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Sorting the CONCACAF nations on the road to Qatar 2022

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The United States men’s national team picked up a feel-good win over Mexico on Tuesday in Nashville, and there’s no reason to feel bad about enjoying the win.

Yet as general manager Earnie Stewart sorts through his options regarding the next full-time coach of the USMNT, where do the Yanks sit in the race to qualify for Qatar 2022?

[ MORE USMNT-MEXICO: 3 things | Player ratings ]

Yes, the World Cup is still going to Qatar. Yes, the games will be played in December in the middle of the night local time. Had to be said, again.

First and foremost, assuming the World Cup stays at 32 teams in the 3+1 CONCACAF qualifying format, who are the front-runners to make the Hex?

Let’s say the chalk plays out through qualifying and these 12 teams make the fourth round of qualifying. Since the Hex began for the 1998 cycle, the following nations have participated: USMNT (all), Mexico (all), Costa Rica (all), Honduras (4), Trinidad and Tobago (4), Panama (3), Jamaica (3), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (2006), Canada (1998).

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

We still don’t know which U-20 sides will qualify for next summer’s U-20 World Cup — qualifying is in November — but the U.S. won the CONCACAF U-20 title in 2017, with Mexico winning the previous three, and Costa Rica before that. Panama were runners-up in 2015, so it’s a pretty good predictor of the pipeline.

Here are the current Elo Ratings and FIFA world rankings for CONCACAF sides:

Mexico — Elo 20, FIFA 16
USMNT — Elo 26, FIFA 22
Costa Rica — Elo 43, FIFA 32
Honduras — Elo 58, FIFA 61
Panama — Elo 63, FIFA 69
Jamaica — Elo 67, FIFA 54
Canada — Elo 73, FIFA 79
Guatemala — Elo 80, FIFA 146
Haiti — Elo 84, FIFA 104
El Salvador — Elo 87, FIFA 72
Trinidad and Tobago — Elo 96, FIFA 91
Curacao — Elo 132, FIFA 81

For now, we will only rank the sides who have qualified to a prior Hex, though Haiti has a chance to impress us and join in the next power rankings some time in the future.

Long shots: El Salvador, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica

Hex candidates: Panama, Canada, Honduras

Yes, Panama qualified for the World Cup, but it happened via a goal that never crossed the line and the poor performances of an American team that rarely showed up to work and a Honduran team which just couldn’t pull it together. Still, it’s best player at the World Cup were young: Ricardo Avila (21), Yoel Barcenas (24), and Jose Luis Rodriquez (20). Need to figure out life post-Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez, and (probably) Jaime Penedo.

Honduras is going to be in the discussion due to home field advantage alone. Even when Los Catrachos aren’t shining at San Pedro Sula, they are a handful. A bit longer in the tooth than you’d like for a tournament run, young forward Alberth Elis has to join Romell Quioto, Bryan Acosta, and Anthony Lozano in taking the next step.

The wild card here is Canada, which remains a green project and has new leadership in former WNT coach John Herdman. He will have a trio of teens at significant clubs when Alphonso Davies leaves Vancouver for Bayern Munich, joining Jonathan David at Gent and Liam Millar at Liverpool (Alessandro Busti is with Juventus B and Zahcary Brault-Guilard, Lyon). TFC’s Jonathan Osorio is in his prime, Cyle Larin isn’t there yet, and goalkeeper Milan Borjan starts on Red Star Belgrade.

Hex participants: Costa Rica, USMNT

Let’s start with the one of the bunch which played in the World Cup; Costa Rica is a difficult team to read. It will qualify for the Hex because it’s never failed to and it won’t be too old… yet. Of the 13 players to play more than 100 minutes for Los Ticos at the World Cup, only Joel Campbell and Francisco Calvo (both 26) were under the age of 28. All five players who manned all 270 minutes of the World Cup were 30 or older.

The reason the United States men’s national team’s failure to qualify for Russia was considered a disaster is that the Yanks should never, ever, ever miss a World Cup given their talent and resources. Even with Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore getting on in years for their respective positions, the new manager could instantly trot out this lineup in CONCACAF and not worry about experience or age (at least not too much, and we’re not yet including Geoff Cameron):

Steffen

Yedlin — Miazga — Brooks — Lichaj

Adams — D. Williams — McKennie

Pulisic — Altidore — Wood

Subs: Guzan, Acosta, Weah, Green, Bradley, Ream, Sargent

The unquestioned No. 1: Mexico

Sure the U.S. was missing big names Pulisic, Brooks, Cameron, Bradley, and Altidore in the 1-0 win over Mexico, but El Tri was without a whole lot more. Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, Raul Jimenez, Carls Vela, Hirving Lozano, Chicharito (I’m just gonna stop now).

Mexico’s very best players are playing for some of the best clubs in the world, and Liga MX is still plenty ahead of MLS in depth and churning out youngsters.

Nacer Chadli signs for Monaco from West Brom

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Nacer Chadli has made quite the leap, returning to a Champions League club from the English second tier.

The 29-year-old winger has moved to French club AS Monaco from Championship club West Bromwich Albion just before the European transfer deadline. According to Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur, Chadli commanded a fee of around $13 million.

Chadli had not appeared for West Brom yet this season, hoping to force a move away as he was not prepared to drop his level of competition to the Championship.

Chadli spent three seasons at Tottenham after moving from FC Twente in 2013, but after slowly losing playing time, he left for West Brom in the summer of 2016. He made just 38 total appearances for West Brom and scored six goals, never able to capture the form he had at Spurs on a consistent basis.

However, Chadli maintained his place in the Belgian squad, and was a key figure in the team’s World Cup run to third place this summer in Russia. Chadli scored a goal and assisted another as he made six total appearances including four starts at the World Cup.

West Brom had been preparing for Chadli’s exit for some time, but still must scramble to replace him with England’s loan deadline on Friday.

Stoke City imploding after 3-0 loss to Wigan

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Manager Gary Rowett laid out to the media details of a club that is eating itself alive from the inside out.

Having been relegated from the Premier League last season, Stoke City is winless in its first four matches of Championship play. Their most recent loss came in devastating fashion, conceding a pair of penalties and losing 3-0 to newly promoted Wigan.

[ MORE: Premier League power rankings ]

“It was weak and pathetic and if you do that you’re going to lose games of football,” Rowett said after the match. “When you’re not winning games everybody gets a bit edgy and frustrated. We’ve got to take collective responsibility, it’s no good fighting between ourselves.”

Rowett’s final phrase referred to an incident at halftime that took place in the Stoke City locker room, with goalkeeper Jack Butland, captain Ryan Shawcross and winger James McClean all shouted at each other during the break. “Reputations now mean nothing,” Rowett said after the match. “I’ve got to start picking the team on which players deserve to be in, not which players have played in the Premier League for 10 years.”

New Stoke signing Tom Ince blasted two shots both over the bar in the opening 15 minutes, before Wigan took the lead on the first of two Will Grigg penalties. Ince had some brutal words for the team after the match. “We must man up, grow some balls, put ourselves on the line and actually show some hunger to put things right. We have to make this a horrible place to come.”

For Wigan, American international Antonee Robinson would have picked up an assist had Nick Massey not been fouled, leading to Grigg’s his second penalty.

Thirteen Premier League clubs drawn into EFL Cup

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Fifty clubs learned their next, or first, League Cup steps on Thursday, with one All-Premier League draw and a pair of familiar fixtures, too.

Southampton will travel to the Amex Stadium to face Brighton and Hove Albion in the final week of August as part of the second round. The magic number is six wins to earn silverware and a place in the Europa League.

[ MORE: Reyna’s son to BVB ]

Huddersfield Town is off the Potteries to face Stoke City in a rematch of last year’s relegation race, while Swansea City will host Crystal Palace.

PL teams are bolded.

  • Leicester City vs. Fleetwood Town
  • Leeds United vs. Preston North End
  • Sunderland or Sheffield Wednesday vs. Wolves
  • Nottingham Forest vs. Newcastle United
  • Doncaster vs. Blackpool
  • Burton Albion vs. Aston Villa
  • Hull City vs. Derby County
  • Middlesbrough vs. Rochdale
  • Everton vs. Rotherham United
  • Blackburn vs. Lincoln City
  • West Brom Albion vs. Mansfield Town
  • Walsall vs. Macclesfield
  • Stoke City vs. Huddersfield Town
  • Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Southampton
  • QPR vs. Bristol Rovers
  • AFC Wimbledon vs. West Ham United
  • Fulham vs. Exeter City
  • Wycombe vs. Forest Green
  • Cardiff City vs. Norwich City
  • Millwall vs. Plymouth Argyle
  • Brentford vs. Cheltenham
  • Swansea City vs. Crystal Palace
  • Newport vs. Oxford
  • Bournemouth vs. MK Dons
  • Reading vs. Watford

Serie A 2018-19: Empoli, Parma, Frosinone make return

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MILAN (AP) The Italian league begins this weekend with Parma returning to the top flight only three years after being declared bankrupt.

Empoli and Frosinone are also back in Serie A.

The three promoted clubs replace Crotone, Hellas Verona and Benevento, which were relegated last season.

Spal was the only promoted team not to go back down last season.

[ MORE: Ramos takes shots at Klopp ]

Here’s a look at the new teams in Italy’s top division:

EMPOLI

Empoli, which is in the city of Florence, bounced back up to Serie A after only one season in the second division.

The Tuscan team won Serie B with four matches remaining and went on to finish 13 points ahead of second-place Parma.

Much of the credit goes to former Roma coach Aurelio Andreazzoli, who replaced Vincenzo Vivarini in December, with the team in fourth place.

It was Andreazzoli’s first managerial role since 2013 but, under the 64-year-old coach, Empoli went on a remarkable 23-match unbeaten run to the end of the season.

When it was last in Serie A, Empoli spent three seasons in the top flight before being relegated on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign after it failed to beat Palermo.

Andreazzoli has made astute signings, bringing in defenders Luca Antonelli and Matias Silvestre as well as young forward Antonino La Gumina.

Francesco Caputo was the top scorer in Serie B last season with 27 goals, six more than teammate Alfredo Donnarumma, who has since moved to Brescia.

The 31-year-old Caputo has scored only one Serie A goal, for Bari in the 2010-11 season.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

PARMA

Parma earned promotion to Serie A only three years after being declared bankrupt, becoming the first Italian club to earn three straight promotions.

Parma beat Spezia on the final day to finish second in Serie B after Frosinone conceded a late goal to draw 2-2 at home against Foggia. They finished level on points but Parma clinched second because of its head-to-head record.

Parma also became embroiled in an attempted match-fixing case after it was revealed forward Emanuele Calaio had sent text messages to Spezia defender Filippo De Col, encouraging him and another former teammate to not try too hard in the game.

Calaio insisted he was joking but Parma risked being demoted back to Serie B. It was deducted five points from the upcoming season but that was reduced to a fine on appeal.

Calaio, who was originally banned for two years, is suspended until Dec. 31.

Parma has signed a number of players, including Portugal defender Bruno Alves and Inter Milan trio Jonathan Biabiany, Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni.

It could also sign Antonio Cassano, who is looking to make a comeback after two years out of the game.

[ MORE: VAR at World Cup changed our brains ]

FROSINONE

Frosinone recovered from missing out on automatic promotion to win the playoffs and earn a second season back in Serie A.

Frosinone, which is south of Rome, advanced with a controversial 3-2 aggregate victory over Palermo. It had lost the first leg but won the return match 2-0, although players were accused of intimidating the referee, while substitutes threw balls onto the field to delay play.

Palermo complained but the Italian soccer federation ruled that the promotion was not going to be overturned. However, Frosinone will have to play its first two home games on neutral ground.

Frosinone opened its Benito Stirpe Stadium last season, more than 40 years after construction began, including 30 years of inactivity.

In its only previous campaign in Serie A, Frosinone finished 19th out of 20 clubs in 2016.

More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA