Friday, July 29, 2011
When you're an adult, it's very rare that you have any dreams anymore let alone ones that come true. Cynical? A bit but I think it's also realistic. With that out of the way, I will admit that there's not much in my sporting fandom that I wanted more than what just transpired with the U.S. men's national soccer team in the past 24 hours.
Yesterday, Bob Bradley was fired after five years on the job. Today, former German star and coach Jurgen Klinsmann was appointed as the new head coach.
Klinsmann had a distinguished playing career, highlighted by winning the World Cup in 1990 and European championship in 1996 with Germany, but has had only fleeting spells in management, first with Germany and later Bayern.
He has also lived primarily in the United States since retiring from playing, and has frequently been linked with the national team job and vacancies in Major League Soccer.
"I am proud and honoured to be named the head coach of the US Men's National Team," said Klinsmann, who will take charge of his first match on August 10 against rivals Mexico.
"I would like to thank the US Soccer Federation for the opportunity, and I'm excited about the challenge ahead.
"I am looking forward to bringing the team together for our upcoming match against Mexico and starting on the road toward qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.''
Klinsmann enjoyed an outstanding playing career that lasted 17 years and included spells with Stuttgart, Inter Milan, Monaco, Tottenham and Bayern Munich.
He scored 47 goals in 108 appearances for Germany and West Germany, and retired from playing in 1998, and took his first management job with Germany in 2004.
He led them to third place in the 2006 World Cup on home soil, but stepped down from the role after the tournament. Two years later, he took charge of Bayern, reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but left after one season.
Shimer and I have been having wet dreams about this juicy rumor since it almost happened last summer. Klinsmann truly is the ideal candidate for the U.S. Not only has he experienced the game at the highest level as a player (with Germany and numerous European clubs) but he has also coached the German national team (one of the world's best) and Bayern Munich-a German club that is one of the most respected in Europe. Finally, don't underestimate how much instant credibility he brings to Europeans and South Americans who are quick to make fun of the U.S. team.
Before any zenophobic U.S. fans start to fret that he's not an American so he won't get us, don't worry. He's lived in California for years so the language and cultural barrier should be minimal. Most importantly, players respect guys that have been there before. Klinsmann is better than any U.S. player in history, he's on the younger side and he is all about building a program (rather than just being a taskmaster like Bradley).
No details of his contract with the United States have been released.
"We are excited to have Jurgen as the head coach of our men's national team,'' said US Soccer president Sunil Gulati. "He is a highly accomplished player and coach with the experience and knowledge to advance the program.
"Jurgen has had success in many different areas of the game and we look forward to the leadership he will provide on and off the field.''
Klinsmann will be introduced at a press conference in New York on Monday.
If he fails, so be it. There was no better candidate and props to U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati for getting this done so fast. Klinsmann will fittingly make his U.S. coaching debut against their biggest rival-Aug. 10 in Philadelphia against Mexico. Tickets for that match had to be hard to come by in the first place and now it's a historical moment for U.S. soccer fans.
It's hard to get too excited when Argentina hires a new head coach. Mostly because it seemingly happens every few months and it is always a terrible choice.
Step right up Alejandro Sabella.
Sabella, 56, coached Estudiantes to the Copa Libertadores and had been due to take charge of Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates before Batista's exit, which was prompted by a disappointing Copa America showing.
Jose Luis Meiszner, the general secretary of the Argentine Football Association, told Telam: "The decision has been taken. Sabella is the choice."
Sabella will be instructed to make a success of one of world football's most talented squads, where he will be able to pick from the likes of Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria, amongst others.
Who knows? Maybe Sabella can turn things around for one of the world's most talented national teams. Until that happens, I have my doubts.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
You know how you wake up some days and you have no idea that it will be a great day? Then other times, days you look forward to for weeks fail to meet lofty expectations.
I've stumbled onto one of the former cases today as I found out on Twitter this afternoon-while I watched the Red Sox game-that U.S. men's soccer had fired head coach Bob Bradley.
Being currently unemployed, I can't gloat too much about Bradley's departure even though Shimer and I (along with most knowledgeable fans) have been clamoring for it for a while now. It has felt like the team needed a change since they got bounced by Ghana last summer in the 2010 World Cup, played listlessly in friendlies and most recently, lost to Mexico 4-2 in the Gold Cup Final (after leading 2-0).
It seemed like Bradley's time in charge had run its course and rather than getting better the team was at best spinning its wheels and at worst, falling behind the form they had been showing they were capable of the last few years.
As boring as he is (I can tell you first-hand, I've sat through a couple of his press conferences), my bigger gripe with Bradley is that he lacked any imagination or creativity in terms of picking a roster, filling out a lineup and making in-game substitutions. Bigger picture, U.S. soccer needs to bring in a European (cough Juergen Klinsmann) that can help rebuild our cultural identity from the youth program up to the national team.
Yes, it's a lot to ask of one guy but the U.S. has a chance to hit a home run here if they hire the right person. The U.S. men are good but they will never make a jump to great and one of the top teams in the world without some drastic changes. That might sound crazy but think about it; with the right program, who's to say how good the U.S. could be in a few World Cup cycles.
In his 4.5 years (Jan. 2007) on the job, highlights of Bradley's regime included winning the 2007 Gold Cup, beating Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup then losing to Brazil in the final 3-2 and winning their group in last summer's World Cup. On paper, his resume looks pretty damn good. Especially when you consider that he had the second-most wins as a U.S. head coach.
However, this was long overdue. Goodbye Bob, thanks for your hard work and best of luck in your future endeavors.
Monday, July 25, 2011
For a country that boasts the world's best player (Lionel Messi) and another one of the best goal-scorers on Earth (Carlos Tevez), Argentina sure knows how to burn through its national team coaches in record time.
By virtue of winning one game in the 2011 Copa America tournament (eventually won by Uruguay 3-0 over Paraguay yesterday), Sergio Batista was shown the door after only one year on the job.
Moving on from the bat shit crazy Diego Maradona was a logical decision but replacing him with basically a low-rent version did not work out at all.
Batista, who took over a year ago, was Argentina's fourth coach in five years and had the same problem as his predecessor Diego Maradona: little tactical experience and an inability to get superstars to play as a team rather than as individuals.
Alejandro Sabella, former coach of Argentine club Estudiantes, and Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino -- an Argentine -- are seen as the favorites to replace him. Also being mentioned as a successor is former Boca Juniors and Atletico de Madrid coach Carlos Bianchi.
Maybe it will take an outsider to help Argentina morph from a group of stars into a star-powered team. There's no reason why they can't be one of the top squads in every competition they play in. They have way too much talent to be this inconsistent. This non-stop coaching carousel probably isn't helping their chemistry either so we won't hold our breath that it will be any different with the next skipper.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Other than Freddy Adu, nobody on the U.S. men's national team improved their stock more than midfielder Alejandro Bedoya during last month's Gold Cup.
Today, the former Boston College star agreed to terms with Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers. He's signed a pre-contract and will join the club in the January transfer window on a three-year deal.
Bedoya joined the U.S. Gold Cup squad after midfielder Benny Feilhaber (of the New England Revolution) went down with an injury right before the tournament started. Life is all about making the most of opportunities and Bedoya did just that. He worked his way up from a substitute to starting later in the tournament.
He had been playing for Swedish club Orebro (where former BC teammate Charlie Davies made his mark) and having the best season of his three-year pro career. Bedoya is only 24 and now he gets to play in the Champions League. Even better, his U.S. teammate Maurice Edu is still with Rangers so any culture shock shouldn't be too bad while Edu can tell him what to expect about the underrated Scottish league.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
The 2011 U.S. women's soccer team did not complete their final and most important task: winning the World Cup in Germany this summer but it's a given that they gained a whole new generation of fans (male and female) stateside with their incredible tournament run.
Their loss to Japan in penalty kicks (3-1) was stunning but it shouldn't overshadow a very likable team filled with many new faces and characters that performed very well after stumbling in qualifying for this tournament. I love soccer so I'm obviously bias but I always appreciate the game at its highest level no matter what that entails (high school, soccer, pro, men's, women's). Yes the field is smaller (16 teams vs. 32 teams) but the U.S. women have already won two World Cups while the U.S. men will probably never come close to that in my lifetime. Therefore, you have to appreciate when any U.S. team can excel this much in the world's most popular sport.
I'm sure they were beyond sick of being compared to teams of the past but now Hope Solo, Abby Wambach (first American with a goal in four straight World Cup games), Alex Morgan, Lauren Cheney, Megan Rapinoe and Co. are household names that will hopefully spur more development for soccer in the United States. In the summer, we always look for diversions beyond baseball and this Women's World Cup was a particularly memorable one featuring numerous exciting games topped by an improbable comeback by the U.S. over Brazil in the quarterfinals (2-1) and then a 3-1 victory against France in the semifinals.
A 12-year drought since the U.S.' last World Cup trophy (the seminal moment in 1999: the penalty kicks win over China at the Rose Bowl) appeared to be over today as Pia Sundhage's squad took a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute with an exquisite goal by Morgan. Japan answered quickly as a terrible giveaway in the back led to a goal by Yuki Nagasoto in the 80th minute.
As the game headed to extra time, Japan seemed to have all the momentum but the U.S. responded with a goal in the 104th minute as Abby Wambach (her 14th all-time for the U.S. in the World Cup) headed in a perfect cross from Morgan. Yet once again, Japan wasn't rattled as Homare Sawa (winner of the Golden Boot-best player and Golden Ball-most goals (5)) tied it with a redirection off a Japanese corner kick in the 117th minute-the latest goal ever in a Women's World Cup Final.
From there, the U.S.' first three shooters (Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath) all had their shots saved or missed while Japan hit two of its first three. That put the United States behind the eight ball and it was basically a foregone conclusion they were done as Japan clinched it 3-1. Debating the merits of penalty kicks to decide a World Cup game is an argument for another day. I'm not a fan of them either (like most people) but that's what has been done forever so don't expect draconian FIFA to change it up anytime soon.
Let's also not forget that the United States absolutely dominated in the first half, particularly the first 30 minutes or so but they couldn't cash in any of their great chances. Unfortunately as it usually does, that came back to haunt them as the contest tightened up in the second half and extra time.
Maybe because I saw all the games from start to finish or the players are mostly around my age bracket but I felt a special connection with this group. Twitter and social media made them much more accessible than before and you could get a taste of the whole experience just by reading what they had to say in their downtime abroad.
Where does the U.S. team go from here? The next World Cup isn't for another four years but in between, they'll have the Olympics (which use to be the biggest international competition for soccer) in 2013 and then qualifying for 2015. This is a mostly young team that should return the nucleus of its team (Solo, Heather O'Reilly, Wambach, Cheney, Rapinoe) for another shot at that elusive third World Cup title.
I'd be remiss if I didn't say congratulations to Japan as well. It clearly wasn't the result that any American wanted but if any country deserved it, Japan fits the bill. After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year, it is only fitting that an Asian country won its first Women's World Cup.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Second half is underway. No changes for the U.S., Delie is out for France.
This is getting silly, the U.S. can't do anything with the ball. They continue to give it away. They can't play this way with 40 minutes left, France is going to take advantage at some point.
Bompastor ties it up in the 55th minute. Her cross went right on goal, a France player couldn't connect but it went off the post and in. Not Solo's fault, you could see this goal coming from a mile away. (1-1)
First U.S. sub: Alex Morgan in for Rodriguez.
Krieger rolls her ankle and comes off the field for a moment.
The U.S. is looking really shaky. Two corners for France. Megan Rapinoe in for Lloyd (second U.S. sub).
15 of France's 20 shots have come from outside the box.
Cheney wins a free kick outside the France area. Rapinoe puts it on net, forcing a dicey save by the French goalkeeper. Morgan is ruled offsides (by a hair, if that) before her rebound was save.
Wow, Morgan is taken down on a through ball that was bouncing. No call, so much contact.
WTF? A French player goes to head the ball out of Solo's hands. Yet no card? Haha never seen that before. As usual for this tournament, the referees have been abysmal.
France has never reached the final of a major tournament (World Cup, Olympics).
Thomis in for France, captain Soubeyrand is out.
U.S. wins a corner. Wambach got knocked down in the box on a 50-50 ball. Cheney floats it to the far post and Wambach heads it in. (2-1 U.S in the 79th minute). Her third goal in five matches, tying Akers for first all-time for the U.S (12 goals).
France misses a header from in close, Delis would have put that one in. Thanks for subbing her out Bruno.
Morgan makes it 3-1 after a great find from Rapinoe. Seemed like she waited too long as she came down the side but she lifted it over the French goalkeeper. Great strike, big for her confidence. That's what she's capable of doing.
Five of her eight goals for the U.S. have come in or after the 80th minute.
Tobin Heath in for O'Reilly. Last U.S. sub, outstanding performance by O'Reilly. She's a rock in the midfield, one of the U.S.' most consistent players in every game.
Morgan almost adds a second goal. France is pushing forward and she gets a semi-breakaway, forcing a good save by France's goalkeeper. U.S. corner.
Yellow card for Thomis, hard challenge on LePeilbet.
Two minutes of added time.
It's all over, the U.S. wins 3-1 and advances to their first Women's World Cup final since 1999. Great response after playing bad for much of the match. The subs (Rapinoe, Morgan) totally changed the momentum of the game and made winning plays. Excellent goals by Wambach and Morgan. Nice to see Morgan get a goal too, that'll be big for her confidence. She's a baller.
We're underway in the first semifinal with the U.S. taking on France. The U.S. is 11-0-1 all-time vs. the French.
It is misting, making for
The only change for the U.S. is that Rachel Buehler is out with the red card from the Brazil match. Becky Sauerbrunn gets her first World Cup action with the start.
Haha France's coach is named Bruno Bini. Classic French name, apparently he likes to play clips of Dead Poets Society with his team.
Amy Rodriguez, my favorite A-Rod, wins the first corner kick of the game. Abby Wambach heads it wide of the goal.
Wambach needs one goal to equal American World Cup record of 12 (held by Michelle Akers). That reminds me, great story about Akers in the latest Sports Illustrated.
France wins a corner, they have 36 so far in the tournament (most of any team). Hope Solo has to make a nice tip save over the crossbar. Good save, another corner for France. Solo handles the next shot easily.
Lauren Cheney scores off a great cross from Heather O'Reilly in the 9th minute. She just had to tip it in with the outside of her right foot. (1-0 U.S.) That was Cheney's second goal in the five matches thus far.
Delie wins a free kick from outside the U.S. box. France is controlling possession so far, the U.S. keeps giving it away carelessly.
O'Reilly wins a corner. Carli Lloyd heads it wide, she did well to get to it but should have done better with the accuracy.
Rodriguez wins another corner.
France keeps getting chances but they are either from distance or right at Solo. By the way, Solo is making her 100th cap for the U.S. today.
Wambach wins a long through ball and makes a nice move to cross it.
Solo with a top class save on a France through ball that got by three U.S. defenders (who were caught ball watching).
France shoots it off the crossbar from outside the box, great strike. The U.S. has to wake up here, France is owning play. The goal was totally against the run of play.
France leads the tournament with 37 shots on goal in the tournament (5 so far today).
Too much kicking and running for the U.S. right now. They need the ball on their feet.
Another shot by France goes over the crossbar, they haven't figured out yet that they're unlikely to score from outside the box on Solo.
Christie Rampone makes a great run forward and plays a cross a little long for Wambach. Abby gets to it but she doesn't have any kind of an angle so it goes back across the goalline.
Shannon Boxx has a cross that Wambach almost gets to but in the process, she sandwiches the French goalkeeper and a defender. Good to see a little flurry from the U.S. They haven't had a shot on goal since the goal in the ninth minute.
Corner kick for France in the 43rd minute. France leads 6-3 in corners so far.
Two minutes of added time.
Halftime: U.S. 1, France 0
Of the eight goals scored by France, seven have come after halftime. Something to keep in mind going into the second half. Frankly the U.S. is lucky to be leading. The goal was a great one and Wambach had a couple tricky chances but France is doing everything they want (other than scoring). Look for a change in the U.S. lineup to start the second half, they need somebody (Rapinoe) that can get the ball and keep it.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Marta scores in the 92nd minute. Would you believe that there was a Brazilian player offsides on the play too? Ugh, this is absurd. The good news is that it's not Golden Goal and it will go the full 30 minutes so plenty of time for the U.S. to tie it up.
14th career World Cup goal for Marta, tied for most all-time (with Prinz of Germany).
U.S. corner and out for another.
Wambach's shot just deflected out by the glove of Brazil's goalkeeper. U.S. corner, great pressure by the U.S. You have to think this clown referee might gift them a call at this point but who knows.
Brazil wins a corner. Marta almost puts it in but Solo makes a sweet diving save for another Brazil corner.
Marta is the reigning five-time FIFA player of the year and she's only 25.
Lepeilbet is playing much better, her best game of the tournament. She puts it out for a Brazil corner. Brazil has two more subs left, one more for the U.S.
Solo clearly tips one out but it's called a goal kick. Just staying with the theme of today's referee mess.
One minute of added time is over.
After first 15 minutes: Brazil 2, U.S. 1
LePeilbet goes down in the box but no call. It was a bit of a flop so it wasn't really deserving of a PK but worth a try.
Rapinoe free kick from the outside of the box, headed over by Wambach.
Tobin Heath is coming on for O'Reilly. Last sub for the U.S.
Morgan gets it in deep but her ball to the middle is too slow and predictable. Morgan goes down in the box but can't buy a call despite the pro-U.S. crowd freaking out.
Lloyd fouls a Brazilian defender, who lies on the ground on the verge of death or something. Maurine gets a yellow card for wasting time then shanks the free kick out of bounds.
Brazil wins a free kick but Maurine puts it well over and wide.
Time to send everyone forward Pia, nothing to lose at this point.
U.S has not lost two games in a row in a decade and never been knocked out this early (always made it to the semifinals).
All the Brazil players are taking turns playing dead. This is a complete disaster of a game.
Yellow card for that clown-Erika.
U.S. free kick from outside the box. Lloyd takes it and it's not even close. It's been that kind of day for the U.S.
Solo makes a save and her long kick goes right to Brazil's goalkeeper.
Lloyd blasts it over from outside the box.
Three minutes of added time.
Holy shit! Wambach with a goal in the 122nd minute. Great cross from Rapinoe, Wambach with one of the most clutch goals you'll ever see.
11th career World Cup goal for Wambach.
End of added time: U.S. 2, Brazil 2
We're headed to penalty kicks!
Shannon Boxx up first for U.S.: saved by Andrea was about two yards off the line. Haha she gets a rekick. She scores on the second try. (1-0 U.S.)
Cristian scores for Brazil, cool as you like (1-1).
Lloyd scores for the U.S (2-1 U.S.)
Marta is up next. She drills it lower left (2-2).
Wambach drills it, side netting on the right. (3-2 U.S.)
What a great save by Solo on Brazil's sweeper (3-2 U.S.).
Rapinoe drills hers too, rocket. (4-2 U.S.).
Franciella keeps Brazil alive with a goal. (4-3 U.S.).
Kreiger wins it, 5-3 U.S!
See you in the semifinals on Wednesday. France vs. U.S. at 11:30 a.m., Japan vs. Sweden to follow.
You can't script a better ending than that. The U.S. was on the brink of one of the great screwjobs (with apologies to Bret Hart) in soccer history (not just women's). Wambach's goal was incredible and you knew that Solo would make at least one save in penalty kicks since she's the best goalkeeper in the world. I have chills, goosebumps, you name it. Incredible, USA USA USA!
No changes for either team at halftime. The two times that the U.S. has won the World Cup, they haven't lost a game (they have this time).
Five or Brazil's seven goals have occurred in the 15 minutes after halftime.
Wambach and Formiga run into each other pretty hard. Wambach is sitting on a yellow card so she needs to be careful (after this game, the cards all get wiped out).
Haha Lloyd with an obvious hand ball but Brazil only gets a free kick, no card. It would have been her second card and she would have been done for the day.
Marta is an incredible player (the best in the women's game) but she complains way too much.
Cheney is out, Megan Rapinoe in (55th minute). First sub of the game. Cheney was invisible today but Julie Foudy thinks that Lloyd should have been the one that was pulled.
Rosana with a nice run into the box but nice job by Allie Krieger to knock it out for a corner. Solo goes for it and wins a free kick (handball on a header).
Good save by Solo on Fabiana. She's 2nd all-time in wins for the U.S.
Brazil is buzzing now, they look a step quicker than the U.S. at the moment.
Rapinoe with a great ball on a free kick, Lloyd's header hits the post and goes out for a Brazil goal kick. That would have been huge for the U.S., probably game over.
Buehler gets a red card for a challenge on Marta. Tough call. PK for Cristiane. Saved by solo and now they're calling it back and giving her a yellow. Rekick. This is a joke. Marta is taking this one. 1-1 in the 68th minute.
Marta's 3rd goal in four games. 13 goals all-time in World Cup (2nd all-time).
What a ridiculous situation. Buehler didn't deserve a red. Solo makes the first stop but she gets a yellow and a second PK for leaving early (bogus). Then Marta takes the second one and scores. One of the most absurd situations I can ever remember in a soccer game.
Alex Morgan in for Amy Rodriguez. 2nd sub for the U.S. Rodriguez didn't do much today either.
Morgan wins a corner kick.
If the U.S. can get through all this bullshit, it would be incredible. Yes they scored on a Brazil own goal and Lloyd probably deserved a red card for her hand ball (since she already had a yellow) but that sequence will go down as one of the most shady in soccer history (which is saying a lot).
U.S. wins another corner. Does Brazil now they're up a player? They also haven't made a substitution, great coaching there.
First Brazil sub, Rosana out for Francielle.
O'Reilly wins a free kick by taking on a Brazil player 1 on 1, what a concept! Brazil clears it out.
What is going on? Rapinoe gets a yellow for god knows what but the U.S. retains possession for a free kick? This ref is the biggest joker I've ever seen.
Three minutes of added time comes and goes. Haha Morgan drills a Brazil player in the stomach (she went to block it).
Final in regulation: U.S. 1, Brazil 1
This is the last quarterfinal match with the winner facing France on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. The U.S. has won the last four matches against Brazil 1-0 but in the 2007 World Cup, Brazil rolled 4-0 over the U.S. in probably the most embarassing loss for the Americans.
Second fastest goal (74 seconds in) in U.S. World Cup history as Shannon Boxx's cross gets put in by Daiane in the second minute. (1-0 U.S.) Abby Wambach's run to the goal distracted Brazil's defense, terrible attempted clear ends up in the back of the net.
Brazil is ranked No. 3, U.S. is No. 1.
U.S. has never lost in a World Cup quarterfinal (won in all five matches); Abby Wambach has scored in her last two quarterfinals.
Wambach flicks on a header from Christie Rampone's long free kick, U.S. wins a corner kick.
Brazil fails to clear it and the U.S. gets another corner.
Amy Le Peilbert wins the ball from a Brazil player and shoots it just wide. Heather O'Reilly started the play by beating Brazil down the sideline. U.S. is looking very solid, Brazil appears shell-shocked from the early setback.
Solo punches out a free kick.
U.S. defenses looks shaky (where have I heard that before) and Brazil gets a corner. Solo misses the punch but the Brazil's captain Aline puts the header wide. Should have been a goal since Solo completely whiffed.
Marta gets a partial breakaway (running 3/4 of the field) but Rampone sticks with her and the Brazilian star shoots over the U.S. goal.
Amy Rodriguez goes way offsides before collecting a pass.
Lloyd gets a deserved yellow card for a rough challenge.
Brazil's goalkeeper punches out an easy ball that she should have caught.
Solo comes flying out of the goal and jumps over Rosana for a 50-50 ball.
Solo with another save on a long shot by Cristian.
Brazil's Fabiana hits a cross/shot off the U.S. crossbar. After a U.S. turnover in the back, she tried to lift it over Solo.
Boxx breaks through but can't put anything on a shot. Damn, next CAP will be her 150th.
Dual yellow cards for Aline and Marta.
The game has no flow whatsoever now. U.S. keeps giving the ball away and Brazil is playing its favored style of hero ball (all 1 on 1).
Halftime: U.S. 1, Brazil 0
Sloppy play by both sides. Neither seem to be on their game so far.
Manchester United announced its roster for the five-game tour of the United States, which includes a stop at Gillette Stadium this Wednesday against the New England Revolution (formerly one of the MLS' best teams that is now in rebuilding mode).
A few players, including Mexican international Javier Hernandez, will join the club in the United States during the tour after their agreed leave time.
MANCHESTER UNITED TOUR ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS: Ben Amos (ENG), David de Gea (ESP)*, Sam Johnston (ENG), Andres Lindegaard (DEN)
DEFENDERS: Fabio Da Silva (BRA), Rafael Da Silva (BRA), Jonny Evans (NIR), Patrice Evra (FRA), Rio Ferdinand (ENG), Phil Jones (ENG)*, Chris Smalling (ENG)*, Nemanja Vidic (SRB)
MIDFIELDERS: Anderson (BRA), Michael Carrick (ENG), Tom Cleverley (ENG)*, Ryan Giggs (WAL), Nani (POR), Gabriel Obertan (FRA), Ji-Sung Park (KOR)
FORWARDS: Dimitar Berbatov (BUL), Mame Biram Diouf (SEN), Javier Hernandez (MEX)*, Federico Macheda (ITA), Michael Owen (ENG), Wayne Rooney (ENG), Danny Welbeck (ENG)*, Ashley Young (ENG)
MANAGER: Sir Alex Ferguson
* Player will join tour in progress.
As you can see, most of the big names will be on the tour so expect some lopsided scores and play against crappy MLS teams. European teams use these preseason trips to get ready for their long domestic seasons so it's not like you'll see Nani or Rooney going 90 minutes each night.
Still, it's pretty cool that you get to see some of the world's top players and one of the most prestigious clubs in our own backyard.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Great news for U.S. men's national team fans: it was just announced that they will face Mexico on August 10 at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.
These two bitter rivals are just coming off a Gold Cup Final meeting back in June at the Rose Bowl. The U.S. went up 2-0 in the first half before quickly choking it away and going down 4-2.
That crowd in Pasadena, California was very pro-Mexico but I know the U.S. fans will turn out in full force at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We’re thrilled that fans in Philadelphia will have a chance to witness this special rivalry,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “A match between the United States and Mexico inspires a lot of passion from both sides and creates an outstanding atmosphere in the stadium. These types of games are great experiences for our players, and we look forward to the challenge.”
The match on Aug. 10 will mark the 59th meeting between the USA and Mexico. The U.S. has a lifetime record of 15-32-11 against Mexico in a series that dates to 1934, but the U.S. has a 13-8-9 advantage in home matches since 1957. Since the rivalry between these two teams began in earnest in 1990, the sides have played 31 times, with the U.S. holding a 13-10-8 advantage. In the teams’ most significant matchup, the United States defeated Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, advancing the U.S. to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time in 72 years.
The U.S. National Team will return to Philadelphia for only the third time since 1992, with Lincoln Financial Field serving as a magnificent host on two occasions. Most recently, the USA came from behind to snatch a 2-1 victory against Turkey in front of a raucous crowd of 55,407 fans who witnessed the team’s final match before departing for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. A year earlier, the U.S. sealed a 2-1 overtime victory against Panama in the quarterfinals of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup in front of another heavily partisan U.S. crowd.
Coming off the Gold Cup and ahead of some interesting friendlies in September (vs. Costa Rica in Carson, CA and at Belgium), what better way to get back on the field than against Mexico. Should be an awesome game, wish I could go! Crossing my fingers that my buddies from One Goal can go (and we can link some of their footage) and possibly some of my other friends that live in or around the City of Brotherly Love will attend and write something for us.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Alex Morgan in for Rodriguez to start the second half, the U.S.' first sub.
She wins a corner on her first touch but the U.S. can't do much with it.
The Swedish goalkeeper makes a mess of a save on a long shot but there aren't any U.S. players close enough to take advantage of it.
Cheney shoots over again. In the first half, Ian Darke and Julie Foudy (ESPN's annoucners) raved about how she always puts her chances on goal. That hasn't been happening today for her, guess they jinxed it.
Rapinoe beats a defender down the side and forces a save, Shannon Boxx gets the rebound but skies it over. The U.S. appears nervous, not sure why since they're already down 2-0. What is there to be afraid of?
Fishcher shoots wide, Sweden is looking like the better team even though they're ranked No. 5 and the U.S. is No. 1.
Cox on for Le Peilbert. Nightmare game for the U.S. defender as she gave up the PK and then had the deflection for the second Swedish goal.
Yellow card for Fischer. Lloyd takes the free kick, it's a hard shot but right at the Sweden goalkeeper who juggles it but makes the save.
Sweden has never beat the U.S. in World Cup play.
Long free kick by the U.S. is punched out by Sweden's goalkeeper.
Morgan wins another corner kick. U.S. has to get a goal soon, time is running out. 25 minutes and change remaining.
There we go, my girl Wambach finally gets on the scoresheet. She went up for the header on the corner but it went off her shoulder. Classic Wambach goal, she beat multiple defenders. (2-1 Sweden in the 67th minute).
Cheney has a chance to tie it but her header is way wide. Suddenly, the U.S. has some life.
10 career goals in World Cup for Wambach, 2nd all-time for U.S.
Kelley O'Hara in for Rapinoe. Her first CAP for the U.S. That's the last U.S. sub.
Dahlkvist is out, Hammarstrom is on (first Swedish sub).
Terrible call by the referee giving Sweden a goal kick when it clearly went off their player and should have been a U.S. corner.
Haha Darke and Foudy already start looking ahead to U.S. vs. Brazil even though there's probably 10 minutes left in this one and the U.S. only needs one more goal.
Yikes. Cheney finds O'Hara wide open in the box but she misses badly. Should have been a goal. I know it's her first CAP but if you want to play with the big girls, you gotta make some plays. That'll probably be their last chance.
Final: Sweden 2, U.S. 1
Sweden plays Australia on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. while the U.S. meets Brazil at 11 a.m.
The U.S. should have done better overall in this match that they only had to tie. Going down 2-0 in the first half was predictably too much to overcome. Both goals were their own fault and they should have scored a few more times than they did. Sweden is a good team though and they earned the three points and Group C title.
All the U.S. has to do is tie and they'll win Group C and get Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday morning. Lose and they'll face Brazil-who might be the best team in the field.
Shaky call on a Swedish attacker nullifies a possible 2 on 1 break from the top of the box.
Carli Lloyd with a long shot wide.
A long ball off a Sweden goal kick leads to a breakaway but Hope Solo knocks it out for a corner. Quality save, no idea what happened with the U.S. defense there. Lloyd's header went backwards and right to Sweden. Gross.
485 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal for Solo.
U.S. defender Ali Krieger puts a dangerous cross out for another Swedish corner kick. They get a head on it but not on goal.
Sweden is offsides but it takes a second for the player to realize it, haha must be real loud there.
Abby Wambach with her first chance but it's easily saved.
Yellow card for U.S. defender Amy Le Peilbert and Sweden gets a penalty kick. Clumsy challenge, not needed. She's lucky not to pick up a red card. It takes forever to set it up and Solo does her best to distract her. She guessed the right way but it was struck well by Dahlkvist. 1-0 Sweden in the 16th minute on Dahlkvist's second of the tournament.
How does the U.S. respond to such a slow start and their first conceded goal of the tournament?
Wowzers. Great sequence by the U.S. Rodriguez's cross gets deflected, Wambach sets it up for Cheney who just hits it wide. Outstanding stuff, unlucky that it didn't go in.
Cheney with another good look but she puts it over by a slight margin.
The U.S. has not trailed in World Cup since loss to Brazil (4-0) in 2007 Women's World Cup.
Cheney is making it happen. She puts a cross right on the Sweden goalkeeper and she touches it out for a U.S. corner. Wambach was right behind her, almost connected on it.
Lloyd redirected the corner but not on goal. The U.S. has really responded since its bad start. Seems like a goal is brewing.
Haha Cheney is wearing an orange sports bra which is pretty easy to spot under her white jersey. You little minx!
Rodriguez should have tied it up. She fights off a defender and flicks it over the goalkeeper but it goes off the crossbar and over. Unlucky, nice piece of skill there.
Mistake by Buehler leads to a Sweden free kick from outside the box. The U.S. defense is their weakness at the moment, looking a bit shaky for whatever reason. Ugh, the shot gets deflected off the wall and Solo is out of position. No chance to stop it. It went off Le Peilbert and in. Nilla Fischer (who really looks like a scary biker dude) got it for Sweden. 2-0 Sweden in the 35th minute.
The U.S. women's defense is looking like the U.S. men's defense and that's never a good thing.
U.S. has never come back from 2-0 deficit to win or tie. So yeah, this isn't going well so far.
Lloyd denied from in close, good stop by the Swedish goalkeeper. Nothing is really going right for the U.S. at the moment. They deserve a goal by now with all the chances they've had.
Rapinoe put a shot wide. She started today but that's honestly the first thing I can remember her doing. Needless to say, she hasn't made her presence felt yet. Some are better suited as substitutes for whatever reason.
Two minutes of added times, looks like the U.S. will trail 2-0 at halftime.
Halftime: Sweden 2, U.S. 0
U.S. will need a big rally in the second half just to tie it up, let alone think about winning. Facing Australia (if they tie or win) is much more appealing than Brazil.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Yesterday, we told about the U.S. men's friendly against Belgium in September. Well today they added another match, this one coming Sept. 2 (four days before playing in Belgium): vs. Costa Rica at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Both are FIFA international fixture dates, meaning head coach Bob Bradley -- if he's still in charge -- can call in any healthy player from any club on the planet.
What's likely is that he'll use a domestic roster, primarily Major League Soccer players, for the match against the Ticos, then field a team of European-based players against Belgium. The games will be the Yanks' first since falling to Mexico in the June 25 CONCACAF Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl and will serve as preps for the start of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Belgium is something of an unknown since they're not a team that normally faces the U.S and they're not one of Europe's best so we don't get to see them much. On the other hand, the U.S. is well aware of Costa Rica since they're a CONCACAF rival and always a quality opponent.
The U.S. is 11-11-6 all-time against Costa Rica, which is currently playing as a guest team in Copa America, South America's nations championship, after reaching the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals. The Ticos have a four-game unbeaten streak going against the U.S., although the most recent meeting -- a 2-2 draw in October 2009 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier in D.C., forged on Jonathan Bornstein's stoppage-time goal -- sent Honduras past Costa Rica for the region's final berth in South Africa.
This will be the first friendly between the sides since 1998.
The atmosphere for U.S. vs. Costa Rica should be a good one even if as expected, it's mostly MLS players and not the big boys.
Monday, July 4, 2011
It's hard to relate it to American sports since they're a great club team that spends money and is always one of the top squads in Barclays Premier League and Europe but it's a proven fact (over and over again), that almost all great players will leave Arsenal at some point.
The latest to join his fellow French countrymen (Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure) at Manchester City is left back Gael Clichy, who signed a four-year deal with the team that finished third last season in the Premier League and captured the FA Cup.
Arsenal was forced to sell the 25-year-old Frenchman because he had only one year left on his contract and could have moved on a free transfer at the end of next season.
Clichy spent eight years at Arsenal after joining from Cannes in August 2003. His ability on the left of defense was one of the reasons the Gunners were able to allow England international Ashley Cole to make a high-profile switch to Chelsea three years later.
Clichy was backup to Cole when Arsenal won the 2003-04 Premier League title with an unbeaten record, making him at the time the youngest player to earn a Premier League winner's medal - aged 18. He was the last member of that squad still with the north London club.
"I can't wait to get started and I think anything is possible with this team,'' Clichy said. "When I first came to England, it was Kolo Toure and Patrick Vieira who took me under their wing and really looked after me.
"Kolo would pick me up and drop me at home and his wife used to cook meals for me. Patrick was always there to offer me advice, so it's wonderful to be back and at the same club they are at.''
City did not say how much it paid for Clichy. British media widely reported the fee to be about 7 million pounds.
"I'm really happy to be joining such a great club,'' Clichy said. "I hope I can add to the quality we already have here because we have a fantastic squad who I believe will continue to get better.''
With their playing style, supporters and history, Arsenal is one of the most likable club teams in the world. British author Nick Hornby wrote the book Fever Pitch about them before it was adapted into the terrible Jimmy Fallon movie about the Boston Red Sox.
So if you're a fan of the Gunners, you must go to sleep every night worrying that their current superstars Andrey Arshavin and Cesc Fabregas will eventually leave you at some point. That's no way to live.
For as long as I can remember, the U.S. men's national team has always possessed a surplus of quality goalkeepers.
For whatever reason, we produce top-flight goalkeepers (Tim Howard, Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel) but we can't get a couple homegrown goal-scorers to come up at the same time. Make of that what you will.
Anyways, U.S. goalkeeper David Yelldell (born in Stuttgart, Germany to an American father) has signed with German club Bayer Leverkusen. He most recently played for second-division side Duisburg and received his first CAP with the U.S. men's national team this year.
Yelldell is expected to be a backup for Leverkusen's Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler.
Leverkusen will play in the Champions League after finishing second last season in the Bundesliga. The club gave no details about Yelldell's contract.
After the excitement and then bitter failure in the Gold Cup final against Mexico last weekend, the U.S. men's national team will officially try to put that behind them starting in September.
They'll travel to Brussels, Belgium on September 6 to take on the Belgian national team.
The exhibition at Stade Roi Baudouin will be the first game for the United States since its 4-2 loss to Mexico on June 25 in the Gold Cup final. Belgium plays Azerbaijan on Sept. 2 in a European Championship qualifier.
The game will be the fourth meeting between the two countries.
The United States won the first game, a 3-0 victory during the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. But Belgium has won the last two, both played in Brussels, with the teams last playing in 1998.
This is a decent friendly for Bob Bradley's team; they play a mid-level European squad that they rarely see and it's on the road which is always a good experience for a team that's trying to get better.
The happiest person in the world has to be my best friend from home that actually lives in Belgium right now. Hopefully I can get him to go to the game and file a real report for us.