The USMNT is doomed? Try again.

Remember the halfway point?

Sadness. . .

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Last night the United States faced their final game of FIFA World Cup qualifying. Win and go to Russia. . . or lose and go home.

The opponent was Trinidad and Tobago, two small islands from the Caribbean whose backup goalkeeper is still in college. A winnable game? Yes. Did they win? No, they played like they didn’t care. Clint Dempsey didn’t break the goalscoring record. Christian Pulisic’s heroics didn’t rescue the United States. Small, lonely T&T knocked off the land of “fake news”.

Naturally people are bound to overreact, and of course I get to rip this apart. A common phrase sweeping around the Internet is “the USMNT are doomed!” Clint Dempsey will be 38 in four years. Michael Bradley will be 34. Tim Howard will be ancient. How could we possibly recover?

Look at the players coming up through the youth system. Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath has proved himself a decent shot stopper for one of the Belgian Pro League’s finest sides. He’s only 22. We don’t have to talk about 19 year old Pulisic. We can mention Darlington Nagbe, a 27 year old energetic playmaker that burst onto the scene last summer, and should fill Bradley’s shoes.

Remember the name Weston McKennie. The lively 19 year old midfielder is making waves in the Bundesliga, and Schalke 04 have rewarded him with a five year contract extension. He’s appeared in six of Schalke’s eight games since the end of preseason, and is creating chance after chance for Leon Goretzka and Co.

I can’t wait to see him play alongside Pulisic in the red, white, and blue. Both will be 24 when Qatar rolls around, and even Gedion Zelalem might take strides at mighty Arsenal. To everyone who thinks the USMNT are doomed:

McKennie — Nagbe — Pulisic

 

 

Look out.

How Paul Pogba ruined the transfer market

In 2013 a young Brazilian named Neymar Jr. was sold to Barcelona for £53 million. For many years people judged transfer fees off of Neymar. For example, Mesut Ozil. He’s an amazing player, but not quite as good as Neymar so he went for £50 million. That’s how it worked. That is how soccer functioned. Until Manchester United and Paul Pogba had to go ruin everything for everyone. Don’t get me wrong. Pogba is world class. Is he better than Ozil and Neymar? Is he worth the £89 million? Only about half of the money was for his current ability. The rest was for what he could become. Now clubs have to pay based on a player’s potential. The big bullies like PSG will thrive. (€140 million for Kylian Mbappe; what the heck?) Sure Mbappe has insane potential and is already world class. But the guy only has had one good season. Again, big clubs with a cash influx will dominate.

The one thing smaller clubs always had is buying players with potential on the cheap. No more. Now they have to scrounge around in Nowheresville, Pennsylvania to find the next Christian Pulisic.

So what’s next? Paul Pogba killed world soccer. One of the most enjoyable things in life was watching a small team loaded with young talents take on PSG or Bayern Munich. Now there is no hope for a team with anything less than £100 million in the bank.

Although with everything I said, Lukaku for £79 million is outrageous. Pogba completely flipped the transfer market on its head. The best striker in the Premier League goes for less than a top 10 midfielder in the Serie A. Only a few Italian teams would even have a remote chance in the PL. So take a minute to think about how Paul Pogba and Manchester United ruined not only the Prem but all of world soccer. I mean, John Stones went for £47.5 million! if you think that is even close to what he is worth, you are simply stupid!

Gold Cup 2017: Predicting Semifinals

At last the four best teams have done their jobs. Some have smashed their way through to the semifinals, and some merely survived. This is where it gets harder to predict.

Costa Rica vs. United States

This is going to be a simply thrilling Saturday night in Phoenix. On one hand you have the sleeping American giant, fresh off absolutely dominating El Salvador. Then you have Los Ticos, who just barely scraped through against Panama. However, El Salvador is hardly on Panama’s level.

Costa Rica is missing four key players to injury, and star goalie Keylor Navas has not been allowed to come to the Gold Cup as he is in Real Madrid’s squad for the club’s preseason tour. The US are also without players that play for a European clubs, as Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, and John Brooks are not able to come. The Americans should be able to get through to the final, as they can exploit Costa Rica’s lack of healthy wingers and second-string goalkeeper. Pick: USA

Mexico vs. Jamaica

Mexico brought their B-team to this Gold Cup, as many players including Hirving Lozano and Carlos Vela were subject to CONCACAF’s international playtime restrictions as they had taken part in the Confederations Cup recently. It hasn’t hindered El Tri yet as they face a full strength Jamaican team that made the final in 2015. Mexico’s midfield presence should dominate Jamaica, and the high press they’ve been utilizing should cause problems. Pick: Mexico

 

So what did you think of my predictions? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to like and follow if you enjoyed!

 

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Matchday 5 Roundup

Matchday five in the Hexagonal, CONCACAF’s fifth round of World Cup qualifying. Three games. Every nation with a chance to vault up the table should results go their way. Let’s get into it.

At 8:00 ET, the United States took on Trinidad and Tobago. Many fans of the Americans were already looking ahead to Sunday’s clash with Mexico, but their team didn’t want to get ahead of themselves. T&T may have been in the cellar, but with a win the Trinidadians could bounce into the top three.

The US had plenty of chances early on. In the 15th minute, Clint Dempsey received the ball on the edge of the box. His strike flew just over the bar. Then in the 20th minute, John Brooks found himself in a similar position. He kept his shot on target, but J. M. Martinez was more than equal to it.

The Americans exhibited a shocking lack of energy in the 33rd minute, where Kevin Molino launched a terrific cross into the area for T&T striker Kenwyn Jones, but Jones could only watch his header hit the bar.

After the halftime break, the US put the pressure on Trinidad and Tobago. It paid off in the 52nd minute, when Darlington Nagbe found Pennsylvania-born Christian Pulisic for the first goal of the game.

Pulisic added to his track record, scoring another goal and putting the game away ten minutes later. And what a remarkable record he has. This 18 year old would be a college freshman if not for soccer. Instead he has 44 appearances for German giants Borussia Dortmund, won the DFB Pokal with his club, and is the youngest American to score in the UEFA Champions League. He also has seven goals and five assists in 15 international caps for his country. That’s downright impressive.

Pulisic’s brace carried the Americans to a 2-0 win. The other two games were unfortunately not nearly as exciting. Mexico absolutely thrashed Honduras 3-0 with goals from Osvaldo Alanis, Raul Jimenez, and 21 year old wonderkid Hirving Lozano.

Costa Rica faced Panama in the final game of the night. Both sides were missing key players due to injuries. The game finished 0-0 in immensely boring fashion.

Table analysis

At the end of the day, the CONCACAF table looks like what you see at the top of the article.

Mexico is sitting nicely in the top spot with thirteen points. They have the opportunity to cement that position with a win on Sunday against the United States. However, the US will be looking to defeat El Tri, stabilize their position in the top three, and even jump to second if Costa Rica lose. Panama, T&T, and Honduras look to be fighting it out for fourth place.

A quick note: Mexico currently sits in 17th in the world in the FIFA Rankings. If they can move into the top ten AND grab 20 points or more total in qualifying, FIFA will be forced to seed them in the World Cup, which means El Tri will almost certainly get an easier group in Russia.