Thursday, May 16, 2013
I have been slacking lately with this blog but things should be picking up in the next month. The U.S. men's national team has a pair of top-notch friendlies stateside (vs. Belgium and Germany) before they get back to 2014 World Cup qualifying against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras. In anticipation of those matches, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann today named his 26-man roster that's coming to training camp in Cleveland starting on May 26.
GOALKEEPERS (6) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8) : DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (10) : Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5) : Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
For me, the most notable parts of the roster are Holden who hasn't played for the U.S. since October 2010 because of various injuries. Also, Howard and Johnson are back after they missed the last qualifiers-in March. Of course the biggest name not to be on here is Landon Donovan although reports earlier in the week indicated this would be the case. Defenders Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler are both still out like in March as they rehab from knee injuries.
The friendlies start on May 29 as the Americans host Belgium at First Energy Stadium. After that, they'll play Germany on June 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. Things get real on June 7 as the U.S. visits Jamaica in Kingston then they return home to face Panama on June 11 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. This very busy stretch wraps up on June 18 with the U.S. taking a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium in Honduras.
“We are very excited about the group we have put together,” said Klinsmann in a press release. “The players understand more how we’re working, what we’re looking for, the way we want to play and the way we want to challenge big nations eye-to-eye. As we go into this stretch of two friendly games against Belgium and Germany and three big World Cup Qualifiers, we want to see more consistent performances. There is a huge opportunity to pick up a lot of points and put ourselves in a good position to qualify for Brazil.”
Michael Bradley will compete in the Coppa Italia Final on May 26 in Rome against Lazio.
Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona have continued the historic run with Club Tijuana in the 2013 Copa Libertadores, advancing to the quarterfinals to face Atletico Mineiro on May 22 and May 29.
Sean Johnson (May 26-30), Bill Hamid (May 30-June 2), Tally Hall (June 2-June 8) and Nick Rimando (June 9-19) will all rotate through camp at different stages and serve as the third goalkeeper.
Eight players are carrying yellow cards into the next World Cup qualifiers: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Fabian Johnson and Graham Zusi. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.
I'm looking forward to all these matches since it's rare that they get to play such quality European squads. The World Cup qualifiers are their own animal and it will be exciting to get back into that emotional grind.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tonight's game at Estadio Azteca had many things that I hate about soccer (no goals, few scoring chances, tons of fouls, plenty of diving) that won't help it appeal to new audiences but I certainly can't complain about the final result: the U.S. men's national team tied Mexico 0-0. Coupled with Friday's 1-0 win over Costa Rica in the blizzard in Denver, four points in two matches is exactly what the Americans needed.
It was only the second time that the U.S. has earned a point in Mexico during World Cup qualifying, the last time was another scoreless draw on Nov. 2, 1997. The draw in the USA’s third of 10 matches in the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying moved the Americans to 1-1-1 (4 points) in the Hexagonal and into a three-way tie for second place with Honduras and Costa Rica behind Panama (1-0-2, 5 points) at the top of the table. Mexico (0-0-3, 3 points) is in fifth place and Jamaica (0-1-2, 2 points) sits in sixth. The top three finishers qualify directly to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
In other results tonight Panama blanked Honduras 2-0 at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City and Costa Rica moved up from last place with a 2-0 victory against Jamaica at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Mexico outshot the U.S. 17-1 and had 13 more corner kicks (15-2) as the Americans played in an Italian style defensive shell that for once, I totally understood and agreed with. Backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan picked up his second straight clean sheet with a few solid saves but truthfully, Mexico wasted all their chances including headers that somehow went over the net or wide from a few yards away.
Center backs Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler along with fullbacks Geoff Cameron and DeMarcus Beasley were the real stars as they did their best to stay composed despite the fact that they had to play defense basically the entire match. I can't remember one decent U.S. chance that didn't come off a set piece or corner kick.
Their next 2014 World Cup qualifying games are June 7 in Jamaica and then June 11 vs. Panama in Seattle. Hopefully by then, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra (maybe?), Steve Cherundolo, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson etc. are in form, healthy and in the lineup or at least on the U.S. bench. There are only so many games like this where you can get a result with the MLS All-Star team. Before that, Jurgen Kliinsmann's squad hosts two quality European teams: Belgium on May 29 in Cleveland and his home country-Germany-on June 2 in Washington DC.
Monday, March 18, 2013
The U.S. men's next World Cup qualifiers are Friday against Costa Rica in Colorado and next Tuesday in Mexico City against Mexico. Today, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his 23-man roster which is notable since Tim Howard (back), Steve Cherundolo (knee) and Timmy Chandler (hamstring) are among the eight regulars who were left off due to various injuries and illness.
Friday's match is at sold-out Dick's Sporting Good Park, it is the second game of the Hexagonal will be broadcast live on ESPN (10 p.m. EST). Tuesday (10:30 p.m. EST, ESPN) is at Estadio Azteca, a place where the U.S. has never won a World Cup qualifier although they finally grabbed a win there last summer.
“We know we have a big task ahead of us, and we are confident our group will get the job done,” said Klinsmann in a press release. “Obviously there are many players out with injuries, and that means the next person in line has a chance to step up. Getting points at home in World Cup qualifying is huge, and we are looking forward to having an awesome crowd supporting us in Denver on Friday night.”
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa - 5/3 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake – 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake – 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 6/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 1/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby – 5/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes – 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla – 26/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake – 2/0), Michael Bradley (Roma – 20/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana – 1/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 10/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 – 6/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City – 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 4/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 18/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna – 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 27/11), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC – 12/10)
The five other Americans that won't be there are Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Fabian Johnson (hip), Jonathan Spector (ankle), Jose Torres (hamstring) and Danny Williams (illness). Klinsmann and his team won't make excuses, they have more than enough talent remaining to still get some positive results. Friday's game, since it is at home plus they are coming off the 2-1 loss to Honduras means that they need a win pretty badly. I don't expect them to win in Mexico, especially without Howard so it might be the first time in my life that I root for a draw. That would be a solid result for the U.S. First things first, they need to beat Costa Rica and get some confidence back after their awful showing in Honduras (February 6).
UPDATE 3/19: Midfielder Brad Davis was added to the roster.
UPDATE 3/20: With Carlos Bocanegra not on the roster, Klinsmann had to pick a new captain for these two qualifiers. His choice of Dempsey is fine by me, why not go with the best player who must have the respect of his teammates?
Friday, March 8, 2013
Facing two vital World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica (March 22 in Colorado) and Mexico (March 26 in Mexico City) in two weeks, the U.S. men's soccer team received some very bad news. Goalkeeper Tim Howard picked up two broken bones in his back playing for Everton so he's expected to be out for the rest of March.
That means that backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan would start in his first World Cup qualifiers in four years for the Americans. The good news is that Guzan has been the starter lately for Aston Villa so he should be ready.
Howard was hurt Feb. 26 in an FA Cup win over Oldham and missed last weekend's Premier League game against Reading. That ended his streak of consecutive league matches at 210, two shy of the Everton record set by goalkeeper Neville Southall from 1987-93.
Everton manager David Moyes said Howard will miss Saturday's FA Cup quarterfinal against Wigan and the March 16 match league match versus Manchester City, but could return March 30 against Stoke.
"We are not sure how long Tim will be out for because, obviously with a goalkeeper, he has to dive around and hit the ground," Moyes said Friday, according to the team's website. "If everything goes well, he misses next week's game, as well, and then because of the international break he might be close after the rest because that would be four weeks."
Howard is getting up there in age (34) although goalkeepers can play at a much higher level in later years than most field players. He is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world; he started all their games at the 2010 World Cup and the previous seven World Cup qualifiers for Brazil 2014.
"He has two fractures, but they are not bones that are supporting anything," Moyes said. "It is off the spine. They are not weight-bearing. It just needs a bit of healing time. It is not like a pure fracture where you need to wait to look at it. It is a question of whether he can cope with the pain. The bones will heal themselves, but it's not good."
Midfielder Landon Donovan won't start training with the LA Galaxy until later this month so he won't be ready for these upcoming matches. Midfielder Clint Dempsey has been out since February 21 at Tottenham dealing with a calf injury and fullback Steve Cherundolo could miss a month at Hannover (Germany) with a shoulder injury.
None of this makes me feel better, I was already expecting the U.S. to not win at Mexico. They really need a win vs. Costa Rica to get some confidence back after the 2-1 loss at Honduras in February to open this last round of qualifying (the Hexagonal).
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I'm not in PR so I won't sit here and try to tell you that the Algarve Cup is famous or important. Haha I honestly was spelling it wrong before I just double-checked it earlier tonight. Still, it's a good tuneup for the U.S. women's national team since it's their first tournament of the year. They meet Iceland, China and Sweden in group play on March 6-11 in Portugal. There are 12 teams and the U.S. finished in third-place last year at it, their 1-0 loss to Japan in group play turned out to be their only setback of 2012.
Today, Tom Sermanni named his 23-player roster for these matches.
U.S. Women’s National Team Training Camp Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Ashlyn Harris (Duisburg), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Liverpool), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg FC), Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (PSG), Carli Lloyd (Western NY Flash), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Lyon)
FORWARDS (5): Lindsey Horan (PSG), Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)
The big news for the Americans is that goalkeeper Hope Solo is out since she's getting wrist surgery. The U.S. medical staff recommended she take care of that now so she'll be fine for the 2015 World Cup qualifying which starts next year. Ashlyn Harris will be looking for her first cap but she'll probably be the third goalkeeper. The other player looking for her first cap is Lindsey Horan, who is 18 but skipped college to play professionally in France. She's an interesting story which I got up to speed on today, check it out for yourself. I had no idea an American had done that in women's soccer before.
UPDATE 3/13: The injuries continue to pile up for the U.S. women's national team. Backup goalkeeper Jill Loyden broke her hand in training last week and then today it was announced that midfielder Carli Lloyd will be out 6-8 weeks after breaking a bone in her shoulder during the opening match of the Algarve Cup vs. Iceland.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Look I get it, if you just know Jermaine Jones from his caps for the U.S. men's soccer team the past few years then you probably don't get what all the hype is about. So he is a clumsy midfielder that can pick up a bunch of yellow cards, what's the big deal? I'm not a founding member of his fan club by any means but a highlight reel goal like this by him (for Schalke this afternoon in a Champions League Round of 16 match vs. Galatasaray) shows that maybe Jurgen Klinsmann is onto something.
PS With this goal, he became only the second U.S. player to score this late in the UEFA Champions League, joining DeMarcus Beasley.
The U.S. women's national team will play the Netherlands in The Hague at Kyocera Stadium on Tuesday, April 9. That is four days after the U.S. meets Germany and it will be the first time the Americans have played the Dutch since 2006. It won't be on TV so U.S. fans will have to pay attention to ussoccer.com's matchtracker and their Twitter account: @ussoccer_wnt
The games against Germany, the Netherlands and Canada in Toronto on June 2 are the first high-profile away friendly matches of the year for the U.S. WNT as U.S. Soccer celebrates its Centennial in 2013.
“The Dutch and the Germans will be at the height of their preparations for the European championships and we are fortunate to get these kind of quality matches in the year after the World Cup and Olympic cycle,” said U.S. head coach Tom Sermanni. “Our team is looking forward to experiencing the fantastic soccer cultures of both countries and embracing the challenge of playing two sides just two months before they take part in the biggest women’s soccer event in Europe.”
The match against the Netherlands will be just the sixth meeting between the two countries, the first since 2006 and the first in Holland since 1991, which was the USA’s only loss of the series, a 4-3 setback in Vianen. The match in 2006 took place at the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea, a 2-0 U.S. victory.
The U.S. is 4-1-0 all-time against the Netherlands with four straight shutouts (outscoring the Dutch by 16 goals in the process). Holland won the first meeting 4-3. The Netherlands qualified for the 2013 European Women's Championship in Sweden, they are in Group B this summer with Germany, Norway and Iceland.
Tom Sermanni's squad will reconvene shortly to get ready for the 2013 Algarve Cup. Their next match is March 6 vs. Iceland in Albufeira, Portugal. That's followed by games with China (March 8) and Sweden (March 11).