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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.”

LIVE, Europa League: Arsenal, Man United, Wolves in action

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The knockout rounds of the 2019-20 UEFA Europa League campaign is here and three Premier League teams are in action on Thursday.

Everything is set up for an epic day of first legs in the Round of 32.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Arsenal travel to Olympiakos who dropped down from the Champions League, while Wolves host La Liga strugglers Espanyol and Man United travel to Club Brugge who exited the UCL at the group stage after some impressive displays.

With a Champions League spot for next season up for grabs for the Europa League winners, there is always a little extra spice in this tournament from here on out, especially as plenty of giants have dropped out of the Champions League and joined the Europa League for the Round of 32.

Glasgow Celtic and Rangers both face tricky tests as Steven Gerrard‘s side face Braga and Neil Lennon’s Celtic head to Copenhagen.

Elsewhere there are plenty of mouthwatering ties at Jesse Marsch’s RB Salzburg drop into the Europa League and travel to Eintracht Frankfurt. Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan head to Ludogorets, while Ajax travel to Getafe after narrowly missing out on reaching the Champions League last 16.

Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action as it happens.


Full Europa League schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Manchester United
Ludogorets v. Inter Milan
Copenhagen v. Celtic
Eintracht Frankfurt v. RB Salzburg
CFR Cluj v. Sevilla
Sporting Lisbon v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Benfica
Getafe v. Ajax

3 p.m. ET
Rangers v. Braga
Wolves v. Espanyol
Olympiacos v. Arsenal
Bayer Leverkusen v. FC Porto
AZ Alkmaar v. LASK
Roma v. Gent
APOEL Nicosia v. FC Basel
Wolfsburg v. Malmo

VIDEO: Henry’s Montreal debut ends with dramatic collapse

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Thierry Henry’s first game in charge of the Montreal Impact started well but ended in a dramatic collapse. The legendary Frenchman probably has CCL fever right about now.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

Montreal drew 2-2 at Deportivo Saprissa in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League last 16 game on Wednesday as Orji Okwonkwo and Romell Quioto put them 2-0 up inside the first 22 minutes but Saprissa struck twice in the final 10 minutes to draw level. Both of Montreal’s goalscorers went off injured and after a tough preseason a late collapse

Johan Venegas pulled one back for the Costa Rican side in the 80th minute and Ariel Rodriguez equalized in the 90th minute to set up an intriguing second leg at the Olympic Stadium next Wednesday as the winner will face the Seattle Sounders or C.D. Olimpia in the quarterfinals.

Henry’s first official game in charge of the Major League Soccer franchise will have taught him a lot about his team and in truth they were pretty lucky to grab a draw as Saprissa outshot them 22-7 and had 72 percent of the possession.

Via MLSsoccer.com, the Arsenal and France legend was happy with the spirit his young side showed after a tough offseason which saw them lose four of their five preseason games amid plenty of turnover in the squad.

“We tried to compete, it was always going to be a difficult second half, but overall, I cannot say anything to my team,” Henry said. “Obviously there are some things that we need to work on, on how we conceded the goals, but you could see how it was difficult at times to cover each other. But at the end of the day, as a coach, when you see your team fighting like that up until the end you can only be proud. Obviously there’s some stuff that we can work on, don’t get it twisted, but I have to be proud about how they played. Especially how we arrived there in the situation that we are in.”

Going away to Costa Rica to play an experience team like Saprissa was never going to be easy and Henry’s side are at least level for the return game but Montreal’s squad is looking pretty young and replacing the creativity and goals of Ignacio Piatti is going to be tough.

Check out the highlights of the dramatic Saprissa comeback in the video above.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are some familiar faces sticking around the upper echelons.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Stars from Premier League giants Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham dominate our power rankings after some impressive performances and there are plenty of new entries and plenty of players from the same teams as these rankings are based on the seven games played over the last seven days due to the second half of the Premier League’s winter break kicking in.

[ MORE: Club Power Rankings

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Up 2
2. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Up 2
3. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) – Up 2
4. Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) – New entry
5. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) – New entry
6. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – New entry
7. Richarlison (Everton) – Up 8
8. Harry Maguire (Man United) – New entry
9. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – New entry
10. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – New entry
11. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – New entry
12. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) –  Down 11
13. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – New entry
14. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Down 3
15. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) – Down 7
16. Bruno Fernandes (Man United) – New entry
17. Nick Pope (Burnley) – Even
18. Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham) – Down 5
19. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – New entry
20. Pepe Reina (Aston Villa) – New entry

Barcelona sign Martin Braithwaite

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has signed Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite to help fill its injury-depleted attack.

Barcelona said on Thursday it agreed to pay the 18 million euros ($19.4 million) buyout clause in Braithwaite’s contract with Spanish league rival Leganes.

Barcelona was granted permission to sign a Spanish league player after it was left without Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele for long periods due to injuries to both attacking players.

Braithwaite will sign for the rest of this season plus four more, according the club.

He will not be eligible to play in the Champions League this season, just la Liga.

The 28-year-old Braithwaite has played for the last year at Leganes, where he arrived in mid-season of 2018-19 and helped the modest club avoid relegation.

He has eight goals in 27 appearances for Leganes this season.

His prior clubs included Middlesbrough, Girondins, and Toulouse. He played in the 2018 World Cup for Denmark.

Barcelona highlighted his ability to play “on both sides of the attack, his work ethic and commitment” and added he is a “headache for rivals.”

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