Argentina in Bolivia today, USMNT friendly tonight, weekend recap: Starting Lineup, September 12
by Jason Longshore
I took the scenic route on my drive back from Huntsville last night so we'll get caught up on my weekend's work today along with looking at a big day on the international calendar. Let's go...
1- What a night in Huntsville for Atlanta United 2, my most fun experience around the team in their history as they came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to win 2-1 for their first road win of the season and they remain alive for now in the MLS Next Pro playoff race. Machop Chol scored the equalizer early in the second half on an assist from Luke Brennan, who is really coming into his own as he prepares to join the MLS roster in 2024. It was Jackson Conway who had the winner in the 96th minute off of a cross from Karim Tmimi, a back post header that created bedlam. Here's what it sounded like on the SDH Network. (photo from @liz.calls.it.soccer)
2- If you haven't been to a match in Huntsville, I highly recommend making the trip. I love what they've done to renovate Joe Davis Stadium, a former minor league baseball stadium, into an intimate 6,000-seat rectangular stadium. They will play football in there as well, but the field is perfectly setup for a soccer with a great wide pitch, incredible sight lines, and a very cool culture is being created. As someone who has been to Huntsville for soccer since 2008, it's amazing to see what Huntsville City has created so quickly. If you are able, it's definitely a fun trip to make.
3- Today at 4pm, Argentina is on the road for their second World Cup qualifier in La Paz, Bolivia. Reports are all over the place about how involved Lionel Messi will be in the match. It was a very light training session yesterday afternoon and Messi reportedly did not get involved beyond the warm-up. That doesn't mean anything at this point in his career. I think he will play, but I'm not sure if it's from the start or not. I also don't think that will affect his availability for Saturday's match in Atlanta. How much he plays in La Paz could affect how much he plays in Atlanta, yes, but I think he will be in uniform and available for selection for Miami on Saturday.
4- 4 other matches today in the CONMEBOL Round 2 of World Cup qualifying. Ecuador hosts Uruguay at 5pm, Venezuela hosts Paraguay at 6pm, Chile hosts Colombia at 8pm and Peru hosts Brazil at 10pm.
5- The best of the Euro 2024 qualifiers today is Italy hosting Ukraine in Milan. Ukraine is currently in the second place in the group behind England, which would book them a trip to the finals in Germany next summer. Italy is three points back with a game in hand, this match is essential for Luciano Spalletti, and it's only his second in charge of the national team.
6- Hansi Flick will not lead the hosts into that tournament as he was fired after Japan's 4-1 friendly win over Germany. Who will replace him? Jürgen Klopp is likely the pie in the sky option, but would he leave Liverpool right now to take it? I think Klopp will manage Germany, but it might not be the right time for him. Julian Nagelsmann is available, but is being paid a lot of money by Bayern to not work right now after he was fired. Would he leave that for another pressure cooker of a job? Ralf Rangnick is with the Austrian national team program and said he won't leave. Louis van Gaal said he wouldn't turn down the opportunity to manage Germany, but also pointed out that Germany has never had a foreign manager. Stay tuned...
7- Paul Pogba, who has played 8 league matches for Juventus since returning last year, has now tested positive for testosterone, Italy's anti-doping agency announced yesterday. He risks a suspension of up to four years.
8- The USMNT is in action tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota hosting Oman in an international friendly. Ethan Horvath will get the start in goal according to Gregg Berhalter and DeJuan Jones has replaced Joe Scally on the roster. A better performance than the one against Uzbekistan is hoped for, but these are also friendlies against teams that are comfortable sitting deep and defending, some perspective is much needed.
9- Luis Rubiales finally stepped down as president of the Spanish football federation, he was already suspended by FIFA and is under investigation for a few different things in Spain. Even in his resignation, Rubiales continued to try to defend himself. This needs to be a turning point for how the women's game is treated in Spain and hopefully a lesson to other federations worldwide. It doesn't magically fix the financial realities of the women's game, it doesn't magically increase revenues, but it at least gets outdated perspectives out of the way.
10- Before heading to Huntsville on Sunday, I was on the call alongside Todd Agne of the UT-Chattanooga women's win over Belmont from Finley Stadium. I was really impressed with the Mocs in their 3-1 win. It could have been bigger if not for the great work of Belmont goalkeeper Sarah Doyle, who ended up with 13 saves in the loss for the Bruins. Chattanooga is a team to watch in the SoCon, their attacking five along with some key freshmen off the bench, is very talented and will cause teams problems. I'll be back for another Mocs game in October, I'm looking forward to it.
11- So many possibilities for Song of the Day with Aerosmith's "Pump" album being released on this day, the birth of legendary country singer George Jones, and passing of Johnny Cash, and more. I'm going to go off the board a little bit for another birthday. I remember being blown away by the first album I heard from this man, born on this day in 1966. It was so different than everything on the radio at that time. Whether solo or with his group, Ben Folds has been an incredible artists since his debut. This was that first song I heard from him and this is your Song of the Day: