The Daily Links- Ricardo Clark Saves The USMNT Against Venezuela, and Clint Dempsey's Hat Trick

Clint Dempsey became the first American to score a hat trick in Premier League history in Fulham's 5-2 win over Newcastle. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Not too many links out there today, so it's a somewhat USMNT-centric edition.

For as much of a bore the majority of the US/ Venezuela match was last night, the dying minutes of that match were 100% entertainment.

For those that didn't get a chance to watch the match last night, USMNT super sub Ricardo Clark saved the night for the Yanks, scoring a goal in the final seconds of the game to give the U.S. a 1-0 victory.

The US dominated the majority of the game, and they had a slew of chances to score, but continually shot themselves in the foot. Teal Bunbury, Chris Wondolowski, and Brek Shea, among others, had relatively easy opportunities to net goals, yet never could until Clark finally snuck one past Venezuelan goal keeper, Jose Morales, at the very end.

The USMNT squad that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann fielded at the start of the match featured two Sporting Kansas City players: Teal Bunbury, and Graham Zusi. Sapong actually came in the game for Zusi in the 74th minute of play. As Luke Lohr over at the MLS Reserves twitter account stated, "So for those coming in, it's @SportingKC and a few other guys vs. Venezuela."

As for how our guys played in the match, it was a mixed bag. A lot of the "experts" were down on Zusi after the match, but I'm not going to hold much against the guy (Here's some more thoughts on the SKC guys' performances). True, he didn't have his best game by far, but one has to remember it was his first match playing for the Yanks, and for some odd reason, Klinsmann deployed Graham out wide as a winger. I want to see Graham playing more of a midfielder role before I'll make any judgement about whether he can, or can't hold his own for the national team. Oh, and that free kick that connected with Brek Shea's melon that almost put the US on the board in the first half? Classic Graham Zusi.

Teal was the typical Teal we've come to know so well over the past year or so. Flashes of brilliance, but then poor finishing. In all reality, he probably should have scored two goals. In all fairness, I do think the team needs to feed their forwards on a more consistent basis. Teal did almost make a nice goal in the first half that just skied over the top of the cross bar.

CJ, despite playing only around 20 or so minutes, had the best outing of all the Sporting players. He's just a dominant physical force. I could eventually see Sapong being a more consistent version of Jozy Altidore. Or am I way off in thinking that?

My Sporting KC player grades for last night's match? Zusi-5, Bunbury-5, Sapong-7

That Clint Dempsey guy is pretty good, huh? Yesterday he became the first American soccer player to score a hat-trick in the history of the English Premier League, as Fulham dismantled Newcastle United 5-2.

I tend to agree with the majority of the sentiment that I read on twitter after Dempsey's feat. The guy deserves to play with a top European club, and it needs to happen soon. At this point in time, Dempsey is one of the best players in the EPL, and no offense to Fulham, but he's somewhat wasting his talents there. I'd love for him to have the opportunity to play in the Champions League with a club like Arsenal, or dare I say... Chelsea (would never happen, but I can dream right?).

Oh, and the Montreal Impact apparently signed former Kansas City man, Shavar Thomas. You know, I think I'm going to like this year's Thomas a little bit more. Anyone who can hang with Matt Besler on the Beep Test gets my seal of approval.

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