Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Three things from the USMNT’s very bad night

Leave a comment

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.

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

Getty Images
Leave a comment

England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Ex-England midfielder Gascoigne on trial for sexual assault

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor has alleged that former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted a woman on a train by “forcibly and sloppily” planting an unwanted kiss on her lips.

Prosecutor William Mousley’s comments Monday came as Gascoigne, who has struggled with alcohol and mental-health problems, went on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with sexual assault of the female passenger.

Mousley said the former England star “put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”

The 52-year-old Gascoigne denies the charge.

The alleged victim has told the court that she froze when the man, who appeared drunk, kissed her in August 2018. She says she did not realize it was Gascoigne until after the alleged incident.