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Report: USMNT’s Zimmerman has interest from Premier League, Europe

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American center back Walker Zimmerman is reportedly hedging on signing a new deal with LAFC, and is entertaining interest from some of the bigger leagues in Europe.

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MLSSoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal says that Zimmerman has at least one formal offer from Europe, and is eligible to sign a pre-contract as his contract is up after this season.

The 25-year-old has three USMNT caps and a goal, and has “interest from clubs in France’s Ligue 1, the German Bundesliga and the English Premier League and Championship.”

Zimmerman leads LAFC in interceptions, clearances, and blocks per game. Those are all Top Ten statistics in the league as well.

The top of the U.S. defender pool is full of players who were either raised in Europe or left for top leagues after starring at the MLS level. Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Geoff Cameron, and DeAndre Yedlin are four prime examples.

Sorting the CONCACAF nations on the road to Qatar 2022

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The United States men’s national team picked up a feel-good win over Mexico on Tuesday in Nashville, and there’s no reason to feel bad about enjoying the win.

Yet as general manager Earnie Stewart sorts through his options regarding the next full-time coach of the USMNT, where do the Yanks sit in the race to qualify for Qatar 2022?

[ MORE USMNT-MEXICO: 3 things | Player ratings ]

Yes, the World Cup is still going to Qatar. Yes, the games will be played in December in the middle of the night local time. Had to be said, again.

First and foremost, assuming the World Cup stays at 32 teams in the 3+1 CONCACAF qualifying format, who are the front-runners to make the Hex?

Let’s say the chalk plays out through qualifying and these 12 teams make the fourth round of qualifying. Since the Hex began for the 1998 cycle, the following nations have participated: USMNT (all), Mexico (all), Costa Rica (all), Honduras (4), Trinidad and Tobago (4), Panama (3), Jamaica (3), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (2006), Canada (1998).

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We still don’t know which U-20 sides will qualify for next summer’s U-20 World Cup — qualifying is in November — but the U.S. won the CONCACAF U-20 title in 2017, with Mexico winning the previous three, and Costa Rica before that. Panama were runners-up in 2015, so it’s a pretty good predictor of the pipeline.

Here are the current Elo Ratings and FIFA world rankings for CONCACAF sides:

Mexico — Elo 20, FIFA 16
USMNT — Elo 26, FIFA 22
Costa Rica — Elo 43, FIFA 32
Honduras — Elo 58, FIFA 61
Panama — Elo 63, FIFA 69
Jamaica — Elo 67, FIFA 54
Canada — Elo 73, FIFA 79
Guatemala — Elo 80, FIFA 146
Haiti — Elo 84, FIFA 104
El Salvador — Elo 87, FIFA 72
Trinidad and Tobago — Elo 96, FIFA 91
Curacao — Elo 132, FIFA 81

For now, we will only rank the sides who have qualified to a prior Hex, though Haiti has a chance to impress us and join in the next power rankings some time in the future.

Long shots: El Salvador, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica

Hex candidates: Panama, Canada, Honduras

Yes, Panama qualified for the World Cup, but it happened via a goal that never crossed the line and the poor performances of an American team that rarely showed up to work and a Honduran team which just couldn’t pull it together. Still, it’s best player at the World Cup were young: Ricardo Avila (21), Yoel Barcenas (24), and Jose Luis Rodriquez (20). Need to figure out life post-Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez, and (probably) Jaime Penedo.

Honduras is going to be in the discussion due to home field advantage alone. Even when Los Catrachos aren’t shining at San Pedro Sula, they are a handful. A bit longer in the tooth than you’d like for a tournament run, young forward Alberth Elis has to join Romell Quioto, Bryan Acosta, and Anthony Lozano in taking the next step.

The wild card here is Canada, which remains a green project and has new leadership in former WNT coach John Herdman. He will have a trio of teens at significant clubs when Alphonso Davies leaves Vancouver for Bayern Munich, joining Jonathan David at Gent and Liam Millar at Liverpool (Alessandro Busti is with Juventus B and Zahcary Brault-Guilard, Lyon). TFC’s Jonathan Osorio is in his prime, Cyle Larin isn’t there yet, and goalkeeper Milan Borjan starts on Red Star Belgrade.

Hex participants: Costa Rica, USMNT

Let’s start with the one of the bunch which played in the World Cup; Costa Rica is a difficult team to read. It will qualify for the Hex because it’s never failed to and it won’t be too old… yet. Of the 13 players to play more than 100 minutes for Los Ticos at the World Cup, only Joel Campbell and Francisco Calvo (both 26) were under the age of 28. All five players who manned all 270 minutes of the World Cup were 30 or older.

The reason the United States men’s national team’s failure to qualify for Russia was considered a disaster is that the Yanks should never, ever, ever miss a World Cup given their talent and resources. Even with Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore getting on in years for their respective positions, the new manager could instantly trot out this lineup in CONCACAF and not worry about experience or age (at least not too much, and we’re not yet including Geoff Cameron):

Steffen

Yedlin — Miazga — Brooks — Lichaj

Adams — D. Williams — McKennie

Pulisic — Altidore — Wood

Subs: Guzan, Acosta, Weah, Green, Bradley, Ream, Sargent

The unquestioned No. 1: Mexico

Sure the U.S. was missing big names Pulisic, Brooks, Cameron, Bradley, and Altidore in the 1-0 win over Mexico, but El Tri was without a whole lot more. Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, Raul Jimenez, Carls Vela, Hirving Lozano, Chicharito (I’m just gonna stop now).

Mexico’s very best players are playing for some of the best clubs in the world, and Liga MX is still plenty ahead of MLS in depth and churning out youngsters.

Three years apart, USMNT losses to Brazil show hope

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Timely interventions from center backs and a hot goalkeeper helped the United States men’s national team keep damage down to 2-0 in its loss to Brazil on Friday in New Jersey, and the Yanks looked far less overwhelmed than the 4-1 hammering at the hands of Selecao three years ago to this morning.

[ USMNT-BRAZIL: Full recap | Player ratings ]

The player ratings that night were ugly; Brad Guzan was a veteran struggling between the sticks, and the back line was shielded poorly by Ale Bedoya, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley. The lone goal came via Danny Williams, and the silver lining was the then-Reading man and young DeAndre Yedlin.

Of course part of that was down to Jurgen Klinsmann figuring it was a good time to trot out a back four of Tim Ream, Ventura Alvarado, Michael Orozco, and Geoff Cameron (lot of center backs, considering Yedlin was deployed at right mid). And give Dave Sarachan plenty of credit for doing God’s work without much hope of being named full-time boss. This is proper guardianship of a program.

Only two starters from that night in 2015 saw time on Friday: Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes. With all due respect to Zardes, Yedlin’s the one who matters to this discussion. He’s become a key part of a Premier League outfit, though at the time he was a bit player in Europe.

Had the Yanks been looking for results on Friday, they would’ve suited up Bradley and Altidore. They would’ve begged Cameron to come, asked Williams and Bedoya to do a job or two.

It can be difficult to keep the USMNT’s present in focus given the gigantic cluster that was failing to qualify for Russia and then failing to accept responsibility for said failure, but the future is genuinely bright.

There’s no guarantee that players will continue to develop, and the global reach of technology has meant that many countries have sent more prospects to bigger clubs, there is absolutely no denying that the potential of the USMNT right now is as high as its been since the 2001 U-20 World Cup roster of Donovan, Onyewu, and Beasley.

But look at the roster, even beyond Pulisic: Weston McKennie is a regular starter for Schalke at age 19. Teenage mid Tyler Adams is shining for RBNY and looks set to move abroad to the Bundesliga.

Timothy Weah is a factor in the Paris Saint-Germain first team set-up. Matt Miazga‘s early days on loan from Chelsea at Nantes are impressive. The elders at just 25, Yedlin and Brooks are week-in, week-out starters at Newcastle and Wolfsburg.

Also, Josh Sargent didn’t play, but he did play Saturday for Werder Bremen. He scored. Again (And imagine if the powers-that-were didn’t sleep on Jonathan Gonzalez, who the Yanks will see in an El Tri shirt on Tuesday).

This is all without a full-time strategy in the national team program, and at least three principal voices in 18 months. That’s about to be four in 24.

Whether it’s Tata Martino or Gregg Berhalter, Tab Ramos or David Moyes, someone is going to inherit the most promising collection of young American talent, skill, and experience in ages.

If not ever.

Now that’s cool.

Geoff Cameron to complete QPR move

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Pro Soccer Talk understands that U.S. national team star Geoff Cameron is close to sealing a loan move to Queens Park Rangers in England’s second-tier.

With the summer transfer window for clubs outside of the Premier League in England closing this Friday, Aug. 31, the Stoke defender has been mulling over plenty of options in recent weeks.

Cameron, 33, is travelling to London on Thursday for a medical and will sign at QPR on loan for the 2018-19 season.

Per a source, it is believed Cameron will be able to leave Stoke permanently in January if a deal is arranged between now and then. La Liga clubs were interested in signing Cameron right up until the transfer deadline by rules over the number of non-EU players per squad hampered any move to Spain’s top-flight, for now.

Teams from Major League Soccer, Spain and elsewhere in Europe remain interested in Cameron but a loan move for the next few months is the best situation for him to play regularly.

Cameron hasn’t played for Stoke this season under new manager Gary Rowett after making it clear he’d like to move on following their relegation from the Premier League.

The former Houston Dynamo man, who joined Stoke in 2012, will offer QPR boss Steve McClaren plenty of experience and options in both midfield and defense with his versatility.

QPR currently sit third from bottom in the Championship with three points from their opening five games. If he signs in time Cameron will be available to make his QPR debut at Birmingham City on Saturday.

Amid European interest, Geoff Cameron close to Stoke exit

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USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron is close to leaving Stoke City following their relegation from the Premier League last season.

Cameron, 33, hasn’t featured for Stoke this season in the second tier. He missed the season opener at Leeds United due to flying home to the USA to be with his father who suffered a stroke, and he wasn’t included in Gary Rowett’s 18-man squad for their 1-1 home draw against Brentford on Saturday.

Pro Soccer Talk understands Cameron is getting plenty of interest from elsewhere in Europe and has a $9.5 million buyout clause in his contract. We understand Cameron has been eager to move on since the end of last season when the Potters were relegated from the Premier League, but is relaxed about the situation with a few weeks of the transfer window to go outside of the Premier League in England and across most of Europe.

A report from the Daily Telegraph stated that Cameron, Charlie Adam, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Giannelli Imbula are all allowed to leave before the end of the transfer window for Football League clubs which is on August 31.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that clubs from Spain, Germany and Scandinavia want to sign Cameron with Odense BK in Denmark, Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga and Rayo Vallecano in La Liga potential destinations for the holding midfielder, who can also play at center back and right back.

Cameron has spent the past six seasons in the Premier League at Stoke and was a regular under both Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes. He joined Stoke from the Houston Dynamo in 2012 after becoming an MLS All-Star and reaching an MLS Cup final during his five years in the league.

The versatile Massachusetts native has made 55 appearances for the U.S. national team as he played a starring role at the 2014 World Cup.

Cameron had previously been linked with a move back to MLS with the LA Galaxy, but the contract offer wasn’t deemed to be viable.