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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.