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USA 0-2 Costa Rica: USMNT face-plants vs. Ticos… again

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Bruce Arena’s honeymoon is over.

It lasted exactly four 2018 World Cup qualifiers, as the old-boss-turned-new-boss helped the U.S. national team out of a deep hole following the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann, before suffering his first defeat (this time around) in the Hexagonal at the hands of Costa Rica, the side which routed the USMNT 4-0 last November, on Friday.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USA 0-2 Costa Rica ]

With only three games still to play, Arena’s men sit third in the Hex, now six points behind Costa Rica, and as many as nine behind Mexico (pending their result versus Panama). A victory would have pulled the USMNT level for second. In short, it’s a disastrous result, particularly given the level to which the Yanks controlled the vast majority of the game.

The USMNT was denied its clearest chance of the opening half-hour, when Jozy Altidore was taken down inside the penalty area by Kendall Waston, but the referee was unmoved by the American pleas and waved for play to continue. It was a clear penalty, and a monumental let-off for Los Ticos.

Right on the half-hour mark, Costa Rica made the Yanks pay for their failure to turn spells of possessional dominance into a goal. Marco Ureña found 30 yards of empty space between Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron, and the San Jose Earthquakes striker twisted and turned the former as he dribbled into the penalty area, worked the ball onto his right foot and beat Tim Howard far post.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA 0-2 Costa Rica ]

Christian Pulisic was denied by Keylor Navas, in unbelievable fashion, in the 67th minute. Clint Dempsey‘s free kick pinballed around the penalty area and fell to Michael Bradley, who played the ball into space for Pulisic’s left-footed strike. The ball deflected off a defender, wrong-footing Navas in the worst way, but the Real Madrid goalkeeper was spectacular in his reaction, throwing his right hand in the air to palm the ball onto his foot and clear his lines.

With nine minutes left in regular time, Costa Rica landed the knockout punch. David Guzman strolled through the heart of midfield and played Ureña, who had acres of space himself, behind Ream and Cameron, and Howard could do nothing to deny him one-on-one.

The USMNT travels to San Pedro Sula next, for a matchup with Honduras, the side with which they’re tied for third place, on Tuesday.

Watford chasing Rennes, Senegal star Sarr

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Watford may capture one of the rising stars of the game.

Ismaila Sarr would cost the Hornets a club transfer record fee, and Sky Sports says that Watford and Rennes are about $10 million apart.

The Ligue 1 side reportedly wants $34 million for the Senegal national team right wing.

[ VIDEO: Nketiah leads Arsenal win ]

Sarr, 21, scored a goal and an assist in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, playing opposite Sadio Mane of Liverpool.

He posted 13 goals with 14 assists last season between Ligue 1, the French Cup, and the Europa League. He was the lone Rennes player to score against Arsenal in the UEL Round of 16.

Watford has held onto Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dodi Lukebakio this offseason. Lukebakio is also a 21-year-old right wing, and had a sensational loan season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2019-20.

Nketiah leads Arsenal past Fiorentina (video)

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Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal beat Fiorentina 3-0 in Charlotte on Saturday.

Joe Willock also scored for the Gunners, which beat Colorado Rapids and Bayern Munich in their first two matches of the preseason and meet Real Madrid in Maryland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Fiorentina took 18 of the match’s 30 shots, though Arsenal had nearly 60 percent of the ball.

Nketiah, 20, scored against Burnley in last season’s Premier League finale and then late against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

He was deft in a high-pressure spot for this one.

Premier League friendlies: Watford beats Bayer, Man Utd over Inter

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Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]


Girona 1-2 Bournemouth

Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.

Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.

Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Pascal Gross scored with an early free kick — a Megan Rapinoe special — but Tom Cairney scored twice after halftime for the Championship side.

Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City

The Foxes collected a second win over a lower league side this week, with Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton on the board.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)

New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.

Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley

Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Robbie Brady scored as the Clarets overcame an early Nick Pope goal to beat Port Vale, but the Premier League side couldn’t do much in a simultaneous friendly at Crewe.

Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)

Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.

Preston North End 1-3 Southampton

Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.

Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored as the Hornets collected a win over Champions League competition.

Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)

Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.

WATCH: Marco Fabian smashes set piece goal

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Marco Fabian sent a missile toward goal, and perhaps it’s good the goalkeeper didn’t get to the hand-breaking shot.

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead over Chicago on Saturday in Chester, Pennsylvania, thanks to the Mexican midfielder.

[ REPORT: Man Utd locks up De Gea ]

It was a pretty set piece from Jim Curtin’s men, a backwards played free kick was laid off to Fabian for his audacious rip.

Fabian hasn’t had a wonderful 2019 season, but his fourth goal of the season will give Union supporters hope that he’ll pick up his form and make the already East-leading side all the more dangerous.