Berhalter on Pulisic
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USMNT’s Berhalter on World Cup qualifying, player transfers

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United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter thinks the CONCACAF draw for 2022 World Cup qualifying was a good one for his team, even if he wouldn’t bite on the tasty possibility of matching up with Trinidad and Tobago in Couva to kick off the final round.

The Yanks would start the Octagonal at T&T if the Soca Warriors win their group and a two-legged playoff tie to reach the final stage.

[ MORE: Breaking down the USMNT qualifying schedule ]

“Certainly the potential to play Trinidad in the first game away from home is a nice storyline but we’re focused on things much bigger than that game,” Berhalter said in a Wednesday conference call.

American center back and Fulham mainstay Tim Ream did bite on the Trinidad possibility, however, billing it an opportunity for vengeance.

“It’s an interesting one if Trinidad makes it through their group and wins that A+F playoff, there’s a little bit of a revenge factor right from the get-go,” Ream said.

Berhalter was also asked about the worries that could come from a slow start considering two of the Yanks’ final three matches will be away to CONCACAF powers Mexico and Costa Rica.

“For us every game is pressure,” he said. “You have a lot of pressure to win your home games. Hopefully towards the end we’ll be in a good position to qualify.”

Here are some other highlights from Berhalter and Ream over 45 minutes on Wednesday.

Berhalter on choosing venues, and possibly facing Mexico in Columbus again

“We want a pro-U.S. crowd, which is normal. When you’re in Mexico, it’s a huge pro-Mexico crowd. That’s what we want to create in our home games and we have plenty of opportunities to do that. The infrastructure in MLS is fantastic and we’re confident we’ll pick the right venue to make a great crowd.”

“We want to find an environment that is intimidating. When I think of Columbus, we’ve had a lot of success there but that doesn’t mean we won’t be open to other locations. We want to find the best place to win a soccer game and be intimidating.”

Berhalter on plans for upcoming friendlies.

“Right now we’ve been focused on trying to compete in the United States, trying to find a safe environment where we could play games. We’ll switch focus in November and try to play two high-level games in Europe. I’d expect a domestic-based side for October and a European-based side for November.”

Berhalter on the target to qualify from 14 matches and 42 possible points

“26, 27 points pretty much gets you in there.”

Berhalter on Antonee Robinson and Weston McKennie possibly moving to the Premier League

“Regarding Antonee, it’s exciting news a potential transfer to a Premier League team. Especially after the break he came home and was in really good form. For the national team it’s great news. When you think about that left back spot being open and contested, it’s a good opportunity for Antonee to prove he’s capable of being the left back for the national team. Weston is very focused on raising his level. When you think about the Premier League, it’s the best league in the world. It’s exciting. We wish him the best and hope it’s concluded sooner rather than later.”

Antonee Robinson to Fulham
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 27: Antonee Robinson of Wigan Athletic (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Berhalter on Christian Pulisic and his injury problems

“I talked to Christian today. He’s doing well. The leg is doing really well. It’s recovering, it’s healing. We have a lot of confidence in Chelsea and their medical staff. He’s a good who’s exploded on the scene in the Premier League and we’re excited to see how he comes back.

“As Christian was adapting to the Premier League, we all know it’s a very physical league. Champions League also have a lot of fixtures in short, congested schedules. It’s something we have to look at but certainly not uncommon. As his body strengthens and as he’s used to the congested fixtures, it’s good for to recognize the chances to strengthen.”

Berhalter on Tyler Adams’ experience in the Champions League and focus moving forward

“He’s going to be an important part of what we do. When you think about playing in pressure games, there aren’t too many games that have more pressure than Champions League quarterfinals and semifinal, and he got to play in both of those. He’s had a phenomenal rise, coming back from the injury he had, hanging in there. He’s going to be a big part of what we do. If he can handle those games, he can handle World Cup qualifying.”

Berhalter on Wolfsburg center back John Brooks’ Europa League red card

“John had a good season. There were ups and downs like every player but the end of the season I thought he came on really well. He had some really good performances. It was really good to see. Getting a red card and things like that are part of the experience. For us he’s an important part of the team.”

Berhalter on Zack Steffen staying at Man City to backup Ederson

“I don’t know those two things to be true. I’m not sure that he’s definitely going back to Man City and I don’t know that if he went to Man City he wouldn’t be playing. All I can say is they’ve been working hard with Zack to get him right and he’s looking forward to having a strong year wherever he’s playing.”

Ream on the young USMNT players rising to World Cup challenge

“All these young guys, a lot of them are playing in big games already. You look at Tyler Adams in a Champions League semifinal, you’ve got guys playing at the very top of their game in Germany and England. You don’t have to give them too much information on what it’s gonna be like. We know as older guys what it’s like to go away from the U.S. and play in these games.”

“(We’ll tell them) The fields aren’t great. The accommodations aren’t great. Sometimes the food isn’t great. But we can’t control these things so there’s no point in dwelling on them. They have to go out and perform.”

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 15: Tim Ream during a CONCACAF Nations League match against Canada  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Leeds edge Fulham in seven-goal thriller

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Leeds – Fulham was a belter of a game, as Leeds won for the first time since gaining promotion back to the Premier League but they didn’t make it easy for themselves as they squandered a 4-1 lead but held on for the win.

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Leeds took the lead through Helder Costa’s stunner but Aleksandar Mitrovic briefly leveled things up from the penalty spot. Mateusz Klich then made it 2-1 to Leeds from the spot before half time and after the break Klich set up Patrick Bamford to make it 3-1. Costa made it 4-1 but then goals from Bobby Decordova-Reid and Mitrovic made it 4-3 and set up a wild finish, but Fulham couldn’t find an equalizer.

The win was Leeds’ first in the Premier League for over 16 years, while Fulham have now lost their opening two games back in the Premier League and have conceded seven goals in the process.


3 things we learned: Leeds – Fulham

1. “Bielsaball” will deliver classics: Their first two games back in the Premier League have both ended in 4-3 results, one defeat and one win. Leeds will be fun to watch this season. Now, they should have wrapped this game up and created so many chances but they ran out of steam in the second half. That is because they press so high early on and “Bielsaball” is based on that. Maybe they will have to tweak their tactics to cope with the PL but probably not. That means it will be fun to watch Leeds for the foreseeable future.

2. Both teams hampered by defenses: Attack is not the problem for either of these team but at the back they made so many mistake. Bielsa and Scott Parker both love to watch their teams attack but if they’re going to fulfil their potential this season (top 10 for Leeds and staying up for Fulham) they have to cut out silly errors at the back. Both teams gave away sloppy penalty kicks and failed to defense crosses as they left huge gaps at the back. They have to shore things up.

3. New Leeds signings taking a while to settle: Rodrigo was okay but Robin Koch had another game to forget as it is taking Leeds’ two main summer signings a while to settle in. Fulham’s new boys did okay. Maybe the new boys had less time to settle in due to the shorter offseason? But when you look at Everton and Newcastle and Leicester in the opening week of the season, their new boys settled in quickly. Leeds have spent big on new signings and they need more from them.

Man of the Match: Patrick Bamford – He won a penalty, scored a goal and set up another and he is proving he is capable of making a difference in the top-flight.


Leeds got off to the perfect start as they were 1-0 up within the first five minutes. A Kalvin Phillips corner was flicked on to the back post and Helder Costa was somehow left totally unmarked but finished superbly as he smashed home off the woodwork and in.

Michael Hector’s header was deflected over by Robin Koch as Leeds were pinned back after taking the lead. At the other end Koch had a header on goal which Fulham’s new goalkeeper Alphonse Areola tipped over.

Fulham were handed a golden opportunity to get back in the game as Koch slid in and just caught Joe Bryan as a penalty kick was given and Mitrovic made no mistake from the spot. 1-1. In his first two Premier League games for Leeds, Koch has now given away two penalty kicks.

No sooner had Fulham looked settled, they gave away an equally soft penalty kick as Bryan pushed Patrick Bamford in the back at the crucial moment and Klich slotted home to make it 2-1.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

A few minutes into the second half Klich set up Bamford who exposed a huge gap in the Fulham defense and slotted home his second Premier League goal in as many games. Bamford then turned provider as he surged down the left and pulled it back perfectly for Costa to slot home and make it 4-1.

Fulham got themselves back into the game as substitute Decordova-Reid smashed home after good work from Andre-Frank Anguissa to make it 4-2.

Kenny Tete then whipped in a lovely cross which Mitrovic headed home to make it 4-3 and moments later Neeskens Kebano hit the post and Mitrovic flashed a shot just wide as the away side surged forward in search of an unlikely point.

In the end, Leeds rallied and just held on for their first Premier League win since 2004.

Manchester United – Crystal Palace: How to watch, start time, team news

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Manchester United – Crystal Palace: Manchester United finally begins its Premier League season with a visit from Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET on Peacock).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

The two sides met at Selhurst Park in July. Marcus Rashford had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over the Eagles, a bit of vengeance after Patrick van Aanholt keyed a Palace upset of the Red Devils at Old Trafford in August 2019.

STREAM MANCHESTER UNITED-CRYSTAL PALACE LIVE

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United – Crystal Palace this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Manchester United – Crystal Palace (INJURY REPORT)

Paul Pogba starts for Man United as he continues to get back in shape after COVID-19 quarantine, as Solskjaer noted the Frenchman gets himself ready quickly. Mason Greenwood is on the bench, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah starts at right with Aaron Wan-Bissaka only fit enough for the bench. Donny van de Beek is also on the bench.

Mamadou Sakho returns for Palace, while Wilfried Zaha is handed the captains armband for the first time and he captains Palace against his former club.


What they’re saying

Donny van de Beek on joining Man Utd“Everyone has helped me a lot and wanted to make me feel at home and this is really good for me and it has given me the confidence to play. … It’s a family club, I feel this already from the first seconds I have been here. Old Trafford is an amazing stadium. The nicest thing will be when the fans are there too and I cannot wait to play for the first time in front of them. I hope to see them soon in the stadium because for our team they will give us a lot of power when we can have them with us.”

Palace’s Roy Hodgson on perceived wantaway Wilfried Zaha: “Nothing’s changed at all since the last 230 times I’ve spoken on the subject, I don’t think. He’s fit, he’s well, he’s playing extremely well, he’s looking forward to Saturday and we’re looking forward to using him. I’m pretty sure when something major happens on the Wilf Zaha front, the mass media will be the first to know.”


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

Palace is the biggest underdog of the weekend at +850, with hosts United at -325. Even a draw at +440 would be a big surprise.

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

Palace will be playing its third match in a week and that could have them a bit sharper than their opening day hosts or lagging a bit. Given United’s superiority in attack and the impossibility that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will sleep on a team that upset them in the same building a year ago, we’re going 3-1 to the Red Devils. Wilf Zaha scores against his former team, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka gets an assist versus his.


How to watch Manchester United – Crystal Palace stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Diogo Jota to Liverpool confirmed

Jota to Liverpool
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Jota to Liverpool is edging closer, as Wolves have all but confirmed the transfer for the Portuguese international.

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Diogo Jota, 23, is said to be finalizing details on a five-year contract at Liverpool after the clubs agreed a fee which could rise to $58 million.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Wolves’ clash with Manchester City on Monday (start time, 3:15pm ET, stream live on Peacock), head coach Nuno Espirito Santo praised Jota’s contribution to the club and said he is joining the right club in Liverpool.

“Diogo is amazing and everybody knows the relationship we built. What Diogo did for us is absolutely fantastic,” Nuno said. “I think Diogo is going to the right place and we wish him all the best, knowing that it never be forgotten, especially by our fans, all the memorable moments that Diogo provided.”

This has all happened very quickly but it works out well for everyone. Would Wolves have loved to have kept Jota? Of course.

But they’ve bought Portuguese starlet Fabio Silva this summer and have Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence and Adama Traore who can support Raul Jimenez in attack. They will be just fine without Jota. He joined them on loan from Atletico Madrid when they were a Championship club and helped them gain promotion to the Premier League and has been incredibly consistent in terms of goals and assists over the last two seasons.

At Liverpool he will have to wait for chances behind Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane but his style of play suits them perfectly and it is a great move for him. Working under Jurgen Klopp will take his game to the next level and Liverpool’s secondary attacking options have just got a lot better, plus they’ve added Thiago Alcantara to upgrade their midfield.

Diogo Jota to Liverpool is edging closer and he leaves Wolves with the best wishes of everyone and for a transfer fee which justifies letting him go as he cost Wolves just $16.5 million less than three seasons ago.

James dazzles as Everton hammer 10-man West Brom

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Everton – West Brom had it all. Seriously.

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The Toffees beat the Baggies 5-2 as Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a hat trick, plus James Rodriguez and Michael Keane each bagged a goal.

Superb goals from Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira gave West Brom hope but they were reduced to 10 men before half time and had manager Slaven Bilic sent off in the aftermath for remonstrating with referee Mike Dean.


3 things we learned: Everton – West Brom

1. Everton’s attack on fire: James Rodriguez pulled the strings and scored his first Everton goal with a fine strike. His link-up play with Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Andre Gomes was sublime and Everton’s entire attacking unit was fluid and in-tune. With Moise Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alex Iwobi able to come off the bench, they have so many options. In James, Richarlison and DCL, their front free are all on the same wavelength and even Lucas Digne on the left flank enhanced their attacks.

2. Shaky Pickford a concern: The one negative for Everton will have been Pickford’s form. He should have done better with Diangana’s goal and although Pereira hit a stunning free kick, was Pickford’ position correct? He gave the ball away early with his feet a few times too and the England international has to stay focused and prove he can be trusted. Right now, it’s tough to say if Pickford should remain as the Three Lions’ number one.

3. Diangana backs up West Ham outrage: When Diangana was sold by West Ham to West Brom, the club he was on loan at last season, Hammers skipper Mark Noble hit out at the West Ham owners. That tells you how highly Diangana is rated. His goal summed up his class and he had some lovely flicks. Alongside Pereira, he will score and create plenty of goals for the Baggies this season.

Man of the Match, Everton – West Brom: James Rodriguez – Now, DCL scored a hat trick of tap ins and he was in the right place at the right time, but James oozed class. Everton’s entire attack is now clicking into place because of the Colombia star.


Everton should have taken the lead early on as James Rodriguez whipped in a superb corner but Calvert-Lewin could only head wide.

West Brom took the lead after Diangana was given the freedom of Goodison to run towards goal and he then drilled home a low shot into the bottom corner, past a slow-moving Jordan Pickford and in.

Everton responded well to going behind with Calvert-Lewin and Allan having chances, but then Jake Livermore did superbly to control and get a shot off but he hit the post.

Before the break Everton were level as Richarlison caused havoc after a cross and Calvert-Lewin flicked home. The equalizer was initially ruled out for offside but VAR checked the decision and it was overturned. 1-1.

James Rodriguez then made it 2-1 with a lovely strike from outside the box for his first Everton goal, then a few moments later Kieran Gibbs raised his hands to the face of James and was shown a straight red card. At half time West Brom boss Slaven Bilic was also sent off for remonstrating with referee Mike Dean as the Baggies imploded.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The second half saw the chaos continue.

Within a few minutes of the restart 10-man West Brom were level as Matheus Pereira curled home a stunning free kick into the top corner from distance.

But it wasn’t 2-2 for long as Richarlison’s header was saved but Michael Keane was on hand to tap home the rebound to put the Toffees 3-2 up.

Soon it was 4-2 as James brilliantly found Richarlison who teed up Calvert-Lewin to tap home. And Calvert-Lewin completed his hat trick as the ball bounced off the back of his head and in to make it 5-2.

Lucas Digne hit the bar with a free kick and Richarlison had a goal disallowed for offside as Everton eased to a second-straight victory to start the season in style.