International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Costa Rica

Competition: International Friendly – USA vs. Costa Rica

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Tuesday, October 13 – 23:30 BST (18:30 ET)

Match Odds: USA 4/5 – Draw 9/4 – Costa Rica 11/4 

Match Preview

Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT will want to quickly forget the heartbreaking loss on Saturday with a win when they host Costa Rica on Tuesday night in an international friendly.

The USMNT lost out on the chance of playing at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia with the loss to Mexico on Saturday as they went down 3-2 in extra time.

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That loss followed the the disappointing Gold Cup run on home soil in the summer in what will go down as a year to forget for the US national team. And they will not be too confident of turning things around instantly here, after only winning twice in their last eight against Costa Rica.

For those that remember, England were knocked out of the World Cup in 2014 at the expense of Costa Rica so the nation possesses a great team. However, they have also endured a difficult 2015.

Costa Rican have won just once this year, coming in a 1-0 win over Uruguay in September but they will see Tuesday’s game as a good chance to seal another victory over the USMNT.

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Key Points

USA’s last five: L/D/W/L/L

Costa Rica’s last five: D/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: The USA have never beaten Costa Rica in an international friendly (P3 – D1 – L2)

Key Player: Joel Campbell – Everyone that saw Costa Rica at the World Cup should know how much of a talent Campbell is and it still baffles many as to how Arsene Wenger leaves him on the bench all the time at Arsenal.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Costa Rica – Hopefully this meeting will be more than just another game as both sides have a point to prove as CONCACAF rivals. Both have proved themselves as solid sides over the past few years and this will be a good test for both. This should be an advert for how good football has become in North and Central America and an entertaining affair is expected.

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International Preview and Prediction: England vs Estonia

Competition: European Qualifier – England vs. Estonia 

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Friday, October 9 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET)

Match Odds: England 1/8 – Draw 13/2 – Estonia 22/1

Match Preview

England play host to Estonia on Friday night knowing they have already secured a spot at the European Championships next summer with their 100% record still intact.

Seeing as the Three Lions have already secured qualification, we are expecting more of an experimental team to take to the field for the final home qualifier.

And with Euro 2016 only eight months away, Roy Hodgson will want to make sure he continues to experiment with as many options as possible.

England’s record in Euro 2016 Qualifiers: P8 – W8 – D0 – L0

Estonia are all but out of the race for qualification as they are set for another summer at home, having never qualified for a major tournament.

Losses to Slovenia and Switzerland have let them down recently as they looked set to maybe challenge for a place.

Although they are still mathematically in with a chance to qualify, the odds are stacked against them with a trip to Wembley presenting a daunting task.

Estonia’s record in Euro 2016 Qualifiers: P8 – W3 – D1 – L4 

This will be the fourth ever meeting between these two. England have won all three of the previous games, without conceding a goal.

The reverse fixture in qualifying ended 3-0 to the Three Lions and a similarly dominant display is expected here.

Key Points

England’s last five in qualifying: W/W/W/W/W

Estonia’s last five in qualifying: D/L/W/W/L

Key Stat: England have won their last eight competitive matches since the World Cup.

Key Player: Harry Kane – Hard one to decide as no one knows what type of side Roy will play, but should Harry Kane start up top we expect him to bag a goal or two and continue his solid international form.

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Score Prediction

England 3-0 Estonia – Even with a weakened side, we still expect England to win comfortably and another solid home win shouldn’t be too difficult for the Three Lions.

Euro 2016 Qualifier Preview and Prediction: England vs Switzerland

Competition: European Championship Qualifying – England vs. Switzerland (Group E)

Venue: Wembley Stadium – Tuesday, September 8 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET) 

Match Odds: England – Draw – Switzerland

Match Preview

England host Switzerland in their latest European Championship qualifier on Tuesday evening in a battle between the top two sides in Group E.

The Three Lions beat minnows San Marino 6-0 on Saturday to guarantee a Euro 16 slot at next summer’s finals in France and can now guarantee a top spot finish with a victory over Switzerland.

Roy Hodgson’s men have won all seven of their qualifying games so far, conceding just three times, and have not lost a match since the World Cup.

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England have netted 12 times in their last three qualifying games at Wembley and will hope to be in free scoring form once again here against their toughest opponents in Group E.

Switzerland sit second in the group and are unlikely to finish in any other position in qualifying. That will see them make Euro 2016 though, which was the primary objective heading into the campaign.

A 2-0 home loss to England in their opening qualifying game didn’t get things off to the best start but they have won their last five on the bounce in qualifying and recorded a 3-2 win at home to Slovenia on Saturday, coming from 2-0 down to seal three vital points.

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This will be the 24th meeting between the two nations and England will be much more confident based on history as they have won 15 of the previous 23 matches, losing just three – none of which came on home soil.

Team News

England are likely to make a few changes to the team that won in San Marino, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Harry Kane all hoping to start. Theo Walcott bagged a brace from the bench and could replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting lineup. Wayne Rooney will likely spearhead the attack as he looks to score his record setting 50th goal in an England shirt.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic saw two of his substitutes score all three of the team’s goals on Saturday, so Josip Drmic and Valentin Stocker will both hope to start. Xherdan Shaqiri is the star player and will be a threat, while fellow Premier League players Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler could start in midfield.

Key Points

England’s last five: W/D/D/W/W

Switzerland’s last five: W/D/W/W/W

Key Stat: England have not lost to Switzerland since May 1981 and have never lost to the Swiss on home soil.

Key Player: Wayne Rooney – A goal on Tuesday night would make Wayne Rooney the highest scoring Englishmen in history. He is tied on 49 with Sir Bobby Charlton after converting a penalty in San Marino on Saturday and could get number 50 here.

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Score Prediction

England 3-1 Switzerland – Switzerland travel to Wembley knowing a win gives them a slim chance of winning Group E, but that’s unlikely to happen. The Three Lions are playing with confidence and should dispatch their Swiss opponents with relative ease here.

International Preview and Prediction: Netherlands vs USA

Competition: International Friendly – Netherlands vs. USMNT

Venue: Amsterdam Arena, Netherlands – Friday, June 5 – 14:30 ET (19:30 BST)

Match Odds: Netherlands 8/15 – Draw 11/4 – USA 9/2

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team take on European giants Netherlands on Friday in what will be a real challenge for the 2015 Gold Cup hosts as they continue their preparation for the this summer’s tournament.

Jurgen Klinsmann arranged friendlies with the Netherlands and then Germany five days later as his USA team will be really tested over the next week.

They won their last outing 2-0 against Mexico back in April in what was just their second victory in nine games and so matches against Guus Hiddink’s side and the World Cup winners will give a real indication of where the team are right now.

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The Netherlands beat Spain 2-0 in their last game in their second victory against the European Champions in nine months, and they are now unbeaten in three.

After reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup last summer, the Netherlands lost four of their next five but seem to have found some consistency again and will expect to beat the USA on Friday.

This will be just the fifth meeting between the two sides. The USMNT have lost all four of the previous games, scoring their only goal against the Oranje in their last meeting in 2010 in a 2-1 loss at Amsterdam Arena.

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Team News

Netherlands head coach Guus Hiddink has a strong team at his disposal and the likes of Robin Van Persie, Daley Blind, Memphis Depay, Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar will all expect to feature. Wolfsburg striker Bas Dost has been cut because of a hamstring injury.

Jurgen Klinsmann has a relatively strong USA team for the game. Jermaine Jones had to pull out because of injury, while Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Bedoya are also ruled out. Clint Dempsey will not travel as he awaits the birth of his fourth child. Brad Guzan should return in goal with Kyle Beckerman back in midfield. Eight MLS players have been included.

Key Points

Netherlands’ last five: L/L/W/D/W

USMNT’s last five: L/W/L/D/W

Key Stat: The USA have never beaten the Netherlands in four previous meetings, losing all four games and scoring just once.

Key Player: Memphis Depay – The Dutch winger will be desperate to impress ahead of his Manchester United move and will be a real threat down the wing.

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Score Prediction

Netherlands 2-1 USA – It’s tough to see the USMNT winning their first game against the Netherlands here but they should put up a good fight in what will be a real test for Klinsmann’s men.

Is this future Liverpool captain the man to build the team around?

With the season drawing to a close and the imminent departure of Steven Gerrard, Liverpool face a summer of change as they will look to mount another challenge on the top four in the Premier League next season.

With England international Raheem Sterling currently stalling on a new contract, Liverpool have acted quickly to nail down future captain Jordan Henderson to a new five-year deal in what could be their best business this summer as Manchester City were circling.

Henderson has been sensational this season and has arguably been the Reds’ best player. Yet it was Philippe Coutinho who made the PFA Team of the Season. So is the England International undervalued?

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Current vice-captain, Henderson is the expected replacement for the long-serving Gerrard once he leaves for the LA Galaxy in the summer, having been an ever-present figure in Brendan Rodgers’ side this term.

Henderson has made huge steps this season towards being the midfield player that Liverpool need and signing him to a new contract and fighting off interest from other clubs is paramount to Liverpool’s project.

So compared to the other marquee midfielders in the side, how does Henderson fair?

Sterling Coutinho Henderson
Appearances 33 32 34
Goals 7 5 6
Assists 7 5 8

Should Sterling decide not to agree a new deal by the end of the summer, it’s a huge possibility that Liverpool will want to cash in on him while they can.

They will need to bring in reinforcements regardless of Sterling’s situation but Jordan Henderson is arguably the man to build a team around if the Reds are to remain a force at the top end of the Premier League.

Who is a greater asset for Liverpool – Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho or Jordan Henderson?

International Preview and Prediction: USA vs Mexico

Competition: International friendly – United States vs. Mexico

Venue: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas – Wednesday, April 15 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: USA 13/10 – Draw 11/5 – Mexico 7/4

Match Preview

The US Men’s National Team are back in action on Wednesday night after just two weeks as they take on fierce rivals Mexico less than 150 miles from the border in San Antonio, Texas.

Jurgen Klinsmann‘s side put in their best performance for a long time in their last game against Switzerland two weeks ago as they earned a solid 1-1 draw against the 12th-ranked side.

The latest FIFA rankings saw the USA move up five places to 27th, while Mexico went up three places to 18th and Wednesday’s nights game should be another fiery one, even though it will be played outside of a designated international window.

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That means that both sides will be without several key players as the majority of European-based stars will not make the trip across to play the game.

Mexico have not beaten the USA in their last five meetings but they have been in fine form since the World Cup, winning six of eight games and have won their last two games 1-0.

The USMNT have only won two of nine games since the World Cup last summer and although things weren’t looking too promising, the 1-1 draw with Switzerland last time out will fill fans with optimism heading into this one.

Klinsmann continues to experiment with his squad and has called up 14 MLS players for this one, with DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green the only players travelling over from Europe with Tottenham and Hamburg respectively.

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Four members of the squad play their football in Liga MX and that will add some more spice to what should be another thrilling encounter.

Their latest meeting ended 2-2 in Arizona last April as Michael Bradley and Chris Wondolowski both netted the goals.

The two USMNT veterans are both in the squad again this time and will hope to continue to guide the younger players through.

Team News

Klinsmann has only called up nine players from last summer’s World Cup as he continues to experiment, but he will likely field his strongest lineup as victory in this one is important. Michael Bradley played in the No. 10 role against Switzerland and could continue there, while Gyasi Zardes could partner Juan Agudelo in attack as Jozy Altidore is suspended. Agudelo has received his first call up in over a year and will want to make his mark.

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Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera has called up a relatively inexperienced side for the game but striker, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres will hope to impress. The 22-year-old forward will join up with the Houston Dynamo in the summer and he will be pushing for a start in the absence of Javier Hernandez.

Key Points

USA’s last five: L/L/W/L/D

Mexico’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: Mexico have not beaten the USA in five attempts and their last win came during the Gold Cup in June 2011.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – The Toronto FC midfielder is the most experienced on the USA roster and is likely to captain the team once again. He has four goals against Mexico to date and will want to add to that.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Mexico – If the USMNT can build on their performance against Switzerland they will be in a strong position to win this. Their recent record against Mexico is good and with the game on home turf, Klinsmann will hope to seal an important win as the Gold Cup draws closer.

Toronto’s Jozy Altidore apologises for USMNT dismissal

Toronto FC‘s Jozy Altidore has apologised for his reckless sending off in the US Men’s National Team‘s 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Tuesday.

“I want to apologize to our fans and my teammates,” Altidore said after the game.

“Emotion got the best of me and I put our team in a tough position. That’s not the type of role model I want to be. All credit to the boys for grinding it out and earning a positive result.”

Altidore received a second yellow card for dissent towards referee Luca Banti, leaving his side to play out the final 20 minutes a man down.

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Just 12 minutes after his sending off, the USMNT conceded the equaliser, adding to Altidore’s frustration. But a 1-1 draw with one of Europe’s better sides isn’t to be looked down upon and he can make amends with his Toronto side this weekend as they face Chicago Fire.

Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters after the game that he warned his players about the referee.

“I told the players, even at halftime, ‘Guys, you can do probably fouls, you can do certain things, but you can’t joke with an Italian referee. It’s unfortunate but it happened and when you get sent off for a verbal comment with an Italian referee, then you get your punishment,” Klinsmann said with a smile.

Did Jozy Altidore’s red card cost the USMNT the game?