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USMNT set to focus on result against Peru

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The United States fell to a 4-2 defeat to Colombia on Thursday, and the feeling after that match was overtly positive despite the final score. The team of mostly youngsters was more than competitive against a side that featured several well-known stars – James Rodriguez, Falcao, Juan Cuadrado to name a few – and only a pair of late goals proved the difference.

That will be less acceptable on Tuesday as the USMNT gets set to take on Peru at Rentschler Field in East Hartford at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Against a team with fewer recognizable stars and less international pedigree, a loss with positives will be far more difficult to swallow, especially after Thursday’s result. While Peru is certainly no CONMEBOL pushover – they’re coming off a 3-0 whipping of Chile – the opponent’s public perception goes a long way in determining the acceptability of a defeat in an international friendly.

Given the positive yet mistake-riddled performance against Colombia, a big focus will be on correcting mistakes. On Thursday, we saw some spotty man marking (see: Yedlin on Borja’s goal), poor wing play against speedy midfielders (see: Antonee Robinson vs Cuadrado), and struggles keeping up on the counter (see: Falcao goal). So against a more beatable opponent, how will the team respond? Mistakes are good if the players can learn from them.

Much of the focus last week was on Michael Bradley’s long-awaited return to the national team, and he delivered against Colombia, helping control play in the middle of the field, a vital resource against a superior opponent. So while Dave Sarachan promised “a lot of changes” to the starting lineup this time around, Bradley will almost certainly retain his place. Another pair of players we could see against Peru is Timothy Weah and Josh Sargent, who both came on late against Colombia and were positive influences on the game. Watching Bradley feed those two up front could be an excitable vision towards the future.

Brad Guzan will be in goal after Zack Steffan left the camp with an injury. He will face a Peruvian attack that looked positive last time out, but that lacks a proven goalscorer. The two true forwards in the Peru squad are Yordy Reyna and Raul Ruidiaz, who have a combined six goals in 52 appearances. The leading scorers in the squad are midfielders Christian Cueva and Edison Flores, and they will prove the biggest threat for Guzan at the back should they find the starting lineup.

Ultimately, while performances have been more important than results of late, a failure to earn three points will be a disappointment because in a match like this against a quality opponent, it will take a positive performance to earn the win.

Video shows Lazio fans’ racist chants aimed at Chelsea loanee Bakayoko

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ROME (AP) A video has emerged of Lazio fans directing a racist chant at AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The video posted on the Gazzetta dello Sport website shows fans singing, “This banana is for Bakayoko,” during Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

It was an apparent response to Bakayoko and Milan teammate Franck Kessie waving the shirt of Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi in front of their supporters like a trophy after a 1-0 win on Saturday.

Bakayoko, who is black, is on loan from Chelsea.

Lazio fans have a long history of racist and anti-Semitic episodes.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Chelsea, Pulisic may tour U.S. in 2020

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Chelsea has announced intent to visit the United States in the Summer of 2020.

Blues chairman Bruce Buck says the club “has work to do in Middle America” as it’s built up what he believes to be significant support on the coasts of the United States.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

Chelsea will be in Boston next month to play MLS side New England Revolution in a friendly billed “The Final Whistle on Hate.”

But Buck knows that Americans have plenty of interest in new signing Christian Pulisic, who will still be with Borussia Dortmund when Chelsea visits the U.S. in May.

“He’s a personable boy. He’s well-liked in this country,” Buck told the Associated Press. “So of course I would expect him when we come here and play some friendly matches, which is what our objective is in the summer of 2020. Then, yes, I think he will be helpful.”

American fans have been skeptical about how much of Chelsea’s interest in Pulisic was based on potential for stardom versus potential for marketing appeal in the States, but it’s important to note that this article could’ve been written about signing a top Mexican player and touring Mexico, or a Japanese star and heading to Asia.

The morning after: Pochettino on returning home, Kane recovery

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Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur flew back to North London after Wednesday’s memorable triumph in the UEFA Champions League, a few days before the club will make the same trip to visit Manchester City in the Premier League.

“We are tired after an amazing and crazy and unbelievable night,” Pochettino said, via the BBC. “We flew late and didn’t sleep too much, but the happiness made us feel strong and with energy. We need to forget the Champions League now and be ready for Saturday, for a battle.”

[ MORE: Klopp on 1st time facing Messi ]

Good luck on the forgetting part, Poch. The advancement past Man City over two legs came after VAR correctly ripped a stoppage time City goal off the board and plunged Spurs from despair into euphoria.

And now they go again.

Pochettino said he elected to bring the team back to London to sleep in their own beds and recover at their own facilities.

It also allows Spurs to keep a close eye on Harry Kane, who missed the second leg and has been expected to miss most if not all of the season with an ankle injury.

“We are not optimistic but you know Harry Kane and with Harry Kane all is possible,” Pochettino said. “We are not going to say he is not going to play again or not. We will assess him day by day.”

We have to imagine that Spurs going from, “Can we beat City and stay in the Top Four without Harry?” to “We are three wins from a Champions League title” might help Kane heal a bit faster (and he’s already a bit of a specimen when it comes to that.

Barton “emphatically denies” attacking fellow League One manager

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It seems like there is much more to the incident reportedly involving Joey Barton and a fellow League One manager.

Barnsley launched a complaint after Fleetwood Town manager Barton allegedly attacked his counterpart Daniel Stendel after a match on Saturday.

[ MORE: Klopp on 1st time facing Messi ]

Police stopped Barton from leaving the stadium after the match, and Barnsley player Cauley Woodrow has now taken down a Tweet saying that Stendel was left with “blood pouring down his face.”

Now Barton is denying allegations that he attacked Stendel, and is expected to be in the dugout for the Fishermen, who sit 11th in League One.

From FleetwoodTownFC.com:

“With regards to the alleged incident on Saturday following our game against Barnsley, I emphatically deny the allegations made. Given this matter has not been formally closed, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment.”

Barton’s checkered past is well-documented, but this tale continues to develop in fascinating ways.