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CONCACAF Nations League underway: Canada debuts Saturday

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The CONCACAF Nations League has begun its run to name a debut winner.

Matches on Thursday and Friday saw the start of League A, with Panama getting a comfortable victory 4-1 in Bermuda and Martinique continuing its rise by drawing Trinidad and Tobago 1-1.

[ USMNT-MEXICO: 3 things | Player ratings ]

The winners of each group will qualify for next Spring’s CNL Final Championship, while the last place team will drop into League B.

USMNT group mates Canada and Cuba begin Group A play on Saturday, as 18-year-old Alphonso Davies looks to build on his three goals and seven assists in 13 caps.

The Yanks and El Tri won’t start the new competition until next month, nor will Honduras and Costa Rica.

Here’s who is in play this month.

Group A
Cuba v. Canada — Saturday
Canada v. Cuba — Tuesday

Group B
Bermuda 1-4 Panama — Thursday
Panama v. Bermuda — Sunday

Group C
Martinique 1-1 Trinidad and Tobago — Friday
T&T v. Martinique — Monday

Group D
Curacao v. Haiti — Saturday
Haiti v. Curacao — Tuesday

Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres suspended 10 games

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NEW YORK (AP) Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres has been suspended 10 games by Major League Soccer after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Green scores ]

The league handed down the suspension Friday, two days before Seattle hosts Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders currently sit in second place in the Western Conference standings.

Along with the suspension, Torres has been fined 20% of his annual salary. According to the MLS Players Association database, Torres is scheduled to make a base salary of $670,000 and guaranteed compensation of $740,000 for this season.

Torres may not participate in team training or use team facilities during his suspension. He may train with Seattle’s USL affiliate two weeks prior to the first MLS game he’s eligible to play – Sept. 29 against San Jose.

Torres has appeared in 15 matches and started 11 for Seattle this season. He has played 1,035 minutes this season, eighth on Seattle’s roster.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Jamaica beats Panama to reach Gold Cup semis; USMNT up next?

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Darren Mattocks scored on a penalty kick in the 75th minute and Jamaica beat Panama 1-0 on Sunday to advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.

Mattocks converted after Michael Murillo was whistled for a handball in the box in the first game of the doubleheader at Lincoln Financial Field. Mattocks, a forward for FC Cincinnati in Major League Soccer, had entered the game two minutes earlier.

Andre Blake, the Philadelphia Union’s All-Star goalkeeper, made two big saves in front of his local fans, including one on Abdiel Arroyo in the 43rd minute en route to the shutout.

Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia had a good stop on Junior Flemmings in the 58th minute.

Jamaica, a finalist in the 2017 Gold Cup, advanced to play the United States or Curacao in the semifinals Wednesday night in Nashville, Tennessee. The Reggae Boyz have made it to the semifinal round in three straight Gold Cups.

FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT-Curacao, Jamaica-Panama in Gold Cup QF

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Mexico and Haiti were the first two sides to book their places in the 2019 Gold Cup semifinals on Saturday; now, two more sides will join them on Sunday.

[ LIVE: Jamaica v. Panama, USA v. Curacao in Gold Cup quarters ]

Jamaica and Panama are set to meet in Sunday’s first quarterfinal at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Penn., followed by the U.S. men’s national team taking on Curacao.

After struggling through their first game and a half of group play, Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT hit its stride during a second-half blowout of Trinidad & Tobago and took care of business with a fully rotated team against Panama. Now, they’ll face the biggest surprise of this summer’s Gold Cup — all due respect to semifinalists Haiti.

Hit the link above to follow along for the next few hours and check back on PST for full coverage of the USMNT’s clash with Curacao.

Sunday’s Gold Cup schedule

Jamaica v. Panama — 5:30 p.m. ET
USA v. Curacao — 8 p.m. ET

USMNT remains perfect, tops Panama to win group (video)

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In his first start since the U.S. Men’s National Team’s infamous defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, Jozy Altidore showcased his strength, speed and technical ability to help lead the U.S. to victory.

Altidore’s outstanding bicycle kick goal proved to be the difference in a sometimes dour game as the USMNT topped Panama, 1-0, Wednesday evening at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. The win kept the U.S. perfect through the Gold Cup group stage with no goals allowed, and it has somewhat erased the memory of the USMNT’s horrible run-up to the tournament, with defeats to Jamaica and Venezuela now firmly in the rear-view mirror.

[MUST-SEE GOAL: Jozy Altidore]

With the win, both teams head to Philadelphia for the quarterfinals this Sunday. Panama plays the undercard matchup against Jamaica while the USMNT faces Curacao.

Coming off two wins to open the Gold Cup, Berhalter decided to use a completely changed starting lineup, featuring ten players from MLS teams along with Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga. Although there was some familiarity of the players on the field, it was at times a very poor match, with the USMNT struggling badly in the final third and even turning the ball over at midfield or leading the attack.

Despite winning the possession battle, 62-38, the USMNT didn’t do much with it. Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis, both of whom were subbed out, struggled on their crosses after beating a defender. The pair provided energy and hard running defensively but it didn’t lead to many chances. Altidore had the best of the first half when he was played into the box, but his strike from the right just went wide of the net.

In the 65th minute, Berhalter tried to inject some life in the game with the introduction of Christian Pulisic. It turned out a goal could come just after, but without the intervention of Pulisic.

Djordje Mihailovic drilled the corner kick to the far post where it was met by the head of Matt Miazga who sent it back towards goal. A missed clearance from Panama popped the ball up in the air above the back post, allowing Altidore the time he needed to lift off the ground and bicycle kick it in for the game’s only goal.

Berhalter later brought on both Tyler Boyd and Gyasi Zardes off the bench to try and score an insurance goal, but Panama’s defense held strong and the U.S. failed to threaten the rest of the way. However, the U.S. backline kept a third-consecutive clean sheet and key players such as Michael Bradley got the entire game off to rest before likely returning to the lineup this weekend.