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USMNT’s initial 2019 Gold Cup roster includes surprises

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The USMNT’s preliminary 40-man squad for the 2019 Gold Cup this summer has been revealed.

And there are a few surprises.

First up, it is likely you will all be asking where John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are. Well, both are injured and are not included in the squad which was confirmed by CONCACAF on Monday.

In a release the governing body says that the final 23-man squads will be released in early June and after that “only injury-related changes will be allowed, up until 24 hours before each team’s first match” as any replacements “must come from the preliminary 40-player roster.”

That means Yedlin and Brooks are out no matter what, and that leave Gregg Berhalter with some big issues to solve defensively.

Some of the intriguing additions to Berhalter’s squad are dual nationals Marlon Fossey and Duane Holmes, while Andrew Gutman, Joe Gyau and Jonathan Amon are also included.

Young stars Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie join veteran defenders Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez. Usual suspects Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Brad Guzan are in the squad.

Below is the 40-man roster in full for the USMNT, as they are second favorites to win the tournament behind reigning champs Mexico.


Hertha Berlin bidding farewell to Pal Dardai after 23 years

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin’s long link with Pal Dardai will end on Saturday when he leads the team from the sidelines for the last time.

Hertha will also bid adieu to three players and two assistant coaches against Bayer Leverkusen, but Dardai — who is making way for under-23 coach Ante Covic — will receive the biggest send-off after 4+ years as coach and an association going back to 1996.

Dardai, who made a club-record 286 Bundesliga appearances for Hertha over 14 years, saved the club from relegation as coach and established a tough but unspectacular team capable of upsetting any of the rest.

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Dardai has been enjoying the relative calm around the club since it was announced on April 16 that he would not continue. Hertha had lost its previous five Bundesliga matches.

“These four weeks were a dream. Even my wife said, `You don’t need a break. You look good again.’ That’s how it is without the media,” said Dardai, whose bid to qualify for European qualification was disrupted by a host of injuries.

Hertha is 10th with nothing but pride at stake on the final day of the season, in contrast to Leverkusen, which is fifth and fighting for Champions League qualification.

Dardai, who had complained that expectations had grown too high at the club, expressed his gratitude to Hertha for the chance to coach in the Bundesliga.

“I’m grateful for these experiences. I even got money for it,” Dardai said. “It’s a gift from life and I’ve shown that I can do the Bundesliga. Pal Dardai is now a whole other type of coach than four years ago.”

A defensive midfielder in his playing days, Dardai brought his uncompromising style to management, too, starting in the club’s youth setup. After taking over from Jos Luhukay in February 2015, Dardai saved the team from relegation and was given a permanent contract.

Dardai was also coaching the Hungarian national team, but he gave up that position to focus on the club. He brought tactical discipline to the side and convinced the underperforming players to up their game. Dardai led Hertha to a seventh-place finish in 2016, sixth in 2017 and a spot in the Europa League, and 10th last year.

A win over Leverkusen on Saturday would ensure Hertha’s best second half to the season since 2008-09.

“Then you couldn’t write anymore that Hertha played a bad second half to the season. Then you have something less to write about,” Dardai told journalists, a frequent target.

Instead of the usual 10 tickets for a game, Dardai ordered 30 for Leverkusen’s visit.

“This time I was cheeky,” Dardai joked. “The manager (Michael Preetz) was nice. I got everything I asked for and I didn’t have to pay for them this time.”

Hertha will also bid farewell to players Fabian Lustenberger, who is leaving after 12 years, Julius Kade, who is joining city rival Union Berlin on a free transfer, and American goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, who did not have his contract extended.

Klinsmann, the son of former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann, will not be in the stadium on Saturday because of “personal reasons,” Preetz said.

Assistant coaches Rainer Widmayer and Admir Hamzagic are also leaving.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Harry Kane named in latest England squad

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The England squad for the 2019 UEFA Nations League finals has been released.

Captain Harry Kane is fit enough to be named in the initial 27-man squad, as England play the Netherlands in the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals in Guimaraes on June 6, and will then play either Switzerland or Portugal in the final or third-place match.

Kane has been out since early April with an ankle injury and Gareth Southgate is hopeful he will be able to play in the games, as the star striker is set to return and be involved for Tottenham in their UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool in Madrid on Jun. 1.

Southgate admitted that Kane’s status is still “unknown” for these games, but the Three Lions are willing to take that risk.

With up to 10 England players involved in the UCL final, many will only link up with England a few days before their semifinal against the Netherlands.

One of the big surprises is no James Maddison in the squad despite his good form for Leicester in the final weeks of the season, but that is due to the England U21 squad being the European Championships this summer. Southampton’s Nathan Redmond was called up to the squad for just the second time after his fine second half to the season under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Below is the squad in full.

Ranking top 10 Premier League players at each position

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There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who not only starred for their respective clubs but also elevated themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

We pondered that as we analyzed those who rose to the challenge best over the past nine months.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position based on their play during the 2018-19 campaign.


Goalkeepers
1. Ederson
2. Alisson
3. David De Gea
4. Kepa
5. Ben Foster
6. Lukasz Fabianski
7. Hugo Lloris
8. Jordan Pickford
9. Rui Patricio
10. Martin Dubravka


Right backs
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
2. Matt Doherty
3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
4. Cesar Azpilicueta
5. Ricardo Perreira
6. Kyle Walker
7. Seamus Coleman
8. Kiko Femenia
9. Pablo Zabaleta
10. Yan Valery


Left backs
1. Andrew Robertson
2. Lucas Digne
3. Ben Chilwell
4. Luke Shaw
5. Jonny Otto
6. Patrick Van Aanholt
7. Ben Davies
8. Nacho Monreal
9. Jose Holebas
10. Emerson Palmeri


Center backs
1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Aymeric Laporte
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Vincent Kompany
6. Sokratis
7. Antonio Rudiger
8. Conor Coady
9. Michael Keane
10. Issa Diop


Central midfielders
1. Fernandinho
2. Joao Moutinho
3. Moussa Sissoko
4. David Silva
5. Jordan Henderson
6. Andre Gomes
7. Abdoulaye Doucoure
8. Fabinho
9. N'Golo Kante
10. Youri Tielemans


Attacking midfielders
1. Eden Hazard
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Kevin De Bruyne
4. Christian Eriksen
5. Gerard Deulofeu
6. Dele Alli
7. James Maddison
8. Gylfi Sigurdsson
9. Paul Pogba
10. Diogo Jota


Wingers
1. Raheem Sterling
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Sadio Mane
4. Mohamed Salah
5. Wilfried Zaha
6. Ryan Fraser
7. Pedro
8. Ryan Babel
9. David Brooks
10. Nathan Redmond


Strikers
1. Sergio Aguero
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
3. Harry Kane
4. Roberto Firmino
5. Alexandre Lacazette
6. Raul Jimenez
7. Heung-Min Son
8. Jamie Vardy
9. Marcus Rashford
10. Salomon Rondon


Season Review: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Brighton, Southampton

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As the 2018/19 Premier League season has come to a close, it’s time to take a very brief look back at each club’s campaign and review how they did. First, we look back at the bottom five sides and work our way up the table.

Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Cardiff City were relegated to the Championship, while Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton both managed to stay up, barely. Each team took its own path to where they finished in the table, so here’s a look back at some of the journeys.

Huddersfield Town

Finishing position/points total: 20 / 16pts
High point
: Doing the double over Wolves.
Low point
: Losing 5-0 to Liverpool to cap a stretch of 8 losses.

Our opinion: They struggled to score all season, with just 22 goals in 38 league matches. Shut out in a whopping 19 Premier League matches, they never had the firepower to compete.
Star player
: Aaron Mooy
Most memorable goal
: Isaac Mbenza equalized on an assist from goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to draw Manchester United on the penultimate day of the season.


Manager grade: David Wagner: C- / Jan Siewert: F
Hopes for next season
: Huddersfield needs to stabilize and regroup next season, and a top-10 Championship finish should be the target, building towards a promotion campaign the following year. Siewert wasn’t able to do anything of note in charge during the second half of the Premier League season, and the jury is still out on if he’s the right man to lead them through the Championship.

Fulham

Finishing position/points total: 19 / 26pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight under Scott Parker.
Low point
: A 4-1 loss to Watford to mark 9 straight.

Our opinion: An absolutely woeful defense doomed what was an otherwise entertaining attacking club. With a change of manager came a change of style, but nothing improved at the back. Fulham needs to sort out its back line for next season or a quick return to the Premier League can be thrown out the window.
Star player
: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Most memorable goal
: Jean-Michael Seri blasted an absolute stunner against Burnley early in the season. Andre Schurrle also victimized Burnley with a glorious volley as well.


Manager grade: Slavisa Jokanovic: D- / Claudio Ranieri: F / Scott Parker: C+
Hopes for next season
: The club did well to secure a permanent manager so quickly so they can get to work strengthening the squad for a promotion campaign to come straight back up. The priority this offseason will be looking to secure assets like Mitrovic, Jean-Michael Seri, and Ryan Sessegnon while looking to improve the defense.

Cardiff City

Finishing position/points total: 18 / 34pts
High point
: Beating Manchester United on the last day of the season.
Low point
: Failing to score in 4 straight, confirming relegation.

Our opinion: A club that many through would finish bottom of the league, or close to it, gave it a real fight and came close to staving off relegation a few times. The season clearly wore on Neil Warnock, who said there isn’t “a cat’s chance in hell” he ever manages in the Premier League again.
Star player
: Victor Camarasa
Most memorable goal
: Junior Hoilett‘s wonderful curler to beat Wolves in November pulled the club out of the relegation zone for the time being, but it can’t beat Camarasa’s unbelievable strike to beat Leicester City in stoppage time.


Manager grade: Neil Warnock: C
Hopes for next season
: They will be a real challenger for promotion in the Championship and should do well if they can improve the playmaking abilities up front.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Finishing position/points total: 17 / 36pts
High point
: Winning 3 straight in October, critical to staying up.
Low point
: 8 straight without a win Jan-Feb in a relegation battle.

Our opinion: Brighton was one of the most fun teams this season, with a combination of suffocating defense and an attack that could crop up at any time against any club. While they often fired blanks, when they came alive it was exciting and enjoyable. Still, the attack was too inconsistent and they’ll want to make smart improvements.
Star player
: Shane Duffy
Most memorable goal
: Glenn Murray‘s winner against Wolves capped off a critical 3-game winning streak and ultimately proved vital in keeping the club alive.


Manager grade: Chris Hughton: C-
Hopes for next season
: Sacking Chris Hughton, the man who pulled the club out of the muck and brought them to the promised land, is a bold decision. This is a team with good assets and a solid base, and they should be able to stay up again next season with the right leader.

Southampton

Finishing position/points total: 16 / 39pts
High point
: Beating Arsenal 3-2 in December.
Low point
: 6-1 loss to Man City as part of a 12-match winless run.

Our opinion: Southampton started off the season horribly and was a real candidate to go down until Ralph Hassenhuttl saved them. His management kept this team up and there’s real hope for the future with a young, scrappy squad that needs improvement.
Star player
: Nathan Redmond
Most memorable goal
: It wasn’t the best goal of the season (that would be the Redmond curler to finish off the campaign on Sunday?) but the most memorable is Charlie Austin‘s in the 85th minute to beat Arsenal and end their long unbeaten run. It sparked the turnaround for Southampton, marking their first league win in over three months and beginning a nine-match run where they picked up 15 points.


Manager grade: Mark Hughes: D- / Ralph Hassenhuttl: A-
Hopes for next season
: With Hassenhuttl in charge and improvements to the defense this summer, Southampton should be able to show more consistency next season. On their day, they’re capable of beating any team in the league and that should lead them to a belief in a top 10 finish. This team shouldn’t be battling for Premier League survival again.