One nation under Jurgen Klinsmann with dreams of goals for all

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Four More Years of Jurgen Klinsmann for the U.S. Men's National Team, Because Why Not?

Bravo to the U.S. soccer federation for acting fast before people are all down on the men's national team this summer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Today, they rightfully rewarded head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (27-10-7) with a contract extension through the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The key footnote to the deal is that he also becomes the team's technical director.

Odds are that his first World Cup with the U.S. next June will be a forgettable one as they face the formidable task of advancing out of Group G which features Ghana, Portugal and Germany-all unquestionably great squads. Even if the Americans get embarrassed, Klinsmann is still the best man for the job. I'm not saying he's the greatest coach in the world (that's so subjective anyway) but let's agree that the U.S. couldn't do any better.

Changing the culture around the team and youth programs take years and a few cycles of World Cups to see any progress in a sport that usually moves at a glacial pace (hello goal-line technology). Klinsmann is young, full of energy and his coaching and playing resume speaks for itself. So far his players seem to respond positively to him, they have to realize how lucky they are to have an outsider rather than some MLS or god forbid U.S. college coach.

With all the Americans have success around the Globe, we have plenty to be proud of when it comes to soccer these days. Still, I'll maintain that Klinsmann is the best thing to ever happen to the USMNT. He will have as good a chance as any to turn us from a middling team to a powerhouse more in line with our country's size (yes I realize we have a million sporting options unlike most other countries).

Friday, December 6, 2013

What a Nightmare: U.S. Men will face Germany, Portugal & Ghana in Group G

So who's looking forward to the 2018 World Cup in Russia? I can't remember being more depressed about a sporting event that is still seven months away than this afternoon when the 2014 World Cup draw was unveiled in Brazil. The three teams in your group are absolutely vital to the non-superpower teams so that's why the fact that the U.S. men drew Germany, Portugal and Ghana was a stroke of unbelievably bad luck.

I could care less about the method that shady FIFA came to this conclusion, I feel bad for U.S. fans that have already dropped thousands of dollars to book their trips to crime-infested Brazil. Haha stay safe guys! The U.S. meets Ghana (a team that in the 2006 group stage eliminated them and knocked them out in the 2010 round of 16) in a must-win to open play on June 16 in Natal.

There is no mystery to how the Americans will advance. They have to beat Ghana which has clearly proven to be a tough task then they somehow need to draw with either Portugal on June 22 in Manaus (a rain-forest city) or June 26 vs. Germany in Recife. Seeing Cristiano Ronaldo face the U.S.' clownshow backline should be good for some laughs. I won't say that Portugal is a tournament-favorite because as someone with Portuguese heritage, I can tell you that they always choke. For that reason, the U.S has a better chance to tie them. Germany is always a heavyweight so in this setting, I give Jurgen Klinsmann's team zero chance to do anything positive against his countrymen.

And this has been your 2014 World Cup update. I will still watch every game that I can since I maintain this is the best sporting event in the world and it only comes once every four summers. However, I have already come to the conclusion that it'll be a short stay for the U.S. Nevermind if they will get any points in Brazil, will they score any goals is a more relevant but super negative thought stuck in my mind.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

At This Point, Qualifying For the World Cup is a Formality; It's Time For The U.S. Men To Take The Next Step

Let me be clear: tonight is rightfully a time of celebration after the U.S. men's national team beat Mexico 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier at Columbus Crew Stadium. Coupled with Panama's 2-2 tie with Honduras, the Americans have reached the World Cup for the seventh consecutive time and 10th overall. That got me to thinking: it's about time that we started striving for more.

Being a Top-3 team in CONCACAF is not that difficult (Costa Rica also clinched a spot) and heaven forbid the U.S. comes in fourth, then they get to wipe the floor with a patsy from Oceania. What I'm trying to say is that now that we know what Jurgen Klinsmann (25-9-6) is all about, why don't we start demanding greater success at the World Cup? I'm sick of the U.S. struggling to get through the group stage then bowing out to an average team (hello Ghana in 2010). It's silly to think they can win the World Cup next summer in Brazil but why not make an unlikely run to the semifinals?

Mexico is a dumpster fire that looks destined for a date with New Zealand in the playoff after tonight's loss which was preceded by them firing their coach last weekend. To complete qualifying, the U.S. will meet Jamaica (Oct. 11) and Panama (Oct. 15) but this evening's results took all the intrigue out of them (which is what we were hoping for).

It was scoreless at halftime but the U.S. made it 1-0 on Eddie Johnson's powerful header (from Landon Donovan's cross) in the 49th minute then fittingly Donovan iced it in the 78th minute with a redirection from Mix Diskerud. Clint Dempsey had a chance to leave it at 3-0 but his last-second penalty kick missed the net.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Clint Dempsey Is Coming Back To MLS, Wait What?

This truly caught me by surprise: U.S. men's national team superstar Clint Dempsey is reportedly returning to his roots in MLS. Various reputable outlets (,, etc.) sprouted similar stories tonight that he was about to transfer (for $9 million, an MLS-record) from Tottenham and sign a four-year deal with the Seattle Sounders worth $32 million. Huh?

If this goes through-apparently he'll be watching at Seattle's match on Saturday-and introduced on Monday then he only spent one season at Tottenham after transferring from Fulham. As expected, he didn't score at nearly the same rate since he was on a much better team but 22 starts (out of 38) and 12 goals (7 in EPL matches) seemed like a decent return for the 30-year-old midfielder/forward.

From the sense of challenging himself and wanting to play at the top level, this move makes no sense whatsoever. Dempsey has been the U.S.' top field player for years and this will really damage the international credibility he had built up by competing so well at Fulham and to a lesser extent Tottenham. Now he's just another American toiling in MLS.

If he wanted to cash in and set up his family for life (not that they were starving before), well who can hate on that? It's just weird that his priorities changed so quickly. Keep in mind that Tottenham finished fourth last season in the EPL but missed out on the final Champions League spot since Chelsea (defending Champions League winner) received it for their past achievement.

Not that he'll probably ever disclose the real reason but it'll be interesting to hear how Dempsey will explain this bizarre decision. He's at the top of his game professionally which is why this makes me so disappointed. Oh and it is less than a year away from the 2014 World Cup. MLS will always be here, why not test himself a few more years in England? Ugh.

I'd say Dempsey returning to MLS (for the first time since 2006 with the New England Revolution) might make me watch it or at least pay attention more but the fact is it would take many additional great players spread around the league before I start to care. Sorry Deuce. I will still watch the EPL faithfully but with Dempsey gone and Gareth Bale possibly going to Real Madrid, looks like I won't need to pay extra attention to Tottenham anymore.

Monday, July 29, 2013

We'll Always Remember The 2013 Gold Cup (Slight Exaggeration)

I was actually looking forward to the 2013 Gold Cup final this afternoon: U.S. men vs. Panama so shame on me for having any type of expectations that it would be a good match. Sure, I'm happy that the Americans came away with a 1-0 win at Chicago's Solider Field for their fifth Gold Cup title (first since 2007; 2nd most behind Mexico's 6) and extended their team record win streak to 11 games but I must say that it was a really dull event.

As seen above in the video clip, substitute Brek Shea scored less than a minute after he came onto the field in the 69th minute, his second international goal-both in this Gold Cup. True to this match, it was a rather ugly goal-yes they all count the same-as Landon Donovan (Golden Ball winner for the tournament) whiffed on Alejandro Bedoya's cross which it allowed Shea to sprint to the goal-line and touch it in (it was going in anyways).

The U.S. outscored its opponents 20-3 in the 2013 Gold Cup and went 6-0-0. They also tied their longest home win streak (10 games) in team history. They earned a spot in the playoff vs. 2015 Gold Cup winner for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup. If the Americans also win in 2015 then they'll automatically qualify.

U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando only had to make one save for what had to be one of the easiest shutouts of his life. Eddie Johnson could have ended it with a goal in the 84th minute but somehow he put Shea's perfect cross over the crossbar from a few feet away. Oh well, the reason I don't take the Gold Cup seriously is that if you watch the World Cup next summer I'll bet that only one or two players (Donovan and Johnson or DeMarcus Beasley) will start from this B-squad team and competition.

Jurgen Klinsmann was relegated to watching this match in a press box since he was suspended one game for his bizarre outburst vs. a referee in the semifinal on Wednesday vs. Honduras. The only thing that probably bummed him out was another possible serious injury to Stuart Holden's knee. After an awkward challenge caused him to bang his knee with a player from Panama, he came out in the 23rd minute with a limp. Even worse, he was very emotional on the bench and sidelines-showing that he knew it was bad. It was reported to be a sprained knee but we'll see about that. After the match, Klinsmann admitted that it could be serious. Remember Holden missed most of two years with separate knee injuries. Ugh, seeing him hurt again made me sick. Poor guy.

The A-squad is back in action on August 14 at Bosnia-Herzegovina (2:30, ESPN2) in an interntaional friendly. 2014 World Cup qualifying starts up again in September.

UPDATE 7/30: Terrible news for Holden as he tore the ACL in his right knee during Sunday's match.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

U.S. Men Cruise Into 5th Straight Gold Cup Final With 3-1 Win Over Honduras

The U.S. men's national team continued to roll along in 2013 (11-2-2) as they won their 10th straight match overall (extending a team record), a 3-1 victory over Honduras in the Gold Cup semifinals at Cowboys Stadium. Unfortunately, their bitter rival Mexico couldn't hold up their end of the equation as they lost 2-1 to Panama in the other semifinal meaning it'll be U.S. vs. Panama on Sunday (4 p.m. EST, Fox) for all the Gold at Soldier Field in Chicago. That's a rematch of the 2005 final, won by the U.S. in penalty kicks.

This outcome was never really in doubt as the U.S. jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half and improved to 14-4-3 all-time vs. Honduras (11-2-2 at home). The intrigue over the next few days will have to do with whether head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will be on the bench or in the stands since he was sent off in the 88th minute for arguing with an overzealous referee about what should have been a foul called on Honduras.

I'm surprised it took me this long to mention him but Landon Donovan has been playing outstanding soccer this entire tournament (5 goals, 7 assists in 5 matches). He continued his torrid pace with two goals and an assist vs. overmatched Honduras-a little payback (emphasis on little, for the 2-1 Honduras win in February during World Cup qualifying) for the U.S.' A-team.

The other American to stand out from the rest has been Eddie Johnson. He opened the scoring in the 11th minute after Donovan played him through then the Sisqo lookalike darted past his defenders and blasted a shot into the upper netting. Former Boston College star Alejandro Bedoya had his best game in a U.S. jersey as he recorded the first two assists of his career. After goalkeeper Nick Rimando's goal kick was headed along by Johnson, Bedoya passed the ball to Donovan in the 27th minute and Landon settled it off his chest then hit it into the corner for a 2-0 U.S. lead.

It's hard to argue with their goal-differential (19-4) but if the U.S. has shown one weakness in this Gold Cup, it's been on set pieces. Once again, they were victimized as Honduras scored their lone goal in the 52nd minute when Nery Medina impressively headed in Marvin Chavez's cross. Oh well.

Well before the time he was subbed off, Donovan answered a minute after Honduras' goal with the final blow. It started with Clarence Goodson's long ball found Bedoya who crossed it to Donovan and he was right in front of the net so all he had to do was redirect it. Along with Klinsmann's transgression, Johnson picked up a needless yellow card in stoppage time (something to remember for the Final).

The U.S. will be looking for its fifth Gold Cup title: 1991, 2002, 2005 and 2007 were the champions so it would be the first in six long years. Panama has never won it since only the U.S., Mexico and Canada have captured the crown. Keep in mind that the 2013 Gold Cup winner will meet the 2015 Gold Cup winner for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup (as CONCACAF's representative).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 Gold Cup Update: Landon Donovan Is Earning His Place In The 2014 World Cup

This is coming from someone who spent money on a ticket to last week's the U.S. men's match vs. Costa Rica in East Hartford, CT: By and large the Gold Cup is pretty pointless. Yes, I have paid attention to all the U.S. games and even some that didn't have much bearing on anything but that's only because it's smack dab in the middle of the summer when the lack of choices in the sports world is dire.

I would compare the Gold Cup to preseason games in other sports, the best players either don't play at all or not as much as usual leaving the contests up to the B-squad players. You know, the has beens, never weres and never will bes. Oh and it's against mostly garbage squads from CONCACAF, many of whom don't have a prayer to beat the U.S. (hello Belize). To make my point clear, the U.S. men beat El Salvador 5-1 this afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore but probably all people will talk about is Landon Donovan's re-emergence. The U.S. advanced to the semifinals (for the seventh consecutive time) on Wednesday in Dallas, Texas against Honduras (a 1-0 winner over Costa Rica) at 7 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel. Mexico plays Panama in the other semifinal.

After his sabbatical from soccer and the U.S.' A-squad, he seems to be returning to form in MLS with the Galaxy (or so I hear) and in this tournament. I believe this makes him a lock to go to Brazil with the U.S. next summer, assuming they reach the World Cup. I also think he could find himself back in the starting 11 after this journey of self-discovery. He still isn't finishing at a very high level but he managed to put up a goal and two assists today, giving him 55 career goals and 54 career assists for the Red, White and Blue.

The funny thing is that this could have been even more of a blowout, the U.S. easily should have scored another goal or two but who can worry about such things after 4-goal victories? Goodson got forward and one-timed Donovan's cross in the 21st minute. Joe Corona, who might have the best name ever, made it 2-0 with a pretty little move then shot from the top of the box in the 29th minute.

El Salvador's only highlight came via a penalty kick in the 39th minute earned by their lone star Rodolfo Zelaya. He chipped it in slow motion down the middle to beat U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

A 2-1 halftime lead only motivated the U.S. to put their cleats on the gas more as Eddie Johnson (sporting bleach blonde hair like Sisqo or Cisse, Gus Johnson called him "Demolition Man"-Wesley Snipes movie in 90s-which hopefully catches on) came off the bench and scored seconds later in the 60th minute with a powerful header on Donovan's corner. Johnson returned the favor by finding Donovan for a breakaway in the 78th minute then Mix Diskerud completed the scoring with another header-this time from Donovan in the 84th minute.

We always root against Mexico but I am openly hoping for a U.S.-Mexico Gold Cup Final, that would be a rematch of 2007 (the last time the United States won this dinky competition). The U.S. is currently riding a nine-game win streak, the longest in the team's long history.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

It Was A Good Weekend For The U.S. Men's National Team

Without even playing a game this weekend, it was a great time to be a member of the U.S. men's national team. On Friday, striker Jozy Altidore's long rumored transfer from Holland's AZ Alkmaar to England's Sunderland finally became reality. He is scheduled to have a medical with the English Premier League side tomorrow and that's when the details will be sorted out. In addition, goalkeeper Brad Guzan signed a four-year deal with Aston Villa, meaning he'll stay there through the 2016-17 season.

Altidore's move is the headline since the 23-year-old has been playing the best soccer of his young life in the past season (both with his club and for his country). He scored 31 goals in all competitions for the Dutch team and helped them win their first Dutch Cup in 31 years. It was one thing for U.S. fans to read about that but never really see those games however he's been able to transfer that over to the U.S. with goals in his last four contests: in the friendly vs. Germany and three World Cup qualifiers (Jamaica, Panama and Honduras).

The good part for Altidore-assuming that the move happens-is that Sunderland should offer playing time right off the bat. He was really young when he competed for Hull City in 2009-10, making it no wonder that he struggled so much for a bad team. He is guarantted to have more expectations with Sunderland but that's a positive thing since he has shown lately that he is becoming the great player on a consistent basis that we've all been waiting for.

Guzan is still living in Tim Howard's long shadow for the U.S. but he has more than made a name for himself at Aston Villa. Last season he became the full-time starter and he responded with his best professional season. He is 28 and in limited time playing for the U.S. when Howard was unavailable (due to injuries or mandated rest), he has shown that he could be counted on should something happen to Howard when it really matters.

From Aston Villa's website
"This is just the start now, the start of hard work. We have to build on last year and go forward and that is very much the collective mindset at the club.

"For me, it's an honour and a privilege to play for Aston Villa Football Club and to commit my future long-term. I'm overjoyed by it.

"To have this opportunity to commit my future, with the plans and the future being what they are going forward, it's tremendously exciting and I know that's not just for me but for everybody, including the fans."

UPDATE 7/10: Jozy got a four-year deal worth $13 million.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mia Hamm, Say Hello To Abby Wambach-The New Leading Scorer In Women's International Soccer History

I can't say I was glued to the U.S. women's exhibition match tonight vs. mighty Korea Republic at Red Bull Arena but I have to mention the major history that went down there. U.S. striker Abby Wambach scored four goals to become the all-time leading scorer in women's international soccer history with 160 goals. Former U.S. women's icon Mia Hamm was the previous record holder with 158 goals.

I would normally make fun of this happening on their home soil against such an overmatched opponent in a completely irrelevant game but Wambach deserves way more respect than that. She's been an incredibly consistent and durable player for the U.S. that still shows no signs of slowing down. The U.S. are the best women's team because they have numerous outstanding players but we have to remember how long Wambach has been doing this for. It's nice to see her rewarded with such an impressive personal milestone.

It's only fitting that she set the record on a header (her 69th goal in that fashion). Congrats Abby!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

U.S. Men Complete 3 For 3 Run, Jozy Altidore Scores In 4th Straight Match

It lacked the excitement of their improbable 2-1 win at Jamaica from a few weeks ago or the incredible crowd in Seattle for the 2-0 win over Panama last week but tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, the U.S. men's national team got three more vital points thanks to a 1-0 win over Honduras. This put them in real good shape to come in first place in the hexagonal to reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Jozy Altidore had the goal on a one-timer in the 71st minute after a cross by Fabian Johnson and Tim Howard earned the clean sheet despite a very quiet night in the goal. Altidore now has scored in four straight matches, tying a U.S. record held by five other guys: William Looby, Eric Wynalda, Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan (twice).

The Americans have won their last four matches including three World Cup qualifiers in a row. The U.S. leads the hexagonal standings after six matches with 13 points, Costa Rica (11), Mexico (8), Honduras (7), Panama (6) and Jamaica (2) round out the rest of the group.

This was the perfect way to begin the summer since the top players can get some rest before younger guys or washed up former stars (Donovan) start training in July for the Gold Cup. The U.S. opens up with Guatemala on July 5 in San Diego; they meet Belize on July 9 in Portland, Oregon; they are back in Sandy, Utah on July 13 to play Belize and finally they take on Costa Rica July 16 in Hartford, CT.

They have four more hexagonal matches left: two in September, at Costa Rica (Sept. 6) and hosting Mexico (Sept. 10) in Columbus, Ohio. Things will be sorted out in October as the U.S. hosts Jamaica (Oct. 11) in Kansas City then travels to Panama (Oct. 15).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

U.S. Men Beat Panama 2-0 To Grab First Place In Hexagonal Standings

As far as I'm concerned, beating Panama (a country of 3.5 million people that has never made the World Cup) is hardly notable except for the fact that the U.S. men's national team handed them a 2-0 defeat tonight in a World Cup qualifier at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Coming off Friday's improbable 2-1 win at Jamaica in stoppage time, the U.S. had confidence and it showed since they dominated Panama for most of the match. They were rewarded with three points and first place in the hexagonal standings halfway through the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Tim Howard only had to make two saves, one difficult shot in stoppage time, for his 26th career clean sheet. Both American goals were top notch as Jozy Altidore scored for the third straight game (something he's never done for the national team) in the 36th minute and Seattle Sounder Eddie Johnson thrilled his awesome home fans with a goal in the 53rd minute.

Old man DeMarcus Beasley was busy, he hit the post in the 60th minute after a remarkable run that was straight out of 2002. Unfortunately, he picked up a yellow card in stoppage time (he was already carrying one) so he'll miss the next U.S. match.

Many trusted American soccer writers felt that Michael Bradley was the man of the match and it was hard to argue after he controlled the midfield, made wonderful passes and won every 50/50 ball. Bradley started the sequence on Altidore's goal as he sent it down the wing to Fabian Johnson who one-touch crossed it across Panama's goalmouth. Altidore finished it perfectly.

Johnson's goal was assisted by Geoff Cameron, who also had an excellent performance and found Johnson with a long aerial pass. Johnson did the rest with a cool shot around Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

The U.S. (3-1-1) will go for its third World Cup qualifying win in a row next Tuesday (9 p.m., ESPN) in Sandy, Utah at Rio Tinto Stadium against Honduras (2-2-1).

UPDATE 6/15: Midfielder Kyle Beckerman was added to the U.S. roster for the match vs. Honduras.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

U.S. Men Get Ready For A Busy Couple Weeks, Calling 26 Players Into Training Camp

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.

UPDATE 5/21: Midfielder Brad Davis was added to the training camp roster.

UPDATE 5/23: Houston Dynamo defender Corey Ashe was added to the training camp roster for the U.S.

UPDATE 5/28: Edu, Shea and Ashe are all out with injuries that will force them to miss this week's friendlies and the World Cup qualifiers in June.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

U.S. Men Survive In Mexico To Get What They Need: A 0-0 Draw

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

U.S. Men's Roster Set For Costa Rica & Mexico, With A Couple Big Names Left Off

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

Oh Crap, Looks Like Tim Howard Will Miss Some World Cup Qualifiers

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

Who Doesn't Enjoy The Algarve Cup? (Crickets)

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

This Should Quiet The Jermaine Jones Haters, For A Day At Least

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.

U.S. Women To Meet Netherlands In April

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'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).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

World Cup 2014 Qualifying: U.S. Men's Soccer vs. Honduras Live Blog

The U.S. starting 11: Howard; Chandler, Gonzalez, Cameron, F. Johnson; Williams, Jones, Bradley, E. Johnson; Dempsey, Altidore

Honduras' starting 11: Valladares; Peralta, Bernardez, Figueroa, Garcia; Boniek, Espinoza, Garrido, Martinez; Bengtson, Costly

This might be the first U.S. men's national team game that the legendary Ray Hudson has commentated for. Exciting for hardcore soccer fans. Former U.S. star Cobi Jones also joins him and

1st minute-Great news already, with Chandler starting that means that now he's CAP tied and a U.S. player (not German) from here on out.

4th minute-Chandler gets burned by Martinez who whips a low cross in. Howard bobbles it but he hangs on.

8th minute-Honduras had a 3-on-1 but they screwed it up by going offside, big break for the U.S. defense. No clue where all the guys went on that play.

15th minute-Haha Honduras' head coach is wearing jeans and a Honduras polo shirt, classy.

17th minute-4th time Honduras has been called offside already, weird.

23rd minute-Espinoza has a shot from outside the box, caught by Howard.

25th minute-the 1st U.S. corner is a good one but Eddie Johnson heads it over. Gotta put that on goal.

29th minute-that was a nice counterattack by the U.S. Eddie Johnson crossed a low ball to Altidore who one touched it barely over the net. The U.S. has picked it up after a slow start.

31st minute-Chandler clears a Honduras pass off the goal line, yikes.

33rd minute-Howard with a strong punch on a quality shot from distance.

36th minute-Jones chips it beautifully to Dempsey who runs onto it and one touches it out of the air. Exquisite goal, 1-0 U.S. 33rd career international goal for Dempsey which moves him up to sole possession of 3rd place in U.S. history.

40th minute-Honduras ties it with an even more brilliant goal. It all started with a corner kick then ended with a bicycle kick by Garcia. You'll see that on highlight reels for years. Nothing you can do about that.

Halftime: U.S. 1, Honduras 1. A fair score since both teams finished their best chance with a flourish. The U.S. would have been in much better shape with a 1-0 lead but they probably didn't deserve it anyway.

No changes for either team to start the 2nd half.

50th minute-Bradley had a chance but his weak shot was deflected out.

52nd minute-Boniek is free down the wing but he puts the shot in the side netting.

55th minute-Bengtson almost takes advantage of Cameron's miscue in the back but he shoots it over.

56th minute-Haha Honduras is offside again, wiping out a goal.

58th minute-Come on Bradley, his corner kick never even went inbounds. That is unacceptable and can't happen at this level, ever. 1st U.S. sub: Maurice Edu is on for Williams.

59th minute-2nd U.S. sub: Sacha Kljestan on for Eddie Johnson.

65th minute-Bradley laid it off for Dempsey, his shot might have been trouble but it was blocked out for a corner before it got on goal.

67th minute-last U.S. sub: Graham Zusi in for Jones. So this is it, the U.S. won't have any more guys come on.

70th minute-Figueroa flashes up for a header but he can't put it on Howard. That was a good chance if he aimed it better.

71st minute-Costly shoots wide from distance.

79th minute-lazy defending leads to a tap-in by Bengtson. Gonzalez and Cameron were the culprits leaving Howard stuck in no-man's land. 2-1 Honduras, crushing goal to allow, especially in that fashion.

84th minute-And Bengtson gets carried off on a stretcher. Haha pathetic, let the stalling tactics commence.

93rd minute-Honduras makes its first sub: Welcome in for Costly.

94th minute-That's about right, the U.S. has one last chance on a corner but Gonzalez heads it over.

Final: Honduras 2, U.S. 1. That was a crappy performance by the U.S. and a blah game as well but you felt like Honduras would find the go-ahead goal at some point if the U.S. didn't take another lead. As always, the U.S. defense is a disaster and they can't find four above average players to put together. Ugh, nothing like a heartless loss by the U.S. to ruin your day. Thanks guys! They had never lost the opener during the final round of World Cup qualifying until today so they've got that going for them.

This was the first of 10 matches (2 against 5 other teams), if the U.S. can't finish ahead of Panama and Jamaica then heaven forbid lose to New Zealand in the final playoff, well then they don't deserve to be in the World Cup. That's a long way off though and a doomsday scenario. Still, the next U.S. game: March 22 vs. Costa Rica in Denver, Colorado now becomes a must-win since the next match is at Mexico and we all know how much they struggle there. Thankfully, the Costa Rica game will be on at a better time (10 p.m. EST and a real network (ESPN). Today's game in Honduras was a B-squad presentation all-around: middle of the day and week, on an obscure network.

Monday, February 4, 2013

This Is It, Don't Get Scared Now: U.S. Men Set For World Cup Qualifier At Honduras On Wednesday

Nobody has really focused on it, since there have been a million other things going on in the sports world but the U.S. men's national team's final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil begins on Wednesday at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Luckily for us, the game (4 p.m. EST) will only be broadcast on beIN SPORT which means that most will be following it on's gametracker and their Twitter account (@ussoccer). Sigh.

This morning, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann released his 24-man roster for the match. They'll train in Miami today before leaving for Honduras later this afternoon.

“We want to have a sense of urgency right from the start of the Final Round," said Klinsmann. “We have a lot of respect for Honduras, but our message to the team is that we are going there to get three points. One thing we learned from the Semifinal Round is that you have to bring the right mentality to play in the tough games on the road, and I’m confident we are ready to do that.”

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa - 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton – 22/9 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9) : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander – 31/5), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 5/0), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana – 0/0), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg – 0/0), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders – 0/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 0/0), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim – 3/0), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg – 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Michael Bradley (Roma – 19/5), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo - 0/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 9/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 – 5/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 12/0), Jose Torres (Tigres – 9/0), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim – 4/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 3/0)
FORWARDS (4 ): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 17/6), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 26/10), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders – 11/10)

Since it is on an official FIFA approved international fixture date, Klinsmann will bring in the varsity as opposed to the JV squad that had a scoreless draw with Canada last week (that's the last time I'll ever reference that worthless friendly). 17 of these players compete for clubs in Europe or Mexico and five of them have 50 or more CAPs.

The United States holds a 12-3-3 lifetime record against Honduras in a series that goes back to 1965. Both the United States and Honduras earned a place in the here by virtue of winning their respective semifinal round groups. The Catrachos qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup after only losing once at home in nine qualifiers throughout the cycle. That lone loss came against the United States.

The U.S. and Honduras are part of the six-team hexagonal along with Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama. The 10-game, round-robin format will take place from Feb. 6-Oct.10. The top three teams will automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place team will compete in a two-leg playoff against the champion from the Oceania Confederation.

It's important that the U.S. get off to a good start since this round means everything and only the best teams remain alive. Their next match won't be until March 22 when they host Costa Rica at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. That's a long time to think about a loss so they at least need a draw to feel confident about themselves.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brek Shea Hits The Lottery: Signs 4.5 Year Deal With Stoke City Worth $3.96 Million Dollars

I have never really understood the allure of U.S. midfielder Brek Shea; he's a decent enough player that has never scored a goal in 15 appearances for the United States. Today is not the time for hating though since before the January transfer window closed, he went from FC Dallas (MLS) to Stoke City where he signed a 4.5 year deal worth $3.96 million dollars with the English Premier League club.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis told the club's official website: "It's fantastic news that we have been able to push through a deal.
"Brek is a very, very exciting player, and one who we firmly believe could go on to become an outstanding player for this football club.
Shea is the Potters' first signing of the January transfer window.
"He has terrific pace, a very good left foot and is capable of scoring goals," Pulis said. "He has all the tools needed to be a success here."

Shea turns 23 on February 28 so he's still very young with plenty of potential. He had played for Dallas since 2008 but he is recovering from surgery on his right foot in November. He will find a few familiar faces in the dressing room, on the practice field not to mention on the road and at games: fellow American Geoff Cameron, the defender has started 21 games for Stoke (6-12-6) who finds itself in 10th in the EPL. American midfielder Maurice Edu is also on the team but he's only played in one game (as a substitute) this season so I'm not sure what the deal is with him.

It will probably take Shea time to rehab his foot some more, not to mention adjust to the pace and quality of play in England but this is the biggest thing to happen for his young career. As always, we love to see American players test themselves in the best leagues possible (ie. not MLS). Good luck Brek!

Monday, January 7, 2013

U.S. Women Put A Bow On 2012: Abby Wambach Named FIFA Player Of The Year, Sundhage World Coach Of The Year

2012 has been officially over for a week now but the U.S. women's national team still had plenty to celebrate today from last year. Striker and co-captain Abby Wambach was named the 2012 FIFA Women's Player of the Year while former head coach Pia Sundhage took home the 2012 World Coach of the Year for women's soccer.

This all took place this afternoon at the 2013 Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich, Switzerland. Brazil's Marta for some reason came in second place while Wambach's teammate Alex Morgan finished in third. It's hard to believe but this is only the third time a U.S. woman has won her sport's biggest individual award: Mia Hamm captured it in 2001 and 2002-the first two years the award was handed out. Coaches and captains from women's national teams across the globe voted for their top three players, who received five, three and one point respectively.

“I’m very, very surprised,” Wambach said. “Individual honors only happen if you have great teams and great people who have given you the chance to be here. Not only do I think Marta and Alex could have won, but many other players could have been here as well. Thanks to FIFA, thanks to U.S. Soccer and thanks to all the fans and my family for putting me in this position. I don’t think of myself as the best player in the world, just a player who plays on the best team in the world.”

Sundhage is the first U.S. women's head coach to take home the trophy, which began in 2008. She came in third that first year then second in 2011. She beat out Japan's Norio Sasaki (who won in 2011) and France's Bruno Bini. Sundhage is the current head coach of her home country-Sweden.

Some interesting numbers for Wambach, courtesy of
Last year, Wambach was chosen as one of three finalists for the award along with Marta and Homare Sawa of Japan, who won the award. Wambach finished third in the voting in 2011, the first time she was in the final three for the award, although she finished fourth in the voting in 2004 and 2006, fifth in 2007, was one of the final 10 in 2009 and was fifth again in 2010.

Wambach, who is on the cusp of catching Hamm on the world’s all-time scoring list, currently has 152 career international goals with 27 of them coming in 2012.

Her 27 goals in 2012 was the second-most prolific scoring year of her 12-year National Team career.

Wambach scored a goal in the first five matches of the 2012 Olympics, a feat never before achieved, and was the only U.S. player to start all 32 games during the year.
She currently has 198 career caps and could hit 200 in the USA’s second match of 2013 against Scotland on Feb. 13 in Nashville, Tenn.

Wambach tied for the team lead in scoring with six goals during the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament last January and also had five assists over the five games despite only playing 285 of the possible 450 minutes.

She scored in 20 of the USA’s 32 matches this year and had seven games in which she scored twice, including the final two games of the year (4-0 and 4-1 victories against China). The USA is 97-2-7 all-time in matches in which Wambach has scored a goal.

As co-captain of the U.S. team, she helped lead the American women to a 28-1-3 overall record in 2012, with the only loss (avenged twice during 2012 including the Olympic gold medal game) coming to Japan in March at the Algarve Cup. Wambach wasn’t on the field when Japan scored the game-winner in that 1-0 match.

Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has won five U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Awards (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011).

Wambach, Morgan and their team officially kick off 2013 on February 9, when they face Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla for a friendly. It will be new head coach Tom Sermanni's first match with the U.S.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jurgen Klinsmann Calls In The Unofficial MLS All-Stars To Face Canada In Houston

If you've already made plans on January 29, don't worry about not catching the U.S. men's national team's friendly vs. Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Looking at Jurgen Klinsmann's 25-man roster that he called to training camp in California starting tomorrow, it's clear that this is a game best caught on DVR or maybe reading about online.

Of the 25 guys, 21 of them currently play in MLS which is about all you need to know. Basically, this is the JV roster (for the JV game) before the Varsity returns to face Honduras on February 6 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier. The makeshift squad will train together before leaving for Houston on January 27, the Canada match is set for a 9 p.m. ET start on ESPN2.

“There is a tremendous amount of talent in the player pool. We follow these players very carefully, and the group coming in is the next line to challenge the players ahead of them in the National Team,” said Klinsmann. “This is absolutely a huge opportunity, and we’re looking forward to working with them. We are getting ready for the friendly against Canada, and also the big World Cup qualifier in Honduras, so these are going to be an important few weeks of preparation.”

GOALKEEPERS (3): Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (9): Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Connor Lade (New York Red Bulls), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (out of contract), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Edson Buddle (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

I'm not even joking when I tell you that I have never even heard of at least half these players. That's because I'm a soccer snob and I can't be bothered with MLS, sorry. I remember Hamid, Morales, Beckerman, Bedoya, Diskerud, Feilhaber, Gatt, Zusi, Agudelo, Buddle, Johnson and Wondolowski from previous U.S. games.

Johnson leads in goals (14) and caps (44) for this inexperienced bunch. In fact, eight of them are looking for their first cap: Beitashour, Beltran, Besler, Bruin, Hall, Lade, Morales and Morrow. Additionally, eight players on the roster are 23 and under. Agudelo, the first Development Academy alum to play for the senior team, is the youngest at 20.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Clint Dempsey Scores His First Goal At White Hart Lane For Tottenham, In Their 3-1 Win Vs. Reading

Predictably, it's been a big adjustment for American midfielder Clint Dempsey as he went from being Fulham's top star in 2011-12 to a part-time starter, part-time substitute for Tottenham. Through 15 games for his new club, I think that he is starting to figure out his role for the third-place team in the English Premier League.

This afternoon, Dempsey rung in the New Year with his third goal of the season for Spurs in a 3-1 win vs. Reading. It was Dempsey's first goal at White Hart Lane-their home field. In 15 appearances, he has three goals and three assists. He came on as a substitute in the 75th minute and scored the third goal for Spurs (that made it 3-1) in the 79th minute.

The goal is far from a classic by Dempsey since it took a deflection off a Reading defender's foot. However, you have to note that he must still have plenty of confidence to even attempt an audacious shot like that.

Up next for Tottenham, they host Coventry on Saturday (10 a.m. ET) in an FA Cup match. Their next EPL opponent is at Queens Park Rangers on January 14 (3 p.m. ET).