Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

USMNT: Three questions ahead of USA-Mexico in the Hex

1 Comment

Following the announcement of Jurgen Klinsmann’s 26-man roster for the U.S. national team’s upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Mexico (Columbus, Ohio — Friday, Nov. 11) and Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica — Tuesday, Nov. 15), a few important questions regarding the squad and lineup choices spring to mind…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

1. Who starts alongside Brooks?

Over the last six or so months, the John Brooks-Geoff Cameron center-back partnership has proved itself the Yanks’ best since the glory days of Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez/Cameron in 2013 and 2014. With Cameron set to miss this round of internationals due to a knee injury, a starting spot opens up. Gonzalez seems the most sensible candidate to deputize: he’s playing regularly, and well, for Liga MX Clausura champions Pachuca, and he’s got experience playing against Mexico in his career.

Steve Birnbaum seems the likeliest option this side of Cameron, and that’s a mostly terrifying reality given his form down the stretch of the MLS season for D.C. United. Besler regained a bit of his 2013-14 form over Sporting Kansas City’s final three games of 2016, but he’s 1) left-footed, like Brooks, and 2) never started a game alongside Brooks at center back (Besler started at left back with Brooks next to him against Ecuador at Copa America 2016).

Best guess (L-R): Fabian Johnson, Brooks, Gonzalez, DeAndre Yedlin

[ MORE: MLS Cup Playoffs power rankings — conference finals edition ]

2. How attack-minded does Klinsmann dare to be?

Put another way, Klinsmann wouldn’t dare leave Christian Pulisic and Sacha Kljestan out of the starting 11, would he?

With Kyle Beckerman not on this roster, the days of the Beckerman-Michael Bradley-Jermaine Jones midfield-three might finally be over. Bradley and Jones are presumed locks to start, which leaves just the no. 10 spot up for grabs (assuming hoping against all hope Bradley isn’t played there, again).

You might say, But what about Alejandro Bedoya? He can still start three defensive midfielders, to which I say, start Bedoya on the wing opposite of Pulisic. Andres Guadrado has been the best player in CONCACAF for a little over a year now, and Yedlin is going to need all the help he can get up and down Mexico’s left attacking flank. There’s no one on the roster better equipped than Bedoya to provide that cover from the front. Without the assistance of Bedoya, Yedlin will be pinned back deep inside his own half, resulting in a narrow attack that Mexico can navigate all night long. Yedlin has to be able to get forward with freedom, knowing that when he does, the winger ahead of him will rotate defensively.

Best-case scenario: Bradley, Jones in the back; Pulisic, Kljestan, Bedoya from left to right, with Pulisic and Bedoya switching from time to time, just to let Pulisic run at the other full back.

[ MORE: Mexico’s star-studded squad for the showdown in Columbus ]

3. What’s the pecking order amongst the strikers?

Since scoring his first goal of 2016 on July 31 (no, not a typo), Jozy Altidore has 13 goals and assisted on seven others in 17 games for Toronto FC (including the ongoing playoffs). It’s the best form he’s been in since his final days at AZ Alkmaar in 2013.

Bobby Wood has four goals in 11 games for a truly awful Hamburg side this season (all competitions), to go with his stellar form for the USMNT at the Copa and in fall friendlies.

Jordan Morris scored eight of his 12 goals, and bagged three of his four assists, between the start of the summer and present day. Leaving him off the Copa roster is looking more and more like a masterstroke by Klinsmann with every passing game.

Best guess: Altidore starts; Wood is slightly ahead of Morris as the first striker off the bench, assuming Morris isn’t forced to withdraw from the squad (hamstring). It’s been a while since the USMNT had one in-form striker, let alone three at the same time.

Havertz makes history in Bayer win

Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen recap and video highlights
Photo by RONALD WITTEK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kai Havertz made more Bundesliga history as Bayer Leverkusen got back in the win column with a 1-0 win at scrappy Freiburg on Friday.

Havertz became the first player in history to score 35 Bundesliga goals before the age of 21 with the match’s early second-half opener, assisted by Leon Bailey. He turns 21 on June 11.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores ]

Havertz has 11 goals and five assists in Bundesliga play this season including five goals since the end of the coronavirus pause.

Bayer pulls in third place with 56 points, one ahead of RB Leipzig and one back of Borussia Dortmund. Gladbach lurks three points back.

Freiburg may have waved goodbye to its sixth-place hopes, now four points back of Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

There were hints of danger for both teams in the opening throes.

Leon Bailey missed an early chance for the visitors, and Vincenzo Grifo saw a turnover at the other end denied by a sliding challenge.

Bailey was dangerous but not clinical as Bayer controlled the first half but, like many, couldn’t find away through Freiburg’s cagey, Burnley-like compactness.

Freiburg broke the other way and had a glorious chance to steal a lead when Roland Sallai sent Lucas Holer on goal, but Lukas Hradecky cut down the angle and Holer missed wide on a chance to score in consecutive matches.

Bailey played his part well in setting up Havertz’s post-halftime opener. The Jamaican dribbled into an out of traffic before cutting a path onto Havertz’s path.

Havertz rolled the ball between the legs of Freiburg star backstop Alexander Schwolow to make it 1-0 in the 55th.

Freiburg had one more big chance to get a point, as Christian Gunter crossed for Nils Petersen but the latter couldn’t get enough on the shot to beat Hradecky.

Bundesliga preview: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund preview
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last-place Paderborn is running out of time to make a run out of the drop zone, and a visit from Borussia Dortmund wouldn’t normally inspire too much.

But Sunday’s match between the two sides sees Dortmund taking the pitch for the first time since seeing its title hopes dashed in a fierce Klassiker, and Paderborn’s picked up points in all three matches since play resumed from the coronavirus pause.

Not only that, the sides drew 3-3 in November at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, BVB firing back from a 3-0 halftime deficit thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Axel Witsel.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

Paderborn has been playing well for a last-place side, ornery and collecting more cards than most teams in the Bundesliga.

As for Dortmund, the black and yellow side performed well enough to get a result from Bayern but lost on a Joshua Kimmich wondergoal and will likely still be lamenting what could’ve been if VAR reviewed an apparent Jerome Boateng handball in the box.

Still, there’s too much talent here, even at a desperate host. In a non-coronavirus world, the home crowd changes our opinion a little on the score line. We’re feeling a blowout, Dortmund 4-0.

Below is how to watch Borussia Dortmund v. Paderborn on TV in the USA this Saturday, while above you can follow the action live, as the three points are so valuable to both clubs but for very different reasons.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • When: Saturday, May 30 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)

Remaining Premier League fixtures ahead of June 17 return

Premier League schedule
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, the league confirmed Thursday, as ‘Project Restart’ readies for empty stadiums around England.

So who’s left on the schedule? The slate of 92 matches features some doozies including the Merseyside Derby (Matchday 30), the North London Derby (Matchday 35), and — of course — Liverpool’s visit to Manchester City (Matchday 32)

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Check out all the stats for the season so far, as well as the state of play for all 20 clubs’ seasons in the races for the Champions League, Europa League, and safety from relegation.

Of course, you’ll be able to watch the Premier League via NBCSports.com all summer long.

Additionally, the matches will be staged in non-traditional windows. Here are the kickoff times for midweek and weekend matches.

Matchday 28 — June 17

Aston Villa v. Sheffield United
Manchester City v. Arsenal

Matchday 30

Aston Villa v. Chelsea
Bournemouth v. Crystal Palace
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Arsenal
Everton v. Liverpool
Manchester City v. Burnley
Newcastle United v. Sheffield United
Norwich City v. Southampton
Tottenham v. Manchester United
Watford v. Leicester City
West Ham v. Wolves

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Matchday 31

Burnley v. Watford
Liverpool v. Crystal Palace
Tottenham v. West Ham
Wolves v. Bournemouth

Matchday 31 to be rescheduled due to FA Cup quarters
Chelsea v. Manchester City
Leicester City v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Manchester United v. Sheffield United
Newcastle United v. Aston Villa
Norwich City v. Everton
Southampton v. Arsenal

Matchday 32

Arsenal v. Norwich City
Aston Villa v. Wolves
Bournemouth v. Newcastle United
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Manchester United
Crystal Palace v. Burnley
Everton v. Leicester City
Manchester City v. Liverpool
Sheffield United v. Tottenham
Watford v. Southampton
West Ham v. Chelsea

Matchday 33

Burnley v. Sheffield United
Chelsea v. Watford
Leicester City v. Crystal Palace
Liverpool v. Aston Villa
Manchester United v. Bournemouth
Newcastle United v. West Ham
Norwich City v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Southampton v. Manchester City
Tottenham v. Everton
Wolves v. Arsenal

(Paul Harding/PA via AP)

Matchday 34

Arsenal v. Leicester City
Aston Villa v. Manchester United
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Liverpool
Bournemouth v. Tottenham
Crystal Palace v. Chelsea
Everton v. Southampton
Manchester City v. Newcastle United
Sheffield United v. Wolves
Watford v. Norwich City
West Ham v. Burnley

Matchday 35

Aston Villa v. Crystal Palace
Bournemouth v. Leicester City
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Manchester City
Liverpool v. Burnley
Manchester United v. Southampton
Norwich City v. West Ham
Sheffield United v. Chelsea
Tottenham v. Arsenal
Watford v. Newcastle United
Wolves v. Everton

(Photo by Visionhaus)

Matchday 36

Arsenal v. Liverpool
Burnley v. Wolves
Chelsea v. Norwich City
Crystal Palace v. Manchester United
Everton v. Aston Villa
Leicester City v. Sheffield United
Manchester City v. Bournemouth
Newcastle United v. Tottenham
Southampton v. Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v. Watford

Matchday 37

Aston Villa v. Arsenal
Bournemouth v. Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Newcastle United
Liverpool v. Chelsea
Manchester United v. West Ham
Norwich City v. Burnley
Sheffield United v. Everton
Tottenham v. Leicester City
Watford v. Manchester City
Wolves v. Crystal Palace

Matchday 38

Arsenal v. Watford
Burnley v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Chelsea v. Wolves
Crystal Palace v. Tottenham
Everton v. Bournemouth
Leicester City v. Manchester United
Manchester City v. Norwich City
Newcastle United v. Liverpool
Southampton v. Sheffield United
West Ham v. Aston Villa

Ndidi
(Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

LIVE, Bundesliga: Week 29 begins with Freiburg-Bayer

Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen live
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Imaes
Leave a comment

Week 29 in Germany begins with two clubs holding onto hope of berths in the Champions League and Europa League, respectively, when Bayer Leverkusen visit Freiburg at the Black Forest Stadium.

Last time out, the scrappy hosts tossed away a 2-goal lead in drawing Eintracht, while Bayer saw its red-hot form cooled off with an exclamation point in a 4-1 loss to Wolfsburg. Freiburg’s now four points out of sixth and Bayer’s outside the top four on goal difference. That said, Kai Havertz’s Bayer has weapons for days and the creativity to get through the compact, physical Freiburg formation.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

Matchweek 29 in the Bundesliga will again see games played in empty stadiums, which is the plan for the rest of the season and beyond. If you’re new to Germany’s top-flight, here’s a guide to help you pick a club to support.

How to Watch the Bundesliga

You can check out the full schedulestandings and find out how to watch the action, while we will have you covered right here on ProSoccerTalk with analysis, reaction and more.

[ MORE: Takeaways from Week 28 of the Bundesliga ]