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Happy Wednesday one and all... and what an auspicious Wednesday it is. Today CBS Sports crowns the inaugural winner of the Golazo 100, our endeavour to discover the greatest men's footballer on the planet. The USMNT are in action tonight and we're only two days away from the start of Euro 2024. I'm James Benge, let's see what's going on in the soccer world!

📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Wednesday, June 12
🇺🇸 Friendly: USA vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. ➡️ TNT
🇦🇷 Primera Division: Independiente vs. Banfield, 8:15 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network

Thursday, June 13
🇪🇸 Segunda Division: Espanyol vs. Sporting Gijon, 3 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+
🇺🇸 USL: Memphis 901 vs. Rhode Island, 8 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+

Friday, June 14
🇪🇺 Euro 2024: Germany vs. Scotland, 3 p.m. ➡️ FOX

⚽ The Forward Line

🏅 Kylian Mbappe: The best in the world


It had to be Kylian Mbappe, really, didn't it? When our panel of over 30 voters from across CBS Sports set out to establish the best men's player in football -- a similar ranking of the women's game is coming in time for the Olympics -- there was no absolute surefire lock, an indisputable colossus bestriding the sport like Lionel Messi has done for so long. There was, however, a clear frontrunner and it was no great surprise that the soon-to-be Real Madrid forward held off challenges from his future team mates Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham to be voted the best of the best.

In all eight players got a vote as the best on the planet -- Mbappe, Vinicius, Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Harry Kane, Lionel Messi and Bellingham -- but ultimately Mbappe won by a clear margin. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising. He ticks all the sort of boxes you might expect from a best in the world: he tends to deliver in the biggest games, he carries his team with remarkable output and his charisma comes close to matching his boundless talent. The sport seems to bend around his presence, nowhere more so than his homeland, as Jonathan Johnson notes:

  • Johnson: "It is not just in Paris that Mbappe's loss will be keenly felt by French soccer -- the former AS Monaco man was genuinely approaching the sort of territory that suggested he was a bigger name than the league itself as the recent television rights fiasco has shown. It is easy to forget that his serial winning started before he had even arrived at PSG with a seventh and first-ever Ligue 1 title and a maiden Champions League semifinal... Ligue 1 has been blessed to have held on to such a talent for so long given its reputation as a selling league."

At Madrid, he has the opportunity to further cement his status as the best on the planet. His new side will surely be one of the favorites to win the Champions League and, after a season without Messi and Neymar, Mbappe will surely thrive in front of goal given a supply line of Vinicius, Bellingham and Rodrygo, among others. Don't take it for granted, however, that the 25-year-old is the man to reign over football in the years ahead. The union of the three top-ranked players on the Golazo 100 at one team has a little of the feel of Kevin Durant-era Golden State Warriors, a winning juggernaut whose sheer confluence of talent robs each individual of the chance to earn the biggest prizes.

Then there are the rivals to the crown. In a down year, Erling Haaland still scored 38 goals in 45 games. Rodri remains a winning machine, Kane a scoring one and on the cusp of this year's top 10 were bright young things such as Bukayo Saka and Florian Wirtz might have greater heights to hit. It won't be long before we're ranking these players all over again, by that time the arguments might just have stopped over the 2024 list. Read it in full here!

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🔗 Midfield Link Play

🇺🇸 It doesn't get any easier for the USMNT


After a bruising 5-1 loss to Colombia, with a high stakes home Copa America right around the corner, what the USA need right now is a pick me up. How nice would it be if the goals started flying in off Folarin Balogun's boots, if Tyler Adams could get a few easy minutes in his legs, if Matt Turner had a few regulation saves on his way to a clean sheet. Well that would be really, really, really nice if it were to happen tonight, given that Gregg Berhalter's side are about to welcome Brazil to Orlando.

The USMNT have never beaten Brazil and although the Selecao are hardly in the richest vein of form -- only beating Mexico 3-2 thanks to a 97th minute winner by Endrick -- they have levels of quality and depth that Berhalter can only dream of. With many first team players having been rested for the last friendly match Dorival Junior could well bring the likes of Vinicius Junior, Bruno Guimaraes and Rodrygo into his XI, getting minutes in the legs of his most important players.

With pressure to bounce back from Saturday's disastrous display, don't expect much in the way of wholesale shakeups to the USMNT XI. The USA need to prove they can excel against top tier opposition and fast. They will be facing off against an impressive Uruguay, second in South America's World Cup qualifiers, in the group stage and one of Colombia or Brazil likely lies ahead of them in the quarterfinals. For his part, Berhalter is convinced that his side can get results against the best of the best. 

  • Berhalter: "I think we can beat top teams, but we have to go show it. We've talked a lot about doing it and for us it's really about the performance, going out there and having a solid performance that you putting yourself in position to actually go ahead and win."

Fail to do so even once in the coming weeks and the head coach, Matt Crocker and indeed the entire USMNT setup can expect (more) questions over whether Berhalter is the man to lead the country into the most significant World Cup it has ever participated in. That might seem quite the state of affairs less than a year after the manager was reappointed, but this is the U.S., where national sports teams aren't reasonably supposed to be in the upper lower second tier of their sport.

Even friendly games against this level of opponent need to offer some semblance of hope that there is a setup in place that can take a pretty big jump in the next two years. One fears, however, that this is going to be another game that shows the USMNT just how big a gap they must leap over.

🔗  Top Stories

🏅 More Golazo 100 coverage: It has been as hectic a Wednesday as I can remember at CBS Sports editorial towers and boy have we got a boatload of Golazo 100 coverage for you. Jonathan Johnson explains why Mbappe was the man to claim the prize, Francesco Porzio breaks it all down by position and team, I look ahead to who might make Golazo 100 v2.0 in 2025.

Ten Hag stays: In a scenario that seemed quite hard to believe as Manchester United plumbed depths undiscovered in a generation, Erik ten Hag is going to be the manager next season. Indeed he is in talks with the club over a contract extension.

🏟️ Dream venues for the NWSL: Wrigley Field proved to be an almighty hit when hosting the Chicago Red Stars against Bay FC this weekend but which iconic venues should follow?

🇺🇦 Playing football in war: It has been 10 years since Shakhtar Donetsk were forced out of their home at the start of Ukraine's conflict with Russia. Club CEO Serhii Palkin spoke to us about what it's like running a football club in the most brutal of circumstances.

🤔 What the USMNT need to improve: Chuck Booth is on hand to analyse some of the quick fixes that Berhalter could make from the Colombia debacle.

💰 The Back Line

💵 Best bet

  • Friendly: USA vs. Brazil, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Vinicius Junior to score two or more (+900) 
    -- This is somewhat contingent on the Ballon d'Or favorite (and runner-up on the Golazo 100) getting significant minutes against the USA but it may not have to be that significant for Vinicius to shine. After all the Brazilian has spent most of the last few months cooking far better full backs than whoever might be rolled out to face him tonight.

📺 What's on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 8-10 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network's flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you'll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday, Thursday): The leading women's soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. The NWSL season is back and our coverage of the women's game is stronger than ever. Our analysts will be breaking down the USWNT, NWSL and European domestic season all year long.  

👟 Kickin' It (Tuesdays): CBS Sports Golazo Network's new unfiltered interview show returns Tuesday Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch. 

⚽ Call it What You Want (Monday night): A weekly podcast where Jimmy Conrad and Charlie Davies cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can't-miss goals from the day's action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports appPluto TV and Paramount+.