Qualifying scenarios remaining for the USMNT after Friday’s defeat

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There was a clear negative to take away from Friday’s 2-0 home defeat against Costa Rica, and that was that with the loss the U.S. Men’s National Team is now in a precarious position in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Three things from the USMNT’s defeat against Costa Rica ]

The loss did two things for Bruce Arena and his side. First, the U.S. now falls six points behind the Ticos in the Hexagonal, while Costa Rica has moved a giant step closer to Russia next summer.

On top of that, Mexico took care of business at home against Panama, with a 1-0 result, giving El Tri the first of three automatic spots in next year’s World Cup.

Here’s a look at the current Hexagonal table as things stand.

  1. Mexico — 17 points — +8 GD (Qualified for Russia)
  2. Costa Rica — 14 points — +7 GD
  3. USMNT — 8 points — +1 GD
  4. Honduras — 8 points — -7 GD
  5. Panama — 7 points — -1 GD
  6. Trinidad & Tobago — 3 points — -8 GD

Barring something catastrophic, Costa Rica has done enough to book its place in Russia and mathematically the Ticos could lock up a place on Tuesday with a win over Mexico at the Estadio Nacional.

That leaves one spot remaining for direct qualification into the World Cup from North/Central America and a fourth spot that would result in a playoff against a team from Asia.

Despite the chaos the U.S. has inflicted upon itself after Friday’s loss, the Stars and Stripes still hold fate in their own hands. The team’s 6-0 victory over Honduras back in March helped the USMNT’s goal differential significantly, which is what separates the two nations at the moment as a tiebreaker.

With the U.S. and Honduras meeting on Tuesday, a win or draw is essentially a must for Arena and Co. Los Catrachos face a difficult schedule to close out the Hex, with matches against Costa Rica and Mexico looming in October, but the team could very well benefit from both teams having qualified for the World Cup when they take the field next month.

Panama has been a tricky team to judge this qualifying campaign because while they have just one victory to show for themselves, the Canaleros have taken points in five of their seven matches and only conceded five goals in that span.

It’s still hard to imagine Panama finishing in the top three because that would likely mean they’d have to obtain wins against the U.S. and Costa Rica, along with their upcoming match against Trinidad. It’s not impossible though.

Finally, Trinidad is in a similar boat as Panama, but they can’t even lean on a strong backline to cancel out the team’s lack of goalscoring. Trinidad has taken points in one of its seven qualifying matches, so for all intents and purposes we’ll say the Soca Warriors have very slim chances of reaching the World Cup.

Here’s my take on how the final Hex table will shape up to look like.

(Bold automatically qualifies for World Cup, underlined faces AFC nation in playoff)

  1. Mexico — 22 points
  2. Costa Rica — 18 points
  3. USMNT — 15 points
  4. Panama — 10 points (Edges Honduras on GD)
  5. Honduras  — 10 points
  6. Trinidad — 3 points

It’s just hard to imagine the U.S. not qualifying for the World Cup… If the Yanks fall on Tuesday at Honduras then perhaps the idea of it actually happening will move closer to reality, but until that occurs there’s still confidence on the end of this sports writer.

The U.S. will find a way to get a draw in San Pedro Sula, before pulling out victories against Panama and T&T next month. Regardless of your feelings about the USMNT, there is still plenty of talent in the squad and there’s no reason to believe that the Stars and Stripes won’t qualify for Russia, especially given CONCACAF’s qualifying set up.

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)

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If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.