Friday's soccer news starts with the Confederations Cup. It's easy to dismiss an international tournament that doesn't involve the USMNT. Easier still if you want to jump on board with those who think it's a bit much for FIFA to run a mini-World Cup the year before the main event. Both are fair points, to some extent. They're also tough stances to take when one of the best runs in USMNT history happened at a Confederations Cup.
No, we're not jumping in the wayback machine for a quick trip to the summer of 2009. We certainly could, and that's the point. This is a tournament where teams can and have made the most of it. That's the best case scenario, that those involved take the tournament seriously and respond accordingly to the situation.
That's what makes Portugal vs Mexico on Sunday interesting (11am ET - FS1). Portugal hasn't pulled a Germany and sent an experimental squad. Instead, they're doing enough to suggest that they'd like to show something in Russia. Last summer's Euro 2016 title drew a line between then and now for a team known as an underachiever. They can use the Confederations Cup to add to their new reputation.
Meanwhile, Mexico also put full focus on the tournament. Their draw with the USMNT in World Cup qualifying was just the beginning of a travel day to get as much time in Russia as possible prior to Sunday's game. It's important for Mexico. They showed that by strength of squad. Good for both of them and the rest of us paying attention.
SI.com's Brian Straus on the problems Confederations Cup winners face at the World Cup. BBC Sport's Sarah Rainsford reports on Russia's issues with hooliganism and their preparations to make that a non-issue at the Confederations Cup.
The New Yorker's Michael Luo compliments USMNT player Christian Pulisic on his patience. US Soccer announced the draw for the 2017 US Open Cup Round of 16 along with the potential quarterfinal pairings.
ESPN FC's Bruce Schoenfeld profiles the world of agents in European soccer. The NY Times' Rory Smith profiles new Hull City manager Leonid Slutsky. Pro Soccer Talk's Andy Edwards picks up the rumors that Chelsea and their manager Antonio Conte might have issues. The Guardian's Sid Lowe talks to former Barcelona president Joan Laporta.
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