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Mexico makes statement, wallops USMNT

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It was all Mexico at MetLife Stadium, as Gregg Berhalter’s U.S. men’s national team failed to find their groove in El Tri’s 3-0 win against their heated rivals on Friday.

Recent Sevilla signing and Mexico’s all-time leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored in the first half. Erick Gutierrez and Uriel Antuna chipped in second-half goals for Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s side, which has won consecutive games in convincing fashion against the USMNT.

[ MORE: 3 things | USMNT player ratings ]

As in the majority of meetings between the rivals, the opening minutes were cautiously slow – each team doing their best to hide their weapons while trying to figure out one another. El Tri facilitated the ball with urgency through the wings, yet were unhesitant to go back and redraw their approach. The Stars and Stripes, on the other hand, made it clear they’d lean on playing from the back – a tactic that would eventually backfire on Berhalter and Co.

Debutant Sergiño Dest — who made headlines heading into Friday’s friendly for his first senior cap — was unafraid to show his worth, rifling a shot from distance 15 minutes into the bout. With a semi-extended save, Mexico’s Jonathan Orozco quietly put away the home’s side only noteworthy attempt on goal in the first half.

Dest, however, appeared against shortly after for unfavorable reasons.

Settled with dominant possession of the ball, El Tri had a plethora of areas of the field to exploit. And in Jesus “Tecatito” Corona’s mind – at least in the 21st minute – the 18-year-old fullback’s left side of the USMNT’s first third was it, doing so with a bit of wizardry and supreme technique to avoid Christian Pulisic and Dest, before assisting Hernandez.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The USMNT’s night was plagued by two deficiencies: the inability to move the ball out of the back and the lack of efficient passing in space. In the 33rd minute, El Tri nearly punished Weston McKennie’s poor ball. Corona, though, missed out on recording a brace by inches.

In the second half, with his first touch of the night, Jordan Morris fueled an explosive Mexico counter-attack. With the game moving at a low-scoring pace, it was only fitting that debutant Miles Robinson bailed the Sounders forward.

The low-scoring aura to fade was merely a question of not if but when.

Similar to his impact on his Napoli debut, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano rose fans off their seats. He didn’t score this time, however.

Despite clearly being the inferior team, Berhalter’s side stuck to their game plan, starting the buildup from the back. Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long, despite being known for being defenders comfortable on the ball, suffered when Martino ordered his frenetic frontline to press viciously for the ball.

It felt pre-destined that one of Berhalter’s go-to strategies would soon give out in front of a Mexico side that had caught on to the tactics. Zack Steffen, who has started his season with Fortuna Dusseldorf on a positive note, topped off the shaky sequence of passing with a gift to Erick Gutierrez, who made no mistake with the ball in enemy territory.

Alfredo Morales, representing the Yanks for a first time in three years, was the closest to spoiling Oronzo’s clean sheet, volleying a low ball into the ‘keeper’s far post in the dying minutes of the match.

And just as the USMNT’s bite became nothing more than a nibble, El Tri responded with one more chomp of its own. LA Galaxy’s speedy winger, Uriel Antuna, who has unexpectedly become a household name under Martino, did the honors. Along the way, Lozano, gave the New York crowd something he will showcase on a weekly basis in Italy.

In the game’s last breath, it was clear it wasn’t meant to be the USMNT’s night. Josh Sargent, from the spot, had his strike saved by Orozco, solidifying the narrative that El Tri’s night was perfect and nothing else.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Brighton, Sheffield Utd v. Newcastle

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Matchweek 15 of the 2019-20 Premier League season wraps up on Thursday, with two more midweek clashes featuring two mid-table sides, and two more from much nearer to the relegation zone, in action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

First up, PL new boys (and 9th-place side) Sheffield United will host 14th-place Newcastle United, who sit just two points outside the relegation zone ahead of kickoff. 45 minutes later, 10th-place Arsenal will host 16th-place Brighton & Hove Albion in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home game as Arsenal interim manager.

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The schedule for Thursday’s two games is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


2:30 p.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Newcastle United [STREAM]
3:15 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Brighton & Hove Albion [STREAM]

Atleti escapes major punishment for fans’ Griezmann threats

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid escaped major punishment Wednesday after its fans made threatening chants against former player Antoine Griezmann during last weekend’s La Liga match against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The Spanish league had denounced the club after some fans chanted “Die Griezmann” in Sunday’s match, won by Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Spanish soccer federation said it would fine Atletico $333 because the game was disrupted, but it did not cite the chants against Griezmann. The fine was prompted mainly because fans threw objects — including an umbrella — onto the field.

The Spanish league had denounced the club to the federation’s anti-violence committee, saying about 2,000 fans from Atletico’s “ultras” section made the chants for about 20 seconds before the start of the second half, and again later in the game.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Griezmann left Atletico for Barcelona at the end of last season in a transfer worth more than $132 million.

The France forward was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball at the Metropolitano on Sunday. It was his first match at Atletico’s stadium since leaving the club.

Klopp to take first team to Club World Cup, leave youth for EFL Cup

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Jurgen Klopp has chosen his strongest possible Liverpool squad to take to the Club World Cup later this month, leaving a reserve- and youth-laden team behind to compete in the EFL Cup during the same period.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Liverpool will head to Doha, Qatar, for the Club World Cup, where they’ll play their semifinal fixture against one of Monterrey (Mexico), Al-Saad (Qatar) or Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia) on Dec. 18. The day prior, on Dec. 17, the Reds will also play away to Aston Villa in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. With the club’s star-studded first team in Qatar, progression to the semifinals of the League Cup will be down to a team full of teenage prospects.

Only defender Joel Matip and midfielder Fabinho, both of whom are currently injured and unavailable, were left out of the Club World Cup squad.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Players suffering from illness or injury prior to Liverpool’s first Club World Cup game can be replaced in the squad up to 24 hours before kickoff.

Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan

Defenders: Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams

Forwards: Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster, Divock Origi

Hazard has muscle tear, could miss El Clasico

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid midfielder Eden Hazard has a more serious right-leg injury than the bruise that was first diagnosed, and it could rule him out of El Clasico against Barcelona on Dec. 18.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Madrid said Thursday that new tests found a micro-tear of a muscle that had gone undetected since the injury occurred on Nov. 26 in a 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.

Hazard joined Madrid from Chelsea this year on a club-record transfer of $113 million, plus add-ons. He missed the first three games of the season after injuring a thigh muscle in the preseason.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Madrid said it will also likely be without left back Marcelo for Saturday’s home game against Espanyol because of a muscle injury.

Madrid is in second place in the Spanish league behind Barcelona on goal difference.