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PSG rampant without Neymar; Henry’s miserable debut

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PARIS (AP) Neymar was not missed as runaway French leader Paris Saint-Germain crushed Amiens 5-0 on Saturday for a 10th straight league win.

Neymar was given a few days off by coach Thomas Tuchel after playing for Brazil in the international break. PSG faces Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday and is then away to bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Except for Neymar, PSG’s lineup was near full-strength and the defending champion easily extended the best start to the league. PSG is averaging nearly four goals per game, but should have scored even more at home. Some sloppy finishing will not have impressed Tuchel, who is trying to instill more intensity into the side.

“It wasn’t a great performance,” the demanding Tuchel said. “But we were serious and worked hard for each other.”

Winger Angel Di Maria set up the first two goals with superb delivery from corners, taken from the right and curled with his left foot. It should have been 3-0 moments later, but striker Edinson Cavani somehow shot wide when he had an open goal.

Germany winger Julian Draxler got the third, and a minute later France World Cup star Kylian Mbappe curled a shot through the legs of a defender for his ninth league goal. Moussa Diaby skillfully slotted home the fifth.

Thierry Henry’s coaching debut was miserable as Monaco lost at Strasbourg 2-1, finished with 10 men, lost top scorer Radamel Falcao to injury, and slipped to 19th place.

Henry, the all-time leading scorer for France and Arsenal, got an ovation from the Strasbourg fans when he walked out.

But his ambitions were undermined without his best two goalkeepers who were injured, and two defenders who were suspended. No. 3 goalkeeper Seydou Sy clumsily fumbled a header from midfielder Adrien Thomasson to gift Strasbourg the lead after 17 minutes.

Falcao limped off with what looked like a left-thigh injury in the 36th. Henry took a risk selecting Falcao, considering he played late Wednesday night for Colombia.

Henry then lost another forward, this time to a red card, when Samuel Grandsir was sent off midway through the second half.

Strasbourg made the most of it when South Africa striker Lebo Mothiba was released and confidently dinked the ball over Sy.

Midfielder Youri Tielemans’ injury-time penalty for Monaco was too late.

Second-place Lille remained eight points behind PSG after winning at Dijon 2-1.

Striker Nicolas Pepe scored a penalty and helped set up Brazilian forward Luiz Araujo just before halftime.

Emiliano Sala grabbed a hat trick as Nantes beat Toulouse 4-0 at home to move above Monaco into 18th place.

Last-place Guingamp drew at Caen 0-0, and Reims was held by Angers to 1-1.

Marseille, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux play on Sunday and all have a chance to overtake Lyon in third place.

Marseille travels to play Nice; Saint-Etienne faces Rennes, and Montpellier hosts Bordeaux.

How tough is the task ahead of Henry’s Monaco debut?

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PARIS (AP) Thierry Henry’s managerial career could hardly be starting under more challenging circumstances, with struggling Monaco leaking goals, hit by injuries and low on confidence.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 9

The French great, who started his glittering playing career at Monaco, takes over a side sitting 18th in the top flight.

Monaco has won just once in 11 games – including two defeats in the Champions League – and the poor run cost Leonardo Jardim his job .

“The reality is morale isn’t at its highest,” Henry said ahead of the trip to Strasbourg on Saturday.

Strasbourg is ninth and the Alsace-based side is hard to beat at home.

Henry will be without No. 1 goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and No. 2 Diego Benaglio – who are nursing thigh injuries and sat out Thursday’s training session.

Monaco also has two defenders suspended — Jemerson and Andrea Raggi — and another out injured, while Henry must decide whether to select veteran striker Radamel Falcao, who is returning late after playing for Colombia on Wednesday night.

Jardim often rested Falcao after internationals, but Henry may have no choice but to pick his leading scorer.

[ VIDEO: Wayne Rooney swerves long free kick around the wall ]

Monaco won the domestic title and reached the Champions League semifinals in 2017, scoring more than 150 goals. However, the side Henry has inherited is a far cry from that swashbuckling team.

The 41-year-old Henry helped France win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. He is the leading goal-scorer for his country and for Premier League Arsenal, and thrilled fans with his speed and skill.

He exudes confidence but, given Monaco’s precarious situation, he has little time to talk about his vision for the club.

“I prefer to think only of the present. What the team needs right now might not be what the team needs in two or three months. When things are calmer perhaps we can talk about those things,” Henry said.

“It’s not going to be easy to get the team to understand how I want to play. It’s always better to have the team at the start of the season, so they know the ideas.”

Henry was previously Belgium’s No. 2. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he was praised by coach Roberto Martinez for his work helping fine-tune the squad’s fleet of forwards.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Sargent moved to Werder Bremen first team ]

His focus now is to shore up a Monaco defense which has leaked 13 goals in nine league games.

“We must become a team which doesn’t let in goals,” Henry said. “What the team needs now is security and balance.”

Because it’s his first job in charge, Henry will be relying on his backroom staff more than other coaches might.

“It’s important to have staff members who can say ‘no’ to you, challenge you on certain points, and perhaps have a different vision of things,” he said. “The most important thing is not having people around me who just say ‘yes, yes.'”

Monaco has a huge scouting network and a reputation for developing players before selling them on for massive profits. The best example is 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappe, who shone in 2017 before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth $207 million.

[ MORE: Higuain “rejuvenated” by Gattuso after Juve “kicked me out” ]

Henry knows how it feels to be a young star. He made his Monaco debut at the age of 17 in 1994 and four years later he was a World Cup winner — just like Mbappe is now .

“We live in a (different) generation,” Henry said. “When I grew up, you needed to make the first step to the senior players, the first step to the coach. Now, you have to go to the new generation, understand their codes. The way they (arrive) sometimes to training, the way they walk, the little lean they have … my coach would have sent me straight back to the dressing room (for that).

“Sometimes you have to laugh, sometimes you have to be hard and sometimes you have to let them be. The trick is when. If you stay stuck on the way you grew up, then there will be a fracture, that’s for sure. You have to adapt and be patient.”

USMNT can do little to slow down prolific Colombia

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A young, hilariously overmatched U.S. men’s national team put forth a mostly encouraging performance against a star-studded Colombia side en route to a 4-2 defeat in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday.

[ WATCH: James gives Colombia lead over USMNT with beauty ]

Dave Sarachan’s record in 12 months as interim head coach now stands at 3W-3D-3L.

Colombia threatened early and often, from the opening five minutes onward, when Antonee Robinson and John Brooks were beaten by Santiago Arias on the edge of the USMNT’s penalty area. Arias glided past the left-sided duo and delivered a delightful cross to Radamel Falcao near the penalty spot. Fortunately for goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Falcao fired over the crossbar and the Yanks were off the hook.

The pressure finally paid off in the 36th minute (WATCH HERE). Rodriguez curled the ball from a seemingly impossible distance outside of Steffen’s right-hand post and nestled it into the upper-90 from the opposite side of the penalty area. It was a goal that reminded us of the world class talent Colombia possessed.

For all of Colombia’s dominance and control exuded in the first half, Los Cafeteros failed to make the USMNT pay with a second goal — for a time. Five minutes into the second half, they paid the price themselves.

Antonee Robinson had all day down the left flank before floating a lofted ball into the box, where Davinson Sanchez got the slightest of touches with his head, but nowhere near enough to send it clear of danger. Acosta read the flight of the ball the entire way and arrived to the six-yard box with split-second timing to make it a 1-1 game.

[ UEFA Nations League: Portugal win again without Ronaldo ]

They paid again three minutes later, when Wood split two defenders to get on the end of Tim Weah’s deftly played, inch-perfect through ball to the penalty spot. Wood needed — had time for — just one touch to hit it hard and low past Ospina inside his left-hand post. 2-1 to the USMNT.

The lead was extraordinarily short-lived, though. Arias got to the end line and cut the ball back toward the penalty spot for Carlos Bacca. With every defender’s momentum taking them toward the end line, Bacca peeled away from every blue shirt and had plenty of time and space to send his first-time shot past the outstretched hands of Steffen to make it 2-2.

The draw was beginning to look attainable — perhaps likely, even — until Colombia struck with a lethal counter-attack directly resulting from a USMNT set piece. Brooks was the USMNT player farthest up the field when Rodriguez booted the ball out of his own penalty area, springing Juan Quintero one-on-one in the open field. Falcao made the hard run through the center of the field to get into the box. No one went with him, and the finish was simple as could be for a player of his caliber.

As if Rodriguez’s opening goal didn’t provide enough of the wow factor for an overwhelmingly pro-Colombia crowd, Bayern Munich’s somewhat maligned superstar set up Miguel Borja for another moment of absolute class in the 79th minute. A simple chipped ball over the top provided a stage for Borja’s acrobatic finish to complete the scoring and the rout.

Report: Henry set to take Monaco job as Jardim shown door

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One of the most gifted talents in world soccer history could be taking the reins of a club known for developing such players.

Thierry Henry is about to get the keys to AS Monaco, the club that raised him, as the floundering French club is set to fire Leonardo Jardim according to ESPN.

[ PL ROUNDTABLE: The story so far ]

Monaco has just one win in nine matches to start the Ligue 1 season, and sits in 18th place. It’s also lost its first two Champions League matches of the group stage ahead of two must-win contests with Club Brugge.

Henry, 41, saw his star rise this summer as an assistant to Roberto Martinez in Belgium’s impressive World Cup run.

Monaco has sold an almost overwhelming amount of talent in the past few seasons, sending Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Terence Kongolo, Joao Moutinho, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva, and oh my goodness I’m still typing.

Henry was reportedly offered the Bordeaux job earlier this season, but patience has paid off for the former Arsenal, Barcelona, and New York Red Bulls star.

Going the Zinedine Zidane route is intriguing for Monaco and Henry, who will not be expected to push the squad from a relegation fight to the title, and will have plenty of patience and the opportunity to either rescue the Champions League campaign or run the club into a Europa League experience.

With new pieces Aleksandr Golovin and Nacer Chadli joining Danijel Subasic, Kamil Glik, Youri Tielemans, and Radamel Falcao, the club will be fine in Ligue 1. And if Henry can develop youngsters like Moussa Sylla, Willem Geubbels, and Pietro Pellegri (when healthy), he’ll only grow his star in Europe. If he fails, so what? The club won’t be relegated and a native son will likely be viewed as a man in a bare cupboard situation.

Monaco’s Falcao linked with MLS move

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So Radamel Falcao‘s being linked with a move to Major League Soccer again.

The Columbus Crew is named as a suitor (again, though the move could mean Austin (#SaveTheCrew)), while Inter Miami is the other name tipped as a landing spot for the Colombian striker.

[ UCL WRAP: Man City wins, Real loses ]

Get used to that last part, considering that David Beckham plans to build a contender via name brand players and that the team is still years away from taking the field.

The report from Sport also says Falcao could arrive in Liga MX.

Falcao, 32, has a contract through the 2019-20 season with Monaco, where he has three goals and two assists in seven matches so far this season.

He’s scored loads of goals at every stop outside of his failed Premier League stints with Manchester United and Chelsea, and would undoubtedly produce in either MLS or Liga MX if he wanted to get closer to home.