AP Photo/Pedro Rocha

Moving forward: The USMNT takes the pitch again

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Few United States men’s national team matches are as weird as Tuesday’s 1-1 draw in Portugal, a feeling that had little to do with a fairly exciting contest.

That’s because the game meant so little, yet meant so much. The Yanks are turning the page after a horrible World Cup, and did it with the failing ex-coach of the bunch serving as an in-studio host and most of its top players at home.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

That led to some interesting conversations, including this one traded by PST staffers Nick Mendola and Andy Edwards during and after the match.

Nick Mendola: Alright, Andy, I’m going to go ahead and say it: For as much vitriol as I feel toward all of U.S. Soccer for ruining one of the precious World Cup summers we get during our time on this Earth, it was a really smart move to play almost exclusively kids on Tuesday.

The first half was fun, the players showed abandon and ambition, and there was a real zest from both sides. Putting aside the howler from Ethan Horvath and the inclusion of Bruce Arena in the pundits’ room, and I have to say that was actually, kinda, fun?

Andy Edwards: What good would it do, having all this “young talent” if we didn’t take the earliest possible opportunity to take a group players like Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams (above), Kellyn Acosta and Matt Miazga and mold them into a cohesive unit? With all due respect to the “old guard” — the previous generation of USMNT regulars — there’s no reason in the universe that they should play a single minute in the next 12 months.

Rather than filling the cracks with youngsters who might not be ready, the “new guard” needs a year — at least — to grow together, before sprinkling in a handful of veterans around them. It’s that kind of entitlement and inertia that, in my opinion, resulted in so much complacency throughout qualifying.

[ MORE: 3 things from the 1-1 draw ]

NM: For sure. And that begs as a question before we go forward full throttle: How much vitriol are we allowed, and when does it have to stop? Because watching the World Cup is going to sting like a melon farmer, and the U.S. should always qualify out of CONCACAF.

With respect to an all-timer in Michael Bradley, when I see Kellyn Acosta delivering on his promise a lot better alongside Danny Williams — and let’s face it: Portugal’s B Team is better than T&T’s B-plus team — I get angry.

When I see Miazga — who did have an error — looking better than Omar Gonzalez — I get angry. Is this unfair? And if not, when does it become unfair? Sorry for the aside.

Williams is held by Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes (AP Photo/Pedro Rocha)

AE: I’m happy to let go of the vitriol and ill will for as long as I don’t hear any excuses from any of the offending parties — or until the former head coach pops up on television broadcasts and I’m forced to relive last month’s debacle again, simply at the sight of his face.

As my own aside: what’s that all about? We’re supposed to move forward under the watchful eye of Bruce Arena, TV analyst? I can’t think of anyone who’s less qualified to tell us, “Here’s what comes next,” and more likely to rehash the same tired debates and practices of the last decade which ultimately got us nowhere. Just like the squad need fresh faces for the long road ahead, the American soccer public needs fresh voices and ideas to challenge and elevate it. If asked again, Bruce, please say no.

Now that that’s off my chest, I’m ready to move on with the rebuild.

[ WATCH: Both goals from the draw ]

NM: When he was asked, “Would you change anything?” and he opted for “Well, we won the Gold Cup and then I called back those pesky guys playing in Europe” — right before calling his phone “the expert machine” as if to flip the bird at any fan who hasn’t managed a team — I almost climbed into my dryer with 1,000 pushpins and a gas can.

Andy, I seriously cannot go any further with this. We need to go back to the game.

So, Tyler Adams can play basically every position, Weston McKennie has more attacking nous than expected, and basically none of these dudes were afraid of the spotlight that came with standing on the pitch when the curtain raised for the first time after disaster?

That part, my friend, is awesome.

AE: Another topic…

It’s great that McKennie, Acosta, Adams, Miazga and a handful of other youngsters answered the call and largely showed well against Portugal, but an important deficiency remains: a secondary playmaker — whether it be someone central when Christian Pulisic plays out wide, or a wide man capable of either stretching the field wide or cutting inside to combine underneath.

The aforementioned bright spots are strike me as functional players in a side built around a strong spine, but lacking the flair and game-changing instincts that so many others lacked before them. It’s great that we have Pulisic, don’t get me wrong, but where do we find — or, do we? — him a suitable running mate?

[ MORE: Arena’s baffling pregame comment ]

NM: That’s a terrific question. I really wanted to see more of Kelyn Rowe, and Arena’s right that he probably earned a carryover nod from Gold Cup to WCQs.

But isn’t that the potential beauty of the next few months? You can give any number of players the chance to show they can be that guy, and USMNT matches also put guys in the shop window.

Again, we’ve got — weeping, weeping, nearly uncontrollable weeping — nearly five years to sort it out. The hope is that Andrew Carleton, Luca de la Torre, Gedion Zelalem, or preferably some veteran will fill that void. I like Rowe, but maybe Nagbe would shine with less defensive responsibility (I’m a lot lower on him than most), or Kenny Saief.

Also, only 1/4 kidding, clearly it’s going to be Clint “Our Pescadito” Dempsey. Speaking of which, where are we on the futures of Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, and Jordan Morris. How many of the three are parts of the next Hex?

AE: Well, Wood is 24, so he’s (hopefully) got two more full cycles as a key contributor. He has to be close to playing himself into a move to a slightly bigger team in the Bundesliga — you know, one that’s not in the relegation scrap every single year. For what it’s worth, he’d have been perfectly suited to play with the pressing and counter mindset of the midfield on Tuesday — much more so than Sapong, at least.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (AP Photo/Pedro Rocha)

As for Altidore and Bradley, there’s clearly still a place for players with the amount of experience and talent. What there hasn’t been for the majority of their USMNT careers — and it’s hurt the program, in hindsight — is anyone to challenge their automatic starting places. That will, hopefully, change once they’re brought back into the fold, roughly this time next year. They’re capable of — and should be doing — much more than their last three years for the Yanks. With that said, if they don’t return with a renewed sense of motivation and gigantic chips on their shoulders, though, it’ll be very easy for me to say goodbye and move on.

NM: That’s the big question, right? Bradley might be the wrong example given that his key work doesn’t necessarily jump off the screen, but that’s — again, hindsight 20/20 — the reason you bring in outside eyes and not go with Arena 2.0. You invite Tata Martino, or Peter Vermes, or Eddie Howe, and they get the keys to the car. No, “Well he’s done a lot for the program.”

Don’t hire the personality for the personality. Don’t hire the guy who has an agenda. Hire the guy who is willing to put the best guys out there every time, who’s willing to be wrong every now and again.

One final question: You calling in Pulisic, Cameron, Wood, and the gang come January, or keeping up a similar “new” vibe for another couple months?

AE: I’m definitely calling in Pulisic and Wood — anybody under 25, really — during the first FIFA window of 2018. To me, it’s paramount that the new guys get reps alongside players of that quality. They’re the ones, after all, who’ll make up the majority of the squad in 2022, with a little bit of luck.

As far as Pulisic has come in the last 12 months, he’s still got a lot to prove and add to his game — as both a player and a leader. We know he’s a brilliant individual player, but his next for years have to be about making everyone else — players both his age and older, don’t forget — better. That’s a lot to ask of a 19-year-old, but he’s given every indication that he wants that responsibility and will hold everyone, himself included, accountable.

With all due respect to Cameron and a select few others, I know what they are at this point. If there’s a need for them to be recalled closer to 2022, I hope they’ll accept the call and make themselves available. But, in my opinion, every opportunity has to be given to younger guys — many of whom we saw on Tuesday — to make one of 23 spots their own. Wasting the next four years by constantly calling in players who’ll be on the wrong side of their primes in 2022 — a la Dempsey and Jones from 2014 to 2018 — would be the grossest mismanagement job this side of the just completed qualifying cycle. Let’s not do that.

NM: And part of that identifying the old guys. Danny Williams, especially as a man holding down a starting spot in the central midfield-driven world of the Premier League, took a large step in that direction on Tuesday. Now who will join him?

Arsene Wenger takes new job at FIFA

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Arsene Wenger has been named as FIFA’s new Chief of Global Football Development.

Wenger, 70, has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich in recent weeks but it appears the Frenchman will now end his role as a club or national team manager and instead focus on the bigger picture in this special role at FIFA.

Marco van Basten left FIFA’s technical director role in October 2018 and Wenger is the perfect person to replace him and lead the global game.

FIFA say that Wenger will “be chiefly responsible for overseeing and driving the growth and development of the sport for both men and women around the world. He will also be the leading authority on technical matters, both as a member of the Football and Technical Advisory Panels involved in The IFAB’s review and decision-making process on potential changes to the Laws of the Game, and as chairman of the FIFA Technical Study Group.”

They added that Wenger “will include a particular focus on coach education” and he will be key in FIFA’s executive programme, which helps former professionals enter management and help them in their post-career transition.

Speaking about his new gig from Switzerland as he stood alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino, the legendary former Arsenal boss was delighted to arrive in a role which seems perfectly suited to his skillset.

“I very much look forward to taking on this extremely important challenge, not only because I have always been interested in analysing football from a broader perspective but also because FIFA’s mission as world football’s governing body is truly global,” Wenger said. “I believe that the new FIFA we have seen emerging in recent years has the sport itself at the very heart of its objectives and is determined to develop the game in its many different components. I know I can contribute to this objective and will put all my energy into this.”

Infantino added: “Arsene is someone who, with his strategic vision, competence and hard work, has dedicated his life to football. His arrival is just another example of how we keep strengthening our purpose to bring FIFA back to football and football back to FIFA.”

Wenger’s time as a coach was revolutionary, as he totally changed the structure at Arsenal and almost single-handedly altered the professionalism levels in the Premier League.

After a 22-year stint in charge of the Gunners, it appears Wenger’s time as a coach is up.

He will now travel the world trying to spread the gospel of the beautiful game. Considering his Arsenal team always played wonderful, free-flowing, attacking soccer, Wenger truly embodies the most beautiful parts of the beautiful game.

VIDEO: Rashford’s VIP Man United trip for American cancer survivor

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Marcus Rashford is one of the good guys.

We knew that even before this heart-warming gesture.

John Burk is a cancer survivor from the State of Georgia who had never been to Old Trafford to see his beloved Manchester United play.

Now he’s been to the Theater of Dreams. In style.

Last month John’s friends, led by Matt Waymont, reached out to Rashford on Twitter to ask if he could help with tickets as they had raised money to fly with John to the UK for Man United’s clash with Brighton on Nov. 10.

The power of social media did the rest, as Rashford didn’t only get them tickets but gave them a VIP experience for the 3-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. Rashford scored United’s third goal to cap off a sensational trip for John and his friends.

United legends Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown all got in on the act too, as Rashford and Co. rolled out the carpet for their fans from the USA. They watched the game from Rashford’s private box, ate at Rio’s restaurant, stayed at Neville’s hotel and were given a tour of Old Trafford by Brown.

Take a look at the video below to get a taste of what John and the lads got up to during their incredible trip to Old Trafford.

This is truly wonderful.

Inter Miami to host LA Galaxy in historic MLS home opener

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Circle March 14, 2020 on your calendar.

It is the day Inter Miami CF will arrive at home in Major League Soccer, which will be over six years since the Florida city was awarded an MLS expansion franchise.

This also means that Inter Miami will begin their inaugural season on the road, as the 2020 MLS campaign is scheduled to being in late February.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

On Wednesday it was announced that David Beckham’s MLS franchise will finally play their first home game as an expansion franchise, as they host LA Galaxy at Fort Lauderdale Stadium at 2:30 p.m. ET.

This will be a lovely moment for Beckham, as the team he has co-ownership of will face the MLS team he played for as a Designated Player.

“Futbol comes full circle as Inter Miami faces former MLS club of David Beckham, the LA Galaxy. As a player, the Galaxy was the MLS side of Beckham between 2007-2012. Now, as club owner of inter Miami, Beckham will be supporting alongside the 18,000 in attendance and countless tuning in from afar.”

This will also mark the second time an MLS has played in Miami, as the now defunct Miami Fusion played from 1998-2001 and called Lockhart Stadium (on the same site as Inter Miami CF’s brand new Fort Lauderdale stadium) home.

Beckham’s ownership group are in ongoing talks with the City of Miami and other parties about building their permanent 25,000 capacity stadium on the Freedom Park site close to Miami International Airport. A key vote this week saw the plans for Freedom Park stalled once again, as Beckham continues to struggle to find a permanent home for his team in and around downtown Miami.

Until then the 18,000 capacity temporary stadium in Fort Lauderdale will be home, and when they finally move into a more permanent venue its capacity will be reduced to house their reserve side, while Inter Miami CF’s training ground will be located on the same site.

Many refused to believe Beckham’s Inter Miami CF would ever arrive in Major League Soccer, but he is now their Director of Soccer operations and work on their home in Fort Lauderdale is well under way.

Now that their first home game is scheduled and it is just four months away, it all seems very real.

Danny Rose: I will run down my Tottenham contract

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Oh, good, just what Tottenham needed. Another contract rebel.

Danny Rose, 29, has told the London Evening Standard he will run down the remaining 18 months of his contract.

In an open and ruthlessly honest interview, Rose revealed that Spurs wanted him to leave in the summer but he wants to leave on his own terms.

Rose didn’t travel with the team for their preseason tour of the Far East and he revealed exactly why that was the case.

“It’s pretty obvious what happened [in the summer]. People upstairs at Tottenham were trying to do what they were trying to do. I’ve said [to them] I’ve got 18 months left on my contract and I’m not going anywhere until my contract has ­finished,” Rose said. “In January, you’re probably going to hear something [about my future]. I’m telling you right now that I’m not going anywhere until my contract is finished. [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy told me in the summer there was no new contract for me at Tottenham, which is fine. I respect that. We move on.

“My contract is up in 18 months’ time and I’ll leave the football club then. People [in the media] can save their time ­trying to get stuff ready for January about me being sold. Because I can tell you now: it ain’t happening. I know what people were trying to do in the summer… There were no bids — that was rubbish.”

Wow.

Rose has not held back, at all.

He has started 11 of Spurs’ 16 games in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League this season and although he admitted he has made some big mistakes so far, he said he is very happy playing for Mauricio Pochettino and the two have a very good relationship.

However, this situation adds to the growing unrest in the dressing room with Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld all out of contract next summer, it appears that Pochettino has a growing player revolt on his hands.

It’s not all his fault though, as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is a stickler for a bargain and was unlikely to let any of the aforementioned players leave on the cheap this summer.

But the product of keeping players against their will and not offering new contracts is that Spurs now have a large chunk of their first team who know they are a) not wanted and b) won’t be able to move until May.

Even though Rose and others know they will be moving on soon, they will of course try and give their all for Spurs. But with an eye on a move, you can certainly understand why Tottenham’s players have dropped their levels by a few percent.

That is all it takes to stop being title and top four contenders to being in 14th place and hoping for a top six finish.