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USMNT 0-2 Brazil: Young hosts no match for Neymar, Firmino

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Brazil coach Tite named a very strong starting lineup, with the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Casemiro. That was always going to be a struggle, and it was, but the United States was far from run off the field in East Rutherford on Friday night as they fell 2-0 to the World Cup quarterfinalists in an international friendly meeting.

The United States came out of the opening whistle with a very high press, and it seemed to trouble the Brazilians from the start, but the visitors began to figure things out and struck in the 11th minute. Douglas Costa straight burned Antonee Robinson who over-committed on the flank, and his cross found Roberto Firmino at the back post who had drifted back from an oblivious Matt Miazga. Brazil nearly grabbed a second as Costa again torched Robinson, this time cutting inside, but his ball into the box was fumbled at the penalty spot for Neymar.

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The US had its best chance down the other end on the half-hour mark as Yedlin crossed to Weston McKennie, but his promising shot was blocked. The ensuing corner resulted in a header by Miazga on a delicious cross from Julian Green, and again it went out for a corner. Again McKennie had a massive chance, but Alisson came off his line to smother the shot from the far post. A fourth corner again came sizzling in, but Wood couldn’t get his head to it and instead found himself shaken up on the turf.

Again Brazil almost had a second, but a Coutinho shot from the top of the box was blocked bravely by Robinson and Zack Steffen saved the follow-up from Fabinho. They would double the lead before the break when Fabinho went down softly in the penalty area trying to squeeze between John Brooks and Wil Trapp, and the referee pointed to the spot. Neymar sent Steffen the wrong way for his 53rd international goal. At the break, Brazil had most of the possession while the United States was left with little to savor.

With no substitutions for either side at halftime, Brazil came out of the break with the intent. Douglas Costa toasted Paul Arriola down the right, and nearly found Firmino but his poor first touch killed off the chance. Yet again, Costa beat Robinson on 52 minutes – this time through the middle – and fed a delicious pass to Neymar, but his shot was slowed by Steffen and eventually cleared off the line by Matt Miazga right on the doorstep.

[ MORE: U.S. to hire new head coach by end of 2018 ]

Sarachan brought on Timothy Weah and Kellyn Acosta for Paul Arriola and Julian Green as the game neared the hour mark, a positive substitution. Tite countered with the addition of Arthur for Manchester United midfielder Fred, while Douglas Costa was removed for Chelsea winger Willian. McKennie had a chance to put the U.S. on the board soon after, but he put his effort just wide on the end of a curling free-kick.

Another change for either side saw Gyasi Zardes replace Bobby Wood, while Paqueta made his international debut for Brazil replacing Coutinho. The U.S. nearly found an opening as Wil Trapp forced a shaky save from Alisson with a long-distance shot low and to the left. Down the other end, Robinson picked Firmino’s pocket to save a breakaway opportunity. The U.S. again had a chance on a set-piece with 15 minutes to go, but Alisson stopped a weak effort as two U.S. players came together for the shot.

With three minutes remaining, the U.S. had one last chance as Tyler Adams sent a cross in that went just over the head of Gyasi Zardes, while substitute Christian Roldan had his follow-up cutback cleared away. The loss is just the second for the United States in seven matches since the failure in Trinidad & Tobago, and will provide Dave Sarachan and the rest of the coaching staff plenty of tape to teach the players how to match up against the best in the world.

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Leaked image shows big fines that face Chelsea rule breakers

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Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.

A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.

If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.

And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.

From The Telegraph:

Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.

The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.

The full list of fines is below.

Kompany: Liverpool’s Premier League title ghosts should ‘be to City’s advantage’

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Vincent Kompany says history could help Manchester City climb back into the Premier League title race even after his former team dropped nine points back of first place Liverpool.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

Now at Anderlecht, the center back also said history might’ve played a role in City’s 3-1 setback at Anfield. In a rare bit of explicit honesty, the often interesting Kompany said that players do deal with demons of a club’s past.

“We always struggle at Anfield,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “I said that on Super Sunday, you’re fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that’s difficult, it’s two games in one game: You’re playing a great team and you’re fighting history.”

“Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool. They will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years. That should be to City’s advantage I still think.”

Do you buy that? Most of the buzz around the Premier League is that this Liverpool is a different team than even the dominant one of last season, and City has suffered big injury problems. The Reds players almost went out of their way last year to say they weren’t worried about blowing their table lead last season (which was bigger, later in the season).

Kompany also said that he believes City doesn’t need to add a center back in January, which is bonkers unless he’s coming back, but the Belgian has proven time and again that he’s one of the better minds in the game.

The guy did title  his MBA dissertation, “How professional football clubs in the Premier League can benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement” after all. Then again, I’m not sure any of our dissertations on the same topic would’ve been approved had we done that.

Liverpool’s Salah to miss Egypt’s first two AFCON qualifiers

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Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.

Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).

Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).

Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).

Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.