Club America-Cruz Azul exhibition game scheduled for July at Rose Bowl

At 7 p.m. July 10 to be exact, the day before the World Cup final, organizers announced today.

Arizona’s new immigration law was apparently Southern Californa’s gain; a July 7 game between Club Amrica and Pachuca was cancelled earlier this month after the Mexico City powerhouse pulled out, citing the law; at the time promoters reportedly said they would seek an alternate venue in California.

Tickets are on sale now for the game in Pasadena, starting at $25.

A list of ticket outlets and more information on the game is available here.

Club America hasn’t added to their 10 league titles since 2005; Cruz Azul shared Azteca Stadium with Club America until 1996.

“Simply put, this is one of the biggest rivalries in Mexico and even on the world soccer stage,” said game organizer Rudy Ybarra, president of Santa Barbara Soccer Entertainment, Inc. “As a lead in match to the World Cup final the next day, local soccer fans in the Los Angeles area are in for a real treat.”

Adding yet more fuel to the rivalry fire: Club America won their last game of the season, bumping Cruz Azul from the playoffs.

Still, Club America fired coach Jesus Ramirez after 15 months in charge earlier this month following the club’s 4-2 aggregate defeat to Toluca in the quarterfinals of the Clausura.

Former Mexico coach Manuel Lapuente, 66, was appointed Tuesday to his third spell at the club he steered in 2002 to a league title.

Cruz Azul lost to Pachuca last month in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Ybarra brought Cruz Azul to play in Santa Barbara in 2006 against the Galaxy at Harder Stadium on the UC Santa Barbara campus; last year his company staged a Club America- Morelia game on the campus.

Club America will also face EPL team Manchester City July 28 in Atlanta.

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Obama, Buddle & Becks

Well, not in the same place at the same time.

Before the USMNT, the Galaxy’s Edson Buddle et al., leaves to do battle in South Africa, they met President Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden today at the White House.

i-4370dc1f062a784319035b1f8e68e230-obamausmnt.jpgAnd a proud looking group they are, too. (AP Photos)


“I just want to say how incredibly proud we are of the team,” Obama said. “Everybody’s going to be rooting for you. And although sometimes we don’t remember it here in the United States, this is going to be the biggest world stage there is. And you’re going to be representing all of us.”

Speaking of going to war, the Galaxy’s David Beckham, who recently said he was now aiming for an MLS comeback as soon as September, was in Afghanistan last weekend rallying the troops and I’ve just been waiting for an opportune moment to post this photo.

i-d95d781f132238058402277a503722cf-becksgun.jpgBeckham: gunning for World Cup glory with England? He will travel with the team as a cheerleader, but not a coach Fabio Capello confirmed earlier this week.

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Chivas USA to face Pachuca, Puebla and Houston in SuperLiga

i-856843f8400644b5deca8f742b541995-superligalogo0001.jpgSo it appears we’ll be seeing more of World Cup-bound Herculez Gomez, who just signed for Pachuca from Puebla, in Southern California.

The schedule and groups were announced this morning with the start of group beginning just three days after the conclusion of the World Cup. Struggling Chivas USA, who last year went three and out in SuperLiga and are currently inhabiting the MLS Western Conference basement, will play three SuperLiga games in seven days.

No word yet when tickets will go on sale.

The games for Chivas USA:

*7:30 p.m. Thursday July 15 vs. Puebla at Home Depot Center

*5 p.m. Sunday July 18 vs. Houston Dynamo in Houston

*7:30 p.m. Wednesday July 21 vs. Pachuca at Home Depot Center

Pachuca, crowned 2007 champions when they beat the Galaxy on penalty kicks in Carson, also feature U.S. international Jose Francisco Torres. Modest Puebla are making their first tournament appearance.

In the other four-team group, the Chicago Fire and New England revolution faces Morelia and Pumas.

All games will be shown live on Univision.

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Holland beats Mexico

Netherlands 2 Mexico 1

i-e573121a53c7b929a311586ae2a2db43-mexnetherlands.jpgNetherland’s John Heitinga, left, and Mexico’s Javier Hernandez challenge for the ball during a friendly between the two nations in Freiburg, Germany

It was the second successive loss in three days for Mexico, who lost to England 3-1 on Monday in London.

The game story is here.

Mexico lineup: 13.- Guillermo Ochoa; 6.- Gerardo Torrado (24.- Jonathan Dos Santos, 88′); 8.- Israel Castro; 10.- Cuauhtmoc Blanco (7.- Pablo Barrera, 46′); 14.- Javier Hernndez; 15.- Hctor Moreno; 18.- Andrs Guardado (16.- Efran Jurez, 46′); 19.- Jonny Magallon; 20.- Jorge Torres Nilo; 22.- Alberto Medina (17.- Giovani Dos Santos, 54′); 25.- Pal Aguilar (11.- Carlos Vela, 54′).

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How the U.S. World Cup roster decisions came down

i-7cd358d48bc621ea8f55e4a51707869b-molddemps.jpgThe chosen: Maurice Edu, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey at the World Cup roster announcement (AP Photos).

For those of you who like your drama, this is a good read (as we say in the journalism business) on how U.S. players learned in the early hours of this morning who was and wasn’t going to South Africa.

Good stuff from Ronald Blum and contributors Barry Wilner and Nancy Armour:

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — The phones started ringing at 2 a.m., and players were told to come down to the third floor for a meeting. As Herculez Gomez pressed the elevator button on 17, his mind raced.

Were his dreams about to be fulfilled — or crushed?

This is the way the U.S. World Cup team was finalized, in the dead of night in a Hartford

“It’s been such a crazy and unbelievable journey,” Gomez said.

And the big trip hasn’t even begun.

For Gomez, it was good news. He and Edson Buddle went from long shots to the American roster Wednesday, joining veterans Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Tim Howard on the 23-man U.S. team headed to South Africa.

While there was joy and relief for the chosen, there was only heartache and anguish for the seven players called downstairs a few minutes earlier, the players leaving the group selected May 11 for the preliminary roster, only to be cut four days before departure.

Donovan consoled Brian Ching when his roommate found out he wasn’t going. Ching was on the 2006 World Cup roster but never got into a match. Having turned 32 on Monday, this was his last chance.

“It’s hard to imagine your lifelong dream not coming true, someone telling you that it’s not going to happen,” Donovan said.

Players on the bubble were nervous before and after Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, the first of three exhibitions ahead of the U.S. team’s World Cup opener against England on June 12. Before the game, the squad scheduled a nationally televised announcement for Wednesday afternoon at the ESPN campus.

After the final whistle, Bradley still wasn’t ready to tell players, wanting to first review the DVD with his coaching staff.

“Bob told us to give him some time and he’d give us a call,” Gomez said. “It was one of the most nerve-racking couple hours of my life.”

Then Pam Perkins, the team’s general manager, started calling players. She only told those who sounded awake they had made it. The groggy-sounding ones, Gomez included, were left in the dark until they reached the meeting room and Bradley greeted them.

“He congratulated each and every one of us,” Gomez said. “He definitely made us sweat it out, that’s for sure.”

On Thursday morning, Gomez will be with the team at the White House to receive personal congratulations from President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton ahead of Saturday’s sendoff game against Turkey in Philadelphia.

At the start of the year, Gomez and Buddle weren’t even afterthoughts. One named after a hero of Greek mythology and the other after soccer’s greatest player — Pele’s real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento — each played themselves onto the team with outstanding club seasons.

Neither was listed in the team’s 2010 media guide.

A 28-year-old from Las Vegas, Gomez scored 10 goals for Puebla to tie for the Mexican scoring lead, becoming the first American to top a foreign league. The 29-year-old Buddle leads Major League Soccer with nine goals for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Before Tuesday, Buddle’s only national team appearance was 11 minutes in 2003. Gomez, who scored the second goal against the Czechs, had played in just two games, both three years ago.

Buddle, whose father Winston played professionally in Jamaica, didn’t believe he made it even when Bradley congratulated him.

“I thought he was messing around,” Buddle said.

Gomez only went to Mexico after the Kansas City Wizards made no effort to re-sign him after the 2009 season. “I wasn’t good enough for the Wizards last year, so to be where I am today is amazing,” he said.

They were chosen over Ching, who only returned May 13 from a hamstring injury sustained while playing for Houston on April 1.

“Plain and simple, Edson and Herculez have had real good stretches, scored a lot of goals,” Bradley said. “Brian has been such an important player, but it’s tough when you have an injury at an inopportune time.”

Beasley also had a remarkable turnaround and will be going to his third World Cup. He teamed with Donovan to spark the Americans to a quarterfinal appearance in 2002, their best finish since reaching the semifinals at the first World Cup in 1930. Then he was part of the disappointing team eliminated in the first round four years ago.

He was exiled from the national team after poor play at the Confederations Cup last June, but returned for the March exhibition at the Netherlands.

“I like being one of the old guys. I get called grandpa now,” said Beasley, who turned 28 on Tuesday.

Beasley made a strong showing at the training camp that began May 17.

“He certainly had to prove himself,” Bradley said. “He needed to make a renewed commitment to the team, a renewed commitment to doing things as a player that make his team better. We’ve seen that.”

i-ec5c249605c909d73c6ec1307acf7b17-goalkeeping mafia.jpg The goalkeeping mafia: these were three of the calmest U.S. players overnight since there was never any danger Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, and former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan were going to miss out on the big show.

Bradley selected three goalkeepers, seven defenders, nine midfielders and four forwards — one midfielder more and one defender fewer than the average.

Seventeen players are based in Europe, with just four from Major League Soccer and two from Mexican clubs. Of the European group, eight play in England, three in Germany, two in Scotland, and one each in Denmark, France, Italy and Norway. Forward Jozy Altidore at 20 is the youngest player, and backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who turns 38 next month, is the oldest. The average age is just under 27, down from 28.5 at the 2006 tournament.

Donovan, with a U.S. record 42 goals in 121 appearances, is the most experienced player and Buddle the least, becoming the 92nd player to appear for America since Bradley replaced Bruce Arena as coach in December 2006. Of the 43 players used in qualifying, 19 made the roster. Cut in addition to Ching were defenders Chad Marshall and Heath Pearce; midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers; and forward Eddie Johnson.

Donovan, Beasley and defender Steve Cherundolo earned their third World Cup trips, although Cherundolo got hurt in South Korea in 2002 and didn’t make it into a game.

Injured players can still be replaced up until 24 hours before the U.S. opener. “It doesn’t stop here,” Beasley said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

And after that, you may just need a little light relief, so if you’ve haven’t seen this Landon Donovan ESPN ad yet, check this out:

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U.S. World Cup roster revealed: Buddle, Gomez, Findley all selected

i-bef699c2b936468aa7b63ea9257ec3d8-usteam26a.jpgFrom left, top row, are midfielder Stuart Holden, forward Herculez Gomez, forward Edson Buddle, forward Jozy Altidore, forward Robbie Findley, goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielder Maurice Edu, midfielder Michael Bradley, defender Jonathan Spector, goalkeeper Brad Guzan, defender Oguchi Onyewu, defender Jay DeMerit, defender Clarence Goodson, goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, midfielder Clint Dempsey. From left, at bottom, are midfielder Jose Torres, midfielder Benny Feilhaber, midfielder Ricardo Clark, midfielder Landon Donovan, midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, defender Carlos Bocanegra, defender Steve Cherundolo, and defender Jonathan Bornstein. (AP Photo).

Here’s who did NOT make the squad:

Defenders: Heath Pearce, Chad Marshall

Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoja, Robbie Rogers, Sacha Kljestan

Forwards: Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson

You think the performances in that game last night mattered – oh, yeah.

And here are complete details on the 23-player squad that makes up the World Cup roster.

Coach Bob Bradley specifically addressed the inclusion of Buddle and Gomez on ESPN, observing that their form will come in “handy” in South Africa: “

“Both have been in great form, scoring a lot of goals this year.”

i-71e4120b489d2c55ad15906d7e67c96f-superherc.jpgSuperherc: faster than a speeding last-minute selection, Gomez makes U.S. World Cup squad (Photo: AFP/Getty Images).

And here’s more on Buddle and Gomez via AP:

The 29-year-old Buddle didn’t quite believe it when Bradley congratulated him at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

“I thought he was messing around. I didn’t know. It was too late,” he said.

Gomez might have faced even longer odds to make the squad after his contract was not renewed last year by Kansas City in MLS. But he went to Puebla of the Mexican league and tied for the scoring lead with 10 goals in 14 appearances.

“I wasn’t good enough for the Wizards last year, so to be where I am today is amazing,” Gomez said.

Bradley praised Buddle, Gomez and Beasley for taking advantage of their opportunities.

“One player that I felt fits into that category is Herculez Gomez,” Bradley said. “He’s worked hard to get to this point.”

The most burning matter of debate: who agrees/disagrees with the inclusion of the speedy Findley over the hard-working Ching?

What do you think?


Here’s Rogers’ reaction via Twitter:

Obviously gutted but thanks for all the support and I will be rooting for the US no matter what!!! Life is awesome!

He’s extremely unlucky after a pretty strong performance last night; personally I would have selected him over Beasley, but I’m guessing Rogers’ lack of versatility worked against him.

A decent-sized Southern California contingent on the team nonetheless:

*Carlos Bocanegra from Alta Loma, RC United and Rennes (France)

*Jonathan Bornstein from Los Alamitos, Irvine Strikers and Chivas USA

*Steve Cherundolo from San Diego, Nomads and Hanover 96 (Germany)

*Landon Donovan from Redlands, California Heat and LA Galaxy

*Maurice Edu from Fontana, Mission Viejo Pateadores and Rangers (Scotland)

*Benny Feilhaber from Irvine, Irvine Strikers and AGF Aarhus (Denmark)

Also, it should be noted Herculez Gomez is a Los Angeles native, although he grew up in Las Vegas.

Oh, and although Michael Bradley is listed as being from Manhattan Beach that’s not really accurate; he grew up on the East Coast and was belatedly listed as being from the South Bay after his parents moved here when Bob took the Chivas USA job.

And, of course, among those omitted, Rogers grew up in Rolling Hills Estates, Kljestan in Huntington Beach and Marshall in Riverside.

From the Galaxy today:

Buddle and Donovan will miss at least the Galaxy’s next three games, which will all be played before Major League Soccer takes a two-week break for the group stage of the tournament. If the United States advances beyond the group stages, the pair will miss at least one more regular season game with the Galaxy.

Which reminds me: have you entered our World Cup contest yet, with prizes on offer from Alpine Village near Torrance and Chivas USA and other sponsors? Click here for more info.


DaMarcus Beasley wasn’t the only member of his family to mark a soccer comeback today:

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas City Wizards have signed midfielder Jamar Beasley and waived midfielder Igor Kostrov.

The 30-year-old Beasley has spent his last seven years playing indoor soccer, including three years with the Kansas City Comets before the team folded. Terms were not disclosed Wednesday.

In 1998, Beasley signed a Major League Soccer contract with the New England Revolution straight out of high school. At the time he was the youngest player to ever sign with the league.

After leaving Kansas City he went across the state to St. Louis, where he played with the
Steamers in 2005 and 2006. He has been with the Rockford Rampage since 2008.

His brother is DaMarcus Beasley, who is on the U.S. national team.

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InterLiga no more

i-04e4b6b1b6b7e5e06432732c44f36a1f-interligalogo0001.jpgWhen the tournament’s demise finally came it went as quietly as it had existed – at least in the eyes of the English-language media – and will likely not be missed by its participants that often didn’t want to play yet more games around the holiday season.

The elimination of InterLiga, which determined two of Mexico’s three participants in the Copa Libertadores was announced Monday in Mexico.

Derided as a manufactured tournament that was seen in some quarters as little more than a calculated ploy to extract money from Mexican-Americans desperate to see their favorite clubs and players from south of the border on American soil, InterLiga nevertheless attracted some of the biggest crowds and most fervent fans to Home Depot Center, although it often had trouble attracting spectators elsewhere in the U.S.

The existence of the tournament – rumored to be folding even as what turned out to be the final tournament was being played in January – was not noted on the Website of MLS (at least that I could find), at one time one of its biggest supporters; the tournament’s Internet site has also vanished.

Still, if it will be little missed by most, freeing up a precious few days in the crowded soccer calendar, InterLiga will be remembered for producing some exciting games (and Herculez Gomez will remember it for giving him his first games with Puebla this year that put him on the path of seriously contending for a World Cup spot).

Review the history of the tournament here and relive this blog’s coverage of the tournament locally here.

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Final: U.S.-Czech Republic

U.S. 2 Czech Republic 4

i-2b079aad0f1f115a5e0e4b3b9c592a84-Guzanczech.jpgFormer Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan and some of his U.S. teammates were scrapping for World Cup spots against the Czech Republic tonight (AP Photos).

A rather plodding first half U.S. performance against a mediocre opponent and but for a bad miss by a wide open Fenin who managed to curl his shot around the post in the 26th minute the Americans would be down by a goal at the half.

A much more lively second half with a clearly motivated Herculez Gomez perhaps playing himself onto the World Cup squad when he made it 2-2 from another quality Stuart Holden corner kick delivery.

Here are a few random observations broken down by half.

First half:

*Gooch’s timing is clearly off, as one might expect after such a long layoff; nevertheless he remained rooted to the turf and allowed the Czech’s a free header that led to the stoppage time equalizer.

*Clarence Goodson gave away the free kick that led to the Czech goal and for my money remains unconvincing with Gooch having to cover for him on one occasion in the U.S. penalty box.

*Jonathan Bornstein looked shaky at left back and was beaten on a couple of occasions.

*In general the U.S. midfield lacks a player capable of changing the tempo of the game, although Jose Torres played a generally mistake-free half.

*Edson Buddle’s first touch let him down on a couple of occasions and he was brought down on the one breakaway the U.S. had; still it can’t be easy playing with the distraction of a split lip suffered when Petr Cech completely missed the ball on the teasing Stuart Holden cross that Fontana’s Maurice Edu converted for his first-ever national team goal. Still, Buddle probably didn’t do enough to play himself onto the World Cup squad.

*Neither did a largely anonymous Eddie Johnson.

*Bradley made five changes at the half.

Second half

*Brian Ching showed what a difference a striker who works hard can make, while Robbie Rogers illustrated why his pacy attacking instincts could be valuable in South Africa coming off the bench as he caused problems for the Czechs down the right wing on several occasions, while proving he isn’t afraid to have a stab at goal.

*Heath Pearce, oh dear. Immobile on the Czech’s go ahead goal and flailing ineffectively on their third, this guy illustrated once again why he is just not an international quality full back.

*Goodson played a role on both set pieces that led to both U.S. goals, but I have reservations about any defender who looks better going forward than protecting his goal. His ungainly lack of awareness on the post means he was in part responsible for the third goal, too.

*Ching and Gomez were a much better partnership than Buddle and Johnson in the first half. Target man Ching set up the lively Gomez with an inventive touch around the 65th minute mark that foreshadowed the former Galaxy striker’s goal a minute later. Herc can make a difference for the U.S. coming off the bench at the World Cup; he looks hungry, focused and determined.

*Holden’s crosses were consistently a problem for the Czechs and he got better as the game wore on and as the rust from his club layoff in England due to injury wore off.

*Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan didn’t do enough; he won’t be going to South Africa.

Game basics here

Disagree/Agree? Let it rip in the comments section.

Updated 11:40 p.m. Monday

Back from a Torrance City Council budget meeting (I kid you not).

Wanted to observe briefly:

Game story.

i-f6c5c34e700b3c87dbfddb4938126819-buddleczech.jpgBuddle tussles with Tomas Sivok in the first half.

Quotable –

“Herculez played his way into the camp with his performances at Puebla,” Bradley said. “It was based upon goals and in some cases coming on as a sub and scoring. You assess a lot of things and tonight I saw plays that for me need to be better, but obviously he scored a goal, which is very important in this whole thing. I started by talking about how players have a lot to be proud of and here’s a guy who was totally out of the picture and played his way back in. He certainly will be discussed during our meetings tonight.”

Bradley on the roster selection process from here:

“We’ll go back and have a team meeting. We have a lot of things we’ve laid out already, so we’ll see how far along we are. We’ll talk to players either late tonight or early in the morning and that will of course depend on where we are with some things.”

Here’s Holden on his adroitly-taken set pieces:

“Set pieces are something I pride myself on when I’m in dangerous areas. I was a little disappointed with myself tonight at the end of the second half when my legs were a little tired and I was a little lackadaisical. We have good guys attacking the ball and if you put the ball in the right position they get on the end of it.”

And here’s Herc on his goal:

“It was a special moment, but that goal was 10 percent me and 90 percent Clarence [Goodson]. I’m definitely thankful I was in the right place at the right time.”

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U.S.-Czech Republic lineups

The game is on ESPN:

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Oguchi Onyewu is making his first appearance in a game since knee surgery last October, and Edson Buddle is playing his first game for the U.S. national team in seven years.

Onyewu was picked to start in central defense in Tuesday night’s exhibition against the Czech Republic, a day before U.S. coach Bob Bradley announces his World Cup roster. Onyewu’s previous game was Oct. 14, when he tore his left patellar tendon during a qualifier against Costa Rica. He was operated on seven days later and failed to get back on the field this season for AC Milan.

Buddle, Major League Soccer’s scoring leader, made his only previous national team appearance when he played 11 minutes as a substitute against Venezuela on March 29, 2003. He was paired at forward with Eddie Johnson, also on the bubble for the 23-man roster.

Clarence Goodson started in central defense with Onyewu, with right back Steve Cherundolo serving as captain and Jonathan Bornstein at left back.

Maurice Edu and Jose Torres were in the central midfield, with Stuart Holden on the right in only his second game since breaking his right leg on March 3. DaMarcus Beasley, who returned in March from nine months of national team exile, was on the left in an effort to make his third World Cup team.

Bradley gave nights off to seven players, all seemingly assured of making the roster:
goalkeeper Tim Howard; defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Jay DeMerit; midfielders Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Benny Feilhaber.

The reserves were goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann; defenders Chad Marshall, Heath Pearce and Jonathan Spector; midfielders Alejandro Bedoja, Ricardo Clark, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers; and forwards Brian Ching, Robbie Findley and Herculez Gomez.

The Czechs started Petr Cech in goal; Ondrej Kusnir, Jan Rajnoch and Tomas Sivok on defense; Libor Sionko, Jan Polak, Daniel Pudil, Jaroslav Plasil and Tomas Hubschman in midfield; and Martin Fenin and David Lafata at forward.

Mexican referee Maurico Morales officiated.

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U.S. World Cup roster to be announced Wednesday live on ESPN

U.S. Coach Bob Bradley will reveal the final 23-man roster at 10 a.m. (1 p.m. Eastern) on SportsCenter.

All the players selected for the tournament in South Africa will be on the ESPN campus for the announcement.

From the U.S. Soccer press release:

Tournament rules require that the final 23-man roster be submitted by June 1 to FIFA. A preliminary list of 30 players had to be submitted by May 11 by all 32 teams. According to a new regulation, the 23 players on the final roster must come from the original preliminary roster. Once the rosters are finalized, a team may replace an injured player up to 24 hours prior to their first match of the tournament. In this case, the replacement player does not have to be selected from the 30-man preliminary list.

In other roster news: CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) — Algeria midfielder Mourad Meghni will miss the World Cup after failing to recover from a left knee injury.

The Algeria soccer federation says team doctors assessed the 26-year-old Meghni on Monday and decided that he needed surgery.

Meghni, who plays for Lazio in Italy, was one of several players in coach Rabah Saadane’s preliminary squad with dual nationality who played youth internationals for France but switched allegiance after FIFA removed the age restriction last year.

Algeria will play England, the United States on June 23 and Slovenia in Group C.

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