Federation sends diverse team to nation with recent history of neo-Nazi issues in fan base
Last week U.S. Soccer quietly announced that the Men’s National Team will play Ukraine in a friendly March 5 as part of its preparations for the 2014 World Cup. It wasn’t posted to social media; it was just slipped onto the website.
The issue with this is that the nation of Ukraine has had a recent history of racism, neo-Nazism, and gay bashing within its national team fan base and in the nation at large.
Let’s start with LGBT issues, where things got very heated in the months ahead of the Euro 2012 tournament that was co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Gay pride in Kiev had to be cancelled in May 2012 when right-wing soccer hooligans attacked event organizers soon before it was set to begin. Police flat-out told them they would not put officers in harm’s way to protect the LGBT community.
Amnesty International advised LGBT persons and other minorities from travelling to Ukraine for Euro matches:
Not only will they have to deal with violent football hooligans who deliberately target gay people and people of ethnic minorities, they will also face an extremely corrupt police force who have a track record of beating and mistreating people because of their sexual orientation.
It was an interesting night at RFK stadium for a seemingly meaningless friendly between two clubs from different nations, competing for no pre-season trophy, in a nation not traditionally known for its football passions. However, 25,000 people showed up to see Michael Bradley’s AS Roma take on Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side for what would turn out to be a fairly entertaining match.
As to be expected, all eyes were on the only American on the pitch,Michael Bradley, with fans eager to see how he’d match up against Chelsea’s world-class midfield including players such as John Obi Mikel, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle, Kevin De Bruyne, and Michael Essien. You could tell Bradley was perhaps a bit over-excited, over-doing things on the dribble on multiple occasions. His eagerness to dribble out of danger was a bit comical several times, as he was in fact in space, and only looked silly and out of his depth. However, as a whole, he didn’t put in a terrible performance. His passing was effectual, and he put in a few great tackles to help his side defensively.
Chelsea were the real entertainers on the evening, with several players creating chances in on goal. Fernando Torres was quite lively while on the pitch, almost going in on goal with a clever series of back-heel juggles over the defense. Chelsea’s knew signing, veteran keeper Mark Schwartzer let in an absolute howler of a goal in the first half, as he mis-trapped a pass which then hit the post, only to be finished by Erik Lamela.
A second-half wonder-strike by Frank Lampard and a tap-in by Romelu Lukaku ensured victory for the English side, who were in truth the better performers on the night. After the match, Bradley spoke of the importance of playing in these type of friendlies against quality opponents to prepare for the start of the Serie A campaign. Bradley also mentioned the upcoming international friendlies as a chance for players to get in some last minute match fitness before rejoining their club squads. When I asked Bradley about whether or not he’d be traveling to Bosnia he replied “the players who will be traveling for the friendly should be notified by tomorrow whether or not they’ll be meeting up with the team.”
Having since been named to the squad for the Bosnia match, hopefully Bradley can add some much-needed leadership and experience to a relatively inexperienced USA squad.
Today we are happy to share that the American Outlaws, supporters of the United States National Soccer Team, are signing on as allies with gay4soccer.
From Outlaws co-founder and Vice President Justin Brunken:
The American Outlaws are a UNITED group of U.S. Soccer fans not discriminating by any means, including sexual orientation. Anyone can and should be able to watch U.S. Soccer games with other fans just as passionate, despite their different backgrounds or preferences. Unite and Strengthen
With 80 chapters and thousands of members, the Outlaws are by far the largest group of supporters now standing as LGBT allies. It comes at a time when Robbie Rogers–who scored the first US goal under Jurgen Klinsmann in a match against Mexico–is contemplating a return the game, so it’s great to see that if he returns to the field wearing red, white, and blue, so many fans will have his back.
Any fashionista will tell you never to forget your roots. US Soccer has a new jersey that celebrates 100 years of the federation (although we fans only like to count the last 20 or so) with a crisp, simple design that looks anything but old fashioned to me.
The blue sleeves and collar give the look a sturdy frame. The bright white is a clean base; and the eye is drawn to the new badge immediately. Let’s talk about the badge, eh? Not many people love the current USA crest. The flying soccer ball is more little league anything else and the stars (which are meant to represent men’s, women’s, and youth programs) seem to others like we’re claiming championships we’ve never won.
It’s nearly playoffs time for Major League Soccer, and nominations for the various end of the season awards from the league are beginning to be revealed. But here at gay4soccer we don’t want to look at the traditional best players at each position, and other best of awards the league gives out officially.
We want to know who has the best butt in American soccer (among other things) in true yearbook senior superlative style.
Nominations can be from anywhere in North American soccer: Major League Soccer and other leagues, or men’s and women’s national teams.
And while there is plenty of silliness in our list, at the top is our first ever Ally of the Year Award.
So help us out in the next week by nominating your favorite players for awards. You can nominate in as few or as many categories as you’d like, and can even do the form twice if you have multiple ideas for one category. As we go through nominations, voting, and revealing the winners, we hope this is a fun process for everyone.
Thanks in advance for your help!
The nominations process is now closed. Voting will commence Monday, October 29.
The US was able to secure three points out of two back to back games against Jamaica to exit the international break atop their semifinal round World Cup Qualifying group. Assuming the rest of the qualifying cycle goes according to plan, no one will think again of the week where ostensibly rational, functioning adult US fans forgot all of their history, lost track of reality, and started to internalize the proposition that we were bound to watch Brazil 2014 without a team to root for.
The Yanks went down to Kingston with a point on their mind. They planned to sit back and break up Jamaica’s forward thrusts with a narrow, destructive midfield. But Dempsey’s early goal gave them an excuse to get passive; and while they defended very well (Jamaica didn’t really create a legitimate scoring opportunity beyond their set pieces), they simply couldn’t get anything going forward with such a defensive lineup. A couple of fouls around the area resulted in direct free kick goals from Jamaica, and the US left without a point to show for their poor effort, despite having taken an early lead.
The US fanbase and media took this in stride, understanding that playing a decent team at home with two of our best players (Bradley, Donovan) out injured and the third (Dempsey) well out of form following a transfer dispute with his club is not always going to result in a quality performance.
I’ve said before that qualifying out of our CONCACAF region is full of tense moments. This upcoming set of games, back to back vs. Jamaica (at their place on 9/7, and at home in Columbus on 9/11), is an early example of how a few breaks can lead to sticky situations in what should have been a straightforward path out of our semifinal group.
Klinsmann has had to test his depth with this roster, and there are a few things worth pondering as the team prepares for the most crucial two games of his tenure.
Muscle Strains Depth
Two of our best three players are missing due to leg strains. Landon Donovan tweaked his hammy in the win down in Mexico and hasn’t played since in MLS, while Bradley’s been sidelined with a bum thigh for AS Roma since a so-so first start in their season opener. Donovan’s leadership, decision-making, workrate and ability to make that one perfect play that wins the game will obviously be missed. But Bradley’s absence is arguably more painful. The team counts on his two-way ability and he provides punch on both sides of the ball as well as a knack for coming up with big goals. With his backup options, you either lose passing and possession, or defensive bite. It is difficult to overstate the void left by the absence of these two and the experience they would have brought.
In addition, Josh Gatt, the Norway-based speed merchant looking for his first cap, had to turn down Klinsmann’s call due to….a strained hamstring.
It’s never pretty when we go down there. Never. Mexico is a better possession team than we are and at that altitude, the chasing we would have to do to try and negate that would quickly deplete our team’s energy. To conserve legs for late in the match, we had to pack it in and let them have a lot of the ball. It’s nerve-racking to watch, but you can count on one hand the real legitimate scoring opportunities the Mexicans created against this makeshift defense.
It is difficult to stay disciplined in this kind of game and to be patient enough to let your chance or two come. Congrats to our guys for sticking to a plan for 90 minutes…
I am speechless.
The full issue gallery is here, and here is a behind the scenes video of Captain America’s photo shoot:
The magazine hits mailboxes and newsstands starting today, with the great shots of Bocanegra after the jump.
It Ain’t Pretty, But It’s All We Needed
The US had a predictably disjointed first set of qualifiers, beating an organized Antigua & Barbuda side at home, and surviving a typically sketchy road trip to Guatemala.
We said all along that the only thing that matters here is getting results. Style points don’t count in qualifying – which is a good thing because they typically are nowhere to be found. People who think we should waltz into Central America and dominate haven’t been watching CONCACAF soccer for long. A draw does just fine, thank you very much. And it sets us up nicely for a home and home set against Jamaica in early September, which will go a long way towards determining if we can book our ticket to the Hex early or if we’ll have to sweat out the final couple of matches.
So what about the performances?