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Injured Nagbe, Steffen out of USMNT friendlies

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U.S. Soccer has confirmed that injuries to Zack Steffen and Darlington Nagbe will keep them out of the upcoming friendlies against England and Italy.

Steffen is the more notable absence, a player expected to start at least one of the two matches as the presumed favorite to take the long-term No. 1 goalkeeper spot for the USMNT.

[ MORE: No Pogba, Martial for France ]

The 28-year-old Nagbe has just one cap since the World Cup qualifying debacle in Couva, going 90 minutes in the 1-0 March win over Paraguay.

He missed two months of the Major League Soccer season with a thigh injury, and has two assists for Atlanta United in going nearly 90 minutes whenever available.

Jonathan Klinsmann was called up from Hertha Berlin to replace Steffen, and will join Ethan Horvath and Brad Guzan in the USMNT goalkeeping corps. The 21-year-old is a starter for Hertha II and has twice been the backup for the senior team.

Hertha’s Klinsmann added to USMNT roster

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There’s a Klinsmann back with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Hertha Berlin’s official English Twitter account posted on Monday to say that their young goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann had been called into the U.S. Men’s National Team. The 21-year-old has yet to make a Bundesliga appearance this season but he’s started nine games for Hertha’s reserve side, Hertha BSC II.

According to The Athletic, Klinsmann is replacing Zack Steffan, who reportedly suffered a hamstring strain in the Columbus Crew’s 3-0 second-leg defeat to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night. The call-up has yet to be confirmed by U.S. Soccer.

If Steffan is out, it would open up the goalkeeping battle for the two-game training camp against England and Italy. Klinsmann is joining Brad Guzan and Ethan Horvath. It’s likely that Klinsmann was called up because he’s already based in Europe. This made it quicker for him to get to head coach Dave Sarachan and the squad, currently based in London.

For what it’s worth, despite the way Klinsmann’s father Jurgen was unceremoniously fired after a rough start to the Hex in 2016, Jurgen congratulated Jonathan on the call-up.

Jonathan, having been born in Germany to an American parent, is eligible to play for both the U.S. and Germany internationally, though he’s been in the U.S. pipeline for the past few years. The now 21-year-old started for the U.S. at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, so if he switched to Germany he’d have to file one-time switch paperwork with FIFA. Klinsmann did take part in a German National Team goalkeeping camp this past September.

The U.S. faces England at Wembley Stadium on Thursday followed by a trip to Genk, Belgium to face Italy on November 20.

Ronaldo scores as Juventus beats AC Milan 2-0

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Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo scored as Juventus beat AC Milan to move six points clear at the top of the Serie A table.

Mandzukic opened the scoring in the eighth minute, towering over the back of Ricardo Rodriguez and heading in an¬†Alex Sandro cross. Juventus dominated the match, ripping off 15 shots to AC Milan’s five, and Ronaldo finally finished it off in the 81st minute as¬†Joao Cancelo’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, and the rebound fell right to the Portuguese star who couldn’t miss on the doorstep.

On the other side, Gonzalo Higuain faced his parent club for the first time since moving to AC Milan on loan this summer, and he had a rough day. Higuain had a penalty saved in the 41st minute, with Wojciech Szczesny coming up big after VAR awarded a spot-kick for a Medhi Benatia handball. Before Higuain took the penalty, Ronaldo – his former teammate at Real Madrid – was seen giving whispering something to Szczesny, presumably some advice on potentially defending Higuain’s take.

Then, in the 83rd minute, after receiving a yellow card for a challenge with Benatia, Higuain went absolutely berserk, at which point he was immediately sent off by referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni. It took forever for players to calm Higuain down as he tried to shake off teammates and opponents and get to the referee.

The presence of Benatia in the lineup was in and of itself a talking point even before kickoff, as Juventus manager Maximiliano Allegri dropped fellow center-back Leonardo Bonucci in favor of the Moroccan. Bonucci was sat against his former club, having departed Juventus last summer before returning after just one year.

With the loss, Milan now sits outside the Champions League places in fifth, a point back of Lazio and four behind rivals Inter.

Man United’s biggest problem ignored amid Mourinho’s excuses

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MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho refused to blame his players for a sub-par display in the Manchester Derby on Sunday, as his Manchester United team lost 3-1 at Manchester City and are now closer to the bottom three of the Premier League than the top.

[ MORE: 4 things we learned ] 

Instead, Mourinho rattled off excuse after excuse as United lost for the fourth team in 12 games this season after yet another slow start. In the aftermath of the defeat, instead of highlighting United’s issues, Mourinho delivered excuse after excuse. He took the easy option.

City are 12 points ahead of United and along with Liverpool, Chelsea and even Tottenham they look set for a title tussle. United are so far from that it is scary as they’ve had to rely on late comebacks to drag them up the table in recent weeks. The wins over Bournemouth and Everton, plus the miraculous late comeback at Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, have given United’s fans false hope that this season could still be a success.

[ MORE: Player ratings ]  

Despite their late shows, the Red Devils are seven points off the top four and currently sit in eighth place in the Premier League. They’ve now conceded 21 goals in their opening 12 games of the season and for the first time since 1977 they have a negative goal difference at this stage of a campaign. That porous defense is a stain on Mourinho’s proud record as a defensive mastermind, and the fact he is ignoring that issue is most concerning as United continue to struggle.

Once again United could not carry out Mourinho’s defensive plan as he set his team up in a 4-5-1 formation and had three scrappers in midfield (Matic, Herrera and Fellaini) and the pace of Marcus Rashford to unleash on the break. It didn’t work, at all, and United looked far better when they chucked players forward in the second half as they tried to get back in the game after going 2-0 down. In truth, it was Ederson who handed them the initiative with a poor challenge to give United a penalty kick.

After the game Mourinho was asked if the derby summed up why City are pushing for a second-straight title and United, who finished a distant second behind them last season, are now solely focused on trying to finish in the top four.

“If you focus on all of the game today. The game was open for 80 something minutes, I think nobody left the stadium before their third goal, for sure, because the game was open until then,” Mourinho told reporters. “In a week where Man City played at home three matches and we played three matches away, in a week where they enjoyed two 6-0 and 6-1 victories, relaxed, no pressure, no mental effort, everything nice and easy. We played two matches away, difficult ones and the second one was like a final for us against one of the best teams in Europe, a game that demanded from us everything we had to give physically and mentally.

“When I analyze the game today I think the difference was — you can go for stats, that is the way people that don’t understand football analyze football, is with stats — but I don’t go for stats. I go for what I felt and what I watch in the game. The game was there until minute 80 something. I consider the performance of my team as a performance with mistakes. That is different than a bad performance. We made mistakes, we were punished for these mistakes. The performances, the mentality, the togetherness, belief, the fight until the end is something we are building and we are not going to lose that because of a defeat.”

That excuse about suffering from fatigue surfaced again and although United’s four-game PL unbeaten run is over, Mourinho is adamant they’re moving in the right direction.

After being asked if their poor defensive record shows he should have been handed a new center back in the summer transfer window, Mourinho praised the displays of center back pairing Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof and said he would not hammer Luke Shaw as he has played week in, week out this season.

“The game against Juventus was hard physically and mentally. I am with my players,” Mourinho said. “I am even with my players that today made the mistakes that led to Man City’s goals. We are together. We are not going to be effected by this. I am sorry we don’t play the next match soon and we have to wait 15 days for that but we are improving. We are improving and we go together until the end.”

What is at the end of this season remains to be seen, but United’s slim chances of winning the title are now over and a top four would now be a remarkable achievement.

Mourinho was asked about Paul Pogba being out injured for the derby and how that impacted his team. Another excuse soon arrived.

“I don’t like to lose a game and talk about this player who wasn’t here. But he is important for us in many aspects of the game. Because he didn’t play we had to play Fellaini who wasn’t ready to play for 90 minutes,” Mourinho said. “I can imagine when the result was 2-1, if we bring a fresh Fellaini on, I think they (Man City) would be in big, big trouble. When the result was 2-1 and it was the moment we had that final push, it was the moment Fellaini was doing an incredible effort to stay on the pitch. Not fit at all. Risking his injury and his condition and giving everything to the team. Clearly one thing is to have a fresh Fellaini and another to play him for 90 minutes in this match. Yes, we missed Paul but that doesn’t mean with Paul we win the game. That is not an excuse.”

The fact is, Mourinho delivered many excuses as to why United didn’t turn up for the derby and why they were dominated by Man City. The one thing he hasn’t delivered answers to are the same issues which have plagued United so far this season and leave them languishing outside the top four.

Player ratings: Man City v. Man United

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MANCHESTER — Manchester City beat Manchester United 3-1 in the Manchester Derby on Sunday, as Pep Guardiola‘s men stayed top of the Premier League table and Jose Mourinho’s United are in eighth place and 12 points behind their bitter rivals.

[ MORE: 4 things we learned ]

It was an intense encounter at the Etihad Stadium, as City dominated but United threatened to launch yet another comeback.

Here’s how each player ranked out of 10 during a frantic derby.


Manchester City

Ederson: 5 – Didn’t have too much to do but gave away a penalty kick rashly at a pivotal moment in the match. Another rush of blood to the head.
Kyle Walker: 6 – Some decent runs forward but United always looked more dangerous down his flank. Work to do defensively.
John Stones: 7 – Some key clearances and headers and dealt with Marcus Rashford easily.
Aymeric Laporte: 7 – See above. Another easy afternoon for Laporte who continues his incredible unbeaten run.
Benjamin Mendy: 6 – Not his best afternoon going forward but more than solid defensively. Edging back to his best.
Fernandinho: 7 – Scrapped away in midfield and had a decent effort from distance. Unsung hero. Again.
Bernardo Silva: 8 – Involved in two of City’s three goals and his pass to Gundogan for the third was sublime.
David Silva: 8 – A goal from City’s captain to get things going and Silva was at his best.
Raheem Sterling: 9 – Fine individual display. Set up the first goal, ran United ragged on the break. Has it all.
Riyad Mahrez: 7 – Involved in Aguero’s goal and drifted in and of the game. Started well but faded in second half.
Sergio Aguero: 8 – Hammered home City’s second and was a constant pest. Subbed off late on to a standing ovation.

Subs
62′ Leroy Sane on for Mahrez: 6 – A few decent chances but didn’t make the most of them. Worked hard down the left.
75′ Ilkay Gundogan on for Aguero: 6 – Missed one good chance and finished another. Nice little cameo.
90+2′ Phil Foden on for D. Silva: N/A – On for the final few seconds.


Manchester United

David De Gea: 7 – A couple of decent saves down low and solid as ever. Should he have saved Aguero’s shot?
Ashley Young: 7 – Kept plugging away down the right flank and whipped in some dangerous crosses.
Chris Smalling: 6 – Headed a few balls clear but like Lindelof, never looked at ease.
Victor Lindelof: 5 – Caught out by Aguero’s one-two with Mahrez for the second goal. Didn’t look comfortable.
Luke Shaw: 5 – Caught out with Sterling’s cross for the first goal. Shaky in possession. Not his finest display.
Ander Herrera: 6 – His kind of game. Tried to snap away at City’s midfielders but ended up chasing shadows.
Nemanja Matic: 6 – Tried to start some of United’s attack and calm them down as best as he could.
Marouane Fellaini: 5 – Added little threat going forward and didn’t add much defensively.
Jesse Lingard: 4 – Apart from one good run in the first half when he was brought down, failed to impact the game. Subbed off.
Anthony Martial: 5 – A frustrating afternoon with little service out on the left. Summed up by passing the ball out of play in the first half. Scored a penalty kick but did little else.
Marcus Rashford: 4 – Some poor first touches and hooked off in the second half.

Subs
57′ Romelu Lukaku on for Lingard: 6 – Won a penalty kick but did little else
73′ Juan Mata on for Herrera: 6 – Whipped in some decent deliveries. Too little time.
73′ Alexis Sanchez on for Rashford: 5 – Struggled down the right and gave away some needless fouls.