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24-man USMNT roster for friendlies vs. Colombia, Peru

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The (slow but) steady march toward the 2022 World Cup continues with the latest U.S. men’s national team roster, announced on Monday, for friendlies against Colombia and Peru later this month.

[ MORE: New USMNT head coach to be hired by end of 2018 ]

Interim head coach Dave Sarachan — USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart said last month that he intends to hire Bruce Arena’s permanent replacement by the end of the year — has chosen 24 players, 15 of which are 23 years and under, to take on Colombia (Oct. 11, in Tampa, Fla.) and Peru (Oct. 16, in East Hartford, Conn.). Only nine of the 24 players currently ply their trade in MLS.

Christian Pulisic is back in the fold after making himself unavailable for the Yanks last four fixtures (two prior to the World Cup and two more last month following the start of the European season). Fellow youngsters Tim Weah, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams highlight the squad alongside Pulisic.

[ MORE: Rooney, Ibrahimovic leading in-form playoff charges in MLS ]

McKennie left the USMNT’s most recent friendly, against Mexico, with a knee injury and subsequently missed a bit of time with Schalke, but the 20-year-old has returned to full fitness and the field for three of the last four games. Another 20-year-old, FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon, received his first call-up and could immediately find his way onto the depth chart behind DeAndre Yedlin. 19-year-old winger Jonathan Amon, who over the last 12 months has made his way into the first team for Danish side Nordsjaelland (two goals in seven appearances this season), is also called up for the first time.

Veteran defenders — as in they’re older than 23 and each nearly has double-digit international appearances to their name — John Brooks and Matt Miazga will likely play alongside one another once again as the preferred partnership for the next four years. Midfielder Michael Bradley is back in the squad for the first time since last October’s debacle in Trinidad & Tobago, the night he captained the USMNT as its World Cup dream ended.

FULL USMNT ROSTER

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)

Defenders (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (Nantes), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Ben Sweat (New York City FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)

Midfielders (10): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Amon (Nordsjaelland), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Greuther Furth), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain)

Forwards (3): Andrija Novakovich (Fortuna Sittard), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96)

Atletico Madrid roster for MLS All-Star Game includes Felix

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Major League Soccer fans will get a good luck at one of the hottest prospects in world soccer when the MLS All Stars take on Atletico Madrid in next week’s MLS All Star Game.

Joao Felix, the $142 million 19-year-old, is among the roster announced by Diego Simeone for the match.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

Felix scored 20 times with 11 assists in 40 matches for Benfica before moving to Atleti in the summer. Those numbers include a hat trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals first leg.

The other stars will be there, too, provided no transfers happen in the interim. Koke, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Saul Niguez are in the squad.

New Atleti defender Kieran Trippier and longtime El Tri hero Hector Herrera will also be sure to help drive attendance in Orlando City.

The full roster is here.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

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It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.