World Cup Qualifiers

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On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Infantino tells Iran to let women into World Cup qualifiers

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino had asked Iran to ensure women are allowed to attend 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Now he’s expressing disappointment the country has reneged on its commitments.

In November, Infantino was in Teheran for the Asian Champions League final when Iranian women were allowed to watch Persepolis play Kashima Antlers of Japan. But things have changed since then.

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Infantino wrote this week to Iranian soccer federation president Mehdi Taj to say it’s “all the more disappointing that it was not possible to keep up the positive momentum and to continue with similar progress.”

In a letter seen by The Associated Press, Infantino highlights a June 6 game between Iran and Syria when “the gates were closed to female spectators and when, it would appear, a number of women seeking to attend the match were detained by security forces for a number of hours.”

Infantino says he wants “concrete steps” from the federation by July 15 “to ensure that all Iranian and foreign women who wish to do so will be allowed to buy tickets and to attend the matches” for 2022 World Cup qualifiers which begin in September.

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

Premier League players headline international squads for World Cup qualifiers

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It’s that time of the year again, when international fixtures come into focus and Premier League players jet all around the world to represent their nations.

On Friday, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Wales were the latest national teams to release their squads for upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers, and plenty of Premier League players will be taking part.

Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League hero from last week Emre Can joins Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil in Germany’s squad ahead of games with the Czech Republic and Norway. Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake, Manchester United’s Daley Blind and Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum headline the Premier League contingent in the Netherlands squad, and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is one of 16 Belgian National Team players plying their trade in Great Britain.

Wales’ squad meanwhile is entirely British-based with the exception of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.

Here’s a look at some of the latest international squad announcements. The Premier League will pause from August 28 through September 5.

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UEFA World Cup qualifying schedule and preview

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Hampden Park will play host to a crunch World Cup qualifying match as England heads north to face neighbors Scotland.

The two home nations, both in Group F of UEFA World Cup qualifying, are on two different trajectories. England is currently top of the group with 13 points and no defeats in five games while Scotland sit in fourth place on seven points, behind Slovakia and Slovenia.

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A loss for Scotland likely eliminates Gordon Strachan’s side from the 2018 World Cup, meaning even more than national pride is on the line Saturday for the noon eastern time kickoff.

Young Celtic starlet Kieran Tierney will have another chance to impress the scouts for Scotland while the Tottenham trio of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier will look to continue their strong form for the Three Lions.

Elsewhere in World Cup qualifying, the Netherlands, with Dick Advocaat back in charge, can boost itself into second place in Group A with a win over Luxembourg along with France winning on the road at Sweden. On Sunday in Group D action, Serbia and the Republic of Ireland look to put some distance from the rest of the pack at the top as Serbia takes on Wales and the Republic of Ireland faces Austria.

A couple of other matchups to watch are Iceland hosting Croatia, with Croatia having beaten Iceland last November and Poland, which are top of Group E, facing Romania.

Here’s a look at Friday through Sunday’s UEFA World Cup qualifying preview. Only the first-placed teams in the eight groups receive an automatic bid, so every game remains important from the team on top to the cellar dwellers.

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How will the USMNT lineup versus Trinidad and Tobago?

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Bruce Arena’s men didn’t look so hot on Saturday, a 1-1 home draw against a Venezuela side that won’t be terrifying too many hosts in the near future (granted their U-20 side looks quite good).

But the players’ rationale for the tough night made enough sense; Arena has them training and playing at altitude in preparation for Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago in Colorado, and Sunday night’s test at Azteca against Mexico.

Plus, the Yanks were experimenting. Forget for a moment that the previous administration would be torn to bits for “experimenting on the eve of important games.” That’s for another post. But the Americans simply have to win their home qualifiers, especially have thrown one away already.

The good news is that the Yanks are fairly healthy. John Brooks could be a big loss if he cannot play, but the rest came through the friendly relatively unscathed.

Tim Howard was exceptional on Saturday, and the backs should remain unchanged outside of Brooks’ fitness test. Geoff Cameron only went 45 minutes versus Venezuela, and both Jorge Villafana and DeAndre Yedlin played well on the outside.

Michael Bradley struggled again, and at best was unspectacular. But Arena is not going to go away from his captain, and Christian Pulisic is an absolute certainty, too. Jozy Altidore is back with the team following a family obligation, and both Fabian Johnson and Bobby Wood seem certain to feature.

It remains to be seen whether Arena though Darlington Nagbe did enough to insure he stays in the mix, and Clint Dempsey‘s very off night could cost him playing time with Altidore’s health. Could it be as simple as this?

Howard

Yedlin – Cameron – Hedges – Villafana

Bradley

Nagbe – Pulisic – Johnson

Altidore – Wood

That means there could only be one change, Altidore for Dempsey, should Brooks return to health by Thursday.

Arena may choose Omar Gonzalez over Hedges given their long history with the LA Galaxy.

The manager could also move Alejandro Bedoya or Kellyn Acosta for Nagbe, or even use Dempsey there. It does seem like the 34-year-old Dempsey won’t go 90 in three-straight matches, and Arena may prefer to save him for Azteca.