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October 2, 2019

USMNT: Gregg Berhalter Calls Up 26 While Dest Weighs Options

Peter Nolan October 2, 2019

Gregg Berhalter has named his roster for the USMNT Nations League debut, a competition former U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann recently derided as “a waste of time,” in conversation with ESPN’s Herculez Gomez.

With the Americans facing opposition like Cuba and Canada, Klinsmann’s central point, that the U.S. – as well as Mexico and Costa Rica– will find it hard to raise their level of play against teams of this level, is hard to argue.

Still, that is not Berhalter’s fault. However, it could become his problem if the U.S. does not impress this month, with young and improving Canada a potential banana peel.

No Sergino Dest

The big news emanating from this roster reveal is the absence of rising Dutch/U.S. international fullback Sergino Dest just days after Dest met with Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman. Dest featured in both of the recent U.S. friendlies in September and Berhalter has made it clear that he wants the 18-year-old to pledge his future to the Stars and Stripes.

Berhalter has recalled a couple of trusted players just back from injury layoffs in DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga, and wisely reinstated Toronto pair Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, having left them out to concentrate on Toronto FC duties in September.

Is Berhalter’s roster construction too conservative?

Those were easy calls for the coach but some of his moves raise the question, is Berhalter too loyal and too conservative with his roster callups?

All coaches need to display a certain amount of loyalty, otherwise, how can any manager expect that same loyalty in return. That said, that admirable trait can descend into its less desirable offshoot – stubbornness.

We’ve all seen a coach that makes otherwise sound tactical decisions, yet continually selects one particular player that causes everyone to throw their arms up and cry, “oh no, not again.”

By now you know where we are headed, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes. Yep, Berhalter has selected the favored duo from his Columbus days even as their inclusion becomes more and more difficult to justify.

Now, it may not matter all that much because Trapp remains behind Michael Bradley while Berhalter has included both Jozy Altidore and Josh Sargent in the forward line, and both should be preferred over Zardes.

And it is Cuba and Canada.

Still, what message does it send if Berhalter sends out Trapp and/or Zardes versus Cuba, simply because he trusts them in his system?

That loyalty/stubbornness can be read as timidity when we look at the inclusion of defenders Daniel Lovitz and Walker Zimmerman. Zimmerman has shown flashes against lower-ranked CONCACAF teams but has not been excelling for FC Dallas. A pair of more intriguing options might have been Cameron Carter-Vickers who is playing for Championship strugglers Stoke and Erik Palmer-Brown, on loan to Austria Wien from mighty Manchester City and surely worth a look.

More egregious is the omission of fullback Antonee Robinson with Montreal Impact defender Daniel Lovitz receiving the call in his stead.

Having struggled defensively in previous U.S. outings, Robinson was rightly bypassed in recent U.S. camps but the dynamic flanker is currently in good form for Wigan in the English Championship and has a considerably higher ceiling than Lovitz.

Berhalter has shown some inclination to roll the dice as the selection of 18- year-old Philadelphia midfielder Brenden Aaronson suggests but matches against Cuba and Canada would have seemed to be a good opportunity for Berhalter to boldly kick off the post-Trapp/Zardes era.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 61/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 16/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 8/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 13/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 10/0), Matt Miazga (Reading/ENG; 17/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 36/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 59/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 150/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 11/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 15/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 32/13), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 16/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 3/0)

FORWARDS (7): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 28/5), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 4/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 35/6), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 9/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 53/10)

Chelsea Player Ratings vs Lille (Champions League October 2 2019)

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Chelsea travel to face Lille in their second 2019-20 UEFA Champions League group stage match. After a disappointing UCL start at home against Valencia, Chelsea need a good result if they want to make it to the knockout rounds. Oddsmakers like their chances, as Chelsea are -118 to win today.

The Blues looked desperate for that early goal with a  high-voltage start and found that in the 22nd minute when Fikayo Tomori came forward to whip in a cross for Tammy Abraham to expertly finish from close.However, Lille bit back quickly with a strong header from Victor Osimhen in the 33rd minute getting things back to level. 

Just when the game looked an inevitable draw, Willian struck a vicious volley past Mike Maignan to regain the lead in the 78th minute.That turned out to be the winner, giving Frank Lampard his first win as manager of the Blues. Here are the player ratings.

Chelsea Player Ratings


Frank Lampard (6.5) –

Lampard isn’t afraid of displaying his guts as he handed another youngster in Reece James his debut against Lille. He’s done a great job creating chemistry among his attack and his prodigal stars shined again. Terrific substitution to bring on Hudson-Odoi, who assisted Willian’s strike.

The transitioning from attack to defence must improve, but Frank’s injecting more confidence into his side with positive vibes.


Kepa Arrizabalaga (7.0) –

Kepa was fairly untested early on before being forced to come out from his goal to acrobatically head danger clear in the 20th minute. Dived superbly to his right making an important stop in the 31st after a dangerous Lille counter-attack. Another important fingertip save to keep out the hosts in the 52nd. He made some important high-risk challenges late on to make up for Tomori’s errors and get the win. 


Cesar Azpilicueta (6.0) –

The captain looks more authoritative in a makeshift CB role by keeping his defensive shape compact, but unable to do anything to stop the counter-attacks. Later moved to right-back, where he looked more comfortable keeping Lille from penetrating through his wing. 

Fikayo Tomori (6.5

The teenager’s barely looking his age here, having been extremely accurate with his distribution as well as confident with defensive contributions. His confidence created the opening goal, as he brilliantly found Abraham free inside the area to score. However, Tomori was clearly outjumped by Osimhen for the equalizer. 

Struck a powerful header meeting Willian’s corner in the 54th, but it flew over. Made a suicidal backpass in the 84th, but saw Kepa save his blushes to keep the lead intact. Repeated the act in stoppage time, but Kepa scarily cleared it again. Very polarizing showing. 

Kurt Zouma (6.0)-

He looks at ease returning to his home country, having already sniffed out some dangerous passes to make timely clearances. Zouma should’ve done better heading out the corner which Osimhen scored standing just behind him. Otherwise, he was assertive with his defending and marshalled his troops well to keep Lille frustrated. 

Reece James (6.0) –

Making his debut in the Champions League, James is looking hungry to repay the faith shown in him by Lampard. Surged into the area to create a promising chance early on, while also making a crucial tackle in the 7th minute. Frustration led him to make a silly challenge to get yellow-carded soon after the equalizer. Apart from that brain-fade, James had a decent debut with timely challenges and whooping crosses later on. 

Marcus Alonso (6.0) –

The Spaniard seems early to get into the scoresheet, gliding into the middle without fear to try and meet the crosses. Had a quiet penalty shout denied following the opener after going down inside the area. Disappointingly scuffed a promising 42nd minute free-kick wide. 


Jorginho (6.0) –

Jorginho’s passing all over the park has been compelling as usual, but he’s finding it tricky to deal with Lille’s pacy attack. Almost compromised his defence by letting Ikone thread a ball past him in the early minutes. Looked visibly bewildered by Lille quick-passing attacking style, with the hosts penetrating past him too early on occasions. 

Clipped the post after a clever curler to end the half. Still too unresponsive and slow reacting to swift-breaks, something which must improve. 

N’Golo Kante (6.5) –

The three-lunged Frenchman’s started the game in a predictably proactive fashion, intercepting possession and winning battles to urge his side forward. Not offering much creativity in a more advanced role, but he’s dropped deeper in the second half to help protect his side and force the hosts to concede possession. 

Willian (7.0) –

Been unable to delivery that killer-blow with his passes, which haven’t been as impressive as his clever movement down the right. His poor wannabe trickery allowed Lille to counter-attack in the 30th minute, soon being followed up with the equalizer.  Threaded in a clever through-ball to relase Mount at the 73rd

After a quiet game, he came up with the game-changer thanks to a stunning volley from right-side of the box. Slowly living up to #10 shirt’s reputation. 


Tammy Abraham (6.5) –

Tammy’s started the game rather sloppily, scuffing a few chances and displaying poor first-touch with some botched receiving. However, he made no mistake in the 22nd when left free to finish from close range after bringing Tomori’s cross down with a wonderful touch. 

Lively in the second half and threaded in a beautiful pass into the six-yard box at the 70th minute, but nobody could capitalize on it.

Mason Mount (5.5)

The youngster looked a bit frustrated against the compact defence of Lille. Had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the 17th, but his volley from open range scraped way wide of the target. Darted into open space inside the area at the 73rd, but his weak shot was tipped wide. 


Callum Hudson-Odoi (6.5)- 

Having come on for James in an attacking substitution, CHO tried for that heroic curler in the 72nd only to see it blaze over. Sprung in a clever cross to Willian for the second. 

Mateo Kovacic (N/A) –

Helped soak pressure and seal the deal towards the end.

Pedro Rodriguez (N/A) –

Injected energy into the side.


There were still signs of the frustration attributes holding him back, but Willian showcased sparks of brilliance throughout. Topped off with a stunning goal to award his side all three points and for that, he’s my MOTM.

Liverpool Player Ratings and Starting XI vs Red Bull Salzburg (Champions League)

High Press 10 October 2, 2019
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Liverpool didn’t start their UEFA Champions League title defense in the way they had hoped.

Playing an evenly matched game in Naples, Liverpool suffered a BS penalty called on Andy Robertson that led to a 2-0 loss against Napoli. Today, they look to get on the board against group leaders Red Bull Salzburg.

RBS hammered Genk on the opening matchday, as 19 year-old ERLING BRAUT HALAND recorded a hat-trick on the way to a 6-2 win. Haland said RBS would be “fearless” at Anfield. While that’s the right attitude, he’s clearly never actually played at Anfield. Good luck. American coach Jesse Marsch will have them tactically ready though.

First half is weird. Half of Liverpool’s squad looks brilliant, the other half are way too casual and sloppy. Liverpool go into the half up 3-1 but if they were more on their game, it could’ve been by much more. Even though Liverpool dominated possession 72-28% in the first half, RBS aren’t really a possession orientated team. Shots on goal are even at HT at 5 a piece. Klopp needs to tighten this up.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Liverpool began the second half still too casual. They’re not prepared for a quickly taken free kick that led to a Takumi Minamino goal which ties it up 3-3. This game is going to give me a heart-attack. Despite all of Salah’s sloppiness, a clinical finish puts Liverpool back up 4-3.

And that result holds.

Liverpool are lucky to get a 4-3 win here. They were sloppy. Entitled. Casual. Cute. If they want to make any UCL run this year, they need to get their shit together. 

Also, we need to buy ERLING BRAUT HALAND, Takumi Minamino, and Hwang Hee-Chan this summer. 

Liverpool starting XI vs Red Bull Salzburg

With Joel Matip out due to injury, Joe Gomez finds himself in the starting XI. No real surprises here.

Liverpool Player Ratings


Jurgen Klopp (5) –  Not messing around, rolling out his most trusted line-up (minus the injured Matip). Can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but actually think Lovren may have been a better call over Gomez in this one. PROVE ME WRONG GOMEZ.

Gomez looks poor. 

Back to Klopp though. The first half was uneven. He needs to kick the squad in the ass. Too many on the team look casual and entitled. Early subs in the second half appear in order. 

Klopp did NOT lay into them as Liverpool look even more casual and entitled in the second half. This is the most un-Liverpool-like game I’ve seen maybe ever. Disgraceful performance. 

Klopp subs Milner in for Hendo which is good. Then subs Gini off in the 64th for Origi. This was one of Gini’s best games. That doesn’t make sense. 


Adrian (7) – Testament to Adrian that its comforting to see his name on the call sheet nowadays. Will be great to have Alisson back potentially by next week, but Adrian has earned his keep. Challenged right away on a ball from Hwang that went wide. Made a strong save on a Hwang shot in the 31st. Nothing he could do on the Hwang goal though. Killer strike. 

Almost gave up a howler in the 50th with a way too casual pass deflected by an on-rushing Daka. Nothing he could do about the Takumi Minamino strike that made it 3-2. His defense let him down there. 


Trent Alexander-Arndold (8) – What a delivery to Robertson on the Reds’ second goal. Excellent delivery to Salah in the 32nd that Mo muffed. Solid defending. TAA and Robbo maybe our best players today.

Virgil van Dijk (5) – Too casual on Hwang, giving too much space for a emphatic finish and goal that cut Liverpool’s lead to 3-1. Sloppy passing. Poor showing. 

Joe Gomez (3) – About as poor of a start as possible, dispossessed and almost leading to a goal in the 2nd minute. Follows it up with a sloppy foul a minute later. Poor passing too. Terrible. 

Andy Robertson (8) – ROBBO!!! Wonderful run, distribution, and finish off the TAA feed. His second ever goal for Liverpool. A CONSTANT force driving forward💪🤘 .



Jordan Henderson (5) – Needs to play on front foot more. Playing it back too much. When he does attack, delivers a killer through ball to Firmino in the 35th that Bobby should’ve taken to goal. Sloppy giving the ball away that leads to Hwang’s goal. Subbed off for Milner in the 62nd.

Fabinho (6) – We wrote in our preview that Fabinho would be key to this match. He’s everywhere, central hub of distribution. However, needed to drop more to support his ineffective CBs in second half. 

Georginio Wijnaldum (7) – Hopefully this is a “good Gini” day. It is! At least early. Gini looks as confident on the ball as I’ve seen this season. How about this stat: GINI LEADS ALL REDS IN POSSESSION IN THE FIRST HALF. When was the last time that happened? 100% first half pass success rate too. Inexplicably subbed off in the 64th for Origi. 


Roberto Firmino (7) – Wonderful one-touch pass back to Mane for the opener. Tracking back well. Won an aerial clearance on a corner in the 32nd minute. A little toooo unselfish, should’ve taken to goal on a great Hendo through ball but got cutesy and went for the assist, wasting an opportunity. That cutesy pass instead of clinical finish may bite us in the ass. His header to Mo to give us back the lead makes up for it. 

Sadio Mane (7) – Looks like his touch is back! Great run and finish to give Liverpool the lead. 

Mohamed Salah (5) – Step slow. Sloppy. Still in right place for the 3rd goal of the game. Even that looked sloppy though. Awful pass in the 45th that almost led to a counter opportunity. Someone get Mo an espresso. Watching Mo dribbling into people is getting old. Then he clinically finishes to give Liverpool a 4-3 lead. So weird. He scores twice but looks terrible. Just passing and dribbling into people. Pass success rate may be 10%. Taken off in stoppage for Keita. 


James Milner (6) – On for Hendo in the 62nd. Should’ve come on sooner. Looks better than Henderson today.

Divock Origi (5) – In for Gini. Better make something happen.

Naby Keita (N/R) – On to kill time in stoppage against his old squad. Instantly turns it over on a terrible pass. Welcome back. 


Andy Robertson because he actually gave a shit and wasn’t entitled like the vast majority of the rest of the squad. 

Why Isn’t Sergino Dest on the USMNT Nations League Roster? Because He Chose Not to Be On It

Chops October 2, 2019

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter announced his CONCACAF Nations League roster today.

Sergino Dest was not on it.

And according to the Washington Post, Dest chose not to be on it to keep his “options open.”

If you don’t view this as an indictment on Berhalter and the direction of the men’s program, you’re kidding yourself.

What Gregg Berhalter said about Dest

Berhalter commented on the Dest omission to USSoccer.com:

“I understand there is going to be a lot of attention surrounding the availability of Sergiño in this next camp. I’ve had conversations with Sergiño, the conversations were positive, and the content of these conversations is going to remain private.”

Fair enough. And that’s certainly one way to spin it.

The other way to spin it though is this: Dest, a talented 18 year-old playing for powerhouse Ajax, is a dual national. He’s eligible to play for the US and Netherlands. After experiencing a rough go of it with the USMNT during the previous international break, Dest doesn’t have faith in Berhalter or the program.

And we don’t blame him for that one bit.

Is Dest worth the fuss?

Yes and no.

While Dest is playing for Ajax, he’s statistically towards the bottom of the roster. And he was mostly poor for the US in the humiliating 3-0 loss to Mexico.

But, he’s 18. He frequently shows flashes of elite talent. He’s a player you want to grow up with the Pulisics, Westons and Sargents.

This is a blow delivered across Berhalter’s bow.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 61/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 16/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 8/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 13/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 10/0), Matt Miazga (Reading/ENG; 17/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 36/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 59/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 150/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 11/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 15/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 32/13), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 16/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 20/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 3/0)

FORWARDS (7): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 28/5), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 4/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 35/6), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 9/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 53/10)

2019-20 Premier League Matchday 8 Lines

High Press 10 October 2, 2019

Premier League matchday 8 brings one clear marquee game and a batch of fixtures that will play a role into determining top 6 and relegation down the road. We’ll highlight some of those after listing the lines.

Also starting this week, we’ll evaluate the matches we made comments on from the previous week. Of those:

  • We suggested Manchester United and Arsenal would tie (they did).
  • Liverpool would grit out another close win (they did).
  • Wolves would prevail (they did).

On to this week’s lines.

2019-20 Premier League Matchday 8 Lines

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Saturday, October 5th
Brighton +300Draw +250Tottenham -107
Liverpool -225Draw +350Leicester +650
Watford +120Draw +230Sheffield +245
Burnley +190Draw +225Everton +155
Norwich +135Draw +260Aston Villa +190
West Ham +100Draw +260Crystal Palace +265
Sunday, October 6th
Arsenal -225Draw +380Bournemouth +575
Manchester City -910Draw +900Wolves +2200
Southampton +300Draw +280Chelsea -115
Newcastle +350Draw +250Manchester United -118

Odds & Ends

  • The Premier League’s top team for the season and of 2019 to date, Liverpool, face the team that’s currently third for the season and for all of 2019, Leicester. Tired legs would normally be a concern, as Liverpool have a mid-week match vs Red Bull Salzburg. However, the schedulers did them a huge favor as their clashes vs RBS and Leicester will be at Anfield. That helps. But Leicester is legit. Expect Liverpool to stay perfect with a competitive 2-1 win.
  • Watford is favored at home against Sheffield. The Hornets are bad. Like, historically bad. Sheffield are surprisingly good. They’re going to have confidence after their performance against Liverpool. Their +250 is inviting.
  • In terms of relegation, Norwich vs Aston Villa is this week’s most important game. Hard not to like Norwich at home.
  • Just noting that in the 30 minutes since starting this post, Manchester City have gone from -800 to -910 and Wolves from +2000 to +2200. Not sure oddsmakers could make Wolves odds long enough at the Etihad.
  • Manchester United aren’t as bad as their record shows. Yes, they’re bad. Just not that bad. The -117 vs Newcastle is worth a look.

Is Mauricio Pochettino Going to be Sacked? Tottenham’s 2019 as a Whole Is Terrible

Chops October 2, 2019

What a difference four months makes.

On June 1st of this year, Tottenham Hotspur lost the UEFA Champions League final to Liverpool. For Spurs, the loss was more or less expected. Liverpool had just finished the third best season in Premier League history. They had something to prove, making the finals the year before and losing to Real Madrid. They were on their way to being the fifth best squad of all time.

For Spurs, overcoming a 3-0 aggregate deficit to Ajax in 45 minutes and just making the final was a victory. However, it showed progress as to how far the club had climbed among Europe’s elite.

Most notably, all hailed Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino as one of the best managers in the world. He was making chicken salad out of chicken shit. Lemonade out of lemons. Champions League finalists out of Champions League fodder.

And then…

Tottenham was humiliated at home by Bayern Munich on Tuesday. The 7-2 loss will be remembered for ages. That’s a score that leaves a mark.

And Pochettino has gone from Tottenham savior to sack candidate.

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Mauricio Pochettino sack odds

Depending where you look, Pochettino is anywhere from +1000 to +200 of being the next Premier League manager leave his post. He’s moved ahead of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Roy Hodgson, and Marco Silva.

FFS, he’s even moved ahead of Steve Bruce!

This was unfathomable just four months ago today. But that’s how it goes. It’s not unique to European soccer in the sports world either (Dwane Casey is nodding his head in approval).

The reality is, Spurs haven’t been good all year. And much of that falls on Poch’s shoulders.

Tottenham’s terrible 2019

Across all competitions (not including friendlies), Tottenham’s 2019 record is 17-5-17.


While it’s unfair to compare them to Liverpool (16 straight domestic wins) and Manchester City (FFP violating club whose fans don’t even come to Champions League games), it is fair to compare Spurs to other Premier League clubs during this time.

On record, Tottenham is essentially a mid-table team over the course of 2019. Their goal differential is more in line with a top 6-8.

While last season’s Champions League run covered up domestic mediocrity, this year’s awful UCL start is shining a big bright light on it.

Pochettino is a great manager. But the reality is he’s going to end up leaving Spurs, likely sooner than later, with no trophies and a club that was exactly how he found it when he took over: in the Europa League.




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