U.S. wins Gold Cup title to continue unbeaten start in Arena’s second stint

The United States claimed its sixth CONCACAF championship, with the coach going 14 games unbeaten since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann eight months ago

Remember when Jurgen Klinsmann was the head coach of the U.S. national team? Although it’s only been eight months since the German manager was fired, it’s hard to imagine the U.S. without Bruce Arena leading the way.

Arena, who left the LA Galaxy for his second stint in charge of the U.S., has the national team rolling after a disastrous start to the World Cup qualifying hexagonal stage, which ultimately led the way to Klinsmann’s departure after five years. There’s no more off-field drama surrounding the team and no more worries about the possibility of missing the 2018 World Cup.

Morris strikes late at U.S. wins Gold Cup

The U.S. hasn’t tasted defeat since Arena was hired in November. After beating Trinidad & Tobago and playing to a scoreless draw against rival Mexico at Azteca in June, the U.S. went unbeaten in six Gold Cup matches, with a  2-1 win over Jamaica in Wednesday’s final capping off a successful summer. Arena hasn’t lost in 14 matches, with two September qualifiers approaching.

Although the 2017 version of the bi-annual Gold Cup could be viewed as a watered-down tournament, with Mexico bringing a reserve side and Costa Rica dealing with injuries, the U.S. will still claim the title as the top team in CONCACAF. And the Americans are now inching closer to matching Mexico’s seven titles with six of their own since the competition began in 1991.

While Klinsmann wanted to build his teams around European-based Americans and often shunned MLS players leading to public disputes, Arena has made it clear from his first day back that MLS stars would play a major role in his squads moving forward. During the Gold Cup and qualifying, Arena tapped deep into the player pool and got the best out of the players available.

Jozy Altidore Michael Bradley USA Jamaica Gold Cup

An inexperienced side carried the U.S. through the group stage with a pair of wins and a draw, and then it was time for Arena to bring in the big guns to finish off the job. Taking advantage of a rule that allows teams to bring in up to six replacement players ahead of the knockout round, Arena added veterans Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard.

Along the way to the final, Altidore, Dempsey and Bradley carried the load as the team’s playmakers, with either one or two of them playing a part in the USA’s four goals during the quarterfinals and semifinals. Howard, who is still going strong at 38 years old, kept clean sheets as both matches ended with 2-0 scorelines.

On Wednesday, Altidore put on a display in the first half to give the Americans the lead with a stunning free kick from just outside the box. Shortly after halftime though, Howard conceded his first goal of the tournament when Jamaica’s Je-Vaughn Watson slipped in to score off a corner kick to tie the game and shock a packed crowd at Levi’s Stadium.

But once again it was one of the USA’s big-name players setting up the winner. With the U.S. dominating possession in the second half, Dempsey controlled the ball in the box before it found the foot of his Seattle Sounders teammate Jordan Morris, who found the back of the net.

The U.S. is stronger than it was eight months ago. Welcome back, Bruce.


Paris Saint-Germain 2 Juventus 3: Marchisio scores second-half brace

Juventus recorded a thrilling 3-2 victory against Paris Saint-Germain thanks to a brace from Claudio Marchisio.

A second-half brace from Claudio Marchisio helped Juventus to a 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain at the International Champions Cup.

Gonzalo Higuain produced a classy finish on the stroke of half-time to give the Serie A champions a lead at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

But a Goncalo Guedes goal, set up by the impressive Angel Di Maria, saw PSG level early in the second half on Wednesday.

Marchisio scored superbly from 20 yards in the 62nd minute, but Javier Pastore levelled once more for PSG.

However, Juve would not be denied a third time as Marchisio converted from the penalty spot for the match-winner in the 89th minute.

Marco Verratti and Di Maria, both linked with moves from PSG, started, while Dani Alves began on the bench for the clash against his former club.

Juve made an energetic start and Paulo Dybala should have opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

The Argentina international cut in from the right before curling a shot just wide as he aimed for the far corner.

PSG slowly built into the clash, Blaise Matuidi squandering a good chance from a cross before Di Maria forced a diving save from Gianluigi Buffon.

Dybala then went close twice approaching the half-hour mark, forcing Alphonse Areola to save a free-kick before curling a set-piece just wide.

PSG forward Edinson Cavani had the ball in the back of the net in the 33rd minute, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.

Juve looked more dangerous throughout the opening 45 minutes and they deservedly went ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Higuain played a one-two with Dybala before clipping a finish past Areola and into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

Juve made 10 changes at the break – with only Buffon staying on – while PSG introduced eight new substitutes.

It was a frantic start to the second half, Stefano Sturaro almost doubling Juve’s lead as he struck the post after a Mattia De Sciglio pass, while Giovani Lo Celso forced Buffon into a save before PSG equalised in the 53rd minute.

Di Maria and Layvin Kurzawa exchanged passes down the left before the former poked a pass to the back post, where Guedes tapped in.

A crucial touch from Buffon denied Jese Rodriguez before Marchisio restored Juve’s lead in style.

Kurzawa gave the ball away cheaply and Moise Kean ran at the PSG defence before playing a pass across the area, Marchisio producing a superb first-time finish from 20 yards.

But PSG responded again, a brave Pastore header from a Kurzawa cross making it 2-2 in the 80th minute.

However, Marchisio would score the winner, striking a penalty down the middle after Kean was brought down by Presnel Kimpembe.


Barcelona 1 Manchester United 0: PSG target Neymar inspires ICC win

Paris Saint-Germain target Neymar scored in Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Manchester United at the International Champions Cup.

Neymar showed why he is reportedly the subject of a world-record offer from Paris Saint-Germain after inspiring Barcelona to a 1-0 win over Manchester United at the International Champions Cup.

PSG are believed to be ready to meet Neymar’s €222million release clause and speculation is intensifying that the Brazil star is set to join the Ligue 1 giants for the 2017-18 campaign.

In the meantime, Neymar continued his fine form for Barca with his third goal in two matches to condemn United to their first defeat of pre-season at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on Wednesday.

Neymar and Lionel Messi produced a wonderful first-half performance, the former stripping Antonio Valencia of the ball in the penalty area and finding the back of the net in the 31st minute – enough to secure back-to-back wins for new Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.

There were eight changes to the United team who started in the penalty shoot-out win over Real Madrid. Captain Michael Carrick, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard were the only players to retain their positions as David de Gea, Daley Blind, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, Antonio Valencia, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku came into the XI, with Ander Herrera and Juan Mata nursing injuries.

Barca also rang the changes following their 2-1 win against Juventus. Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Sergio Busquets and 19-year-old midfielder Carles Arena – nicknamed Maradona – were named in Valverde’s line-up, which was headlined by Neymar and Messi.

United started brightly, their pace on the break through Rashford and Lingard causing plenty of problems as the former picked out Lukaku in the third minute, but the outstretched Belgian was unable to keep his effort on target.

Barca began to control proceedings as the half wore on – De Gea kept busy by Neymar, Messi and Suarez, firstly denying the latter.

Some trademark passing from Barca created space for Messi, who almost opened the scoring in the 12th minute but his low shot flashed just wide of the post.

After Pogba produced a sublime turn and shot to test Jasper Cillessen from the edge of the area, Rashford bundled his way into the area and attempted to curl the ball into the far corner but the Barca keeper was up to the task.

It was one-way traffic from that point as De Gea denied Neymar from close range but the United shot-stopper was helpless to stop the Brazil international just past the half-hour mark.

Valencia cut out a pass from Messi but he was dispossessed by Neymar, who composed himself as he turned and shot beyond De Gea.

Barca’s lead could have been greater at half-time if not for De Gea after the Spain international pushed away Suarez’s inventive and acrobatic strike three minutes before the break.

That proved to be the final action for De Gea, Suarez, Neymar and Messi as the quartet were replaced at the interval – Barca substituting all 10 outfield players, while Jose Mourinho made five changes.

The changes affected the fluidity and tempo of the match but United still looked dodgy in defence against a second-string Barca side.

While Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira and Pogba had chances on goal without troubling Cillessen, United struggled defensively as Pac Alcacer played the ball through the legs of Eric Bailly before almost curling an effort past Sergio Romero.

After earning Mourinho’s praise following his moment of brilliance to set up Lingard against Madrid last time out, Martial was lively out wide and United’s biggest threat but he was unable to prevent defeat.


Mou’s No.1 signing – De Gea limits MSN damage to celebrate Man Utd stay

The United goalkeeper was at his wonderful best to keep the score down as Barcelona’s famed front line turned on the style in the ICC


“I can guarantee that he’s not going this season, that I can.” Jose Mourinho’s assessment of David de Gea’s transfer status this week came as a huge boost to Manchester United fans.

With the goalkeeper being the subject of the perennial links with Real Madrid following his aborted move to the European champions in 2015, it was vital that United supporters’ fears were laid to rest.

Mou hints at Zlatan return

And on Wednesday he once again reminded the world why his continued stay at Old Trafford could be one of the key pieces behind Mourinho making a success of his second season as United manager. De Gea’s performance against Barcelona in the International Champions Cup ensured that the nature of United’s 1-0 loss was far less chastening than it might otherwise have been.

The United defence in front of the Spaniard looked off the pace up against the dazzling forward line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, while there was a lack of protection offered ahead of them as 36-year-old skipper Michael Carrick fought a losing battle to provide an adequate shield. The Catalans’ speed of movement in the opposition half had United chasing for long spells.

By the time Neymar netted the only goal on 32 minutes after pouncing on an Antonio Valencia slip, Barca could have already been out of sight were it not for their world-class custodian.

David de Gea Manchester United ICC

In the opening moments he had to sprawl low to his left to tip away a left-foot drive across goal by Suarez, and he later blocked well as Neymar shot from a narrow angle. Even after the Brazilian had opened the scoring he showed 100 per cent concentration when getting down quick once more to keep out Suarez as Barca upped the intensity with half-time approaching.

Ernesto Valverde’s decision to rotate his entire XI at half-time coincided with De Gea’s withdrawal, and Mourinho will have given his No.1 a huge pat on the back for his curtailed evening’s work. Just as his two penalty saves in the inglorious shoot-out win over Madrid at the weekend helped to see United home, he was again their saviour in Landover even if they still couldn’t get the result they desired.

Mou: I had to beg Madrid to let me leave

De Gea might have seen his hold on the club Player of the Year award ended last season after three straight years of success, but he remains as important as ever to United’s plans. Sergio Romero’s performances last term drew widespread praise and helped Mourinho to rest his first choice with some regularity, but there can be no questioning De Gea’s position as one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers.

In a season which will see United return to the Champions League there can be no more liberties taken between the sticks, and that makes De Gea’s retention even more vital. He is already one of the very best in the business, and at just 26 years of age he is still a long way from the traditional peak for most goalkeepers.

Mourinho has spoken regularly during this tour of the United States about the need to add at least one more player to his squad, if not two. But for some fans the news that De Gea will again be wearing United colours this season is every bit as crucial as the new additions that could yet take place.


U.S. national team news: No changes as USMNT faces Jamaica for Gold Cup title

The lineup that began the semifinal win over Costa Rica will be back together for Bruce Arena against Jamaica

United States national team coach Bruce Arena has made no changes to his starting XI as his side goes for the 2017 Gold Cup title against Jamaica on Wednesday.

The same lineup that took the field against Costa Rica will get the first crack at the Reggae Boyz at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Bet on U.S. vs. Jamaica

That means the hero of the semifinal, Clint Dempsey, who scored a goal and added an assist in the 2-0 win, will begin the match on the bench once again. Dempsey is in search of the all-time record for goals scored for a U.S. international, having equaled Landon Donovan with 57 in the Costa Rica win.

Tim Howard gets the nod in goal with Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez the center-back pairing. Jorge Villafana and Graham Zusi slot in at the left and right fullback spots respectively.

Michael Bradley and Kellyn Acosta will sit in the middle of the park, with Darlington Nagbe and Paul Arriola on the flanks.

USA GC final lineup

Jozy Altidore, who scored the opener against Costa Rica, and Jordan Morris form the strike team up front.

The side is likely to come out in a 4-4-2, as that is how Arena lined them up against Costa Rica.

Tim Howard still chasing greatness at 38

Here are the U.S. and Jamaica lineups:

United States: Howard; Villafana, Besler, Gonzalez, Zusi; Nagbe, Bradley, Acosta, Arriola, Altidore, Morris

Jamaica: Blake; Lawrence, D. Lowe, J. Taylor, L. Richie, A. Powell, O. Fisher, J. Watson, D. Gordon, D. Mattocks, R. Williams