It’s been awhile since the US Men’s National Team used an excellent performance (and a bit of luck) to knock off Italy on their home soil, and a lot has happened since that breakthrough win. The U-23′s failed to qualify for the Olympics in heartbreaking fashion, shifting more focus towards the start of World Cup Qualifying. And several key members of the squad finished good seasons abroad, highlighted by Clint Dempsey’s magnificent goal scoring record at Fulham. Finally, Tim Chandler has informed us that he’s not so sure he wants to play international football – which sounds to most US fans like the still untied player is just working both sides of the fence in case Germany ever comes calling.
A lot of soccer-savvy people say results don’t matter in friendlies. It’s all about the quality of the play and the individual performances – worry about results when something’s on the line. But for the US team, something’s always on the line – respect. The under-appreciated bunch has played pretty in plenty of losses under Klinsmann; but in finally putting together a string of positive results has perhaps found its foundation in a staunchly organized structure and a pragmatically opportunistic attacking mentality.
My favorite moment of 2011 was quickly obscured by a terrible collapse. Foolishly, I believed that Landon Donovan’s smart finish of a Dempsey feed in the first half of the Gold Cup Final against Mexico would hold up and that the US was on the way to another regional title and another Confederations Cup berth. It was a great moment, celebrating loudly in a crowded bar with fellow fans. But it turned sour as the game quickly turned the other way and we were outclassed the rest of the match – losing 4-2. The result sparked the end of Bob Bradley’s tenure and paved the way for the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann as the new boss. The result was a fitting end to a run that had seen Bradley’s team become progressively less organized and disciplined.
Friday night, a bunch of friends and I climbed in a car and headed up to FC Dallas Park in Frisco, TX to watch the US U-23 squad take on the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL.
It was a great opportunity to watch them play up close, with some good goals and saves in the 3-0 win.
It was also a great opportunity to give an in person thank-you to our ally Amobi Okugo, someone who we’re very proud is part of the future of American soccer.
Check out some videos after the jump… read more…
GOALKEEPERS (3) :Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7) :Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (6) : Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim)
FORWARDS (5) :Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund), Edson Buddle (LA Galaxy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
My, the USA player pool is fascinating right now. We’ve got plenty of new faces alongside the familiar ones – and the emergence of the German-based talent is shaking up what used to seem a set of reliable assumptions about who will line up where.
This is something that has been bothering me for a while, and I think so. This is my opinion based on various AO Twitter accounts and their website. This does not mean that all chapters do this, as I do not follow every chapter’s twitter accounts/websites. This is just from what I have seen from the ones I follow, as well as stories I have heard from friends about the experiences with their local chapters and their views towards the women’s game.
Now, I’ve been thinking about this a lot after seeing the first WNT Olympic qualifying match on Friday, January 20, especially in comparison to the MNT friendly match that was played the following day. Dozens of AO members traveled to Phoenix to support the men in red, white, and blue for a Camp Cupcake friendly. The WNT is currently playing in a tournament that determines whether or not they get to play in the 2012 Summer Olympics, and there was no AO section shown on either of the broadcasts I watched. read more…
US Soccer’s January camp is a chance for coach Jurgen Klinsmann to get a look at the second tier US players for an extended period of time and test their implementation of his system in a couple of friendlies against similarly skilled competition. Without Dempsey, Donovan, Howard, Bocanegra, Bradley, and the other regulars, it’s a time for younger players to show what they can bring and a time for us to hopefully get excited about some young talent stepping up.
The US won both matches, as expected, but not with the panache we would have hoped for. While there’s no doubt that this was a learning experience for both coach and player alike, the soccer on display was pretty ragged for a team that had plenty of time to gel in training camp. At home with a decent crowd in Phoenix, a last minute win against Venezuela was justification for a controlling, if not attractive, performance. In Panama, the team was out-muscled, out-hustled, and out-coached against a physical side that deserved better than a 0-1 loss for their efforts.
Match reports are available here, so I’ll focus on my takeaways.