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Player ratings from the USMNT’s draw with Panama

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The United States men’s national team looked like a team without its stars and still learning to play together in a 1-1 draw with Panama to kick off their Gold Cup run on Saturday in Nashville.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

Who upped their stock, who middled, and who wasn’t much to watch on Saturday?

Starting XI

Brad Guzan — 8 — An exceptional game from the Atlanta United backstop, who — let’s face it — spared the U.S. the humiliation of an opening loss.

Jorge Villafana — 6 — Remains the side’s top option at left back for now, and the reps help for the WCQ ahead.

Omar Gonzalez — 5 — Not inspiring confidence, but not a garbage fire. Always delivers a highlight play to moves hopes upward, so we’ll withhold our Gold Cup judgement.

Matt Besler — 8 — An exceptional night for the one star man from a back line that struggled mightily.

Graham Zusi — 4 — Regardless of what’s cooking at SKC, he’s a midfielder playing right back. That’s not really on him, and he had some moments later pushed further up the pitch that saved him from an even lower number.

Dax McCarty — 5 — Some good breakups in the first half, but altogether didn’t make the expected impact.

Kellyn Acosta — 5 — Two-straight equalizers where he’s swimming upstream. He’s going to be a very good American player, and that should make this match one of his more forgettable ones.

Kelyn Rowe (Off 69′) — 7 — Was perhaps the only source of danger for the U.S. in the first half, then provided an assist before playing a significant role in Panama’s equalizer.

Alejandro Bedoya (Off 85′) — 6 — Not an awful day for the captain, who came close to earning a penalty in the final 10 minutes.

Joe Corona (Off 63′) — 5 — Some decent moments of creativity, but a touch too slow to be a difference maker on the day.

Dom Dwyer — 7 — Didn’t have a lot to do, but took his chance well to make sure U.S. fans could cheer a home goal.

Subs

Juan Agudelo (On 63′) — 6 — Provided a lift almost immediately, and will get a more prolonged chance to impress somewhere down the line.

Gyasi Zardes (On 69′) — 5 — His lacking confidence from club showed, as both he and fellow sub Morris have two goals in 28 MLS matches this year. Morris has both.

Jordan Morris (On 85′) — N/A — Still not a lot to love with the left foot.

Report: Minnesota United chasing Ecuadorian national teamer

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Minnesota United may be hoping another Ibarra can cure what ails its attack.

Romario Ibarra, 23, is on the Loons’ radar according to The Athletic‘s Kristian Dyer and Jeff Rueter, who say Minnesota would like to land the Ecuadorian when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Ibarra was limited to eight matches for Universidad Católica this season as he battled through a lingering metatarsal fracture. But he’s scored against Argentina and Chile in each of his appearances for the national team, both World Cup qualifiers.

From The Athletic:

Sources say that Ibarra’s contract is unlikely to make him a designated player, leaving Quintero as the club’s sole DP. (It could depend, in part, on the size of the transfer fee.) Based on league standards, his salary will likely be drawn from Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract seems likely.

Ibarra’s older brother Renato plays for Club America, and has 36 caps.

Minnesota is six points outside the West’s final playoff spot, and has scored just 17 goals in 14 matches.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal field set

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The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is down to one non-MLS entrant after LAFC fought past Sacramento Republic’s dogged effort to make it two, twice equalizing en route to a 3-2 win.

[ MORE: TFC extends Bono ]

Louisville City won a battle of USL sides in Wednesday’s final day of fifth round action, knocking off Nashville SC by a 2-1 score.

Now attention turns to the quarterfinals, where USL champions Louisville City will face the Chicago Fire on July 18.

All four quarterfinals will be staged on that day, and the winner of Louisville-Chicago will face the winner of the duel between Philadelphia Union and Orlando City.

The other side of the bracket shows Houston Dynamo against Sporting KC, and LAFC against the Portland Timbers.

Chicago and KC have won the cup an MLS-best four times each, while Philadelphia has finished second twice.

The remaining quarterfinalists have not advanced to a USOC final.

Sprawling translated Emery interview talks PSG, Guardiola, more

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given a sprawling interview, translated by France Football News, in which he discusses his history and his philosophies.

The interview was conducted after Emery was dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain but before he was hired by the Gunners.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

It’s a fascinating read, with Emery going deep into his relationship with Neymar, the need for PSG to get an “A-ha” goal for its history books, and much, much more.

The interview is with Marti Perarnau, the author of “Pep Confidential,” and there are plenty of good nuggets regarding the Manchester City boss, as well as Rafa Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, PSG, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.

It’s fairly clear that Emery figured he’d be going to a new league, and he certainly seems like a guy fit for a project like succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. For one thing, he’s proud of his team’s style.

That’s something valued by the North London set, and Emery pointed out that Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid and Pep Guardiola at Man City had to fail before they succeeded.

Let me say this: PSG played well and won. Many people don’t value that enough and believe that it is easy. But what happened to us? We lacked competitiveness in important moments. Why? Because this team is not confronted with enough moments of adversity in the league. Being competitive also means being faced with adversity. One has to suffer like Simeone’s team to win. One has to suffer like Pep’s team to win in England.

My team had two basic principles: having possession and pressing. That was the basis. Having the ball, and winning it back as fast as possible. I should add a little nuance. I’m talking about having possession and not positioning because there are moments where you can win the ball through positioning, and others where moving out of position can surprise the opponent. And like Guardiola says, if you have to win with a long ball from the goalkeeper towards the striker and that the forward scores with his ass, then so be it! We work like that as well.

And here’s just a quick nugget on the importance of playmaking, and how good players make a coach look better.

During his first match against Toulouse at the Parc des Princes, we get corner. Neymar takes it quickly and Kurzawa scores. We hadn’t worked that at all with him. Afterwards, I told Neymar, “My work is limited to your strokes of genius.”

Love it. Arsenal seems like it’s in good hands. Read the full interview here.

Khedira laughs off Swedish reporter’s offer of tickets home

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Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira brushed off a gesture from a Swedish reporter, trading a bit of banter ahead of Germany’s big World Cup match against Sweden on Saturday.

Germany fell 1-0 to Mexico in its opener while Sweden beat South Korea, leading a playful Swede to hand Khedira boarding passes for a flight home to Germany.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Khedira’s reply? He joked that Sweden won’t be a problem and he’ll use the tickets after the World Cup Final.

From Goal.com:

“After this bad start, we know that it’s super difficult, but we know that we are a strong team. We analysed the game, we saw Sweden play and we are sure that we are winning this game.

“I think we’ll need them [plane tickets] on the 16th of July.”