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Berhalter after loss to Mexico: “We’re making progress” but media won’t say it


United States men’s national team Gregg Berhalter is trying to put a positive spin on his side’s throttling at the hands of a rival, at home, on Friday.

Mexico pumped the USMNT by a 3-0 score line on Saturday, seizing control of the match after 20 minutes and never letting go. The bright spots were very few, and the Yanks couldn’t even take advantage of its subs producing a penalty kick when Josh Sargent saw his effort saved by Jonathan Orozco.

[ MORE: 3 things | USMNT player ratings ]

Berhalter was touchy from the word go at his post-match presser, turning a question about how his side could not handle Mexico’s high pressing into a ‘fake news’ situation.

It went from there to a nearly indefensible comparison of the performances against Mexico in the Gold Cup Final, and two months later in Friday’s friendly.

Look, Berhalter is not going to say, “Yeah the guy they didn’t interview for this job worked me over two months ago, and tonight it went even worse.”

And no one’s expecting the coach to admit that his fledgling program was taken to school by its rivals and outclassed in every area of the game, but perhaps there’s a better thing to say than the following.

We’ll tell you who’s not happier: the supporters and neutrals who knew after 20 minutes that your team was not turning it around. At least in the Gold Cup Final, the Yanks were in shouting distance. They played the game.

And let’s revisit that game: Memo Ochoa robbed Christian Pulisic early. Jozy Altidore missed a sharp chance to give the Yanks a lead. They were very much in that game, and did not have John Brooks or Tyler Adams (who were also missing on Saturday).

Now there’s the other shout coming out of the hot takery when a team plays bad, and that’s going bunker mentality. Berhalter’s apparently up for that, too.

You have been making progress, Gregg, but tonight is not the time to make that claim.

It’s actually been a bit of a roller coaster, but until Friday was on an upward trend.

Berhalter’s men were decent against lesser program’s B teams as he started his tenure. They were then upset by Jamaica and humiliated by Venezuela in what seemed to set a very poor tone for the Gold Cup, only to perform very well and come within the aforementioned chances of claiming an improbably Gold Cup against a clearly superior El Tri.

The fact of the matter is that performances like Friday’s loss, or the similar one against Venezuela, have to carry some sense of responsibility. Either you’re choosing the wrong guys, or you choosing the wrong tactics. Stats say it’s the former, especially given Berhalter’s record of out-performing his talent with Columbus, but you can’t overlook how poor his side was playing out of the back in New Jersey.

Or at least blame the injuries. We would’ve more readily accepted that answer, coach, with John Brooks, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, and Matt Miazga all unavailable and at least three of them easy starters.

This was their next time out, and they puked. The head coach isn’t going to admit that in public, obviously, but that’s where we are right now. Hopefully we’re not there come Tuesday night at this time.

Belarusian Premier League roundup: BATE Borisov pick up win, end early-season drought

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The Belarusian Premier League – the only active European top-flight league at the moment – continued on Saturday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

FC Rukh 0-1 BATE Borisov

With an early goal from midfielder Stanislav Dragun, BATE Borisov, Belarus’ most successful team (15 league titles) and a regular face in European competition, earned their first win of the season. Kirill Alshevsky, who took over at the helm prior to the season, had started his spell on a two-game losing streak.

BATE, despite not winning the possession battle decisively, generated twice as many shots on target as the visitors, registering a total of 11 shots throughout 90 minutes at Borisov Arena.

A winner of 13 straight Belarusian Premier League titles – spanning from 2006 to 2018 – pressure began looming over BATE after starting the 2020 campaign with back-to-back lackluster results. BATE, who lost to Arsenal in Europa League’s Round of 32 in April 2019, were outscored 5-2 in the first, two games of the league.

Dinamo Minsk, the second most successful Belarusian side, also picked up their first three points on Friday, following a slower-than-usual start to the season. Meanwhile, defending champion Dinamo Brest fell 2-1 to Slavia-Mozyr, dropping to eighth on the table.

Elsewhere in Belarusian Premier League 

Shakhtyor 0-0 Nerman

Dinamo Brest 1-2 Slavia-Mozyr

NWSL extends league-wide training moratorium through May

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The NWSL is extending its league-wide training moratorium another month amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Saturday.

All NWSL teams will be unable to partake in team trainings until at least May 5, extending its previous training moratorium that was set to expire on Sunday, April 5. The 2020 season – which was set to start on April 18 – is expected to start by the end of June, according to NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird.

“We’ve been just communicating with our players and we’re targeting for the end of June for our season to start,” Baird told The Equalizer. “I say that with conviction and hope, but … we’re gonna adhere to the public health guidelines that are in place at the time and I don’t think that we can predict what they are. But our strategy is in place.”

Earlier this week, Major League Soccer and United Soccer League extended their training moratorium through April 24 and April 19, respectively.

Report: England manager Gareth Southgate agrees to 30 percent pay cut

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England manager Gareth Southgate has agreed to a 30 percent pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, our partners at Sky Sports reported on Saturday.

[ MORE: What PL clubs are doing to help during coronavirus ] 

Southgate’s move, which is reportedly expected to be confirmed by the Football Association (FA) next week, comes hours after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement on behalf of the Premier League players responding to proposed pay cuts.

A FA spokesperson told Sky Sports the following: “The financial implications of the coronavirus are not yet known however, as a not-for-profit organization, we want to ensure that we take the appropriate course of action to support the wider organization and our employees.

“We will make a further announcement on our next steps in due course.”

On Friday, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe – and a handful of technical staff personnel – became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. Howe’s “significant, voluntary” pay cuts were done in light of the club furloughing non-playing employees throughout the organization, joining Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Spanish league and players still far apart on salary cuts

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MADRID (AP) The Spanish league and players are still far apart on the size of the salary cuts they need to take to help reduce the financial impact caused by the coronavirus outbreak, with the footballers saying the organization wants them to carry nearly half the total losses.

The league and the players’ association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic.

The players have said they are willing to reduce their salaries, but not as much as the league or the clubs want.

“After analyzing the current circumstances of the sector and given the distance in conversations with the players’ association, it is necessary to adopt measures in view of the serious economic crisis that COVID-19 is causing in the Spanish soccer industry,” the league said in a statement.

It also added that government furloughs are “an exceptional mechanism to avoid and mitigate the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector, and thus guarantee its subsequent recovery.”

According to media reports, the league expects losses of 957 million euros ($1.03 billion) if the season is canceled, with 303 million euros ($327 million) lost if it resumes with games in empty stadiums and 156 million euros ($168 million) of deficits if it continues with fans.

The players said the total cuts in salaries requested by the league would account for 451 million euros ($487 million) if the top flight cannot restart.

The reduction in salaries being discussed reportedly varies depending on the clubs, and also on whether they are playing in the Champions League or the Europa League.

Team captains met with the players’ association late Friday to discuss their options after the league earlier in the day called for all clubs to put the footballers on government furloughs to reduce labor costs while the stoppage of play continued. The furloughs help the clubs and guarantee players their jobs once the crisis is over.

The league said it is responsible for preserving an industry that represents 1.37 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and employs about 185,000 people.

Atlético Madrid and Barcelona were among the clubs to resort to the furloughs in recent days. Both reached an agreement with players to reduce their salaries by 70 percent, and guaranteed the wages of other employees were unaffected.

There are nearly 125,000 cases of the new coronavirus in Spain, which on Saturday surpassed Italy as the country with the second-most infections behind the United States. The death toll in the nation stands at 11,744.

The government is expected to extend lockdown measures until April 26, likely keeping the Spanish league suspended until then.

The league has said the season won’t resume until authorities deem it safe for everyone’s health. It said it will recommend a “minimum of 15 days” of practice before the games can restart, though it suggested recently the training period may begin with restrictions before the lockdown is removed.

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