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USMNT set for Gold Cup warmup against Jamaica

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After the Baby Yanks secured a defining comeback victory over U-20 World Cup tournament favorites France, it’s not the senior team’s turn to take the field, albeit with significantly less at stake.

The USMNT faces off against Jamaica on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET in a pre-Gold Cup friendly that will feature a majority of the Gold Cup squad but not the entirety. Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams are not currently with the team, although Gregg Berhalter confirmed in his press conference Tuesday afternoon that Pulisic will join the group on Thursday, while Adams will take part starting one week from today.

[ MORE: US U-20 side tops World Cup favs France 3-2 ]

Otherwise, the 28-man squad will get a chance to show Berhalter why they should take part in the summer CONCACAF tournament, with Berhalter required to trim the squad to 23 by midnight after the game. With Pulisic and Adams joining late, that means Berhalter will have to make a total of seven cuts from the current group, and the team will then get one more friendly against Venezuela before the Gold Cup begins.

Projected USMNT lineup

— Steffen —

— Lima — Gonzalez — Miazga — Lovitz

McKennie — Bradley — Roldan

Zardes — Altidore — Arriola

The friendly will be most important for Berhalter’s defense as he looks for his best center-back pairing and full-back combination moving into the Gold Cup. The new USMNT head coach has spent the better part of his tenure to this point experimenting with the roster, but now is the time to get the back line minutes together. The absence of injured defensive duo John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin will be felt, and Berhalter must determine how to fill the holes. Most likely, new Toronto FC central defender Omar Gonzalez will pair with Matt Miazga in the middle, with Nick Lima on one side and either Tim Ream or Daniel Lovitz on the other.

In the midfield, with Adams yet to join the squad, Christian Roldan could see time in the middle alongside regular starters Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley, while Wil Trapp could see time as well. Berhalter has experimented with Djordje Mihailovic in the middle of late, but the 20-year-old is still raw and his club performances with the Chicago Fire have been spotty recently. Duane Holmes could get a look off the bench as well with Berhalter looking to decide if he merits a Gold Cup place.

If Berhalter looks to play a midfield diamond with Roldan at the top, he could pair Gyasi Zardes and Jozy Altidore in the striker role, with Josh Sargent and Jordan Morris waiting in the wings. More likely, Berhalter will stick with his favored 4-3-3, although the roster lacks wide attacking players with just Zardes, Paul Arriola, Tyler Boyd, and Paul Arriola serving in that capacity. That would see Altidore playing point of attack with support from Zardes and Arriola.

The squad will take on Jamaica who has reached the Gold Cup final in each of the last two editions of the tournament. Andre Blake is the most recognizable name manning the net, while MLS fans will recognize Darren Mattocks and Kemar Lawrence down the left flank as well. Bayer Leverkusen youngster Leon Bailey mans the midfield after a fantastic club season that saw him score five Bundesliga goals in 29 appearances, and he could pair with fellow 21-year-old Peter-Lee Vassell in the middle  who already owns 10 international caps and five goals at his young age.

United States roster

GK: Sean Johnson (NYCFC), Tyler Miller (LAFC); Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew/Manchester City)

DEF: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes) Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Everton), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC).

MID: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes).

FWD: Jonathan Amon (Nordsjaelland), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitoria Guimares), Joe Gyau, (Duisburg), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew).

Jamaica roster

GK: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Amal Knight (UWI), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska)

DEF: Shaun Francis (Louisville City FC), Michael Hector (Sheffield Wednesday), Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Damion Lowe (IK Start), Alvas Powell (FC Cincinnati), Jamoi Topey (Bethlehem Steel)

MID: Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen), Andre Lewis (Portmore United),Tyreek Magee (Harbor View), Alex Marshall (Cavalier SC), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United), Peter-Lee Vassel (LAFC), Devon Williams (Louisville City FC), Je-Vaughn Watson (OKC Energy FC)

FWD: Brian Brown (FC Reno), Maalique Foster (Rio Grande Valley Toros FC), Darren Mattocks (FC Cincinnati), Shamar Nicholson (Domzale), Dever Orgill (Ankaragucu).

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

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Christian Pulisic is the best American soccer player in the world.

Of this, there is little debate.

But there is a debate to who is second, third, and well down the line, and we’ve got our last chance to really assess the full crop with Major League Soccer now out of season for a few months.

[ USMNT: Most to gain/lose from November ]

Let’s set some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one which could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Chris Richards of Bayern Munich II is a better long-term prospect than 32-year-old Tim Ream, but most would rather have the Fulham man in a big spot right now.

Top 25 USMNT players – November 2019

*not currently a part of USMNT squad due to injury
**not currently a part of USMNT squad due to coach’s decision

  1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea*
  2. Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig*
  3. John Brooks, Wolfsburg
  4. Weston McKennie, Schalke
  5. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf
  6. Sergino Dest, Ajax
  7. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders
  8. Matt Miazga, Reading (on loan from Chelsea)**
  9. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
  10. Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (on loan from Man City)*
  11. DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
  12. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC*
  13. Tim Ream, Fulham
  14. Timothy Weah, Lille*
  15. Julian Green, Greuther Furth**
  16. Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
  17. Ike Opara, Minnesota United**
  18. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC*
  19. Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach**
  20. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (on loan from Spurs)**
  21. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
  22. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy
  23. Miles Robinson, Atlanta United*
  24. Paul Arriola, DC United
  25. Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Next up, established: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Bill Hamid (DC United).

Next up, youth: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona U19), Alex Mendez (Ajax U19), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund U19), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg U19), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Donovan Pines (DC United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

Leaked image shows big fines that face Chelsea rule breakers

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Frank Lampard‘s ready to go into his players’ wallets if they disobey his laws.

A posted list of fines for Chelsea players, signed by the manager, has been confirmed and we would completely understand if the Blues were on time all the time.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

A player is fined about $640 per minute he’s late to a meeting, and if he misses a practice, well, wow: The fine is nearly $26,000.

If a phone rings during a meeting, that’s gonna be $1,300.

And if any fine isn’t paid within two weeks, it doubles! Seems like Christian Pulisic and his teammates will have a lot of alarms set on their phones.

From The Telegraph:

Lampard has also banned agents from the training ground, unless on official business, and players must inform the club if they intend to travel abroad, even on scheduled days off.

The average Chelsea salary last season was approximately $6.6 million, meaning players make on average $127,000 per week.

The full list of fines is below.

Kompany: Liverpool’s Premier League title ghosts should ‘be to City’s advantage’

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Vincent Kompany says history could help Manchester City climb back into the Premier League title race even after his former team dropped nine points back of first place Liverpool.

[ MORE: Salah out for Egypt ]

Now at Anderlecht, the center back also said history might’ve played a role in City’s 3-1 setback at Anfield. In a rare bit of explicit honesty, the often interesting Kompany said that players do deal with demons of a club’s past.

“We always struggle at Anfield,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “I said that on Super Sunday, you’re fighting 25 years of not winning at Anfield and that’s difficult, it’s two games in one game: You’re playing a great team and you’re fighting history.”

“Flip it around and the same will happen for Liverpool. They will fight the history of not winning the league for 30 years. That should be to City’s advantage I still think.”

Do you buy that? Most of the buzz around the Premier League is that this Liverpool is a different team than even the dominant one of last season, and City has suffered big injury problems. The Reds players almost went out of their way last year to say they weren’t worried about blowing their table lead last season (which was bigger, later in the season).

Kompany also said that he believes City doesn’t need to add a center back in January, which is bonkers unless he’s coming back, but the Belgian has proven time and again that he’s one of the better minds in the game.

The guy did title  his MBA dissertation, “How professional football clubs in the Premier League can benefit from home game advantage and achieve game-changing levels of improvement” after all. Then again, I’m not sure any of our dissertations on the same topic would’ve been approved had we done that.

Liverpool’s Salah to miss Egypt’s first two AFCON qualifiers

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Good news for Liverpool, not so much for Egypt.

Mohamed Salah will not suit up for the Pharoahs this month as Egypt begins qualifying for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

[ MORE: Will Zlatan rejoin LA? ]

Salah has been dealing with ankle problems since a rough tackle from Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, and it’s acting up following a tackle from Fernandinho in the Reds’ 3-1 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Egypt needs Salah, but it’s no surprise he’s erring on the side of caution given the tumultuous relationship between the superstar and his country (and Liverpool’s status as a contender in five (!!) tournaments).

Salah, 27, has 41 goals in 67 caps. The next five leading active Egyptian scorers have a combined 31 goals in their careers over 284 caps. The youngest of those is Aston Villa’s Trezeguet (25), followed by Besiktas’ Mohamed Elneny (27).

Egypt are heavy favorites to finish in one of the top two spots and qualify for AFCON 2020, even with the injury. The 49th ranked Pharoahs (FIFA ranking) are in a group with Kenya (108), Togo (124) and Comoros (142).

Egypt hosts Kenya on Thursday to kick off qualification, and visits Comoros on Monday.