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WATCH: Sargent scores again, this time for Werder Bremen

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A night after the USMNT’s kids played Brazil without Christian Pulisic in the fold, another American teenager reminded us that the Yanks were missing two of its biggest hopes for the future.

[ USMNT-BRAZIL: Full recap | Player ratings ]

It’s not crazy to say Josh Sargent has been terrorizing the Regionalliga Nord with Werder Bremen II. The 18-year-old has scored in three-straight games and five times in seven matches, earning a Saturday friendly appearance with the first team to make another statement to Werder Bremen boss Florian Kohfeldt (who’s noticed the goals, you know).

Sargent bagged this goal in a 5-2 win over SV Meppen 1912.

He’s not going to do stuff like this against top-flight defenses, let alone would he have troubled Brazil any more than Tim Weah did on Friday, but man is it good to see the kid keep scoring goals.

Birmingham City to get 9-point deduction, unexpected relegation battle

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From very comfortably mid-table, to a handful of points away from the relegation zone — that’ll be reality for Birmingham City once the English Football League hands the EFL Championship side a nine-point deduction for “breaching profitability and sustainability rules,” according to a report from the BBC.

[ MORE: Report: Man United stars lined up for exit ]

The Blues, despite losing four straight league games, currently sit 13th in the Championship — seven points off the promotion playoffs, and 14 clear of the drop zone — but will find themselves in 18th with eight games still to play.

The penalty stems from losses in excess of $17 million per year over a three-year period, which is outside the acceptable window under EFL rules. Birmingham will, however, avoid any additional penalties, including transfer embargoes.

[ MORE: Ranking Premier League Player of the Year candidates ]

The club recently revealed a loss of £37.5m from July 2017 to June 2018, a direct result of player wages rising from $29 million for the season to just over $50 million after a flurry of transfer activity in the summer of 2017.

Birmingham will be the first club to be punished under the EFL’s profitability and sustainability regulations, put in place at the start of the 2016-17 season

Fans urges UEFA to curb Champions League ticket prices

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GENEVA (AP) After Barcelona and Manchester United raised prices for their Champions League quarterfinal matches, UEFA was urged on Thursday to enforce stricter ticketing rules by the group it consults to represent European soccer fans.

Football Supporters Europe criticized “exorbitant pricing” in hikes imposed on visiting fans by two of the world’s wealthiest clubs for their games on April 10 and 16.

After Barcelona set prices at $134 for visiting Man United fans, the English club retaliated with an equivalent 102 pound price for away fans at Old Trafford. That is almost 70 percent more than the base ticket price of $80 for the Champions League final in Madrid.

Man United said $35 from each ticket sold to Barcelona fans will subsidize tickets at Camp Nou for its own fans “again being subjected to increased/excessive prices.”

“Yet again, this is proof that the current regulations for UEFA competitions are not sufficient,” the fan group, described by UEFA as a key stakeholder, said in a statement.

English clubs have long complained to UEFA about opposing clubs, typically in Spain, raising prices for their traveling fans.

UEFA’s current rules prohibit two-tier pricing, and have been used to force Anderlecht and AEK Athens to compensate Bayern Munich fans in the past two seasons. Bayern fans attending the away games were due to get $34 from Anderlecht and $11 from AEK.

However, most Barcelona fans avoid paying the full price charged to visitors. The club discounts prices for season ticket-holders and members.

“We expect UEFA to change the regulations to state that ticket prices for away fans should be the same as the cheapest tickets available for home fans,” Football Supporters Europe said.

The Germany-based group also said Man United responding with “reciprocal pricing is part of the problem.”

“Barcelona fans should not be forced to pay for the sins of their club,” the FSE said. “Indeed, just because elite level football is awash with money does not mean that fans are – quite the opposite. It is incumbent upon clubs to recognize this fact and act accordingly.”

Champions League safety rules currently say away fan tickets “must not exceed the price paid for tickets of a comparable category” for home fans.

A strict interpretation of UEFA rules could see Man United more likely to face a disciplinary case, despite seeking to help its own fans financially by raising prices for Barcelona’s visit on April 10.

UEFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amid one dispute between two storied clubs, two more former European champions made a fan-friendly deal for their quarterfinals matches.

Liverpool said Thursday it had “extensive discussions” with UEFA and Porto before agreeing its fans will be charged $68 to see the second leg in Portugal on April 17. That is $17 less than Liverpool fans paid last season for a round-of-16 game at Porto.

“(Liverpool) would like to thank Porto for working with the club on a pricing structure,” the English club said , noting other Champions League clubs are working with UEFA “to negotiate the fairest ticket prices for their fans.”

USMNT Player Ratings from win over Ecuador

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Gregg Berhalter’s United States men’s national team extended its clean sheet run to 180 minutes under the new coach with a 1-0 defeat of Ecuador in Orlando on Thursday.

[ RECAP: USMNT 1-0 Ecuador ]

The longtime Columbus Crew coach handed notable chances to several MLS mainstays who stood out in January camp, but also re-introduced Christian Pulisic to the fold.

The results were mixed, but the win was deserved as the U.S. did not allow much danger to reach Sean Johnson’s cage.

LINEUPS

Sean Johnson — 6.5 — Had to catch, what, one ball? Still, nice for him to get a clean sheet.

Tim Ream — 7 — A couple of dicey moments, sure, but the man with the captain’s band stood out at left back not just for his assist but his aggression in pressing high up the left flank.

John Brooks — 6.5 — Not much to do, but effective when needed with a win-saving stop. Here’s hope the thigh injury isn’t a notable one. Intelligent and accurate in his passing out of the back.

Aaron Long — 6 — His passing was a bit off early, and that will need to be better at the back of Berhalter’s defense, but overall he was composed and well-drilled.

Tyler Adams — 7.5 — Given he was playing an unusual position with immense responsibility (right), Adams deserves a lot of credit for keeping his motor high over 90 minutes. He only attempted two dribbles, staying in his shoes and venturing wide and forward on occasion. A very promising sign for an ambitious move by Berhalter. That’s a lot of green over there, and green is good —>

Wil Trapp (Off 59′) — 5.5 — He’s not supposed to be the guy who stands out in a game, and should be known for doing the little things, but he’s still not standing out from the pack as someone who should keep Michael Bradley or Tyler Adams from the center of the park.

Weston McKennie (Off 68′) — 5 — Potentially scary injury aside, he will have much better days for the U.S. than this and certainly didn’t show chemistry with Trapp. Second guessing is easy, but flipping McKennie and Adams might’ve been the play.

Paul Arriola (Off 77′) — 6 — An energetic, productive night on the wing takes a hit due to his inability to finish the match’s best scoring chance (even if the save was legit).

Christian Pulisic (Off 62′) — 7 — Not at his sharpest, but still quite lively in producing many American attacks. Had an memorable moment working over Antonio Valencia near the end line.

Jordan Morris (Off 68′) — 6 — Still learning how to be a winger, but a decent and industrious effort for the Seattle Sounders man.

Gyasi Zardes — 7 — It was the goal that did the trick for him over 90 minutes, and it was good to see the Columbus Crew man score a USMNT for the first time since 2016.

Subs

Michael Bradley (On 59′) — 6.5 — Quick decisions and possession-aiding passes with precious few mistakes (See Opta chalkboard from MLSSocccer.com at right).

Sebastian Lletget (On 62′) — 6 — Has to be a bit more careful in his own half, but we’d like to see him get a start against Chile.

Cristian Roldan (On 66′) — 5 — Sloppy with the ball in a short stint.

DeAndre Yedlin (On 66′) — 6 — Busy and ready to produce chances from the right side.

Jonathan Lewis (On 77′) — N/A —

Zardes goal pushes controlling USMNT past Ecuador

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  • Yanks have not allowed goal in 3 matches under Berhalter
  • Pulisic returns to USMNT set-up
  • MORE: McKennie stretched off
  • Zardes scores deflected winner off Ream feed
  • American control ball, but struggle in final third

Gyasi Zardes scored his seventh international goal and first since the Copa America Centenario as the USMNT handed Ecuador a 1-0 defeat at Orlando City Stadium on Thursday.’s

The win marks the third clean sheet victory in three tries for USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, who leads the Yanks against Chile on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Player ratings ]

The U.S. came out of the gates flying, connecting passes with their wings and fullbacks sitting very wide to stretch the surface.

When Ecuador did collect the ball, the Yanks pressed very hard and won it back.

Industry and speed was the story of the USMNT game, with Christian Pulisic and Jordan Morris leading the way in forcing the match on Ecuador.

Weston McKennie did some heavy lifting in nice combo play with Pulisic and Gyasi Zardes for a chance that was just missing the finishing touch from Paul Arriola (and got a nice save).

Pulisic was felled by a hard foul just inside the Ecuador half in the 55th minute, but carried on and Paul Arriola took a yellow for fouling Jefferson Orejuela in response.

Michael Bradley entered the match for Trapp in the 59th minute, and Pulisic exited for Sebastian Lletget three minutes later.

McKennie then suffered a painful ankle injury and eventually accepted stretcher help to get to the bench.

Zardes put the U.S. ahead when his powerful strike from atop the 18 took a huge deflection off the calf of Robert Arboleda and looped over the head of a flailing Alexander Dominguez.

The play began when Sebastian Lletget’s pressing pushed a poor Ecuadorian clearance to USMNT left back Tim Ream, who spotted Zardes in the middle of the Ecuador half.