Connect with us

Sports

USMNT beats Panama, 5-1, all but locks up Qatar 2022 spot

Published

on


Christian Pulisic notched a hat trick to bring Team USA to the brink of World Cup qualification.

Christian Pulisic notched a hat trick to bring Team USA to the brink of World Cup qualification.
Photo: Getty Images

It’s not official yet. The USMNT still has to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and all that. Which means they have to manage to not lose to Costa Rica by six goals or more on Wednesday. Quite frankly, the more impressive feat than qualifying for the World Cup would be losing by six in Costa Rica, and even then the U.S. would still get the one-game playoff in June. it would be historic. It would be unprecedented. But nothing anyone wants to see. The USMNT basically punched its ticket to Qatar last night with a 5-1 ass-waxing of Panama in Orlando.

As with everything with the USMNT, there is an urge to attach a host of qualifiers (get it?) to the result, along with the draw at the Azteca. The fans can’t help it, the scars from four years ago still stinging and the struggle to believe that things are different now. Who wants to get that hurt again? It’s easier and more fun to be the first one in to shit on something, or to try to be. Coping mechanisms and such.

But any clear-headed view of this window so far is really nothing but positive. The U.S. controlled a game in Mexico City and then thoroughly whacked a team it had lost to earlier in qualifying, missing three of its best attackers in Sergiño Dest, Weston McKennie, and Brendan Aaronson. All will likely start the World Cup opener if healthy come November. They only had Gio Reyna for about 60-65 minutes over two games. Depth is not a bad thing and the U.S. showed it off.

The draw against Mexico showed the guts and determination that the U.S. has generally been known for. It also showed organization and tactical know-how. Last night, they showed swerve, creativity, and ruthlessness. Oh sure, they got a couple bounces. Anibal Godoy lost control of his elbows and hands twice, and the second penalty call was a tad soft. Jesus Ferreira got a nice bounce off Shaq Moore’s pass that left him with the challenge of finishing from five feet out. But as people like to say, you make your own luck.

Antonee Robinson was a terror down the left, creating a chance with every foray into the opposing half and with every cross. Tyler Adams cleaned everything up in midfield. Luca de la Torre was understated but metronomic in midfield. Christian Pulisic finally found his Chelsea form for the national team. Paul Arriola was lively on the other side and scored, and then when he was replaced at the half by Reyna the U.S. hit another gear. Reyna was just about the best player on the field, though Pulisic didn’t want to let him off that easy when he came up with this insulting bit of filth:

The U.S. hummed and purred. It all clicked. The frustration is that we haven’t seen it more often, but that’s a tougher needle to thread than anyone wants to admit, given the vagaries of international soccer. The second game of these three-game windows had been a real obstacle before, where the draws with Canada at home and the losses to Canada and Panama on the road had come. Last night was how you correct that.

With qualification all but assured now, the U.S. can look upon all this and see that their back four is basically cemented, with depth. Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson are locked in the middle, and Robinson has made left back his home. Dest will slot back in on the right, but there are options with Yedlin, Cannon, and Moore. Dest can also flip to the left when needed.

The midfield and wings are overflowing with options, especially when Reyna gets his wish to play in the center. Yeah, striker is still a problem, and probably still will be come the World Cup. And lacking a goalscorer, the one thing that could take this team from not just exiting the group stage and maybe making noise in the Round of 16, but to making some real noise beyond that, is a gallstone-sized issue. Maybe the answer is a false nine, if any of Aaronson or Tim Weah or Reyna are up for it. Maybe at the beginning of next season Pepi or Dike or Sargent in the Championship can catch fire. Joel Campbell once lit up a World Cup. You know who Denis Cheryshev is? He was the second-leading scorer in the last World Cup. It can happen.

That’s the thing about a team this young, or this new to each other still. It’s rarely going to put it all together. But it has the past two games. And it only has to put it together for a few more to go places it hasn’t before. Leave the doubts, criticisms, qualifiers to their accomplishments for another day. They’re always accessible. Right now, perhaps it’s best to turn around and see the ground already covered. 



Source link

Sports

Pep Guardiola jokes he’s ‘sorry’ that he stopped Mikel Arteta from becoming Manchester City manager

Published

on



Arsenal will face City at the Etihad Stadium tonight, with Guardiola’s former assistant back on his old North West stomping ground in the FA Cup fourth round.

The Gunners head north leading rivals City by five points with a game in hand atop the Premier League, but acutely aware of the challenging taking on the frustrated Guardiola and company.

Arteta left Guardiola’s City setup in December 2019 to take the Arsenal helm, transforming the Gunners in remarkable fashion since.

“I am pretty sure if I would have left here before, he would be here [at City] and he would be the best, absolutely,” said Guardiola, of Arteta.

“But I extended my contract, I am sorry, and he didn’t wait, so it could not happen. But definitely it could have.”

Arteta joined Manchester City’s coaching ranks on retiring as a player in 2016, learning his craft under master tactician and serial winner Guardiola.

City’s former Barcelona boss revealed how Arteta would never celebrate goals against the Gunners, the team he represented more than 100 times between 2011 and 2016.

“He loves the club; I remember when we were together here and we scored goals, he jumped a lot and celebrated – except with one team,” said Guardiola.

“One team, every time we score a goal, I jump, look back and he was sitting there. It was Arsenal.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

R Madrid 3 – 1 A Madrid

Published

on


Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored in extra-time as Real Madrid fought back to beat local rivals Atletico 3-1 on Thursday and reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

On a freezing night at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu hosting its first game for 77 days due to the World Cup break, Real started slowly and Atletico had many dangerous counter-attacks.

Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, right, celebrates with teammate Antoine Griezmann after scoring the opening goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Image:
Atletico Madrid took the lead against their rivals

Atletico captain Koke delivered a brilliant through ball to Nahuel Molina who ghosting in behind Reals defence and the full back set up Alvaro Morata, a former Real academy player, to tap the ball into an empty net in the 19th minute.

Eder Militao wasted a golden chance to equalise in the 32nd minute after Toni Kroos had delivered a perfect cross.

Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring
Image:
Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring the opener

It was not only until Dani Ceballos came off the bench to replace the injured Ferland Mendy late in the first half that Real started to play better.

The 26-year-old midfielder injected a new dynamic into the team who were far more aggressive after the break.

Benzema wasted two good opportunities and Federico Valverde also sent a shot wide from just outside the box.

Real Madrid's Rodrygo celebrates with team-mates
Image:
Real Madrid’s Rodrygo celebrates with team-mates

Substitute Rodrygo equalised in the 79th with a delightful goal, dribbling past three defenders before finishing well.

With Real Madrid in full control, Atletico played most of extra time with 10 men after defender Stefan Savic was shown his second yellow card for chopping down Eduardo Camavinga in the 99th minute.

Five minutes later, Real substitute Marco Asensio sent a low cross into the box and Vinicius’s deflected shot reached Benzema who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the net.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey quarter final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Image:
Karim Benzema’s goal made it 2-1 in extra time

Vinicius secured Real’s win in the dying seconds with a brilliant individual goal, running half the length of the pitch before scoring with a low shot.

“We got behind very early and after Mendy’s injury the whole team had to be rebuilt. But we woke up and played really well after the break,” Ceballos told TVE.

“They played better in the first half, but the coach corrected things in the second; we took control of the ball and found the goal. Then, after the red card, everything was easier.”

Real Madrid joined Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals.



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Everything we know about Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle

Published

on


Patrick Mahomes examines his ankle last Sunday against the Jaguars.

Patrick Mahomes examines his ankle last Sunday against the Jaguars.
Image: Getty Images

It’s conference championship week. With only four teams on the NFL schedule this week — the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals — one interesting storyline can dominate the entire conversation leading up to the games. This time, it’s QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle.

The fact that this storyline is the dominant one heading into the weekend makes sense. He’s the best player in the league, and his team is hosting the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals who are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Also, the game is taking place one week after he suffered a high-ankle sprain and was still able to hobble the Chiefs to victory — aided of course by a timely 98-yard touchdown drive that was led by backup quarterback Chad Henne.

How mobile does Mahomes look right now?

Since his right ankle got rolled against the Jacksonville Jaguars, no leg in America has had as much attention on it as his. Not even Brent Maher’s as he overcame his kicking yips during the Dallas Cowboys’ loss on Sunday to the Eagles. Mahomes’ ankle has so much attention on it that Fox 4 KC’s Harold R. Kuntz has been filming him walking down from the press conference podium the last two days. And by filming Mahomes, I mean only his legs.

Thursday update: Mahomes didn’t even need to use the stairs.

Knox’s assessment: Don’t be a hero… until Sunday.

Kuntz isn’t the only reporter on the scene sharing video footage of Mahomes’ mobility. During the portion of practice that was open to the media, many videos were sent out of Mahomes moving around. As the Chiefs were warming up, Mahomes actually jogged and spun as he headed toward his next station. He is certainly running better than he was on Sunday.

In their comments to the media, Andy Reid said that Mahomes “did a nice job and was “comfortable with what we did.” Mahomes said that he believed his Wednesday practice went, “better than I expected.”

For Chiefs fans — and those of us who want to see a well-played AFC Championship Game — this news out of Kansas City is the best we could’ve received. On the Chiefs’ most active days of practice, Mahomes was seen moving very well. Also, he and the head coach both gave positive updates about the health of the most important leg in sports this weekend.

Will the ankle affect Mahomes’ play on Sunday?

There is no possible way that Mahomes will be 100 percent against the Bengals. They are going to test that ankle by trying to apply the same type of pressure that disrupted the Buffalo Bills during the Bengals’ Divisional Round win on Sunday. However, if he can move around all game as well as he has been in practice, he will be able to play well enough for the Chiefs to have a chance at victory.

We’ve received the closeup and overhead views of Mahomes’ health. All that is left is the view at Arrowhead Stadium from the CBS cameras at 6:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 29, 2023.





Source link

Continue Reading

Trending