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Sarachan believes USMNT is building identity

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Ahead of the U.S. men’s national team playing Colombia in a friendly in Tampa on Thursday, interim head coach Dave Sarachan was asked about what identity his team has developed over the past 12 months.

[ MORE: 1 year on from World Cup exit

Bearing in mind he’s largely called up young players and cast aside serval veteran USMNT stars after their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup last October, it was not easy for him to answer.

Add in the fact that the U.S. Soccer Federation has since hired Earnie Stewart as a new USMNT GM, plus a new USSF president, Carlos Cordeiro, has arrived and there are plenty of moving parts around the national team setup right now.

When it comes to the play on the pitch over the past 12 months following Bruce Arena’s resignation and Sarachan standing in, the experienced coach wants his young squad to stay true to the values U.S. Soccer holds dear.

“It is a broad statement but in the years that we’ve all followed the national team, through many cycles, the takeaway usually is that when you watch the U.S. play you see a team that is organized, competes and plays without a lot of hesitancy and fear of an opponent. The messaging I and my staff have continued to harp on with this group is to check all those same boxes,” Sarachan explained to the media in Tampa. “Each and every time it is still about the honor of wearing this crest. It is still about competing. It is still about trying to win games. It is still about being yourself and showing your personality. I think when I’ve bumped into people over the past few months who have watched our teams, that is one of the first things that is said. ‘Really enjoying watching your team’ and that they are ‘competing and playing hard’ and ‘playing without fear’ and I hope that continues. That is when you see the real personality and players play without any kind of handcuffs on them. I’d capture it in that way.”

Heading into the October friendlies against Colombia and Peru, Sarachan is without three of his most-talented youngsters due to injury.

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams all suffered injuries in recent weeks and that has opened the door for the likes of Marky Delgado and Fafa Pacault to be called up.

“The guys that are missing, of course we would like to have our full complement of players. Referring to Weston, Christian and Tyler, so now what I say is the ‘next man up’ we would loved to have had those guys but they are not here. Now we got a group of 23 who are competing to have an opportunity,” Sarachan said. “That is what you do when someone is not here. It is an opportunity for other players and we have a few good young candidates who are excited to be here and get on the field and show what they’re about.”

With Brad Guzan and Michael Bradley back in the national team setup for the first time since that defeat at Trinidad & Tobago exactly a year ago, the loss which crushed the USA’s hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup, Sarachan didn’t reveal who will captain the team in Tampa on Thursday as he played his cards close to his chest.

Many have been frustrated with the U.S. not hiring a new permanent head coach since they failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986, and while Sarachan has done a very decent job standing in, it feels like any progression has been limited.

Yes, Sarachan has picked very young teams who have come through some tough tests swimmingly, but what direction are the U.S. heading in?

“Looking back on all of these friendlies since the match in Trinidad until now, there’s been a progression,” Sarachan said. “It is by no means a finished progression but I think it is moving along in a good direction.”

West Ham midfielder Yarmolenko out six months after Achilles surgery

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West Ham announced on Monday that midfielder Andriy Yarmolenko would miss around six months after undergoing successful surgery on his Achilles tendon.

Yarmolenko was carried off on a stretcher in the 40th minute of West Ham’s 1-0 loss to Tottenham on Saturday. He appeared to catch his studs in the penalty area turf and went to the ground.

[ MORE: Arsenal tops Leicester City 3-1 ]

The Hammers released a statement confirming the surgery was “successful” and that he would miss around six months. That likely leaves Yarmolenko out for the rest of the season, unless he returns for the final month or so.

The 28-year-old Ukranian international joined West Ham this summer from Borussia Dortmund for a reported $23 million, and had just cracked the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the first four matches of the season. He had a brace in a 3-1 win over Everton, but has otherwise struggled to find the back of the net.

Yarmolenko was expected to be a major part of the West Ham squad this season, with a significant amount of top flight and international experience. Yarmolenko has 80 caps for Ukraine, with 36 goals to his name. He is a versatile player, able to play either on the wing or centrally, and his injury will likely mean more minutes for Michail Antonio who has started just one match for West Ham in their last five.

Arsenal 3-1 Leicester City: Ozil conjures magic in Gunners victory

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They say Mesut Ozil is one of the best players in the Premier League, when he wants to be. He wanted to be on Monday afternoon.

The Gunners captain scored the opener, and he truly shone while orchestrating two of the most brilliantly constructed goals of the Premier League season to help Arsenal shake off an early Hector Bellerin own-goal to earn a 3-1 victory at the Emirates.

Leicester City attacked well from the onset and would go ahead just seconds past the half-hour mark as they push down the left. Ben Chilwell burst down the flank past Alexandre Lacazette and behind Hector Bellerin just enough that as Bellerin hoped to recover, Chilwell’s cross clipped Bellerin’s foot and into the back of the net, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno already diving the wrong way to stop the cross.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal surged into the asencency after falling behind, and nearly found an equalizer shortly after. A long ball was just out of reach for a streaking Alex Iwobi behind the defensive line, Granit Xhaka came close on a long-range free-kick, Aaron Ramsey whiffed on a free header at the near post on a corner, and Iwobi’s effort from the right was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Eventually, the pressure would prove fruitful and the Gunners would equalize just before the break. As the Gunners looked to build out of the back, Mesut Ozil charged through the midfield on the ball, and after spraying it right to Bellerin, he got the ball right back in front of net and had plenty of space for a one-touch finish on the run.
[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

After the break, Arsenal had a big chance as Lacazette’s shot pinged around and fell to Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose scissor kick swerved across the face of goal and just wide of the left post. Still, Leicester proved pesky and nearly put themselves back in front in the 58th minute as Wilfred Ndidi headed a corner straight into the crossbar.

That would prove costly, as Arsenal took advantage minutes later. With the Gunners on the ball in the attacking third, Ozil threaded an absolutely delicious through-ball for Bellerin that completely unlocked the Leicester City back line, and the Spaniard simply tapped across to substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the goal.

The Gunners would do even better three minutes later on one of the prettiest goals we’ve seen this Premier League season. Bellerin sent the ball into the mixer with Ozil waiting at the top of the box. The German international let the ball go through his legs, dummying to Lacazette who touched right back to Ozil on the run past the Leicester City back line. With Arsenal now through, Ozil produced a delicious chip over a charging Schmeichel to Aubameyang waiting to finish a simple tap-in for his second goal of the evening.

Arsenal probably should have had a fourth, but Lacazette’s look on the doorstep was smothered well by Schmeichel. That was the last serious action of the game, as the Gunners cruised to victory.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The win pushed Arsenal up to fourth in the Premier League table, even on 21 points with Tottenham and Chelsea, and ahead of their West London rivals on goal differential. Leicester City, meanwhile, remained stuck in 11th on 12 points for the season.

Report: USSF CEO Dan Flynn to step down in 2019

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According to a report by Washington Post reporter Steven Goff, U.S. Soccer Federation CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn will step down from his position in the aftermath of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Flynn has been atop USSF for the last 18 years, generally credited for turning around the finances of the federation from a position of instability and insecurity to generate a $150 million reserve fund.

The 63-year-old has been a source of stability for U.S. Soccer over the past two decades despite multiple changes around him. He began serving with U.S. Soccer back in 1994 when he left his position as president of Anheuser-Busch and worked on the United States’ production of the World Cup that summer. After that, he served as Chief Administrative Officer and as Chief Operating Officer until his hiring as CEO in 2000.

The report states that Flynn will assist in the transition to his successor after stepping down. While no timetable is given for his departure other than to suggest it will take place during the 2019 calendar year, the report states that it is unlikely that he will leave before the end of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Flynn was the genesis of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, TX and is the federation’s highest paid employee.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Leicester City

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Arsenal host Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Gunners aim for a tenth-straight win in all competitions.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Leicester have never won at Arsenal in the Premier League with the Gunners winning each of their last 11 encounters at home against the Foxes.

Unai Emery‘s men have been flying in recent weeks with six wins on the spin in the PL and the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring goals galore in attack.

In team news Arsenal bring in Shkodran Mustafi for the injured Sokratis Papastathopoulos with Stephane Lichtsteiner in at left back.

Leicester make one change with Jonny Evans coming in for the suspended Wes Morgan in central defense.


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