Klopp blames forwards, Henderson ref, but Liverpool’s draw about depth

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Liverpool’s hopes of second and maybe third in the Premier League took a big hit on Saturday as the Reds drew their second-straight match, this one nil-nil versus Stoke City at Anfield.

A frustrated Jurgen Klopp “saw everything I wanted to see apart form fluency and fun and joy.”

[ RECAP: Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City ]

While the Reds could’ve easily won either match, its depth is proving a real challenge to competing in the top competitions available to clubs: the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.

Perhaps both draws versus West Brom and Stoke would best be put down to bounces, near misses, injuries, and — yes, largely — Champions League schedule congestion. Like Manchester United last season, Klopp’s men have drawn too often to compete for a higher table spot.

In fact, it’s interesting to speculate whether the Reds wouldn’t be contending for the Premier League crown with a deeper squad.

On matches touching a UCL matchweek, Liverpool has 11 wins, eight draws and three losses.

The Reds are 9W-4D-1L in all other match weeks.

While it’d be fair to submit that Liverpool’s straight-forward group and a first draw versus Porto allowed a certain amount of leeway, the Reds haven’t had the luxury of plugging in impact depth players and expecting a win.

Part of the problem was surely the Philippe Coutinho drama, the obvious need for a January arrival like Virgil Van Dijk, and new players meshing with the team — Mohamed Salah scored just five of his 31 goals through the first nine matches (As much as I advocated taking Barcelona’s millions and selling was the right call inside their financial culture, keeping him — in an atmosphere where it’s possible to keep him reasonably happy — probably converts some of those draws to wins).

Cite injuries? Sure, but mostly meh. Few of those came to stars, and plenty of megawatt men on PL powers missed time this season including one-name guys like Pogba, Sane, Kane (I keep wanting the last two to rhyme…).

And again, luck. There was the interfering equalizer from Watford on opening day, Sadio Mane‘s red card meaning he missed a visit from Burnley, and even this week Salah missing a breakaway in stunning fashion early in the game.

“It was always clear there would be a day when he missed chances,” Klopp said. “I told the boys at halftime they did not make much pressure on our passing players but we had no offers in between.”

And Jordan Henderson pointed out the handball block by Erik Pieters, where it was very questionable whether the ball played the hand or vice versa.

“It looked a clear penalty, on the TV it is blatant,” Henderson said. “If his hand isn’t there Alberto is there for a tap in, so it is a poor decision from the referee and the linesman and it has cost us three points.”

All that’s fair, but Liverpool doing better than 3-3 at Watford on Opening Day, drawing at Newcastle, and at Burnley, plus these two results (It’s tempting to throw in Oct. 14’s 0-0 home draw with Manchester United, but the Reds were on the road at Benfica a one day after Liverpool cruised at Maribor).

Perhaps when all’s said and done, the difference between Man City and the chasing pack is those extra million invested in depth (Though Chelsea has cared deeply about depth and disappointed). Maybe City was just the first team to account for this, and Liverpool and others will react to their standard. We shall see, because all the big boys are making a lot of money these days.

USMNT notes: Robinson moves to Wigan, and more

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It’s been a busy day of U.S. Men’s National Team related news, from Tyler Boyd signing with Besiktas to U.S. Soccer announcing a friendly match with Mexico in September at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Here’s everything else you may have missed today relating to the USMNT and Americans Abroad.


Robinson joins Wigan in permanent transfer

Antonee Robinson is heading back to the Championship, but this time, he won’t be heading back to Everton at the end of the season.

Robinson on Monday completed a permanent transfer to Wigan. where he spent last season and helped the club avoid relegation. Robinson has signed a three-year contract and he joined for a reported $2.5 million transfer fee, per Wigan Today. He battled injuries to make 26 appearances in all competitions.

Robinson, born in England to an American father and British mother, came up in Everton’s Finch Farm academy but never broke through to make a first team appearance. Instead, he spent time in the lower levels on loan to Bolton and then Wigan. With Everton’s signing last year of Lucas Digne, the left back spot is locked up for quite a while, leaving Robinson second-choice and in search of first team minutes again.

For the USMNT, Robinson made his debut in the 3-0 win over Bolivia in late May, 2018, and has gone on to make seven appearances for the senior team, including a start against Jamaica, though it didn’t go well in a 1-0 defeat at home. Robinson was on the 40-man provisional Gold Cup roster for coach Gregg Berhalter and he also took part in a European-based training camp for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team as the team starts preparing for Olympic qualifying, which will likely take place later this year.

Robinson will likely play a key role in helping the U.S. make it to their first Olympics since 2008 in Beijing.


Reyna heading to USA with Borussia Dortmund

Claudio Reyna’s son Giovanni Reyna is off to a strong start after officially being announced as a signing by Borussia Dortmund. Whether for marketing reasons or sporting reasons, Reyna was one of the 26 players to make the flight to Seattle as Dortmund takes some preseason action in the U.S.

BVB will face the Seattle Sounders in Seattle on Thursday before heading to take on Liverpool in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday.

It’s a quick burst in the U.S., but perhaps Reyna can get a few minutes of action in his home nation before heading back to Germany to try and see if he can break into the squad.


Scott set for Newcastle? 

British-born American midfielder Kyle Scott appears that he will still be on the books at a Premier League club next season.

According to multiple reports, including the Newcastle Chronicle, Newcastle FC is interested in signing Scott, thanks to a reported recommendation from former coach Rafa Benitez. Scott, 21, has spent the past 12 years in Chelsea’s academy and reserves, but he’s hardly sniffed a match, at least for the first team. He spent some time on loan with Dutch second-division side Telstar last year, but it wasn’t declared permanent.

Now, having been let go by Chelsea, Scott is looking for a new club. It’s unclear, however, considering his lack of first team experience, if he’d be able to step into the lineup at Newcastle and really make a difference so soon.

In the past, Scott has appeared for the U.S. Under-18s and U-20s. Perhaps some regular playing time in the Premier League can get him into the senior national team.

Watch: Hear from Bournemouth’s Howe in training

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Ever wondered what it is like to go through preseason training with a Premier League?

Thanks to AFC Bournemouth, now we know.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was “mic’d up” during a preseason training session on Monday, giving fans an inside look into his team gaining fitness and going over some key movements that they’ll surely be using during games this season.

Plus….players biking to practice and the dreaded beep test.

Here from Howe and the players above and take a look at a Premier League preseason.

Dietrich quits as club president of crisis-hit Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Wolfgang Dietrich quit as president of German second-division team Stuttgart on Monday after saying he no longer wants to be made a scapegoat for all that’s wrong at the crisis-ridden club.

The 70-year-old Dietrich, who took over as president in October 2016 and whose term was due to run until 2020, said he never expected such “hostility and malice” as he experienced at the club’s annual general meeting on Sunday.

[READ: Tyler Boyd signs with Besiktas]

The AGM had to be cancelled after about 4,500 members were unable to vote for the club’s management board because of Wi-Fi problems. Dietrich broke off the meeting to loud jeers and protests and was accompanied by bodyguards from the interior of the stadium.

Dietrich said he no longer wants to “be in charge of an organization that is neither willing to stand up to these interests against me nor is able to guarantee the smooth running of a general meeting.”

Dietrich was already under fire for his links to investment company Quattrex Sports, which provided loans to several of Stuttgart’s rivals. In his 3+ years at the club, Stuttgart has had three coaches, two sporting directors and was relegated from the Bundesliga last season.

Should Tottenham sign or pass on Bale?

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Tottenham just broke its transfer record with the signing of Tanguay Ndombele. Could it break the bank for a second time this summer?

However unlikely that could be, Spanish publication Marca reports that Tottenham has continued to express interest in bringing Gareth Bale back to White Hart Lane and Northwest London. The report states that Tottenham is willing to spend between $56 and $67.6 million to sign Bale but that it could not afford Bale’s $19 million yearly salary after tax. Even more, it could only afford to pay half of that, or $9.5 million per season.

[READ: Fabian Delph moves to Everton]

There’s no doubt that, on paper at least, Bale would improve Tottenham’s squad and could potentially even immediately step into the starting lineup. But that’s assuming Tottenham could sign him anyway.

It seemed unlikely just a few weeks ago, after Daniel Levy and the club went an entire calendar year without spending money on a new player, that it could spend more than $100 million on two players to improve the squad. But perhaps now, with television revenues growing and more seats to sell at Tottenham’s new stadium, Levy feels he can spend big this summer to take Tottenham to the next level.

Whether due to luck or not, Tottenham took advantage of its opportunity and manager Mauricio Pochettino did a masterful job guiding the club to the UEFA Champions League final. But to challenge Manchester City at the head of the Premier League, it’s going to take a talent like Bale coming in.

That being said, that are the chances that Bale, who turns 30 on Tuesday, can dramatically regain his fitness after years of recurring injuries, are low. So the big question now is, is it worth it for Tottenham to spend more than $60 million on re-signing Bale, and is it worth it for Bale to leave, instead of getting to stay on his salary for the next three seasons.

Bale’s agent Jonathan Barrett has long stated his client wants to retire in Madrid. It’s seeming less likely by the day, and yet, as Bale doesn’t move, perhaps he’ll call it quits ahead of schedule, and turn down a chance to return to Tottenham.