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Three things we learned from USMNT 7-0 Cuba

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They did what they had to do.

Full marks the United States men’s national team, who used a Friday visit from an undermanned and overwhelmed opponent to tune up for Tuesday’s big CONCACAF Nations League trip to Canada.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

Gregg Berhalter used the right mix of stars and reserves to keep his men reasonably fresh for the Canucks, getting a hat trick from Weston McKennie and three assists from Jordan Morris in a convincing win.

Berhalter’s plan followed against short-handed Cuba, stars get rest

Make no mistake about it: Christian Pulisic‘s place on the wing was meant to torture a Cuban side which had lost numerous players to defections over the last few months. Jordan Morris, Reggie Cannon, and the Yanks assortment of speedsters made sure the wide places were miserable places to operate.

The United States overran the Cubans on the flanks, scoring near identical goals in the first four minutes as Reggie Cannon sent Jordan Morris down the right for a cutback to Weston McKennie for the goal.

Morris soon joined the score sheet himself and forced Cuba into an own goal after McKennie’s back heel through ball.

Berhalter knew that McKennie, Jackson Yueill, and Cristian Roldan would supply enough industry and athleticism for the midfield to operate as three against a minnow like Cuba, and they delivered in spades (Roldan wasn’t terrific, but he ran his shorts off as designed).

And he got probable Tuesday starters McKennie and Morris out at halftime, Pulisic after the hour, and did not have to use Michael Bradley or DeAndre Yedlin. Pretty much perfect.

Yueill makes his case

Jackson Yueill has been ahead of his American MLS peers in passing, and took the opportunity presented to him by Cuba’s befuddled back line.

Yueill has been a regular fixture for San Jose but is just starting to get his chances under Berhalter, who has given Columbus protegee Trapp myriad chances to lay claim to the holding midfielder role which has long belonged to Michael Bradley.

It still does, for now, but Yueill has given Berhalter plenty to chew on. Now can he channel this performance against a non-existent Cuban midfield into consistent playmaking performances for his country, something he hasn’t done on a week-to-week basis in MLS?

In any event, his performance on Friday should finally relegate Wil Trapp behind him in the pecking order.

Weston runs wild

Given some freedom to attack in the midfield, Schalke mainstay Weston McKennie went absolutely nuts.

Yes, of course, consider the competition, but McKennie registered three goals and an assist in the first 13 minutes, and adding a scintillating assist on the own goal that made it 5-0.

After 45 minutes, Berhalter didn’t need to see any more.

“I took advantage of our style of play,” McKennie said on FS1 after the game. “One of my strengths is getting in the box and getting to the right place at the right time. … As a team we’ve been in camps pretty often and we’re getting familiar with each other. The whole team, the chemistry and connection on and off the field is unbelievable.”

McKennie has been solid for club and country the last two seasons, but saw a minor dip early in this season for Schalke (though that hasn’t stopped David Wagner from trotting him out regularly in the Bundesliga).

The offensive fireworks display will have been noticed here and abroad, and further laid clear that McKennie and still-injured Tyler Adams should be staples of the American midfield for the better part of the next decade.

I mean, look:

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings see plenty of players remaining in the upper echelons.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Matchweek 12 was wild, with players from Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City continuing to dominate our top 20. The likes of Ciaran Clark, John Lundstram and Dwight McNeil were so close to cracking the top 20…

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1.  Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – Up 2
2. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – Up 2
3. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 2
4. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – Down 2
5. Wilfried Ndidi (Leicester) – New entry
6. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – Up 1
7.  Fabinho (Liverpool) – New entry
8. Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – Down 2
9. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Up 6
10. Willian (Chelsea) – Up 6
11. Gerard Deulofeu (Watford) – New entry
12. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 7
13. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Even
14. Youri Tielemans (Leicester) – Even
15. James Maddison (Leicester) – New entry
16. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Down 4
17. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – Up 2
18. Fernandinho (Man City) – New entry
19. Matteo Kovacic (Chelsea) – New entry
20. Richarlison (Everton) – New entry

U.S. teenager Matteo Ritaccio signs pro deal with Liverpool

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Another American making waves at a Premier League giant?

Maybe.

Matteo Ritaccio, who just turned 18 years old, has signed his first professional contract with Liverpool.

The Long Island native has been playing with their U18 academy side since the summer of 2018, as he holds an Italian passport and was therefore able to make the move to Europe from the USA.

Liverpool detailed how they have worked hard to scout and then secure the signature of Ritaccio, a midfielder.

“He had first been spotted by the Reds as a 13-year-old at a training camp for the US national team, though he also holds an Italian passport. A tough-tackling and exciting player, Ritaccio started the season in fine form for the U18s but his momentum was brought to a halt by a leg injury.”

Ritaccio is a product of the famed youth side BW Gottschee and he impressed Liverpool’s coaches with a fast start to the 2019-20 season before injury struck.

He will be back fit early in January and it will be intriguing to see how he develops.

Jurgen Klopp isn’t afraid to throw plenty of youngsters into the side, as he proved during the recent victory over Arsenal in the League Cup.

Remember the name: Matteo Ritaccio.

Everton’s Moise Kean dropped due to discipline issues

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Everton striker Moise Kean was dropped for the 2-1 win at Southampton on Saturday after being late for a team meeting.

Kean, 19, was not in the Toffees squad for their first Premier League away victory since March and Sky Sports in the UK say that was because the Italian international has been having issues with his timekeeping.

Here’s some more information from our partners at Sky Sports News in the UK:

“The former Juventus forward was late for a team meeting and as a result was left out of the squad for the 2-1 Premier League victory at St Mary’s. Sky Sports News understands it is the second time Kean has been late for a team meeting.”

It is believed the player has apologized to Silva and his teammates for being late, but he does have previous, and not just with Everton. Italy boss Roberto Mancini left Kean out of the Azzurri squad in September after he and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo were late for a team meeting at the U21 European Championships in the summer.

Somebody get Kean a new watch, or at least set a few more reminders on his phone!

Kean arrived at Goodison Park for $33 million this summer but has yet to score for the Toffees as Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun have all been preferred to him in the central strikers role.

This is a tough one. Kean is young and adapting to life in a new country, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, but rules are rules and Silva obviously runs a tight ship.

Southgate on Sterling punishment: ‘We are like a family’

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Gareth Southgate called an impromptu press conference at England’s St. George’s Park training base on Tuesday to discuss one thing.

Raheem Sterling v. Joe Gomez.

[ MORE: Sterling issues public apology ]

According to multiple reports, on Monday the Man City winger was sat in the players’ canteen at England’s training base when Gomez, the first of several Liverpool players to arrive, walked in and was laughing. Sterling then reportedly said “you’re the big man now are you?” and confronted Gomez, trying to grab him around the neck as the two were separated.

This all came after Sterling clashed with Gomez in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield on Sunday, as the England winger was booed heavily by the home fans and also clashed with England teammates Jordan Henderson and Trent-Alexander Arnold during the game.

After a tumultuous 24 hours, Southgate kept calm as he discussed why he had decided to punish Sterling by making him unavailable for the EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday.

“I love all of my players. We are like a family. The important thing is for a family to communicate and work through problems,” Southgate said. “I don’t expect as a manager to not have to deal with issues. In the end I have to find the right solution for the group. That’s a difficult line, you try to be fair when dealing with all players. I won’t always get that right but I am the manager. Raheem is very important for us but I felt it was the right thing.”

Southgate has been criticized by the likes of Rio Ferdinand and other ex-England players for making the spat public, but others believe he has handled it well and sent a clear message out to the rest of his squad.

Sterling is England’s best player, on current form, so leaving him out is a big call for Southgate. England’s manager is a big fan of Sterling and has praised his ability on the pitch and his maturity off it in recent months.

But Sterling was wrong to go at Gomez and he has since admitted it on social media.

Southgate wanted to nip this in the bud and he is in full control of the situation. What damage this incident, and the way he reacted, does in the long-term remains to be seen. But Southgate is a man who sticks to his principles and he doesn’t want England’s players going at each other due to club matters.

If he sent out a weak message following Sterling’s actions it would have told the rest of the squad it was fine for them to act in a similar manner.