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Berhalter: No ‘like-for-like’ replacement for Pulisic

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U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter may not be feeling any more pressure after the USMNT’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at Canada last month. But his task to beat Canada in the return match on Friday in Orlando became even more difficult with the loss of Christian Pulisic to injury.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Berhalter noted that there’s no one on the current USMNT team that could replace exactly what Pulisic brings – excellent dribbling, high soccer IQ, dynamic runs into the box – but they’ll need to compensate for his absence in other ways.

[READ: How will the USMNT line up v. Canada]

“When you think about his dynamic dribbling, you don’t see players like that around very much anymore.,” Berhalter said. “We’ll have to compensate with other types of skills. But what we do have is speed and physically, and we’ll want to take advantage of that. I think that will be a key component of the game.”

Even with Pulisic on the field for around an hour, the U.S. still seemed second-best, but it didn’t help when the USMNT’s best player was taken off. In the current squad, Berhalter will need to look for creativity and darting runs diagonally from players like Tyler Boyd and Jordan Morris on the wings, where they can potentially have an advantage over Canada’s outside backs.

Berhalter noted at the press conference that this week in training they’ve been focusing on bringing the intensity demanded for international soccer, as well as how to better succeed in the attacking third of the field.

“We’ve been working with the wingers, working with the attacking midfielder, having them focused on spaces we need to exploit, and being very aggressive around the penalty box,” Berhalter said. “One thing we weren’t happy with in the game in Canada was our lack of ability to get behind their backline and our lack of ability in the final third to deliver accurate crosses. We got into some good positions and didn’t take advantage of that. So, we focused on that during this week and it’s been looking pretty good.”

In some of the USMNT’s worst games in recent years, including the loss in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago and the loss in Toronto, Canada, it’s been the lack of creativity in the final third, or a lack of even setting up one-v-one opportunities in the final third that’s cost the U.S. That task becomes more difficult without Pulisic, but perhaps the USMNT can take advantage of Morris’ recent fine form, and use his speed down the left to get in behind Canada’s defense.

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez earns Wolves point; Lozano assists in Napoli loss

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The clock was inching closer towards the 90-minute mark at the Emirates and Wolverhampton Wanderers needed a goal.

They had tried more than a dozen times, but the ball wouldn’t cross the white line.

Then, as its happened in the past, Raul Jimenez delivered the goods. The Mexican’s header inside the box flew towards the back of the net, earning Wolves a much-deserved 1-1 draw against Arsenal.

Over in Italy, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano came close to having a hero-like moment of his own; unfortunately, Napoli were playing two goals down to hosts AS Roma by the time he took the field.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito came on for Luuk De Jong in Sevilla’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. He recorded four touches, two passes, but didn’t register a shot.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Shortly after Chicharito stepped on the field, Herrera did so himself. The midfielder played 12 minutes in Los Colchoneros’ draw in Seville.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Betis’ captain started and all played all 90 minutes for Betis, who held Real Madrid to a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. Guardado completed 85 percent of his passes, but picked up a yellow card in the 85th minute.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old didn’t dress for Saturday’s match.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and every minute in Celta’s 1-0 loss to Getafe. The defender recorded three clearances, two blocked shots and one interception. Celta have lost four consecutive matches and are currently in the relegation zone.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — Lozano came on in the 58th minute for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. In the 72nd minute, Arkadiusz Milk capitalized on his valiant, right-wing run and subsequent cross into the box, tapping in the ball into the back of net. Despite the goal, Napoli lost 2-1 to AS Roma.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez was instrumental for Wolves yet again. The 28-year-old went all 90 minutes and scored the leveler against Arsenal on Saturday, which is his fourth goal of the Premier League campaign.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez came off at halftime due to an undisclosed injury in PSV’s 2-2 draw against Sparta Rotterdam on Saturday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez, too, was the victim of an injury in the Eredivisie this weekend. The 22-year-old took the field in the 23rd minute for an injured Lisandro Martinez, only to be taken off at the 63rd minute, after taking a gruesome elbow to the face. Ajax defeated PEC Zwolle 4-2.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — After starting the season as one of the team’s starting fullbacks, it seems that Tecatito is back in a midfield role for now. The 26-year-old played all 90 minutes in Porto’s 1-0 victory over CD Aves.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea started and played 76 minutes in Zulte’s 2-0 loss to Club Brugge.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   On Saturday, Moreno started and played 90 minutes in Al Gharafa’s 3-1 win over Al Khor.

Pedro Arce, Panionios – Arce’s goal in the 66th minute opened the scoring in Panionios’ 1-1 draw against Aris Thessaloniki on Saturday.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso and Roda take on Jong PSV Eindhoven on Monday.

 

Three things we learned from Atlanta United-Toronto FC (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Level at one but holding the hosts at bay, Toronto FC looked content to drag the life out of the Eastern Conference Final. One of its attackers had other ideas, though, as Nick DeLeon dribbled into and then out of traffic to smash a shot past Brad Guzan from outside the box and earn the Reds their third MLS Cup Final berth in four years (all against Seattle Sounders).

The Five Stripes came out of the gates hot in both halves. Julian Gressel rolled a ball over the line in the fourth minute of the first half and Atlanta won a penalty with embellishment only to see Quentin Westberg deny Josef Martinez from the spot. Both Westberg and Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan were very decent in the first half, Nicolas Benezet’s equalizer a curling thing of beauty. A league with almost unrivaled home field advantage saw two celebrated home sides beaten by cagey former champions. MLS is a riot.

One more note: Here’s a nod to USMNT hero Michael Parkhurst, whose career ends one match short of another final.

“I have to say that today was resiliency,” said manager Greg Vanney. “It wasn’t beautiful soccer. These guys refused to give up, kept looking for their moment and got it. I don’t think there were too many statistical categories we won.”

[ MORE: Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal | GK hero reacts ]

Three things we learned

1. Bradley, TFC caught sleeping early: Toronto FC’s hopes of taking the Mercedes Benz Stadium crowd out of this one took a seismic shake when Michael Bradley somehow didn’t realize Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was right behind him to blaze onto a terrific through ball from in-form Ezequiel Barco. Martinez held onto the ball as long as possible before sending a pass to Gressel for as easy a finish as you’ll see at this level. 1-0 in the fourth minute. Bradley then conceded a penalty to an embellishing but fouled Martinez, but French-American goalkeeper Quentin Westberg bailed him out with a fine save on Josef Martinez to keep the deficit at one. Buy him dinner, MB90.

2. TFC makes only attacking moments count: Nicolas Benezet quickly restored the deadlock with a terrific finish from the corner of the box. The ex-Guingamp midfielder ran onto a marvelous diagonal pass from center back Laurent Ciman. Benezet cut in freom the left and spun a curling effort toward the back post that ex-Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan could not rescue before it rippled the netting for 1-1 in the 14th minute. You could argue that there wasn’t another threat from the Canadian side until DeLeon’s winner, which was a smashing shot to cap a smash and grab.

3. Westberg, Mavinga keep Reds in the match: Yes, of course, the penalty kick save was an outstanding moment for the former Troyes and Auxerre goalkeeper, but he would be needed many times over the course of the match including two moments in the first few moments of the second half. Decisive off his line and composed on it, the 33-year-old continues to validate Greg Vanney’s decision to put him in the lineup over MLS Cup winner Nick Bono. As for Chris Mavinga, the physical Congolese defender was a force. A few days after a Man of the Match performance in New York, Mavinga rebounded from an in-game injury to make two decisive interventions in the final five minutes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Westberg.

Goalscorers: Gonzalo Martinez (4′), Nicolas Benezet (14′), Nick DeLeon (78′)

James back in Colombia squad for friendlies in U.S.

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BOGOTA, Colombia — Midfielder James Rodriguez will return to Colombia’s national team after a four-match absence for two friendlies in the United States against Peru and Ecuador.

However, striker Radamel Falcao remains out with an Achilles injury.

Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz announced his squad of 34 players on Tuesday for matches on Nov. 15 against Peru in Miami and four days later against Ecuador in Harrison, New Jersey.

Rodriguez has not played for Colombia since this summer’s Copa America. He returned to Real Madrid this season after a year on loan at Bayern Munich.

Queiroz also called up strikers Juan Fernando Quintero and Rafael Santos Borre, who will play in the Copa Libertadores final for River Plate against Flamengo on Nov. 23.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Napoli), Camilo Vargas (Atlas), Aldair Quintana (Atletico Nacional), Eder Chaux (Patriotas).

Defenders: Luis Orejuela (Cruzeiro), Stefan Medina (Monterrey), Santiago Arias (Atletico Madrid), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Yerry Mina (Everton), Jhon Lucumi (Genk), Jeison Murillo (Sampdoria), Cristian Borja (Sporting Lisbon), William Tesillo (Leon), Johan Mojica (Girona), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors).

Midfielders: Wilmar Barrios (Zenit), Gustavo Cuellar (Al Hilal), Jorman Campuzano (Boca Juniors), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth), Steven Alzate (Brighton), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Mateus Uribe (Porto), Yairo Moreno (Leon).

Strikers: Luis Muriel (Atalanta), Luis Sinisterra (Feyenoord), Steven Mendoza (Amiens), Roger Martinez (America de Mexico), Luis Diaz (Porto), Sebastian Villa (Boca Juniors), Alfredo Morelo

Fortunate Spurs take point from woeful day v. winless Watford

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Watford can’t buy a break, drawing lackluster Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 in North London on Saturday.

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first half goal looked like it would be all Watford needed to collect its first win of the year, but Dele Alli poked home after a late Watford mix-up.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs’ 12 points have them seventh, while Watford stays winless in taking its fourth point.


Three things we learned

1. Rudderless Spurs get gift for Dele: Take away Heung-Min Son‘s early second half rip off the bar, and Tottenham did nothing. However, a massive 86th minute mix-up for Watford’s back line opened the gates for Dele Alli to poke home an equalizer. VAR said he didn’t handle the ball, and Spurs had their path to a point. Can the fortunate finish help Dele refind his form?

2. Deulofeu active, defied by VAR: The ex-Barcelona prodigy was everywhere for Watford and should’ve earned a penalty in the first half, where we learned that VAR is not going to overrule a referee anything unless there’s blood or a visible broken bone in the box. There would’ve been no chance of an overturning had it been ruled a penalty on the field.

3. Son important for Spurs: While much of Tottenham’s team has looked out of sorts this season, South Korea’s Heung-min Son continues to produce (sometimes in solo fashion). He rattled a second half shot off the bar to help shake the cobwebs from Spurs, and his dribbles showed an energy not present in many of his teammates. It’d be fair to say he kept his team alive long enough for a moment like Dele’s fortunate finish.

Man of the Match: Dele Alli — It was a day for a bit of redemption, as the struggling playmaker got his goal and was dangerous despite very little help. Son was good, but Harry Kane and Lucas Moura were among those to toss up the shoulder shrug emoji for most of the day.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

An early injury to Danny Welbeck could’ve lowered the morale for the visitors, but the defiant Hornets went ahead in too easy fashion.

Spurs back Danny Rose lost his way tracking a long diagonal ball, and Doucoure waltzed behind the back line to collect a Daryl Janmaat cross that swept around no less than three Tottenham players. Nice looking goal, pitiful defending.

Jan Vertonghen‘s sloppy slide then clipped Gerard Deulofeu, but VAR would not deem the decision a clear and obvious error.

Heung-min Son struck and inspired move out of halftime, working Craig Cathcart to rip a shot that Ben Foster just touched onto the cross bar in the 49th.

At the other end, Deulofeu found Roberto Pereyra, but the Serge Aurier made a supreme intervention to block the shot.

Spurs had so few answers on the day, with Deulofeu remaining a menace, but that mix-up at the back allowed Dele to pounce for a point.