were handed a gift early on as Aleksandar Kolarov put into his own net and they never took their foot of the gas as Son brilliantly set up Alli for the second.

With Pochettino and Guardiola’s ideologies similar, Spurs’ boss used his superior experience with his group of players to his advantage. He beat Pep at his own game.

“It was a really exciting game and both teams play in a really exciting way,” Pochettino said. “We share a similar philosophy and I think it was an exciting game. I enjoyed it a lot from the touchline. The fans enjoyed it a lot and the neutral enjoyed too. Both teams, the mentality was to go forward and play football and to try and win the game.”

Guardiola’s famous six-second rule he developed at Barcelona wasn’t apparent on Sunday. City didn’t press Tottenham high and hard enough and spent most of the first half passing themselves into trouble around the own penalty box. All credit to Spurs who had seen the blueprint Celtic had delivered in City’s midweek UEFA Champions League draw with them and carried it out with more quality.

One thing was clear from this game at White Hart Lane: Pochettino and Guardiola’s teams will be right up there at the end of the season when all is said and done. Along with Arsenal, Liverpool and perhaps Manchester United, these are the two stand-out teams in the league.

In the summer Spurs didn’t spend big but instead added prudently by giving new contracts to key players, plus bringing in the likes of Victor Wanyama, Vincent Janssen and Moussa Sissoko who all add extra depth to their squad. Without the influential Harry Kane and Moussa Dembele on Sunday they beat City comfortably. That fact shouldn’t be overlooked.

Pochettino knows his side have somewhat flown under the radar so far. His team haven’t been the biggest spenders or been the most talked about in the papers but slowly people are starting to realize that last seasons title push wasn’t a fluke. After seven games of the season, it is clear Tottenham has the quality to fight for the title, again, and Pochettino knows it.

“I feel very proud. It is true that we are in a different level than other clubs we work very hard to try to improve and the way that we want to play we have enough quality,” Pochettino said. “If we play with passion and the passion we showed today, we have quality enough to fight with the big teams.”

U.S. Open Cup: Goals a-plenty as Atlanta, Minnesota advance

Frank de Boer justin Meram Atlanta United
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The first two quarterfinal berths in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were earned Tuesday with 3-2 away wins.

Columbus Crew 2-3 Atlanta United

A pair of goals from Brandon Vazquez helped Atlanta United overcome both the Columbus Crew and a 48-minute weather delay.

Miles Robinson also scored for Atlanta, while David Accam bagged a goal for the hosts.

A 71st minute Brad Guzan own goal set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the Five Stripes, but they navigated the obstacles and emerged into the quarterfinals

Atlanta will play the winner of FC Cincinnati and Saint Louis FC.

Houston Dynamo 2-3 Minnesota United

The Houston Dynamo thought they were cruising to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and instead just waltzed right out of the tournament.

Up 2-0 at home and at halftime, the Dynamo conceded three times in the final 24 minutes to bow out of the USOC.

The victor, who deserves full marks, is Minnesota United. Darwin Quintero struck twice and Mason Toye scored in the 89th minute as the Loons advanced to play the winner of New Mexico United and FC Dallas. No Texas Derby in the cup this year.

Berhalter names first USMNT Starting XI for Gold Cup

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Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Michael Bradley all start as the United States men’s national team will look a bit more like its best for Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Guyana.

The 10 p.m. ET kickoff in Minnesota will see the Yanks without injured Tyler Adams, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Sebastian Lletget, but Jozy Altidore has been relegated to the bench — perhaps not fully fit — behind Gyasi Zardes.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores, stats, lineups ]

The back line will see Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and Tim Ream, while Bradley, McKennie work atop them.

Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd will be out wide, with Christian Pulisic central underneath Zardes.

The substitutes are Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Omar Gonzalez, Wil Trapp, Jordan Morris, Reggie Cannon, Cristian Roldan, Daniel Lovitz, Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Lewis, Matt Miazga, Djordje Mihailovic.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Chinese club reportedly offers $15M contract to Newcastle’s Benitez

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It would be peak Newcastle United of recent seasons to lose their coach to a squabble over the sort of players the manager wants to sign.

Rafa Benitez‘s contract expires at the end of this month, and he makes decent money at St. James’ Park, but his $6 million pales in comparison the money being offered by a Chinese Super League club.

[ MORE: Mata staying with Man Utd ]

Benitez wants to stay at Newcastle, but his concerns aren’t about his wages as much as being allowed to build a contender under stingy owner Mike Ashley. With the team possibly getting a takeover, Benitez is not guaranteed the chance to improve his roster. Not to mention Newcastle operates under club-wide restrictions.

Sky Sports says, “the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia boss wants to be given the green light to sign players over the age of 26, which has been against club policy in previous years.”

Sky Sports reports that Benitez is mulling a $15 million offer from Dalian Yifang, the CSL team currently sitting in 11th place under former South Korea national team manager Kang-hee Choi.

Dalian Yifang currently employs transfer rumor mainstay Yannick Carrasco, as well as Marek Hamsik and young Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Boateng.

If Newcastle allows Benitez to leave and the takeover is not completed, it would be the most embarrassing thing for the club since Joe Kinnear couldn’t pronounce half of his players’ names. That’s saying something.

Gold Cup LIVE – USMNT meets Guyana after Panama, T&T tangle

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Gregg Berhalter’s shaky USMNT welcomes several of its star players into the fold when it kicks off its 2019 Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The match comes 2.5 hours after one between the two sides which conspired to keep the Yanks out of the 2018 World Cup.

While the USMNT played the biggest role in that monumental failure, Trinidad and Tobago is the team that beat the Yanks in Couva on the same night that Panama scored a ghost goal to push the U.S. into fifth in the Hex.

Guyana has lost to Haiti, Bermuda, and French Guiana in the last eight months, and it would be stunning if the U.S. didn’t post a generous amount of goals on the scoreboard even after miserable efforts against Jamaica’s B team and Venezuela.

Panama and T&T, on the other hand, should be a beauty, with Los Canaleros getting a bit older in the tooth and the Soca Warriors maturing a bit as a side.

Panama and T&T kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the USMNT expected to kickoff with Guyana a little after 10 p.m.