DeAndre Yedlin

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What did we learn about USMNT during Nations League?

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The inaugural Nations League group stage is complete, and the U.S. men’s national team managed to finish top of Group A (on the final day of play) and secure its place in the semifinals next June.

[ MORE: USMNT cruises past Cuba to reach Nations League semis ]

So, what did we learn from the final four (semi-competitive) games of 2019?

No matter the competition, the chance creation isn’t there

Inevitably, eventually, the USMNT ends up attacking its opponents in one of two ways: with long, direct balls up to the forward line, or exclusively through wide attackers and constant crosses into the box. In beating Canada and Cuba by a combined score of 8-1 during this international window, Gregg Berhalter’s team relied almost exclusively on these “tactics.” Predictably, it’s also the default setting when facing tougher competition, such as Mexico and Uruguay earlier in 2019.

Neither of those plans are bad plans, per se, only neither of those plans are what the federation has pursued as its stated goal for the last decade: possession-based soccer featuring ample chance creation from midfield.

Five coaches have taken charge of the USMNT this decade, all with varying levels of promising the above stylistic improvements. Upon completing the USMNT’s final game of the decade, it’s fair to say that all five failed.

The worst part of all is that the presence of Christian Pulisic hardly cures anything. Sure, he’s the craftiest attacking player the U.S. has ever produced, but even a primary playmaker like Pulisic requires a stable midfield behind him to filter the ball upfield and give him a stage on which to perform. Weston McKennie was stellar against Canada on Friday, but he’s proven that, at just 21 years old, he can’t be counted on to that degree game in and game out.

The good news: they’re both 21 years old and have north of 50 caps between them. One day — and it could come soon — everything should click for each of them, at which point we could see them move to operate at a totally different level.


The full backs are suddenly a bright spot

Perhaps it’s a tad hasty to claim the full backs are trending positively, but the current crop of right backs sure looks deeper and more talented than ever before. Sergiño Dest chose to play for the USMNT and is now cap-tied, Reggie Cannon is coming along nicely, and DeAndre Yedlin has proven himself, at the very least, a non-problem plenty of times.

That’s three more reliable full backs than the USMNT has had since Steve Cherundolo retired in 2012. Unfortunately, they all play on the same side of the field.

Tim Ream and Daniel Lovitz, who started at left back  don’t inspire the most confidence or excitement at left back, but perhaps a defense-first option is the way to go given the attacking instincts of all three players on the opposite side.

If Berhalter has truly settled on John Brooks and one of Aaron Long or Matt Mizaga as his starting center backs, then the USMNT heads into 2020 with a relatively stable, non-fluid situation along the backline since… maybe the 2010 World Cup.

Small victories, but victories nonetheless.

USMNT’s Yedlin talks goal, hesitant celebration for Newcastle

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Make it three unbeaten for Newcastle United, who used a goal from USMNT right back DeAndre Yedlin to upend Bournemouth 2-1 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

The American got his second Premier League goal and third in 101 appearances for the Magpies, boosting them mid-table before he joined Gregg Berhalter’s national team for two decisive CONCACAF Nations League matches.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 2-1 Bournemouth ]

Yedlin called it a “massive result,” noting that manager Steve Bruce has been after him to get more involved in the attack.

He also admitted it’s a challenge to score a goal that could be offside. To celebrate, or not celebrate?

“The gaffer told me to get into the box more, I knew I was going to shoot but I was a bit nervous when they were checking VAR. It is hard to celebrate and then get if you get caught offside you look a bit stupid but thankfully in the end it was given as a goal.”

Yedlin ended up in the back of the net after a flying header tied the score, and finished the day with three tackles, three clearances, and four of seven duels won.

Magpies come back to sour Cherries at St. James

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DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark scored to lead Newcastle United back from an early deficit, as the Magpies collected a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Magpies are now unbeaten in three and sit 11th with 15 points, one behind seventh place Bournemouth.

The Cherries goal came via Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson off a delightful training ground corner kick.


Three things we learned

1. Magpies defenders are attackers (again): Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle has seen seven of its last nine goals come courtesy of backs, and today it was Clark and Yedlin rewarded for following the ball to goal. Clark scored for the second-straight match while his American teammate joined Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles, and Jetro Willems on the score sheets this season. In game rife with harsh tackles and seedy moves, perhaps its fitting the backs made the difference.

2. Saint-Maximin a difference maker (also, again): Newcastle’s French wing wizard was again perplexing for a Premier League defense. While he still hasn’t found the required goals of his position, his passing, dribbling, and use of space remains upper echelon in the league. If he starts firing home, look out.

3. King butchers late chance: There should’ve been a late point for the visitors, but the Cherries long time finisher didn’t finish his chance. Joshua King was at the back ahead of Dubravka, who was a bit suspect all day, but couldn’t turn his header inside the far post with mere seconds to go in stoppage time.

Man of the Match: 


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The Cherries were very lively from the jump, and Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was called into action several times before the opener.

That’s when a clever short corner routine ended with Wilson’s goal, as the Liverpool loanee darted free of Jetro Willems to side-foot a shot inside the near post.

Newcastle took a second hit when captain Jamaal Lascelles was forced off with an injury.

The Magpies, oddly enough, then found the run of play and both Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton came close. Allan Saint-Maximin set up both players.

Saint-Maximin cooked Steve Cook to beat Aaron Ramsdale but smashed off the cross bar as the match approached the first half’s final five minutes.

That’s when the American beat the Bournemouth back line and VAR, Yedlin heading Saint-Maximin’s cross into a yawning cage from a back post position.

[ WATCH: Yedlin’s equalizer ]

Newcastle took its first lead when Willems’ back post cross was knocked down by Fernandez into the path of Clark, who just poked past Ramsdale for 2-1.

Ramsdale bailed out his backs on a 78th minute Saint-Maximin chance, catching the ball and watching Almiron miss the empty cage under duress.

The Cherries did good work to find an equalizer, but King’s late miss was a symptom of their sickness.

AT HALF: Yedlin heads home equalizer for Newcastle

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DeAndre Yedlin has headed home to give Newcastle United a deserved equalizer against visiting Bournemouth on Saturday (and, of course, to give the United States men’s national team three goals on the day).

Allan Saint-Maximin had been a menace all day on the left flank, and his deflected cross was headed home by Yedlin.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

The right back’s goal is his third for Newcastle, and comes in his 101st appearance for the club. It’s also his second Premier League goal, having scored against Manchester City last season.

It was the deflection that helped Yedlin’s cause, as he might’ve not beaten VAR without it.

We didn’t get a vintage DeAndre Yedlin celebration, because the American thought he was offside.

Half-time scores, stream links

Tottenham 0-0 Sheffield United – NBCSN [STREAM]
Burnley 1-0 West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
Newcastle 1-1 Bournemouth  – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
Southampton 0-1 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

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.