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USMNT, Wigan defender Robinson out injured

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U.S. left back Antonee Robinson will miss Thursday’s exhibition at England and next week’s match against Italy after spraining his right ankle in training, an injury expected to sideline him for four weeks.

[ MORE: Pulisic ready to lead USMNT

The 21-year-old defender was hurt during training on Tuesday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said.

Robinson plays for Wigan in England’s second-tier League Championship. He made his U.S. debut in May and has six international appearances.

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Player ratings: The good & the bad in USMNT’s loss to Colombia

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The U.S. men’s national team could do very little to slow down a star-studded, powerful Colombia side on Thursday, falling to a 4-2 defeat in Tampa, Fla.

There were a handful of good things to glean from the friendly, as well as plenty of bad things.

[ MORE: USMNT can do little to slow down prolific Colombia ]

GK – Zack Steffen: 5.5/10 — Steffen had no chance to do anything with three of the four goals conceded, given the quality of chances and finishes, but he was quick off his line on multiple occasions early in the game when Colombia could have blown it wide open and put up a crooked number.

RB – DeAndre Yedlin: 5/10 — The entire point of a player with Yedlin’s skill set is that he can bomb forward to overlap on the right wing and open up space for the attacker on that side of the field. Colombia simply had too much firepower, which pinned Yedlin back far too much for him to be effective.

CB – Matt Miazga: 5/10 — Similar to Yedlin, Miazga is at his best when he’s affecting the game further up the field — only in a defensive manner. Again, Colombia turned Miazga into an emergency defender running toward his own goal, which is far from his strong suit.

CB – John Brooks: 4.5/10 — Colombia repeatedly targeted the left side of the USMNT defense — and for good reason — which meant Antonee Robinson got roasted again and again (more on that in a moment). Brooks, the “veteran of the backline” at 25 years old and 34 caps, did very little — if anything — to remedy the situation.

LB – Antonee Robinson: 4/10 — Robinson had been a mostly encouraging piece for the future in his limited exposure with the USMNT. Tasked with defending one of James Rodriguez or Juan Cuadrado at all times — and the overlapping Santiago Arias, the 21-year-old struggled mightily. It’s almost as if he’d never played against anyone who’s been a star at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USMNT’s loss to Colombia ]

DM – Michael Bradley: 5.5/10 — Back with the USMNT for the first time in a year — and wearing the armband — Bradley was finally deployed in a situation that works for him: as a no. 6, with a no. 8, who’s actually a no. 8, alongside him. However, Bradley’s effort on Colombia’s third goal stuck out as sorely lacking, which won’t have done him any favors in the minds of his many skeptics.

DM – Kellyn Acosta: 6.5/10 — Acosta scored a goal and was extremely active, but outside of his 50th-minute equalizer he could impact very little a game that was played at an uncomfortably high tempo.

RW – Tim Weah: 7.5/10 — With Christian Pulisic not in camp due to injury, all eyes were on Weah, and a standout performance was expected — and desperately needed — from the 18-year-old. His assist to Bobby Wood in the 53rd minute certainly stood out and showcased a part of his game that’s far more important — and yet unknown: vision, seeing the perfect pass and playing the pass.

CM – Julian Green: 6/10 — Green is 23 years old, and somehow it feels like he’s enjoying a career renaissance as a central midfielder. It was Green who forcefully won the ball back in the lead-up to Acosta’s goal, and it was Green — not Bradley or Acosta — who was most effective with his final-third passing.

LW – Kenny Saief: 4/10 — Speaking of players who did little nothing to help Robinson in his struggles, Saief offered nothing defensively. It was such a problem that Dave Sarachan flipped Saief and Weah at halftime.

FW – Bobby Wood: 6/10 — Wood scored a goal, which is a big part of a forward’s job, but did very little else during his 83-minute shift. The goal was a result of his straight-line speed as he outran a pair of defenders — we knew he could do that already, but is there anything else to his game?

USMNT 0-2 Brazil: Young hosts no match for Neymar, Firmino

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Brazil coach Tite named a very strong starting lineup, with the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Casemiro. That was always going to be a struggle, and it was, but the United States was far from run off the field in East Rutherford on Friday night as they fell 2-0 to the World Cup quarterfinalists in an international friendly meeting.

The United States came out of the opening whistle with a very high press, and it seemed to trouble the Brazilians from the start, but the visitors began to figure things out and struck in the 11th minute. Douglas Costa straight burned Antonee Robinson who over-committed on the flank, and his cross found Roberto Firmino at the back post who had drifted back from an oblivious Matt Miazga. Brazil nearly grabbed a second as Costa again torched Robinson, this time cutting inside, but his ball into the box was fumbled at the penalty spot for Neymar.

[ COVERAGE: 5 Things Learned | Player Ratings ]

The US had its best chance down the other end on the half-hour mark as Yedlin crossed to Weston McKennie, but his promising shot was blocked. The ensuing corner resulted in a header by Miazga on a delicious cross from Julian Green, and again it went out for a corner. Again McKennie had a massive chance, but Alisson came off his line to smother the shot from the far post. A fourth corner again came sizzling in, but Wood couldn’t get his head to it and instead found himself shaken up on the turf.

Again Brazil almost had a second, but a Coutinho shot from the top of the box was blocked bravely by Robinson and Zack Steffen saved the follow-up from Fabinho. They would double the lead before the break when Fabinho went down softly in the penalty area trying to squeeze between John Brooks and Wil Trapp, and the referee pointed to the spot. Neymar sent Steffen the wrong way for his 53rd international goal. At the break, Brazil had most of the possession while the United States was left with little to savor.

With no substitutions for either side at halftime, Brazil came out of the break with the intent. Douglas Costa toasted Paul Arriola down the right, and nearly found Firmino but his poor first touch killed off the chance. Yet again, Costa beat Robinson on 52 minutes – this time through the middle – and fed a delicious pass to Neymar, but his shot was slowed by Steffen and eventually cleared off the line by Matt Miazga right on the doorstep.

[ MORE: U.S. to hire new head coach by end of 2018 ]

Sarachan brought on Timothy Weah and Kellyn Acosta for Paul Arriola and Julian Green as the game neared the hour mark, a positive substitution. Tite countered with the addition of Arthur for Manchester United midfielder Fred, while Douglas Costa was removed for Chelsea winger Willian. McKennie had a chance to put the U.S. on the board soon after, but he put his effort just wide on the end of a curling free-kick.

Another change for either side saw Gyasi Zardes replace Bobby Wood, while Paqueta made his international debut for Brazil replacing Coutinho. The U.S. nearly found an opening as Wil Trapp forced a shaky save from Alisson with a long-distance shot low and to the left. Down the other end, Robinson picked Firmino’s pocket to save a breakaway opportunity. The U.S. again had a chance on a set-piece with 15 minutes to go, but Alisson stopped a weak effort as two U.S. players came together for the shot.

With three minutes remaining, the U.S. had one last chance as Tyler Adams sent a cross in that went just over the head of Gyasi Zardes, while substitute Christian Roldan had his follow-up cutback cleared away. The loss is just the second for the United States in seven matches since the failure in Trinidad & Tobago, and will provide Dave Sarachan and the rest of the coaching staff plenty of tape to teach the players how to match up against the best in the world.

What’s at stake for young USMNT in Brazil, Mexico friendlies?

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As soon as the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, everything the program would do in the 11 months since that fateful night in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago, has been about (re-)building for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

[ MORE: Tim Weah can’t escape famous name on back of PSG, USMNT jersey ]

This year, this month, this week are no different, with the Yanks in camp once again for a pair of friendlies against two sides who faced off in the round of 16 this summer: Brazil and Mexico. The following players have the most to gain (or lose) with strong (or poor) showing on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET) and Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET).

(You won’t find blue-chip prospects likes Christian Pulisic — who’s not eveon on the roster — Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams or Tim Weah on this list, as they have already established themselves as likely building-block pieces for the 2022 and 2026 cycles.)

[ MORE: What is USMNT’s strongest XI to take on Brazil? ]

John Brooks and Matt Miazga

In a perfect world, Brooks (who’s now 25) and Miazga (23) are the ready-made left-right center-back partnership that comes good at multiple tournaments this throughout World Cup cycle, culminating in a dominant defensive display in Qatar. Extra emphasis on “a perfect world,” as Brooks has been injured far more than not the last two or three years. On the plus side, Miazga has made steps up in competition — with coinciding performances — each of the last two club seasons; now is the time for that to translate to a purple patch of international form, and having a consistent, stable partner would go a long way to that end.

Antonee Robinson

Speaking of defensive positions just begging to be won, the starting left back job has been up for grabs for 15 or 20 years. With more than 48 months left before the next World Cup (remember, it’ll be played in November and December), there’s no reason Dave Sarachan — and eventually a permanent coach, hopefully — shouldn’t give every possible chance to an exciting 21-year-old currently playing in England’s second division. Robinson, who’s on loan at Wigan Athletic (from Everton), shone brightly in his first two senior-team appearances earlier this year, against Bolivia and France.

[ MORE: That’s A Dive podcast: McKennie talks USMNT, Schalke ]

Kellyn Acosta

As bad as the last 12 months have been for the USMNT, one could make a strong case that Acosta has had an even worse 15-month downturn which began last summer, after the 2017 Gold Cup. Acosta, then 21, reportedly had multiple offers to go to Europe — which he badly wanted to do, but was prevented from doing by FC Dallas, his club at the time. His form plummeted, right alongside with Dallas’ season, and 2018 has somehow been even worse: sports hernia surgery in February, more lackluster performances for FCD, and eventually a trade to the then-last-place Colorado Rapids. Since making the move to Colorado in July, Acosta has trended upward while playing for a very bad team that has had nothing to play for since the season was less than a month old. For now, Acosta’s youth will be enough to continue being called up, but that’ll stop sometime over the next 24 months, at which point he’ll be 25. Still an immensely talented player, we just need to see the best version of Acosta re-emerge.

Julian Green

If we were to pretend that I asked you how old you think Julian Green is right, what would you say? That’s a great question, he has to be about 25 or 26 by now, right? Wrong, he only turned 23 a couple months ago. Theoretically speaking, there’s still time for him to become the best player in the world play the UEFA Champions League be a serviceable player for the USMNT. Here’s why that’s unlikely: he’s made more than 10 first-team league appearances just once in his career. Once. That was last season while on loan to Greuther Furth (he scored three goals in league 24 appearance), the club he signed for on a permanent basis this summer. He’s likely running out of options in Europe, but he’ll get one or two more chances stateside before his career runs out, which means he’ll likely get one or two more chances with the national team, the first — and possibly last — of which comes this week.

Stoke City imploding after 3-0 loss to Wigan

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Manager Gary Rowett laid out to the media details of a club that is eating itself alive from the inside out.

Having been relegated from the Premier League last season, Stoke City is winless in its first four matches of Championship play. Their most recent loss came in devastating fashion, conceding a pair of penalties and losing 3-0 to newly promoted Wigan.

[ MORE: Premier League power rankings ]

“It was weak and pathetic and if you do that you’re going to lose games of football,” Rowett said after the match. “When you’re not winning games everybody gets a bit edgy and frustrated. We’ve got to take collective responsibility, it’s no good fighting between ourselves.”

Rowett’s final phrase referred to an incident at halftime that took place in the Stoke City locker room, with goalkeeper Jack Butland, captain Ryan Shawcross and winger James McClean all shouted at each other during the break. “Reputations now mean nothing,” Rowett said after the match. “I’ve got to start picking the team on which players deserve to be in, not which players have played in the Premier League for 10 years.”

New Stoke signing Tom Ince blasted two shots both over the bar in the opening 15 minutes, before Wigan took the lead on the first of two Will Grigg penalties. Ince had some brutal words for the team after the match. “We must man up, grow some balls, put ourselves on the line and actually show some hunger to put things right. We have to make this a horrible place to come.”

For Wigan, American international Antonee Robinson would have picked up an assist had Nick Massey not been fouled, leading to Grigg’s his second penalty.