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September 6, 2019

USMNT Woos Sergino Dest With Start vs Mexico

Peter Nolan September 6, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
LineUSMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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Florham Park, NJ – USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s Sergino Dest Appreciation Tour continued with Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the Dutch-born U.S. dual national will start tonight’s rivalry match at MetLife Stadium versus Mexico.

Berhalter’s reveal was the biggest news to emerge from his press conference. It continues the USMNT’s wooing of Dest, whose impressive play for Ajax has prompted concerns of a Dutch swoop.

Communication is key in keeping Dest

Asked about Dest and about dual nationals in general, Berhalter said on Thursday, “It’s about communicating with these players and then creating an environment that they want to be in. I think that’s important.”

Berhalter was wise to stress communication, given the criticism U.S. Soccer has faced over losing the likes of Jonathan Gonzalez, who faulted U.S. coaches and staffers for not keeping in contact with him before switching his international allegiance to Mexico.

Berhalter then narrowed his focus to Dest. “Sergino is here, he’s doing great in camp, he’s going to play, he’s going to start the game tomorrow.” The revelation came as a surprise and it was notable that the coach gave no other hints regarding the U.S. lineup.

Berhalter continued, emphasizing Dest’s U.S. connections:

“It’s a great opportunity for us to forget about the dual national part of it just to, you know, to give a player who’s been in our youth national team program, who’s played strong in the under 20 World Cup, who’s now broken in with the first team of Ajax, to give him an opportunity with the first team.”

Getting Dest cap-tied

From there, Berhalter continued to play down his and U.S. Soccer’s pursuit of Dest. The upcoming Ajax star can be cap tied at next month’s CONCACAF Nations League. Berhalter said, “I think that’s what, that’s what’s nice about this story, you know, it’s not about, to me the dual nationalism of him. It’s about, he’s come from our programming, and he’s performed well, and he’s really achieved something in this short period of this short month at Ajax, and it’s nice to be able to reward that.”

Berhalter’s remarks on Thursday are consistent with his evaluation of Dest in a conference call with U.S. Soccer media just eight days ago. Then the U.S. coach made his enthusiasm for the Ajax man clear.

“Sergino is a guy we’ve been tracking, we’ve been watching his progress with Ajax, making his way up to the first team. We’re excited about him. We’re excited he can play both wing-back positions, he has a good offensive skill set. He fits into the profile we’re looking for in our fullbacks. We’ve been really intrigued with how he’s been playing in Ajax.”

Berhalter also praised the 18-year old’s cerebral ability saying, “I really like how he interprets it (the game).”

Dest fits a glaring need for the USMNT squad

Part of what Berhalter likes so much about Dest is that ability to play on either flank. Dest made little of the difference at Wednesday’s round table press meetings saying with a shrug, “for me it doesn’t matter.” Asked which he preferred, Dest again replied simply, “it doesn’t matter.”

Given the problem that the USMNT has had in filling the left fullback role over the years, it is no surprise that Berhalter is excited about Dest. However, Dest seems better suited to the right side in Berhalter’s system, which often features a stay at home fullback on the left paired with a right-sided fullback that tucks in and plays centrally in an attacking role when the U.S. is in possession.

Wherever Dest lines out at MetLife Stadium, the prospect of facing Mexico is unlikely to phase him.

And there is this, Dest’s reaction on Wednesday to facing the USMNT’s biggest rival. “Yeah, I’m looking forward because it’s a rival for the U.S. And at the CONCACAF (U20) that was like, my first time against Mexico. And yeah, so as soon as I’ve heard it’s the rival of the U.S., I always want to be there. So yeah, I hope I can play.”

Tonight Dest will get that chance. Will it be enough to sway the dynamic fullback to choose the U.S. over the Netherlands?

Stay tuned.

USMNT vs Mexico: Odds, Game Time, and Predicted Starting XI

High Press 10 September 6, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
LineUSMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130

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The USMNT plays Mexico tonight (Friday) at 8:30pm ET. FS1 will broadcast the match.

The US vs Mexico rivalry has always been intense. As soccer’s popularity has grown in the US, and as more American players are finding success and recognition abroad, the matches are attracting more attention than ever. This has only been heightened by the exciting 1-0 Mexican win at the Gold Cup this summer.

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has brought up a number of young players that the American public has been waiting to see in international action. Along with USMNT mainstays Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffen, emerging stars Sergino Dest and Josh Sargent will likely see action this game.

USMNT vs Mexico Odds

Game odds have not moved during the week. At DraftKings Sportsbook NJ, the US is a home underdog at +210. Mexico is priced at +130. A draw is +240.

If you’re looking for some player props, here are First and Last Goal Scorer odds:

  • Hirving Lozano +475
  • Raúl Jiménez +510
  • Javier Hernández +550
  • Josh Sargent +600
  • Gyasi Zardes +600
  • Jordan Morris +650
  • Corey Baird +750
  • Christian Pulisic +900
  • Tyler Boyd +1050
  • Paxton Pomykal+1050
  • Weston McKennie +1400
  • Jonathan Dos Santos +1500

Expect a lot of action on the +900 Pulisic wager. He’s certainly the US’ best and most popular player. It’s surprising to see him listed so long. The smarter money though is on Lozano or Jiménez. Josh Sargent being priced at +600 — the same as Gyasi Zardes — indicates that oddsmakers think he has a decent shot at starting this game.

USMNT vs Mexico predicted starting XI

This one is hard to pin down. It’s come out that Sergino Dest was promised a start in this game, so US fans will be glad to see him on the pitch. You’d think that at a minimum Josh Sargent would see the field. We just don’t know if that’s at the beginning of the game or as a second half sub. There is more excitement about this selection than usually, as Berhalter has so many new options. Here’s our best take it.

Predicted USMNT Starting XI vs Mexico

To us, the biggest 50/50 calls on here is Zardes vs Sargent and Pomykal vs Baird. If Berhalter brought Sargent up for this match, you’d think it was with the intent of playing him. However, Berhalter also likes who he likes, giving Trapp (especially with no Michael Bradley around) and Zardes a shot at starting.

Oddsmakers think Jordan Morris and Corey Baird are among the favorites on the US for the first goal scored. That nudges them past Tyler Boyd and Paxton Pomykal into the starting XI, respectively.

Where to Bet USMNT vs Mexico in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United this January? Why Manchester United Needs to Make this Happen

Avatar September 6, 2019

The frustrations around Manchester United can be felt in the Old Trafford air. Their Premier League campaign’s started in an underwhelming manner, having already drawn two and lost one game in the opening month. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has taken one step forward, but also one step back since the gloomy end to last season.

While Harry Maguire plus Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s additions have fortified their defence, they’re now lacking the finishing touches to kill off games. Daniel James’ proven to be their best economical signing since Robin van Persie, having netted three times already. But there’s still much lacking in the final third, with chances not being finished off.

Granted Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have scored a couple of goals, but they’re just not clinical enough as the traditional number 9 OGS wants. At this time of distress, a former warrior in Los Angeles Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic stated that he’d love to return to Old Trafford. Despite laughed off as a joke, this could be a match made in heaven as Zlatan is the perfect lethal finisher to tune up their goal-scoring ratio.

Zlatan’s dominance in MLS

It’s understandable why Zlatan loves calling himself the King of Major League Soccer. Ever since he’s arrived at the States, he’s been unstoppable for a  relatively average LA Galaxy side. One can say he’s carried them on his back for many victories. He’s scored 45 goals & assisted 11 more in just 50 appearances for Galaxy so far.

It’s almost like he’s been unchained in the 2019 season. Zlatan’s netted 22 goals in as many games. He’s also averaged 5.1 shots and 5.2 aerial battles won per game, signifying just how involved he is.

His on-going beef with Carlos Vela has seemed to reinvigorate the Swede. It’s almost like MLS is too easy for him (he almost certainly believes this). Even at 37 years old, Zlatan is showing he could still thrive, at least in a limited role, in the Premier League.

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United’s goal-scoring dilemma

Now in the face of it, Manchester United are tied for third (behind Manchester City & Liverpool) in most goals scored in the Premier League so far. But the opening weekend 4-0 drubbing of Chelsea probably narrows things down. Following that euphoria, it’s all gone downhill.

Despite chances being created, nobody is there to finish them off. In all their games so far, United have had a superior XG than their opponents, including 2.24 against Crystal Palace and 1.90 against Southampton. However, they only got a goal apiece in those games, resulting in dropped points.

Chances are being created. Paul Pogba’s created 11 goal-scoring chances, the most in the league. Daniel James has often popped in inviting crosses or low passes only to see them being wasted. Wan-Bissaka’s crosses aren’t being capitalized by anyone either.

Neither Rashford nor Martial are that clinical to score off every chance. They’re weak aerially and incapable of scoring “scruffy” goals like OGS asked.

Who continues to show time and time again that he can opportunistically dominate aerials and creatively put away scruffy goals? This guy:

Can he solve Man U’s woes?

If not anything, Zlatan has gotten even better when it comes to contributing goals after moving to LA Galaxy. Most impressively, he rises to big occasions and relishes a challenge. Yes, Zlanta is fully recovered from the career-threatening injury he suffered at United. His confidence and game is back.

In his first campaign for United, in which he scored more than 25 goals in all competitions, he maintained impressive accuracy in the final third. In the 17 league goals, he averaged 0.54 XG which was much better than the 0.44 XG that Martial & Rashford boasted last season. Having averaged a goal every game in 2019, he’s proven himself a complete striker.

Zlatan is an aerial monster. He’ll latch onto those AWB crosses. Moreover, with his experience, he gets into promising goal-scoring positions which will help United’s wingers as well as midfielders. He has a close relationship with Pogba. I think can get the Frenchman operating with finesse again as well as make the most of Pogba’s often brilliant vision.

Moreover, he can also be a mentor towards the young strikers at United. Martial and Rashford can both learn a thing or two about clinically finishing chances from him. Young Mason Greenwood would also, for me, benefit massively to help evolve into the Robin van Persie long-term successor OGS so desperately wants.

Of course, Zlatan can’t start every game 37 (he’ll be 38 in October). He’ll probably play alternatively to help avoid another injury set-back. However, even from the bench, he can make a huge impact to score goals and win United tight games.

Even if he arrives in January, Zlatan could provide a missing piece for United to salvage a shaky season. With the league so unsettled after Liverpool and Manchester City, Zlatan’s ability to finish opportunities may be enough to get Man U back into the Champions League before the 2019-20 season ends.

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