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Serie A: Ronaldo scores but Juve’s perfect start is ruined

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MILAN (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to net 400 goals across Europe’s top five leagues.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

It wasn’t enough on Saturday to maintain Juventus’ perfect start to the season.

Ronaldo, who has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit in the United States, scored in the 1-1 draw against Genoa. It was his fifth Serie A goal in nine matches.

Ronaldo has 311 goals in La Liga for Real Madrid, and 84 in the English Premier League for Manchester United.

Juventus won all of its previous 10 matches across Serie A and the Champions League. Though Juve’s lead in Italy was cut to four points after Napoli won at Udinese 3-0, coach Massimiliano Allegri believed this result would help his side for arguably its toughest test yet, Manchester United on Tuesday in Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford.

“We drifted out of the game after a good start to the second half and, instead of making it 2-0, we let them make it 1-1,” Allegri said. “This isn’t good, because it’s with matches like this that titles are lost. After 10 minutes of the second half we were already thinking about Manchester. We needed to have more focus.

“But it’s a draw that serves us well. It’ll get our feet back to earth and help us understand that, to win matches, you need sacrifice and hard work.”

[ WATCH: Messi scores, assists, breaks arm in first 16 minutes ]

Kathryn Mayorga filed a lawsuit last month in Nevada state claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police also reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo had last weekend off while Juventus was idle during the international break. Normally the star of his national team, he was left off Portugal’s squad.

Less than 20 minutes in on Saturday, he scored. There was a miscommunication between Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu and his defender on Joao Cancelo’s cross from the left, allowing Ronaldo a simple tap-in at the far post.

Genoa’s first goal at Juventus since January 2013 came from Daniel Bessa with a header in the 67th minute.

It was a memorable first match back in charge for Ivan Juric, who returned to Genoa for his third spell as coach.


The substitutes made the difference at Udinese.

Fabian Ruiz replaced the injured Simone Verdi in the opening minutes and the midfielder scored his first Napoli goal in the 13th, curling a stunning 20-yard strike into the top right corner.

Dries Mertens doubled Napoli’s lead from the spot eight minutes from time after Udinese substitute Nicholas Opoku handled Jose Callejon’s effort.

There was still time for Marko Rog to score, just 40 seconds after coming off the bench.

Napoli visits Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Roma fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to 10-man Spal, which won at the Stadio Olimpico for the first time in Serie A in 53 years.

Roma went into the international break with four straight wins in all competitions while Spal had lost its last four.

However, the visitors took the lead shortly before halftime when Andrea Petagna converted a penalty after Manuel Lazzari was fouled by Luca Pellegrini.

Spal doubled its advantage 11 minutes after the break as Kevin Bonifazi headed in a corner at the near post.

Spal goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic – the younger brother of Lazio midfielder Sergej – did brilliantly to fingertip Pellegrini’s effort onto the bar but swiftly went from hero to villain.

Milinkovic-Savic was booked for time-wasting and he received a second yellow card seconds later for petulantly throwing the ball away, leaving Spal with 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

However, it clung on for its first win at Roma in the top flight since 1965.

Roma hosts CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Study: MLS improves racial hiring, slides in gender hiring

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A diversity report shows improved racial hiring practices for Major League Soccer but also highlighted a continuing decline in gender hiring efforts.

The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida on Wednesday gave MLS an A with 93.9 points for racial hiring in 2019 for its highest score in 15 years.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

But the gender score of 72 points for a C grade fell for the third straight time, down from 76.8 points in 2018 and 81 points as recently as 2016.

The overall grade for MLS was a B at 82.9 points, falling from a B-plus and 85 points in 2018.

TIDES director Richard Lapchick, the lead report author, called lower gender hiring numbers across men’s professional sports a “systemic problem.”

Online: http://tidesport.org/

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

Medel: Chile players decline friendly over civil unrest

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Chile had already canceled a home friendly with Bolivia this international break, and now the players will not play Tuesday in Peru either due to unrest in their country.’

A nationwide strike and protests against the government, spurred by a rise in metro fares, have Chile on edge.

[ MORE: USMNT-Canada preview ]

La Roja stars Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal both posted lengthy messages on their Instagram accounts, saying that the decision was made “in response to the social moment in our country.”

They urged both protestors and law enforcement to turn away from violence.

From Mega.CL:

“We are soccer players, but above all people and citizens. We know that we represent a complete country and today Chile has other priorities much more important than next Tuesday’s game.”

Chile is ranked No. 17 by FIFA and 22 in Elo Ratings.

Slumping USMNT big favorites v. Canada

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Let’s start with two statements which might be a bit controversial given the tone and tenor of the United States men’s national team program.

  1. The CONCACAF Nations League very much matters to Gregg Berhalter’s era and the program in general, even if the coach’s job is not in jeopardy and the tournament is in its infancy.
  2. The USMNT are the oddsmakers’ heavy favorites to win (nearly +500), even given the current injury problems, and it will be shocking but not surprising if they lose to the Canadians.

Point No. 1 might be a bit surprising, but this is a competition with silverware and Berhalter hasn’t won any of it yet in his tenure as USMNT boss. It’s also relevant because losing to Canada twice in a month after not losing to them since the Billboard No. 1 single was the sensual “One More Night” by Phil Collins.

And even without Christian Pulisic and a raft of injury excuses, plus taking into account Canada’s sincere re-emergence on the CONCACAF scene, the USMNT has no business losing a meaningful match at home to a team that, while improved, has far more holes than the hosts.

If you remember from October, Berhalter didn’t call upon his men to press an inexperienced Canadian back line (I just realized I’m still angry about this). There is literally no way he’ll do that at home.

If John Herdman keeps his backs the same as the one that shut out the Yanks at BMO last month, he’ll have Kamal Miller, Derek Cornelius, Steven Vitoria, and Richie Laryea out there. Three of the four aren’t full-time starters for their MLS clubs (Vitoria is an every week man in Portugal’s top flight). Goalkeeper Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) is capable of stealing a result, but shouldn’t have the chance if the Yanks pressure the ball on Friday.

The midfield and attackers are where the U.S. will have its hands full. Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David beg speedy and/or smart defenders. John Brooks being in the mix should help in both counts, plus he’s the best passing back in the pool right now.

Whether the match is cagey or comfortable will come down to the midfield. Scott Arfield is going to make it difficult on the Yanks, but Alfredo Morales plays with a nasty streak and will not be as bullied as his peers were in Toronto.

The one thing to fear is how bamboozled Berhalter was by Herdman’s plan in Ontario. This isn’t to pile on the coach, who is known for his tactics but hasn’t seen them deliver against too many opponents of quality. Herdman may be the novice in terms of overall club experience, but he’s got a better handle on the international game.

If the Yanks look out-foxed and unprepared on Friday, that’s a big problem.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

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No Christian Pulisic.

No Tyler Adams.

No Timothy Weah.

No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.

Ugh.

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Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.

How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.

After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.

Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola