Vote: Who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI against Real Madrid?

The 2017 MLS All-Star game is rapidly approaching. The best of MLS will take on La Liga and Champions League winners Real Madrid at Soldier Field in Chicago on Wednesday night (8:30 ET/01:30 BST). But who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI?

Real Madrid are the first Spanish team to play in the MLS All-Star game. Their squad is graced with world class talent. The likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Isco all set to play on Wednesday night.

The All-Stars have long-time European stars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger. US national team stars such as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. And emerging MLS talents in Kellyn Acosta and Miguel Almiron.

But who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI? Vote below now, or use this link.

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CONCACAF Cup Preview and Prediction: USA vs Mexico

Competition: CONCACAF Cup – USA vs. Mexico

Venue: Rose Bowl, California – Saturday, October 10 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: USA 11/8 – Draw 23/10 – Mexico 7/4

Match Preview

The USA and Mexico face off in the highly anticipated CONCACAF Cup on Saturday night as the international rivals will be facing off for a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

“This is one of the biggest soccer games to be played on North American soil since the 1994 World Cup,” CONCACAF acting General Secretary Ted Howard in a statement. He’s not wrong.

It’s set to be an absolute classic encounter between two teams that always play with full intensity and passion whenever they meet. They will play each other at the Rose Bowl in California where more than 90,000 fans are set to make the atmosphere as electric as the game itself in what is a sell-out.

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This is the first ever CONCACAF Cup match, which is a playoff game for the Confederations Cup in two years time, between the last two winners of the continent’s Gold Cup tournament. USA won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013 but the Mexicans were victorious at this summer’s tournament on US soil, so now a one-off game will be played to see who represents CONCACAF in Russia.

The USA finished a disappointing fourth at the Gold Cup this summer and Jurgen Klinsmann is now under intense pressure to ensure the Americans beat Mexico in California.

The USMNT have lost three of their last four games though and need to put in a much improved performance to have any chance of advancing past El Tri here.

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Mexico are unbeaten in their last ten outings and will be the more confident of the two sides ahead of Saturday’s battle.

Both sets of fans will remember the most recent meeting between the two sides at the Rose Bowl as Mexico rallied from 2-0 down to beat the USA 4-2 in the 2011 Gold Cup final, sealing their place at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil.

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The entire stadium was filled with Mexico fans four years ago but a lot more USA fans are expected to be in attendance and should guarantee an incredible atmosphere.

Recent history is on the USA’s side as they haven’t lost to Mexico in any of their last six encounters (W3 D3). The last time they lost to El Tri was at the Rose Bowl in that 2011 Gold Cup showdown.

Team News

Jurgen Klinsmann has called up his veterans for this game as the more big-game experience in the starting lineup the better. Tim Howard could start in goal for the first time since the 2014 World Cup if Brad Guzan is dropped. Jermaine Jones will hope to start in midfield with Michael Bradley, though Kyle Beckerman is also an option. In attack, Clint Dempsey will look to shine with Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes also available for selection.

Mexico have received a double boost ahead of the game as veteran defender Rafa Marquez and midfielder Andres Guardado have shaken off knocks and are expected to start. Other star names included in the squad are Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez but LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos is out as he picked up a knock in the Galaxy’s draw with Seattle last weekend.

Key Points

USA’s last five: W/L/L/W/L

Mexico’s last five: W/W/W/D/D

Key Stat: The USA currently have a six-game unbeaten streak going against Mexico – the longest run of games without losing to their rivals in history.

Key Player: Michael Bradley – The USMNT midfield hero scored the opening goal at the Rose Bowl in the 2011 meeting and also netted in a 2-2 draw between the two last April. He loves these games and will look to fire the USA to victory.

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Score Prediction

USA 2-1 Mexico – This is all set up to be one of the most memorable meetings ever between these fierce rivals. Both sides will be desperate to remain defensively solid but with so much attacking talent on display, goals look to be inevitable. If the USA fans can match the Mexicans for noise, then they stand a really good chance of edging this one. We’re going for a narrow USA victory, though don’t be surprised if they have to wait until extra-time or perhaps even penalties to earn that win.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: BMO Field – Saturday, May 23 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports 3)

Match Odds: Toronto 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Portland 2/1

Match Preview

Toronto FC host the Portland Timbers this weekend in a fixture that usually produces plenty of goals. The Timbers will end their three-game away streak in this tie before heading back to Providence Park next weekend.

Toronto are coming off a hard fought draw away at Gillette Stadium last weekend, taking a point from MLS Cup runners-up New England Revolution in a 1-1 draw. Michael Bradley scored his first goal of the season in that game and will look to build on that on Saturday.

The Reds will be rocked by the news that Jozy Altidore is out for 4-5 weeks with a hamstring injury, as their leading goalscorer was injured and subbed off in the 18th minute last weekend and will definitely miss the upcoming USA games.

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They have acquired ten points so far this season, a number not to be sniggered at, with eight games played away from home so far this season due to work being done on BMO Field. The home loss to Houston Dynamo was demoralising and didn’t do any favours for head coach Greg Vanney and he will be hoping for a positive result from Saturday’s match.

Vanney is still under pressure to deliver results and a win here could ease some of that pressure as back-to-back home games are on the horizon for Toronto, and that could see them deliver maximum points and bring some confidence back into the side.

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The Timbers have been rather underwhelming so far this season with three wins, four draws and four losses so far. They sit ninth in the Western Conference and their stop-start campaign is what could hamper their chances of finishing in the playoff spots come the end of season.

The acquisition of MLS veteran Nat Borchers from Real Salt Lake has seen the experienced defender become an important part of the defence and also the attack. He is the Portland Timbers’ second-highest goalscorer so far this season with two goals and has a good partnership with Liam Ridgewell at the back.

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Fanendo Adi is the leading goalscorer as he has four of the team’s ten so far. The Nigerian needs to keep up that momentum and lead his team into Western Conference playoff places now, as the Timbers are only three points off tenth place in the Western, but also three points off sixth.

Portland are sitting 12th in the form table and something needs to change quickly. This is an away fixture Portland haven’t enjoyed in the past as they have failed to win on their previous three visits to Toronto.

Last season, the two sides played out a classic, resulting in a 3-2 victory for Toronto FC back in September.

Team News

As mentioned for Toronto, Jozy Altidore will miss the game with a hamstring strain. Clement Simonin will miss out after surgery on his knee, while there are doubts over Steven Caldwell, Robbie Findley (both achilles) and goalkeeper Joe Bendik (foot).

Portland Timbers will still be without Will Johnson, who is recovering from his broken leg, while Michael Nanchoff (hernia) and Ben Zemanski (torn ACL) are both still out too.

Key Points

Toronto’s last five: L/W/W/L/D

Portland Timbers’ last five: W/L/D/W/L

Key Stat: There have been 19 goals in the last five meetings between these two.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – Although fellow new signing Jozy Altidore is out for the foreseeable future, Giovinco has four goals himself and will look to penetrate the leaky Portland defence that have conceded twelve so far this season.

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Score Prediction

Toronto FC 2-2 Portland Timbers – This fixture often sees goals and this one will be no different as a new look attack for Toronto could see more chances for goals. Portland Timbers have Diego Valeri back, while Fanendo Adi is pushing to add to his tally. It could be goals, goals, goals in this one.

Podcast: Toronto, NYCFC, Aston Villa & Chelsea vs. Manchester United discussed

The MLSGB Podcast returns after a short break as Zack Walford sits down with Louis East and Jamie Ives to talk MLS and Premier League.

Our MLS topics of discussion this week involved Toronto FC and New York City FC after their slow starts to the season.

While we look at Aston Villa and their rise under Tim Sherwood as well as looking back over Chelsea vs. Manchester United and what’s next for them.

As always, get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_ with your thoughts on comment below.

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.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday, April 4 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 6/4 – Draw 11/5 – Toronto FC 7/4

Match Preview

Chicago Fire welcome Toronto FC to Toyota Park for an all Eastern Conference clash on Saturday with both sides looking for their second win of the MLS season.

The Fire picked up a crucial three points in their first victory of the season when they beat Philadelphia Union 1-0 last weekend thanks to headed goal from Adailton.

Toronto succumbed to their second straight defeat in dramatic fashion away at Real Salt Lake last time out as an injury time goal by Jordan Allen stole the points just minutes after Jackson Goncalves has equalised for the Canadians.

PICTURE: Chicago celebrate taking the lead over Philadelphia (Courtesy of www.chicago-fire.com/)

PICTURE: Chicago celebrate taking the lead over Philadelphia (Courtesy of www.chicago-fire.com)

After a slow start to the season for Chicago, head coach Frank Yallop will be delighted to have seen his side get their first win after three successive defeats to LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes.

A win in this one for the Fire would see them onto six points and would also take them above opponents Toronto in the Eastern Conference, although they have played one game more.

Greg Vanney‘s Toronto side looked to have got off to a flying start to the 2015 MLS season when they beat Vancouver 3-1, but it’s all ground to a rather disappointing halt after two consecutive defeats against Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake respectively.

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Toronto will be pleased to welcome Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore back to the squad and will be confident of returning to winning ways against a Chicago side that haven’t exactly been convincing just yet.

All three meetings between these two sides in 2014 ended in a draw, with the most recent clash a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park back in September, although both squads have a very different look to them now.

Team News

Chicago Fire are still without Patrick Nyarko and Mike Magee, while Razvan Cocis, Alex and Sean Johnson remain doubtful. Shaun Maloney and David Accam could return to the side after missing Chicago’s first win of the season because of international duty.

PICTURE: Shaun Maloney in action (Courtesy of http://www.chicago-fire.com)

PICTURE: Shaun Maloney in action (Courtesy of http://www.chicago-fire.com)

Toronto will be without defenders Steven Caldwell, Damien Perquis and Mark Bloom because of injury, while striker Luke Moore is suspended. Eriq Zavaleta may not be at full fitness after missing the game at Real Salt Lake with a knee problem. Toronto will be pleased to welcome Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore back to the squad following their international break with the USMNT.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: L/L/L/W

Toronto FC’s form: W/L/L

Key Stat: Toronto FC haven’t beaten Chicago Fire in their last 11 attempts in MLS (D6, L5).

Key Player: Michael Bradley – If the USMNT midfielder returns to the starting line-up, then Toronto have a real chance. He was one of the stand-out players for the USA last week and is instrumental in any team.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-1 Toronto FC – Chicago picked up a vital win in their last game so should be confident, while Toronto will be desperate for any kind of result after back-to-back MLS defeats.

Podcast: Vancouver Whitecaps, USMNT and England internationals

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast, Zack Walford talks to Jamie Ives and Louis East about the international break and how the US Men’s National Team fared as well as England in their games. While we also speak about the Vancouver Whitecaps after their impressive start to the 2015 MLS season.

Make sure you get in touch on Twitter: @MLSGB_ or comment below about any thoughts you have relating to the podcast.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs Toronto FC

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Sunday, March 29 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 8/11 – Draw 11/4 – Toronto 18/5

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake host Toronto FC in one of the most highly anticipated games of Week 4 and despite dealing with international absentees, both teams will be fresh after coming in off a bye week last weekend.

Real Salt Lake drew 3-3 against the Philadelphia Union in front of their own fans last time out, while Toronto lost 2-0 away at Columbus and will want to make this trip a better one.

RSL have drawn both of their opening games but will see this as a game they will want to win, especially given their recent record against Toronto.

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The Western Conference side have won the past three meetings between the sides and have recorded victories in their last seven home games against the Reds.

Toronto will have to try and change that record without two of their key Designated Players as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are both win the US Men’s National Team.

The performance at Columbus two weeks ago was not anywhere near as good as the one in Vancouver on opening weekend and their chances in this one depend on what Toronto side turn up.

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Both sides have struggled to hit the ground running and will see this as a game to find a level of consistency in, potentially setting the tone for the remainder of their seasons.

Team News

Real Salt Lake will be without Joao Plata (foot), John Stertzer (toe) and Demar Phillips (hamstring) through injury, while Justen Glad (knee) and Pecka (hip) are both doubts. Nick Rimando, Luis Gil, Alvaro Saborio and Elias Vasquez are all away on international duty.

Toronto are even more depleted than RSL as they will be without Steven Caldwell (achilles), Mark Bloom and Eriq Zavaleta through injury. Justin Morrow is out suspended and the international games mean Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Chris Mannella and Quillan Roberts are all absent.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s form: D/D

Toronto FC’s form: W/L

Key Stat: Toronto FC have conceded an average of 17 shots per game in their opening two games. They will need to remain tighter at the back if they are to get anything out of this game.

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Key Player: Javier Morales – The Real Salt Lake playmaker already has a goal and an assist in two games and will be at the heart of all his sides’ attacking play on Sunday night.

Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 2-1 Toronto FC – The losses of Altidore and Bradley will be huge for Toronto. The squad is depleted and Real Salt Lake should just edge what should be an intriguing game. Home support will play a part and their dominating record against the Reds will likely be extended this weekend.

Robbie Findley excited about return to Real Salt Lake with Toronto FC

Toronto FC travel to Real Salt Lake on Sunday night in a game that will see Robbie Findley return to the club he left last December and the former US international striker is excited for the match.

Findley spent six seasons with Real Salt Lake in total. He joined the club in 2007 and spent three-and-a-half seasons there before making the move to England where he played for Nottingham Forest and Gillingham.

The 29 year old then returned to RSL in 2013 but only scored seven goals in 41 appearances over the past two seasons.

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He has started life with Toronto well though, scoring in his first game in that 3-1 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps on opening weekend, and is now looking ahead to playing at Rio Tinto Stadium with his new teammates.

“I can’t wait,” Findley told Toronto’s official YouTube channel. “They’re definitely a good team with a lot of good guys that I still talk to and it will be fun. They have a good crowd and I’m looking forward to it.

“The fans have always been great since day one so hopefully I’ll get a good ovation.”

Both sides will have to deal with absentees on Sunday night as each side will be without five players who are away on international duty.

Toronto will need to try and win without Designated Players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, who are both with the US Men’s National Team, while RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is also with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad.

Altidore’s absence should see Findley get the chance to impress as the lead striker and he believes whoever comes in needs to work for the team.

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“I think everybody has got to take the responsibility on themselves. We win as a team and we lose as a team so whoever gets that opportunity to step onto the field needs to deliver and know their role,” he added.

The experienced striker went on to add that he has enjoyed his time with Toronto so far and the whole squad are focused on getting something out of Sunday’s game.

“It’s been great. It’s very professional. All the guys have been great and have welcomed me.

“They’ve got a couple players missing as well so we’ve just got to go there and focus on what we need to do to get a result.”

Will Robbie Findley score against his former side when Toronto take on Real Salt Lake this weekend?

International Preview and Prediction: Denmark vs USA

Competition: International Friendly – Denmark vs. United States

Venue: NRGi Park, Denmark – Wednesday, March 25 – 15:00 ET (19:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Denmark 23/20 – Draw 11/5 – USA 5/2

Match Preview

Denmark host the USA on Wednesday night in an intriguing international friendly as Jurgen Klinsmann and his experimental US Men’s National Team squad face a skillful Danish side at NRGi Park.

Klinsmann has only called up six MLS-based players into his 23-man squad for the upcoming friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland as the new Major League Soccer season is underway. That means a lot of less experienced faces are involved and will hope to impress.

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Regardless of who plays, the main aim will be to take positives out of the game and that means a good performance is needed against a Denmark side that boasts quality players such as Christian Eriksen and Daniel Agger.

The Danes have only won one of their last four though and have yet to play a game in 2015 so the USA will look to capitalise on any rustiness from Morten Olsen’s men.

Klinsmann has seen his USMNT side in action twice already this year as they lost to Chile 3-2 back in January before beating Panama 2-0 at the beginning of February to record their first win in six.

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The USA squad’s last trip to Europe didn’t go too well as they lost to Colombia in London before being thrashed by the Republic of Ireland in Dublin and Klinsmann will be desperate for better performances against the Danes and Switzerland.

This will be the fifth meeting between Denmark and the USA and the USMNT will hope to record a first-ever victory against the Danes, having lost two and drawn two of the previous four encounters.

The last meeting saw Denmark run out 3-1 winners at NRGi Park in November 2009 and there are now just four places between the two nations in the FIFA World Rankings so this should be close.

Team News

Denmark coach Morten Olsen has named a strong squad for the game and Christian Eriksen will be hoping to earn his 50th cap with a start in this one, becoming the youngest-ever player to do so for the Danish National Team if he does. Former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger will expect to start at centre-back and could be partnered by Aston Villa’s Jores Okore. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will hope to start in goal while former Arsenal man Nicklas Bendtner could start in attack.

Denmark vs USA Predicted Lineups

Denmark vs USA Predicted Lineups (via LineupBuilder.com)

The USMNT have plenty of unfamiliar faces in the squad but the experienced heads in the team will likely start this one. Nick Rimando will start in goal, while Michael Bradley is almost guaranteed to start in midfield. Brek Shea will fill in at left-back once again, while DeAndre Yedlin could be used on the right wing if Fabian Johnson gets the nod at right-back. Gyasi Zardes impressed against Panama and could start again, though Dempsey and Altidore look most likely to start in attack.

Key Points

Denmark’s last five: W/D/L/W/L

USA’s last five: D/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: There have been 15 goals in the four previous meetings between the two countries. Add that to the fact that neither team has seen a 0-0 for a combined total of 43 games and it’s clear that we should be treated to goals on Wednesday evening.

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Key Player: Christian Eriksen – The Danish playmaker will be the most talented man on the pitch if he starts the game. It will be his 50th cap and he’ll want to mark the occasion with a fine performance and a goal.

Score Prediction

Denmark 2-2 USA – This should provide bundles of entertainment as both sides will look to attack from the outset. However, it is tough to separate them on paper and that could lead to a score draw in Denmark on Wednesday. It is important that the USA take positives from the game and avoiding defeat will be the main aim.