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U.S. Soccer announces Player of the Year nominees

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The USMNT’s 2018 Player of the Year is going to be one of the new breed, while the USWNT’s list of nominees is a bit unusual as well.

Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Matt Miazga, Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp are the men vying to become the fifth different name to win the Male Player of the Year in as many seasons.

[ USMNT: Player ratings | 3 things ]

There are three players on the Female list to have won the award in previous years with Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath, and Alex Morgan having laid claim to the honor. Megan Rapinoe and Lindsey Horan are the other two nominees.

The two teams could hardly have had more different years, as the USWNT was undefeated behind a prolific season from Morgan.

The men stalled as U.S. Soccer failed to enlist a full-time coach, leaving interim coach Dave Sarachan to meld new players into a “part-time” system.

Steffen is probably the favorite to win the men’s award, though Miazga and McKennie had some high-profile moments in red, white, and blue. Trapp is beloved by the staff and could grab the award as well, while Adams seems a true long shot.

Report: Nantes ponders cancelling Miazga loan for poor play

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According to independent French journalist Mohamed Toubache-Ter, Ligue 1 club FC Nantes is considering cancelling the loan of Matt Miazga during the January transfer window due to poor play.

Toubache-Ter was first to the news that Miazga would go out on loan from Chelsea this summer, originally thought to be to fellow French side Caen before Nantes came in last-minute with a better offer.

Since arriving on August 6 and riding the bench during the season opener, Miazga has played the full 90 minutes in every league match for the club before a yellow card suspension served on October 20. However, the 23-year-old was dropped out of the squad completely for Saturday’s 2-1 win over Amiens, and was not included in the Nantes squad for the club’s upcoming Coupe de la Ligue match at Montpellier on Tuesday. It was reported that he was not present with the team at the airport for the trip.

Miazga has been an important part of the recent USMNT youth reload, and he has played well overall in his seven caps over the last calendar year since the United States missed out on World Cup qualification. However, at Nantes, the club sits in the bottom half of the Ligue 1 table and has conceded 17 goals, three behind Amiens for most in the French top flight.

Cancelling a loan deal is somewhat complicated, and often results in a penalty fee being paid and it could sour relationships for future loans. Therefore, this is far from a certain thing. However, if the front office feels like Miazga’s presence is hurting the team or better options are likely on the way in January, the club may feel making the move is worth any potential hassle.

Miazga’s competition at Nantes includes the pair that started the Amiens match – 25-year-old Brazilian Diego Carlos and 28-year-old Senegalese CB Kara Mbodji – plus 31-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Pallois who was on the bench for that league tussle. All three were included in the Coupe de la Ligue squad for this week.

The American was originally sent out on loan because he was considered nowhere near the current Chelsea squad that includes David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, and Gary Cahill.

Miazga taunts Mexico as USMNT grow up

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Matt Miazga didn’t endear himself to many in Mexico during the USMNT’s 1-0 win against El Tri in Nashville on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

During the second half of the victory the Chelsea and U.S. men’s national team center back mocked Diego Lainez’s height visibly in a heated exchange which angered many.

What did the center back, currently on loan at Ligue 1 club Nantes, have to say about the incident?

“We talked a little smack. It’s part of the game. It’s mental warfare,” Miazga told reporters. “We got in their heads. They got a red card right after it. It took a toll and we won the game.”

Angel Zaldivar, the man who was sent off shortly after Miazga making fun of Lainez, seemed to have a few words directed his way by Miazga on his way off the pitch too.

“You see what their values are. They don’t know how to win,” Zaldivar said. “They poked fun, tried to play a dirty game that honestly we don’t think is how you should play. That’s their game.”

A lot of USMNT fans do not seem to have a problem with Miazga’s actions and put it down to being part of the game.

Lainez certainly did as he said he “wasn’t offended by Miazga” and that “football players are different sizes and have different skill sets.”

But is there more to this here?

Despite having an average age of 23 years and five days, the USMNT were actually more experienced than their Mexican counterparts on Tuesday and Miazga seemed to be trying to rattle their cages. The U.S. didn’t play well in the first half with Lainez in particular a bright spot for El Tri as he skipped past Wil Trapp effortlessly in one incident to set up a golden chance for the visitors.

Miazga’s actions were gamesmanship and it had the desired impact. That is a sign that this young U.S. team are growing up fast, as they’ve had to under Dave Sarachan’s guidance over the past few months with more huge friendlies on the horizon.

Were Miazga’s actions classless? Let’s keep things into context. He was trying to put one of Mexico’s brightest young talents off his game anyway he could. The New York Red Bulls product probably wouldn’t do that kind of thing to a stranger on the street (one hopes) and this kind of things happen in the heat of the moment of a rivalry battle. He was just targeting Lainez, a small, skilful player who was a headache for the USMNT on Tuesday.

As Lainez himself said: “It’s football.”

Adams hands USMNT win over Mexico

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Tyler Adams was born on Valentine’s Day, and Tuesday might be the day he made USMNT supporters fall in love.

Following a decent performance against Brazil, Adams scored a second half goal as a young USMNT beat a young Mexico 1-0 in Nashville.

The USMNT next faces Peru and Colombia on Oct. 11 and 16, respectively.

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings ]

El Tri weathered early U.S. possession on a wet field, with the most notable battle that of USMNT left back Eric Lichaj and all comers on his side of the pitch.

The Yanks had some trouble clearing a dangerous 14th minute free kick. A corner kick soon followed, and Zack Steffen acted quickly to slap Edson Alvarez’s header over the bar and collect the second corner. He’d corral a header five minutes later.

Gyasi Zardes drew a free kick on the edge of the Mexico 18 in the 27th minute, and Kellyn Acosta had two cracks at it but missed the second wide of the near post.

Steffen gave away a free kick on the right edge with a risky effort to collect a long ball, but Diego Lainez’s low shot was easily turned away by the wall. Lainez then set up Alvarado with a shimmy past Wil Trapp, but Alvarado was unable to get much on his in-tight shot to Steffen.

The Yanks got a rare bit of attack in the 40th minute, but Weah’s penalty shout was denied before he lashed over the bar moments later. An injury to McKennie then gave way to Julian Green.

Zardes laid off for Weah in the 42nd minute, and the PSG teen forced Hugo Gonzalez into a low save.

[ MORE: Richarlison scores beauty for Brazil ]

Weah and Green were especially energetic in the second half, and a Zardes hustle play won the Yanks a 61st minute corner.

Zardes then lunged but couldn’t reach substitute Antonee Robinson‘s inviting cross to the near post.

Matt Miazga then went chest-to-chest with the much smaller Lainez, and there was a meeting between 18-20 of the players on the field as the Nantes center back gestured his difference in height.

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.

Adams then put the Yanks ahead, darting into the box to get his first USMNT goal. There was a bit of redemption for Robinson, too, who earned the assist as a sub after a tough Friday against Brazil.

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 —