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Three observations from the USWNT’s win over Mexico – football news

The U.S. women’s national team was frustrated by Mexico in the first half of Thursday’s Concacaf Women’s Championship opener, dominating the match but only leading 1-0.

The floodgates always felt like they’d open, though, and that’s exactly what happened in the second half, as the U.S. scored five times to cruise to a 6-0 win to get World Cup qualifying off to a flying start.

Here are three observations from the USA’s big opening statement in Cary, N.C.


Mexico provides a test…for a half


Kelley O'Hara USWNT Maria Sanchez Mexico

Mexico proved to be a formidable opponent for the USA, but only in certain aspects of the game, and only in the first half. The U.S. unsurprisingly was on the attack for much of the game, but oftentimes ran into a Mexico defense that seemed to specialize in well-timed challenges. The USA’s build-up at times could have been sharper but credit has to go to a Mexico side that was able to match the USA’s physicality in the game’s early stages, at least on the defensive end.

On the other side of the field, however, the U.S. dominated proceedings. Alyssa Naeher wasn’t tested all night, as Mexico failed to get a shot on target. Much of the credit for that stat has to go to the USA’s defenders and midfielders, who were able to win balls farther up the pitch and stop Mexico attacks before they could ever get started. While Mexico excelled at times on Thursday in the last-ditch challenge department, the USA’s control of possession and ability to win duels in the air and on the ground meant they had little defending to do in their own box.

Eventually, though, the U.S. was able to pull away in the second half, and that was largely due to….


Set pieces are key once again


Alex Morgan USWNT

The U.S. has been accused of being too reliant on set pieces in the past, but Jill Ellis’ side can hardly apologize for the dominance they consistently display from dead balls. After being frustrated in the first half by Mexico’s aforementioned last-gasp defending, the U.S. pulled away in the second half thanks to three goals off set pieces. Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe all netted from dead-ball situations, with Ertz and Rapinoe taking advantage of the USA’s tenacity to score off scrambles in the box.

In a pair of friendlies against Chile in August and Septembers, the U.S. scored five of their seven goals from set pieces. On Thursday night, it was three out of six. Don’t expect the USA’s set-piece dominance to stop anytime soon, especially against the overmatched opponents they will face for many of the remaining games in this tournament. 

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Morgan gets back on track


Alex Morgan USWNT

It would be hard to say Alex Morgan was in a slump heading into Thursday’s game, but there was slight cause for concern after the striker only managed five goals in NWSL this season with the Orlando Pride, then went three consecutive games with the USWNT without a goal. On a team that has enviable depth all over the field, Morgan is the team’s only true option as a No. 9, with longtime midfielder Carli Lloyd as her backup. 

If there was any slump, Morgan broke out of it in a big way on Thursday, netting two second-half goals to contribute to the team’s onslaught in the final 45 minutes. With games against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago to round off Group A, it will be pretty surprising if Morgan doesn’t add more to her tally before the semifinal stage. 

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Three questions for the USWNT as World Cup qualifying kicks off – football news

The U.S. women’s national team kicks off World Cup qualifying on Thursday when it takes on Mexico in the opening match of the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Cary, N.C. Following the game against El Tri, Jill Ellis’ side will round out Group A with matches against Panama on Sunday, and Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 10.

The eight-team CWC will send three teams automatically to next summer’s World Cup: the two semifinal winners, along with the winner of the third-place match. The fourth-placed side will still have a chance to qualify through a two-leg playoff with Argentina next month.

Ahead of the tournament, GBP Sports examines three pressing questions that will be answered in the competition that is set to take place in North Carolina and Texas.


Will the USWNT have any issues qualifying?


Carli Lloyd USWNT

Based on past results and the competition’s forgiving format the answer is … probably not. Mexico will be the USA’s toughest opponent in Group A but Ellis’ side has had little trouble against El Tri in recent years, winning their past nine meetings by a combined score of 42-4, and most recently defeating Mexico in two April friendlies by scores of 4-1 and 6-2. The U.S. has less history against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago, but has defeated T&T in all 10 of their matches all time, and dispatched Panama 9-0 in 2002 in the only game between the two nations thus far.

If they finish in the top two of their group, the USA’s margin of error for World Cup qualification is rather large. In order to miss out on the World Cup, the U.S. would have to fall at three consecutive hurdles: the CWC semifinal, the third-place game, and then the two-game playoff against Argentina.

Perhaps, then, the USA’s greatest potential danger comes from finishing outside Group A’s top two. Imagine a scenario where three teams in the group all defeat the fourth team, and then split the remaining games among themselves. That would leave three countries on six points, with one team out of that trio getting eliminated on goal difference.

Unlikely? Yes. But the U.S. losing one game seems much more plausible than falling short three straight times after getting out of its group.

Still, the U.S. has won 27 of its 28 Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifying matches all time, outscoring opponents by a mind-boggling total of 158-5. The U.S. men missing the World Cup this year was a big surprise, but should the women follow suit it would be a greater shock by several orders of magnitude.


Will a best XI begin to emerge?


Megan Rapinoe USA

With a spot at the World Cup on the line Ellis will understandably be keen to play her best possible lineup at the CWC, but exactly what that side looks like is an open question on a roster that goes deep at every position. There are a few automatic picks for Ellis: Alyssa Naeher will start in goal, while Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper will be the center back pairing with Tierna Davidson out injured. Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan will comprise two players of the midfield trio, while Alex Morgan will start as the No. 9.

That leaves five spots up for grabs, with almost all of the remaining 13 field players on the roster legitimate candidates to fill them. Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara will likely get the first crack at the outside back spots, but there is plenty of depth behind them. Morgan Brian, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle all have a shot to emerge as the preferred third starter in midfield. And in the two wide attacking slots on either side of Morgan, it should be quite the battle between Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.


Is a final date with Canada inevitable?


Christine Sinclair Canada Women 20160211

The U.S. is at the top of the current FIFA rankings while Canada comes in at fifth place. The next highest Concacaf side, Mexico, is all the way down in 24th place. It seems likely then, that the U.S. and Canada, having already qualified for the World Cup by winning their respective semifinal matches, will meet on Oct. 17 in Frisco, Texas for the Concacaf title.

Much like the U.S. is expected to qualify easily through Group A, Canada should have little trouble topping a Group B that also contains Costa Rica, Jamaica and Cuba – though Costa Rica does have the potential to surprise. Because Canada qualified for the 2015 World Cup automatically as the host nation, the U.S. and Canada have not met in a competitive fixture since their epic Olympic semifinal in 2012 – a match the U.S. won 4-3 in extra time en route to a gold medal.

Neutrals will likely be hoping for a rematch in Texas, as two of the world’s top sides will be eager to test themselves in a final competitive fixture before next summer’s World Cup.

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USWNT manager Ellis calls on experienced squad for World Cup qualifying – football news

U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis has named an experienced 20-player roster for World Cup qualifying next month. 

There were few surprises on the defending World Cup champion’s roster, which was cut down from the 35-player preliminary squad that was named earlier this month. 

UCLA defender Hailie Mace, who has just two caps, is the most inexperienced member of a veteran-laden squad set to take part in the Concacaf Women’s Championship.

Midfielder McCall Zerboni (elbow) and defender Tierna Davidson (ankle) both missed out on the roster due to injuries. 

The U.S. will take on Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago in Cary, N.C. in Group A, with the top two teams advancing to the semifinals.

The two semifinal winners will advance to next summer’s World Cup in France, as will the winner of the third-place match. The fourth-place finisher will earn a spot in a two-game playoff against Argentina.

The semifinals, third-place game and final are set to take place in Frisco, Texas. 

“We feel really good about the process that has gotten us to this point, and the final selection of this group,” Ellis said in a federation release.

“We’ve had a couple of injuries recently, but the depth of our pool is excellent, and I have confidence that each of the 20 players will perform at their highest level when called upon in these games. Our group is prepared and highly motivated to earn the right to be a part of France 2019.” 

Roster by Position (Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 17/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 33/0)

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DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 23/0), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 69/23), Hailie Mace (UCLA; 2/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 108/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 143/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 25/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 21/0)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 79/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 66/16), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 56/6), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 13/3), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 38/7)

FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 138/21), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 259/102), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 147/90), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 104/45), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 37/12), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 140/38) 

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Why the Mexican press wants Tuca as El Tri manager – football news

A 4-1 loss to Uruguay and a 1-0 defeat to the rival United States normally would have Mexico fans and the press up in arms. Instead, things are calm after the FIFA dates.

That’s progress for Mexico, with fans and the press taking the matches in the context they should be taken in. The games were a chance for young players who are hoping to be part of the next World Cup cycle to introduce themselves and get a taste of international sporting competition. Unlike matches under previous manager Juan Carlos Osorio, there has been nearly no criticism from the press about team selections, tactics or even individual performances.

The Mexican sporting press is not a monolith. It does wield plenty of influence, especially the broadcasters whose wants and desires are a factor in the direction of the team, going beyond simply shaping the ideas of a passionate fan base. Like all press corps, it is made up of distinct members, each with their own perspectives and opinions. And there are lots of different opinions. Yet, with El Tri looking for a manager to lead the through the next cycle, the majority have coalesced into a unified community hoping that the next manager of the Mexico national team is the current one – interim manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti.

That may seem odd to an outsider. Ferretti isn’t a known name outside Mexico, and after Osorio’s tenure – seen from abroad as a success – there was an expectation that a similar coach would be the next step for Mexico. 

What is it about Ferretti that has won over so many members of the press?  Goal  spoke with a number of respected journalists who cover the team, and all were in favor of Tuca continuing to lead the team. saw three themes emerge:


Familiarity


The most frequent theme journalists touched upon was how well Ferretti, who has been involved with Mexican soccer for several decades, understands the Mexican setup and is familiar with not only the player pool but also the various administrators who have sway in the national team setup.

“I think he’s one of the few managers who knows Mexican football well – in all senses – and knows how to manage the process,” said Zaritzi Sosa, who covers Mexico and Club America for Record. 

“The Mexican federation is run in a different way than any other in the world. It’s a unique federation. There are 16 owners who have a vote, they give their opinion. So, to really take over the Mexican national team you have to adapt to Mexican soccer,” said Ruben Rodriguez, an insider for Fox Deportes.  “There are strange circumstances. The league hardly supports the Mexican player – if at all.

Ricardo Ferretti Mexico Raul Jimenez

“So, to be the manager of the Mexican national team, you’ve got to know the structure of Mexican soccer. Tuca knows it well. He’s a respected manager, they know him, he knows them and he knows what Mexican soccer is. This is the most important thing.”

Of course, Ferretti being intertwined with Mexican club soccer also is the biggest obstacle to him taking over the national team. With three years left on his Tigres contract, the Mexican federation would need to pay a buyout clause reported to be $8 million in total.

“Today there’s only one way: pay the $8 million release that reportedly was written in the contract he recently signed with Tigres,” said Heliodoro Hinojosa, who covers Mexico for Milenio in addition to covering Tigres from his home in Monterrey. “Ricardo wants a change, and change costs money. That’s why $8 million isn’t anything to have a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ in the national team,” he continued, appealing for new FMF president Yon de Luisa to pay the clause and begin the Tuca era.

Many hope that De Luisa will be more open to focusing on the sporting side of the national team rather than kowtow to economic interests. Indeed, Ferretti himself said after Tuesday’s game in Nashville that El Tri needs to play fewer games in the United States, instead challenging themselves by playing away matches in tough atmospheres like South America. The press sees Ferretti, with his influence, as being one of the few people who could convince the directors to take fewer dollars while seeking out more victories.

“He’d be the only way, with his character, for the Mexican national team to once again put the work on the football field above all the sideshows that exist, with recording commercials and being, like we say in Mexico, being divas. A lot of times that’s how Mexican players are,” said MedioTiempo‘s Enrique Martinez said.


Forming a generation


Members of the press say Ferretti can be the right person to bring together a new generation with players like Hector Moreno, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Miguel Layun and Andres Guardado potentially having played their final World Cup and Rafa Marquez and Oribe Peralta officially out of the picture.

“Unlike other managers in the past, the manager now has to put together this national team. A lot of guys who were in Russia aren’t going to be here anymore,” Rodriguez said. “You’re going to have to take 60 percent new players. That’s where Tuca has one of his biggest virtues, he’s really good with young players, helping them, teaching them. I think that’s why he can be the guy.”

Ferretti isn’t known for player development at Tigres, with several young players having to seek out loan moves to get playing time, but according to Martinez that’s because right now he doesn’t need to brig players through. Previous stops in Ferretti’s managerial career indicate why he and others believe Ferretti can help players like Diego Lainez, Roberto Alvarado and Jesus Angulo become key elements of the national team.

“The thing is that at Tigres he doesn’t need to put young players in the team,” Martinez said. “With Tigres, if he wants to buy a player like Gignac, the directors go out and by him. He has no need thanks to Tigres’ economic power. Tigres is a team that buys players, it’s not a team that develops players like he did at Pumas, at Chivas when he gave a lot of young players their debuts. I think he could do this work, to get the young guys ready for a long process.”


Lack of other candidates


“If it’s not Tuca, I simply don’t see anyone in Mexico,” Martinez said. “I don’t see any other manager with his character, who brings up young players to a good place.” 

Osorio came from a bit off the radar, and if Ferretti’s contract situation at Tigres can’t be worked out Mexico may need to find someone similar. Rodriguez cautioned, however, against chasing a ‘name’ known in international football like Jorge Sampaoli or Andre Villas-Boas who have had success in several countries but don’t understand the local setup. “I think we’re doing it wrong if we go for a big showy manager. I think it would be a mistake to go with a big-time manager instead of someone who perfectly knows the structure of Mexican soccer,” he said.

Ricardo Ferretti Mexico national team

Meanwhile, the idiosyncrasies in the Mexican system and the power broadcasters, sponsors and directors wield may be the very thing keeping an internationally renowned manager away from Mexico anyway. Osorio turned down a contract extension and ended up with Paraguay, seen in Mexico as a step down from El Tri but a spot where he’ll likely be able to work with more freedom and far less criticism than he did while he was in Mexico. 

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“I think there are a lot of outside options that would fit with the Tricolor, but the Tricolor wouldn’t fit with them, managers who might have international experience but with project and the ‘quirks’ the FMF has they can scare off a lot of people,” Sosa said.

“Ferretti knows the habits, the bad and good tendencies, the players, the owners, (general secretary) Guillermo Cantu, (sporting director Gerardo) Torrado, Dennis (Te Kloese, director of national teams) and Yon de Luisa – and knowledge matters,” Hinojosa said.

“It’d be foolish to try to go for someone else. That’s why I don’t have any doubt that Ricardo is and will be the ideal manager in this magic world of the demanding and polarizing Mexican national team.”

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WATCH: Miazga taunts Lainez as tensions boil over in USMNT win over Mexico – football news

The United States national team defeated Mexico 1-0 in Nashville on Tuesday night thanks to a Tyler Adams goal, but it was Matt Miazga who may have set off the night’s fireworks.

With the the contest between the North American rivals scoreless in the 65th minute, Miazga got into it with promising Mexico midfielder Diego Lainez, prompting a coming together of both teams.

It started when Miazga and Lainez were chasing a ball over the top. The Nantes defender, on-loan from Chelsea, won it and was fouled by the Club America teenager.

The two players got into each other’s faces, with Miazga then gesturing to the much shorter Lainez about the teenager’s height.

Mexico forward Angel Zaldivar immediately got between the pair, with USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen also getting into the mix.

Miazga drifted away, but continued to mock Lainez’s height from across a group of players, which prompted Mexico defender Edson Alvarez to bump his USMNT counterpart.

Tempers flared further, with the linesman and the referee having to break the fracas up, though the only yellow card was issued to Alvarez. Miazga had already picked up a caution earlier in the contest.

Tensions did not ease, however, when play resumed moments later. 

Zaldivar was quickly shown his marching orders for a tackle on midfielder Wil Trapp after coming in studs up and over the ball on the U.S. midfielder. 

Adams would score the lone goal of the contest four minutes after the red card.

After the match, Lainez tried to down play the incident, telling reporters: “It’s something that happens in soccer. A little run-in. It’s nothing. It’s something that’s totally normal.”

Miazga agreed it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but believed the situation threw the Mexican players off their game. 

“It’s normal. We talked a little smack,” Miazga told reporters. “It’s part of the game. It’s mental warfare. We got in their heads, they got a red card right after and you saw what happened. We took control and we won the game.”

It is the second time in as many games a U.S. defender has made the news with his comments to an opposition player.

Right-back DeAndre Yedlin was seen during the USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil questioning the referee’s decision to call him for a foul on star forward Neymar.

After being whistled, Yedlin demanded of the referee “Did you watch the World Cup” in relation to Neymar’s notorious dramatic falls during the tournament in Russia.

Neymar later responded, saying he did not care because he did not know who Yedlin was.

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McKennie suffers knee sprain in USMNT victory over Mexico – football news

While the United States national team came away with a victory over their biggest rivals on Tuesday night, their joy will no doubt be tempered by an injury to star Weston McKennie.

The 20-year-old Schalke midfielder earned the start for the USA against Mexico in Nashville – his second in this international window and fifth straight for the nation.

However, his night would be ended early as he was forced off in the 40th minute, replaced by Julian Green.

Reports during the game indicated McKennie told trainers the issue was with his knee and that it was a non-contact injury.

U.S. Soccer confirmed McKennie’s removal was due to injury, calling his issue a knee sprain.

Tyler Adams would score the lone goal minutes after Mexico was reduced to 10-men in the second half to give the USA the 1-0 victory.

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McKennie is now likely to be an unwelcome question mark for Schalke as he returns from international duty with his club entering a busy time in their fixture list.

The Bundesliga side is in action against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday and will follow that up with its Champions League opener at home against Porto on Tuesday. A match against Bayern Munich follows the next weekend.

McKennie has started and gone the distance in both of Schalke’s two Bundesliga contests this season – a pair of losses to Wolfsburg and Hertha BSC respectively.

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Gonzalez faces USMNT for first time since Mexico switch – football news

When long-time U.S. youth national team midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez made headlines last winter by making the decision to play for the Mexican national team, one thing he would eventually have to do is face the national team he left behind.

That first meeting takes place on Tuesday in Nashville, when Gonzalez and El Tri face off against the U.S. national team in a friendly that will have the added storyline of a player who switched sides, a move that led to plenty of introspection at U.S. Soccer, and cast Gonzalez as a traitor among U.S. fans.

That label doesn’t likely bother Gonzalez one bit these days. He has continued to thrive for Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey, and has emerged as one of the Mexican national team’s brightest prospects as it pushed into the 2022 World Cup cycle.

“Without a doubt, I made this decision perfectly and everything came out perfect,” Gonzalez told Univision on Monday. “The truth is I’m very happy to be here, happy that Mexico opened its doors to me.”

Jonathan Gonzalez Mexico 09042018

Born and raised in Santa Rosa, California before moving to Mexico to play for Monterrey, Gonzalez was a regular fixture in the U.S. youth national team ranks during his teenage years, but that connection faded after he failed to make the U.S. Under-20 team for the 2017 Under-20 World Cup. That U.S. team featured current USMNT midfielder Tyler Adams, who will be facing of against his former teammate in one of Tuesday’s more high-profile matchups.

Adams was surprised when Gonzalez made the decision to play for El Tri, but doesn’t begrudge him for his decison, even if he admits to being looking forward to beating Gonzalez’ El Tri.

“I didn’t know if I would ever think Jonathan would play for Mexico,” Adams told Goal. “Obviously growing up and playing with him and being on so many different age-group national teams with him. I thought it was ironic that he went to Mexico obviously after being there and then blowing up a little bit. Obviously I don’t know what went on behind the scenes. In that sense obviously you can read into things, but you never know. I’m not one to really get involved in it.

“Obviously I wish him the best of luck, but more than anything I’m excited to play against him now.”

Jonathan Gonzalez USA U20 07042017

The subject of Gonzalez’s switch to Mexico is still a touchy one for U.S. Soccer, which was roundly criticized in some circles for not doing enough to court Gonzalez as his career took off in Mexico a year ago, and not enough to cultivate the Latino-American player pool.

Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called Gonzalez more a specific decision made by one player rather than the start of a trend.

“That’s a real individual decision,” Sarachan said. “Every person has to make those important decisions and Jonathan made his. I don’t think any more beyond that to be honest. It’s worked in the reverse cases for us as well. And as we move along, there’s probably going to be more examples of that.”

While Sarachan woudn’t go as far as to blame U.S. Soccer for losing Gonzalez to Mexico, he did acknowledge that U.S. Soccer needed to get better in certain aspects of handling dual nationals.

“We have a big country, with a lot of people out watching,” Sarachan said. “We have a lot of systems in place, but can be improved in terms of identifying talent and trying to offer everyone opportunities to be a part of our national teams at the youth level moving on up. I think we’ve done well with our programming at the youth level for all players and those that have dual citizenship and have options hopefully they’re getting a great experience along the way.

“We still have to be the best at every level going forward,” Sarachan said. “Ultimately it is up to the players to make those decisions, but there’s going to be some that decide one way and some that decide the other no matter what you do. We know there’s improvements that need to be made in terms of the scouting and identification and I think we’re getting there.”

Jonathan Gonzalez Tyler Adams USA U14 2016

U.S. fans will get their first up-close look at Gonzalez, offering them a chance to see the player that they missed out on. There is no denying his talent, the same talent that helped him earn Liga MX Best XI honors in the fall of 2017 during Monterrey’s title-winning season. The same talent that has helped him maintain his starting job at Monterrey even through multiple coaching changes.

Gonzalez has come a long way from the summer of 2017, when he had yet to make his professional debut, and he failed to make the cut for the Under-20 World Cup. Now that his career is thriving, there is some understandable angst among U.S. fans that the USMNT missed out on a special player, and could have done more to keep that from happening.

Whether or not that is the case is up for debate. Could the U.S. have called in Gonzalez for its friendly against Portugal last November? That is a snub that sources tell Goal was one that stung Gonzalez, especially since he was three months into his breakout season at Monterrey. It is clear the Mexican federation saw Gonzalez’s emergence happening and acted quickly to step up its recruiting at a time when the USMNT was picking up the pieces after failing to qualify for the World Cup.

Something that should make losing Gonzalez a bit easier to take is that the USMNT has several talented youngsters in its talent pool in central midfield.

“Nothing against Jonathan but If you look at our midfield and the depth that we do have there, I don’t think that it should be very concerning to anybody,” Adams told Goal. “With myself, Weston (McKennie), Derrick Jones and Kellyn Acosta, that we should ever really be too worried about that.”

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If there is a silver lining for the U.S. in the wake of Gonzalez’s defection to Mexico, it is that it has forced U.S. Soccer to take a hard look at how it is approaching the Mexican-American player pool. Mexico has continued to pursue top talent in the United States, with exciting prospects ranging from 16-year-old LA Galaxy II standout Efrain Alvarez to 13-year-old youth sensation Alex Alcaza, both born-and-raised Californians.

As for Gonzalez, he will face the United States on Tuesday in the first of what should be several meetings if his career continues on its current path. He is sure to be eager to make a statement with his play, as will the U.S. team, and its midfielders in particular who will be motivated to show its fans that they are better than the one who got away.

The one who traded in his stars and stripes for the green and red of Mexico. A move that Gonzalez says has made him happy. A decision that has also made him a villain to the U.S. side of the USA-Mexico rivalry.

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Projecting the USMNT lineup against Mexico – football news

The U.S. national team takes on Mexico on Tuesday in Nashville and both teams will be featuring young squads in a showcase of players that are just beginning their international careers.

Both teams are also coming off humbling losses to South American powers — a 2-0 USA loss to Brazil and a 4-1 Mexico loss to Uruguay — the types of results that might shake the confidence of an inexperienced group.

What should keep both from dwelling on those harsh results is the fact that they are both now set to face their teams greatest rival, in a match that is rarely short on intensity.

U.S. coach Dave Sarachan made it clear that he plans on making a handful of changes to the lineup that lost to Brazil — though at least two of those changes are down to the departures of John Brooks and Paul Arriola from camp.

“It’s important that we get a look at some new faces,” Sarachan said on Monday. “So you can expect 4-6 changes in the starting lineup,”

Who will Sarachan call on to face Mexico? Here is a look at his options, and the squad he is likely to deploy:


GOALKEEPER


Zack Steffen MLS All-Stars 2018

Zack Steffen didn’t put a foot wrong against Brazil, and couldn’t be blamed for either goal the USMNT allowed, so Sarachan should turn to the Columbus Crew goalkeeper once again. Sarachan could decide to toss someone like Bono a start in order to spread the wealth, but right now there is a strong likelihood tthat he starts again..


DEFENDERS


Cameron Carter-Vickers USA U-20s

Brooks’ return to Germany opens the door for Cameron Carter-Vickers to slide back into his long-standing partnership with Matt Miazga in central defense. Tim Parker is a worthy candidate to start as well, but Sarachan’s emphasis on developing the team’s youngsters suggests someone like the 20-year-old Carter-Vickers.

Antonee Robinson endured a rough night against Brazil, but it was more a rough first half. He settled down and played better in the second half. Will that be enough for him to get another start against Mexico, or will Sarachan call on the veteran Erich Lichaj to provide more experience along the bacline? Robinson should start, or at least get 45 minutes.

DeAndre Yedlin has the most caps on the team, and is in outstanding form, but Sarachan could choose to sit him in order to give him some rest before returning to Newcastle. That would open the door for Shaq Moore to start.


MIDFIELDERS


Kellyn Acosta USA 11142017

The U.S. national team lacked creativity in central midfield against Brazil, and that should mean an opportunity to start for Kellyn Acosta, who brings more attacking flavor than the other options on the squad. Acosta has played more of an attacking role with the Colorado Rapids since being traded from FC Dallas, and he has experience playing against Mexico.

Sarachan spoke positively about Wil Trapp after the Brazil game, and it feels likey that the Crew midfielder starts again on Tuesday. If he reprises his role in the deep-lying midfielder spot, then Tyler Adams should be pushed out wide on the right to make room for Acosta.

Will Sarachan give Weah the start? He has been trying to bring the Paris Saint Germain youngster along slowly, but Tuesday’s Mexico match is the perfect setting to give the confident 18-year-old a chance to show what he can do against some top Mexican prospects.


FORWARDS


Andrija Novakovich USA 03272018

Andrja Novakovich didn’t get a chance to play against Brazil, but it’s tough to see him not get the nod against Mexico. He has been in excellent form for Dutch club Fortuna Sittard, and his size and mobility for a big man could cause problems for Mexico.

Could Gyasi Zardes get the nod up top? It wouldn’t quite be in line with the youth movement theme, but he’d be the choice ahead of Bobby Wood, who put in a physically-demanding shift against Brazil.


4-3-3 (Most likely XI)


GFX Projected USA XI vs Mexico Most Likely 09102018

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Sarachan has shown an affinity for the 4-1-4-1 formation, and this setup makes the most sense against a Mexico side that will be vulnerable defensively. In an ideal world Adams would play in the defensive midfield role, but Sarachan prefers Trapp leadership in the middle of the field.

There’s really no need to deploy a 3-5-2 against this Mexico team. If El Tri had a full-strength squad that would be one thing, but Mexico has seen several of its top players on the squad depart, including most recenly Raul Jimenez, which make the Mexico squad even younger.

If Sarachan decides to sit Trapp, the U.S. could consider a 4-4-2, with Novakovich and Zardes up top, and the midfield in a diamond with Acosta in front of McKennie and Adams on the right.

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Diego Lainez and Roberto Alvarado look to convert from Mexico’s future to Mexico’s present – football news

There were more than 60,000 people in attendance for Mexico’s 4-1 loss to Uruguay on Friday. The majority were wearing green and watched with frustration as their team lost but also came away with some reasons for hope after strong debuts by Diego Lainez and Roberto Alvarado in the second half.

While the young wingers want to win over the fans who may be cheering them on for years to come, they will have hoped to have left a bigger impression on a few in attendance who weren’t there to cheer on El Tri. A number of European scouts reportedly were in attendance, including representatives from clubs like Manchester United.

Club America already turned down a bid for Lainez from Roma, according to the Liga MX side’s sporting director Santiago Banos. He also had interest from Ligue 1 sides after a standout Toulon Tournament. The work he and Alvarado have put in both with their cubs and the youth national teams has been rewarded with their senior debuts. Now they’re looking for their first international starts in Tuesday’s rivalry match against the United States.

“We came in doing things well, and I’m happy there may have been scouts because that means we’re doing things well,” Lainez said. “We’re good people and we’re centered so we won’t lose our heads.”

The scouts reportedly were in the stands not only to take a look at the 18-year-old Lainez but also Alvarado, who turned 20 on the same day he made his Mexico debut. Alvarado said he’s had no direct contact with any clubs for now, though he’s motivated by the idea.

“Happy for my debut, and even better that it came on my birthday. I can’t think of a better gift, but this result wasn’t positive for us,” Alvarado said. “At the same time, I’m going home happy and will keep working to get better.”

Mexico’s young players have a close bond. Even Alvarado, who was a relatively late breakout player thanks to a standout season with second-division Celaya, said he’s close with other up-and-comers like Lainez and Santos Laguna defenders Jesus Angulo and Gerardo Arteaga.

“We’re always talking and have been waiting for this moment. Now we have to enjoy it, have fun with it, obviously with respect, and we have to take advantage of this moment to keep being kept in mind for each call-up,” Alvarado said.

The first run-through didn’t go so well for the young players, with a 4-1 loss against an Uruguay team that started nine of its starters from a World Cup quarterfinal against El Tri. The team improved in the second half, though, with Alvarado playing a full half and Lainez getting in for just less than half-an-hour.

“I’m really happy. It’s my first brush with the senior level and I think it’s good to play against these elite players,” Lainez said. “You don’t always play them and the first steps also are really important. It’s really good to play against these types of national teams. It motivates us to get better and I’m really happy how the team functioned as well.”

Function without results has never endeared players or managers to Mexico fans, though. Just ask previous El Tri boss Juan Carlos Osorio, who frustrated fans when his quest for a pleasing style of play resulted in some heavy losses. Both wingers have cool heads, though, and are taking the loss as a learning experience. That, more than any defeats in the rest of 2018, will be critical for their development as both look to convert from Mexico’s future into Mexico’s present.

One of the issues facing the young wingers, especially Alvarado, is the fact that winger already is an incredibly deep position for Mexico. Hirving Lozano is Mexico’s next great hope, with the 23-year-old PSV winger already a regular for the Mexico senior team and likely to lead the charge into 2022 and even 2026.

But “Chucky” also lays out the blueprint for the young players. After a spell in Liga MX, Lozano departed with both a league and Concacaf Champions League championship and made the jump to Europe at a relatively young age. He now can boast of a goal and an assist at the World Cup, an Eredivisie title and, soon, of minutes in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Lozano too was put into the national team at a young age and with time to develop – and make mistakes – became one of the team’s most important pieces in Russia. Will Lainez and Alvarado be able to follow the blueprint Lozano set out? It’s too soon to tell, according to Mexico interim manager Tuca Ferretti

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“I think all the guys today had a really good little test, and they showed what we’d hoped to see from them: they came on, they didn’t get lost, they helped the team improve,” Ferretti said after the Uruguay loss. “This experience today they had, hopefully they have many more. For them to keep having this opportunity (with the national team), they have to do things well with their clubs and when they come here they have to keep that level up.”

First, it’s a chance for both players to earn their first starts with the team and perhaps their first rivalry win. If they do that, they’ll keep turning heads in Mexico, in the United States and abroad.

 

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Weah hits USMNT camp sporting new look and boosted confidence – football news

Tim Weah arrived at U.S. national team camp in New Jersey sporting a new look this week. Gone were the braids he wore the last time he was with the team, and that he’d had as recently as his last appearance for Paris Saint-Germain. Instead, he wore a very short haircut that made him look so different that one reporter on Monday began asking him questions about what it was like to be in camp with Tim Weah.

The precocious young forward began to answer the question before stopping and saying, “I am Tim Weah.” 

“I was just sitting in the [barber’s] chair one day and I was like, ‘wow, I need a change,’ so I just cut it off,” Weah said. “And it’s getting hot.”

Weah’s haircut isn’t the only thing different as he prepares for the USMNT’s upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Mexico. He has also arrived with an added level of confidence built through the playing time he has earned with PSG in the early part of the season.

Even just a couple months ago, few would have envisioned Weah earning the minutes he has in the season’s early going. 

“As you saw against Bolivia (in May), coming in as a young 18-year-old playing against professionals and playing with professionals that I used to watch,” Weah said. “I came in with a little bit less confidence, and a little bit less swagger because I was kind of holding back. I wanted to play simple.

“I’m more confident now,” Weah said. “I’m training every day with the best players so in this camp I really want to show the world and show our supporters what I can really do on the ball. Build plays, spark plays, create plays, score goals. That’s my main goal, racking up on stats. Once I get that no matter what age, 18, 19, 20, I’ll always have that confidence.”

Weah is off to an encouraging start to the season at PSG, staying with the French champions despite rumors of potential loan moves. He revealed on Monday that a loan away from PSG was an option, but the 18-year-old made a tough decision that he stands behind.

“I was supposed to go on loan earlier this season and I chose not to go,” Weah said. “I chose to stay and work on my game because I feel like under [PSG manager Thomas] Tuchel and the players that we have it’s going to be great for me. My game is going to develop so much and I’m going to mature and I feel like that was the best decision for me.

“I don’t want to rush anything,” Weah said. “I’m only 18. But in the future we’ll see. Maybe a loan takes me. Maybe after this year I’ll be a little more comfortable playing professional soccer.”

 

Excited and honored to be called up to represent my country again ……Can’t wait to get started …..🇺🇸❤️

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Weah also stayed to continue working with Tuchel, who has taken over at PSG and has already shown the same affinity for giving young players opportunities that he showed while at Borussia Dortmund.

“Amazing. One of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with,” Weah said of Tuchel. “Tactically he’s amazing, technically he’s an amazing coach. Without his coaching staff I feel like he wouldn’t be the coach he is. He’s a great person. I love him so much. With the young guys he really shows us that he cares about us. With all the guys he shows us he’s a team guy and he loves his players like they’re his children.

“He’s really there for us, and he pushes us to be the best we can be,” Weah said. “He gets angry at us sometimes but we all know it’s for the better. I can’t wait to get more games under Tuchel, and hopefully next season I’ll have a great spot and I’ll be in a good position to eventually take a path like Cavani.”

Speaking of PSG, Weah will be standing across the field from one of his club teammates on Friday in Brazilian star Neymar, who will guide a strong Brazil team into Friday’s friendly.

“He’s super talented. A great guy. Super confident when he’s on the pitch,” Weah said of Neymar. “You’ve just got to keep your eyes on him and just watch everything that he does because he’s one of the best players in the world and it’s super hard to play against him.

“I feel like with the group of guys we have here, with Tyler Adams helping in with the defense from the midfield, and John Brooks, Matt Miazga, [Cameron Carter-Vickers] I feel like, as young guys we can really get the job done.”

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While some might question the value of friendlies, especially at a time when the team has yet to hire its full-time head coach, Weah makes it clear that the chance to play against high-profile opponents is invaluable for a young group of players who have already put together some encouraging results in 2018, including the 1-1 draw with France in June.

“These games, they build confidence,” Weah said. “Playing against World Cup winners, we didn’t know they were going to win the World Cup, but we played our buts off like it was a final for us and we tied France 1-1. These games are completely important to this group because it’s something to build on, and it’s growth, and that’s what we need. We need to really jell together because we do have new guys coming in each camp. The squad is getting younger each camp.

“Games like this, playing against Brazil, if we do get a result — and I really feel that we will — it’s going to be a huge confidence builder and it’s going to be great going to Nashville to play Mexico.”

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