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What’s at stake for young USMNT in Brazil, Mexico friendlies?

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As soon as the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, everything the program would do in the 11 months since that fateful night in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago, has been about (re-)building for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

[ MORE: Tim Weah can’t escape famous name on back of PSG, USMNT jersey ]

This year, this month, this week are no different, with the Yanks in camp once again for a pair of friendlies against two sides who faced off in the round of 16 this summer: Brazil and Mexico. The following players have the most to gain (or lose) with strong (or poor) showing on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET) and Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET).

(You won’t find blue-chip prospects likes Christian Pulisic — who’s not eveon on the roster — Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams or Tim Weah on this list, as they have already established themselves as likely building-block pieces for the 2022 and 2026 cycles.)

[ MORE: What is USMNT’s strongest XI to take on Brazil? ]

John Brooks and Matt Miazga

In a perfect world, Brooks (who’s now 25) and Miazga (23) are the ready-made left-right center-back partnership that comes good at multiple tournaments this throughout World Cup cycle, culminating in a dominant defensive display in Qatar. Extra emphasis on “a perfect world,” as Brooks has been injured far more than not the last two or three years. On the plus side, Miazga has made steps up in competition — with coinciding performances — each of the last two club seasons; now is the time for that to translate to a purple patch of international form, and having a consistent, stable partner would go a long way to that end.

Antonee Robinson

Speaking of defensive positions just begging to be won, the starting left back job has been up for grabs for 15 or 20 years. With more than 48 months left before the next World Cup (remember, it’ll be played in November and December), there’s no reason Dave Sarachan — and eventually a permanent coach, hopefully — shouldn’t give every possible chance to an exciting 21-year-old currently playing in England’s second division. Robinson, who’s on loan at Wigan Athletic (from Everton), shone brightly in his first two senior-team appearances earlier this year, against Bolivia and France.

[ MORE: That’s A Dive podcast: McKennie talks USMNT, Schalke ]

Kellyn Acosta

As bad as the last 12 months have been for the USMNT, one could make a strong case that Acosta has had an even worse 15-month downturn which began last summer, after the 2017 Gold Cup. Acosta, then 21, reportedly had multiple offers to go to Europe — which he badly wanted to do, but was prevented from doing by FC Dallas, his club at the time. His form plummeted, right alongside with Dallas’ season, and 2018 has somehow been even worse: sports hernia surgery in February, more lackluster performances for FCD, and eventually a trade to the then-last-place Colorado Rapids. Since making the move to Colorado in July, Acosta has trended upward while playing for a very bad team that has had nothing to play for since the season was less than a month old. For now, Acosta’s youth will be enough to continue being called up, but that’ll stop sometime over the next 24 months, at which point he’ll be 25. Still an immensely talented player, we just need to see the best version of Acosta re-emerge.

Julian Green

If we were to pretend that I asked you how old you think Julian Green is right, what would you say? That’s a great question, he has to be about 25 or 26 by now, right? Wrong, he only turned 23 a couple months ago. Theoretically speaking, there’s still time for him to become the best player in the world play the UEFA Champions League be a serviceable player for the USMNT. Here’s why that’s unlikely: he’s made more than 10 first-team league appearances just once in his career. Once. That was last season while on loan to Greuther Furth (he scored three goals in league 24 appearance), the club he signed for on a permanent basis this summer. He’s likely running out of options in Europe, but he’ll get one or two more chances stateside before his career runs out, which means he’ll likely get one or two more chances with the national team, the first — and possibly last — of which comes this week.

Champions League wrap: PSV strikes late to win thriller (video)

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Five first legs of the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round are in the books, including a thrilling back-and-forth with a show-stopping stoppage time winner.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]


PSV Eindhoven 3-2 FC Basel

Bruma scored a debut opener for the Dutch hosts, who fell behind 2-1 in the 79th minute before Sam Lammers and Donyell Malen struck in the 89th minute and second minute of stoppage, respectively, to put PSV ahead.

Basel will be okay taken two away goals home via Albian Aljeti and Omar Alderete.

Lammers came in for Mexican star Hirving Lozano in the 79th minute to score the leveler within 10 minutes before Malen, who went the full 90, kept his focus to deliver this clever winner.

The New Saints 0-2 Copenhagen

Pieros Sotiriou and Robert Skov scored on either side of halftime to give the Danish powers a healthy advantage heading into the second leg.

Elsewhere
FK Sutjeska 0-1 APOEL Nicosia
Saburtalo 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Olympiacos

Wednesday
BATE Borisov v. Rosenborg — 1 p.m. ET
Ferencvaros v. Valletta — 2 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2 p.m. ET
Maribor v. AIK — 2:15 p.m. ET
Red Star Belgrade v. HJK Helsinki — 2:45 p.m. ET
Dundalk v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Nomme Kalju — 2:45 p.m. ET

Rodgers says no close bids for Maguire

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Those tired of seeing Harry Maguire‘s name in the headlines, hoping his transfer saga had concluded with weekend reports that Manchester United agreed to a fee with Leicester City, well, they are going to be sorely disappointed.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers credited Maguire for his professionalism — the center back scored in a friendly win on Tuesday — and said that the club’s vice chairman Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha has not received a fitting bid for the 26 year old’s services.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“There’s no big pressure to sell any player. If a player does leave Leicester City, then the player would need to be met because we have a top-level player, coveted by top-level clubs and I respect that,” Rodgers said. “Harry is on a long contract here and there’s been no valuation or near to that which would make Top have a look.”

Nooooooooooo.

Look, we’ve still got a few weeks until the close of the window, and every supporter has a target they want their club to acquire and some have some assets they hope stay in the same shirt at the deadline.

The Maguire story is getting a bit tedious now. He wants to go to Manchester United, but Rodgers is happy to keep him at Leicester. Maguire’s not the player who will quit on the club if he’s not sold, and Leicester’s hope of landing a replacement will dip as the deadline draws nearer and clubs like Burnley (James Tarkowski) realize their replacements options have been lessened by the wait.

Janssen leaves Spurs for Liga MX in $8M deal

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Vincent Janssen‘s less-than-ideal tenure with Tottenham Hotspur has come to its end, and he’s moving his way to this side of the Atlantic.

Liga MX side Monterrey has agreed to buy Janssen, Spurs announced Tuesday. The deal is for a reported $8 million.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

The Dutchman turned 25 this summer. He played just 42 times for Spurs after arriving from AZ Alkmaar for around $25 million in 2016, scoring six times, but did manage five goals and four assists in a half-year loan to Fenerbahce in 2017-18.

Janssen saw his time with the Netherlands national team peter out during his tenure at Spurs. After a red-hot start, he has not been capped since 2017. Janssen has seven goals in 17 caps.

His time at Spurs cannot be labeled as anything but a gigantic bust, but Janssen is still pretty young and has a chance to recapture his career momentum.

And he looks pretty happy about it.

Transfer gossip: Newcastle eyes 2nd Brazilian, USMNT’s Arriola on move

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Two players from the Western hemisphere may be heading across the Atlantic, one of whom is very familiar to American eyes.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

DC United winger Paul Arriola could be leaving Major League Soccer in a return to Liga MX or a move abroad to Europe.

CBS’ Roger Gonzalez says some of the big boys in Mexico are after the former LA Galaxy youth product who got his start at Club Tijuana.

Arriola, 24, has 28 caps with five goals and five assists for the USMNT, blooded by Jurgen Klinsmann in 2016. He has 12 goals and 10 assists in 57 matches for DC United since arriving from Tijuana.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Next up: Newcastle United may be in for another Brazilian attacker.

Marrony is the name, and Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol says the Magpies were alerted to his potential by the same source who claimed they were after Joelinton (who signed today after a $50 million deal).

The 20-year-old has a reported $37 million release clause, a left winger has a goal and an assist in two seasons with Vasco da Gama in Brazil. He also scored five times in 15 appearances for the club in the state league.

It feels a bit like a red herring or straight-up agent speak, but the Joelinton deal seemed unusual as well (albeit in a different way).