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What did we learn from USMNT’s win v Panama? (video)

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ICYMI, Gregg Berhalter began his USMNT reign with a win over a weakened Panama side Sunday night in Glendale, Ariz.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

In front of a crowd of just over 9,000 fans (inside the 63,000 capacity State Farm Stadium), the U.S. men’s national team looked cohesive as their squad of players entirely from the MLS were hungry following their January camp.

The USMNT’s first goal came from debutant Djorde Mihailovic, who timed his run into the box perfectly and finished off a cross from another debutant, Corey Baird. It was a smooth move from the U.S. and a sign of things to come.

[ MORE: Gregg Berhalter reacts to win

Walker Zimmerman then powered home a header for the second, as the brilliant Nick Lima whipped in a perfect cross for the center back to attack. Lima was named man of the match as the right back has come from nowhere to make a name for himself during the January camp.

Another debutant, Christian Ramirez from LA FC, finished off the scoring as he tapped home after wonderful work from, you guessed it, another debutant in Jonathan Lewis.


 

But, what did we learn about this new-look, MLS centric USMNT squad?

  1. Berhalter will be pleased to see plenty of debutants deliver: Youngster Nick Lima and Djorde Mihailovic both impressed, while the likes of Jonathan Lewis and Christian Ramirez did themselves no harm whatsoever after jumping off the bench. Berhalter is keen to promote players from the U.S. youth teams, but we will see if that’s the case once he can select the European based players.
  2. Veteran central midfielder Michael Bradley put in a commanding display: Many will say his days with the USMNT should be over, but it’s clear that Berhalter believes Toronto FC’s skipper has an important role to play in the coming years to help get this team back on track. Bradley is 31 years old and showed he is still easily among the USMNT’s best central midfield options.
  3. Aaron Long excelled at center back as the new skipper:  Long’s rise from the USL to being the USMNT skipper in less than 18 months has been remarkable, and his partnership alongside Walker Zimmerman is promising. Considering the struggles of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga for consistent minutes in Europe, the MLS duo are proving their worth at the international level.
  4. This was a very poor Panama side: With only two regulars included in an 18-man squad made up entirely of those playing in the Panamanian leagues, it is tough to get too excited about the USMNT. Berhalter will know that, and he won’t get too carried away if the U.S. beat a similarly weakened Costa Rica on Saturday too. That said, this is far from the USA’s strongest lineup too. Perspective is needed, and this process of getting the U.S. back on track is going to be an arduous one.
  5. How many European based players would start in this USMNT team?: Christian Pulisic, DeAndre Yedlin, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Bobby Wood and John Brooks look like they will be regulars, but apart from that there are plenty of places up for grabs. When you look at the options Berhalter will have for the friendly against Chile in March, it will be tricky for him to whittle this squad down to 23 players.

The above has certainly given Berhalter plenty of food for thought as he edges towards that game against Chile where he can select all of his European based players for the first time.

Below we take a look at the video highlights of the 3-0 win.



Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

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Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.