One more match. The United States Men’s National Team has one more match in World Cup Qualifying on the road to Russia, tonight. The USMNT goes up against Trinidad and Tobago, which is a pretty good scenario considering T&T are eliminated after having a -13 goal differential in nine matches and just three points. There are a few scenarios with which the US can qualify: the easiest being win and they are in. If they draw, they are in unless Panama AND Honduras beat Costa Rica and Mexico by eight and 13 goals respectively. So the U.S. essentially needs a win or a draw, against the worst team in the Hex. But of course, this is CONCACAF, so the US gets to play in Trinidad, on a pitch that looks like it has a moat. The USSF and Trinidad’s Federation went back and forth about it on Twitter, and plenty of U.S. players have had their say about it, but it comes down to this: handle business in Trinidad and Tobago, and you are in the World Cup. Let’s get it, boys.
Italy, meanwhile, are going through struggles of their own to get to the World Cup. The Italians have secured second place in their group, behind Spain (not surprising). What is surprising is that Italy have struggled in the group, most recently with a 1-0 win over Albania. They got demolished by Spain, and struggled against Israel. They needed an injury-time goal to beat Macedonia, then drew 1-1 against Macedonia a few weeks ago. There are questions all over the place for the Azzurri: is Gian Piero Ventura the right choice? Does he know what he is doing? What is the right formation? Who should be called up (cough, cough Mario Balotelli)? Italy have limped to the finish line in qualifying, but now will have to go to the UEFA Playoff round, with possible opponents such as Greece, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, or Denmark. There are other possibilities based on the last teams to make it to the playoffs, and where the UEFA rankings end up, but this is obviously not ideal for Italy.
While World Cup qualifiers finish up today, club competition resumes this weekend, and Liverpool has some bad news: Sadio Mane is out for up to six weeks due to a hamstring injury, which means they will be without one of their best players against Manchester United on Saturday. This is a huge blow for Liverpool, who currently sit in seventh in the Premier League, and who will have to also face teams like Tottenham, Maribor (twice in the Champions League), Sevilla (Champions League), and Southampton without one of their wingers.
Orlando City Midfielder and AC Milan Legend Kaká has hinted that he may retire from football soon. In an interview with Globo Esporte, he said he has three options for next season: retire, re-sign with Orlando, or return to Sao Paolo before retiring in Brazil. His contract with Orlando is up at the end of the season, and while he has been in talks to renew, he said playing is not as fun for him anymore, since he feels so much pain after games. At 35 years of age, he has six goals and five assists this season, but also expressed the possibility of coaching after he hangs up the boots. Orlando City is eliminated from playoff contention, and has two matches left in their season.
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