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USMNT hammered by Venezuela in final pre-Gold Cup tune-up

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The U.S. men’s national team’s preparations for the 2019 Gold Cup — a tournament which kicks off in six days’ time — are complete with many more questions than answers following a 3-0 defeat to Venezuela at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Sunday.

[ WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: England wins, Brazil cruises, Italy thrills ]

Head coach Gregg Berhalter made five changes to the team that was beaten by Jamaica on Wednesday, but the outcome wasn’t just the same — it was actually worse, just in some of the same ways.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen made another grave error that handed Venezuela the game’s opening goal on a silver platter. Salomon Rondon, who’s still on the books at West Bromwich Albion but scored 11 Premier League goals while on loan to Newcastle United this season, was more than happy to use that opportunity to draw level with Juan Arango as Venezuela’s all-time joint-leading goal scorer.

Jefferson Savarino doubled Venezuela’s lead in the 30th minute, tapping home the rebound after his initial effort struck the post.

Six minutes later, Rondon grabbed his 24th international goal made the record his own with a minor assist from some more passive defending — both in midfield and at the back.

After mustering just five shots (one on target) against the Reggae Boyz, the Yanks were on pace to put up similar numbers until they fell three goals behind in the first half of Sunday’s game. Game states dictating possession and chances as they do, chances were easier to come by in the second half — in part due to Venezuela sitting deeper, and in part due to the introduction of Jozy Altidore as the no. 9.

The Americans’ best chances at a goal came late in the second half. First, in the 68th minute, Nick Lima whipped a curling ball into the six-yard box from the right flank. Duane Holmes couldn’t get an outstretched toe to it at the near post, and Paul Arriola could get on top of it at the back post and sent it high and wide of goal.

Then, in the 80th, another dangerous ball found Altidore inside the six-yard box. This time, solid contact was made and Altidore’s header was on target, only for Wuilker Fariñez to throw his body in front of the ball to preserve the clean sheet.

The USMNT will begin its Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on June 18.

Haiti stuns Costa Rica to claim Group B at Gold Cup

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Poetic justice, put it in a Song.

Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.

[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]

Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.

Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.

An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.

The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.

Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.

AFCON wrap: Diaby’s sensational rip highlights trio of matches

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The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.

[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]


Mali 4-1 Mauritania

Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.

Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.

Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa

There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.

Tunisia 1-1 Angola

A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.

Copa America roundup: Uruguay tops Chile; Full knockout bracket

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Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.

Ecuador 1-1 Japan

There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.

Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.

Chile 0-1 Uruguay

Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.

Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.

Knockout round schedule

June 27
Brazil v. Paraguay

June 28
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile

June 29
Uruguay v. Peru

July 2
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru

July 6
Third place playoff

July 7
Final

Norwich City adds Switzerland international Drmic on free transfer

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Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.

Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.

Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.

Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:

“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.

“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.