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Premier League

Key thoughts and analysis from Saturday's Premier League action

theScore examines the most important developments and biggest talking points from Saturday’s slate of action in England’s top flight.

Everton adopt Dychean spirit

There were hints near the end of last season and at the start of this campaign that this is what Everton would become. They wouldn’t attempt pretty passing patterns or charming trickery; instead, they’d focus on the basics – rush at rivals, gnaw at heels, punt it into the box – and hope that would be enough to pinch a result here and there.

For some reason, Frank Lampard came up short. Alex Iwobi’s transition from a frustratingly average winger to a functional midfield grafter was perhaps the strongest hint that Lampard tried to make Everton ugly yet effective, but the effectiveness was lacking. Maybe Lampard, with his rather comfortable playing career and somewhat privileged path into management, struggled to play the part of a cantankerous general drilling his warring troops.

Enter Sean Dyche.

Dave Howarth – CameraSport / CameraSport / Getty

Dyche embodies the blue-collared approach. He patrolled the training ground in shorts, put his squad through grueling fitness tests, and banned hats and snoods. “You train how you play,” he explained of the changes he implemented at Finch Farm.

It took five days for Everton to undergo a drastic transformation and beat table-topping Arsenal 1-0. Dwight McNeil probably played his best match for the club, chipping in with tackles and clearances while logging three key passes and taking the corner-kick that resulted in James Tarkowski’s match-winning header. It was fitting that two staples of Dyche’s Burnley side combined for the goal.

But it wasn’t just lofted crosses and defensive drudgery. Arsenal faced more shots (eight) in the first half than they have in any other opening period in this Premier League season. Everton pressed with intensity. Amadou Onana torched two players and darted in the box before sliding a ball across that was inches away from being turned in by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

It was effective, but it wasn’t ugly. It was a stirring performance that completely changes the mood in the blue half of Merseyside. It wasn’t the most conventional route for Everton to hire their new manager – Marcelo Bielsa, a veteran tactician who likes his teams to attack, was reportedly the preferred choice – but Dyche might be precisely the right person at the right time for the Toffees.

Is it time for Klopp to leave Liverpool?

Forget tactics. Forget formations. Liverpool didn’t lose Saturday because they were the worst of the two teams at Molineux. They lost because they decided not to play at all.

The Reds conceded twice in the opening 15 minutes to Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Premier League’s lowest-scoring side, and the game, for all intents and purposes, was over then and there. Liverpool tried to regain control of proceedings, but nothing came of their efforts. Only four of their 22 shots hit the target, and when Wolves swiftly countered for a third goal, the lights went out.

It’s bad enough Liverpool can’t defend. But this team is equally hopeless in attack. They can’t score their way out of trouble, and that’s as much down to the indecisiveness of big-money signings Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo as it is to the team’s overall lack of fluidity. There’s no rhythm to this side, no serenity in possession, and seemingly no way out of this utterly shambolic situation. Liverpool are rooted in 10th place. That’s simply unacceptable.

Liverpool’s last four EPL matches

Date Opponent Score
Jan. 1 at Brentford 3-1 L
Jan. 14 at Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 L
Jan. 21 vs. Chelsea 0-0 D
Feb. 4 at Wolverhampton 3-0 L

Jurgen Klopp was at a loss for words in his post-match interview. He couldn’t identify the problem. That in and of itself is a massive issue. It’s far worse than any tactical shortcoming. Time on the training pitch can resolve those kinds of issues. This is completely mental.

“Concentration for the first 15 minutes. Again, I cannot explain,” Klopp said. “But these 15 minutes cannot be allowed. It needs to change. That’s the thing. I stand here again and for the first 15 minutes, I have no explanation. I’m sorry.”

Klopp’s job is undoubtedly safe. Fenway Sports Group would never sack him. But how long can this go on before he seriously thinks about walking away? Are the players listening to him anymore? Does he even have a solution?

That’s not to say Klopp’s the only one to blame. FSG has done a poor job recruiting over the last year. Liverpool’s midfield is sagging, and it can’t play the kind of swashbuckling football the manager has long demanded. But Klopp’s also had a hand in the signings Liverpool have made. He signed off on Gakpo and Nunez when the money would’ve been better spent on midfielders. Will they have enough funds to refresh the squad in the summer? It doesn’t seem like it.

A lot of questions remain. Klopp may not have the answers.

Wolves look like a proper team again

Wholly uninspiring, doing precious little to recapture the attention they garnered when they bulldozed their way back to the Premier League in 2018, Wolves have spent the past year simply existing in the division. The firing of manager Bruno Lage in October didn’t light much of a spark. Neither did Julen Lopetegui’s arrival. Had the club not intervened in the January transfer window, it may not have had anything but relegation on the horizon.

But Wolves did something about it. They signed Pablo Sarabia from Paris Saint-Germain for virtually nothing, added Matheus Cunha on loan from Atletico Madrid, brought in security in the form of Craig Dawson, and acquired a midfielder with Premier League experience in Mario Lemina. Wolves didn’t spend a fortune, but they targeted areas that needed attention.

Barrington Coombs – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

Dawson immediately proved his worth Saturday, bundling home the second of Wolves’ three goals during a particularly scrappy sequence. With a game-high seven clearances, the 32-year-old helped keep Liverpool at safe distance. He also seemed to give assurances to center-back partner Maximilian Kilman, who made a pair of equally important goal-line clearances during the match.

If nothing else, Lopetegui now has a capable squad at his disposal. He also has depth. When Hee-Chan Hwang came off injured, Lopetegui didn’t have to look far for a replacement. Adama Traore emerged and played a crucial part in the third goal. Even if Liverpool made Wolves’ day easier, they still took the opportunity to signal their intention not only to exist in the Premier League but to once again challenge for a place in the top half of the table.

Quick free-kicks

Signings allow Arteta to freshen things up

Jakub Kiwior, Jorginho, and Leandro Trossard were all named on the bench for the defeat at Everton, but each January signing should play an important role for the rest of the season. Mikel Arteta has used the two most common lineups in the Premier League this term – he’s picked Saturday’s XI five times, and the same lineup with Gabriel Jesus instead of Eddie Nketiah on six occasions – and his side’s familiarity is certainly one of many reasons that Arsenal are top of the league. But, now that we’re steadily approaching the business end of the season, having extra bodies to refresh the squad, carry some of the Europa League workload, and raise competition for places should only benefit the Gunners. Arsenal fans should feel good about their club’s winter business.

Casemiro’s 3-game ban could cost United

Michael Regan / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Before Casemiro decided to put two hands to Will Hughes’ neck, Manchester United looked like a sure bet to win Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace. That all changed when referee Andre Marriner reviewed footage of the incident and sent off the Brazilian for violent conduct. Palace reduced the deficit and threatened to score a late equalizer, sending United into panic mode. Though the Red Devils held on to win at home for a 13th consecutive time, Casemiro’s red card seemed to unnerve the team. The last thing Erik ten Hag’s side needed was a disruption. But Casemiro’s moment of madness has achieved exactly that. Already without Christian Eriksen, United will now be without Casemiro for the next three matches.

The Jones gamble isn’t paying off

It would be harsh to dub Nathan Jones a “gamble” due to his remarkable exploits over two stints in charge of Luton Town. Despite the club’s modest budget, the intense coach took it from League Two to last season’s Championship playoffs. Instead, Southampton represented Jones’ gamble, and just like when he left Luton for Stoke City in 2019, it’s not paying off. Southampton’s defense has been creaky for years, so boosting that department’s organization and confidence midway through a season was always going to be tough. Jones also kick-started Luton’s rise by recruiting seasoned EFL players but on the south coast finds himself trying to survive with a hugely inexperienced squad. The Saints are bottom and have conceded 53 goals in their past 27 Premier League matches after the weekend’s 3-0 slump at Brentford.

Stat of the day

Liverpool are at crisis point after yet another uninspiring performance.

Tweet of the day

Wolves responded quickly after Klopp said he didn’t count the West Midlands club’s third goal because “it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half.”

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Premier League

Breaking down thrilling EPL title race with 10 games left

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One of the most intoxicating title races in Premier League history is, mercifully, ready to resume.

The quirks of the calendar – an FA Cup weekend succeeded by an agonizing international window – means the titanic tussle between Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City will have been on hiatus for a full three weeks before it gets back underway on Sunday.

But there are no more impending interruptions. With 10 matches remaining for each title contender, we’re barreling toward a resolution to the type of three-way battle that’s exceedingly rare in England’s top flight. There’s never been a season in the Premier League era where three teams went into the final day with a chance to hoist the trophy. This could be it. The last time it happened was the 1971-72 campaign, when Derby County won an incredible four-team fight, narrowly beating Leeds United and, ominously, Liverpool and Man City to the crown. We’re overdue for that kind of drama.

That three sides have converged this way at all is, frankly, remarkable.

These are the three best teams in the country by an enormous margin. They’re the only ones with an expected goal difference per game of plus-1.0 or greater this season. The next best mark, surprisingly, belongs to Mauricio Pochettino’s erratic Chelsea team at plus-0.36. So, yeah, it’s not close.

The three of them are also on a tear and show no signs of slowing down. Arsenal have won all eight of their league games in 2024, scoring 33 goals in the process; Liverpool have collected 22 of a possible 27 points in that time; reigning champions Manchester City have racked up 23 of 27 points. They’ve combined for just one loss since the calendar flipped – Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat against Arsenal in early February.

The only sides that look capable of halting their progress are each other, which makes this weekend’s clash between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad all the more significant.

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Each contender has a compelling reason for believing it’s “their” year.


Mikel Arteta’s men look far more assured and mature than last season when they set the pace for nearly the entire campaign, only to crumble down the stretch and relinquish their once sizeable advantage to Manchester City. Do-it-all superstar Declan Rice has been a transformative figure in midfield, while Kai Havertz, after an inauspicious start, is becoming an increasingly vital and consistent scoring threat. At least from the outside, there appears to be more self-belief within the Arsenal camp. Having learned from their experience in 2022-23, Arsenal won’t cede top spot so easily this time. It’ll need to be ripped from them.

Some may be inclined to dismiss their recent run because of their opponents. Yes, the Gunners have played some weak teams – Sheffield United! Burnley! Nottingham Forest! – but, for the most part, they aren’t just beating them; they’re blowing them away with a ruthlessness usually associated with title winners. For those still unconvinced, Sunday’s visit to the Etihad, where they were tossed aside like a rag doll in last season’s 4-1 loss, will be the ultimate litmus test to see if this team is ready to end the club’s 20-year title drought.


Jurgen Klopp’s persistent squad, already with the League Cup in tow, aims to send off their departing bench boss in style. Liverpool have been the most entertaining team of the trio this season. They create more chances than Arsenal and City and concede more opportunities. Darwin Nunez, the ultimate agent of chaos on a football pitch, is the perfect fit for a team with a habit of scoring late goals and delivering dramatic moments. Their title charge is built on more than just vibes, though.

Liverpool overwhelmed none other than City in their last league game before the international break but came away from the pulsating affair at Anfield with a 1-1 draw. City, usually self-confident and domineering in possession, simply held on against what Pep Guardiola dubbed a “tsunami” of pressure. There was obviously some added incentive at play, but Liverpool are built to go full speed regardless of the opposition. It’s in their nature under Klopp.

Manchester City

Despite not being at its vintage best this term, Guardiola’s accomplished crew remains the favorite in the eyes of many who, for good reason, simply refuse to pick against them. We’ve been conditioned to feel like City will inevitably be the last team standing because, well, they usually are. Five titles in the previous six seasons will have that effect on the collective psyche. However, Erling Haaland isn’t replicating his ferocious scoring pace from last season, and Kevin De Bruyne has been limited to six league starts. Also, outside of some electrifying Jeremy Doku performances, the summer signings haven’t exactly set the world alight. And yet, here they are, just one point off the top, showing the quiet confidence and tranquility that can only be obtained through winning experiences.

With Phil Foden leading the way and authoring arguably the best season of anyone in the league, City could become the first team in English history to win four consecutive top-flight titles.

Strength of schedule

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On paper, Arsenal have the most difficult fixture list.

Their remaining opponents average 41.8 points this season, roughly corresponding to ninth place in the table. Put another way, it would be the equivalent of playing Wolves (41 points) or Brighton (42) each week. It doesn’t help that many of Arsenal’s toughest matches are away from home. Coincidentally, they have upcoming trips to Brighton and Wolves, along with north London rivals Tottenham and Manchester United, following this weekend’s potentially decisive tilt at the Etihad. It’s tough.

Manchester City’s task is slightly more forgiving, as their remaining opponents average 40.7 points or 10th place.

Liverpool appear to have the most favorable schedule of the trophy chasers, with their opponents averaging 38.4 points, a tally representing the haul of a team in the bottom half of the table. While that’s better than the alternative, it’s not quite so simple for the Reds. On the back of a potentially draining Europa League quarterfinal second leg against Atalanta in mid-April – more on that soon – Klopp’s men have three away games in seven days against Fulham, Everton, and West Ham. In addition to battling their local nemesis, who could still be scrapping for survival at that point, Liverpool will also face a rambunctious Goodison crowd that would love nothing more than to play a critical role in stopping their hated rivals from winning another league crown.

Aston Villa and Spurs, meanwhile, stand out as common foes for all three title hopefuls. Sitting fourth and fifth, respectively, and engaged in their own fight to secure a Champions League place, they could play the role of kingmakers this spring.

European commitments

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Balancing the mental and physical demands of domestic play with continental competition is a huge piece of this puzzle for all three teams. Midweek success can further galvanize a group, but taxing failures can cripple a team’s momentum at home.

Much like the domestic schedule, Liverpool seem to have an edge here. Arsenal and Manchester City will face European behemoths Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in a pair of mouthwatering Champions League quarterfinal ties beginning next month. However, Liverpool have a comparatively charitable Europa League encounter with Atalanta.

If they both advance, Arsenal and City will meet in the Champions League semifinals, an outcome that will surely be celebrated wildly on Merseyside.

How those games intermingle with the league schedule also matters. Liverpool play Crystal Palace and Fulham following their two matchups with the Italian outfit. After locking horns with Bayern, Arsenal have to contend with Aston Villa and Wolves. Manchester City, still active on three fronts as they seek a second consecutive treble, host lowly Luton after the first leg of their Real Madrid rematch and take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals following the second leg.

Injury concerns

Simon Stacpoole/Offside / Offside / Getty

Liverpool have been plagued by injuries all season. Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, and Andy Robertson, among others, have missed varying amounts of time, though the bulk of that group is getting back to full fitness. Alisson Becker remains sidelined and might not return until mid-April. Defensive stalwart Virgil van Dijk is the only Liverpool player to garner over 2,000 league minutes this season, indicating how disruptive injuries have been for Klopp’s team. And yet, they persevere.

Five Manchester City players have cleared the 2,000-minute mark thus far, and a couple more are on the cusp. But the club was without De Bruyne for the entire first half of the season, while trips to the treatment room ravaged Jack Grealish’s year. City also got hit the hardest by the recent international break, with John Stones and Kyle Walker hurt on England duty and racing against time to recover for Sunday’s match versus Arsenal. Swiss defender Manuel Akanji is in the same boat, and Ederson’s return date from a thigh injury remains uncertain. Never shy about tweaking his lineup, Guardiola could be forced to tinker yet again.

Arsenal have been largely unscathed, with six players eclipsing 2,000 league minutes. William Saliba, whose absence last season played an outsize role in Arsenal’s capitulation, has been on the pitch for every second of league play in 2023-24. Gabriel Jesus has battled ailments all year, and Jurrien Timber suffered an ACL injury just 49 minutes into his Premier League debut in the season opener. But the Gunners will be hoping their relative good fortune on the injury front extends right through May, especially as it relates to Bukayo Saka, who pulled out of the England squad to nurse a minor muscular issue.


Justin Setterfield / Getty Images Sport / Getty

First, a disclaimer: Luck will play a pivotal role in determining which team is crowned on May 19. Injuries will continue to be a factor. There will almost certainly be contentious refereeing and VAR decisions that favor and oppose the title challengers. There will also be finishing variance, with players missing seemingly easy chances and converting more difficult opportunities.

Impossible to predict? No matter. We’re not going to let that stop us.

Considering their advantageous schedule, at home and in Europe, along with their improving squad health at just the right time and the inescapable feeling that this is a team of destiny determined to send their beloved manager out on a high, we’re going with Liverpool, who’ll collect 88 points to pip their rivals and again interrupt Manchester City’s run of domestic dominance.

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Premier League

Euro 2024 playoffs: Miraculous Ukraine comeback, big result for Wales

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Wales, Greece, and Poland registered statement wins Thursday, joining three other teams in next Tuesday’s playoff finals for the three remaining places at Euro 2024.

Ukraine staged an incredible late comeback against Bosnia and Herzegovina in its semifinal to keep its Euro dream alive.

The highest-placed team in FIFA’s rankings that’s no longer in contention to reach the tournament in Germany is 60th-placed Finland.

Here’s how the playoff semifinals across Path A, B, and C played out.

Path A

Mateusz Slodkowski / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Poland 5-1 Estonia

Estonia barely stood a chance. Down to 10 men as early as the 27th minute, the northern Europeans could only muster a consolation goal in a 5-1 loss to Poland. The Polish achieved the rout without Robert Lewandowski getting on the scoresheet and remain unbeaten in 21 Euro qualifiers at home, a magnificent run dating back to September 2006. Poland is trying to make up for a poor qualifying campaign in which it finished third in Group E, four points behind the Czech Republic and Albania. The country hasn’t missed the Euros since 2004.

Wales 4-1 Finland

The Red Wall might descend on Germany this summer. Wales’ raucous supporters have legitimate hopes of traveling to another major tournament after the Dragons scorched Finland without the retired Gareth Bale and with Aaron Ramsey, 33, on the bench after more injury problems. Teemu Pukki gave the visiting team some hope just before halftime following well-taken finishes from David Brooks and Neco Williams. But Wales needed just 73 seconds of the second period to restore its two-goal cushion via Brennan Johnson’s tap-in. Daniel James took advantage of a defensive error before rounding the goalkeeper in the 86th minute to give the host a resounding victory.

Playoff final: Wales vs. Poland, Tuesday 3:45 p.m. ET

Path B

David Balogh – UEFA / UEFA / Getty

Israel 1-4 Iceland

Iceland’s Albert Gudmundsson stole the show with an emphatic hat-trick against Israel on Thursday. His stunning free-kick into the top right corner canceled out Eran Zahavi’s opening goal for Israel, and he created a nice cushion for his country with a pair of markers in the final 10 minutes. Just before that, Zahavi blew an incredible opportunity to equalize the match at 2-2, missing a penalty awarded for handball against Iceland’s Gudmundur Thorarinsson. A red card to Israel’s Haim Revivo didn’t help the trailing side. Iceland is now a game away from making only its second-ever appearance at the Euros following its quarterfinal run in 2016.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-2 Ukraine

Ukraine scored twice with just minutes remaining in regulation to snatch what seemed to be a sure victory from Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday. Bosnia controlled play for most of the match and took the lead in the 56th minute when Mykola Matviyenko turned in Amar Dedic’s shot into his own net. But a colossal defensive lapse cost the Bosnians a chance to make it a record four countries from the former Yugoslavia at Euro 2024. Roman Yaremchuk came off the bench to equalize in the 85th minute and teed up Artem Dovbyk’s sensational winning header three minutes later to turn the playoff semifinal on its head. Ukraine now faces Iceland with a third consecutive Euro appearance at stake.

Playoff final: Ukraine vs. Iceland, Tuesday 3:45 p.m. ET

Path C


Georgia 2-0 Luxembourg

Two clever finishes from Budu Zivzivadze in Tbilisi assured Georgia of a place in Path C’s final – and all without the help of suspended talisman Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. But it wasn’t that simple for the host. Luxembourg thought it equalized during the second half, only for the goal to be eventually snatched away due to Maxime Chanot’s apparent foul 45 seconds earlier. Luxembourg’s Chanot was controversially sent off for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and Zivzivadze effectively ended the match six minutes later with his second strike. Kvaratskhelia is available for the final.

Greece 5-0 Kazakhstan

Anastasios Bakasetas lashed home a penalty, Dimitrios Pelkas headed into the net’s roof, Fotis Ioannidis tapped in from close range, and Dimitrios Kourbelis added another header. And that was all before halftime. Kazakhstan’s impressive 2022-23 Nations League campaign and notable Euro 2024 qualifying wins over Denmark, Northern Ireland (twice), and Finland suddenly seemed ages ago, as Greece recorded its biggest halftime lead since October 1978 (5-0 against Finland). Aleksandr Marochkin’s embarrassing own goal in the 85th minute made Kazakhstan’s day even worse.

Playoff final: Georgia vs. Greece, Tuesday 1:00 p.m. ET

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Premier League

Look: Nike unveils beautiful kit selection for Euro 2024, Copa America

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Nike released a stunning batch of threads ahead of Euro 2024 and Copa America on Monday.

Days after Adidas launched its lineup for the summer’s top two tournaments, Nike followed suit with an array of colorful designs.

The U.S. manufacturer also announced redesigns for Canada and Poland, even though they’ve yet to qualify for their respective tournaments. The Canucks face Trinidad and Tobago in a one-off Copa America qualifier on Saturday, while Poland must navigate a four-team playoff to reach Euro 2024.

(All images courtesy of Nike)

Euro 2024



The square-shaped design that gives Croatia its unique look gets a slight upgrade. The home shirt features larger squares than ever before.


Croatia’s away shirt plays on the national flag, with the traditional checkered pattern now on a slant.



Influenced by England’s 1966 training gear, the home shirt has a classic feel with a rich blue collar and gorgeous trim along the cuffs.


England embraces a deep purple hue for its away selection. The crest stands out with a contrasting off-white tint that makes the three lions pop.



France’s home shirt may have the biggest crest of all of Nike’s offerings. The oversized rooster defines this shirt as much as the royal blue that’s made France’s kits a crowd-pleaser.


The pinstripes mirror the colors of France’s national flag and span the width of the shirt in a simple, yet elegant design.



Nike could’ve offered anything orange here, and it would’ve been perfect. But the Netherlands has something bolder and better to wear. The zig-zag pattern adds edge.


The orange collar and cuffs pop alongside the three shades of blue Nike has chosen to create the abstract design on this work of art.



Poland dedicates premium real estate on the country’s home shirt to its imposing crest.


Poland’s away shirt is a daring choice. The graphic treatment adds texture, giving it a rugged feel while separating from the red tones of years past.



With possibly the best home shirt in Nike’s collection, Portugal leans heavily into its traditional red-and-green motif with a polo collar and thick cuffs. The logo sits prominently as well. A smash hit.


Here’s another winner. Portugal’s away strip has a stunning textile imprint that gives off a cool summer vibe.



This is a menacing look. Turkey will look like a whirring red army with these imposing shirts.


The classic red band returns to Turkey’s away uniform. Like the others, it features an oversized crest in the middle of the shirt.

Copa America



Nike goes big with Brazil’s crest and adds an intricate design to the same yellow hue the Selecao have used for decades.


Brazil’s secondary strip feels like the beach. A horizontal wavy pattern covering the entire shirt mimics the country’s picturesque coastline.



The only blemish in Nike’s lineup. Why is there a circle around the swoosh? And why are the shoulders so much darker than the body? None of it makes sense.


The 13 pinstripes are supposed to represent the 10 provinces and three territories that make up Canada. Unfortunately, the rest of the shirt looks incomplete.

United States


The United States men’s national team gets a classic home shirt with patriotic detailing along the color and sleeves.


The gradient works perfectly with the red shorts the U.S. will wear at the Copa America.

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