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U.S. will miss the World Cup for first time since 1986

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COUVA, TRINIDAD—The United States was eliminated from World Cup contention Tuesday night, a shocking loss at Trinidad ending the Americans’ streak of seven straight appearances at soccer’s showcase.

Twenty-eight years after a stunning victory here put the Americans back in the World Cup following a four-decade absence, their chances for next year’s tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

Trinidad and Tobago scored a pair of first-half goals, and the United States was eliminated with a 2-1 defeat — its first time missing the World Cup since 1986.

Shocked American players slumped on the bench, and Matt Besler sat on the field after the final whistle as Panama’s game ended and then Costa Rica’s. At the end, dejected U.S. players filed into their locker rooms with blank looks.
The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.

The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week. But the defeat — coupled with Honduras’ come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama’s 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres’ 88th-minute goal — dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Mexico and Costa Rica already had clinched berths, and Panama claimed the third and final automatic spot and will go the World Cup for the first time. Honduras will meet Australia in a two-game playoff next month for another spot at next year’s 32-nation tournament.

Missing the World Cup is a devastating blow to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has steadily built the sport in the last quarter-century with the help of sponsors and television partners. It also is a trauma for Fox, which broadcasts the next three World Cups after taking the U.S. rights from ESPN. The USSF hopes to co-host the 2026 tournament with Mexico and Canada, and Morocco is the only other bidder.

After an 0-2 start in the hexagonal last fall under Jurgen Klinsmann, the USSF replaced him last November with Bruce Arena, the American coach from 1998-2006. The team revived with home wins over Honduras and Trinidad last spring and draws at Panama and Mexico. But the 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica in New Jersey at the start of Labor Day weekend proved one hurdle too many to overcome.

“No excuses for us not getting the second goal and at least a point,” Arena said. “It’s a blemish for us.”

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute when defender Omar Gonzalez made a casual attempt with his left foot to clear Alvin Jones’ cross and sent the ball looping over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Tim Howard from 18 yards.

Jones doubled the lead in the 37th with a 35-yard strike, again to Howard’s upper right corner, and nearly scored another in the 44th when his swerving shot bounced off Howard’s chest and spilled into the penalty area.

Christian Pulisic, the Americans’ 19-year-old star midfielder, scored in the 47th minute from the arc with a right-footed shot. He played a role in 12 of the 17 Americans goals in the hexagonal.

One minute later, Howard made a kick save on Shahdon Winchester’s short-range shot, and DeAndre Yedlin blocked Levi Garcia’s follow-up attempt.

The U.S. bench was tense, as Honduras scored twice early in the second half to take the lead over visiting Mexico in the 60th minute and Panama tied the score against visiting Costa Rica in the 52nd.

Clint Dempsey, who entered at the start of the second half, was denied by goalkeeper Adrian Foncette’s leaping save in the 69th and hit a post from 22 yards in the 77th. Pulisic’s shot in the 87th was saved by Foncette.

All American reserves were standing for much of the final minutes, and Arena had repeated exasperated looks.

Just a few hundred fans were in the stands at 10,000-capacity Ato Boldon Stadium, located 24 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Paul Caligiuri’s famous goal at the National Stadium in 1989 put the U.S. in the World Cup for the first time since 1950.

Among the spectators were a few dozen American Outlaws, the U.S. supporters group.

Water that had flooded the track surrounding the field ahead of the U.S. training session Monday was gone.

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Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or to equal Lionel Messi

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Goal — Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 2017 Ballon d’Or.

It is the fifth time the Portugal international has won the prize, drawing him level with his great rival Lionel Messi for the most Ballons d’Or of all time.

Ronaldo scored 42 goals across all competitions during the 2016-17 season, leading Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double.

The 32-year-old netted 25 times in La Liga last term and added 12 goals in the Champions League, including a brace in the final against Juventus.

“I’m very happy. To get this prize in Paris is a great experience, it’s marvelous,” Ronaldo told L’Equipe TV.

“It’s a great moment of my career. It’s something I wish I have every year. We had a marvelous year. I was the [top] goalscorer of the Champions League, so I want to thank my team-mates.
“They were important for me. And also thanks everybody who helped me to be in great form during the season.”

It’s the second straight year Ronaldo has won the award presented by France Football, and he was also named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016-17 in October.

Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013, and 2014.

FIFA formerly awarded the Ballon d’Or in conjunction with France Football, but the two entities split their prizes last year.

The Portugal star was joined in the top 30 by six of his Real Madrid team-mates: Karim Benzema (25th place), Toni Kroos (17th), Marcelo (16th), Isco (12th), Sergio Ramos (sixth) and Modric (fifth).

Ronaldo has picked up where he left off last season in this year’s Champions League, scoring in all six of Madrid’s group-stage matches – a feat that had never been accomplished before .

But he hasn’t matched that form in La Liga, netting just two times in 10 appearances thus far.

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Political Pundit Falsely Claims Colin Kaepernick Donated Money To Terrorists (Somalia Famine Relief)

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VIBE — On Friday (Dec. 1), “Fox & Friends” contributor Kevin Jackson shared his views on the award while downplaying Kaepernick’s legacy. The former NFL player was essentially isolated by the league in 2016 for taking a knee against police brutality, a moment that has later been repeated by supporters this year. As Salon points out, Kaepernick was also given the award for his deep-rooted relationship to social justice, but Jackson disagreed.

“Look, Kaepernick is no Ali,” he continued while calling the award a participation trophy. “And the idea that the left continue to want to sell this lie to America, that this man stands for something that supposedly is happening in this country that’s not, just shows you that the left will never give up on this narrative.”

He also accused the athlete of donating money to radical groups.

“Colin Kaepernick gives money to terrorists,” he said. “Look at the people he’s donated money to. These are “radicalists,” in many cases, ethnocentric racists black organizations and again, built on a lie. It would be different if we can really get behind this and feel like it was done in the spirit of the the guy getting a raw deal. Muhammad Ali got a raw deal. Colin Kaepernick did not get a raw deal.”

Kaepernick has donated to plenty of organizations such as the Coalition for the Homeless, Meals on Wheels, Somalia famine relief, NY groups Coalition for the Homeless, DREAM and many more detailed on his website. None have any ties to radical views or movements.

Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow, presented Kaepernick with the award while praising his passion for social justice.

“I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” Ali said. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”

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The 2018 World Cup draw is set — Here is where all 32 teams are grouped

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw is here!

There 32 countries were divided into four “pot.” The top seeds were all placed in Pot 1 and were assigned to groups first. Those were followed by the teams in Pot 2 and so on, with the lowest seeded teams in Pot 4 grouped last. A handful of adjustments happened along the way to keep teams from the same region out of the same groups.
Here are the four pots that determined the draw, based on the FIFA world rankings in October:
Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia
Here are the groups:

GROUP A — Russia is the top seed
A1 — RUSSIA
A2 — SAUDI ARABIA
A3 — EGYPT
A4 — URUGUAY

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GROUP B — Portugal is the top seed
B1 — PORTUGAL
B2 — SPAIN
B3 — MOROCCO
B4 — IRAN

GROUP C — France is the top seed
C1 — FRANCE
C2 — AUSTRALIA
C3 — PERU
C4 — DENMARK

GROUP D — Argentina is the top seed
D1 — ARGENTINA
D2 — ICELAND
D3 — CROATIA
D4 — NIGERIA

GROUP E — BRAZIL is the top seed
E1 — BRAZIL
E2 — SWITZERLAND
E3 — COSTA RICA
E4 — SERBIA

GROUP F — GERMANY is the top seed
F1 — GERMANY
F2 — MEXICO
F3 — SWEDEN
F4 — SOUTH KOREA

GROUP G — BELGIUM is the top seed
G1 — BELGIUM
G2 — PANAMA
G3 — TUNISIA
G4 — ENGLAND
GROUP H — POLAND is the top seed
H1 — POLAND
H2 — SENEGAL
H3 — COLOMBIA
H4 — JAPAN

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