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Three things from the USMNT’s 4-2 loss to Colombia

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The United States men’s national team took the pitch in Tampa without Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams.

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They still found ways to entertain.

Weah and Wood for the Win (or at least the lead)

Cheers to Bobby Wood, the sometimes maligned but often productive Hawaii-born forward of Hannover 96.

Wood broke up the play that started the USMNT’s second goal, carrying the ball before being fouled.

The play continued onward until PSG young buck Timothy Weah dribbled up the left of the pitch and played a perfectly-weighted ball into the path of Wood, who hauled his body almost 100 yards over the course of the goal.

The aforementioned James principle also applies to Weah, 18, who stuck around PSG instead of accepting a loan offer. He gets his chance to shine with the USMNT, and the dividends were very much there.

Better from Robinson

Less than inspiring — and that’s being nice — in last month’s friendlies, Antonee Robinson was a different man against Colombia.

There were still plenty of errors in defense, but the Everton youngster, currently on loan to Wigan Athletic, was a lively part of both possession and attack from his left wingback spot for the USMNT on Thursday.

At 21 years old, that’s fairly forgivable.

Composed and electric, the 21-year-old’s cross provided an equalizer for Kellyn Acosta that honestly could’ve come from Bobby Wood. It was good enough service to provide a chance for two players to bury a match-tying goal.

As an aside, goal scorer Kellyn Acosta has been reborn for Colorado, and even the fondest of Jurgen Klinsmann supporters knew that the former manager’s shoe-horning of the midfielder at left back was A) wrong and B) just an acknowledgment that he should have a spot on the field.

International soccer: Where depth club players get their shine

International friendlies have the tendency to uncage beasts. The combination of world class talent and less organized teams, a symptom of the international game sickness, is enough to provide show-stoppers.

Enter James Rodriguez.

The 27-year-old has started less than half of Bayern Munich’s league games this season, but is the undoubted star for Los Cafeteros. His cutback on Kenny Saief — wyd after that, Kenny? — and beautiful curler around the reach of Zack Steffen were the things of dreams.

It probably should’ve been 2-0 thanks to James magic, but Matt Miazga slid to clear the ball off the goal line in the 41st minute.

James helped cue up Colombia’s third goal, too, sending a hopeful outside of the boot clearance 60 yards up field en route to the 3-2 advantage.

And his patient dribble in a phone booth was the direct assist for Miguel Borja’s terrific acrobatic goal. I mean, the composure…

USL Championship announces provisional July 11 return

USL Championship return
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The USL Championship intends to return to matches with a provisional restart date of July 11, the league announced Thursday.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

The league began its season in March, though three of 35 teams did not play a match while Tacoma and San Diego played two.

There is no indication that the league intends to play at a single location, as MLS reportedly intends with an Orlando restart.

USL Championship sides have been allowed to train in small groups from May 11. USL had previously canceled its League Two season.

Here is the league’s full statement, from USLChampionship.com:

While additional information on competition format, scheduling, broadcast and other important details will be made available in the coming weeks, it’s important to note that the league’s return to play will be conducted in strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines. USL HQ also remains in regular dialogue with the USL Players Association on all matters concerning player health and wellness protocols and looks forward to continuing those discussions.

To USL supporters across the country, we are grateful for your support throughout this process and look forward to being back in action with you all soon.

 

Manchester United season restart preview

Manchester United season restart
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Manchester United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Red Devils when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Very, very good. While United supporters will feel aggrieved to know their club cannot. catch their two biggest rivals, you wouldn’t laugh off the idea of them finishing as high as third given a wildly straight-forward fixture list and the fact that we are about to see Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford together for the first time. Perhaps those players will have some growing pains, but the club has the depth to finish in the Premier League’s top four, challenge for the FA Cup, and win the Europa League.

[ MORE: Ranking every Man Utd player’s 2019-20 PL season ]


Tactical analysis: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s favorite formation this year has been a 4-2-3-1, though he turned to a 3-4-1-2 in memorable wins over Chelsea and Man City just before the coronavirus pause.

We don’t know his plans to produce an attack with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford together, but the best possible XI is going to leave out some very good players. Playing Scott McTominay and Fred, both revelations, leaves out either wide players or puts Pogba or Fernades out of position (unless he opts for a 4-4-2 which will ask a lot of Rashford and Anthony Martial).

Since making his Manchester United debut on February 1, Fernandes leads the club in all competitions in shots (33), shots on target (12), assists (4) and chances created (24), and ranks third in goals (3).


Possible XI (4-3-1-2) 

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — B. Williams —

—– Fred — Pogba — McTominay —–

—– Fernandes —–

—– Rashford —– Martial —–

This lineup excludes Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo, Marcus Greenwood, and Eric Bailly. That’s a very decent bench. Solskjaer could also put a lot of responsibility on Fred or McTominay by putting Fernandes and Pogba in the center of the pitch with him and using a three-man forward line of Rashford, Martial, and another.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Man Utd’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Southampton, West Ham
Away: Spurs, Brighton, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Leicester City

Predicted finish: Depending on your faith in Leicester City, United will probably be favorites if not heavy favorites in seven or eight of their nine matches. Their home matches feature sides both surprising and desperate but it’ll be stunning if a side that found its groove to the tune of a five-match unbeaten run before the coronavirus pause and returns Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford fails to finish in the top four.

Newcastle’s Saint-Maximin, Liverpool’s Lovren speak against racism

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Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren are speaking out on their squad photos that showed both Magpies and Reds taking a knee against racism at the center circle of pitches earlier this week.

All 20 Premier League clubs and a large number of players and coaches spoke out against racism earlier this week, and players have continued momentum. The gestures were born from the May 25 killing of American black man George Floyd, who died in handcuffs after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Saint-Maximin said he was inspired in part by his French youth national teammate Marcus Thuram, who took a knee last weekend after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach.

“I have one big friend of mine who scored a goal, Marcus Thuram, and he did a great celebration,” Saint-Maximin said, via NUFC.co.uk. “It’s important that everyone knows this is not a joke. You have to claim that this is important. Everybody has to know this doesn’t have to happen again. It’s a difficult time for everyone. Even if it’s not you, or it’s not your brother or sister, you cannot know if this will happen again.”

Saint-Maximin said he experienced racial problems especially in his youth, and admitted that it meant a lot for his teammates to kneel together and make a statement as one.

“Everyone wanted to stay together because we all humans,” he said. “For me, everybody is the same. I have some things I can’t understand and some I don’t want to understand, too.”

As for Lovren, the Liverpool center back has never been shy around microphones.

His words to Sky Sports on Thursday echo Saint-Maximin and many of their peers.

Sky asked him why the Liverpool players took a knee as a team earlier this week.

“I felt we needed to do it. What happened in America is unacceptable. We are all equal and we wanted to share it to the world. We did it and it’s unbelievably great that people are getting this message. Everyone should be treated equally.”

Lovren, whose family became refugees from Yugoslavia when he was young, also stressed the import of footballers using their public platform for good, saying, “I want to be recognized also as a man who is spreading love and positivity. I’m looking at myself and it’s like I have a duty.”

Liverpool season restart preview

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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Liverpool are up next.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Focusing on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, they need five more points to seal the Premier League title as their 30-year wait for the English title is almost over. With just one defeat during the 2019-20 season so far, Liverpool have dominated the Premier League and have a 25 point lead over second-place Man City. Liverpool will be crowned the Champions of England soon after the resumption and they are on track to break many records.

[ MORE: Every PL season restart preview ] 

Let’s take a closer look at all things Liverpool when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: This has been a truly historic season for Liverpool and Klopp. They pushed Man City all the way last season but just came up short but they won the UEFA Champions League. In this very rare instance, the Premier League trophy would mean more to every Liverpool fan than the Champions League title. A supreme defensive unit led by Virgil van Dijk and Alisson perfectly balanced the attacking trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, surging full backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson and captain Jordan Henderson has taken his game to a whole new level in midfield. Across the board Liverpool have been sensational as they won the FIFA Club World Cup and are about to be crowned the Premier League champions. The wait is almost over and Klopp has constructed one of the best teams the Premier League has ever seen with their high-pressing, speedy attacking unit complemented by a sturdy backline.


Tactical analysis: One of the most intriguing parts of this Liverpool side is that even though they rely on turnovers and counter attacks to create a lot of chances, they have averaged 63 percent possession this season which Man City only better with 66 percent. In turn, Liverpool have the third-fewest interceptions (266) and fourth-fewest tackles won (258) in the Premier League this season simply because they have the ball so much. That is a change from their previous seasons but since Klopp took charge they have won 2,139 tackles (third-most in the PL) so that shows you that breaking up the play has been key to his philosophy but that clearly hasn’t been the case this season. Liverpool have kept hold of the ball more, their defenders are recycling possession when options aren’t open and they are being more patient. That has been the big change in 2019-20 but they also have the devastating pace of Mane, Firmino and Salah on the counter which remains their main weapon. Tactically, Liverpool have evolved and that is why they’ve been so dominant this season.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Gomez — Van Dijk — Robertson —

— Henderson — Fabinho — Wijnaldum —

—- Mane —- Firmino —- Salah —-


Remaining schedule:
Home: Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea
Away: Everton, Man City, Brighton, Arsenal, Newcastle

Predicted finish: Well, I think we can all answer this question. They will win the Premier League and rightly so. There’s just no way they aren’t going to win the league and even though there will be no fans present in the stadium when they lift the title, every Liverpool fan around the world will be a ball of emotion. Jurgen Klopp promised trophies when he arrived in 2015 and he has duly delivered. It will be intriguing to see if Liverpool can break the records for most wins, points etc. in a season in the final nine games.