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Player ratings from the USMNT’s 2-1 defeat to Mexico

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The United States men’s national team started the Hex with a 2-1 against Mexico on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio.

It was a tale of two halves as the U.S. looked out of sorts in a 5-3-2 (or 3-2-2-1-2) formation as Mexico dominated play. Once the U.S. went down a goal it switched to a more familiar 4-4-2 and looked far more comfortable in the second half. However, Rafa Marquez scored late on against the run of play to steal the three points for El Tri.

Here’s how the players fared in this hotly-contested matchup.

[ MORE: Match recap | Three things ]

USMNT Starting XI

Tim Howard (Off 40′) — 6 — Made a fantastic save on Corona’s shot in the first half, tipping it off the post. Layun’s goal came off a deflection that directed the ball away from Howard. Suffered an injury off a goal kick.

Matt Besler (Off 81′) — 5 — Had a tough task being forced to play out of position and committed a number of fouls.

Omar Gonzalez — 5 — Not great distribution out of the back and missed a wide open header off a corner kick in the second half.

John Brooks — 5 — Had a few testy moments in the first half, including a silly yellow card within the first 15 minutes. Was badly beat on a run by Lozano in the second half.

Timmy Chandler (Off 74′) — 5 — Mexico successfully attacked down his right side throughout the first half, but he had some good attacking moments in the second half.

Fabian Johnson–6 — Looked more comfortable (like most others) when the U.S. switched formations. Had a goal-saving tackle on Chicharito in the second half.

Jermaine Jones — 5 — Had a few nice moments, but looked off the pace at times. That’s to be expected in his first start since the July 4.

Michael Bradley — 4 — An uncharacteristically poor performance from the captain. He wasn’t strong enough on a challenge that led to Mexico’s first goal and struggled throughout to put his influence on the game.

Christian Pulisic — 6 — Played through the middle early on and was his usual self once the team switched formations.

Jozy Altidore — 7 — Great run to set up Wood’s goal. Linked up well with Wood in the second half, winning seemingly every aerial ball he went for.

Bobby Wood — 8 — Didn’t do much in the first half, but came back strong in the second half scoring early on. Continued to wreak havoc on Mexico’s defense along with Altidore.

Substitutions

Brad Guzan (On 40′) — N/A — Could do nothing on Mexico’s second goal and faced little action besides that.

DeAndre Yedlin (On 74′) — N/A

Michael Orozco (On 81′) — N/A

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Mexico Starting XI

Alfredo Talavera — 6 — Didn’t face many shots in the first half. Got a hand on Wood’s goal, but could not stop the shot.

Miguel Layun — 8 — Had multiple positive moments in attack, including scoring Mexico’s goal in the first half.

Diego Reyes (Off HT) — 6 — A short shift for Reyes. Picked up an early yellow card for taking down Altidore, but didn’t make any costly mistakes.

Hector Moreno — 6 — Missed a challenge on Wood’s goal.

Rafa Marquez — 7 — It was a quiet night for Mexico’s captain until the 88th minute as his flicked header proved to be the winner.

Hector Herrera — 5 — Not much from Herrera on the night. Tried to draw a foul on Gonzalez in the box, but got a card for simulation.

Andres Guardado (Off 28′) — N/A — Subbed off with an injury in the first half. Didn’t get much opportunity on the ball.

Gio dos Santos — 5 — Directed the attack for Mexico, but didn’t create any dangerous chances.

Jesus Corona — 7 — Nearly scored in the first half, but Howard tipped his shot onto the post.

Carlos Vela (Off 73′) — 6 — Almost doubled Mexico’s lead in the first half with a header off the crossbar.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez — 5 — Made decisive runs to cause trouble for the U.S. defense, but could not find the final touch.

Substitutions

Carlos Salcedo (On 28′) — 5 — Strong tackle on Altidore late in the first half off a cross, but earned a yellow card for a foul on Pulisic and received a second yellow card for time wasting in stoppage time.

Hugo Ayala (On HT) — 4 — Got turned easily by Altidore, which led to Wood’s goal.

Hirving Lozano (On 73′) — 7 —  Was lively on the wings and nearly created a goal for Chicharito late in the second half.

2020 National Soccer Hall of Fame candidates announced

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Candidates for the 2020 National Soccer Hall of Fame have been announced and we’ll certainly tell you about all of the new batch of possible members, we’re also going to ask a huge question of the voters.

How is Steve Cherundolo not already in this thing?

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Last year’s class included a mere two people  — Abby Wambach and Sunil Gulati — and there hasn’t been a class of more than four since 2011.

Cherundolo made 423 career appearances for German side Hannover 96, even captaining the side for four seasons. He earned 86 caps with the United States men’s national team and was a member of three World Cup squads.

He simply has to be in the next group, as few others on the list have more deserving shouts over him (Perhaps Carlos Bocanegra and Jeff Cunningham).

Only one first-time finalist, Hope Solo, could rival Cherundolo’s record, and we wonder if the voters will look past her tumultuous off-field life and outspoken stance against the federation. Robbie Rogers will also certainly collect votes for an outstanding career which saw him become the first openly gay player in MLS.

First-time finalists (Full list of candidates)

Brad Davis
Whitney Engen
Herculez Gomez
Clarence Goodson
Hope Solo
Mike Magee
Carlos Ruiz
Nat Borchers
Conor Casey
Justin Mapp
Jamison Olave
Robbie Rogers
Jen Buczkowski
Kelly Smith

The 2 Robbies podcast: Liverpool, Spurs in UCL; Man City’s response

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap the crucial Champions League results this week focusing on Liverpool’s 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid (0:50), Tottenham falling 1-0 at home to RB Leipzig (11:45) and another impressive performance by Erling Haaland in Dortmund’s win over PSG (24:55).

The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s 2-0 victory against West Ham and share their thoughts on Pep Guardiola‘s first comments about City’s UEFA ban (27:55). The gents wrap up the pod review the Europa League results for Manchester United (42:50), Arsenal (48:00), and Wolves (51:55).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 26

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We’re nearing the time of the Premier League season where the club power rankings reach a sense of finality, with little movement as relegated sides and contenders latch onto their table footing.

It makes sense, of course, as many sides have now met each other twice, the litmus tests less important than the proof in the pudding.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Norwich City — The moral victories aren’t very rewarding anymore, the little errors causing more significant pain. Credit to Alisson for scooping up a weak pass, but this week’s pain was self-inflicted despite a very decent performance.
Last week: 20
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 1-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Wolves

19. West Ham United — David Moyes‘ men are now winless in eight since clobbering Bournemouth, and a trip to Anfield is next. And the Irons don’t even get the bonus of being rested while Liverpool played at midweek.
Last week: 19
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Man City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at Liverpool

18. Watford — Suddenly winless in five with Manchester United and Liverpool next.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Brighton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Manchester United

17. Brighton and Hove Albion — Three draws and one loss in a four-match run that demanded at least two wins.
Last week: 18
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Sheffield United

16. Crystal Palace — The Eagles have one goal through three matches since the 2-2 draw with Man City and will be hoping to break their skid versus plucky Newcastle.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 3-1 at Everton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

15. Bournemouth — A trip to Burnley demands a result given Chelsea and Liverpool follow.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Burnley

14. Aston Villa — A tricky trip to St. Mary’s before the League Cup Final; What are the chances Villa clinches Europa League but heads down to the Championship?
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 3-2 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Saints

13. Newcastle United — The Magpies were very good in the first 45 minutes at Arsenal but fell apart in the second frame. They need to start stacking a couple of wins for comfort, as Steve Bruce‘s men finish with three of five against Spurs, Man City, and Liverpool (two of whom will be looking for revenge).
Last week: 12
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 4-0 at Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Crystal Palace

12. Southampton — What the heck happened against Burnley?
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Aston Villa

11. Burnley — The Clarets have taken 10 of 12 points, the only setback a draw with Arsenal, and are firmly in the Europa League discussion despite approaching historically bad numbers in passing.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-1 at Southampton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

10. Manchester United — For one Monday, Harry Maguire was an incredibly lucky man on an incredibly fortunate team. At least Bruno Fernandes looks dynamite.
Last week: 11
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 2-0 at Chelsea
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Watford

9. Wolves — Still wouldn’t want to see them on the schedule, but Wolves hopes for the Champions League are based in the UEL.
Last week: 6
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Norwich City

8. Arsenal — The defense appears solid under Mikel Arteta, though his old pals Everton will present the stiffest test in some time.
Last week: 9
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Won 4-0 v. Newcastle
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Everton

7. Chelsea — Holds a 1-2-2 record in league play since Christian Pulisic was injured.
Last week: 7
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

6. Sheffield United — The Premier League’s Papillon.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Brighton

5. Everton — Carlo Ancelotti has the Toffees humming toward Europa League… and possibly better.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Won 3-1 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

4. Leicester City — Still on track for the top four, but haven’t looked UCL caliber in weeks.
Last week: 4
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Drew 0-0 v. Wolves
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Man City

3. Spurs — Losing Kane and Son will probably cost them in their chase to rejoin the UCL, but we wouldn’t rule out Jose Mourinho. Still: Chelsea, Wolves, and Manchester United are three of the next four PL opponents.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Won 3-2 at Aston Villa
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Chelsea

2. Manchester City — Ban or not, they are finishing second… unless Leicester finds its very best against a UCL-obsessed City on Saturday.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 2-0 v. West Ham
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Leicester City

1. Liverpool — Poor, poor West Ham.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3
Last match: Won 1-0 at Norwich City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. West Ham

Mikel Arteta reacts after Arsenal extends shutout streak

Mikel Arteta
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Arsenal’s last three opponents have hardly recalled Barcelona in its prime, but there’s no doubt Mikel Arteta will be happy to see the Gunners’ clean sheet streak hit three.

Mikel Arteta’s latest triumph is a 1-0 win over stingy Olympiacos in Greece, and Arsenal did not concede a single big chance on the day according to Sofascore.

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Arsenal entered the day having blanked Burnley at Turf Moor and Newcastle United in London to run its shutout streak to 270 minutes.

Given that the Gunners allowed 28 goals in a 14-match run without a clean sheet that stretched from Oct. 21 to Dec. 21, that’s good stuff.

Here’s Arteta, via Football.London:

“I told them they have to enjoy defending. If you give the ball away you better run back. The team instead of splitting are coming together and the wide players are doing different things than before. It’s a big effort.”

Arteta seems to have a perfect storm going for him. He’s one manager removed from Arsene Wenger, somewhat clear of the looming legend but also connected to him by his status as a former player.

He’s also, of course, linked to Pep Guardiola, and there’s more than a hint of the Man City boss in Arteta’s press conferences.

Take his words on the match in Pireaus on Thursday.

“It’s tough to come to a stadium like this and come away with a win. There are some great things for our development as a team. The first 10 minutes we suffered and were completely poor.”

Soon he’s going to be saying they were “so, so good” and perhaps even rocking a bulky sweater. We doubt he’ll be shaving that jet black mane of hair any time soon, though.