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Bruce Arena blends intense demands with humor to lead USMNT

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Bruce Arena bites his fingernails religiously, a habit he has had since age 10.

Among some other unmentionables.

“Are you kidding me? I’m sure there’s plenty of those,” the U.S. coach acknowledged with a chuckle, “I don’t make that public information, though.”

Arena walks across midfield soaking in the California sun and surveying the scene as his players take a lap and begin stretches ahead of training on a practice field adjacent to Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.

[ MORE: PST’s Gold Cup Final preview ]

He crosses his arms and paces – side to side, forward and backward – eyes up always. He shifts his hands to his hips and steals a glance downfield to where the goalkeepers are doing individual work.

“I’m thinking about my investments and retirement and things like that,” Arena cracked, then added: “I’m observing the players and looking at their habits, trying to learn as much as I can about players on a daily basis. It’s not only game day. When you have a team and there’s 23 players, every player is important. So sometimes your contributions aren’t only on game or on the field and it’s other things. You look at the qualities of players both on and off the field.”

With his quick wit off the field and demanding nature on it, Arena has instilled a calm and a swagger the U.S. squad needed, and that has bred success again after fans reached panic mode. Now, Arena can become the first to coach three CONCACAF Gold Cup titles if the Americans can beat surprising Jamaica on Wednesday night. The U.S. won under Arena in 2002 and `05.

“I came in with Bruce in January and I think initially you saw someone who’s trying to get points across and be pretty serious about it, but as we realized his demands and his intentions he’s been able to kind of dial it back a little bit,” midfielder Graham Zusi said. “Very dry, good sense of humor. It’s important, especially in these long camps, to have some kind of comic relief as well.”

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 

On Monday, Arena reminded his players it was here in the Bay Area where the Americans regained momentum in March by beating Honduras 6-0 in a World Cup qualifer.

Arena, a member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame who turns 66 in September, has led the team to an 8-0-5 record since he returned in November for a second stint as coach, replacing Jurgen Klinsmann after the Americans’ first 0-2 start in the final round of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

“Four months ago we were rebuilding our program, a program that was in desperate shape of being in a position to qualify for a World Cup and all other things,” Arena said. “We’ve made great strides over the last four months. This is a great opportunity for us to continue to make progress. We’d love to win the Cup.”

The U.S. is seeking its sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013. Nine different players have scored so far this tournament, most notably Clint Dempsey‘s record-tying 57th goal in a 2-0 semifinal win against Costa Rica on Saturday that matched Landon Donovan’s mark.

[ MORE: Van Dijk to Liverpool after all? ]

“Coming into the situation, into the job, we were in a tough spot,” Dempsey said.

Under Arena, the Americans have momentum again regardless how Wednesday turns out. Qualifying resumes with matches against Costa Rica on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.

“It’s a good group of guys, let’s start there,” veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “But Bruce has kind of come in and kind of took the edge off a little bit. That’s who he is as a person, that’s how he manages us, and he’s kind of allowed us to be ourselves and have that swagger. The one thing I would say about Bruce, which has kind of always been the case but more so now, I think he is more relaxed off the field and much more demanding on the field. He’s always kind of had that balance but it’s more extreme now, and it’s a very good thing. He asks the world of us on the field, whether it be training or games he asks us for 110 percent every day, and then when you’re off the field he’s joking, he’s very jovial and he kind of lets us be who we are.”

Arena took over with little room for error. A decade ago, he never would have envisioned himself in this spot now.

“I’m enjoying it, and I’ve always thought about what I was going to do in my mid-60s,” Arena said. “I thought I was going to retire at 55, so I’m a little bit behind schedule right now. Probably going to keep going for a while, doing something. I’m thinking from what I can tell I probably could be a sportswriter and do pretty well.”

Then added with one of those sly grins, “Nah, I’m only kidding.”

Tottenham – Everton stream: How to watch, odds, team news, prediction

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Tottenham – Everton is an intriguing clash on Monday (start time, 3pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) between teams who are separated by just one point and one place in the table but have been heading in very different directions since new managers arrived midseason.

TOTTENHAM – EVERTON STREAM LIVE

Spurs lost last time out at Sheffield United in very controversial fashion as Jose Mourinho now has a very tough task to guide them back to the Premier League ahead of the final six games of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti has Everton surging as they have lost just three of his 14 Premier League games in charge and those defeats came at Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Tottenham – Everton is a game both teams will go all out to win in their pursuit of European action and this should be a beauty.


Team news

Tottenham may have Dele Alli available, as he suffered a slight hamstring injury after coming on as a sub in their defeat at Sheffield United. Aside from that Japhet Tanganga will return to training next week.

Everton should have Richarlison back fit as the Brazilian suffered a knock in their win against Leicester City.

What they’re saying

Jose Mourinho on Carlo Ancelotti: “I think everyone in football admires Carlo as a coach and as a person. If you don’t know him as a person, at least you know him as a coach. It’s not because I like him so much as a person that I’m going to say the obvious, which is: he’s one of the top managers in the world of the last two decades and of course now. I think it’s a privilege for the Premier League to have Carlo back, it’s a privilege for Everton to have Carlo as manager, or head coach, whatever way you want to call him.”

Carlo Ancelotti on teenager attacker Anthony Gordon: “He is doing really well and is ready to play for Everton, no doubt. He improved in the past six months and how he is playing [in training and games] gives me a lot of confidence and trust in him. He is a player with personality. You can find a lot of players with quality, but you have to show strong personality. In football, you need players with personality and character. Players who are not afraid to make decisions. Anthony is one of these. He is ready to be with us and part of what we are doing.”

Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)

Tottenham (+107) are the slight favorites but this should be a very tight game as Everton (+265) have been in really good form and look solid defensively. The value here is in a win for Everton or a tie (+250) in north London.

Prediction

Tottenham basically have to win all of their remaining games to have a chance of finishing fifth and a potential Champions League spot. Mourinho’s side won’t really want to be in the Europa League next season so if they don’t win here, what do they do? Everton would be delighted to be in the Europa League and I could see the Toffees edging this, especially if Richarlison is fit. I’m going for Tottenham 1-2 Everton.

American coach Marsch named Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year

Jesse Marsch award
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American coach Jesse Marsch saw his incredible season grow with a predictable but wonderful honor.

Marsch is the Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year after leading Red Bull Salzburg to a domestic double despite myriad challenges.

Obviously all coaches had to manage their teams during the coronavirus pandemic, but Marsch also had to contend with sales of stars Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Takumi Minamino (Liverpool), and Marin Pongracic (Wolfsburg) to big clubs in top European leagues.

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

The Salzburg release brands Marsch as someone with “his American charm and sheer endless positivity” and includes this quote from Marsch:

“Winning Coach of the Year for me is a reward for the entire team, which I think is deserved. The trophy is for the whole coaching staff, as we have worked so well together. Losing players in winter brought us even closer together.

Aided by LASK Linz loses its table lead when it was docked six points for unauthorized team training during the pandemic, Marsch’s Salzburg left no questions in winning the league with four matches left (The club went 1W-1D-2L in the final matches).

Marsch spent last season assisting Ralf Rangnick and RB Leipzig to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga. Prior to that he was MLS Coach of the Year with the New York Red Bulls. As a player, he won three MLS Cups and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups while also earning two USMNT caps.

It will be interesting to see if Marsch sticks around another year in Austria. His name has risen in renown like a rocket and he had been linked with Borussia Dortmund, and there are no guarantees he can continue to impress with Salzburg in the Champions League and Europa League.

Salzburg was a stepping stone for its last Coach of the Year, and Marco Rose enjoyed success at Borussia Monchengladbach this season. With league Player of the Year winner Dominik Szoboszlai expected to fetch a big fee and join Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, Konrad Laimer, and the aforementioned transfers in challenging a coach to rebuild his squad, perhaps Marsch will go sooner rather than later.

We wouldn’t put anything past him, though. At one point before he’s done, Marsch will be an exciting USMNT coach if he wants the job.

Premier League confirm zero positive COVID-19 test results

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Following the latest batch of tests on players and club staff the Premier League have revealed that there were zero positive COVID-19 results out of 1,973 tests from Monday 29 June to Sunday 5 July.

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With the twelfth round of testing now completed in the Premier League, a total of 16,280 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out with 18 positive results.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, as games are now up and running after a restart date of June 17 has been set.

Here is the statement from the Premier League in full on the latest result:


The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 29 June and Sunday 5 July, 1,973 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.

The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.

Previous test results

Round 1: 17-18 May – 748 tested, with six testing positive from three clubs.
Round 2: 19-22 May – 996 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 3: 25-26 May – 1,008 tested, with four testing positive from two clubs.
Round 4: 28-29 May – 1,130 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 5: 1-2 June – 1,197 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 6: 4-5 June – 1,195 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 7: 8-9 June – 1,213 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 8: 11-12 June – 1,200 tested, with two testing positive from two clubs.
Round 9: 15-16 June – 1,541 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 10: 17-21 June – 1,829 tested, with one testing positive.
Round 11: 22-28 June – 2,250 tested, with zero testing positive.
Round 12: 29 June – July 5 – 1,973 tested, with zero testing positive.

Premier League odds: Matchweek 34

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Check out the EPL betting odds for the games in Matchweek 34, as the Premier League return continues with games coming thick and fast.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Take a look below at the odds for the Premier League games in midweek, as the action has resumed following the suspension on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Click on the link above to watch all of the games live via our platforms here at NBC Sports, while below are the individual EPL betting odds for each game via DraftKings.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League predictions ]

Also, click play on the video above to watch my predictions for the games and where you should focus your attention this weekend as the Premier League action continues to come right at us.


Matchweek 33

Tuesday, July 7: (+650) Crystal Palace v. Chelsea (-220), Tie: +335
Tuesday, July 7: (-152) Watford v. Norwich (+440), Tie: +285
Tuesday, July 7: (+125) Arsenal v. Leicester (+220), Tie: +245
Wednesday, July 8: (-835) Man City v. Newcastle (+2000), Tie: +245
Wednesday, July 8: (+310) Sheffield United v. Wolves (+107), Tie: +210
Wednesday, July 8: (+104) West Ham v. Burnley (+285), Tie: +235
Wednesday, July 8: (+510) Brighton v. Liverpool (-182), Tie: +320
Thursday, July 9: (+100) Everton v. Southampton (+270), Tie: +255
Thursday, July 9: (+425) Bournemouth v. Tottenham (-157), Tie: +310
Thursday, July 9: (+900) Aston Villa v. Man United (-315), Tie: +420