3 things

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Three things we learned from Spurs defeat of Man City

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It was always going to be a challenge for Pep Guardiola to outfox and Manchester City to outplay Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur three times in just under two weeks.

After Tuesday’s first event, the opening leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal between the Premier League sides, Man City can only be thankful for one thing: That the stinker came first.

[ MORE: Match recap | Kane hurt ]

That’s one of the three things we pulled from Tuesday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Guardiola asleep at the wheel

Starting Riyad Mahrez over Leroy Sane and leaving Kevin De Bruyne on the bench for Ilkay Gundogan was probably designed to make Man City a bit safer, but instead left the side stale.

Even if you approve of the moves, Guardiola stubbornly refused to announce the failure of either — especially stunning given the poor night for Mahrez — by neither introducing KDB nor Sane until putting them both into the fray in the 89th minute.

On a lesser but deadly note, Guardiola had few options at left back due to injuries but Fabian Delph was carved up by Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son on the goal.

Now City may need to blank Spurs in the second leg to advance, and if they concede early in the second leg they will need to score at least three goals to advance. Pep is playing a precarious game.

Sissoko terrific on patrol

City had little going for it all night, and Guardiola’s lineup choices betrayed him almost as much as his hesitancy to substitute early in the 1-0 loss to Spurs.

Moussa Sissoko was again a monster for Tottenham Hotspur. The question for the former Newcastle United man may have always been about his desire to perform on a consistent basis, but he’s long been a man for the bright lights.

And Pochettino has gotten the best out of the French midfielder in recent weeks, the big man a force against a Man City midfield expected to thrive in possession.

Narrator voice: It didn’t.

Lloris keeps his head

Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had a long time to mull on the idea of stopping a penalty, with Video Assistant Referee taking its sweet time to decide whether Danny Rose handled a ball inside the 18.

So did Sergio Aguero, and the Man City man didn’t get the most of his attempt from the spot but better marks go to the French goalkeeper.

Questioned at times this year, Lloris went in the right direction to stymy one of the Premier League’s greatest all-time scorers and he feels the incident gave his side a big boost even if he didn’t personally see the offense.

“I didn’t see it,” Lloris said. “It is part of the game. We have to accept that. We stayed in the game and it gave us even more energy.”

Bonus notes

Fernandinho is fortunate he didn’t throw the whole leg in the garbage with his three-times silly challenge on Harry Kane early which involved two elbows and a push to the back of the head.

— That pass from Eriksen that led to Son’s goal. Wow.

— The wait for the new stadium was worth it; Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was noticeably loud and exploded after the goal.

Three things from USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Peru

AP Photo/Jessica Hill
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The USMNT led Peru 1-0 late before a back post marking error allowed the World Cup participants to level the score line in Connecticut.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

But that’s not what resounds from Tuesday’s match, as we once against confirmed that the U.S. is producing some fine young attackers.

Teenage trio grows into game, puts U.S. ahead

These friendlies provide good chances for players to express themselves individually, and there’s reason to be excited by three young Americans attackers.

Yes, there were plenty of sloppy moments for Josh Sargent (18) and Jonathan Amon (19), but those came early and both European-based players seemed to relax as the match wore into the second half.

Sargent in particular showed flair with one-touch flicks and dynamite touch passes even before he scored his opener. Amon misplaced a looping outside of the foot pass in the first half, but swept a ball over the top of the defense to cue up Sargent in the second half.

And while Tim Weah misfired on that chance, the Paris Saint-Germain man is as exciting as any American teenager on the scene.

Moving forward, it’s all about the attack (and that is exciting)

This isn’t to say that Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Tyler Adams, and a few other intriguing young players can’t buoy the hopes of the U.S. heading into the Gold Cup and then World Cup qualifying, but what’s so exciting about this team is a new wealth of attacking options (most of it now growing overseas).

Sargent, Weah, and Amon are 19 or younger. Christian Pulisic is the most important national team talent in a generation, and just turned 20. That’s the same age as Weston McKennie, whose played everywhere from CDM to CB to CAM at his club.

All are playing for clubs whose senior teams are competing for places in Europe. Sargent has yet to play for Werder Bremen’s senior team and Weah sparingly for PSG, but the other three are key pieces for Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, and Nordsjælland.

That’s why it’s key the new U.S. coach knows how to push down on the gas pedal.

Let’s hear it for the long-term caretaker

Sarachan (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Dave Sarachan may’ve just coached the final match of his long-term interim run as USMNT boss, and the Rochester-born 64-year-old deserves a lot of credit for Tuesday’s performance.

While his late substitution of DeAndre Yedlin for a thriving Reggie Cannon led to Peru’s equalizer, no one should blame him for thinking an every week Premier League starter would be able to mark a back post.

Sarachan drew up a short free kick from Kellyn Acosta that led to a Josh Sargent goal, and coaxed a strong performance from first time center back mates Cameron Carter-Vickers and Aaron Long.

The longtime assistant’s record as USMNT boss sits at 3-3-3 despite a very tricky schedule. He’s earned draws against three World Cup nations: Portugal, France, and Peru. He also has the distinction of being 1-0 against Mexico, never a bad thing.

In another climate, Sarachan would have earned something close to a full-time gig. And Bruce Arena’s assistant will surely be involved with the USMNT program in some capacity. But coming off a World Cup qualifying failure, it was always going to be time for fresh blood.

3 Things We Learned from Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool

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Chelsea nearly topped Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, handing the Reds their first loss of the season and first Premier League loss since…Chelsea beat them at Stamford Bridge on May 6 of last season. Then Daniel Sturridge happened.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool ]

It wasn’t to be for the Blues, as the substitute’s stunning curler brought Liverpool level and saved a point for the Reds.

There was plenty to take from the game, with Mohamed Salah misfiring, Eden Hazard scoring, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson both saving, and Daniel Sturridge celebrating. What were the biggest takeaways from the 90 minutes in London?

Mo Salah was last season’s star, but so far this campaign it’s Eden Hazard

Mohamed Salah is a fantastic player, and was spectacular last season, unbeatable at times. However, to this point in the season and in this match, he was out-dueled by his Belgian opponent Hazard. The Chelsea playmaker was impossible to guard, leaving defenders in his dust constantly.

His off-ball movement is top class, putting not only himself but his teammates in the best position to succeed. At the moment, there’s nobody better and in better form in the Premier League than Hazard.

Liverpool’s full-backs are promising young players that still have lots to learn

NBC commentator Lee Dixon, a former Arsenal full-back, was all over Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson in the first half for their defensive positioning, and he was spot-on. Dixon criticized Robertson first for allowing Willian to get by him for Chelsea’s first big chance that saw Alisson smother the shot, and subsequently faulted Alexander-Arnold on Liverpool’s right for slipping too high up the pitch before Eden Hazard broke.

There’s no doubting the fact that both players are top class and have bright futures ahead of them, but as Dixon said during the broadcast, they still need to be reminded that their attacking responsibilities are secondary to the defensive positioning. He mentioned that getting beat either over your head or to the inside is unacceptable, and that happened to both Liverpool full-backs.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool is always good for a sensational moment

No matter the game, no matter how much time left, no matter who the opponent, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool was built for the special moment. His team is molded to perform for a full 90 minutes in a system that would exhaust most teams would by the hour mark. Somehow, some way, he wills his players to perform week in week out, and no moment is too big.

Daniel Sturridge coming off the bench and scoring that outstanding goal is a massive moment in the Premier League title race, and it certainly won’t be the last from Liverpool. They may win the title and they may not, but they will always be in the running. Never count out the Reds this season.

USMNT player ratings vs. El Tri

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The United States got interim head coach Dave Sarachan a win over Mexico, something any American soccer mind will celebrate as long as they’re on this mortal coil.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Who shone for Sarachan, and who didn’t? Read on.

Starting XI

Zack Steffen  — 7 — Very good aside from a dicey adventure at the edge of his 18. Clearly the No. 1 at age 23, although a new coach may challenge that.

Eric Lichaj  (Off 56′) — 7 — Very physical and committed performance from the veteran Hull City defender despite playing out-of-position as a right-footed left back. His future is an intriguing one given his age (33) at the next World Cup.

Matt Miazga  — 8 — Perhaps the man of the match, along with his partner and Steffen during a first half where the back line was often left under pressure.

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 7 — Strong night for the Tottenham Hotspur youngster, who was especially busy from minutes nine to 40.

Shaq Moore (Off 85′) — 6 — Improved as the game went on, and had a few standout moments. He needs to play well when given the chance given the amount of right back prospects behind him (and No. 1 DeAndre Yedlin).

Wil Trapp — 5 — A step back from a rock solid job against Brazil. Probably wasn’t a great call to have him as the lone CDM in a 4-1-4-1, although three of the four attack-minded mids are CDMs by trade.

Tim Weah (Off, 90′) — 8 — Bring me Weah with a healthy Christian Pulisic, McKennie, and Adams in the same XI, please and thank you.

Weston McKennie (Off 40′) — 5 — Left early due to injury but joined the cluttered midfield in doing little to keep the ball from Mexico. A bright first eight minutes or so.

Tyler Adams — 8 — The night’s goal scorer — yes, from New York on 9/11 — is going to bring in a mint for the New York Red Bulls one day (November to RB Leipzig?). Good hustle.

Kellyn Acosta (Off 85′) — 6 — Not poor considering he was played out of position. That’s not new for him with the USMNT.

Gyasi Zardes (Off 80′) — 6 — Strong in hold up play, a hopeful performance as he looks to get his USMNT career back on track.

Substitutes

Julian Green (On 40′) — 8 — His introduction changed the game, as the daring and energetic Greuther Furth man shows he’s not done growing as a player.

Antonee Robinson (On 56′) — 7 — What a redemption from Friday night’s struggles, showing why the left back is well-regarded at Everton. Nice assist on Adams’ goal.

Bobby Wood (On 80′) — 6 — Feisty and fine.

DeAndre Yedlin (On 85′) — N/A —

Cristian Roldan (On 85′) — N/A —

Marky Delgado (On 90′) — N/A —

Three things from USMNT’s win over Mexico

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The United States got interim head coach Dave Sarachan a win over Mexico, something any American soccer figure will celebrate as long as they’re on this mortal coil.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

But there was plenty more to discuss from a feisty, sloppy 90 minutes in Nashville.

The rivalry was, indeed, renewed

Diego Lainez — more on him later — battled hard with Eric Lichaj, and the fouls amplified as the match went on.

Matt Miazga then went chest-to-chest with the much smaller Lainez, gesturing his height advantage as several Mexico players got involved and Zack Steffen held back the Nantes center back, who was on yellow. All told, 18-20 of the game’s combatants came together during the incident.

Moments later, Mexico took it over the edge. Angel Zaldivar went studs-up with a sliding tackle to Trapp’s ankle and earned a sending off.

Yeah, the young Mexicans hate the young Americans (and vice versa). And both looks quite good and deep given their collective lack of experience. Let’s go.

Zack Steffen will need to drop off in a big way to lose the No. 1 shirt

The Columbus Crew backstop is going to be a big part of the USMNT’s return to glory if in fact the Yanks are able to pick up the pieces from the World Cup qualifying disaster.

There was a goofy free kick giveaway, but other than that Steffen was nearly spotless.

It stands to reason that Steffen has a great chance to win the gig if his club coach, Gregg Berhalter gets the full-time job. But even if that doesn’t come true, Steffen has been very good in almost all of his caps.

He shows good control of his box, is decisive, and light on his feet. It’s clear he’s directing the back line effectively, and it’s his gig to lose heading into next summer’s Gold Cup. It will also be interesting to see if he stays in MLS or goes back abroad following a failed stint at Freiburg following a terrific time at the University of Maryland.

Mexico has its own teenage sensation

Lainez was Mexico’s biggest threat on Tuesday, the 18-year-old calling to mind a similar debut from a CONCACAF teenager from the United States.

Yes, Lainez of Club America might be going tit-for-tat against Christian Pulisic for some time.

Just look at what he did to Wil Trapp in cueing up 20-year-old Edson Alvarado for what easily could’ve been 1-0 to Mexico.

This is the game that will push the panic button on the coaching search

While it’s fair to question the players used in his 4-5-1 (or 4-1-4-1), It’s not really Dave Sarachan’s fault that his team is unable to function with attacking efficiency.

That’s not an excuse for Tuesday, as Mexico was also working with a young squad and interim boss, but the dedicated USMNT observer wants to see a philosophy at work when their team is on the field.

And it’s just not there. We know that Earnie Stewart wants an aggressive, industrious team but that needs time and tactics that won’t come as an interim boss tries out new players (though these matches in a World Cup qualifying are ripe for experimentation).

Playing in other clubs’ World Cup warm-ups or entertaining Brazil in a money-making friendly is one thing, but there’s something about seeing Mexico on the other side of the field which will beg for full-time direction.