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Lejeune bicycle kick, stoppage time brace stuns Everton

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Carlo Ancelotti saw one of the best performances of his era at Everton die at stoppage time.

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Florian Lejeune scored a bicycle kick amongst two goals in third and fourth minutes of stoppage as Newcastle United rallied for a 2-2 draw against dominant Everton at Goodison Park.

Moise Kean and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored as the Toffees joined Newcastle in moving to 30 points. Everton has a better goal differential and sits 11th.

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The point for Newcastle defied a horrible 90, er, 92 minutes, but Steve Bruce won’t care much. The smash-and-grab comes three days after the Magpies beat Chelsea at the death.


Three things we learned

1. Moise Kean’s potential is thrilling: The young Italian’s career began with fits and starts, but the striker was the best player on the pitch well before he got his first Premier League goal. Kean then nearly had a “hockey assist” when Bernard chipped over the bar.

2. Longstaff brothers struggle, Saint-Max absence clear: Injuries forced Isaac Hayden out wide and Steve Bruce used the local brothers Sean and Matty in the middle of the pitch. They struggled mightily, and we’re sure Bruce would’ve been wondering if new signing Nabil Bentaleb might’ve been able to sneak into a kit for the second half. The manager eventually moved Hayden into the middle of the park to join the duo.

The Magpies congested backs and midfielders means they rely on Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, and especially Allan Saint-Maximin to provide threat. The latter was rested after his match-winning assist over 90 minutes versus Chelsea, and his absence was glaring again.

3. Edgy, in-form Calvert-Lewin a nightmare match-up: Everton’s young striker is in red-hot form, but he’s also got a red-hot fuse. Call him an Ashley Barnes with more potential. Calvert-Lewin scored a beauty, his 10th of the league season, but also clattered into Emil Krafth for an unnecessary tackle and yellow card.

Man of the Match: It was going to be Kean, but now it’s a joint honor with Lejeune.


Sloppy midweek moments early, as Miguel Almiron led a terrific run but mishit his pass to Sean Longstaff in the 18. At the other end, an Everton cross missed all of Newcastle’s defenders… and a few unattentive Toffees.

Kean zapped a low shot to force a low save from Martin Dubravka in the 18th minute.

Bernard popped a pass over Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez to meet Kean, who bundled past Dubravka for a deserved 1-0.

Joelinton turned a header over the bar in the 42nd minute off Isaac Hayden’s cross. Almiron then led another charge but Lee Mason had nothing for a possible blocking foul and Everton cleared the danger.

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Kean fed Walcott to set up Bernard, who chipped a charging Dubravka but put it over the bar. Good goalkeeping.

The Toffees got their second goal when Lucas Digne spotted Calvert-Lewin, who had the better of Lascelles to curl a great finish past Dubravka.

Lejeune scored an overhead kick off a stoppage time scramble, and a silly Everton foul gave Newcastle one desperate chance at the death.

Pickford and the defense blocked three bids at a loose ball, but Lejeune’s fourth crossed the line.

USMNT left back Robinson a surprise target for AC Milan?

AC Milans wants USMNT back Robinson
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AC Milan has identified an American as a potential answer to its left back depth issues.

Hampered by Financial Fair Play concerns, the Rossoneri could be offloading Ricardo Rodriguez to Fenerbahce and chasing a replacement.

The future No. 2 to left-sided wizard Theo Hernandez? It could be Antonee Robinson.

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The England-born USMNT back is in his second season with Wigan Athletic, making a permament move from Everton this summer after a loan move in 2018/19.

From CalcioMercato.com:

“The boy is American, he has already given his go-ahead to AC Milan but at the moment he has been put on stand-by… The executives like him and it’s a bet with good potential at low cost. For now, he has to wait.”

It’s a risky move; If Milan doesn’t qualify for Europa League or Champions League, minutes behind one of the most highly-regarded left backs in the world would be scarce. The 22-year-old Hernandez has six goals and two assists in 17 appearances since arriving from Real Madrid (He’s real good).

Then again, if they don’t qualify, Hernandez might want out of Milan.

Robinson, 22, has seven senior caps for the USMNT and is a major hope to solve a problematic position for Gregg Berhalter’s program.

Only one of those caps came under Berhalter, who otherwise hasn’t called up the Olympic-eligible left back in favor of Daniel Lovitz and Tim Ream.

Robinson has also played a little left mid for the Latics this season, scoring a goal in 28 Championship matches.

The USMNT player pool in Europe is as promising as ever

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It would be a challenge to put together a Best XI from Americans performing in Europe this Saturday.

That’s for two reasons, not one of them because there aren’t 11 players worthy of the honor.

One is goalkeepers: Zack Steffen is hurt and Ethan Horvath backing up Simon Mignolet.

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The other is pretty great: There are many more than 11 players thriving in Europe even with Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and Timothy Weah not available for selection.

It’s a weekly thing now. Gregg Berhalter trains a strong and mostly-MLS squad for January friendlies, The Americans Abroad round-ups on our site have shown plenty of progress for those eligible for the USMNT.

There was a time when Haji Wright coming off the bench for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands had a shot at being the highlight of the weekend.

Now it’s a footnote. The 21-year-old is a regular for the relegation-threatened side after a transfer from Schalke. If anything, the discussion is about two in-a-row off the bench after a run of 10-straight league starts.

Consider this list of players, now that Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna made league debuts in the same weekend.

First team players in top tier leagues

Zack Steffen (Man City, on loan to Dusseldorf)
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Tyler Boyd (Besiktas)
Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa)
Haji Wright (VVV Venlo)
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Tim Weah (Lille)

Dig deeper and there’s more: Matt Miazga (Reading), Tim Ream (Fulham), Geoff Cameron (QPR), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), and Duane Holmes (Derby County) have been regulars in the English Championship. Same for Julian Green (Greuther Furth) in 2.Bundesliga and in-form Lynden Gooch at League One’s Sunderland. Niko Hamalainen (Kilmarnock) is a regular starter in the Scottish Premiership.

Then there are heralded U-20 and U-17 prospects Chris Gloster (Jong PSV), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich II), Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Alex Mendez (Ajax), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Ulysses Lainez (Wolfsburg II). Some have taken first team bows while others have made the bench or ar eon the verge.

And we’re just talking Europe here, as the U.S. still has a bevy of reliable international players playing domestically like Jordan Morris, Miles Robinson, and Jozy Altidore amongst others. That’s leaving alone the caliber of Homegrown players being produced by Major League Soccer academies, Paxton Pomykal and Djordje Mihailovic among them (Reyna and Richards, too).

In terms of potential, American soccer is at a golden age. This makes Brian McBride’s new role as USMNT general manager even more important, as he teams up with Gregg Berhalter to put the best possible American team together for qualifying.

One thing’s for sure, the player pool is deep and no longer an excuse. Game on.

Mourinho slams ‘very bad’ VAR decisions

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Jose Mourinho was not happy with the VAR decisions as Tottenham drew 0-0 away at Watford on Saturday.

Spurs had Paulo Gazzaniga to thank for grabbing a point at Vicarage Road as he saved Troy Deeney‘s second half penalty kick in a feisty encounter in Hertfordshire.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Mourinho hit out at VAR as he was asked about Ignacio Pussetto clearing the ball off the line in stoppage time as it seemed like Tottenham would clinch all three points.

“I know it was only a couple of millimetres but goal-line technology does not make mistakes like VAR. We have to accept it was not a goal,” Mourinho said. “I talk about Tottenham’s performance separate from refereeing and VAR decisions because I prefer not to comment. I leave the VAR decisions to the pundits. Gazza did a job for us and it’s an important save. I think we deserve to win this match. To lose would have been too harsh on the boys.”

So, what did Mourinho really think about VAR?

Grab your popcorn.

“They did not discuss that one that should have been a penalty and then they looked at one that was clearly not,” Mourinho said. “That’s also alongside the red cards that should have been. Very bad decisions. I love goal-line technology, I respect that.”

There were certainly some feisty tackles coming in from the likes of Doucoure and Capoue in central midfield with Japhet Tanganga caught late by Doucoure and VAR was used but no red card, or even a yellow, was shown, which would have seen the Frenchman sent off soon after as he picked up a quick yellow for another poor challenge.

Lucas Moura and Spurs wanted a penalty kick in the first half for a handball by Craig Cathcart in the penalty box and with a penalty given against Jan Vertonghen in a similar situation, you could argue that Mourinho was correct. However, Cathcart was a lot closer to the ball than Vertonghen was and had little time to react and his arm was in a natural position.

The big takeaway here: Mourinho clearly doesn’t like VAR.

With Spurs eight points off the top four, and potentially more than that after their rivals play this weekend, it appears Mourinho is now more focused on slamming officials and decisions against his team rather than their top four hopes.

It’s good to have the real Mourinho back.

Chelsea’s Lampard prepared to go without January signings

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Frank Lampard is not only prepared for, but almost seems to prefer that, Chelsea make no new signings this month despite the club’s transfer ban being reduced to allow the Blues to sign players in January.

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It’s not that Lampard believes he has the perfect squad, but he fears upsetting the balance and good vibes for a young group of players who have performed admirably thus far. Signing players for the sake of signing players would be “a knee-jerk reaction,” according to Lampard — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t want to comment on those deals because I think it’s easy with hindsight. … I think the idea of January being a time to buy players, it’s difficult for everybody: for players coming in — especially if they’re coming from a different league — for the club and for the settlement of the group. I think that’s why we have to think ultra-carefully.

“I don’t want to make some knee-jerk reaction to say: ‘Here’s my first big signing’ because we couldn’t sign anyone in the summer. No, I want to do the right thing for the club. That’s why if I do it I’ll try to consider all things. Hopefully it’s the best thing for us. Whether that’s more of a short-term option or a long-term option, we’ll also have to consider.”

As for potential outgoing players, West Ham United reportedly made a bid to take midfielder Ross Barkley on loan, but Chelsea rejected the offer and have no intention of letting the player leave Stamford Bridge this month.