Americans Abroad: Bobby Wood makes strong argument to be in U.S. XI

The striker netted his second goal in as many weeks against Monchengladbach and looks to be building a case for a starting spot against Honduras.

Maybe Bobby Wood just likes playing Borussia Monchengladbach.

Less than two weeks ago, Wood found the back of the net in the DFB-Pokal match against that side, albeit a consolation goal in stoppage time that just gave Hamburg a slightly nicer-looking 2-1 defeat which sent the team out of the cup.

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However, on Saturday Wood again notched a late goal against Gladbach. This time it couldn’t have been more important as it proved to be the difference in a 2-1 Hamburg win.

He does it for country and now he’s done it for club!

Bobby Wood scores the game-winner for Hamburg. #Bundesliga https://t.co/2Mmk2UUzM2

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 12, 2017

Wood showed impressive resilience and composure on the play, getting back to his feet after badly losing out on an aerial challenge, then having the patience to wait for a desperate defender to slide past him and the keeper to commit before delivering the finish. If he didn’t, odds are the chance gets blocked.

The goal brings Wood up to five league goals and nine in all competitions this season. That Wood is finding his form now is good news for Hamburg, which remained in 16th place and in a relegation playoff spot with the win, but also the U.S. national team with the next set of qualifiers nearly at hand.

As an in-season and in-form striker, Wood is making a pretty strong argument to Bruce Arena that he should be in the XI against Honduras on March 24.


MIAZGA GETS ASSIST


Matt Miazga Mathias Pogba Vitesse Sparta Eredivisie 031017

Matt Miazga’s run of games continued at Eredivisie side Vitesse on Friday. The center back went 90 minutes for the fifth straight contest in Vitesse’s 5-0 win over Sparta Rotterdam. He also picked up an assist in the contest.

The assist came off a corner, with Miazga challenging for a header on a near-post run. He didn’t seem to get much of it, but it fell to fellow center back Guram Kashia, who finished off the chance.

Given the return of Geoff Cameron and the play of other center backs in the January camp, it seems unlikely this run of games will be enough to get Miazga back in the picture for the March qualifiers. But if he keeps it up, the center back may be in contention for a spot in the Gold Cup.


STANDOUTS LACKING AMONG FINAL AUDITIONS


With Arena set to name his roster for the qualifiers this week, many players who might be on the fringe had to be looking for strong performances to give the coach something to think about. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great week for many of those options.

Julian Green was specifically named as a player Arena’s staff would be looking at this week. He returned to the starting lineup for Stuttgart, but went 58 minutes before being replaced. His substitute, Daniel Ginczek, ended up scoring Stuttgart’s equalizer in the 1-1 draw against Bochum.

Eric Lichaj, in the mix for a fullback spot for the national team, went 66 minutes for Nottingham Forest in their 1-0 loss to Burton and did not stand out.

Also in the English Championship, Tim Ream did stand out, in a way, but for all the wrong reasons. The center back took a penalty kick over 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon with the teenager on a hat trick, and missed. Ream did later apologize, saying it wasn’t his decision, and Arena likely isn’t calling up Ream based on his spot-kick abilities.

In Mexico, it was more of a case of uncontrollable events for the likes of Paul Arriola, Michael Orozco and Jorge Villafana, as the referee strike cancelled all action in Liga MX over the weekend. That said, Arriola did score Wednesday night in the Copa MX to send Tijuana into the quarterfinals, and Villafana went 90 in Santos Laguna’s 3-1 win.

Boom! Here are the highlights of our 1-0 win vs. @ClubAmerica in the @CopaCoronaMx playoffs Rd of 16. We move on to the quarters. #GoXolos pic.twitter.com/bMAjvRv9vE

— @Xolos_En (@xolos_en) March 9, 2017


HYNDMAN IMPACTS OLD FIRM DERBY


Emerson Hyndman Rangers SPL 031317

Emerson Hyndman’s time at Rangers may end up just amounting to just a half season. However, he can say he influenced an Old Firm derby, thanks to his efforts in the latest one, a 1-1 draw between Celtic and Rangers.

With Celtic up 1-0 late, Hyndman hit a low shot toward the far post. Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon made the initial stop on Hyndman, but defender Clint Hill put the rebound home to equalize.

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“It was really exciting for me with it being my first one,” Hyndman told RangersTv.tv after the game. The boys were telling me about it before the game and the atmosphere was ridiculous, and to not be intimidated and to go and do my thing. It was a great experience, and all the boys put in a real shift.”

In terms of pure form, there’s no question Hyndman has been one of the best Americans in Europe over the past two months. Has it been enough to force him into Arena’s plans for March? We’ll find out this week.

Chelsea miss playing in the Champions League, says Conte

The Blues boss admits that watching other teams play in Europe’s top competition is difficult for him and his players

Antonio Conte has revealed that he and his players are missing Champions League football as they prepare to watch the next round of action in mid-week.

Chelsea are playing against West Ham on Monday night, but will have to watch the second legs of the games from home after failing to qualify for Europe last season thanks to a disappointing Premier League campaign.

‘Kante wanted to go to Marseille’

Conte is used to Champions League football after managing Juventus and he is looking forward to bringing Chelsea back into the competition next season, with his side seven points clear at the top of the table.

“Yes, yes [we miss it]. For me and my players, yes,” he said at a news conference at Cobham Training Centre. “The Champions League, I think, must be an appointment for us every year.

“It must be our house, the Champions League. For this reason, we are putting our strength into playing in the Champions League next season. It’s a great competition for every single player, club and manager, and we want to stay there and try to fight to win it.

HD Antonio Conte Chelsea

“I watched the Manchester City game against Monaco live, because I wanted to breathe it in, the right atmosphere, and feel this type of game. In the future, also, I hope to sit and watch games live.

“I saw a great game, a great game. To see eight goals is not simple, and not usual to find this.”

The competition for Champions League places has become fierce in the Premier League with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United missing out on qualification last season.

Conte will see anything less than a Premier League title win as a failure as his side are strong favourites to win the competition, but he also thinks that even qualifying for the Champions League in England is a major achievement given the competitive nature of the English top-flight.

“We started our season trying to fight until the end to win the title, and to try and fight until the end to be in the right position to go into next season’s Champions League,” he added.

Antonio Conte Juventus

“This was our target. Our target. But for sure, it wasn’t easy to start the season and know that six strong teams fight for the title and the Champions League. Don’t forget, in this six teams, two won’t play in the Champions League next season.

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“They have to go into the Europa League, which is a bit different to the Champions League. But now this league is very, very difficult. To win the title and also find a place to play the Champions League is not easy.”

Arsenal agree personal terms with Xhaka and hope to complete deal before Euro 2016

The Gunners have been in talks with the Switzerland international but Borussia Monchengladbach are stalling on the deal until they find a replacement


GOALEXCLUSIVE


Arsenal are expected to complete the signing of Granit Xhaka before Euro 2016 after the player agreed personal terms with the club, Goal understands.

Xhaka has been courted by Arsene Wenger’s side for several months and while Manchester City are the most recent side to show interest in the Swiss midfielder, the player is said to favour a move to Emirates Stadium instead of Pep Guardiola’s financial heavyweights.

23-year-old Xhaka wants any deal to be completed before this summer’s tournament in France and chief transfer negotiator Dick Law has already drawn up an impressive financial package for the Borussia Monchengladbach star, which he is likely to accept.

But Gladbach are stalling on finalising a deal until they sign a replacement for their star midfielder and have set a minimum transfer fee of €43M, which Arsenal have mulled over for the past few weeks. 


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With Xhaka set to be the first arrival at Emirates Stadium this summer, talks between the Gunners and Bolton continue over the signing of defender Rob Holding. A bid of £750,000 has been rejected but the player could push for a move if a follow-up offer is rebuffed.

Wenger confirmed after Sunday’s win over Aston Villa that he anticipates Olivier Giroud starting next season as his primary striker, although his priority in the transfer window will be to bolster his front line, with Juventus forward Alvaro Morata heavily linked.

Meanwhile, City’s new boss Guardiola has identified Jack Wilshere as one of his main targets this summer but Arsenal will shortly put a new deal on the table which the player is expected to sign after Euro 2016.

Simeone happy with Atletico improvement

The Colchoneros have collected 79 points in 34 games this season, one more than the total they managed during the entire 2014-15 campaign

Diego Simeone was in a happy mood after Atletico Madrid exceeded last season’s La Liga points tally with four matches remaining.

Fernando Torres scored the only goal of the game in the 38th minute as Atletico edged Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Wednesday.

Torres’ first-half strike maintained the pressure on title holders Barca, with the two teams level on 79 points, a point more than Atletico collected throughout the 2014-15 campaign as they finished third last term.

“The dressing room is happy,” Simeone said via the club’s official website.

“Exceeding the numbers of last season with four rounds to go is a very important step with the competition that we have with ourselves and our own requirement to continuously improve ourselves.


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“To surpass the numbers of last year makes us happy.

“Regarding the match, we made a great effort. You cannot end up winning without the effort we have made, especially in the second half, where Athletic intensified the pressure more than in the first.”

Of Torres, who has now scored in his past five games in all competitions, Simeone added: “The moment he is living is important.

“He is helping the team to continue competing for the best. It was a great play, a great goal and a great finish. This will surely strengthen the team and himself for what’s to come.”

Top teams in contact over AC Milan star Bacca – agent

The Colombia international joint second in the Serie A top goalscorers list this season and is already attracting interest from elsewhere, though he is open to staying at San Siro

Carlos Bacca’s impressive debut season at AC Milan has caught the attention of many top teams, according to his agent Sergio Barila.

The 29-year-old has netted 15 Serie A goals after signing from Sevilla – a tally only bettered by Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Bacca’s latest strike came as Milan earned a 1-0 victory at Sampdoria on Sunday in new head coach Cristian Brocchi’s first match in charge of the club.

The Colombia international is under contract until June 2019 and is happy at San Siro according to his representative, who also claimed his client is being tracked by major sides amid speculation he could be sold to boost Milan’s finances.

“I don’t know what is going to happen in the summer, but Bacca’s idea and that of the club was about rebuilding a new Milan that would be great in Europe,” Barila said to Estadio Deportivo.

“At least that is what they signed for and we will have to see whether the player or the club change their minds on that. 


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“Many teams asked about him in January – even in China – but Bacca told us that he wanted to stay in Milan. 

“Recently these teams contacted me again with a view to the next transfer market. It’s only normal that top teams should be after a great player like him.

“I often speak with Milan and they tell me they are happy with him. He still has many years on his contract with the Rossoneri.”

Barila insisted his client is not becoming distracted by speculation over his future ahead of a crucial period for Milan as they prepare for the Coppa Italia final against Juventus in Rome next month. 

“Milan signed him to score goals and that’s what he’s doing,” added the agent.

“Carlos is calm, he wants to win the Coppa Italia and qualify for next year’s Europa League.”

Reports in Italy recently suggested that Bayern Munich and Arsenal were among the clubs keen on a move for Bacca, with Milan’s price-tag sitting at €30 million – similar to the fee they initially paid for him.