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Is Sam Allardyce a good choice for USMNT boss?

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Sam Allardyce isn’t so much throwing his hat into the ring to become the next U.S. national team manager.

He’s launched it in there with extreme velocity on multiple occasions, just like he has done whenever the vacant Everton job has come up in discussion.

The latest such occasion came on Thursday as a guest of Alan Brazil on talkSPORT’s breakfast show. Just take a listen to this from Big Sam when he was asked if he’d take charge of the USA.

For a man who “retired” after leading Crystal Palace to safety last season, Big Sam is quite keen to get a new job.

“Yes I would go, I think. I think there’s a presidential election in January which has stalled the process. If I got the opportunity to speak to the U.S. then I would look forward to it,” Allardyce said. “International football is totally different to Premier League football. It’s 10 games a year. There’s a huge amount of down time, to go and watch the players and all that. It’s not the same day-to-day pressures as you get in the Premier League. I’ve always loved the States. I’ve been going for many, many years. I played there for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and had a terrific time by the way.”

Pro Soccer Talk understands that some current U.S. national team players would not be opposed to Allardyce taking charge of the USA as he would likely go back to basics, give experienced players a final chance to prove themselves and would be a good fit for the defensive style of play most of the USMNT players are comfortable playing with.

Yet Allardyce having an interest in the USMNT job appears to be dividing opinion among U.S. fans. Take a look at any mention of him taking charge of the U.S. on social media.

Responses range from “please God, no” to “this is exactly what the USA needs” and quite a lot of “we could do a lot worse than him” comments.

Well, would the 63-year-old fit the bill for the Stars and Stripes? It’s a difficult one to unravel, especially given the current messy situation with the U.S. Soccer Federation and their leadership.

His managerial experience in England is unquestioned and his ability to overachieve with unfashionable teams is undoubted. But isn’t that what the U.S. are on the international stage?

Worldwide the USMNT are seen as an unfancied squad who can upset the odds by having a simple, team first approach. Look at the USA’s most successful periods in recent tournaments — the quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup, the 2009 Confederations Cup final and to some extent the 2016 Copa American Centenario last four berth — and try to tell me that individual talent wasn’t secondary when it came to those successes.

There were some incredible individual displays during those runs but the team came first and the U.S. were incredibly tough to beat. We talk about creating a new identity for the U.S. national team but a defensive, efficient team saw many nations not wanting to play the U.S. at the last two World Cups. What’s wrong with that?

If Allardyce was handed the reins I think the actual U.S. national team squad, to a man, would know exactly what was expected of them and his tactics may actually get the best out of the type of players the USMNT has. I can already hear you yelling “what about Christian Pulisic’s development?” and I get that. But Big Sam got the best out of mercurial players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff during the twilight of their careers and there are countless other examples of mavericks performing for him. There is room for a little style among his multitude of substance. Honest.

Yet, in a broader sense, would Allardyce help the U.S. kick on across all levels of the national team program?

He only had a brief few months in charge of the English national team — the issues surrounding that are worrying enough and perhaps reason enough for him not to be interviewed for the USMNT job at all — and that is his only previous experience at the international level. Plus, his comments on talkSPORT could come across as someone who fancies a paid vacation in the USA for a few years rather than helping the country fulfill its vast potential as a soccer nation. So the jury is out as to how invested he is when it comes to how young U.S. players are developed.

But, hang on, does he need to worry about that?

Simply put the USMNT head coach should worry about one thing: coaching the U.S. national team players. Don’t let Jurgen Klinsmann’s position as both the head coach and technical director of U.S. Soccer at the same time cloud your judgement. That was a bizarre situation and one which shouldn’t be replicated. Let a coach, coach. There are plenty of other top-class candidates who can work behind-the-scenes to solve the pay-to-play issues and the myriad of problems involving youth development in U.S. Soccer.

I’m not saying U.S. Soccer should hire Sam Allardyce. Far from it. There will be dozens of viable and talented candidates for the job and, in truth, nobody should be appointed until February 2018 at the earliest when we know who the next president of U.S. Soccer is and what their vision is for the future.

Allardyce being in charge of the USMNT wouldn’t be the worst appointment in the world but I’m sure that many U.S. fans would rather see a younger manager with vast MLS and USMNT experience (from a playing and coaching experience) appointed. Those same fans would also want to see a “big name” a la Klinsmann take charge and believe the U.S. is above appointing a manager whose expertise is leading struggling Premier League clubs to safety from relegation.

When you think about it, a failure to reach the 2018 World Cup is a relegation of sorts and the U.S. has reached rock bottom.

It is in those kind of situations where Allardyce usually does his best work. At least in the short-term. The only problem is the U.S. is two years away from actual competitive games.

I can see it now. Fans in the American Outlaws section dressed up in an Uncle Sam costume with an Allardyce mask over their face…

Atletico Madrid temporarily cuts player salaries by 70 percent

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Atletico Madrid says it has reached an agreement with its players and coaching staff to reduce their salaries by 70 percent while competitions are stopped during the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus ]

Atletico announced the agreement on Thursday and said it is temporarily suspending the jobs of club employees.

Atletico had previously said it would need to take such a drastic step but had yet to reveal the details.

A job suspension under Spanish law allows a company to greatly reduce its labor costs by having workers stay at home while guaranteeing they will go back to their positions when conditions improve.

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The Spanish club added that some of the money saved by the players’ salary cuts will be given to its other employees who will be furloughed.

Barcelona recently announced it had come to a similar agreement with its players.

Both clubs said that such cost-saving measures were necessary to ensure their financial stability due to the loss in revenue during the stoppage of competitions.

CONCACAF postpones Nations League finals, Gold Cup qualification

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CONCACAF announced on Friday that the 2019-20 Nations League finals and the opening rounds of 2021 Gold Cup qualification have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Nations League finals — featuring the U.S. men’s national team, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras — were previously scheduled to take place in Houston and Dallas in early June. CONCACAF says the semifinals and final will be rescheduled for a later date.

The seconds round of Gold Cup qualifying was previously scheduled to be made up in June — following their postponement in March, with four two-leg ties featuring largely Caribbean and Central American nations. Those, too, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Given the ongoing public health situation, and following consultation with FIFA regarding the international football calendar, we have made the decision to suspend the CONCACAF Nations League finals, which was scheduled for June 4-7, 2020 in the Houston and Dallas areas.

The event, which includes the Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and USA men’s national teams, will be rescheduled to take place at a later date in venues to be determined. This will be confirmed following further discussions with FIFA regarding the remaining international windows in the football calendar, and will obviously be subject to public health authorities deeming it safe for professional sports events to resume.

FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus

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GENEVA — FIFA has extended the age limit for the men’s soccer tournament at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The amended Olympic rule on Friday retains the “players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997” standard for the Tokyo Games following a one-year postponement agreed last week by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese authorities.

It means players eligible for the intended under-23 tournament in 2020 can still play in Japan at age 24 next year. Men’s soccer kicks off ahead of the July 23, 2021 opening ceremony in Tokyo.

FIFA also postponed two women’s age-group World Cups due this year in Central America and India, and confirmed no international games for men and women will be played in the early June dates protected for national team call-ups.

Soccer’s world body said “health must always be the first priority and the main criteria in any decision-making process, especially in these challenging times.”

The Olympic decision was made by a FIFA panel of soccer officials worldwide, created to address the soccer shutdown during the health crisis.

The 16 men’s teams at the Tokyo Olympics next year can also select three over-age players in their rosters. A stellar lineup includes Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.

Two women’s World Cup tournaments — the Under-20s hosted by Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the Under-17s in India in November — are postponed. No new dates were announced.

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Until the COVID-19 outbreak, national team games scheduled in June included the 2020 European Championship, World Cup qualifying games in South America and Asia, and qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

After Euro 2020 was postponed for one year, UEFA hoped to schedule playoff games in June to confirm the last four places in a 24-nation lineup. Those playoffs were postponed indefinitely this week.

World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now face uncertain scheduling in a congested calendar in Europe, South America and Asia.

FIFA said on Friday it would “organize bilateral discussions” with continental governing bodies “to finalize a revised match schedule pending health and safety developments.”

FIFA plans to direct hundreds of millions of dollars from its cash reserves to support a global emergency fund, and has agreed to appoint one official from each of the six soccer continents to coordinate the work.

Arsenal want season completed ‘to maintain integrity’ of PL

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Arsenal remain in support of finishing the 2019-20 season in order to “to maintain the integrity” of the competition, despite Friday’s unanimous vote that the Premier League cannot resume at the start of May as previously hoped due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Gunners, who currently sit ninth in the PL table with 10 games left to play (one more than the majority of clubs around them), were five points back of fifth-place Manchester United for qualification to next season’s UEFA Champions League thanks to Manchester City’s two-year European ban.

In a statement released on Friday, Arsenal reiterated their stance that the current season should be played to completion rather than called to completion at things stand or abandoned altogether.

We are in full support of the objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches from the 2019-20 season to be played, in order to maintain the integrity of each competition.

We also fully agree with the principle that any return to action will only be with the full backing of government and when medical guidance allows.

The restart date is under constant review as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we continue to work together with all stakeholders through this very challenging time