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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…

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

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So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…

Champions League preview: Real Madrid renews rivalry with Pep; Lyon hosts Juve

UEFA Champions League preview
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The final two ties of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 begin Wednesday when Manchester City and Juventus head to Spain and France.

The focus for many will be on the former, as City continues to weather UEFA drama while its manager prepares for his fiercest foe as a player and manager.

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Pep Guardiola has managed against Real Madrid 17 times and boasts a 9-4-4 record between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan wizard has lost his last three versus Real, two with Bayern and once in his final El Clasico as Barca boss.

Even as Guardiola stresses preparation and plan, he knows there will be bounces and that both teams will have to cope with them.

“We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck,” he said, via The Manchester Evening News. “At this stage, it’s important but we cannot control that. We can control what we can control and we will see. This competition, last season, against Liverpool, there are decisions. You have to overcome. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan plus try to be a little lucky.”

Real Madrid living legend Sergio Ramos has earned the ire of Guardiola on plenty of occasions, one of the few things Liverpool and City fans have in common.

Ramos wouldn’t get drawn into rivalry talk, sying the stage somewhat negates the opponent.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Ramos said via the club’s web site. “I think he’s a fantastic coach, with loads of experience, and his numbers speak for themselves. We’re motivated by the Champions League, regardless of the players or coaches who may have been rivals in the past. We’re up for the Champions League and our next task is to beat City. From a personal point of view, I’m just focused on making the next round.”

[ MORE: Key battles for Real-Man City ]

Wednesday’s other match sees a club long linked with Guardiola, as Juventus will play the role of heavy favorites against Lyon.

Maurizio Sarri‘s side is to bidding to win what’s eluded all Juve bosses since Marcello Lippi beat Ajax in 1996. If they succeed, it will be by going down a different path than it’s traveled in recent years.

Here’s Leonardo Bonucci, via Football-Italia:

“What the coach asks of us now is basically the opposite of what the previous coach did,” Bonucci mused. “It was usually individual against individual, now it’s more about organized team movements. Obviously, you need to train consistently to get that down and playing every three days makes it difficult. But we started this journey well aware of the positives it could bring and the difficulties of getting there.”

Lyon has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, sitting seventh in the Ligue 1 table, but has the tools to surprise if Juve doesn’t bring its best. That starts in France on Wednesday.

Lampard: Chelsea first leg loss ‘quite sobering,’ ‘harsh lesson’

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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard isn’t sugarcoating his side’s 3-0 first-leg loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.

“Sometimes you have to be brutally honest about it,” he said in televised remarks after the loss. “It’s quite sobering.”

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Lampard admitted that Bayern was firing on all cylinders at Stamford Bridge, and proffered tepid support for the idea of an unlikely comeback in Germany next month.

“The level of team they showed that they are, hence why they challenge in the Bundesliga and the Champions League,” he said, via Football.London. “I’m disappointed we couldn’t do better against them. It’s a reality check. Don’t look at anyone else apart from yourself.”

“We should never say the door is closed because our fans would never accept that. I’m more concerned with the bigger picture here. There’s a lot to be done.”

Sure is.

Chelsea leads fifth-place Manchester United by three points in the top four race and has a four-point edge on sixth-place Spurs in the scenario that fifth is enough for Champions League football.

That’s important because the UCL path back to the tournament looks like a massive ask. And Lampard said the players need to use Tuesday’s blowout loss at home “as a positive effect” moving forward.

But he also put it pretty plainly during his post-match comments.

“It was a harsh lesson,” Lampard said. “This is Champions League football.”