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USMNT: The morning after Mexico

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Having slept, albeit briefly, on the United States men’s national team’s 3-0 home loss to Mexico in a friendly, it’s no surprise to see the Sun back up in the sky.

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The night was a comedy of disappointment, beginning with John Brooks’ groin issue costing the USMNT its best center back for Gregg Berhalter’s system.

Not the end of the program or even the manager (Get a GM)

Is it “just a friendly,” as some might ask? In most situations you’d say so, but this was Berhalter against Tata Martino’s Mexico for a second time in two months. And to lose decisively… yeesh.

Still, this isn’t the death knell for the Berhalter project, as some might say. And that’s not a glib nod toward Berhalter’s brother’s status as the federation’s next CEO.

Berhalter needs help with player identification and scouting from above. Earnie Stewart is going to hire a new general manager, who hopefully will come from a pool of more than two interviews.

That guy can hopefully help Berhalter better realize that he isn’t Herb Brooks to the rest of the world’s Soviet Union. It doesn’t take a miracle collection of “lesser” talent to make deep runs in tournament, and over-performing (incredibly well) with Columbus’ lack of spending isn’t the same as doing it against Mexico (let alone France or Brazil).

Despite Friday’s foibles (see below), Berhalter is a heck of an in-game guy and there’s reason to believe deploying this possession style against most of CONCACAF will be dynamite.

Berhalter has no answers for possession failure

In our opinion, Gregg Berhalter’s bristling response to a media ‘narrative’ stemming from his side’s miserable failure to deal with Mexico’s high press on Friday shows just how deeply he understands the lack of options available to him last night, and how poor of a decision it was to stick with the system (at least in a one-game context against your rivals. The bad night still may somehow benefit his men in terms of experience).

With Brooks absent, Berhalter opted for Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long at the back. Long is a tenacious, energetic defender… a mauler. Both Zimmerman and Brooks are no slouches in that department, but both are far better passers than Long.

And what Brooks brings that Zimmerman does not, at least as much, is a terrific ability to both dribble and ping long balls out of the back. He’s coming at you in possession, like a train (Unfortunately this train is often in the shop for repairs).

Now you throw in the unavailability of Matt Miazga, also injured and a better passer and ball mover than Long, and there’s a problem. It’s probably also worth noting that Fulham center back Tim Ream, a left back with the USMNT, was still a comparably magnificent passer during a miserable defensive season with the Cottagers last campaign.

Here are the above-mentioned four, without Long because his passing numbers aren’t in the ballpark this year and he’s not on the field for that. It’s also worth noting that two of the above players’ performance scores come from markedly better competitions than MLS.

@WhoScored

Brooks is a level above the three and there’s are arguments to be made for any of the other three alongside him, but with him out playing for possession would need to come through Zimmerman. That didn’t work on Friday, as Zimmerman had a poor day with the ball at his feet and his keeper had a worse one. Wil Trapp, playing atop the center backs could only manage short sideways passes.

The answer wasn’t in Berhalter’s bench when it came to his desire to play out of the back (Tyler Adams, a right back in his system presumably for this reason, was also out of the lineup). And he never flipped the switch and asked his midfield to battle for 50/50 balls amongst other options.

That super weird penalty, though

This one’s a small one, but glossed over by the immediate fallout of a 3-0 loss.

Late in the match Sebastian Lletget slipped Jordan Morris into the box with a delightful pass, and the Seattle man won a penalty.

Christian Pulisic handed the ball to young Josh Sargent, who would see his effort saved by Jonathan Orozco.

At first blush, our thought was it was unselfish from Pulisic to offer an international goal to his younger teammate. Some voices online claimed the Chelsea star didn’t want to take a pen in the rain, but that seems a bit much, doesn’t it?

What was your verdict?

What’s going to happen on Tuesday versus Uruguay?

Neither Brooks nor Miazga, as stated above. No Adams, Yedlin, nor Weah. Heck, no Altidore, Gonzalez, or Bradley, who know a thing or two about messing with Mexico.

Mexico is a firm favorite against the USMNT when both teams are healthy. As I wrote on Friday, Berhalter would’ve been justified to hang this one on injuries and a lack of depth. He probably didn’t want to hang the player pool out to dry (or the development system behind it), but sinking into a bunker mentality was… interesting, at best.

Now Brooks goes back to Wolfsburg, while Zack Steffen and the stretchered-off Alfredo Morales return to Fortuna Dusseldorf (who play Friday). Sean Johnson is back at NYCFC and Christian Pulisic to Chelsea.

Here’s a first look at a likely XI, as Berhalter continues to court Sergino Dest while blooding some other younger folks.

Does he call up Brad Guzan if he’s not going to play the veteran? Seems likely we could see a halftime split between the Atlanta United man and 24-year-old Jesse Gonzalez. Plus the vocal veteran could help cool any nerves on show from 22-year-old Miles Robinson.

Guzan

Dest — Robinson — Zimmerman — Ream

Yueill — Roldan

Morris — Lletget — Pomykal

Sargent

That would leave Corey Baird and Nick Lima as the only players yet to feature, and Lima would either enter for Dest or Ream, while Baird isn’t in feature player mode.

Suarez unveiled by Atletico Madrid; Messi takes swipe at Barcelona

Luis Suarez Atletico Madrid
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The iconic partnership of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona is a thing of the past and the greatest player in the world is clearly unhappy to see it.

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan pairing of Suarez and manager Diego Simeone is just beginning (and we think Joao Felix may have something to say here, too).

Atletico Madrid announced the signing of ex-Liverpool star Suarez on Friday, injecting power into its attack in a bid to overtake Real Madrid and Barca and reclaim La Liga superiority.

Suarez will turn 34 in January. The two sides meet Nov. 22 in Madrid and May 9 at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk Unfiltered, Week 2 ]

He scored 20 or more goals in each of his six seasons at Barcelona, including a career-high 58 (with 40 league goals) in 2015-16. He bagged 21 goals and 11 assists despite being limited to under 2700 minutes last season due to injuries.

Could Suarez’s arrival have a bonus outcome and strengthen the resolve of countryman Jose María Gimenez to stay in Madrid? The aforementioned trio is part of a history of Uruguayan success at Atleti, as Diego Godin, Diego Forlan, and Fernando Correa have all delivered the goods.

Messi and Suarez enjoyed a terrific chemistry on- and off-the-field with Barcelona (Who can forget the photo of the pair calmly watching their kids play soccer, which is turned into a meme used by every soccer coach in the world to decry more volatile soccer parents and guardians).

The Argentine used Instagram to salute his CONMEBOL and now La Liga rival. He’s not happy. Here are some selections from his post, translated by Sky Sports.

“You deserved a fitting farewell for the person that you are: One of the best players in the club’s history, having achieved incredible things both individually and collectively. You didn’t deserve to be pushed out the way they did, but the truth is nothing surprises me anymore.”

“I was gradually accepting it, but when I got into the dressing room today, how hard it’s going to be to no longer have you around in the day-to-day on and off the pitch really dawned on me. We’re going to miss you so much. …. I wish you all the best for your new challenge. Sending love to you and your family. See you soon, mate.”

Messi tried to leave Barcelona earlier this summer but La Liga backed the club’s reading of his contract and the player was unwilling to expose his club to a court battle.

It’s going to be an interesting journey through Messi’s presumed final year at his beloved Barcelona. Will the club’s presidential elections and/or transfer actions do enough to keep him a one-club man beyond the summer of 2021?

MADRID, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 01: Messi and Suarez after a Barcelona goal against Atletico Madrid in 2017 (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

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Report: Man City offering Otamendi in package for Dias or Kounde

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Manchester City is moving on from Kalidou Koulibaly and has a package in mind as Pep Guardiola moves to improve his center back situation with a couple of weeks to go in the transfer window.

Reporter Fabrizio Romano says that City has offered veteran center back Nicolas Otamendi and money in a $60 million package to both Sevilla and Benfica in pursuit of Jules Kounde and Ruben Dias, respectively.

Gotta love it when the real transfer market looks like the FIFA video game transfer market.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Both prospective City additions are much younger than the 32-year-old Otamendi. Dias is 23 and Kounde is 21 and would join Nathan Ake and Aymeric Laporte in the City back line (and Eric Garcia, for now). Romano says Sevilla turned down the package last week.

Kounde debuted for Bordeaux at the age of 19 and moved to Sevilla in 2019. Between the clubs, he’s played in 111 matches and scored six times. He was named to the Europa League Squad of the Season when Sevilla won the tournament this summer.

Dias is a Benfica lifer and already has 19 caps for the Portuguese national team, a standout member of the side that won the UEFA Nations League. He was linked with Manchester United last year.

As for Otamendi, the Argentine has won nine trophies at Man City over 210 appearances in five seasons. He was also a member of the 2017-18 PFA Team of the Year when City set a number of Premier League records.

The players look similar when put side-by-side in WhoScored’s Player Comparison tool, though obviously there’s a required allotment for the differences in league.

But Dias’ vision and range of passing makes him the top option in the bunch. We’ll see what happens as the days move forward.

WhoScored
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Transfer news: Cyprien to Newcastle; Chelsea, Rice agree terms

Cyprien to Newcastle
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We’ve got a bargain price — Wyatt Cyprien to Newcastle — and one that could hardly be described as anything near a discount — Declan Rice to Chelsea — in our Premier League transfer rumors for Friday.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

Chelsea’s opening offer to West Ham was about what it paid Leicester City for Ben Chilwell. West Ham is reportedly asking a touch more than the English record Manchester United paid the Foxes for Harry Maguire.

In related news, Leicester knows how to maximize its profits on Three Lions players.


Rice to Chelsea

Declan Rice wants to go home again.

The West Ham midfielder and former Chelsea youth has agreed terms with the Blues on a five-year deal as Frank Lampard aims to buy Rice.

The Express reports that Chelsea has so far offered $57 million to West Ham, who wants about $102 million for the 21-year-old.

Chelsea has already spent more than $300 million this summer after last summer’s transfer ban cost them any new additions.

Rice would join Edouard Mendy, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Kai Havertz as big money buys by the Blues in 2020.

Only eight defensive midfielders are ranked higher in value by Transfermarkt: Rodri, Joshua Kimmich, Casemiro, Fabinho, Jorginho, Ruben Neves, and Marcelo Brozovic.

He could become the sixth most expensive English player in history if he costs any more than the $58 million price tag slapped on Chilwell.

That… is something.

Most expensive English player transfers (Transfermarkt)

  • Harry Maguire, Leicester -> Man Utd, $101 million
  • Raheem Sterling, Liverpool -> Man City, $74 million
  • John Stones, Everton -> Man City, $65 million
  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Palace -> Man Utd, $64 million
  • Kyle Walker, Spurs -> Man City, $61 million
  • Ben Chilwell, Leicester -> Chelsea, $58 million

West Ham has to get a huge figure for Rice, especially if the player is sold to a crosstown rival. The Irons have already faced criticism for failures in the transfer market and the sale of Grady Diangana to West Brom had captain Mark Noble speaking publicly about his displeasure.

There are also rumors that David Moyes’ targets are too rich and the players being offered the selective Scot are not up to his standards. Maybe the Rice money allows Moyes to get “one of his own” but that’s a significant risk for a man who’s yet to prove he’s an upgrade on Manuel Pellegrini.

Cyprien to Newcastle

Newcastle United’s biggest hole is in the center of the park and the Magpies are again being linked with Nice’s Wylan Cyprien.

Bordeaux is said to be leading the race for the 25-year-old who is out-of-contract at the end of the season and said to be available for a $12 million price tag which would not put off the Magpies.

Cyprien has 23 goals and 12 assists in 127 league outings for Nice, who is coached by Arsenal legend and former NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira.

He is an excellent passer who doesn’t mind a shot and is strong on set pieces, scoring seven times last season. That’s one off his career-best in Ligue 1 goals set in 2016-17.

It’s a report Newcastle fans will probably hope to speak into existence.

Sheffield United – Leeds: How to watch, team news, start time, odds

Sheffield United - Leeds
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Sheffield United – Leeds: Sheffield United is still seeking its first goal of the Premier League season as it welcomes a Leeds United side who is seeing boatloads of goals at both ends of the pitch (Watch live at 7 am ET Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds fell 4-3 to Liverpool to open the PL season and then beat Fulham 4-3 to restart life in the top flight.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Blades started the 2019-20 season with a win and a draw en route to a ninth-place finish in the Premier League but have stumbled out of the gates this season with a 2-0 home loss to Wolves and 1-0 setback at Aston Villa.

STREAM SHEFFIELD UNITED – LEEDS LIVE

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Sheffield United – Leeds United this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Sheffield United – Leeds United (INJURY REPORT)

Sheffield United – OUT: John Egan (suspension), Lys Mousset (ankle), Simon Moore (finger)

Leeds United – OUT: Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin), Pablo Hernandez (groin)


What they’re saying: Sheffield United – Leeds United

Sheffield United forward Billy Sharp on meeting Leeds: “I don’t know what the betting companies have got but we’re expected to win in my book so we need to make sure that we’re at it from the start.”

Diego Llorente on joining Leeds from Real Sociedad: “I have a lot of energy and with my abilities I think I can help add to the team and this is the goal for me. … I talked with Pablo Hernandez and he told me about the team, the city and all of the things he said were good, so the decision for me was very easy and I am excited to be here. … Marcelo Bielsa was also a key factor, for me he is the greatest manager in the world and it is an honour, I’ve come to learn as much as possible from him.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Blades are +170 to get a win, showing a slight edge to visiting Leeds and their +160 to collect all three points. A draw nets the wagerer a +235.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: Sheffield United – Leeds


How to watch Sheffield United – Leeds United stream and start time

Kickoff: 7 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com