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Why USMNT’s friendly against Slovenia on Saturday matters; Italy’s Supercoppa gets Napoli back on track

Happy Friday! A busy weekend of soccer is right around the corner. I’m Pardeep Cattry with a preview of what’s to come.

📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Friday, Jan. 19
🏆 AFCON: Senegal vs. Cameroon, 12 p.m. ➡️ beIN Sports
🇮🇹 Supercoppa: Inter vs. Lazio, 2 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+, CBS Sports Golazo Network
🌴 El Salvador vs. Inter Miami, 8 p.m. ➡️ MLSSoccer.com

Saturday, Jan. 20
🏆 Asian Cup: Jordan vs. Korea Republic, 6:30 a.m. ➡️  Paramount+, CBS Sports Golazo Network
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace, 7:30 a.m. ➡️ USA Network
🇩🇪 Bundesliga: Leipzig vs. Leverkusen, 12:45 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+
🇮🇹 Serie A: Udinese vs. Milan, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🌍 Friendly: USMNT vs. Slovenia, 3 p.m. ➡️ TNT

Sunday, Jan. 21
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 WSL: Chelsea vs. Manchester United, 7:30 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Bournemouth vs. Liverpool, 11:30 a.m. ➡️ USA Network
🇪🇸 La Liga: Betis vs. Barcelona, 12:30 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+

⚽ The Forward Line

🇺🇸 USMNT open 2024 with MLS-heavy squad


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The friendly at the end of the U.S. men’s national team’s annual January camp is upon us. A squad full of young MLS players will take on Slovenia tomorrow afternoon with the hopes of impressing head coach Gregg Berhalter enough to be in the mix for a spot at June’s Copa America. The occasion, though, forces the question: How realistic is it for a player on this month’s roster to climb up the USMNT ranks?

While it may feel like an uphill battle for some of the talent on the current roster, Chuck Booth notes that there is a real pipeline from the non-FIFA window friendlies to meaningful competition like the World Cup. That said, the qualifications to be a notable member of the USMNT’s player pool might be evolving.

  • Booth: “Since 2018, nine players from these camps made the 2022 World Cup roster. Narrowing that down, Matt Turner and Walker Zimmerman were the duo to become starters in Qatar. The pipeline from Major League Soccer to the World Cup is a well worn one as Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, and Tim Ream also used January camps to raise their USMNT stock. All of them have one thing in common in that their careers began with domestic sides allowing the ability to come to these camps but with the USMNT gaining a global reach that includes the conversion of dual nationals like Sergino Dest, Yunus Musah, and Folarin Balogun, does January camp still have the same importance that it used to?”

Adams and Aaronson were notably bright prospects who used available avenues to establish themselves as national team players for the future, and then mainstays after high-profile moves to Europe. January camp, at the very least, can provide a chance to keep certain players’ names buzzy, but it will ultimately take a combination of things to see prospects take the leap.

A spot at the Copa America is not the only thing worth fighting for for this month’s squad, though. The U-23 USMNT will compete at the Olympics for the first time since 2008 and with 13 of the 25 players in Berhalter’s squad age eligible for Paris, it seems more likely that tomorrow’s friendly is more relevant to that team’s head coach, Marko Mitrovic. A handful of players who will be available tomorrow, like Tanner Tessman and John Tolkin, were also on the last U-23 roster and use tomorrow’s game as another audition for Paris.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

🇮🇹 Supercoppa takes center stage


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Four of Italy’s top sides are in Riyadh for the latest edition of the Supercoppa Italiana, which kicked off yesterday with Napoli’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina. The winners will move on to Monday’s final, and seem to be correcting course after a rough start to the season. Rudi Garcia was fired in November when they were 10 points behind the league leaders, and Marco Bonetti argues that the team is succeeding after a tactical reboot by Walter Mazzrri.

  • Bonnetti: “Mazzarri finally goes back to the formation he’s preached his whole career. … They keep a clean sheet. They score three goals. It’s maybe their best performance this season, given that it was against a top four side in Serie A, so I think what we learned is: Gone is the 4-4-3 of [Luciano] Spaletti and Rudi Garcia and Mazzarri trying this thing, and in is his system because he’s the manager and the Spaletti time is over.”

Up next is Inter’s clash with Lazio today, a match in which the Milan-based team are the favorites. Inter have been flying high all season and currently sit atop Serie A, thanks in large part to Lautaro Martinez’s league-leading 18 goals so far this season. A win today would mean Inter are one game closer to their first trophy of a campaign that could end with multiple titles. In contrast, Lazio are a distant sixth but might be taking their cup runs seriously as a silver lining to an otherwise underwhelming season. Last week, they beat crosstown rivals Roma 1-0 in the Coppa Italia and advanced to the semifinals, clearly demonstrating they have the ability to pull off a big result in a one-off.

The winner will take on a resurgent Napoli in the final on Monday. Inter will have the opportunity to lift the Supercoppa for a third year running should they win out, while Lazio and Napoli would snap a four-year and nine-year streak, respectively, if they win.

🔗  Top Stories

🌴 Inter Miami returns to action: Preseason gets underway for Lionel Messi and friends in a friendly against El Salvador.

The weirdest transfers: Here’s a ranking of the most head-scratching transfers in January, including Fernando Torres’ high-profile move to Chelsea.

💰 PL financial rules: After Everton and Nottingham Forest were charged with breaking financial rules, here’s an explanation of the Profit and Sustainability Regulations.

🇺🇸 USMNT central: Christian Pulisic won U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year for a record fourth time, Kevin Paredes is the young player of the year, and Sergino Dest is not eyeing a return to Barcelona any time soon.

🥇 Eyes on Paris: Here’s an argument in favor of Tyler Adams joining the U-23 USMNT as an overage player at the Olympics, and the latest on why competing for gold with France is so important for Kylian Mbappe.

🩹 Salah injury: Mohamed Salah left Egypt’s 2-2 draw with Ghana with an undisclosed injury, leaving his national team and Liverpool concerned amid their chases for silverware.

🇦🇺 Socceroos win: Here’s an update on Australia after their 1-0 win over Syria as they aim to lift the Asian Cup for the first time since 2015.

Deeney’s turbulent spell: Troy Deeney is out as the Forest Green Rovers manager after a 29-day stretch in which he called the squad “babies” and picked up a four-match ban.

🇸🇦 Gerrard stays: Steven Gerrard inked a contract extension with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ettifaq despite a poor run of form.

⚾  Bautista buys in: MLB great Jose Bautista joined Morning Footy to talk his new investment in the Las Vegas Lights — and meeting Lionel Messi.

🐙 Animal XI: The Morning Footy crew picked their best lineups using animals, and the team gets very creative.

🎥 Must-see goal: USMNT midfielder Luca de la Torre scored a slick goal to open the scoring in Celta’s 3-1 win over Valencia in the Copa del Rey.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • Premier League: Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace, Saturday, 7:30 a.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Both teams to score (+112)
    — Both teams might be on a scoring slump, but they have goals in them and will no doubt aim to course correct when they return to action this weekend. Plus, considering that both teams have conceded five-plus goals in their last five games, there’s bound to be an opening for someone to find the back of the net.
  • Premier League: Bournemouth vs. Liverpool, Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
  • 💰 THE PICK: Under three goals scored (+115) — Two of the Premier League’s most in-form teams are bound to play an entertaining match, and likely also a closely contested one. Liverpool remain the favorites and could win this one, but even if the performance is a commanding one, the scoreline will not be.

📺 What’s on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 8-10 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network’s flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you’ll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening): The leading women’s soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. Just because the NWSL season is over doesn’t mean that our coverage of the women’s game is going anywhere. Our analysts will be breaking down the USWNT. NWSL offseason and European domestic season all winter long.

👟 Kickin’ It (Tuesday, 7 p.m.): CBS Sports Golazo Network’s new unfiltered interview show returns Tuesday Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch. 

Call it What You Want (Monday night): A weekly podcast where Jimmy Conrad, Jesse Marsch and Charlie Davies cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can’t-miss goals from the day’s action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports appPluto TV and Paramount+.

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