Zack Steffen

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How USMNT can top Canada without Bradley, Pulisic

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There’s definitely neither Michael Bradley, Zack Steffen, nor Christian Pulisic for the United States men’s national team in their last bids to qualify for the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.

Some have joked, “Who cares?” about the new competition, but this matters for the Gregg Berhalter era considering a second loss to Canada would… well… look, it would be a second loss to Canada.

[ MORE: USMNT trims squad to 23 ]

How bad is that? First of all, considering the ire sent south from Canadian media and fans when we didn’t brand John Herdman’s triumph over the USMNT in Toronto as “the time soccer was reinvented by the Children of Bobby Orr (TM),” let us say that Canada:

A) was very, very good in the October win, led by a tactical demolition.

2) is genuinely much improved over the past half-decade (We’ve covered this much over the years, though it was a slow burn)

D) will be a nation to be reckoned with come World Cup qualifying, led by the remarkable Alphonso Davies.

There. And we mean it.

But losing twice inside of one month to a nation who hadn’t beaten you since Berhalter was in middle school would be a monumental step back for a program already swimming in the shallow end thanks to a string of monumental step backs.

We’re gonna have so many monuments to our setbacks. It’s gonna be beautiful. People will love them.

So make no mistake about it: No Bradley and a less-than-100 percent Pulisic is a real problem. The club is still without Timothy Weah and Tyler Adams, but does have a healthy John Brooks and in-form Josh Sargent to go with recent commitment maker Sergino Dest.

That doesn’t help the Bradley-, Adams- and Pulisic-less midfield, but it’s something. We’d note that Julian Green is playing the sort of game that can help a team down its prime influential playmaker, but 2.Bundesliga or something, we guess.

A back four with DeAndre Yedlin, Dest, Brooks, and Tim Ream is going to do a lot better job with Alphonso Davies than the one with, checks notes, Daniel Lovitz, Ream, Aaron Long, and Yedlin. Dest will be out of position at left back, but he’s been there before and better than the alternative.

So, yes, the back four should be fine in front of, presumably, Brad Guzan, but how will Berhalter deal with Scott Arfield‘s game-busting work in the midfield? Alfredo Morales and Weston McKennie are a great start assuming it’s a 4-3-3 scenario. Berhalter for some reason hasn’t been impressed with Sebastian Lletget‘s work for the USMNT, so it seems likely either Jackson Yueill or Cristian Roldan will get run against Canada.

The forward are going to be fine with Jordan Morris, Sargent, and either Paul Arriola or Tyler Boyd, as long as Berhalter lets them press a Canadian back line which is by far their weakest aspect (and sits ahead of a very good goalkeeper in Milan Borjan).

The absence of Bradley and Pulisic doesn’t make Canada a favorite in Florida, even given last month’s abomination at BMO, but Herdman bamboozled Berhalter last time and doesn’t even have to go for a win this time, as a draw will be enough to end the USMNT’s CNL hopes.

Given the electricity of Davies and Jonathan David, the steel of Arfield, and the game-stealing ability of Borjan, the Yanks can play well and still lose. But a speedy back line with two strong center backs combined with an industrious and energetic midfield, and a press against Canada’s inexperienced backs should be enough.

Now we await Berhalter’s plan.

Bundesliga wrap: Lewandowski, of course, leads Der Klassiker rout

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The wild and unpredictable Bundesliga season relented to give us another decisive home blowout in Der Klassiker.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Green scores ]

Bayern scored four times to close within a point of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, who hosts Werder Bremen early Sunday.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

Robert Lewandowski scored twice, joining Serge Gnabry and an ironic Mats Hummels own goal as Bayern claimed the first Der Klassiker of the season with a controlling win at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern has now beaten Dortmund 4-0, 5-0, and 6-0 in the last three league Der Klassikers in Munich.

Lewandowski — who else? — snuck between two defenders (how?!?) to nail an easy header to the board in the 18th minute.

How good has he been this year? Lewandowski has now scored in all 11 of Bayern’s league matches this season, including three braces and a hat trick. He’s also scored in each of Bayern’s four Champions League matches, and has 23 goals in 18 matches.

Bayern was all over the visitors, and could’ve easily had a second and third before the half-hour mark. Gnabry nabbed his goal just after the break.

Schalke 3-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Rouwen Hennings scored a hat trick as the visitors thrice rallied to take a point at Schalke.

USMNT midfielders Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Alfredo Morales (Fortuna) each saw yellow in the draw. American backstop Zack Steffen had a rough day between the sticks against the highly-favored hosts.

Elsewhere
Koln 1-2 Hoffenheim — Friday
Mainz 2-3 Union Berlin
Hertha Berlin 2-4 RB Leipzig
Paderborn 0-1 Augsburg
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Werder Bremen — 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Wolfsburg v. Bayer Leverkusen — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Freiburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 10 7 1 2 21 10 11 3-1-1 4-0-1 22
 RB Leipzig 11 6 3 2 29 12 17 2-2-1 4-1-1 21
 Bayern Munich 11 6 3 2 29 16 13 4-1-1 2-2-1 21
 1899 Hoffenheim 11 6 2 3 16 14 2 3-0-2 3-2-1 20
 Borussia Dortmund 11 5 4 2 23 15 8 4-1-0 1-3-2 19
 FC Schalke 04 11 5 4 2 20 14 6 2-3-1 3-1-1 19
 SC Freiburg 10 5 3 2 19 12 7 2-2-1 3-1-1 18
 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 5 2 3 21 15 6 4-2-0 1-0-3 17
 VfL Wolfsburg 10 4 5 1 11 8 3 2-3-0 2-2-1 17
 Bayer Leverkusen 10 4 3 3 15 15 0 2-3-1 2-0-2 15
 1. FC Union Berlin 11 4 1 6 13 17 -4 3-0-3 1-1-3 13
 Hertha BSC Berlin 11 3 2 6 17 21 -4 2-0-3 1-2-3 11
 Werder Bremen 10 2 5 3 17 21 -4 1-2-2 1-3-1 11
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 11 3 2 6 15 19 -4 2-1-2 1-1-4 11
 FC Augsburg 11 2 4 5 13 24 -11 1-2-2 1-2-3 10
 FSV Mainz 05 11 3 0 8 12 30 -18 2-0-3 1-0-5 9
 1. FC Köln 11 2 1 8 10 23 -13 1-0-4 1-1-4 7
 SC Paderborn 11 1 1 9 11 26 -15 1-0-5 0-1-4 4

Full USMNT roster for Canada, Cuba games announced

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Gregg Berhalter has completed his USMNT roster for the CONCACAF Nations League games against Canada and Cuba this month.

Nine European-based players have been added to his current squad, with Christian Pulisic, Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent, Weston McKennie, John Brooks, Tyler Boyd, DeAndre Yedlin, Tim Ream and Alfredo Morales all called up.

They join a current group of 20 players who are in a training camp this week, as players from Major League Soccer will work with Berhalter in Florida before the European based players arrive.

Youngsters Mark McKenzie, Brenden Aaronson, Djordje Mihailovic, Jeremy Ebobisse and Jonathan Lewis will depart camp before these games as they focus on U23 action.

Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan haven’t been included due to their involvement in the MLS Cup final with Toronto and Seattle respectively, while the only other key absentees in this squad are RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams and Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Zack Steffen who are both recovering from injury.

USMNT host Canada in Orlando on Nov. 15 before heading to George Town, Cayman Islands to play against Cuba on Nov. 19.

The pivotal clashes see the USMNT up against it after they lost 2-0 to Canada last time out in the CONCACAF Nations League.

To reach the knockout round of the first-ever Nations League, Berhalter’s side have to win both of their games and make up a three-goal deficit on Group A leaders Canada.

Below is the USMNT squad in full.


USA squad for Canada, Cuba games in November

GOALKEEPERS (3)Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 62/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 9/0), Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 2/0), Chase Gasper (Minnesota United FC; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 9/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 14/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 12/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 38/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 60/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5)Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 12/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 17/6), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 14/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 4/0)

FORWARDS (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 30/5), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 4/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 8/2), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 34/14), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 11/3), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 54/10)

Americans Abroad: Pulisic, Sabbi extend scoring spree

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For a second consecutive weekend, Christian Pulisic tops the list of Americans abroad.

A week removed from his historic, perfect hat-trick, the 21-year-old ace followed up by scoring Chelsea’s game-winner against Watford, stretching his Premier League goal count to four.

From the looks of it, Emmanuel Sabbi has been taking notes of Pulisic’s recent form.

The U.S. U-23 forward also scored for a second consecutive week in the Danish Superliagen. 31 minutes into Hobro’s match against Odense on Sunday, Sabbi, 21, executed his free kick perfectly, curling a right-footed strike over the wall and into the top-left corner.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic’s fine run of form continues. The Pennsylvanian played 83 minutes and scored Chelsea’s second and game-winner against Watford.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin started and played 90 minutes in Newcastle’s 3-2 win against West Ham on Saturday. The Magpies are no longer in the drop zone.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan dropped to Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old is back healthy and starting. On Saturday, Miazga played all 90 minutes in Reading’s 2-1 win over Millwall.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The captain played the full 90 minutes and was instrumental in Hull City’s 3-0 win over Fulham. That’s two straight clean sheets for the Tigers.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender didn’t dress for QPR on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 3-0 loss to Hull City.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers and the Potters take on West From on Monday.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 90 minutes in Derby County’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch didn’t dress in Sunderland’s 1-0 win over Southend United on Saturday.

Bundesliga

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 in Wolfsburg’s 3-0 draw loss to Borussia Dortmund.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  After being inactive against Borussia Dortmund, McKennie played all 90 minutes in Schalke’s 3-2 win over Augsburg on Saturday.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen played all 90 minutes and recorded a save and clean sheet in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-0 defeat of Koln. Morales also started and played 81 minutes on Sunday.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent came off the bench in the 72nd minute in Werder Bremen’s 2-2 draw with Freiburg.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress in RB Leipzig’s 8-0 thumping of Mainz on Saturday.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson didn’t feature for leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler was on the 18 but didn’t play in Frankfurt’s 5-1 win over Bayern Munich.

Khiry Shelton, Paderborn – The 26-year-old winger dressed but didn’t play in Paderborn’s loss on Friday.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes in Greuther Furth’s 3-1 win over Darmstadt.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest dressed but didn’t feature in Ajax’s 4-2 win over PEC Zwolle.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 90 minutes in VVV’s 3-0 loss to Feyenoord.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne didn’t dress for FC Emmen over the weekend, again.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah remains sidelined with a muscular injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Rennes’ match against Nimes over the weekend was postponed.

Honorable Mentions:

Emmanuel Sabbi, Hobro – The 21-year-old winger started and scored Hobro’s lone goal in their 2-1 loss to Odense on Sunday.

Ulysses Llanez, U-19 Wolfsburg – The 19-year-old played 82 minutes and scored in Wolfsburg’s 4-2 win over Hamburg on Saturday.

Questions, possible full squad for USMNT’s decisive November

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USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has announced 20 MLS players vying to be a part of November’s decisive CONCACAF Nations League group stage matches versus Canada and Cuba.

The group will train Nov. 2-9 before being pared down, eventually joined by European-based players as well as several Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders players following the MLS Cup on Nov. 10.

[ MORE: Berhalter calls up 20 ]

Berhalter’s had a pretty notable week, earning the loyalty of Sergino Dest and apologizing to away supporters for his ignorance following October’s embarrassing loss in Canada.

It’s important to note that, knock on wood, Berhalter is going to have as rich selection of players as he’s had in some time with Dest in the fold and John Brooks returning to fitness.

We’re getting to the point, finally, when playing first team minutes for your club is no longer enough because there are so many players who qualify. Even without Adams and the injured Tim Weah, there is a legit 18 that can be formed without including a single domestic-based player*.

Here are the biggest questions to be answered when the rest of the call-ups come:

  • Is the camp injury that cost Miles Robinson his Atlanta United playoff run enough to further limit his participation?
  • Will Richie Ledezma, the teenage playmaker who made his first game day for PSV Eindhoven and is also eligible to represent Mexico, get cap-tied early? If Berhalter is comfortable in his job, there’s no reason not to take a look.
  • Can New England’s Matt Turner impress enough to knock Sean Johnson or Brad Guzan from the final squad once Zack Steffen is added, and is there another European goalkeeper on Berhalter’s radar?
  • Will Chase Gasper impress enough to knock Daniel Lovitz down the left back pecking order? Moreover, which defenders will get squeezed by the additions of Dest and Brooks? And is there room for Antonee Robinson?
  • Could Tyler Boyd’s relegation to thrice unused sub for Besiktas open up a spot in the forward corps?
  • Might Tyler Adams get a call-up even if he’s not fit to play a significant role? Same for Jozy Altidore?

Predicted USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

Defenders (8): DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Matt Miazga (Reading), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Tim Ream (Fulham), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

Midfielders (8): Weston McKennie (Schalke), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC).

Forwards (7): Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC).


Spurned: Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Stoke City), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC)


*Here is an example of an 18 that does not include any MLS players, and I’m not saying this is the best 18 at all, as at least Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastien Lletget all fit the bill for any 18: Zack Steffen, Ethan Horvath, DeAndre Yedlin, Sergino Dest, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Weston McKennie, Alfredo Morales, Julian Green, Duane Holmes, Lynden Gooch, Richie Ledezma, Christian Pulisic, Tyler Boyd, Josh Sargent.