Simon Mignolet

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

What is the Best XI for USMNT?

Leave a comment

We haven’t been able to enjoy the USMNT at full strength for some time, regardless of player choice.

Key pieces were injured at the Gold Cup and others haven’t been called up as favors to their clubs, as Gregg Berhalter navigates the international soccer world for the first time.

For instance, one of the reasons not to panic over this poor international break was the absence of Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley amongst others.

[ MORE: USMNT’s first year with Berhalter ]

We’ve asked our staff to gaze into a crystal ball where all players are healthy and available, and deliver their USMNT Best XIs.

An important note: We are playing the role of GM/coach here. Berhalter, like any manager, has shown a propensity to favor certain players that others wouldn’t select. In some of these players’ instances, not one of our writers would select them for duty.

We will, however, stick with his preferred formation because he would not be budging from it if he had his full complement of pieces.

Joe Prince-Wright‘s Best USMNT XI

JPW

Couple of surprises here, as Joe opts for Stoke City center back Cameron Carter-Vickers over Matt Miazga or Aaron Long, and plays Brad Guzan ahead of Zack Steffen. There’s no room for Michael Bradley, with Tyler Adams taking his spot and making room for Sergino Dest at right back.

Nick Mendola’s USMNT Best XI

This was a difficult one for me, especially once I decided that if we’re sticking with Berhalter’s formation, then I need to put Tyler Adams in his coach’s preferred spot. Steffen is just ahead of Ethan Horvath here, and would not be had Club Brugge not bought Simon Mignolet short-circuit the 24-year-old’s playing time.

I’d like to see Tim Ream in a back two with Brooks, but both are left-sided pieces and Miazga is doing really well at Reading when healthy. I’m giving Antonee Robinson the left back spot for now because he’s No. 1 at Wigan and prefers left back (Sergino Dest is an easy plug-in if we’re allowed to play Adams at CM).

The most difficult decision was left wing and center forward. We just haven’t seen Tim Weah in some time, but that’s not enough to take him out of the XI if healthy. The same is true for Jozy Altidore, who remains the side’s best finisher even if he butchered a chance to score versus Mexico in the Gold Cup Final. Jordan Morris’ rebirth would make it easy to dismiss Weah or Altidore, but for now I’m holding off.

I need Lletget at center attacking mid because McKennie isn’t yet the playmaker needed for that spot. Morales over McKennie might be the call in an immediate “must win,” but McKennie is the guy long-term. This is almost an empathy play, because I was so slow to appreciate Lletget. Julian Green should get a look there, too, at some point, but if Berhalter’s hasn’t rung up the Greuther Furth man by now, is he ever going to value him enough for a look?

Kyle Bonn’s USMNT Best XI

Kyle is counting on DeAndre Yedlin to return to his 2017-18 form and allow Adams to move up the pitch. He’s also not been moved by Long’s terrible international break and is keeping him No. 2 in the center back pool. Dest is Kyle’s answer for the left back problem, at least for now.

Daniel Karell’s USMNT Best XI

Dan omits Michael Bradley for Adams, and plugs Dest in at right back. Long maintains his place, while 28-year-old Greg Garza’s problematic calf isn’t a problem in this exercise.

Joel Soria’s Best USMNT XI

Joel also likes Carter-Vickers next to Brooks, and helps the English-American CB with Premier League experience to his right in Yedlin. Like Johnny Cash, Joel is going to Jackson — San Jose’s Jackson Yueill — to link Adams to the attackers.

What will injuries to Miazga, Weah do to USMNT roster?

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s Tuesday, we’re watching the U.S. Open Cup Final, and broadcaster Taylor Twellman has mentioned that four U.S. youngsters are going to be on Gregg Berhalter’s 23-man USMNT roster for the next international break.

The U.S. will play Mexico and Uruguay next month, and has been widely expected to call up Ajax teenager Sergino Dest and Werder Bremen youngster Josh Sargent.

[ MORE: League Cup roundup ]

Twellman seems to confirm that, adding that Miles Robinson of Atlanta United and Paxton Pomykal will make the cut as well.

Injuries to Matt Miazga (Reading) and Timothy Weah (Lille) mean there are more spaces than we suspected, so let’s take one more stab at Berhalter’s unit.

My how things change in a week.

Goalkeepers (3)

Still in:
Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

Out:
David Bingham (LA Galaxy)

In:
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)

Why: With Horvath now sitting behind Simon Mignolet, Berhalter may opt to take another look at him and allow Bingham to stay with his team ahead of the MLS playoff push. Just a guess.

Defenders (8)

Still in:
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls)
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas)

Out:
Matt Miazga (Reading, injured)

In:
Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)

Why: We’re gonna trust Twellman that Robinson will still fit the bill. Will we see Antonee Robinson of Wigan Athletic instead of Cannon, or as a ninth defender?

Midfielders (6)

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas)
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

Out:
None

In:
Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Why: We’d love to see Alfredo Morales here, who has slipped under the radar for several USMNT coaches despite being a serial difference maker in the Bundesliga (He hasn’t looked great in a U.S. shirt, and maybe it’s a personality thing? Seeing more Wil Trapp over him is a head scratcher besides the Columbus connection between the player and coach). We also think Julian Green may be out of luck, but we’re crossing our fingers given that he’s a Top 3 player in the 2.Bundesliga through a month of the season.

Forwards (6)

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Paul Arriola (DC United)
Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Out:
Timothy Weah (Lille, injured)

In:
None

Why: Weah got hurt! We’d like to see Tyler Boyd of Besiktas here, but are unsure if Berhalter is “up” on him and the youngster is new to the Turkish side. Plus, we think the Weah opening allows him to give Trapp two three four one more chance.

 

UCL qualifying: Slavia Prague wins via golazo; 10-man Ajax held

Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nerves were jangly and defenses tight as the UEFA Champions League began its final stage before group play next month.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]


APOEL Nicosia 0-0 Ajax

The Eredivisie winners and 2018-19 UCL semifinalists could not manage an away goal, which was not aided by an 80th minute red card for Noussair Mazraoui.

The Moroccan national team defender was sent off for his second yellow, putting a bit more pressure on American fullback Sergino Dest and Co.

Dest, 18, came off the bench in the 62nd minute for his second career UCL appearance.

Ajax was given seven of the match’s nine yellow cards.

CFR Cluj 0-1 Slavia Prague

Lukas Masopust scored the lone goal of the match in the 28th minute as the Czech powers brought an advantage back home for the second leg.

It was a cute finish, from afar.

LASK 0-1 Club Brugge

American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath again watched as newly-signed starter Simon Mignolet kept a clean sheet.

This time the stage was in Austria, and Mignolet only faced a single shot over 90 minutes. The winner came from the spot courtesy of twice-capped Belgian national teamer Hans Vanaken.

Wednesday’s matches

All matches at 3 p.m. ET

Dinamo Zagreb v. Rosenborg
Olympiacos v. Krasnodar
Young Boys v. Red Star Belgrade

UEFA Champions League qualifying preview

Photo by VI Images via Getty Images
1 Comment

Six slots remain in the UEFA Champions League’s 2019-20 group stage, and the 12 teams hoping to fill them begin the final round of qualifying on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There are a pair of Americans in the bunch of hopefuls, with Sergino Dest of Ajax and Ethan Horvath of Club Brugge in action on Tuesday.

The fortunes of those players have changed dramatically in recent months.

[ MORE: Julian Green flying high ]

Horvath, 24, was the starter for 34 matches across all competitions last season and the first two matches of this domestic season but has seen nothing but bench since Brugge scooped up Simon Mignolet from Liverpool.

Will Mignolet allowing three goals to Dynamo Kiev have changed anything for manager Philippe Clement? Seems unlikely, but we’ll still keep an eye on the lineup against Austrian side LASK. Ghanaian national teamer Samuel Tetteh is an intriguing player for the hosts, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg.

Dest is still 18 until November and has started Ajax’s last two games at right back. He made his debut at left back in a 2-0 defeat of PSV Eindhoven to start the season, and Ajax is 4-0 with him on the field this season.

While we’re talking Yanks in the UCL, the group stage already has Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Lille’s Timothy Weah, RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams, and Red Bull Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch.

Canadian winger Alphonso Davies is with Bayern Munich.

Full schedule

All matches at 3 p.m. ET

Tuesday
APOEL Nicosia v. Ajax
CFR Cluj v. Slavia Prague
LASK v. Club Brugge

Wednesday
Dinamo Zagreb v. Rosenborg
Olympiacos v. Krasnodar
Young Boys v. Red Star Belgrade

Klopp on Adrian’s mistake: ‘He has ticked that box now’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp found the funnier side of Adrian’s howler which gave Southampton a sniff of picking up a point against Liverpool on Saturday.

[ MORE: Mane reflects on win ]

With seven minutes to go Liverpool led 2-0 but Adrian, who was rushed back from injury himself after replacing the injured first-choice goalkeeper Alisson, inexplicably passed the ball straight to Danny Ings who scored.

Speaking to the BBC after the game, Klopp laughed off Adrian’s mistake and said he is now a proper Liverpool goalkeeper because of it.

“Southampton had one more big chance and if they score then we can’t moan about that – but I think we deserve three points. I’m happy with the performance,” Klopp said. “We gave them a proper boost by that nice pass by Adrian. He has finally arrived because it is his third game and so it is normal for a Liverpool keeper to tick that box [by making a mistake]! Now we can carry on.”

After shouting “Adriannnnnn! Like Rocky!” after Adrian’s penalty kick heroics which won Liverpool the UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday, Klopp keeps rolling out the classics.

Long-term he knows Alisson will be his first-choice goalkeeper and after the struggles of Lorus Karius and Simon Mignolet, Klopp is chilled out enough to know Liverpool’s goalkeepers always seem to have a few big mistakes in their locker.

Hopefully, for Liverpool’s sake, Adrian know has that big mistake out of his system.