Are There Benefits to Drinking Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented food, much like cultured yogurt, cheese, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. Traditionally a carbonated drink with live micro-organisms, kombucha is made by brewing together sugar, black or green tea, liquid from a previous batch and the Scoby, short for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (though its more popular nickname is “mother,” since it reproduces during fermentation).

The “tea of immortality” has come a long way from its reported beginning in China more than 2,000 years ago. It has evolved into a $475 million industry in the United States, nearly quadrupling in the previous four years, according to Nielsen. “Booch,” as it’s known, flows at megastores, coffeehouses and workplaces; and in bars in a more boozy form, with enough alcohol to rival an I.P.A.

What is kombucha said to do?

The drinks are promoted as improving digestion and diabetes, strengthening the immune system, reducing blood pressure and being detoxifying. Proponents also contend kombucha helps rheumatism, gout, hemorrhoids, nervousness and liver function and fights cancer.

“I think there’s a ‘health halo’ around kombucha,” said Howard Telford, head of soft drinks research for Euromonitor International, a global market research provider. Advertised as “probiotic,” the drink taps into interest in the microbiome, and how our diets can affect the microbial communities in our gut, and even our emotions. Eating foods rich in probiotics is thought by some to increase one’s “good” bacteria and balance out the “bad.”

Does kombucha do anything?

If only the tea leaves could say. Just one study looked at the health benefits in humans, according to a review of the available literature published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology. Notably, 24 adults with non-insulin dependent diabetes consumed kombucha for three months, and their mean blood sugar levels reportedly stabilized to within normal ranges. But the study was not controlled or randomized, and the authors of the review noted that many of kombucha’s claims — like benefits involving rheumatism, gout, hemorrhoids and nervousness — were based on anecdotal and unverified findings.

Cellular or animal research indicates the tea may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Like dark chocolate and olive oil, the tea itself is high in polyphenols, or antioxidants. “The antioxidants that come from the tea on their own have a lot of health benefits,” said Rahaf Al Bochi, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

But kombucha is unlike fermented milk products, such as yogurt, which have long been considered to have benefits for digestive and overall health. The bacteria in kombucha have not been confirmed to be probiotic. “We don’t know if it does anything,” said Franck Carbonero, a microbiome scientist at Washington State University-Spokane, in regards to health benefits. Some kombucha brands add probiotics to their tea.

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Does kombucha have alcohol?

Yes, all kombucha drinks contain some ethanol. This varies from beverages with a small amount to those made with a kick. This varies from beverages with a small amount to those made with a kick: Sales of hard kombucha have spiked 247 percent in the last year, according to Nielsen. (Hard kombucha doesn’t necessarily mean booze was added; producers intentionally ferment the tea longer to increase the alcohol content. Mr. Telford, who covers the industry, explained: “All of the retail hard kombucha brands I am aware of produce ‘harder’ kombucha via a longer fermentation period that utilizes more sugar.”)

Most kombucha is marketed as nonalcoholic; that means it falls under the federal 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (A.B.V.) threshold. Anything more becomes regulated as an alcoholic beverage, like beer or wine. Because of fermentation or the way products are stored, the alcohol content can increase even after they hit the shelves.

“There have been many consumer complaints,” said Bill Moses, co-founder of KeVita, a kombucha company PepsiCo Inc. acquired in 2016. “Consumers have unwittingly purchased what was represented as a ‘nonalcoholic’ kombucha that is low in sugar, but found when they consumed it they felt tipsy.” Mr. Moses now heads Flying Embers, a producer of hard kombucha.

In the last two and a half years, six of the 21 kombucha samples the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets examined were above the 0.5 percent alcohol by volume threshold, according to the department. Three were above 1 percent A.B.V.; two of those hit 7 percent. (On average, the A.B.V. for beer is 4.5 percent.) Similarly, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which oversees the beverage alcohol industry, found nine out of 13 kombucha producers whose products it examined in 2015 to be noncompliant; and in 2010, that number was 20 out of 24. “Some of them didn’t just drift,” said Thomas Hogue, a tax and trade bureau spokesman, of past test results. “Some of them got really close to some of the beer ranges.”

Can kombucha harm you?

“Commercial products should be safe,” Dr. Walton Sumner, a research scholar with the Ronin Institute and a co-author of the review on the available literature.said. “But you probably don’t want to use it for all your hydration.” He also advises to drink it in moderation.

There are some exclusions: those with kidney or lung disease, who are at risk for acidosis, a condition in which there is too much acid in the blood. In 1995, two Iowa women fell critically ill after drinking homemade kombucha, and one of them died. Also, the Scoby can cause an infection in those who are immunosuppressed.

The sugar content can also be high for those watching their intake. Be aware of the range: from five grams a serving (Better Booch’s Rose Bliss) to 14 grams (Wonder Drink’s Asian Pear & Ginger).

The shifting levels of alcohol in kombucha can pose a problem for pregnant women, children, and individuals with liver disease or pancreatitis or those in recovery.

“Given that alcohol is a substance with well documented harms, the label should feature a clear and prominent indication of alcohol content,” Dr. Anna Lembke, medical director of addiction medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, wrote in an email interview. She pointed out that for those in recovery, even small amounts of alcohol could trigger cravings for more and recommended that those who are sober refrain from the drink.

Is kombucha a scam?

Given the uncertainty over kombucha’s therapeutic effects, Dr. David Ludwig, professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard University, said tea drinkers should pause if it’s not a flavor they like. “If you’re drinking this for health benefits and not enjoying the taste,” Dr. Ludwig said, “I’d say rethink your drink.”

But for those interested in integrating a variety of microbes into their diet, Dr. Emeran Mayer, author of “The Mind-Gut Connection,” recommends doing so naturally. “I personally drink it occasionally,” he said. Instead of using pills or supplements, he said, alternate different fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kimchi, cultured milk products, and, yes, kombucha.

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Rugby: Daily brain teasers for Japan team, as they face World Cup clash with South Africa

TOKYO (AFP) – Oscar Wilde once said: “Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the centre of the city.”

But World Cup hosts Japan are adopting a more cerebral approach to the “hooligan’s game” – using daily brain teasers to get their neurons firing as they plot their giant-killing antics.

In the build-up to this weekend’s quarter-final against two-time world champions South Africa, hooker Atsushi Sakate revealed that Japan coach Jamie Joseph has his players solve puzzles as a way to stimulate the grey matter.

“The coaches write these brain teasers on a whiteboard for us to think about at the gym,” Sakate told reporters on Wednesday (Oct 16).

“It’s supposed to help us use our brains while we’re lifting weights or when we face tough moments in training or even games.”

Japan’s Brave Blossoms have made history after beating Russia, Ireland, Samoa and Scotland to reach the World Cup knockout phase for the first time.

Kenki Fukuoka, who scored Japan’s try in the 19-12 upset over Ireland, plays the piano to relax between games – an activity linked to sharper reflexes and decision-making.

It was perhaps little surprise then that Sakate identified the fleet-footed winger as Japan’s brainiest player when it came to solving the whiteboard problems, with a respectful nod to giant lock Wimpie van der Walt and winger Lomano Lemeki.

“Kenki is the smartest one among us,” he said.

“He always figures out the answers quickest – but Wimpie and Lomano are pretty good at it too. The rest of us are always asking those guys for hints.

“It’s hard to explain the benefits in concrete terms,” added Sakate. “But it helps us keep calm and to communicate clearly and solve problems that arise during matches.”

Japan famously stunned South Africa 34-32 in their opening fixture of the 2015 World Cup under Eddie Jones, who introduced mental coaches to the Brave Blossoms set-up.

The Springboks crushed the Japanese 41-7 in a World Cup warmup last month and will go into Sunday’s quarter-final in Tokyo as favourites to end the host side’s fairy-tale run.

But Tongan-born lock Uwe Helu warned that Japan were a different beast now after sweeping to top spot in Pool A and achieving their target of a place in knockout stages.

“We already reached our goal – no one expected us to make the top eight,” he shrugged.

“No one will look at us to beat South Africa either, but we’ll have a few tricks this weekend – it’s another chance to prove people wrong.”

Utility back Ryohei Yamanaka, whose 2011 World Cup dreams were dashed after he was banned for using a hair-growth cream to try to grow a moustache which contained an illegal substance, insisted Japan could spring another shock.

“Obviously we have no experience of being in a World Cup quarter-final,” he said.

“But we’re ready to go. We have nothing to lose, we just have to go out and give everything we have.”

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Lidl to invest £15BILLION in UK supermarkets over next five years

Lidl vows to sell more British meat and fresh produce as bosses reveal they will invest £15 BILLION in UK supermarkets over next five years

  • Lidl has stepped up its attack on big-four supermarkets with new investment
  • It is opening up to 60 stores over the next year as it ploughs in £15billion 

Lidl is stepping up its assault on the so-called ‘big four’ British supermarkets after announcing it will plough a further £15billion into its UK business in the next five years.

It emerged yesterday that Tesco, Sainbury’s, Asda and Morrisons now hold just 62.7% share of the market, their lowest combined figure in 15 years.

The budget insurgents into the market, Lidl and Aldi, now have a 6% and 8% share respectively, which they are aggressively trying to increase.

Lidl has announced it is opening 50 to 60 new stores this year and is spending £500million in London alone over the next five years as it tries to take on smaller high street stores.

Lidl will plough £15billion into its British business in the next five years as its assault on the so-called ‘big four’ supermarkets continues

Bosses today also pledged to increase sales of British sourced fresh meat, poultry and fresh produce by more than 10% across the next 12 months and introduce longer contracts with suppliers to provide stability.  

The decision follows a recent commitment from Lidl to source 100% of its fresh poultry from UK farms.

Last week bosses also unveiled a new £70 million warehouse in Motherwell, Scotland, and on Tuesday it was revealed that sales grew 8.2% in the 12 weeks to October 6 compared with a year ago, according to Kantar. 

UK’s top supermarkets by market share 

1. Tesco – 27%

2. Sainsbury’s – 15.3%

3. Asda – 15%

4. Morrisons – 9.9%

5. Aldi – 8.1%

6. Co-op – 6.6%

7. Lidl – 6%

8. Waitrose – 5.1%

9. Iceland – 2.1%

10. Ocado – 1.4%

*Market share in the six weeks up to October 2019. Source, Kantar

Lidl has also confirmed it is planning to move into online sales, after it was spotted trying to recruit a digital project manager.

Speaking today, Lidl’s chief commercial officer Ryan McDonnell said: ‘Our long-term partnerships with farmers are all the more important during economic uncertainty, and with 2019 marking our 25th anniversary, we are more committed than ever to supporting our suppliers here in Britain and offering customers British-sourced products in the future.’

In March 2017, the discount supermarket also signed the National Farmers’ Union’s Back British Farming Charter and has spent several years playing up its British credentials.

Tom Hulme, who runs AC Hulme & Sons, which has been Lidl’s main supplier of apples and pears for more than 10 years, said: ‘We wouldn’t have even contemplated upgrading our packhouse if it wasn’t for our confidence in Lidl’s future custom.

‘The company has stayed true to its word with its growing orders over the years, giving us certainty in an industry that faces many uncertainties – like the British weather.’ 

Lidl opened its first UK store in 1994 and now has 760 stores and 13 warehouses across the country. 

Lidl is advertising for a digital project manager who will be tasked with ‘helping to deliver a new online platform with the aim of acquiring new customers and driving online sales’

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Russia says it will push for agreements between Syria, Kurds: RIA

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will encourage Syria’s government and Kurdish forces to reach agreements and implement them following a Turkish operation in Syria’s northeast, the RIA news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday.

Speaking in Russia’s Black Sea city of Sochi, Lavrov said the Turkish operation had allowed captured Islamic State fighters to escape. He added that Moscow would support security cooperation between Turkish and Syrian forces along their border.

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Dianne Buswell looks unrecognisable in hilarious teenage throwback video

It's not just Strictly Come Dancing that Dianne Buswell is recognised for – it's also her signature bright red hair! But the pro dancer hasn't always been so brave when it comes to the colour of her tresses, as she proved with a hilarious throwback video on her Instagram Stories on Tuesday evening. The Aussie native treated fans to another one of her talents as she shared some clips of herself as a teenager timidly singing – and she had brown hair!

"Don't laugh!!!!! I'm the one wearing the big coat. Enjoy," she captioned one clip of herself singing on a stage with a friend. "I'm taking it all very seriously," she added in another, zooming in on her own face. Referencing her boyfriend Joe Sugg's new role in West End musical Waitress, she captioned a third clip, "Move over Joe Sugg." And her final throwback she captioned: "I had one emotion this whole song," followed by a series of laughing face emojis and a see-no-evil monkey emoji. Dianne may cringe at her childhood ambition – but we absolutely love it!

Dianne looks so different with brown hair

MORE: Ola Jordan and husband James share gorgeous date night selfie

Following her shock Strictly elimination alongside partner Dev Griffin over the weekend, Dianne has been forced to jump to the defence of head judge Shirley Ballas after she fell victim to online abuse following her decision to boot Dianne off the show. One fan tweeted the Aussie pro dancer and her boyfriend Joe, telling them: "Please sort your fans out @dbuzz6589 & @Joe_Sugg. I get why people are upset & I don't think it was @dev_101's time to go. But sending vile abusive tweets & death threats to @ShirleyBallas is totally out of order. Imagine if it was a member of your family on the receiving end."

Dev and Dianne's elimination from Strictly caused upset with fans 

MORE: Prince William and Kate visit spectacular glacier in Pakistan – see best photos

The 30-year-old was quick to respond and told her followers: "Guys this is terrible you cannot be bullying like this. It's awful and really upsets me to hear this. It's simply not ok and should never happen!"

On Sunday, Shirley and her three fellow judges Motsi Mabuse, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood all opted to save Aljaz Skorjanec and Viscountess Emma Weymouth in the dance-off, leaving Dianne and her celebrity dance partner Dev Griffin to exit the show. The decision came as a massive shock to fans, with some even claiming that the phone line for Dev and Dianne was down when they tried to vote.

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Kate Middleton and Princess Diana Both Wore Traditional Chitrali Hats While Visiting Pakistan

On Wednesday, October 16, Kate Middleton and Prince William continued their royal tour of Pakistan with a visit to Chitral in the Hindu Kush region, near the Afghan border.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were gifted with traditional Chitrali hats as they landed—which Kate immediately tried on.

William was also given an embroidered coat and Kate also received a warm shawl (which she also tried on immediately and seemed to genuinely adore, if the photos shared by the royal correspondents reporting on the trip are any indication).

The Duchess’ look wasn’t just delightful for her, it was also a treat for longtime royal fans who were reminded of Kate’s late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. The People’s Princess also donned a traditional Chitrali during her own visit to Pakistan in 1991.

“Great pic by Martin Keene of PA of Princess Diana in Chitral in 1991,” The Sun‘s royal correspondent, Emily Andrews, tweeted, along with pictures of both Kate and Diana wearing the traditional headpiece. “Kate’s hat has peacock feathers while Diana’s looks like bird of prey #RoyalVisitPakistan.”

Earlier during the tour, Kate paid homage to Diana’s style from her Pakistan trip in an aqua blue dress and pants which offered a modern twist on the traditional shalwar kameez—a loose-fitting tunic with pants. Diana wore a similar look during her 1991 visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in Lahore.

We won’t be surprised if Kate makes another nod (or a few more nods, for that matter) to Princess Diana’s Pakistan wardrobe before the tour is over.

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Hudson-Odoi gives Chelsea injury scare as winger seen limping with ice pack on his thigh after England U21s win – The Sun

CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI gave Chelsea a fresh injury scare after he was seen with an ice pack on his thigh following England's thrashing of Austria.

The Blues winger scored two as Aidy Boothroyd's Under-21s hammered the visitors 5-1 at Stadium MK.

Hudson-Odoi, 18, scored a well-taken 12th-minute volley to break the deadlock before curling home a lovely second in the 46th minute.

But it was after the game that he will have given Stamford Bridge boss Frank Lampard cause for concern.

A popular Chelsea fan account claimed Hudson-Odoi had an ice pack on his thigh and that he was "walking gingerly".

Hudson-Odoi has only just returned from a serious Achilles injury he suffered in April.

He hit the ground running with a goal against Grimsby on his comeback in the Carabao Cup.

And he has provided assists in each of his three Chelsea outings since.

A tweet from @CarefreeYouth read: "Something people wouldn't have seen unless at the game.

"Callum has a ice pack on his thigh after the game, walking gingerly to have a after-match interview on the pitch.

"Hopefully it's just muscle tightness and nothing more."

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Holy houses! Instagram users unveil incredible converted church homes

Holy houses! Instagram users unveil their converted church homes which have been turned into modern spaces – including minimalist havens and rustic boltholes

  • Homeowners from around the world are revealing their unconventional houses
  • Using hashtag #ConvertedChurches, Instagram users reveal their ‘holy homes’ 
  • Some converted  the old religious spaces into stunning minimalist properties
  • Others retain original features and maintain some rustic charm of the houses

Some say your house should be your own temple – but some homeowners are taking the expression far more literally than others. 

With their high ceilings, incredible stone architecture and huge windows, there are plenty of reasons why a church could seem like the perfect place to build a home.

Now, homeowners from around the world have taken to showing off their less than conventional houses using the hashtag #ConvertedChurches.

From chic minimalist interiors, to bright and colourful conversions, these homeowners have transformed places of worship into unconventional living spaces. 

Homeowners from around the world have taken to sharing their unconventional but stunning converted church interiors using the hashtag #ConvertedChurch (pictured, a converted church in Ontatio) 

One user, whose location is unknown, revealed how they’d combined modern geometric styles cleverly with the church’s original features 

One couple revealed their stunning minimalist home, which managed to retain some of the church’s original features – including some of the exposed brickwork 

Another user, from East Nashville, unveiled this eccentric apartment space within a church dating back to 1904 

One woman, from Sweden, revealed the stunning modern take on a family home in her church conversion, which features cool wooden and geometric interiors 

Another person, from Lincoln, shared one of their converted bedrooms in the property, which included the original huge leaded window (pictured) 

Some of the snaps shared revealed interiors which boast a cool and chic white minimalist style, which balances the churches’ ancient features.

One woman, from Sweden, posted pictures of her converted chapel, which featured a concrete floor, exposed steel beams and a trendy black geometric style staircase. 

The property, which she lives in with her two children, was transformed from a derelict building into a standing, albeit unconventional, family home.

Meanwhile another user, from Ontario, revealed their newly renovated 1888 church. 

Another person, from Australia, revealed a comfortable corner of their church home which was beautifully lit by a huge original window 

One woman, from New York, revealed the stunning wooden church which offered a cosy open plan home 

One couple, from Berlin, shared their ‘converted’ ’60s modernist property on Instagram, showing off one of the smaller side rooms in their church 

Another person, whose location is unknown, revealed the stunning open-plan loft build into the roof of a church

The place of worship boasts a cool modern look into a three bedroom Airbnb with a private waterfront view.

Another person told how they’d incorporated a modern style into the space to make the most of the church’s original stunning stained glass windows. 

But while some opted for chic and modern, others maintained a more ‘classic’ and authentic style. 

One person, from Lincoln, shared one of their converted bedrooms in the property, which included the original huge leaded window, as well as decadent decorations.

Meanwhile, another woman from New York told how she had converted an old wooden church into a stunning open plan living area. 

Keeping the original stain glass windows and wooden features, she added a log burner and cool trendy furniture to modernise the space.  

Another woman, from Wisconsin, revealed her charming minimalist bedroom in a converted chapel (pictured)

One user, from Ontario, revealed the stunning white interior of their converted 1888 church, which now boasts three bedrooms

Another user, whose location is unknown, revealed how they’d used clever cut away flooring to showcase the church’s original stained glass windows 

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Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke Trade Jabs Over Gun Reform Plans At Democratic Debate

One of the livelier exchanges at the Democratic primary debate on Tuesday night was a bitter back-and-forth between South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

O’Rourke has tied his candidacy recently to a mandatory AR-15 and AK-47 weapon buyback proposal to limit the number of firearms on the streets. At the last debate, when he was asked whether that meant he was proposing to take away guns, O’Rourke responded, “Hell yes.”

At Tuesday’s debate, sponsored by CNN and The New York Times, O’Rourke took issue with Buttigieg’s description of the plan as a “shiny object” that will distract from efforts to defeat Donald Trump.

O’Rourke called the comment “a slap in the face” to “every survivor of mass casualty assault.”

Buttigieg responded, “Congressman, you just made it clear that you don’t know how this is going to take weapons off the street. If you can develop the plan further, I think we can have a debate about it, but we can’t wait. People are dying in the streets right now but we can’t wait for universal background checks that we finally have a shot to get through.”

O’Rourke shot back: “This is a crisis and we have to do something about it.”

He pointed to the actions of the Parkland students in demanding urgent action on the issue.

“Let’s follow their inspiration and lead, and not be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups,” O’Rourke said.

Buttigieg, however, took that as a dig on his own proposals.

“The problem isn’t in the polls. It is in the policy. I don’t need lessons from you in courage, political or personal,” Buttigieg said, adding that the problem is the National Rifle Association “and their enablers in Congress and we should be united in taking the fight to them.”

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Canada pulls off upset of U.S. men’s national soccer team in Concacaf Nations League play

TORONTO (AP) — The U.S. men’s soccer team lost to Canada for the first time in 34 years, allowing second-half goals to Alphonso Davis and Lucas Cavallini in a 2-0 defeat Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Nations League.

A little over two years after the Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by losing at Trinidad and Tobago, they saw their 17-match unbeaten streak against their northern neighbor come to an end.

Davies turned in a cross from Scott Arfield. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen put a palm up to block Davies’ shot but the ball still dropped over the line as Canada’s players rushed to join Davies for a raucous celebration.

63′ Goal by Alphonso Davies! @CanadaSoccerEN’s 🇨🇦 has the lead! 1-0 over @ussoccer_mnt 🇺🇸 in Toronto |

Cavallini added a 90th-minute for 75th-ranked Canada, taking long pass and beating Steffen to the near post with a low shot.

Goal @CanadaSoccerEN 🇨🇦! Lucas Cavalini scores Canada’s second goal of the night! This is the first win against @ussoccer_mnt 🇺🇸 since 1985!

Christian Pulisic had a point-blank shot saved by goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the 51st minute.

The 21st-ranked U.S., coming off last week’s opening 7-0 home rout of Cuba, had nine wins and eight draws against Canada since a 2-0 exhibition defeat at Vancouver, British Columbia, in April 1985.

Canada is trying to climb into the top six in the region in FIFA rankings, which will be used next summer to determine the nations in the hexagonal will produce the three direct qualifiers from the North and Central American and Caribbean region for the 2022 World Cup.

The U.S. and Canada meet again Nov. 15 at Orlando, Florida, and the U.S. faces Cuba four days later George Town, Cayman Islands.

American coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes, inserting Steffen, right back DeAndre Yedlin, central defender Aaron Long and midfielder Michael Bradley. Yedlin made his first international appearance since March 26 after recovering from groin surgery.

Defender Ream captained the U.S. for the fourth time.

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