One nation under Jurgen Klinsmann with dreams of goals for all

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

U.S. Men's Roster Set For Ecuador & Honduras Friendlies In October

It has sneaked up on us a bit but the U.S. men's national team is less than two weeks away from a pair of friendlies on its own shores.

The U.S. meets Honduras on October 8 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami (6 p.m. ET) before visiting the East Coast to take on Ecuador on October 11 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (7 p.m. ET). With that in mind, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named a mostly familiar roster of 22 players for those games this afternoon.

U.S. roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)

FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

I included a picture of Williams since I'd never heard of him before (hat tip to the fine U.S. blog Yanks Abroad). You'll also note that Onyewu, Bradley and Beasley are back after not taking part in the disappointing matches against Costa Rica and Belgium at the start of September.

"We would like to continue seeing our players develop through these initial couple of months," said Klinsmann in a press release. "One important thing is to see continuity in the build-up of our national team and also in the way we work as coaches. We'd like to see new faces as well, but we also don't want to shake up the core structure of the team too much.

"The two results with Costa Rica and Belgium didn't work in our favor but we saw clearly that the team started to understand what we demand from them in terms of pace, playing style and how to play. "

I think we all know what we get with those three aforementioned players and it was assumed all along that they'd each rightfully have some place on this new iteration of the U.S. team. Bradley should immediately help in the midfield where the U.S. has struggled in three games under Klinsmann in terms of doing anything offensively from the middle of the park. Likewise, Beasley gives Altidore and Donovan some much needed skill. I've never been an Onyewu fan but it's still all hands on deck in terms of finding a fourth defender to pair with Bocanegra, Chandler and Cherundolo or possibly coming off the bench as as substitute.

After tying Mexico in Klinsmann's first match in August (in Philadelphia) then looking lethargic against Costa Rica in California and in Belgium, it is high time for the U.S. to get their new boss some more impressive results. Clearly, gaining chemistry and teaching new styles are paramount under Klinsmann but looking better in the process and pulling off some wins can only help gain confidence for all involved as well.

Update 10/3: Donovan is out with Edson Buddle replacing him. Apparently Landycakes has a strained right quadriceps.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is It Time To Start Worry About Stuart Holden's Long-Term Health?

I'm not one prone to panic, the antithesis of most Boston sports fans, but I have to say that I'm a little worried about the recent developments with the health of Stuart Holden.

The 26-year-old Bolton midfielder and a player that should be one of the linchpins of the U.S. men's national team has not had a good 2011 to put it mildly. First, he needed 26 stitches on his knee after a rash challenge from Man U's Jonny Evans in an EPL match back in March.

Now comes the news that Holden will miss an additional six weeks with a follow-up surgery.

Holden made his long-awaited return on Sept. 20 in the League Cup against Aston Villa, but Bolton announced Wednesday that Holden will undergo a "routine follow-up procedure.''

"It was looking likely that the operation could be scheduled for next summer, but after follow-up consultations with the specialists we have brought the date forward,'' manager Owen Coyle said on the club website.

As he prepared to have the operation on Wednesday, Holden described it as a "bit of a setback but better for long run.''

"Obviously I'm disappointed as I've worked so hard the last 6 months, but in the grand scale of things it's only a minor blip,'' Holden said on his Twitter account.

Again, I'm not a doctor but this doesn't sound like the end of the world for Holden. Still, it would be nice to see the youngster have a healthy campaign as he looks to take on a bigger role both with his club and for Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

U.S. vs. Belgium 2nd half live blog

Two U.S. subs to start the second half: Agudelo is on for Altidore and Beckerman is on for Rogers.

Beckerman gets a chance with a bouncing ball at the top of the Belgian box but he shows why he'll always be Mr. MLS by skying it well over the goal. If he didn't have his dreads, you wouldn't even recognize him he's so anonymous.

Shea beats two defenders to the endline but his cross his caught by the Belgian goalkeeper.

Good defending by Cherundolo, nice to see him back in action. He's underrated and the U.S. defense really misses him when he's out.

Mertens wins a corner kick for Belgium.

Lombaerts hits a great long shot through traffic, off a long throw, and it goes in. Howard got a piece but it certainly wasn't his fault. 1-0 Belgium. His second goal for Belgium in 16 games.

Harkes describes the U.S. penchant for getting scored upon first as "a comfort zone you don't want to be in." Yeah, he gets paid for analysis like this.

Chandler shoots but it's deflected out by Agudelo's defender, U.S. corner kick on the way.

Crappy cross from Cherundolo, right to the Belgian goalkeeper. Too bad, the U.S. had numbers in front for once.

Lukaku, Hubert (Fellani) and Ugunjimi (Hazard) are the first three subs for Belgium. Lukaku is a talented teenager who was recently signed by Chelsea.

In the last 20 international matches, the U.S. has scored two goals or less in every game. The last time they scored three was against Australia right before the 2010 World Cup.

Chandler dribbles to nowhere by himself and it goes out of bounds. That's about right.

Shea's cross to Agudelo knocked out for another corner. Let's go! Time to challenge Belgium and I don't know, score a goal.

Dempsey with a nice move but he shoots it right at the goalkeeper. Ugh. Not a good sign when you're best offensive player does something like that.

Agudelo takes a nasty bump on a foul from behind.

Jeff Larentowicz makes his second career CAP (Chile in January) by taking out Torres.

Ah yes, Stuart Holden. Almost forgot about him. The U.S. desperately needs him and Michael Bradley back in the fold. Not enough talent on this squad right now.

Belgium almost scores another goal as Lukaku lays off for Witsel (aka Baby Fro) and his shot is deflected almost past Howard. Belgium corner kick but the U.S. clears it out.

Edu scores on a header off a free kick but of course, it doesn't count for some unknown reason. For what's it's worth, the U.S. didn't protest much after the call. The U.S.' twitter feed said it was offside but don't ask me how that happens that soon after a free kick and a loose ball in the box.

Lukaku finds himself wide open at the top of the box with space to move but he shoots over. He hasn't shown me anything in his brief appearance.

Final: Belgium 1, U.S. 0

Just like the Costa Rica game (minus the first 30 minutes) on Friday, the U.S. had no energy. At least that night, they didn't have an excuse. Rough travel makes for an easy alibi but they have to be better than that. Belgium is not very good and didn't do anything impressively. Boring game, another miserable result no matter how anyone spins it. Klinsmann (0-2-1) is still looking for his first win. October 8th vs. Honduras is the next opportunity.

U.S. vs. Belgium 1st half live blog

No Landon Donovan today and Clint Dempsey returns for his first game under Jurgen Klinsmann. The U.S. looks for its first win under its new head coach (0-1-1) after a terrible 1-0 loss to Costa Rica on Friday in Carson, CA.

Belgian is a decent European team, lots of quality younger players but at the same time, they tied Azerbijan last weekend and are on the cusp of not qualifying for Euro 2012.

U.S. starting 11
Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra (capt.), Chandler; Edu, Torres, Dempsey; Rogers, Altidore, Shea

Belgium starting 11
Mignolet, Ciman, Alderweireld, Kompany, Lombaerts, Simons, Hazard, Fellani, De Camargo, Witsel, Mertens

It is pouring in Brussels and as a result, looks like some of the crowd didn't turn or is under the stands at the moment.

First chance of the game. Dempsey takes a bouncing shot and the goalie Mignolet makes a mess of it. Jozy got to the rebound but knocked it out before he could do anything.

Shea wins a corner kick. The youngster has been playing really well for the U.S. and with his club team-FC Dallas in MLS.

A couple Belgian players (like Fellani) have great fros/mops for hair.

Slow start for both teams. Rogers wins a free kick after his heels were clipped. Torres whips it just wide, I thought it was going in. Mignolet didn't seem to get a good read on it.

Lombaerts wins a free kick on the side of the U.S. box. The U.S. cleared it out and Shea got fouled.

Cherundolo almost connected with Shea on a nice through ball.

Big save by Howard on Simons' long shot. First real shot for either side.

Mertens shoots wide (and completely fools Ian Darke who thinks it went in). It hit the outside of the net and regardless, it was offside.

Howard knocks out a tough-angle shot for a Belgian corner kick. That play started because a U.S. midfielder lunged and got beat well up field. Lazy. Belgium is starting to take over now.

Belgium gets job out of another corner that clearly went off Bocanegra's head.

The U.S. looks terrible, really slow and not fighting through challenges or pressure.

Fellani with a redirection stopped by Howard. Great instinctual save.

Rogers wins a free kick that Torres hits into the Belgian wall. Even worse, Edu has a chance to take a long shot but he completely whiffs (really). Yup, it's been that kind of half for the U.S. They haven't given up a goal but that's about the only positive thing you can say about them.

Halftime: 0-0.

Friday, September 2, 2011

U.S. vs. Costa Rica 2nd half live blog

Haha Darke mentions that some U.S. honk compared them to Brazil or Barcelona at halftime. I'd love to be that insane for one day in my life, just to see what it's like.

No subs for the U.S.; Colindres in for Martinez for Costa Rica.

Castillo might be related to Wiz Khalifa. He's covered in tattoos and really skinny. I'm pretty sure I made that joke during the Mexico friendly but it's late and I forget.

Costa Rica has won three CONCACAF championships and has appeared in three World Cups. They're the third most successful country in CONCACAF behind the United States and Mexico.

Altidore feeds Rogers for a goal but the offside flag was up for a long time before it all went down. Too bad, that was nice.

Donovan gets a yellow card, nobody is sure if it's for a handball or dissent to the referee.

Haha Costa Rica had a good chance but a header was blocked in front of the U.S. goal by another Costa Rica player. Howard stopped the second easier shot.

Second sub for Costa Rica: Rodney Wallace (went to University of Maryland; plays for Portland Timbers) who is making his debut.

The U.S. makes its first change with Altidore coming off in favor of Juan Agudelo.

Ugh. Costa Rica scores in the 65th minute. Howard makes one unbelievable save on a header from in close and gets a hand on the rebound but it goes in. 1-0 Costa Rica.

Second U.S. sub: Kljestan in for Rogers.

Torres tries a long range shot and it's deflected out by Nagas. U.S. corner kick but they can't do anything with it.

Honestly, what does Ramos bring to the broadcast that myself or one of my friends can't do? His broken English is distracting.

Another U.S. corner but as always, they can't use it to their advantage.

Agudelo gets taken down in front of Costa Rica's goal. Good no call.

Haha closeup of the Costa Rican coach freaking out on the sideline. Yelling at one of his lowly assistants because they didn't get to substitute in when they wanted. Relax bro, it's a friendly.

The ball bounces around in the Costa Rican box but nobody wants to shoot it.

Shea gets a yellow card after pushing a Costa Rican defender. Then the Costa Rican goalkeeper dives when Shea slightly touches him. Ugh, it's becoming one of those ridiculous matches.

Kljestan gets a yellow as well, this is getting silly.

Costa Rica sub: McClean in for Sanchez.

Agudelo wins a U.S. corner. At least he was looking to take somebody on.

Maurice Edu makes his first noticeable contribution of the game by shooting it well wide. Sweet.

Wow Agudelo just had an amazing run through a few Costa Rican players forcing the save by Costa Rica's goalkeeper. Flashes of brilliance from the young guy.

Mena in for Costa Rica.

Boy oh boy Castillo is awful, hope he never gets another CAP for the U.S. in the near future.

Torres with a blast that knocks down a Costa Rican player but can't get through.

Not a huge Donovan fan and as usual, he has disappeared in a U.S. match. He seems to make that a regular occurance. Granted, he also finds a way to score some huge goals from time to time.

Agudelo gets hacked down outside the Costa Rica box. Four minutes of stoppage time left. No time like the present, the U.S. desperately needs a goal.

It's laid off for Kljestan who shoots it slow, weakly and right into the wall. Honestly, what has he ever done in a U.S. uniform? I get that Klinsmann is giving everyone a chance but I don't get it with him. He's like a poor man's Benny Feilhaber and that's rather depressing to write.

Final: Costa Rica 1, U.S. 0.

This game means nothing win or lose but it's a disappointing result since the U.S. dominated in the first half. They had some chances but it's no surprise that without Clint Dempsey (not to mention Stuart Holden and Michael Bradley) the U.S. struggled to find its scoring touch.

The U.S. travels to Belgium on Tuesday (2:30 p.m.), let's hope they can wake up between now and then. Klinsmann needs a win (0-1-1 so far) to make everyone a little happier.

U.S. vs. Costa Rica 1st half live blog

This is Jurgen Klinsmann's second match as the U.S. head coach. This friendly between CONCACAF rivals takes place in Carson, California.

U.S. starting 11:
Howard; Chandler, Orozco Fiscal, Bocanegra (c), Castillo; Donovan, Edu, Torres; Rogers, Altidore, Shea

Costa Rica starting 11:
Navas; Umaña, Miller, Johnson, Acosta; Barrantes, Azofeifa, Sánchez; Saborío, Brenes, Martínez (4-3-3)

Apparently this isn't Costa Rica's top squad, more of an experimental group.

Again, the U.S. doesn't have last names on the back of their jerseys and they all have the numbers 1-11. Interesting idea, we'll see if it works for Jurgen Klinsmann.

Torres with a great ball to Altidore but it's blown dead for offsides. Looked like a good chance.

Great combination play between Brek Shea and Altidore. Shea laid it off for Donovan who puts it inches wide. Should have been 1-0, wonderful opportunity.

Shea plays a ball to Altidore who chests it down and shoots wide.

Since the 2010 World Cup, the U.S. is 5-5-5. Thanks Bob Bradley.

U.S. wins its first corner kick in the 13th minute. Costa Rica's goalkeeper wins it but is out of bounds, another U.S. corner.

Costa Rica has been MIA in the first 15 minutes, the U.S. is controlling the ball and consequently the play.

First good chance for Costa Rica but they were offsides.

Jozy with his obligatory offsides call of the game, only took him 19 minutes into this one.

U.S. free kick 25 yards out from the top of the Costa Rica box, good chance right here. Haha Shea still has that goofy Eurotrash haircut, what's the deal with that? Donovan shoots it over.

Oh no, that Jorge Ramos bozo is back on the halftime show. Don't ask me who hired that joker. He brings absolutely nothing to the table but then again, Taylor Twellman is the new sideline reporter (shoots self in head).

Navas snags a cross from Rogers before Shea can get to it. A little more pace on that and the U.S. would have scored.

Donovan comes in on an angle but decides to lay it off for Altidore but it was behind him and Costa Rica knocks it out of bounds. To be fair to Donovan, a defender was right on his back.

Ian Darke says the U.S. "should be ahead but they're not." Couldn't have phrased it any better myself, dominant first half.

Costa Rica is 2-0-2 vs. the U.S. in the last four meetings, Howard has never beat them.

Nice save by Howard on a long distance strike, first shot by Costa Rica on goal.

The ball squirts through to a Costa Rican player who tries to go high but Howard knocks it over the bar for a corner kick.

0-0 at halftime.

Good first half by the U.S. but it would be nice if they led. It will be interesting to see who Klinsmann uses as substitutes in the second half. I have a feeling this game won't end scoreless.