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Bundesliga wrap: Alcacer, BVB stays hot; Lewandowski feasts again

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Borussia Dortmund moved to a league-best 20 points on Saturday, ensuring that we’ll have a table leader not named Bayern Munich when the calendar turns to November.

[ VIDEO: Mourinho reacts to taunting, skirmish ]


Stuttgart 0-4 Borussia Dortmund

It’s been a very good time to be a supporter or member of Borussia Dortmund, who leads the table after another convincing win.

Red-hot Paco Alcacer now has seven goals in four Bundesliga matches after scoring the third goal on Saturday, while Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Marvin Philipp also scored for the visitors.

USMNT winger Christian Pulisic returned to the fold for BVB, subbing into the match and providing an assist on Philipp’s 85th minute marker.

Schalke 0-2 Werder Bremen

Josh Sargent wasn’t on the bench for the visitors, but American teammate Weston McKennie did start for the hosts. McKennie covered the second-most ground in the contest, winning 14 tackles. He converted 19 of 24 passes and did not register a shot.

Unfortunately, the match wasn’t much to write home about for his side. Bremen got goals from Maximilian Egglestein on each side of halftime to grab another win on the young season.

Wolfsburg 1-3 Bayern Munich

Niko Kovac will be happy to get a decisive win after the international break, with James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski scoring in the win. Lewandowski’s brace included an absolute gift.

For Wolfsburg, USMNT center back John Brooks won tackles and completed 48 of his 53 passes, while Wout Weghorst scored its lone goal.

Elsewhere
Eintracht Frankfurt 7-1 Fortuna Dusseldorf — RECAP
Augsburg 0-0 RB Leipzig
Nurmberg 1-3 Hoffenheim
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Hannover 96
Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Mainz — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 8 6 2 0 27 8 19 4-0-0 2-2-0 20
 Werder Bremen 8 5 2 1 15 8 7 2-2-0 3-0-1 17
 Bayern Munich 8 5 1 2 15 9 6 2-1-1 3-0-1 16
 RB Leipzig 8 4 3 1 16 9 7 3-1-0 1-2-1 15
 Mönchengladbach 7 4 2 1 15 9 6 3-0-0 1-2-1 14
 Hertha BSC Berlin 7 4 2 1 12 7 5 3-0-0 1-2-1 14
 Eintracht Frankfurt 8 4 1 3 19 12 7 2-1-1 2-0-2 13
 1899 Hoffenheim 8 3 1 4 14 13 1 1-1-2 2-0-2 10
 FC Augsburg 8 2 3 3 14 13 1 1-2-1 1-1-2 9
 FSV Mainz 05 7 2 3 2 4 4 0 2-2-0 0-1-2 9
 VfL Wolfsburg 8 2 3 3 11 14 -3 1-2-2 1-1-1 9
 SC Freiburg 7 2 2 3 9 13 -4 1-2-1 1-0-2 8
 Bayer Leverkusen 8 2 2 4 9 15 -6 1-1-2 1-1-2 8
 1. FC Nürnberg 8 2 2 4 8 19 -11 2-1-1 0-1-3 8
 Hannover 96 8 1 3 4 10 16 -6 1-1-1 0-2-3 6
 FC Schalke 04 8 2 0 6 5 11 -6 1-0-3 1-0-3 6
 VfB Stuttgart 8 1 2 5 6 17 -11 1-1-2 0-1-3 5
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 8 1 2 5 6 18 -12 1-0-3 0-2-2 5

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?

Brooks leaves USMNT for Wolfsburg in planned move

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John Brooks is headed back to Wolfsburg after going 90 minutes for the United States in its 2-0 loss to Brazil on Friday.

U.S. Soccer says this was the plan all along for the star center back, 25.

[ USMNT-BRAZIL: Full recap | Player ratings ]

The USMNT roster sits at 23 for Tuesday’s match against Mexico, leaving Tim Parker and Cameron Carter-Vickers as options at center back along with Friday’s starter Matt Miazga.

How much change will we see from Dave Sarachan’s USMNT in the second match of this international break? Will he opt for Alex Bono or Ethan Horvath instead of Zack Steffen?

Tim Weah figures to get a start, and Friday subs Marky Delgado, Cristian Roldan, and Kellyn Acosta could see extended run against El Tri.

Three years apart, USMNT losses to Brazil show hope

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Timely interventions from center backs and a hot goalkeeper helped the United States men’s national team keep damage down to 2-0 in its loss to Brazil on Friday in New Jersey, and the Yanks looked far less overwhelmed than the 4-1 hammering at the hands of Selecao three years ago to this morning.

[ USMNT-BRAZIL: Full recap | Player ratings ]

The player ratings that night were ugly; Brad Guzan was a veteran struggling between the sticks, and the back line was shielded poorly by Ale Bedoya, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley. The lone goal came via Danny Williams, and the silver lining was the then-Reading man and young DeAndre Yedlin.

Of course part of that was down to Jurgen Klinsmann figuring it was a good time to trot out a back four of Tim Ream, Ventura Alvarado, Michael Orozco, and Geoff Cameron (lot of center backs, considering Yedlin was deployed at right mid). And give Dave Sarachan plenty of credit for doing God’s work without much hope of being named full-time boss. This is proper guardianship of a program.

Only two starters from that night in 2015 saw time on Friday: Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes. With all due respect to Zardes, Yedlin’s the one who matters to this discussion. He’s become a key part of a Premier League outfit, though at the time he was a bit player in Europe.

Had the Yanks been looking for results on Friday, they would’ve suited up Bradley and Altidore. They would’ve begged Cameron to come, asked Williams and Bedoya to do a job or two.

It can be difficult to keep the USMNT’s present in focus given the gigantic cluster that was failing to qualify for Russia and then failing to accept responsibility for said failure, but the future is genuinely bright.

There’s no guarantee that players will continue to develop, and the global reach of technology has meant that many countries have sent more prospects to bigger clubs, there is absolutely no denying that the potential of the USMNT right now is as high as its been since the 2001 U-20 World Cup roster of Donovan, Onyewu, and Beasley.

But look at the roster, even beyond Pulisic: Weston McKennie is a regular starter for Schalke at age 19. Teenage mid Tyler Adams is shining for RBNY and looks set to move abroad to the Bundesliga.

Timothy Weah is a factor in the Paris Saint-Germain first team set-up. Matt Miazga‘s early days on loan from Chelsea at Nantes are impressive. The elders at just 25, Yedlin and Brooks are week-in, week-out starters at Newcastle and Wolfsburg.

Also, Josh Sargent didn’t play, but he did play Saturday for Werder Bremen. He scored. Again (And imagine if the powers-that-were didn’t sleep on Jonathan Gonzalez, who the Yanks will see in an El Tri shirt on Tuesday).

This is all without a full-time strategy in the national team program, and at least three principal voices in 18 months. That’s about to be four in 24.

Whether it’s Tata Martino or Gregg Berhalter, Tab Ramos or David Moyes, someone is going to inherit the most promising collection of young American talent, skill, and experience in ages.

If not ever.

Now that’s cool.

5 things we learned from USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil

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The United States played Brazil on Friday night, and it was always going to be a daunting task. A young, inexperienced team against essentially Brazil’s World Cup squad.

To that end, it was a wonderful opportunity for the United States. They had nothing to lose by going out and hoping to compete. If it went awry, there’s plenty to be learned, and if it went well that’s a great sign. It didn’t go great, but there was plenty to draw from the match. Dave Sarachan and his team put up a great fight, and didn’t back down from one of the world’s best, refusing to bunker in and simply defending to pull out a gritty result.

[ USMNT-BRAZIL: Full recap | Player ratings ]

Given the fact that this national team essentially hit the hard reset button after the Trinidad & Tobago loss, it’s hard to judge sheer “progress” over the last few years, but there are a few more things we can pinpoint.

1) These kids are not afraid

In the opening 10 minutes, Dave Sarachan’s kids came out and high-pressed Brazil’s World Cup squad. Not just a high press…a VERY high press. The United States had nothing to lose in East Rutherford, and they played like it early on. That’s a great sign for some of these kids, who ended up troubling the Brazilians early on with the press.

After falling behind, the US took its few opportunities and went headlong at the visitors, with DeAndre Yedlin bombing down the right flank. The half-hour mark provided an impressive spell for the hosts, as the US earned four consecutive corners and all proved dangerous. Weston McKennie was fantastic going forward and was dangerous all night in the attacking third. After Brazil scored its second on a dubious penalty call, the US went right down the other end and threatened.

Dave Sarachan after the match said that Antonee Robinson might have been a little tentative at the beginning, but if anything, his errors were from over-committing, not sitting back and letting Douglas Costa come to him. Mistakes were made by the U.S. regularly, and there were plenty of matchups that featured a significant talent gap. Still, hesitancy and trepidation was not the reason the United States was beaten tonight, and that’s a positive to be taken.

2) The rookie mistakes eventually need to end

These kids are young, there’s no doubting that. The United States starting lineup featured a full 11 players 25 years old or younger. Still, eventually this process needs an end-point, and the kids will need to learn from their mistakes. Making those mistakes in matches like this is perfectly acceptable, but learning from those mistakes is the next step.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT loss to Brazil ]

Take Brazil’s first goal for example. Antonee Robinson was burned by Douglas Costa down the flank because he switched off for a split second to communicate a defensive responsibility to his teammate and in the process over-committed. Costa, a player with incredible speed and instincts, took advantage and roasted the young left-back. Then, in the middle, Matt Miazga was beat by the oldest striker trick in the book – Roberto Firmino appeared to head towards the near post before drifting back to create space behind his unaware American defender.

Those mistakes are acceptable at this stage against this opponent, and they provide valuable learning experiences, but eventually those need to be learned from, or they will have been in vain.

3) Bobby Wood is fourth on the striker depth chart

Bobby Wood started the match at striker over Timothy Weah, and many fans were disappointed not to see the young, in-form PSG attacker earn the majority of the minutes. Wood struggled from the onset, giving the ball away cheaply which caused promising attacks to disintegrate, and he failing to find space up front. That is largely due to the strength of the opposition, but he still should be able to pick a spot or two over the course of 55 minutes. He ended up with nothing.

Weah came on with a little over a half-hour to go, and he proved more dangerous and decisive on the ball. He cut in from the left to earn Wil Trapp a long-range effort that forced Alisson into a shaky save in his most notable moment in an otherwise collectively sleepy second half. Weah should ultimately be ahead of Wood long-term on the depth chart, as is likely first-choice selection Jozy Altidore and young Josh Sargeant. Wood is a fine option, but he coughs up possession far too often, and against strong opponents like this, he cannot afford moments of inaccuracy when the team needs to value possession.

4) This defensive partnership can stay

Despite the early mistakes on the opening goal, Matt Miazga and John Brooks played quite well against one of the world’s best teams. There’s serious potential in this defensive partnership, and those who championed Miazga with Cameron Carter-Vickers seem to have forgotten about the experienced Brooks. Especially considering these two had only played 45 competitive minutes together before tonight, it was a stellar showing for the duo, and one that will give U.S. fans plenty of hope for the future. Had the back line not been exposed by poor wing defending, it might have been an even better night for the defense as a whole. Miazga was required out wide right on a couple of occasions to help cover defensively, and he did well in space, a difficult ask of a central defender. Not only that, they were dangerous on set-pieces with the U.S. threatening the most on corners. These two can grow together, and with CCV also in the mix, the U.S. suddenly appears set up at a position they’ve struggled to find consistently for a long time.

5) – This team needs leadership. Now.

Dave Sarachan has done a fine job ushering in a new era of players into the national team, but he serves little value to the US otherwise. The kids are doing their best on the field, but need a clear direction for the long-term future, and they need it now. The longer the United States waits to hire a coach, the more time is wasted to find new talent, create a plan for moving forward, and implement that plan on the field. The World Cup may be four years away, but valuable days are being thrown in the trash. The team needs a direction, and they need the leadership to implement that direction. The team has no chance against the world’s best without that leadership, and it showed tonight. These matches serve little purpose if they don’t come with direction and long-term values. Earnie Stewart may want to take his time, but that’s not in the best interest of this national team, and we saw that on the field tonight.