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Tyler Adams the star in USMNT win over Paraguay

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It’s not the most important takeaway from the 1-0 USMNT win over Paraguay, and one good performance doesn’t give the United States immediate hope to turn things around, but it would be doing the 19-year-old a disservice if we left him out of the discussion.

The New York Red Bulls midfielder earned his place on the field as the U.S. pushed toward victory in front of 10,000 strong in North Carolina. With Bobby Wood struggling to influence the game along up front and both Wil Trapp and Marky Delgado given more holding roles in midfield, Adams stole the show, displaying multiple skill sets both on and off the ball.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from U.S. win over Paraguay ]

“I can sit and facilitate the play, or I can make the runs out of midfield and be dangerous,” Adams said after the game. “So continue to get those final plays right, creating chances, adding assists to my game is obviously more important for an 8, but as a 6 as well – which is where I’m playing for Red Bulls – I’m comfortable playing either one.”

Adams’ most important contribution of the night was also his most eye-popping, absolutely roasting the Paraguay high press with a stunning burst of speed, but he was also silky smooth on the ball and found himself in pockets of space on multiple occasions. His use of that space was impressive and incisive, and he was the most dangerous player on the field.

[ MORE: Young U.S. squad benefits from surprising team chemistry ]

He also was a good fit for the 4-1-4-1 formation that interim head coach Dave Sarachan has used exclusively in his time in charge, and while the similarities between Adams, Delgado, and Trapp sometimes got in the way, Adams also used the opportunity in a formation without a true creative presence to fill that gap at times.

“Tyler is so effective in terms of breaking out – as he showed on the penalty,” Sarachan said after the game, “but also defensively when we want to press, and that system [the 4-1-4-1] allows us to really get after teams and make it difficult on them.”

Adams wasn’t the only impressive U.S. player on the field, but for a 19-year-old to slot in that effectively and that seamlessly is a promising prospect for fans starving for someone to lift the weight off Christian Pulisic’s shoulders.

“I feel comfortable here,” Adams said. “Gaining that confidence throughout the week is obviously important, but playing with guys like Wil and Marky, they make it easier on you. Wil obviously captain of his club and captain tonight, he gains confidence throughout the game and instills you with confidence as well so it was easy for me, I feel like I fit right in.”

With just six total shots on goal, it was by no means a barn-burning performance by the U.S. attack, but against an experienced and defensively sound South American opponent, what Adams supplied was enough to get the job done, something not always provided by even more senior players in the recent past.

VIDEO: France stars projected onto Arc de Triomphe

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If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.

The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).

Dalic: In one day, Croatia went from lucky to unlucky

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Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.

Pretty decent stuff.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.

Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.

The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:

“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.

“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.

“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”

Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.

Anderson arrives: Can Pellegrini unlock West Ham’s potential?

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West Ham United has sealed another impressive deal, adding $48 million winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio.

It’s a club record deal from the Irons, whose ambitions have been short-circuited in recent seasons by stop-start play under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Now Manuel Pellegrini is in charge, and has made a series of purchases including Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, and Jack Wilshere amongst others.

Anderson was fantastic for Lazio last season, though he was part of a loaded attack with Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Malinkovic-Savic.

Now the challenge is gelling quickly inside a short window. As we’ve seen in the past with markedly changed mid-table sides — see: Everton’s 2017-18 season — hitting the ground running is key.

Players have been convinced of West Ham’s ambition. Here’s the latest, Anderson, from WHUFC.com:

“West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and Di Canio. They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too.”

But turning that into on-field success and in-room culture has been a challenge. The move to London Stadium didn’t help, and managerial instability has been anything but a boon to the Irons. There have been plenty of self-inflicted wounds, too.

West Ham’s lineup could be frightening, even in the face of injuries to Andy Carroll (surprise!) and Winston Reid. But managing egos new and old is a challenge, which is why the Pellegrini hire could be a masterstroke.

Consider this possible XI from Pellegrini, who largely operated his Manchester City with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 with two holding/defensive/deep-lying center midfielders (There have been rumors West Ham could sell Cheikhou Kouyate).

There are a lot of options for Pellegrini’s front four. Anderson and Yarmolenko both prefer right wing, while Arnautovic likes the left but has proven adept as a center forward if Pellegrini becomes the latest manager to eschew the idea of Javier Hernandez up top. Manuel Lanzini‘s injury does seem to put Wilshere in the No. 10 role.

Fabianski

Fredericks — Diop — Balbuena — Masuaku

Obiang — Kouyate

Anderson — Wilshere — Yarmolenko

Arnautovic

So the ingredients are there, with Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, and Jordan Hugill joining Chicharito in keeping training competitive.

But Pellegrini will have to navigate a culture that saw a seedy finish to the season, with protests and ugly incidents amongst supporters and players on the field in London.

And he does seem the man for the job. But if he can’t do it… well, stay tuned.