Willy Boly‘s 95th minute header earned a draw for Wolves
Newcastle sit just one point above the relegation zone
Miguel Almiron made his Newcastle debut
Willy Boly saved the day for Wolverhampton Wanderers at home as they drew, 1-1 with Newcastle on Monday evening. The tall French centerback rose highest to head home a dramatic mistake from Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in the fifth minute of extra time, saving a point for Wolves and denying the Magpies three vital points for the second consecutive match.
With the draw, Newcastle sit just one point above Southampton and the relegation zone, with 25 points from 26 games.
Wolves meanwhile are in seventh place, with 39 points on the season.
Earlier in the second half, Isaac Hayden put Newcastle up front with a blast of a strike that Rui Patricio couldn’t keep out, and it seemed Newcastle were well on their way to victory against a Wolves side that seemed to be missing that cutting edge. Newcastle were later boosted offensively by the introduction of record signing from Atlanta United, Miguel Almiron, off the bench in the 72nd minute.
In the first half, Wolves certainly had more thrust and attacking vigor, working Newcastle’s right and left side early and often. However, the Magpies were resolute defensively, including the U.S. Men’s National Team’s DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Neither side was able to create too much on goal, but it seemed like whichever team tired or made the mistake first would be punished.
That happened when Wolves fell asleep in the 56th minute. Fabian Schär has acres of space to run into, and his through ball on the ground found the midfielder Hayden advancing into the box. Hayden fired on goal and perhaps surprised Patricio, scoring inside the near post to give Newcastle a lead.
With Almiron on, it seemed as if Newcastle may add to the lead. Almiron showed no fear in running at the Wolves defense but clearly isn’t at his sharpest after two months without a game.
However, it was a crucial mistake in the game’s final moments that saved a point for Wolves and stole two from Newcastle. Manager Rafa Benitez might rue this moment should Newcastle go down, missing out on four of the last six points available due to goalkeeper errors.
Given the impressive group of USMNT players and prospects abroad, this January camp was of monumental importance for the all-MLS squad assembled by Gregg Berhalter.
Aside from goalkeeper Zack Steffen, himself headed to Manchester City in the summer, and perhaps LAFC’s Walker Zimmerman, everyone had something to prove to Berhalter and his staff: Even former longtime captain and 143-times capped Michael Bradley.
Consider this list of players not called into January’s camp and wins over the mostly “B teams” of Panama and Costa Rica.
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, “Timo” Weah, Josh Sargent, Bobby Wood, Ethan Horvath.
And those are just the “must” call-ups for March’s visits from Ecuador and Chile.
So keeping in mind the staff had a dozen non-friendly chances to evaluate the players on a myriad of levels, here are those who raised or lowered their stock in the matches versus Panama and Costa Rica.
Jonathan Lewis, New York City FC (21) — Personal anecdote: I watched Akron play the University at Buffalo a couple of times during Lewis’ lone season with the Zips, and Lewis’ electric talent leapt off the pitch. That’s a nearly essential sign if a college star has an international future.
Lewis was an impact sub for Berhalter in a similar fashion. In addition to the unteachable pace he possesses, Lewis stood up a cross that Sebastian Lletget finished for the difference-making goal against Costa Rica.
But Lewis’ pro career has been a slow burn (Dominic Torrent deployed him much more than Patrick Vieira, but still zero starts). Even with David Villa leaving NYCFC, Lewis is behind Jesus Medina, reported $9 million buy Alex Mitrita and 2018 revelation Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. He needs an outlet, and maybe former (ages ago) Akron coach and current Columbus boss Caleb Porter would be up for it?
Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy (26) — Lletget left the United States for West Ham United in 2009, so we saw very little of his development. He became, in fact, a curiosity thanks to his making just one senior appearance in West London.
Upon his MLS debut with LA, though, it became clear there was something very good here. Lletget scored for the USMNT in his third cap before suffering a Lisfranc injury and missing 18 months. He scored on Saturday — in the same venue in which he was hurt — and was perhaps the most composed player in a U.S. jersey.
His ability to play anywhere in the midfield is huge, and Berhalter will love what he’s seen from the veteran.
Michael Bradley, Toronto FC (31) — The short- and long-term future of the midfield runs through Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, but Bradley’s performance against Panama — as poor as Los Canaleros were — shows he’s going to be someone who has in him at least another World Cup cycle as a contributor. Think a rich man’s “Kyle Beckerman in the 2018 qualification cycle.” Even if he is not starting, his experience and engine combine to make for a tremendous asset.
Bonus positives: Djordje Mihailovic, Chicago Fire (20). Steffen (23).
Let’s first put a list of players who, unless there were unreported injuries, couldn’t get many minutes, if any, for Berhalter: Reggie Cannon, Auston Trusty, Marky Delgado, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry, Justen Glad, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Miller.
Most of this bunch is quite young, so it’s hard to say they aren’t for the future. Delgado, Acosta, and Rosenberry are the biggest eyebrow-raisers given their age and importance to their current clubs.
Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake (23) — A lot of astute soccer minds love Baird because he’s very good positionially, and that’s true, but this is also a player who was the 18th rated Real Salt Lake player last season despite producing eight goals and five assists. It’s one of those “arguments against analytics,” but he has to get goals and assists against this opposition. Instead, he was just okay. You could easily argue that the team Panama put out there would finish dead last in MLS. I need my wingers to feast on that.
Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (27) — I hate the idea of piling on, and it’s silly to write off such a tantalizing and industrious talent when so many coaches have failed to do so, but Zardes just isn’t on the level and hasn’t been for some time outside of MLS.
While thriving in MLS usually is a gateway to torture CONCACAF, Zardes hasn’t scored in his last 13 caps. Eight of those caps were 45 minutes or more, so it’s not like he hasn’t a chance to score (He has pitched in an assist). As a center forward, hold up play is important but not as much as goals. Jozy Altidore will need to get a chance to show he should be in the group with Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah, Bobby Wood, and even Andrija Novakovich (and Jordan Morris). Not good for Gyasi.
Tottenham Hotspur beat Newcastle United 1-0 at Wembley on Saturday, as Heung-Min Son kept Spurs’ title hopes alive.
Missing Harry Kane and Dele Alli through injury, Spurs huffed and puffed throughout but it looked like a stubborn Newcastle would leave London with a point. However, Son’s strike from distance somehow squirmed under Martin Dubravka and in to seal a huge three points.
Son has now scored twice in four days for Spurs since returning from the Asian Cup, and despite being exhausted he has now pushed them four points behind league leaders Liverpool.
With the win Spurs move to second place in the Premier League on 57 points, while Newcastle have 24 points and sit in 14th.
Lamela then sent a header against the crossbar from Jan Vertonghen‘s left-wing cross and Moura nodded wide as Spurs continued to push for the opener.
On the break Newcastle almost broke through as first Ayoze Perez and then Salomon Rondon had shots blocked with Tottenham scrambling to get back. Before half time Martin Dubravka saved Moussa Sissoko‘s shot but no Spurs players was on hand to tap home the rebound.
Christian Eriksen‘s cheeky flick from close-range was then hooked off the line heroically by Fabian Schar and moments later Hugo Lloris denied Perez’s curler.
Substitute Fernando Llorente had a headed chance at the back post but blamed the sun being in his eyes for getting it horribly wrong. Matt Ritchie cleared another Eriksen flick off the line as Spurs threw everything at Newcastle late on and they broke through in the final few minutes.
A long ball up to Llorente was nodded down to Son and his shot from outside the box somehow squirmed under Dubravka and in. A horrible moment for Newcastle’s goalkeeper but Son, once again, delivered when Spurs needed him most.
In front of a crowd of just over 9,000 fans (inside the 63,000 capacity State Farm Stadium), the U.S. men’s national team looked cohesive as their squad of players entirely from the MLS were hungry following their January camp.
The USMNT’s first goal came from debutant Djorde Mihailovic, who timed his run into the box perfectly and finished off a cross from another debutant, Corey Baird. It was a smooth move from the U.S. and a sign of things to come.
Walker Zimmerman then powered home a header for the second, as the brilliant Nick Lima whipped in a perfect cross for the center back to attack. Lima was named man of the match as the right back has come from nowhere to make a name for himself during the January camp.
Another debutant, Christian Ramirez from LA FC, finished off the scoring as he tapped home after wonderful work from, you guessed it, another debutant in Jonathan Lewis.
But, what did we learn about this new-look, MLS centric USMNT squad?
Berhalter will be pleased to see plenty of debutants deliver: Youngster Nick Lima and Djorde Mihailovic both impressed, while the likes of Jonathan Lewis and Christian Ramirez did themselves no harm whatsoever after jumping off the bench. Berhalter is keen to promote players from the U.S. youth teams, but we will see if that’s the case once he can select the European based players.
Veteran central midfielder Michael Bradley put in a commanding display: Many will say his days with the USMNT should be over, but it’s clear that Berhalter believes Toronto FC’s skipper has an important role to play in the coming years to help get this team back on track. Bradley is 31 years old and showed he is still easily among the USMNT’s best central midfield options.
Aaron Long excelled at center back as the new skipper: Long’s rise from the USL to being the USMNT skipper in less than 18 months has been remarkable, and his partnership alongside Walker Zimmerman is promising. Considering the struggles of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga for consistent minutes in Europe, the MLS duo are proving their worth at the international level.
This was a very poor Panama side: With only two regulars included in an 18-man squad made up entirely of those playing in the Panamanian leagues, it is tough to get too excited about the USMNT. Berhalter will know that, and he won’t get too carried away if the U.S. beat a similarly weakened Costa Rica on Saturday too. That said, this is far from the USA’s strongest lineup too. Perspective is needed, and this process of getting the U.S. back on track is going to be an arduous one.
How many European based players would start in this USMNT team?: Christian Pulisic, DeAndre Yedlin, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Bobby Wood and John Brooks look like they will be regulars, but apart from that there are plenty of places up for grabs. When you look at the options Berhalter will have for the friendly against Chile in March, it will be tricky for him to whittle this squad down to 23 players.
The above has certainly given Berhalter plenty of food for thought as he edges towards that game against Chile where he can select all of his European based players for the first time.
Below we take a look at the video highlights of the 3-0 win.
Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford scored second half goals as Manchester United won its fourth-straight match under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer with a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Wednesday.
The win moves United three points back of fifth place Arsenal and six back of fourth place Chelsea.
Newcastle United is now one of three teams on 18 points, two points clear of the drop zone.
Marcus Rashford whipped a free post toward the near post that Martin Dubravka parried in the 9th minute.
Newcastle got its first chance when Christian Atsu got behind the defense and made a deft trap, but the Ghanaian’s shot was caught by a stooping David De Gea. Atsu then dribbled at Victor Lindelof before hitting a soft shot that didn’t fool De Gea.
Shelvey hammered a shot wide in the 69th, and Atsu did the same in the 76th.
Just as Newcastle United appeared to have their finger on the pulse of the match, the Red Devils counter attacked for goal No. 2. Rashford and Lukaku sprang the rush, with Alexis Sanchez providing the assist on the former’s finish.