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Dest takes time to decide: USMNT or Netherlands?

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A Dutch-American defender not being called up to the U.S. men’s national team squad for their October games is causing quite a stir.

[ MORE: Full USMNT October squad ]

After making his USMNT debut last month Sergino Dest, 18, was not expected to be included in Gregg Berhalter’s squad for their CONCACAF Nations League games against Canada and Cuba this month.

The matches against Canada and Cuba are competitive, so if the Ajax academy product played he would be tied to the USMNT at international level.

[ MORE: Pulisic talks to JPW about Chelsea frustrations

It has been revealed that Dest and Berhalter have spoken at length about the situation and reports suggest that Dest said he would turn down a call-up for the October international window to keep his options open.

“I understand there is going to be a lot of attention surrounding the availability of Sergino in this next camp,” Berhalter said. “I’ve had conversations with Sergino, the conversations were positive, and the content of these conversations is going to remain private.”

The Netherlands are said to have spoken to Dest at length in recent weeks, with head coach Ronald Koeman meeting with him in Amsterdam.

Dest has played for the U.S. throughout youth international level, and his versatility has been key for both the U17 and U20 teams.

He has burst onto the scene this season for Ajax, becoming the starting right back for the Dutch champions.

With the Netherlands ranked 13th in the world and runners up in the UEFA Nations League tournament over the summer, the pull of playing alongside Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt for the foreseeable future may be too good of an opportunity to turn down.

Dest was born in the Netherlands but obviously has a strong affinity to the U.S. so this is not an easy decision. At all.

It is smart for him to take his time, and he isn’t likely to play for the USMNT again until March when their next friendly games roll around.

Sergino Dest may well end up being the ‘one that got away’ and USMNT fans will be muttering his name under their breath in years to come as their lack of depth defensively and in the full back areas is a real issue.

But just like Giuseppe Rossi playing for Italy, or on the flip side Jermaine Jones, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson playing for the USMNT, it is all about where Dest sees the best fit for him.

There’s no getting away from the fact that if he chose to play for the Netherlands it may take him a little longer to become a regular with Denzil Dumfries their starting right back. If he chooses to play for the USMNT he will be a regular for the next decade if his career continues on the current trajectory.

This isn’t an easy decision. But what would you do if you were Dest?

Play for one of the most storied national teams in history who look to be on the cusp of a golden generation with Memphis Depay, de Ligt, van Dijk and Frenkie de Jong all alongside you?

Or take a chance on a team which may well struggle to reach the 2022 World Cup and are probably as far away from being competitive on the world stage as they have been at any point in the last two decades?

If you back yourself to become a world-class center back, you pick the Netherlands.

Smalling considering full-time Roma switch: “Long may it continue”

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Manchester United loanee Chris Smalling is talking up life in Rome amidst a possible Serie A Team of the Season campaign.

Smalling had a disappointing 2018/19 season at Old Trafford, so it’s not a surprise that Solskjaer thought he could do better than the 30-year-old.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Instead, Smalling’s numbers are close to that of record-signing Harry Maguire in a Serie A league with slightly more scoring. Smalling ranks in Italy’s top ten for interceptions (2.2), clearances (4.5) and blocks (1.2).

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca wants the player to stay, as i Lupi are fifth in Serie A and Smalling when has played nearly every minute when healthy. Smalling told our friends Sky Sports that he has “an interesting decision to make.”

“Some of the other players said if you really hit the ground running, the love that you can have in this city is unbelievable. That’s really what I’ve felt and so have my family. Long may it continue.”

His age makes it tricky, but the advanced stats show that Smalling has been a very effective Premier League center back for four of his last six seasons.

Smalling may want to leave if Solskjaer isn’t prepared to hand him regular football, which would be a given in Rome. Now what’s the price tag?

According to WhoScored’s player comparison tool:

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Watch Live: Liverpool v. West Ham

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Liverpool v West Ham takes center stage at Anfield on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Reds aim to reclaim their 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten this season and with five more wins needed to guarantee the Premier League title, the finishing line is in sight. They are aiming for an 18th consecutive Premier League win which would equal Man City’s record for the most victories on the trot in top-flight history.

As for David Moyes and the Hammers, they are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table and their daunting run of fixtures makes them one of the favorites for relegation.

Last season the Hammers did draw at home against Liverpool in the PL which was a key factor in the Reds not winning the title last time out but West Ham look extremely far from the team they were last season.

Liverpool v West Ham is first against 18th and all signs point to a big win for the home side as their unbeaten season continues with 25 victories from 26 games so far.

In team news Liverpool are without captain Jordan Henderson who has suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for the next three weeks.

Naby Keita comes in for Henderson in midfield as the rest of the Liverpool team is what you expect.

West Ham are without the injured Ryan Fredericks who suffered a shoulder injury in the 2-0 defeat at Man City on Wednesday.

Teenager Jeremy Ngakia comes in to replace Fredericks, while Felipe Anderson also comes into the lineup.

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Kids under 12 banned from heading in UK

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LONDON (AP) Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

[ MORE: US Soccer bans heading ]

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.

“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”

The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Man City and Chelsea face Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively and both know they face tough tasks to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals as they do battle with two European heavyweights.

Glory in the Champions League is now the main focus for Pep Guardiola and Man City following their two-season European ban from UEFA which they are appealing. Frank Lampard‘s young Chelsea side host the Bundesliga leaders and hugely experienced Bayern, with the German giants the favorites to advance.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

The Premier League sides are up against it but both teams are extremely capable of scoring goals for fun but it is at the other end of the pitch where they struggle as both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be hoping their star attackers shine on the big stage once again.

In the other two last 16 clashes this week Napoli host Barcelona as Lionel Messi warmed up very nicely with four goals against Eibar, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus head to Lyon for the first leg as the Italian giants are expected to advance with ease.

Both Messi and Ronaldo badly want another Champions League title to their name but Lyon and Napoli are more than capable of picking up big first leg wins at home.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Napoli 1-1 Barcelona
Chelsea 1-2 Bayern Munich

Wednesday
Lyon 1-3 Juventus
Real Madrid 2-3 Man City