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Three things from the USMNT’s very bad night

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The day began with bad news, with star center back John Brooks unable to play with a groin issue, and it just kept coming once the ball went into play.

Once Mexico weathered the first 15 minutes from the hosts, they were essentially home free. A mistake-riddled sequence put Mexico up top, and it never got better.

[ MORE: USMNT player ratings | Match recap ]

And let’s get this out of the way: Mexico is miles ahead of the United States at this stage. El Tri is in a Golden Generation, and most of that generation is in its prime. The USMNT is young, and its depth has been exposed by injuries to John Brooks and Tyler Adams.

Savvy El Tri punishes sensationally poor marking for opener

Javier Hernandez entered Friday’s friendly with 51 international goals, more than anyone in Mexican national team history.

He also entered the United States’ 18 like it was a serene national park.

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona absolutely cooked 18-year-old Sergino Dest, playing at his unfavored left back slot, with a nutmeg and the young back wasn’t wise enough to foul the Mexican attacker.

Aaron Long is slow to react to the move and Wil Trapp doesn’t mark any of the three players available to him.

Weston McKennie is most at fault here, as the center midfielder is pushed so far up the field that right winger Tyler Boyd is the one racing back in futility as Chicharito plants a header past Steffen.

Very poor.

Pulisic impresses (despite a little bit of pressing too hard)

The United States’ clear No. 1 player was hounded by Mexican markers all game and was still the most dangerous weapon on the field for Gregg Berhalter’s men.

He needs help. Pulisic pressed too hard at times, trying to take the game himself aside from a few bright moments. There was a good combination play with Weston McKennie in the mix.

Early on, Pulisic combined with Sergino Dest on the left in a sensational way, as both players mesh well with smooth ball skills, excellent flair, and exceptional soccer IQ going forward (They were both absolutely worked by Tecatito in the build up to the goal).

Pulisic doesn’t even turn 21 until Sept. 18, so it’s inspiring to see that his motor and engine are both well-equipped to match his more cosmetically appealing skills.

Two-thirds of midfield trio fails Berhalter

Tactically, Gregg Berhalter’s idea of playing a three-man industrious midfield against Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, and crew made a lot of sense. Unfortunately, only one of his players delivered the goods for more than a few moments.

As covered above, Trapp and McKennie failed the team in sensational fashion on Corona’s opener, but it was much more than that. While McKennie had a couple of nice moments combining with Pulisic and Morales, but wasn’t close to what we see most weeks at Schalke (and many times in his a U.S. shirt).

I’m not going to pile on Trapp, but if ever there was a three-man midfield to make him perform well, it was alongside two mile-eaters in McKennie and Morales (though we just covered the former’s off night).

Every coach has his favorites and Berhalter coached Trapp for years at Columbus, but at this point it’s fairly comical that the USMNT boss continues to start him (especially against the aforementioned Mexican midfield). It’s not up to Trapp to turn down a cap. It is on Berhalter to note that Trapp isn’t even a Top 30 center midfielder in MLS right now, and knowing the system isn’t everything.

That said, Berhalter did not have the option of selecting Tyler Adams or Michael Bradley in his place. It might’ve been nice to ask Morales to handle the deeper lying stuff and use McKennie and Sebastian Lletget more advanced, but honestly Trapp over Jackson Yueill was a safer move.

Morales was mostly good until the game fell apart and he was sauteed by Chucky Lozano in the run-up to Mexico’s third goal, and then — as if we jinxed it — he looks to have suffered a serious injury in the 90th minute.

Burnley – Sheffield United stream: How to watch, team news, prediction

Burnley - Sheffield United stream
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Burnley and Sheffield United jockey for potential Europa League footing at Turf Moor on Sunday (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The eighth-place visitors and their ninth-place hosts open the day a win back of seventh-place Arsenal.

Seventh is currently set to be a Europa League place thanks to the European ban handed to second-place Manchester City, who is protesting the ban.

Eighth would also be a UEL spot with all four FA Cup semifinalists currently in the top seven. Arsenal could still finish outside the top eight and win the FA Cup, which would leave seventh as the last qualifying place.

STREAM BURNLEY – SHEFFIELD UNITED LIVE

Team news

Burnley – Sheffield United Prediction

Burnley can scrap with anyone but Blades have a bit more depth and comfort with their XI. Sheffield United 1-0.

Chelsea’s Pulisic reacts to Eden Hazard comparisons

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Last week, Frank Lampard compared Christian Pulisic’s potential to that of the finished products shown by Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Raheem Sterling.

After another terrific performance for Chelsea in a 3-0 defeat of Watford, he was asked about being compared to Chelsea royalty: Eden Hazard.

“Obviously he was an incredible player for Chelsea,” Pulisic said. “He’s a world-class player. I’m not trying to compare myself to him just yet. I’m just trying to be my own player and hopefully the fans like that guy.”

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch — His day v. Watford ]

Pulisic drew a penalty and had the pass before the assist on Ross Barkley’s late goal to salt away the win and fourth place in the Premier League for another few days.

The Blues had lost late to West Ham United at midweek, and Pulisic admits the boys were fired up to avenge the setback.

“We needed that one today,” he said. “There was a little extra bit of energy because of that loss. We wanted to come out and prove a point today.”

Finally, Pulisic was asked what he’d be doing if he was home in the States on the Fourth of July.

“If I was home in the U.S. I’d be having a barbecue with my family and enjoying Independence Day.”

Stock answer. Only way he could lose points with us today.

Chelsea cruises past relegation-worried Watford

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Chelsea got goals from Willian, Ross Barkley, and Olivier Giroud in a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic drew a penalty for Willian’s goal and helped set up Barkley’s third goal in his fourth-straight start in 10 days.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – USMNT star shines again ]

Chelsea moves back atop Manchester United for fourth place, one point behind Leicester City.

Watford’s 28 points are one point better than two of the bottom three, with Aston Villa holding a match-in-hand and set to visit Liverpool on Sunday.

[ MORE: Pulisic reacts to Hazard comparisons ]


Three things we learned

1. Chelsea holds serve in top four fight: Wins for Manchester United and Leicester City meant the Blues could finish the day in either fourth or fifth. The decisive performance was a welcome one for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard following a late loss at West Ham earlier in the week. The Blues meet Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, and Norwich City before Liverpool and Wolves make for a dangerous final two league fixtures.

2. Pearson plans for midweek: Norwich City looks as down-and-out as any club right now, so it’s not likely a coincidence that Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney came off the pitch with the score line 2-0 and 26 minutes to play. Watford will aim to find points in its home ground against a poor Canaries side on Tuesday.

3. Kante limps off: While Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have remained fit and available to Lampard, the manager won’t be happy that N’Golo Kante’s injury-hit season saw a possible concern with a 78th-minute sub for Billy Gilmour.

Man of the Match

It was either Pulisic or Willian, and we’re going to go with the Brazilian if only because CP gets a lot of run in these parts.


Chelsea – Watford recap

Christian Pulisic came out of the gates in lively form and within minutes Olivier Giroud had an odd-angled chance to head toward goal.

The Blues were all over Watford for the first 20 minutes, Pulisic, Willian, and Giroud very involved in the display.

Giroud put the Blues on the board with an experienced, spinning strike in the 29th minute. Getting the ball off a Ross Barkley feed, the Frenchman hit a cushioned low shot across his body and just inside the far post.

Pulisic played a role in the second goal, dribbling to the end line and getting manhandled by an out-of-his-mind Christian Kabasele on his cut back toward play. Penalty, Willian. 2-0.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

The second half was mostly Chelsea, too, and Willian forced Foster into a terrific 68th-minute save and corner kick to the Blues.

Watford had their moments late, including a Danny Welbeck effort that Kepa Arrizabalaga did very well to save.

Pulisic had a shot blocked in the 90th minute, and Will Hughes couldn’t convert a Welbeck-inspired play at the other end.

Instead, the American would settle for a “hockey assist,” slipping the ball to Azpilicueta inside the 18 before the Chelsea veteran set up Barkley’s exclamation point.

Pulisic Watch: In-form Chelsea star shines on Independence Day

Pulisic Watch
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Chelsea’s in-form American winger stayed that way, as Christian Pulisic won a penalty and looked lively throughout the Blues’ match with Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

[ MORE: Chelsea 3-0 Watford ]

Here are the moments he was in focus in his fourth-straight start for Frank Lampard, as the USMNT star had another brilliant performance on his nation’s Independence Day.

[ MORE: Pulisic reacts to Hazard comparisons ]


8th minute: Pulisic comes out of the gate in lively form and cuts between a pair of defenders before finding Mason Mount, whose cross is blocked out for a corner.

10th minute: Pulisic plays Giroud wide, and the Frenchman’s first touch is a bit wayward. A cross back towards Pulisic is cleared before it reaches the American.

15th minute: Pulisic is one of three players to hit the deck trying to get on the end of Reece James’ delightful cross from the right.

19th minute: Pulisic takes the ball from Willian and finds Giroud, whose shot is saved by Foster and winds up with Willian. His cross doesn’t reach the American and Giroud fouled a defender anyway.

30th minute: Moments after Giroud put the Blues up 1-0, Pulisic nods a high cross back toward the far post but Foster rescues the ball without much worry.

42nd minute: Pulisic won a second penalty kick of the restart when he cut back at the end line and was run over by Christian Kabasele.

[ MORE: Arsenal beats Wolves ]

47th minute: Cuts inside and tears into an ambitious shot that has too much pepper on it.

48th minute: He’s at it again a moment later, moving the ball left to Cesar Azpilicueta for a half-cleared cross.

56th minute: Pulisic works a 1-2 with Mason Mount but the ball doesn’t quite get back to the American thanks to Michael Dawson.

85th minute: Protests wildly for a penalty after Kabasele takes him down in the box once again. VAR doesn’t change anything and Pulisic is set to go 90 minutes for the third time in 10 days (He went 72 minutes in the fourth encounter during that time span).

90th minute: Azpilicueta slides Pulisic into the left of the box, but the American’s shot is blocked.

Stoppage time: Takes a short pass and gives it to Azpilicueta in the box, getting a “hockey assist” when Barkley slots home. Pulisic then nearly wins a corner with a pressuring run down the left.

Stat line: Three shots, one on target, one blocked. One-of-3 dribbles completed, one penalty won. Passed at 89 percent (33-of-37) with two key passes and 9-of-15 duels won. Four fouls drawn and three tackles (SofaScore).