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Canada coach Herdman aims for 2022 World Cup

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We haven’t talked about 2022 World Cup qualifying in some time, as the focus was on the USMNT finding its coach, then Gregg Berhalter implementing his style, and soon winning the 2019 Gold Cup to ensure a spot in the 2021 Confederations Cup.

[ MORE: Montreal adds Serie A striker ]

There should be a ton of focus on the U.S. bounce back for any number of reasons, especially considering that qualifying for the next World Cup may be the last time the U.S. has to truly worry about its berth (unless Gianni Infantino gets his way and miraculously implements an expanded field for 2022. Then Berhalter and Co. are set already).

So with three-and-a-half spots available, it’s of-note any time a manager admits his national team side should earn one of those berths in Qatar.

Today, we’re talking about the biggest underachievers in CONCACAF for the better part of the last 20 years, and that’s Canada. The Canucks are led by John Herdman, and he’s bringing a mentality of expectation that’s been lacking from the unit in some time (although there were strides under Benito Floro) From Sportsnet.ca:

“We don’t have excuses. I don’t want to be that guy making them. At the end of the day if we don’t qualify for [2022], it’ll be a disappointment. To put that level of expectations on the team is critical. The team wants that, they’re ready for it. They know it’s now or never for many of them,” Herdman said.

“So, when you say, ‘how do you know it’s going to happen?’, we have to make it happen. But more importantly, we have to believe, and I think that belief is there from the men who are going to be leading the charge.”

He also, albeit not in so many words, admitted that the Canadians have underperformed in recent cycles.

First of all, no one is catching Mexico this cycle. El Tri are in something akin to a golden generation, and have the following stars in their prime: Wolves’ Raul Jimenez, Diego Reyes, and Hector Herrera, with Hirving Lozano getting there and several veteran leaders on the end of their elite window but still easy CONCACAF stars (Memo Ochoa, Hector Moreno, Andres Guardado).

So that’s 2.5 half spots.

Canada is ranked 78th in the world by FIFA and is 68th in the Elo Ratings. That puts them 8th and 7th amongst CONCACAF sides, as El Salvador is much lower in Elo than FIFA (and Elo is superior as an analytical tool. We’ve placed the chart at bottom).

Considering that the USMNT historically underperformed in 2018 qualification and Panama lucked into the tournament via a goal that did not cross the line, and it’s easy to predict a reverse in fortunes for the those two, but can Canada get in the Top Three (or the playoff spot) by moving ahead of 2-3 of the U.S., Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Jamaica (Considering Canada a contender requires they pass El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago).

If anything, the time is now for this group of Canadians, considering they’ll host the 2026 tournament with the U.S. and Canada. Les Rouges have vastly under-performed at two of the last three U-20 World Cups since giving the Americans a scare in the 2013 Round of 16. But they had a quality 2017 Gold Cup, and missed the 2018 World Cup qualifying Hex because Mexico had nothing to play for in the final game and drew Honduras.

Canada is still very low on overall depth and has a generation of player-first entitlement to overcome, but has CONCACAF star power in Alphonso Davies, Junior Hoilett, Scott Arfield, Cyle Larin, and Jonathan Osorio, a UEFA Champions League goalkeeper in Milan Borjan, a rising Liverpool teen in Liam Millar and the wild card of Barcelona property and former Montreal forward Ballou Tabla. Not to mention, the new and promising Canadian Premier League will make it easier for Herdman to scout potential next level stars.

Canada is currently en route for a Pot 3 ranking for the fourth round of World Cup qualifying (the last stop before the Hex). It would be drawn into a group where the main combatants will be one of Mexico, the USMNT, and Costa Rica, and one of Jamaica, Honduras, or El Salvador.

It’s not crazy at all to think Canada would edge Honduras and El Salvador for a top spot, and a group with Costa Rica where points will be live in those two fixtures. And the Canucks have a tactical boss with a chance to outwit another manager.

Hot take: Los Ticos are still long on experience but a bigger question in terms of depth and youth, missing three of four U-20 World Cups. That tournament shouldn’t be the lone arbiter of future goodness, but it’s something.

Even given the 2018 qualifying embarrassment, I fully expect the Yanks to qualify for 2022 in Qatar. Honestly, I think Jamaica might be the third-best group in terms of talent, with Costa Rica and Honduras interesting for different reasons. To borrow from the other football, Panama out-kicked its coverage and should be considered no certainty for the Hex. T&T is tricky at home. If Canada can be, there’s a really good chance they make the Hex.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 5

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Brazil and Venezuela meet with a knockout round berth up for grabs with the Copa America continues Tuesday in South America.

The Brazilians smashed Bolivia while Venezuela drew Peru, with the hosts again heavy favorites against a Venezuelan side who beat up the USMNT last week.

Bolivia and Peru start things off in Rio at 5:30 p.m. ET, both in dire need of a win.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

Salvador is the spot for the host nation’s meeting with Venezuela three hours later.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Bolivia v. Peru – 5:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group A: Brazil v. Venezuela – 8:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Reports: Mata agrees to stay with Manchester United

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Manchester United and Juan Mata are going to stay an item.

The 31-year-old has reportedly found common ground with United just days before his contract expired at Old Trafford, having been linked with Barcelona and Newcastle United should he have reached free agent status.

[ MORE: Latest on Rodri, Man City ]

Mata, 31, may be a key piece for a United team which is set for massive turnover this season, and had six goals and four assists in just under 1800 minutes last season.

He’s an extremely consistent player, scoring 50 Premier League goals with 60 assists between the Blues and Red Devils. He’s won the FA Cup and Europa League with both clubs, winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the League Cup with United.

Mata also has a Copa del Rey from his time with Valencia, and is a World Cup and EURO winner with Spain.

At least this way, Mata can be almost completely sure he won’t face a third stint under Jose Mourinho. Mata was sold by Chelsea after Mourinho lost interest in the midfielder, only to see United hire the Portuguese manager.

Watch Live: 2019 Women’s World Cup – Group C finale

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup continues on Tuesday, as the final two games take place in Group C with some heavyweight nations still not assured of a last 16 spot.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news

Italy have won both of their games so far in Group C, and a point against Brazil in Valenciennes will see them top the group and set up a more favorable path through the knockout rounds. After they let a 2-0 lead slip to lose to Australia last time out, Brazil really need a big win to set them up for the knockout rounds and to guarantee their place in the last 16 but a point will be enough.

Australia are heavily favored against Jamaica but the CONCACAF nation have shown plenty of spirit so far in their debut tournament as they’ve dug deep defensively. The Matildas know a draw will guarantee their spot in the last 16 of the tournament but a morale-boosting win for Sam Kerr and Co. is what the doctor ordered.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game ]

Here is your full schedule for Tuesday, June 18 at the Women’s World Cup.


2019 Women’s World Cup schedule

Group C: Jamaica v. Australia – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group C: Italy v. Brazil – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Transfer rumors: Bale will not be loaned; Justin to Villa, Leicester; RSL winger to PL

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL and Europe…


Gareth Bale‘s agent has said his client is not going out on loan, after reports linked him with a temporary move to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking to Sky Sports News from Royal Ascot as he took in the horse racing, Jonathan Barnett had the following to say when asked if Bale, 29, would leave Real on loan this summer.

“There’s more chance of me winning at Ascot than him going out on loan. A loan move is not going to happen,” Barnett said. “I don’t think he wants to go out on loan. He’s got a lovely life and home in Spain. I think it would take something exceptional for him to leave and loans are not on the menu. Obviously, Gareth’s situation at Real hasn’t improved.”

Barnett added that Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Bale around but didn’t rule out the possibility of him staying at Real beyond this summer and although he didn’t shut down talk of a move to Man United when asked, it doesn’t seem likely to happen given United’s new transfer policy of buying young talent.

“He could fit in there. I think he could do very well – he is still one of the best players in the world. But it is very unlikely,” Barnett added.

Back to the drawing board for Barnett and Bale as they try and figure out a good solution for him for next season, as the player who has won four UEFA Champions League titles with Real in his six seasons in the Spanish capital is far from a fans favorite at the Santiago Bernabeu. With Eden Hazard and others arriving this summer, Bale is being nudged towards the exit door at Real.

Having three years left on his $700,000 per week contract is the major sticking point in any move, as Bale is in no hurry to be forced away to take a huge pay cut.


Aston Villa and Leicester City are battling to sign Luton Town’s James Justin, according to the Daily Star.

The 19-year-old right back was sensational in Luton’s 2018-19 campaign as the won the English third-tier title and promotion to the Championship. Per the report, Villa and Leicester are willing to pay $13 million for Justin with Villa saying he would be challenging for a starting spot right away but the Foxes see him as a player for the future.

A versatile attacking full back who can play across midfield and defense, Justin came through Luton’s academy and made his debut in an EFL Cup win against Aston Villa back in 2016. There are plenty of gems across the lower leagues of English soccer, as the likes of Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Harry Maguire have proven in recent years.

Taking a punt on an exciting full back for $13 million is the way to go for teams like Villa and Leicester who have smaller squads and are more than willing to take the time to develop young talent.


A report from our partners at Sky Sports says that West Ham and Newcastle United are interested in signing Real Salt Lake star Jefferson Savarino.

Savarino, 22, is currently on Copa America duty with Venezuela and the report states that he could be available for as little as $8 million. Per the report, both the Hammers and Magpies have sent scouts to watch him play against Brazil at the Copa America on Wednesday.

Savarino has had a decent start to this season with RSL, scoring three times and adding an assist in 13 appearances. He scored for Venezuela against the USMNT in their 3-0 friendly win in Cincinnati on June 9 and given the relative success of Miguel Almiron after his move from MLS to Newcastle, North America’s top-flight is being looked at more regularly by PL clubs.

Is Savarino ready for that step up? He has steadily improved since joining RSL from Zulia in 2017 and has scored six and seven goals in his two previous MLS campaigns. With a transfer fee so low, if he plays well for a dangerous Venezuelan side at the Copa America he could edge close to a move to Europe and it would be tough for RSL to stand in his way.