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Who would’ve made the USMNT’s 23-man World Cup squad?

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The United States men’s national team flamed out of World Cup qualifying with a humiliating loss to Trinidad and Tobago’s B Team, and won’t be participating in Russia this summer.

Every Mexico, Costa Rica, or Panama match will have us imagining the USMNT in their spots a summer after we were spared endless posts about which American player’s form was either costing them a place in Russia or lifting them into the discussion.

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But what if it didn’t? What if, like so 32 other nations, we were about to learn the names of the 23 men set to hit the World Cup pitch?

Spoiler alert: It’s difficult, especially because we’ve conditioned ourselves to the new reality of aiming for 2022.

Keeping in mind, of course, that Bruce Arena might’ve given DNA tests to see which U.S. players bled the truest American blood in some sort of modern day Bill the Butcher moment, and that the players would’ve responded differently to knowing Russia was an option, we go to a place of fair evaluation now (This isn’t saying it’s the side I’d choose, but the one I figure would be chosen by your typical U.S. manager).

Goalkeepers (3)
Tim Howard, Colorado
Brad Guzan, Atlanta United
Zack Steffen, Columbus Crew

The manager would opt to stay with the crew that got him to Russia, but bring Steffen over Bill Hamid and Ethan Horvath due to regular playing time.

Defenders (8)
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City
John Brooks, Wolfsburg
Matt Miazga, Vitesse (on loan from Chelsea)
DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
Tim Ream, Fulham
Eric Lichaj, Nottingham Forest
Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt
Antonee Robinson, Bolton (on loan from Everton)

The first five are easy peasy, but it’s all questions after that. Young fullbacks Robinson and Shaq Moore (Levante) seem worth the shout, but veterans Graham Zusi or Matt Besler might get a shout. Our guess is someone out wide, with a youngster getting the call over Zusi.

Midfielders (8)
Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund
Weston McKennie, Schalke
Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
Kenny Saief, Anderlecht
Paul Arriola, DC United
Tyler Adams, New York Red Bulls
Darlington Nagbe, Atlanta United
Ale Bedoya, Philadelphia Union

Injuries keep Danny Williams and Kellyn Acosta from claiming spots in Russia, while the Red Bulls’ Sean Davis is a victim of the numbers game.

Forwards (4)
Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC
Bobby Wood, Hamburg
Clint Dempsey, Seattle
Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

Given the option of bringing PSG’s Tim Weah or Telstar’s Andriya Novakovich, the manager brings Clint Dempsey for experience and Zardes on form. Weah also could’ve claimed Adams’, Robinson’s or Bedoya’s place. Aron Johannsson might’ve made the club had Dempsey been out of the picture. Hard to know.

Spectacular Sane guides Man City to group crown

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  • Sane scores world class free kick (video)
  • Also starts, finishes team goal
  • Man City wins group

Leroy Sane scored two beautiful goals as Manchester City came back from an early deficit to beat Hoffenheim 2-1 and claim its UEFA Champions League group on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium.

City is the lone Premier League side to win its group.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Kramaric curled a wonderful ball toward the City goal, but Ederson tipped it wide of the far post with an outstanding effort.

City conceded a penalty on the ensuing corner when Laporte took down Benjamin Hubner in the box, allowing Kramaric to converted the 16th minute penalty.

Gabriel Jesus nearly equalized two minutes later, heading a Leroy Sane corner kick off the post. Oliver Baumann then made a sprawling save on John Stones.

Sane answered with a beauty before halftime, bending a wicked free kick over and around the wall.

The Premier League champions were much better in the second half, with Raheem Sterling and Sane continuing their season-long danger.

Sterling then led a 3v1 break, passing to Sane who got a bit too unselfish with a layoff to Bernardo Silva, who was stymied by the goalkeeper. It was an astounding miss.

But Sane did the thing himself, playing a sensational low pass onto the path of Sterling before getting the ball returned and touching around Baumann to make it 2-1.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Man Utd sleepwalks in Valencia loss

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  • Soler beats Romero for opener
  • Jones scores ghastly own goal
  • Rashford pulls one back

Manchester United wasted a chance to win its Champions League group by falling 2-1 to Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford‘s 87th minute goal was all United could muster in the loss.

Young Boys stunned Juventus in Switzerland to open the door for Jose Mourinho’s men, but a Carlos Soler low drive and a Phil Jones own goal were United’s undoing.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Antonio Valencia was extremely fortunate not to be sent off for a horrible studs-up tackle on Toni Lato that left the defender requiring medical attention for a gash.

Valencia, the club, scored through Soler’s low drive through traffic, which beat Sergio Romero.

The Spanish side missed two chances to make it 2-0, with Michy Batshuayi mis-hitting a terrific Cristiano Piccini cross and Geoffrey Kondogbia stymied by Marouane Fellaini‘s marking.

Pogba missed a straight-forward chance to level the score when Fellaini pounded a header into his path, but the French star hit the ball wide of the gaping frame from inside the six.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Michy Batshuayi ran alongside Phil Jones, and the English defender slid to push a perfect shot… past his own goalkeeper, David De Gea.

WATCH: Leroy Sane’s vicious, bending, world class free kick

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Distance, pace, and curl: Leroy Sane’s terrific free kick equalizer had it all.

[ MORE: Real rocked at home ]

Manchester City went into halftime level with Hoffenheim at 1 thanks to a German player scoring his first UCL goal of the season, and doing it against German opposition.

Trailing via a Andrej Kramaric penalty conceded by John Stones, City hit the woodwork through Gabriel Jesus and has several other chances to equalize at the Etihad Stadium.

But it was Sane who came through in stoppage time with this stunning effort which begs for more angles.

Real Madrid suffers worst home Champions League loss

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Real Madrid rested several big name players for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League visit from CSKA Moscow, having already acquired a spot in the Round of 16.

You could very much tell, as Real suffered its heaviest home loss in UCL history.

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The three-time reigning champions were waxed 3-0 at the Bernabeu, giving the home crowd little to cheer.

Thibaut Courtois allowed all three goals, and probably won’t appreciate his work on at least two of the three.

Federico Valverde, Jesus Vallejo, Vinicius Junior, and Javier Sanchez got starts despite having a total of 22 appearances this season, with Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal, and Gareth Bale coming off the bench and both Raphael Varane and Luka Modric unused subs.

Georgi Schennikov, Arnor Sigurdsson, and Fedor Chalov scored for CSKA, leaving Real manager Santiago Solari disappointed in his depth players and stars alike.