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What now for USMNT? A look at the road ahead

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A youthful U.S. national team drew 1-1 at Portugal on Tuesday in their final game of 2017.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

Now, it’s time to reflect, just as we’ve all been doing since the shock failure to reach the 2018 World Cup in early October.

Interim U.S. boss Dave Sarachan, a long-time assistant of former USMNT boss Bruce Arena, oversaw the draw at Portugal but, like the rest of Arena’s backroom staff who were also in place for the friendly, he won’t be around for much longer.

This is all about the future. The displays of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Cameron Carter-Vickers against Portugal proved that.

In terms of the next game for the USA, fans will have to wait over two months for a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the StubHub Center in Carson, California on Jan. 28 which will end the USMNT’s annual January camp.

After that, we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen.

The U.S. is unlikely to have a head coach for some time due to the fact that current U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati isn’t expected to run for re-election in the USSF presidential election on Feb. 10, 2018, so there’s a whole lot of uncertainty right now surrounding the men’s national team.

Talk of Sam Allardyce, Michael O’Neill or Laurent Blanc coming in is all academic at this point.

Even having former boss Arena, the man who oversaw the dismal defeat at Trinidad & Tobago last month which ended the USA’s World Cup dreams, on Fox Sports as an analyst for the Portugal game on Tuesday seemed to early. The period of grieving isn’t over yet. Many would say it’s going to get a lot worse for the U.S. national team before it gets better.

Perhaps the best decision is to put Tab Ramos, the current youth technical director of U.S. Soccer, in interim charge for the January camp as plenty of youngsters, who he knows well, will be given the chance to impress just as they did against Portugal.

Around all of this, the future of veterans like Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan need to be addressed. Will they be leaned on heavily to help turn this program around? Will some, or all of them, retire from international duty?

What we do know is that there will be at two friendly games in March and probably the same in June 2018, purely as opposition for teams heading to the World Cup. Plus, there is talk of a soccer “NIT” ahead of the World Cup in June but that seems like a long shot. By March or April, things should have settled down with a new USSF president and USMNT coach, and a distinct plan, in place. That’s the hope.

Right now all U.S. fans can do is sit back and watch the anticipation build for the 2018 World Cup draw in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 1.

There is a long, long period for contemplation as U.S. Soccer tries to sort itself out amid the backdrop of a presidential campaign which has seen plenty of candidates throw their hats into the ring to try and solve the problems exacerbated by the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The road ahead will be long, arduous and not at all pleasant for the U.S., especially as we all watch on at the 32 nations competing in the World Cup in Russia next summer. Sure, the sport in the U.S. will recover and interest in MLS and USL expansion continues and top European teams will make trips Stateside for preseason friendlies.

Sure, all of that is pretty healthy. But we’re focusing on the USMNT here. Arguably the one vehicle with the greatest pull, and level of influence, in how the American soccer pyramid performs.

With no competitive games until the summer of 2019 when the Gold Cup and Copa America roll around, the U.S. national team’s excessive period of reflection and rehabilitation begun as soon as the final whistle was sounded in Leiria, Portugal on Tuesday.

Now it’s about one thing: the future.

Premier League social media wrap: Brighton, teqball, remembering Tiote

Premier League social media
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Premier League sides are fully back in the flow of training with scheduled matches coming within a fortnight.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

So it’s no surprise that banter’s back, too.

That’s where we’ll start Friday, with Irish center back Shane Duffy making sure he’s keeping things light as Brighton and Hove Albion prepares to defend its Premier League place.

Duffy turned a sprinkler on his teammates at training, showing that, yes, your high school career has some things in common with Premier League footballers.

How about some skills as Manchester United gets ready for its return to the PL pitch?

Bruno Fernandes and Andreas Pereira tangled with Fred and Diogo Dalot in a match of Teqball.

You’ll have to watch to see who won.

There’s also a sad anniversary on this day.

It’s been three years since former Newcastle United wrecking ball Cheick Tiote passed away at age 30 after collapsing during a training session with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises, causing shock and grief around the Premier League.

His former teammates were remembering him on Friday, the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner was definitely beloved and will always be remembered for his incredible goal to cap off Newcastle’s 4-4 comeback draw with Arsenal.

We’ll start with Norwich City backstop Tim Krul, who spent time with Tiote at Newcastle.

Former Magpies wizard Yohan Cabaye pinned an old memorial to his Twitter wall.

 

Preview: Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha preview, how to watch
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Four Bundesliga teams are unbeaten in their last five matches and Hertha Berlin is the unlikeliest of the bunch.

They’ll tangle with Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday in the latest challenge of the Bruno Labaddia era in Berlin.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Labbadia is Hertha’s third manager of the season and Hertha has played a scrappy brand of football that has punched and counter-punched under his tutelage. That doesn’t mean they’ve failed to find finish, as Liverpool loanee Marko Grujic and Brazilian youngster Matheus Cunha have been potent.

Borussia Dortmund is a bigger ask, though Hertha made RB Leipzig make mistakes in a 2-2 tie.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Will it be able to get a result at the Westfalenstadion? Perhaps this is a bridge too far, because Dortmund’s shown an explosive offense and its defense has been strong far more often than not this season.

That said, Erling Haaland is just returning to fitness and has just one goal since the league’s restart from the coronavirus pause. Mats Hummels will miss with a yellow card suspension and Marco Reus still isn’t back.

Maybe American teen Giovanni Reyna will get prolonged run along with Jadon Sancho. We’ll see!

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin, how to watch

  • TV Channels: FS2
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)
  • When: Saturday, June 6 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Dortmund v. Hertha

Sheffield United season restart preview

Sheffield United season restart preview
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Sheffield United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Blades when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Sheffield United has welcomed itself to the Premier League and put its feet up on the big boys’ tables while asking what’s for dinner. Blades sit seventh and will hope to continue a fairytale which has them on the precipice of the Europa League. Their fixture list in monstrous, especially at Bramall Lane, but Wilder’s proven capable of outwitting even the smartest of bosses for long periods of time. A name to remember is Simon Moore. The backup keeper and starter from Blades’ League One days could become vital should Manchester United defy expectation and pull Dean Henderson home from his loan upon its June 30 expiry.

[ MORE: Ranking every Southampton player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Chris Wilder has flummoxed many a Premier League manager with his creative use of defenders in attack. United typically uses Jack O’Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham as a back-3 with Enda Stevens and George Baldock as the two wingbacks. Those players have accounted for six of United’s 18 PL assists this season. For more on the tactics, Wilder laid things out in entertaining fashion for Arlo White late last month.


Possible XI (3-5-2) 

—– Henderson* —–

— Basham — O’Connell — Egan —

— Baldock — Fleck —  Berge —– Norwood — Stevens—

—– McBurnie —– Mousset —–

The challenge here is fitting January signing Berge into the mix, as fellow central midfielders John Fleck, Oliver Norwood, and John Lundstram have been instrumental in this amazing season. Lundstram seems the most likely to cede his spot if someone will, which really says something about Berge’s immense talent. David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp have provided a lot up top, so McBurnie and Mousset will see plenty of time on the bench. And the biggest question of all is Henderson, who’s on loan from top seven rival Manchester United.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Sheffield United’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Spurs, Wolves, Chelsea, Everton
Away: Newcastle, Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester City, Southampton

Predicted finish: The Blades will get the chance to defend their home turf from not one, not two, not three, but four would-be European rivals (It’s a little generous to include Everton, but the talent is there). Throw in Leicester and Manchesteer United away, and there is a huge bridge to cross for Wilder’s men to keep their incredible season on the path toward unprecedented heights. It’s not just about keeping Spurs and Arsenal in the rear view mirror, as Blades meet the next four teams above their seventh-place footing.

Petersen’s header leads Freiburg past 10-man Gladbach

Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach recap
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Nils Petersen’s second half goal led Freiburg to a huge 1-0 win over 10-man Borussia Monchengladbach at the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Friday.

Freiburg keeps its Europa League hopes alive by moving onto 41 points, one behind sixth and seventh.

Gladbach fails in a bid to go third and remains fourth with 56 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal differential.

A second yellow card to Plea was a double curse to Gladbach, who went down a man and now will miss a star forward against Bayern Munich.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Bayer’s Ramy Bensebaini utilized a slick backheel turn to nutmeg an opponent and send in a cross that was put out for a corner kick.

Freiburg keeper Alexander Schwolow made a tight-angle save on Alassane Plea just after the quarter-hour mark.

Gladbach saw a chance chalked off after two dangerous bids resulted in an offside deflection into the goal.

Florian Neuhaus came close to scoring again when Lars Stindl headed the penultimate move of a fine team play into the six, but he popped it over the frame.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Gladbach’s second half again settled into the Freiburg final third, but it was a home sub that paid dividends at the other end.

Petersen improved his club record for goals when he nodded Vincenzo Grifo’s free kick home in the 59th.

Stindl wasn’t too far from equalizing with a 17-yard shot at the hour mark, but Plea’s second yellow card damaged Gladbach’s hopes of a comeback.