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Who will USMNT boss Arena call-up for his 30-man January camp?

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The Associated Press referred to Bruce Arena’s 48-player USMNT depth chart, and said the player pool is between 50-60 players.

Isn’t that a reason for an exercise?

The new-old USMNT coach will call about 30 players to camp in January, a group largely based in Major League Soccer, and Arena has four months before he needs to name the roster for two massive World Cup qualifiers in March.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS Coach of the Year ]

Well, 38 players currently in MLS have been called up by Jurgen Klinsmann in the past 12 months. Tony Tchani is now committed to Cameroon, but the rest of that MLS crew could very well earn a look. So 37 plus a solid batch of Klinsmann-ignored folk (Think: Feilhaber, McCarty, Hedges) needs to be whittled down to about 30.


Goalkeepers

This one’s tricky. The bulk of USMNT goalkeeping depth is in Major League Soccer, and Arena will probably take more than usual to January camp.

With Tim Howard out, the only two certainties would seem to be Molde’s Ethan Horvath (Norway plays an unusual season schedule) and DC United’s Bill Hamid.

ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 03:  Bill Hamid #28 of D.C. United yells instructions to his team during a MLS soccer match between DC United and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on April 3, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Hamid (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images).

Then there’s a batch of MLS-based keepers. We think 37-year-old Nick Rimando is done with the USMNT. Zack Steffen is a wild card after leaving Bundesliga side Freiburg for Columbus, but seems unlikely to be in Arena’s pecking order.

We suspect two of Luis Robles, David Bingham, Sean Johnson, and Bobby Shuttleworth could be under consideration, with two of the capped players getting nods.

In:  Ethan Horvath, Bill Hamid, Luis Robles, David Bingham
Next out: Sean Johnson, Bobby Shuttleworth
Question marks: Nick Rimando, Zack Steffen
Injured: Tim Howard


Defenders (10)

Want to know why Fabian Johnson keeps getting put at left back? Because MLS isn’t exactly flying high when it comes to American full backs.

So while Arena will have to leave some pretty talented center backs out of the mix, you’re going to see some unusual names on the outside.

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 13:  DaMarcus Beasley #7 of the Houston Dynamo in action during their game against the Orlando City SC at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 13, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Beasley (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

This could open up a spot for a blast from the past in DaMarcus Beasley and/or Robbie Rogers, and we’ll even sneak a veteran in at center back: Drew Moor is far removed from his last cap (2008), but he’s been outstanding and Arena will have seen a lot of him in reviewing footage of Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley at Toronto FC.

In: Matt Besler, Matt Hedges, Steve Birnbaum, Keegan Rosenberry, Walker Zimmerman, DaMarcus Beasley, Justin Morrow, Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent, Drew Moor
Next out: Tim Parker, Robbie Rogers, Justen Glad
Question mark: Brad Evans


Midfielders (12)

Welcome back, Benny Feilhaber. The crowd that’s used up every ounce of their hope tank to see the soon-to-be 32-year-old Sporting KC midfielder back on the USMNT stage is getting their just desserts. He’ll join Sacha Kljestan, Darlington Nagbe, and Dax McCarty is getting a chance to impress eyes that don’t belong to Jurgen Klinsmann.

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty reacts towards the fans after an MLS playoff soccer match against the D.C. United, at RFK Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Washington. McCarty scored the only goal and New York won 1-0. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This group will see a lot of usual suspects and probably be heavy on attack-minded guys considering Arena sees Michael Bradley as a No. 6.

And, yes, Kelyn Rowe (or Ethan Finlay) is going to take a backseat to a move I doubt Arena can resist: Landon Donovan in the new U.S. crest.

In: Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Benny Feilhaber, Alejandro Bedoya, Darlington Nagbe, Graham Zusi, Dax McCarty, Kelyn Acosta, Wil Trapp, Jermaine Jones, Ethan Finlay, Landon Donovan
Next out: Kelyn Rowe, Fatai Alashe, Sebastian Lletget, Scott Caldwell
Question marks: Lee Nguyen, Kyle Beckerman, Mix Diskerud (Yeah, I know).


Forwards (4)

This group isn’t much of a challenge. Altidore is going to start, and Morris will probably join him. Gyasi Zardes was essentially developed by Arena with the Galaxy, and Agudelo has bagged enough goals in MLS and abroad to get a chance ahead of the field (though Chris Wondolowski just keeps scoring for San Jose and Alan Gordon, well, someone had to vouch for his inclusion under Klinsmann. Was it his LA coach?).

CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 09:  Gyasi Zardes #11 of Los Angeles Galaxy attemps to break away from Leiton Jimenez #30 of Club Tijuana at StubHub Center on February 9, 2016 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Zardes (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images).

In: Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo
Next out: Khiry Shelton, Mike Grella
Question marks: Alan Gordon, Chris Wondolowski

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Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

AC Milan
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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ 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 ]