Monday, May 30, 2011
When one door closes for the U.S. men's national team, another opens in every sense of that tired cliche.
New England Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber went down on Saturday night with an ankle injury against the Los Angles Galaxy. That puts his status in serious jeopardy heading into the friendly against Spain this week, not to mention the Gold Cup later in June.
The positive side of that is it gives Boston College product Alejandro Bedoya, a chance to get back with the national team.
Bedoya, a midfielder, has made seven appearances for the U.S. and was on the preliminary roster for last year's World Cup. He has spent the last two years in Sweden with Orebro, scoring four goals in nine matches this season.
Feilhaber is being evaluated after injuring his ankle in New England's 1-0 loss to Los Angeles. Teams have until 24 hours before their first Gold Cup game to replace injured players. The Americans begin group play June 7 against Canada.
The U.S. also faces World Cup champion Spain on Saturday in an exhibition.
It would be the best of both worlds if Feilhaber's injury isn't that serious while Bedoya flourishes in camp and gets a real shot to show what he can do with the U.S. in June.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Another day closer to U.S. vs. Spain which is a week from Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The teams are also holding open practices the night before.
Spain announced its roster for that friendly along with a match against Venezuela three days later.
The biggest names left off are Carlos Puyol and Xavi Hernandez, who are both dealing with injuries plus their club team (Barcelona) is playing on Saturday in the Champions League final vs. Manchester United (more on that in the days to come).
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque preferred to rest the Barcelona pair as Puyol has played little in 2011 due to a knee injury.
"He's suffering quite a lot from his problem,'' Del Bosque said regarding the tendinitis in Puyol's right knee that has limited him to three appearances since Jan. 22.
Xavi was being rested after a taxing season which culminates in Saturday's Champions League final against Manchester United.
"I personally spoke with Xavi and we thought it was better not to bring him after such a long season,'' Del Bosque added.
The matches will be the first test of whether relations within the world champion squad have been strained by the recent run of ill-tempered matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with a combined 11 players from the two teams included.
Tensions between teammates were raised as the bitter Spanish rivals played four times in 18 days.
"We retain our confidence in the World Cup group of players,'' Del Bosque said. "The most important thing is we're bringing the players we need to.''
Injured Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas is missing, but Fernando Torres kept his place despite his poor form since moving from Liverpool to Chelsea.
"He's a stable player inside this group - we didn't want to open up any debate,'' Del Bosque said from the Spanish federation headquarters.
Del Bosque recalled Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo after a 20-goal season, while Villarreal midfield duo Borja Valero and Bruno Soriano were also included. Striker Manu del Moral earned his first call-up, getting the nod over Valencia pair Roberto Soldado or Aritz Aduritz.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).
Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao).
Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal), Borja Valero (Villarreal).
Forwards: David Villa (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Manu Del Moral (Sevilla), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla)
If you're a U.S. fan, you still have to be excited since Spain is clearly bringing almost all of their big names and taking these games seriously. It's only fitting since Bob Bradley has loaded his team too which should make for a great atmosphere at Gillette! Hope we luck out and get some summer-type weather.
Monday, May 23, 2011
U.S. men's national team head coach Bob Bradley announced his 23-man roster for the Spain friendly and the Gold Cup today.
The one real surprise or should I say blast from the past was Freddy Adu. I seem to vaguely remember ranting and raving last summer about how Freddy deserved a shot in the U.S. camp so I'm not going to repeat myself but simply say that I like it Bob.
Yes, Adu is basically a cautionary tale on wasting young talent in a country that didn't know what to do with him but let's remember he's still only 21 (he turns 22 on June 2) so he's not quite fully washed up yet.
It is the first time in almost two years he's been included in coach Bob Bradley's plans. Adu has been playing at Rizespor in Turkey's second division since January.
"Freddy is a player that, in the past, has shown us soccer qualities that we think help our team,'' Bradley said. "It hasn't always added up enough yet with the full national team, but it seems like a good opportunity to get him back in with us when we have a good month together, and challenge him and hope that he has continued to grow and mature.''
The Americans will begin reporting Thursday to training camp in Cary, N.C. They have a June 4 exhibition in Foxborough, Mass., against World Cup champion Spain, followed by the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The Americans open group play June 7 in Detroit against Canada. They play Panama on June 11 in Tampa, Fla., and close the first round against Guadeloupe on June 14 at Kansas City, Kan.
The rest of the roster is mostly predictable with all the big names from European clubs (Howard, Dempsey, Bradley) all coming back to the States for what is one of their most anticipated friendlies ever (and I'm not just saying that solely because it's in my backyard).
The Gold Cup should also serve as a welcome diversion as it finally turns to summer (crosses fingers), the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals wind down and there's nothing but baseball to watch for months on end.
If all goes well, the U.S. should carry over the momentum it built last summer, roll over the very beatable teams and eventually meet Mexico in the Gold Cup Final. Sounds good right?
Here's the entire roster with their position and club teams:
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Nick Rimando (Salt Lake)
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres, Mexico), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Eric Lichaj (Leeds, England), Oguchi Onyewu (Twente, Netherlands), Tim Ream (New York), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United, England)
Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Rizespor, Turkey), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa, England), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (New England), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn, England), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Robbie Rogers (Columbus)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor, Turkey), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
Apologies to all the MLS fans out there but I have to confess that I've never heard of Rimando, Ream or Wondolowski. With any luck, that will soon change as they'll all do something over these few games to make me take notice and not simply label them MLS stars/wannabe national team players.
The 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany kicks off in just over a month and fans of the U.S. got some great news today about the ESPN broadcasts.
Former U.S. stars Brandi Chastain, Briana Scurry and their head coach Tony DiCicco will join ESPN in the studio as analysts all throughout the tournament.
Chastain and Scurry were members of the 1999 U.S. team that won the World Cup, and DiCicco was its coach. Chastain provided the signature moment of the tournament, ripping off her jersey in celebration after she scored the winning penalty kick in the final against China at the Rose Bowl.
The Americans have not won the World Cup since 1999.
All 32 games of the three-week tournament in Germany will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN2. The tournament begins June 26.
Without having heard any of them talk about soccer, I can already guarantee that they'll all be better than Alexi Lalas.