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They Beat Jamaica but Mexico Has Some Weaknesses Showing

El Tri earned their win over Jamaica, but manager Juan Carlos Osorio knows that his back line must improve if they’re going to meet their goal of finishing in the top three.

PASADENA, Calif. — Mexico is through to the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, but its 2-0 victory against Jamaica showed that the team still has weaknesses it must correct.  Joh Arnold writes, reporting for Goal.com

The Mexican federation’s goal for this tournament – and the one the team says it has adopted – is to finish in the top three. That’s something El Tri won’t be able to do if they defend like they did Thursday night. Juan Carlos Osorio’s decision to use three center backs against Uruguay’s two-man forward line paid dividends in the opener, which Mexico won 3-1. It was less organized against the Reggae Boyz and was fortunate to escape with the eighth clean sheet of Osorio’s nine-match tenure.



“We leave satisfied, but obviously with the task of reviewing everything that happened in the game, all the options that they had like ours, but we’re still satisfied with how the team worked,” the head coach said in the news conference after the match.

Maybe the issues at the back can be put down to midfielder Andres Guardado, one of the Americas’ best two-way players, missing the Group C match because of a suspension. Or perhaps it’s just the difference in quality between having Rafa Marquez and Yasser Corona playing center back. While Mexico came away with the victory without too much sweat, there were clear weaknesses exposed in the triumph. Jamaica forward Clayton Donaldson should have finished at least one of the handful of clear-cut chances he had. But the Birmingham City forward was unable to beat Guillermo Ochoa, as the Mexico goalkeeper kept a clean sheet.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s early headed goal made things easier on Mexico, and maybe the team let down its guard a bit too much with an early lead. Jamaica used its speed and athleticism to stretch Mexico, ending the match with multiple shots on goal that called Ochoa into action. There were too many defensive breakdowns

“For me, the three most clear chances (for Jamaica) were because of individual errors we made,” Osorio said. “It also seems to us that Yasser Corona’s block and Guillermo Ochoa’s save are as important as the goals Oribe or Javier scored.”

Ultimately, Mexico’s attack did what it needed to do. The stronger unit pulled Mexico up and made sure the match wasn’t going to slip away. Hernandez had the opener and Oribe Peralta added an insurance goal in the 81st minute. Those goals are reminders that this is a very powerful team. Hirving Lozano continues to add flavor to the attack when he enters as a substitute, and did so again in kick-starting the play that led to Peralta’s finish.

But even after Mexico got its second goal of the night, Ochoa had to make a save in the 84th minute, his fourth of the night, and Dever Orgill’s late effort nearly dipped below the goalkeeper’s crossbar. The Jamaica attack let Mexico’s back line off the hook as Yasser Corona was beaten several times in the error and the Reggae Boyz had a handful of penalty shouts.

“We’ve got to do a lot of things better,” said Miguel Layun, a defender by trade who has played in midfield during this tournament. “Without doubt, the most important thing will be to analyze film, calmly watch the match and try to correct these errors. We have to take more advantage of the possession we have, I think we have to move the ball better against teams of this quality that have such quick players who can counterattack.”

Mexico is a team with depth, even at the back, but it won’t encounter Donaldson’s wastefulness against teams like potential quarterfinal opponent Chile. More than 83,000 fans at the Rose Bowl can celebrate a well-earned victory, but Osorio is the first to realize that there’s still more work to do before his side lands among the elite in this tournament


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Klinsman Wins with same starting lineup

Jurgen Klinsmann played the same lineup that faced Colombia, and it cruised past Costa Rica, rewarding Klinsmann’s faith.

CHICAGO — As long as he has been coaching the U.S. national team, Jurgen Klinsmann has been known as a man who likes to tinker with his lineups.

Not since the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, against Ghana, had the U.S. trotted out the exact same lineup as the previous match. In that instance the Americans were coming off a convincing 2-0 victory against Nigeria.

The U.S. wasn’t coming in off the high of a victory when it took the field against Costa Rica on Tuesday, but rather a 2-0 loss to Colombia. Jurgen Klinsmann insisted that his team had played well that day and matched the highly-rated Colombians, save for a pair of defensive mistakes.



That sounded a lot like spin at the time, but when Klinsmann trotted out the same lineup on Tuesday night against Costa Rica, he showed that he did believe his team had played well, and could be even better against the Ticos. It seemed like a gamble, but his players made it pay off in impressive fashion.

The Americans pressured Costa Rica into mistakes, capitalized on chances in a way they weren’t able to against Colombia, and closed out the match with a shutout despite Costa Rica dominating possession and finding chances in the second half.

Klinsmann’s men showed much more energy on Tuesday, as cooler temperatures here in the Windy City made for a much better environment for the U.S. to press a Costa Rica side that looked frazzled in the first half.

Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez was defiant in the post-match press conference, insisting that while the U.S. was efficient in finishing chances, he felt his Ticos were the better team from the run of play. The notion seemed a bit delirious considering the 4-0 scoreline, even if final stats gave Costa Rica clear edges in possession, passing accuracy and total passes.

The U.S. scored early and often on Tuesday, and carried a 3-0 lead into halftime before letting Costa Rica carry the play in the second half.

The Americans aren’t likely to care much about losing in the style points department. That earned them nothing against Colombia, and Tuesday provided a reminder that it’s much better to score goals than to earn moral victories.



Several players were criticized after the loss to Colombia – perhaps none more than Jermaine Jones, who simply didn’t have much of an impact in the Copa America opener. There were calls for him to be benched, in part to allow Klinsmann to play some youngsters, but the U.S. coach stuck by the veteran German-American and Jones showed why he still belongs in the lineup, playing his best national team match since the 2014 World Cup.

“Some players really stepped it up, Jermaine was one of them today, putting his stamp on this game,” Klinsmann said of Jones, who was named Man of the Match. “He kind of gave the message with Michael in the midfield that this is our game.”

Jones thrived in the 4-3-3 at the start, covering ground and helping limit what Costa Rica could do through the midfield, but he looked even more imposing once the U.S. switched to the 4-4-2. He surged forward, delivering passes and taking shots, one of which resulted in the goal that made the score 2-0.

“Today I knew that a big tournament could be over if we lose that game, so I tried to do my best for the team,” Jones said. “My quality, to get that freedom to go forward, to go back. Today was a completely different one than what we had with Colombia, so I went out there and tried to enjoy it.”

Jones was an imposing presence defensively, and dangerous in the attack. His production on both fronts was considerably better than it was against Colombia. Consider his defensive contributions consisted of zero tackles won and just three recoveries last Friday, where on Tuesday he produced five tackles won and nine recoveries. That increased production played a big part in helping the U.S. post the shutout, and keep control of the game.



Via GOAL DOT COM

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John Brooks settling in as U.S. starter in Copa America

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The German-born defender will likely start for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side against Costa Rica as he returns to Chicago for the first time in almost two decades.

CHICAGO — Though not quite a homecoming, John Brooks’ first visit to Chicago in nearly two decades is significant. His tattoo of the state of Illinois on his right elbow offers some evidence as to why.

The German-American defender came to the Windy City as a toddler, visiting the family of his American serviceman father, who is from here. Almost two decades later, Brooks is back as a member of the U.S. national team, preparing to play in the biggest game of his budding international career.

The U.S. faces Costa Rica on Tuesday in a virtual must-win Copa America match, and if the Americans are going to secure the three points needed to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout round alive, they will need another strong showing from Brooks.

The 22-year-old defender held his own against Colombia on Friday, one of the few clear bright spots on an otherwise lackluster performance by the U.S. Having overtaken Matt Besler for the starting left center back spot, Brooks has looked very sharp for the U.S. in recent appearances and is finally playing at the same level for the national team as he has played for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

“I think I finally found my spot a little here on this team,” Brooks said when asked if he finally feels settled in with the U.S. “From the beginning, the team was nice, but when you come every time from Europe it’s a little bit different here. Now I think I’m finally here and it’s good for me now.”

Brooks looked very confident against Colombia, both defensively and in possession. His distribution was excellent and he avoided the kind of defensive mistakes that had plagued past national team appearances, most memorably at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. As much as he had his struggles at the Gold Cup, he believes the tournament helped him become better.

The U.S. faces Costa Rica on Tuesday in a virtual must-win Copa America match, and if the Americans are going to secure the three points needed to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout round alive, they will need another strong showing from Brooks.

The 22-year-old defender held his own against Colombia on Friday, one of the few clear bright spots on an otherwise lackluster performance by the U.S. Having overtaken Matt Besler for the starting left center back spot, Brooks has looked very sharp for the U.S. in recent appearances and is finally playing at the same level for the national team as he has played for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

“I think I finally found my spot a little here on this team,” Brooks said when asked if he finally feels settled in with the U.S. “From the beginning, the team was nice, but when you come every time from Europe it’s a little bit different here. Now I think I’m finally here and it’s good for me now.”

Brooks looked very confident against Colombia, both defensively and in possession. His distribution was excellent and he avoided the kind of defensive mistakes that had plagued past national team appearances, most memorably at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. As much as he had his struggles at the Gold Cup, he believes the tournament helped him become better. “Every game I learn a lot, especially the Gold Cup,” Brooks said. “It was a good experience too. It was not always the best conditions but we tried our best and at the end we were not as lucky as we wanted to be, but for me it was still a good experience.

“Of course (I learned) a lot,” he said of his Gold Cup experience. “You really can’t compare (it to Copa America), but it was still good preparation for this Copa America so I know what to expect, so it’s good for me now.”

Brooks and Geoff Cameron have formed a steady partnership and have played two strong games together. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is likely to call on the pair against a Costa Rica side with some dangerous attackers in Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz.

“I can play well with Geoff Cameron,” Brooks said. “I think you saw the defense was pretty good and we’ll keep going.”

Brooks acknowledged how special it was to be back here, and he expects several family members to be in attendance at Soldier Field to watch him play. If Brooks can put together another good showing Tuesday, he will take another step toward establishing himself as Klinsmann’s long-term central defender option, something he has seemed destined to be since making his national team debut in 2012.

Brooks didn’t watch Costa Rica’s goal-less draw with Paraguay, but he still believes he and the U.S. are in a tough test Tuesday, one he believes the U.S. can pass.

“Everybody knows Costa Rica, we know Costa Rica as well,” he said. “Of course it’s a tough game, but we’re getting prepared for it.”  -Via Goal

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Douglas Costa Out Kaka In for Brazil

A left-thigh injury has kept the Bayern Munich midfielder out of the Copa America Centenario, with the Orlando City man drafted into the Selecao squad in his place.

Kaka will replace the injured Douglas Costa in Brazil’s 23-man squad for the upcoming Copa America Centenario, it was announced on Thursday.

Bayern Munich midfielder Costa, who played in the club’s penalty shoot-out win against Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final last week, was ruled out of the Copa America due to a left-thigh injury.

Brazil coach Dunga elected to replace him with Orlando City midfielder Kaka, who has contributed five assists and scored twice in seven appearances in the MLS this season.

Kaka made his Brazil debut under Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2002 at the age of 19, and has gone on to play 91 times for the national team.

Brazil are looking to win a ninth Copa America title at the special Centenario edition of the tournament, held in the United States next month.

Dunga and Co. begin with a clash against Ecuador on June 4, before facing fellow Group B opponents Haiti (June 8) and Peru (June 12.

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Soccer Star Alan Pulido Fought Kidnapper and Called Police



It sounds like a scene from a movie. We rejoice that he is safe. Now that more is known about his escape i sounds like an action thriller.

All that Mexican soccer star Alan Pulido said to the press during his initial appearance following his kidnapping ordeal was, “I’m Fine, thank God.” Yet authorities described Pulido’s quick actions which led to his safe return home.

The Mexican soccer star, who plays for the Greek team Olimpiakos, was kidnapped Saturday night after leaving a party with his girlfriend in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. It did not happen far from an area that includes police headquarters, according to Telemundo reporter Agustín Olais.

Pulido’s kidnappers let his girlfriend go, and she alerted his family that the 25-year-old soccer player had been taken. The family later received a phone call from the abductors asking for money and the authorities began an intense manhunt in the area.

The next day, according to authorities, Pulido saw an opportunity when he was left alone with one of the kidnappers. Pulido overtook him in a fight and grabbed his cell phone and gun away; he then used the cell to call for help. He told authorities where he was and described the house, also telling them what he was wearing so he wouldn’t be shot and confused for a kidnapper.

After he was safe, Pulido posted on Twitter; “muchas gracias a todos por su oracion;” thanks to all of you for your prayers.

In Mexico, news of his kidnapping and rescue was met with a mixture of relief as well as some cynicism for how the events unfolded. In an opinion piece in “El Universal,” journalist Ciro Lopez Leyva said that the state of Tamaulipas will hold elections next week, and that it looked like Alan Pulido “was more valuable alive than kidnapped.”



Tamaulipas was the state with the most kidnappings in Mexico; there were 230 reported in 2015 and 40 in 2016.

Pulido is a forward for Olympiakos and was part of Mexico’s 2014 World Cup team.

Additional reporting from Telemundo’s Agustín Olais and the Associated Press.

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Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas to miss Costa Rica’s Copa America campaign

Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas to miss Costa Rica’s Copa America campaign

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas will miss the Copa America Centenario this summer due to an Achilles tendon problem.

Navas has been suffering with Achilles problems for some time and missed last year’s Gold Cup, and his club, Real Madrid, had announced earlier this month that the 29-year-old would face a spell on the sidelines with the issue.

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Although he played in both the final La Liga game of the season against Deportivo La Coruna on May 14 and Saturday’s Champions League final success over Atletico Madrid, Real have now said that Navas is suffering withAchilles tendinopathy.

As a result, he will miss this summer’s tournament in the United States, which takes place from June 3-26, and will be replaced by Deportivo Saprissa’s Danny Carvajal.

The Costa Rican Football Federation (Fedefutbol) announced on its official website: “The Achilles tendon has again caused a problem for the national team goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who will miss the Copa America Centenario, which starts for Costa Rica this Saturday.

“The Costa Rica FA (Fedefutbol) will organise for the goalkeeper Danny Carvajal to replace Navas.

“This Monday the medical department at Real Madrid communicated to the medical department at Fedefutbol that they had done a scan on the national goalkeeper’s left heel.

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“In the statement it said that the keeper had chronic Achilles tendonitis, so it was recommended that he stop completely in order to get a definitive treatment.

“Our department has asked for images of the scan, and received them some hours later, when they were looked at by our doctors, along with radiologist Randall Bujan and orthopaedic specialist Vladimir Badilla, who agreed that it needed treatment at this time.

“The doctors considered that if it was not managed quickly, the player could suffer a further problem in his Achilles tendon.

“Navas has been managing this same injury for a year, and it has not responded to multiple treatments he has received, so that Real Madrid will decide how to resolve it definitively. From the federation we wish Keylor a swift recovery, and hope to have him back for our next friendly games.”

ESPN FC’s Spain correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report

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