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USMNT’s Matt Miazga loaned to Reading

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U.S. men’s national team defender Matt Miazga has joined Reading on loan until the end of the season.

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Miazga, 23, had been on loan from Chelsea to Ligue 1 side Nantes but he last featured for the French side in October. The New York Red Bulls academy product has instead joined second-tier Reading until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

The Royals, a favorite club for Chelsea to loan players out to, currently sit third from bottom in the Championship and are in a real relegation scrap after they fired Paul Clement and hired Jose Gomes in December. They are two points from safety.

Speaking about this move, Gomes is keen to work with Miazga.

“Matt is a skilful, committed and commanding presence at the centre of defence and I am very pleased we have been able to welcome him into our family. I am now looking forward to working with him on the training pitch for the first time,” Gomes said.

Reading have also added four more loan players this month with Nathan Baker also arriving from Chelsea, plus they’ve brought in Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal, Nelson Oliveira from Norwich and Ovie Ejaria from Liverpool.

Miazga needs to play and he will get plenty of opportunities at Reading, who have 18 games left in their league season. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter will be keeping a keen eye on Miazga ahead of the friendly against Chile in March, which will see the new head coach able to call up players from European leagues for the first time.

Long-term Miazga was supposed to be a star at center back for the U.S. alongside Cameron Carter-Vickers and John Brooks, but you have to say the latter is the only one of the trio to kick on in recent months. Both Miazga and CCV have fallen victim to being signed for big clubs in the Premier League and being loaned out, while not getting regular minutes.

Miazga was bought by Chelsea in January 2016 and played in two PL games in his first season at Stamford Bridge, but was then loaned out to their feeder club, Vitesse Arnhem in Holland for two seasons. Miazga thrived in Holland, winning the Dutch Cup in 2016-17 and he was a regular in both of his campaigns in the Dutch top-flight. However at Nantes he played in nine games early this season but was then frozen out after a new manager, Vahid Halilhodzic, arrived.

Here’s hoping that he can play regularly at Reading and get himself ready for a big summer with the USMNT with the Gold Cup coming up.

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.