Newsletter: Christian Pulisic arrives in Milan; USMNT need more than Matt Turner to beat Panama at Gold Cup

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Newsletter: Christian Pulisic arrives in Milan; USMNT need more than Matt Turner to beat Panama at Gold Cup

Pulisic has arrived in Serie A, we've got looks back at his past and a breakdown of how he might play at his new club

Pulisic has arrived in Serie A, we've got looks back at his past and a breakdown of how he might play at his new club

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Welcome to Wednesday, everybody! We have the Gold Cup semifinals coming up with the U.S. men's national team up against Panama in San Diego before Jamaica and Mexico meet in Las Vegas ahead of Sunday's final in Inglewood. There is other big Stars and Stripes news as Christian Pulisic puts the finishing touches on his move from Chelsea to Milan as the transfer window rumbles on. As preseason gathers momentum in Europe, there is also the Women's World Cup drawing ever closer. I am Jonathan Johnson delivering your midweek check-up with our Golazo Starting XI newsletter.  

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???? Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Wednesday, July 12
???????? UCL qualifiers: Farul vs. Sheriff, 1:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
???????? UCL qualifiers: Slovan Bratislava vs. Swift Hesperange, 2:30 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network
???? Gold Cup: USMNT vs. Panama, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ FS1
???????? MLS: Nashville SC vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30 p.m. ➡️ AppleTV+
???? Gold Cup: Jamaica vs. Mexico, 10 p.m. ➡️ FS1

???????? UECL qualifiers: Bruno's Magpies vs. Dundalk, 12 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
???????? Mexico: Santos Laguna vs. Atlas, 9:05 p.m. ➡️ FOX Sports

⚽  The Forward Line

USMNT cannot rely on Turner bailing them out against Panama

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Matt Turner's penalty heroics helped the USMNT into Wednesday's Gold Cup semifinals, but B.J. Callaghan and his players know that better will be needed if they are to advance past Panama and potentially win the whole thing later this week. However, the Arsenal goalkeeper might be happy for another busy outing this midweek if it helps to boost his chances of earning more minutes in the coming season. The Gunners are gearing up for their opening preseason friendly this week, but Turner will only be headed on vacation once America's Gold Cup run is done. Potentially with two remaining games, this could be the 29-year-old's chance to put himself in the shop window. Here's more from Pardeep Cattry points out in one of her first pieces as part of the CBS Soccer team.

  • Cattry: "Turner's reliability comes as no surprise since he's one of the few first-team regulars competing for the United States at this year's Gold Cup, but his importance to the USMNT serves as a stark reminder of what so many of the American goalkeepers are facing come next season: A club situation that could put a dent in his -- and the team's -- potential. Turner is a USMNT standout despite his lack of playing time at Arsenal, and his second season in England seems destined to resemble the first. He only earned the nod over the team's first-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale in cup competitions with only seven starts during the last campaign. He might play even fewer matches as the team trades last season's Europa League berth for a spot in the Champions League."

However, players such as Brandon Vazquez also have plenty to play for after giving U.S. interim boss much to ponder ahead of the Panama game as the Stars and Stripes search for greater firepower against one of the tricky remaining sides. Gone are the straightforward group games where the likes of Jesus Ferreira have racked up the goals, now the USMNT requires greater cutting edge going forward if they realistically want to reach a potential final against either Jamaica or Mexico. Our own Chuck Booth said as much when looking at how Vazquez's stock rose after the win over Canada.

  • Booth: "Scoring his third goal in Gold Cup play after coming off the bench, the dangerous feel that something will happen is present each time that Vazquez features. Always floating into space, playing Vazquez alongside Jesus Ferreira seems to be the optimal solution for opening teams up. With Ferreira starting each match so far and also playing 120 minutes versus Canada, that may be a way to close out the Panama match rather than start it so that Callaghan can give his striker a rest. The duo have a good understanding of playing alongside each other, something that can help create a true strike rotation."

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Pulisic looking for fresh start in Italy

Elsewhere in the world of American soccer, USMNT captain Christian Pulisic will soon be unveiled as a Milan player as the 24-year-old prepares to leave Chelsea and the Premier League behind. The former Borussia Dortmund man has not always hit the heights hoped of him since his 2019 Stamford Bridge arrival, but he moves to San Siro with his best years still well ahead of him as part of a rebuild of this Rossoneri side. Pulisic might not be joining Milan to be its immediate talisman with Rafael Leao on the roster, but the U.S. international is a significant coup for the Serie A giants in what will be his third experience of a top five European league. As James Benge writes, Pulisic leaves Chelsea with good, but not spectacular numbers as he heads for his next challenge. 

  • Benge: "His expected goals (xG) per 90 sat at 0.34 per 90 minutes, an eminently solid number for a wide forward. Include his expected assists in the mix and you up with an xG contribution of 0.48 per 90. It's good, as were the many take-ons he offered. The issue is that Chelsea want, and can afford, more than solid output in front of goal and not much else (which is the difference between the American and, for instance, Mason Mount)."

Pulisic has needed this move for a while and even if it arguably could have come a bit earlier, he has not yet stagnated and remains a key component for the USMNT when at full strength. Starting fresh in Italy after he sweeping changes being made by new Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino will allow Pulisic to get closer to fulfilling his significant potential and ultimately emerge as one of the leading figures for Milan. Leao might occupy his preferred left wing berth for now, but the Portuguese superstar could eventually move on despite his recent contract extension which would open the door to Pulisic being a long-term fit.

For more of a breakdown of how Pulisic might slot into this AC Milan side, don't miss Matteo Bonetti talking the Morning Footy crew through the ins and outs.

Time now for some links:

???? Pardeep Cattry with three questions facing the USMNT ahead of the Gold Cup semifinals. 
???? Chuck Booth on Inter Miami's plans to unveil superstar signing Lionel Messi this weekend.
???? James Benge on Al Hilal readying a mega money offer for Manchester City's Bernardo Silva.
???? And they've already made one for Aleksander Mitrovic that Fulham rejected, Benge reports.  
???? An update from me on PSG's summer transfer window as Leonardo says that Kylian Mbappe should go.
???? Sandra Herrera with your USWNT stock watch heading into the WWC.
???? Booth provides your viewing guide to USMNT vs. Panama.  
???? Trinity Rodman is making her case to start for the USWNT at the World Cup, writes Cattry.
???? Is promotion and relegation coming to the U.S.? The USL is considering it.
???? Is the United States ready for the Lionel Messi experience?
???? A friendly reminder that Morning Footy is available as a podcast now.
???? In Soccer We Trust: Get your USMNT vs. Canada preview.
???? Attacking Third: Impressions from the win over Wales as the World Cup nears. 

????  The Back Line

???? Best bets

All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern. SportsLine has you covered with all your soccer betting needs here.

  • Gold Cup: USMNT vs. Panama, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. 
    ???? THE PICK: USMNT to win and both to score (+300) -- The U.S. should be able to get this one over the line and book a place in the final, but Matt Turner could find himself busy again unless B.J. Callaghan's side improve after their leaky last outing against Canada. Pinning the USMNT to advance should be a safe bet, but backing Panama to score could also prove wise and the best way to hit here.
  • Gold Cup: Jamaica vs. Mexico, Wednesday, 10 p.m.  
    ???? THE PICK: Draw (+260) -- The Reggae Boyz have had a decent Gold Cup campaign so far and ran the U.S. close in their opening game. Unbeaten and having only conceded twice all tournament, the chances are that they will keep it tight against El Tri here. Do not be surprised if this one goes beyond 90 -- Mexico are far from unbeatable after their loss to Qatar during an up and down run to these semis. 

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