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Arena wanted Jermaine Jones, but what do the stats say?

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The steel in the midfield of the United States men’s national team was low if not altogether absent for the majority of their one-point international break.

Bruce Arena’s men fell 2-0 at home to Costa Rica before Bobby Wood helped them steal a point in Honduras at San Pedro Sula on Tuesday.

It was Michael Bradley with Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, and Fabian Johnson on Friday, and then Bradley, Nagbe, Pulisic, and Kellyn Acosta on Tuesday.

[ MORE: World Cup prognoses for all confederations ]

Missing from that mix was combustible veteran Jermaine Jones, out with injury and apparently very much wanted by Arena.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“I know I came from a long-time injury, I got injured with the toe, so me and [US head coach Bruce Arena] we talked and everything is okay. If I’m 100 percent fit I want to focus first on the Galaxy, get that playoff spot, then focus in October on making the national team roster.”

The 69-times capped Jones has four goals for the national team including a stunning blast against Portugal at the 2014 World Cup.

With Jones, who’s been injured for much of this year, the U.S. has one draw and two losses in World Cup qualifiers.

He was also one of the side’s better players in the Copa America Centenario, although he picked up his only red card as a USMNT player when he was sent off against Ecuador.

Jones had been talismanic for Colorado and New England, but how has his presence affected the USMNT since he debuted under Bob Bradley in 2010.

All data via Transfermarkt

With Jones (tournament play): 17W-4D-12L
Without Jones (tournament play): 21W-5D-5L

But hold on, should Jones be punished for not being called up for Gold Cup action since 2011, let’s take another look at those marks without those weakened tournaments (B Teams or not).

With Jones (tournament play exc. Gold Cups): 13W-4D-10L
Without Jones (tournaments exc. Gold Cups): 7W-3D-3L

Jones played every minute of one of the United States’ top World Cup performances in 2014 (1W-1D-2L) as well as the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico. He also played in five Copa America matches (3W-2L) while missing the elimination match versus Argentina with a red card suspension.

That leaves us World Cup qualifying with and without Jones, and let’s only look at Hex matches to eliminate the weaker teams (Sorry 12-1 aggregate wins over St. Vincent, though he played one and missed the other).

With Jones (Hex): 5W-2D-3L
Without Jones (Hex): 4W-3D-1L

Finally what about versus Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago? The Yanks did win in Panama without Jones in the 2013 Hex and drew in T&T with him in the last round of qualifying.

I’m a big Jones supporter, but even in the face of these numbers I find it hard to make the argument that his first international action with this group since March should be in must-win qualifiers with the nation’s soccer reputation on the line.

6 clubs fined, risk FIFA transfer bans for debts to players

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ZURICH (AP) Clubs from Russia and Qatar are among six fined by FIFA and warned they risk one-year transfer bans for failing to settle debts to players.

[ MORE: Steffen to England? ]

FIFA says the clubs also face deductions of six league points if they fail to pay the debts in 30 to 90 days.

The clubs are: Kuban of Russia; Al Arabi and Al Kharaitiyat of Qatar; Zamalek of Egypt; Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates; and Mersin Idman Yurdu of Turkey.

FIFA says all failed to comply with rulings by FIFA or the Court of Arbitration for Sport “to pay significant overdue amounts of money to players.”

They were fined between 15,000 and 30,000 Swiss francs ($15,000 and $30,000).

FIFA says national soccer federations face disciplinary cases if they fail to enforce the verdicts.

Premier League friendlies: Liverpool meets BVB; Everton in Portugal

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The Premier League is three weeks and one day from opening its 2018-19 slate, when Leicester City will visit Old Trafford for a Friday afternoon match with Manchester United.

The end of the World Cup has eyeballs trained on friendlies, with 19 Premier League teams doing work over the weekend.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The International Champions Cup has a pair of matches on the docket.

Friday sees Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, sans many of their World Cup stars, mixing it up with Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund in Chicago.

Then Sunday will see Borussia Dortmund switching gears and time zones, tangling with Liverpool in North Carolina as Pulisic renews acquaintances with old pal Jurgen Klopp.

Manchester United takes on San Jose on Sunday, two days after facing Club America.

Other marquee friendlies of the weekend include Bournemouth facing American back Shaq Moore and Levante on Friday, with Fulham hosting Lyon on Saturday, and Everton meeting Lille and Porto on consecutive Portuguese days Saturday and Sunday.

Friday

Bournemouth vs. Levante
Burnley vs. Macclesfield Town
Burnley vs. Curzon Ashton
Cardiff City vs Torquay
Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund (in Chicago)

Saturday

Brighton and Hove Albion vs. AFC Wimbledon
Crystal Palace vs. Oxford United
Everton vs. Lille
Fulham vs. Lyon
Huddersfield Town vs. Real Betis
Huddersfield Town vs. Roy-Weiss Essen or Werder Bremen
Leicester City vs. Notts County
Southampton vs. Derby County
Watford vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf
West Ham United vs. Preston North End

Sunday

Everton vs. Porto
Huddersfield Town vs. Darmstadt
Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund (in North Carolina)
Manchester United vs. San Jose Earthquakes (in Santa Clara)
Wolverhampton vs. TBD

Transfer rumor roundup: Japan, South Africa strikers to Premier League

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Percy Tau’s name isn’t yet widely known outside of South Africa, what with Bafana Bafana absent from the World Cup.

But the 24-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns winger may soon get to test his skills on a much bigger stage.

[ USMNT: More accolades for Pulisic ]

Tau, who has five goals in 12 caps, will reportedly join Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League if a medical goes well, with Sky Sports saying it’ll will be the biggest transfer fee yet for a South African Premier League player.


Yoshinori Muto could be bringing his 25 caps to the Premier League.

The 26-year-old striker made just one appearance at the World Cup, but has had a nice run with Mainz since joining from FC Tokyo. He’s bagged 23 goals in 71 appearances.

Bild report says there have been no formal offers for Muto, but that Newcastle United and West Ham are interested in the striker. Newcastle badly needs a striker, but West Ham has been spending money and Magpies owner Mike Ashley hasn’t green lit much in recent seasons.

Open Cup draw postponed as Portland protests LAFC win

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The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw is not going as planned, as the Portland Timbers protest the roster of victorious LAFC.

[ RECAP: Four USOC semifinalists minted ]

Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston were the other sides to get a place in the final four teams.

LAFC’s victory had already been marred by Adama Diomande‘s claims of a racial slur hurled his way, and now their victory may be in question altogether as U.S. Soccer issued a press release saying Thursday’s scheduled draw was postponed.

From a U.S. Soccer press release:

The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The rule says a maximum five players without green cards can be in the 18. Portland started only two Americans, Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin, but have green cards for many others and rules are rules.

Will the Timbers take a semifinal berth via protest?