NWSL Round Up Week 15: Sinclair Scores Thorns First Hat Trick
NWSL Round Up Week 15: Sinclair Scores Thorns First Hat Trick avatar

A Week of 1-1 Draws

This past week ended with an unusual amount of 1-1 draws between teams- four to be exact. The Chicago Red Stars in particular, played two 1-1 matches, the first against Portland Thorns in Lisle, IL on Thursday and Seattle Reign FC on Sunday in Wash.

Chalupny got the equalizer for Chicago. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Chalupny got the equalizer for Chicago. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Thursday’s match saw Jessica McDonald open scoring for the Thorns in the first minute of play. Not only did she giver her team the lead, but McDonald nabbed the record for fastest goal in NWSL history. Chicago wouldn’t score until late in the second half, with Lori Chalupny supplying the equalizer with a sliding finish to put the ball in.

On Sunday, a determined Red Star’s returned to the pitch, this time against No. 1 Seattle Reign FC. No one would score in the first half, but Seattle kept the pressure on, with Chicago goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc registering five saves in the first half.

In the 70th minute they broke through the Red Star’s back line, with Beverly Goebel blasting a shot into the net.  U.S. forward Christen Press came through in the final 10 minutes of regulation, capitalizing on a cross from Jen Hoy to equalize.

Houston Dash took on Washington Spirit and WNY Flash battled Kansas this week- both games going the 1-1 route as well.

Dash came back late in the second half to equalize after dangerous Sky Blue forward Lisa De Vanna put her team up by one in the 19th minute. Marissa Diggs gave Houston the goal they needed to narrowly escape a loss; delighting fans on Thursday at home in Houston, TX.

Samantha Kerr has had an outstanding season of The Flash, (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Samantha Kerr has had an outstanding season of The Flash, (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

On Friday, Sarah Hagen scored for FC Kansas City and Samantha Kerr for the Flash at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, NY. The Blues are currently holding down second place in League Standings.

Sinclair Scores Hat Trick; Sky Blue Upsets Spirit

The biggest upset came for the Boston Breakers, who were ousted by the Thorns 6-3 at Providence Park in Portland on Sunday. Thorns forward Christine Sinclair led the charge, scoring the first hat trick in club history and the fourth in NWSL history.

Currently sitting at last place with only 11 points, the Breakers haven’t managed to break out this year, and they just couldn’t keep composure, buckling under immense Thorns pressure.

Sinclair got a hat trick and looked back to her best. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Sinclair got a hat trick and looked back to her best. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Boston started off strong, opening scoring in the 14th minute with a goal from Katie Schoepfer, but forward Allie Long responded with a goal for the Thorns seven minutes later off a penalty kick. Both sides went back and forth with Boston forward Nikki Washington scoring in the 33rd and Sinclair equalizing in the 36th, but once Boston midfielder Heather O’Reilly added the final goal for her team in the 39th, Portland decided enough was enough. Sinclair recorded a hat trick in the beginning of the second half, while Alex Morgan and McDonald rounded out the 6-3 finish.

No. 4 Washington Spirit experienced a shocking let down on Sunday, falling to No. 7 Sky Blue FC 4-2 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ.

U.S. international Kelly O'hara was the star of the match for  (ISI Photos/John Todd)

U.S. international Kelly O’hara was the star of the match for Sky Blue. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Sky Blue dominated from start to finish, with four consecutive goals throughout regulation. Forward Kelley O’Hara stood out with a brace and two assists, including the opening goal in the 22nd minute and a late 85th minute goal. Sophie Schmidt and Nadia Nadim added goals to seal the deal, and though Jodie Taylor and Robyn Gayle scored for Washington in the final minutes, it wouldn’t be enough to put a dent in their opponents comfortable lead.

“We sat down and looked at our past performances, and it was pretty obvious that we needed to be better in front of the goal, both defensively and on the attack,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra told NWSL. “The biggest difference today was that we put our chances away, and Jill (Loyden) came up with some big saves until there in the end when they threw crazy numbers forward. Overall, it was a very good performance for us as a team.”

NWSL Pts GP W L T GF GA GD
1. Seattle Reign FC 43 18 13 1 4 35 15 20
2. FC Kansas City 34 19 10 5 4 32 25 7
3. Portland Thorns FC 29 19 8 6 5 36 27 9
4. Washington Spirit 27 19 8 8 3 30 38 -8
5. Chicago Red Stars 27 19 7 6 6 24 20 4
6. Western New York Flash 24 19 7 9 3 31 24 7
7. Sky Blue FC 19 18 4 7 7 20 32 -12
8. Houston Dash 17 17 5 10 2 20 30 -10
9. Boston Breakers 11 18 3 13 2 26 43 -17
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Sporting KC re-signs World Cup stars Zusi and Besler
Sporting KC re-signs World Cup stars Zusi and Besler avatar

Fresh off of their World Cup campaign with the U.S. MNT Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have signed Designated Player contracts to remain with Sporting Kansas City.

Matt Belser will continue to ply his trade in the MLS. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

Matt Besler will continue to ply his trade in the MLS. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

Besler, in particular was a hot property following the Cup, with as many as 10 European clubs, primarily in England and Germany, said to be competing for the center back’s signature. Midfielder Zusi was also said to have offers to try his luck overseas, but the two close friends instead elected to tie their future’s to SKC and Major League Soccer.

With 10 MLS players making Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23 man World Cup roster, this World Cup was seen by many as a referendum on the league. With no less than four players from the league starting any match as the U.S. advanced from a very tough group, respect for the league increased around the world and at home.

Zusi .(ISI Photost/John Todd)

Zusi has received criticism in the past for not choosing to play in foreign leagues.) .(ISI Photost/John Todd)

Besler and Zusi have already heard the criticism that they should have been willing to take on the challenge of playing in the more demanding, top leagues. The argument, and it certainly has some validity, is that players improve by playing with and against tougher competition.

A leading proponent of this philosophy is none other than U.S. MNT coach and Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann once infamously said of Clint Dempsey, that despite succeeding at Fulham, Dempsey had accomplished “s#&%.”

Here is what Klinsmann told the Wall Street Journal in January 2013.

“What we’re trying to do is to give (U.S. MNT players) messages in order to challenge them, in order to make them understand to take your own career in your own hands.” “Make the next step for yourself, get to the next tier of club if you can. Try to play Champions League one day, go as high as you can.”

Soon after, Dempsey moved from Fulham to Tottenham, a bigger club, but when that didn’t go quite to plan Dempsey made his shock move to Seattle. Michael Bradley followed suit, leaving Italian club Roma for Toronto FC.

Dempsey and Bradley, Klinsmann’s two most important field players had flatly rejected Klinsmann’s philosophy. Klinsmann was clearly conflicted saying on ESPN that it was, “exciting,” and “huge for football in the United States.” In that same conversation the coach said that it was a problem for the national team that his players weren’t playing against the best players in the world.

Donovan became a fan's favorite at Everton. (Getty Images)

Donovan became a fan’s favorite at Everton. (Getty Images)

This is what Klinsmann told the New York Times before the World Cup, regarding his most notorious roster omission.
“[Donovan] came back, and he was playing in MLS, and people say, ‘Oh, he’s playing well,’ but what does that really mean?” Klinsmann said. “This is where MLS hurts him. He was playing at 70 percent, 80 percent, and he was still dominant. That doesn’t help anyone.”

All of which is to say that Klinsmann is unlikely to be happy that Besler and Zusi have decided to stay put. Realistically, Zusi, a 27 year old midfielder has less of a shot at a 2018 World Cup roster spot than Belser, also 27, but a center back.

Although he collected two assists in the World Cup, Zusi was also less of a hot property coming out of Brazil than Besler, who impressed before his bad experience against Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku in the American’s Round of 16 loss.

Despite the fact that Besler emerged from MLS to start all four U.S. MNT games at Brazil 2014, pundits across the media, social and otherwise, have already consigned Besler to backup status behind John Brooks for 2018. Brooks plays for Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin.

Robb Heineman is Kansas City’s CEO and a team owner, and not surprisingly he rejects any speculation that Besler and Zusi have hurt their international careers by re-signing with SKC.

“I’ve seen a lot of stuff on social media around – ‘Oh, you know, this is not a good decision for the guys from a national team perspective’ – and to me, that’s complete BS,” he told reporters. “This is one of the best clubs in the world from a development perspective. The opportunity and the tools that are available here, including Peter (Vermes, KC coach) and the way he trains these guys, is world-class. So any reference or thought that it’s not a first-class opportunity for these guys to be here, to me, is just complete crap.

“This club has the desire to be one of the greatest in the world,” he continued. “I think right now, we’re the greatest in MLS. Frankly, I think there’s no question that we’re the greatest in MLS. And we’re going to do everything that we can to try to continue to advance the vision of the club over time.”

Hometown hero Besler, grew up just a few miles down the road from where Sporting Park now stands, and says this about the issue. “I’m not worried about that anymore.” “I don’t care, really. People can say what they want and they can judge. They can have opinions on where I should be playing, but no one really knows the true story. No one knows what it’s like to be here, to be in my shoes. I’m so confident and comfortable with my decision that none of that matters.”

Bradley (L) return to the MLS from Roma surprized many. (Getty Images)

Bradley (L) return to the MLS from Roma surprized many. (Getty Images)

Players will continue to make these decisions as they see fit. First Dempsey and Bradley came home, then Besler and Zusi stayed. DeAndre Yedlin is up next, and maybe Omar Gonzalez.

Some will defy Klinsmann and stay, some will listen and go. Klinsmann may not like all of the decisions potential U.S. national team players make, but with his dual titles of coach and Technical Director running through 2018, it is clear that Klinsmann will have to make his peace with MLS.

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U.S. U-20 MNT Win NTC Invitaitonal
U.S. U-20 MNT Win NTC Invitaitonal avatar

Brazil 2014 is in the past now, and the U.S. MNT players have dispersed to various points across the globe resuming, or preparing to resume play with their club teams.

But, as we know the work never stops when it comes to building an international soccer team, and this weekend the U.S. U20 men’s side got the job done winning the four team NTC Invitational in Carson, California.

Tab Ramos consulting with his bench during their match against Australia. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Tab Ramos consulting with his bench during their match against Australia. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

U.S. U20 coach Tab Ramos brought in a diverse 20 player roster, tapping MLS, international and college talents to face Chile, Bermuda and Australia.

The young Yanks opened on a positive note on July 14th with a 2-1 come from behind win over Chile, who figured to provide the U.S. with their sternest test of the tournament.

Andrija Novakovich scored the opening goal against (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Andrija Novakovich scored the opening goal against Bermuda. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Second half substitutes Andrija Novakovich and Zach Pfeffer scored to lead the fight back, after the home team fell behind on a 22nd minute tally from Chile’s Cristian Cuevas.

Philadelphia Union striker Pfeffer set up Novakovich for the U.S. opener in the 65th minute, before turning finisher from a Paul Arriola set up eight minutes later. Novakovich and Pfeffer each got on the scoresheet again in the next U.S. game, against Bermuda, with the Americans claiming a comfortable 4-0 win against the Islanders.

The dynamic duo of Novakovich and Pfeffer were buzzing early, so it was no surprise when Novakovich, a Michigan product who is part of the Reading set up in England, struck for the U.S. in the 27th minute.

The Reading man was taken down in the box for a penalty that Pfeffer converted in the 39th minute, and the U.S. were never going to be caught. Tommy Thompson was a late addition to American squad and he showed his worth with a goal just before the halftime break.

The hosts dominated this match to the tune of a 26-2 shot advantage, adding a fourth goal via an 85th minute own goal.

Going into the last match the U.S. and Australia were tied for the tournament lead with seven points, but a superior goal differential over the Aussies meant that a tie would give the NTC Invitational crown to the Americans, and that was Friday’s result.

Zack Steffen started the last 2 games in goal for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Zack Steffen started the last 2 games in goal for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Neither team could breach their opponents defense, giving the title to the Yanks, with Australia finishing second. University of Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen started the final two games after New York Red Bulls Santiago Castano played the first game between the pipes for the U.S., and Steffen certainly had more to do in the final than he did versus Bermuda.

The U.S. attack kept Steffen’s opposite number Jordan Thurtell plenty busy as well, with U.S. midfielder Romain Gall rattling the post from a 21st minute free kick.

Romain Gall in action against Australia. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Romain Gall in action against Australia. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Gall plays for FC Lorient and another of the Americans foreign brigade, Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), also dented the iron work, his shots finding various posts on three occasions.

Ramos will be winnowing down the best of this age group as the U.S. MNT prepare for 2015 U20 World Cup Qualifying , starting in January.

From there these players will be trying to make their case for the 2016 Olympic team, should the U.S. qualify, and most importantly, looking to catch Jurgen Klinsmann’s eye for the big team, because 2018 will be here before they know it.
U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0

Lineups:
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 13-Chris Odoi-Atsem, 4-Conor Donovan, 5-Michael Amick, 2-John Requejo; 16-Fernando Arce, 6-Russell Canouse (capt.); 7-Paul Arriola; 24-Tommy Thompson, 8-Lynden Gooch (9-Benji Lopez, 89) , 11-Zach Pfeffer (10-Romain Gall, 8)
Subs Not Used: 12-Santiago Castano, 14-Jacori Hayes, 17-Jesus Vasquez, 19-Andrija Novakovich, 20-Caleb Smith
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

AUS: 1-Jordan Thurtell; 5-Riley Woodcock (15-Scott Galloway, 62), 3-Daniel Alessi, 4-Ben Warland, 16-Ben Garuccio; 7-Shannon Brady (11-Jaushua Sotorio, 28), 6-Hagi Gligor (capt.) (20-Jordan Brown, 83), 10-Stefan Sotorio; 23-Daniel De Silva (14-Devante Clut, 73), 9-Brandon Borrello, 8-Awer Mabil (24-Marc Marino, 72)
Subs Not Used: 2-Shayne D’Cunha, 18-Paul Izzo, 21-Chris Naumoff, 22-Liam Rose,

Stats Summary: USA / AUS
Shots: 15 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 11 / 15
Offside: 2 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
AUS – Jaushua Sotorio (caution) 76th minute
USA – Russell Canouse (caution) 86

 

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report v Bermuda-

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F

USA 3 1 4
Bermuda 0 0 0

USA – Andrija Novakovich (Caleb Smith) 27th minute
USA – Zach Pfeffer (penalty) 39
USA – Tommy Thompson 45
USA – Own goal 85

Lineups:
USA: 1-Zach Steffen; 13-Chris Odoi-Atsem, 4-Conor Donovan (5-Michael Amick, 46), 17-Jesus Vasquez, 20-Caleb Smith; 24-Tommy Thompson (9-Benji Lopez, 64), 14-Jacori Hayes, 15-Marco Delgado (capt.) (6-Russell Canouse, 64), 11-Zach Pfeffer (2-John Requejo Jr., 73); 10-Romain Gall (16-Fernando Arce, 64), 19-Andrija Novakovich (8-Lynden Gooch, 79)
Subs Not Used: 3-Shaquell Moore, 7-Paul Arriola, 12-Santiago Castano
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

BER: 1-Jahquil Hill; 6-Dakai Grant, 16-Jaylon Bather (10-Rai Simons, 52), 3-Terrance Webb, 20-Mauriq Hill (2-Oliver Harvey, 61); 19-Jair Minors (7-Jaz Ratteray Smith, 52; 11-Chae Brangman, 81), 4-William White, 17-Willie Clemens, 18-Lejuan Simmons (capt.) (8-Jibri Lawrence Salaam, 52); 9-Zaire Burchall, 15-Zeiko Lewis (5-Alanzo Parson, 81)
Subs Not Used: 12-Detre Bell, 14-Shakeem Albouy, 21-Neildante Smith

Stats Summary: USA / BER
Shots: 26 / 2
Shots on Goal: 12 / 2
Saves: 2 / 9
Corner Kicks: 13 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 12
Offside: 2 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
BER – Lejuan Simmons (caution) 42nd minute

-U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Summary vs. Chile

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F

USA 0 2 2
Chile 1 0 1

CHI – Cristian Cuevas 22nd minute
USA – Andrija Novakovich (Zach Pfeffer) 65
USA – Zach Pfeffer (Paul Arriola) 73

Lineups:

USA: 12-Santiago Castano; 2-John Requejo Jr., 5-Michael Amick, 4-Conor Donovan, 3-Shaquell Moore; 10-Romain Gall (11-Zach Pfeffer, 63), 6-Russell Canouse, 16-Fernando Arce, 7-Paul Arriola (capt.) (15-Marco Delgado, 74); 8-Lynden Gooch (14-Jacori Hayes, 83), 9-Benji Lopez (19-Andrija Novakovich, 63)
Subs Not Used: 1-Zach Steffen, 13-Chris Odoi-Atsem, 17-Jesus Vasquez, 20-Caleb Smith
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

CHI: 12-Brayan Cortes; 2-Camilo Rodriguez, 3-Sebeastian Vegas (capt.), 5-Benjamin Kuscevic (20-Rodrigo Echeverria, 46), 9-Ignacio Jeraldino, 10-Cristian Cuevas (17-Gonzalo Reyes, 79), 11-Luis Pavez, 14-Bryan Carvallo (6-Kevin Medel, 63), 15-Christopher Dias (7-Ivan Pardo, 63), 18-Juan Fuentes (8-Bernardo Cerezo, 79), 19-Diaz Sebastian
Subs Not Used: 1-Miguel Vargas, 4-Raul Osorio, 13-Matias Bizama, 16-Joaquin Montecinos

Stats Summary: USA / CHI
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 23
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Conor Donovan (caution) 30th minute
CHI – Ivan Pardo (caution) 68
USA – Zach Pfeffer (caution) 75

 

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U.S. WNT to Face Switzerland
U.S. WNT to Face Switzerland avatar

After wrapping up a double-match session against France last month, the U.S. WNT are slated to take on Switzerland in Cary, North Carolina Aug. 20,.

The match comes shortly before the Americans kick off qualifiers for 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. Switzerland has already qualified- their first time at the senior level, having won European Group 3. They have one match left to play in the qualifying rounds and are doing well with an 8-0-1 record.

Lara Dickenmann (L) was a standout performer for Ohio State. (Getty Images)

Lara Dickenmann (L) was a standout performer for Ohio State. (Getty Images)

Switzerland boasts some talented players that the U.S. will have to keep an eye on, including Lyon midfielder Lara Dickenmann, who leads Switzerland in Women’s World Cup qualifying with 10 goals. She has plenty of international experience, playing for the New Jersey Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes in college.

Former WPS player and forward Romona Bachmann is also a force to be reckoned with, having scoring eight times in qualifying rounds. Striker Ana Maria Crnogorcevic follows with six goals.

Morgan's attacking threat will be a huge bonus to the U.S. (Getty Images)

Morgan’s attacking threat will be a huge bonus to the U.S. (Getty Images)

The U.S. players have been getting pretty of practice and competition in with the NWSL season in full swing. Forward Alex Morgan is back in action, making her presence known by supplying two goals against France June 19. Midfielder Shannon Boxx made her pitch debut last week with the Chicago Red Stars- her first since giving birth to a daughter earlier in the year.

This will mark the first-ever meeting between the two squads, a rare and unusual occurrence. Currently, the No. 1 ranked U.S. holds a 7-2-3 record for 2014. Switzerland is ranked 19th.

 

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2014 San Diego soccerloco Surf Cup
2014 San Diego soccerloco Surf Cup avatar

soccerlocoSurfCuplogoThis year soccerloco is the title sponsor for the 34th annual 2014 San Diego soccerloco Surf Cup. The San Diego Surf Cup is a 501(c3) not-for-profit corporation in the state of California. The goal of the cup is to connect student athletes with colleges and universities and help them achieve a college scholarship.

Starting back in 1981, this has been a long tradition for the San Diego community. The tournament will host over 400 college coaches and scouts this year with coaches and scouts arriving from all over the states to scout young talent for collegiate level soccer. This is not only one of the most sought-after tournament accolades in youth soccer, but also one of the largest, with a significant amount of different clubs flying in and traveling to the beautifully polished Del Mar polo fields.

At the tournament, soccerloco will be holding a media press tent for college coaches and scouts, as well as club coaches and competing athletes to come by and promote their organization and shed a positive light to youth soccer in the United States. Here is the link to the website with tournament information: http://www.soccerloco.com/blog/in-the-community/2014-soccerloco-surf-cup/

Aside from being the title sponsor, there will also be other sponsors at the event:

  • Title Sponsor: soccerloco
  • Presenting Sponsor: Nike
  • Major Sponsors: San Diego Sport Commission
  • Gold Sponsors: Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Rehab United Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Centers, San Diego Wireless, Maui Wowi Hawaiian, Soccerbook
  • Silver Sponsors: Nestle Pure Life, Pass 2 Me, Official Sport, San Diego Sockers
  • Bronze Sponsors: Topical Gear
  • Field Sponsors: San Diego Medical Services Enterprises, Cramer Sports Medicine, RQ Construction

The soccerloco Surf Cup is an all day and all weekend event. It will be held at the Del Mar Polo fields (3885 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014) for two consecutive weekends. U-16 to U-18 Boys & Girls will be the first weekend, July 26-28, 2014 and U-10 to U-15 Boys & Girls will be on the second weekend, August 2-4, 2014. Admission is free.

Who says you have to travel far to experience some thrilling soccer action? Come support some of the best in youth soccer that America has to offer. From the manicured fields to the festive crowd, it’ll be easy to have a great time at this cup.

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Alejandro Bedoya Exclusive – The Future Looks Bright
Alejandro Bedoya Exclusive – The Future Looks Bright avatar

Alejandro Bedoya’s journey to a starting position on the United States World Cup team was a long one that began in Englewood, New Jersey, moved on to college at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Boston College, wound its way first to Sweden, then on to Glasgow, and then back again to Sweden, before landing Bedoya at Nantes, in France’s well regarded Ligue 1.

Bedoya (L) in action against Panama in October 2013(Getty Images)

Bedoya (L) in action against Panama in October 2013(Getty Images)

Four years ago, the now 27 year old Bedoya, was one of the final cuts from the U.S. Men’s World Cup team that played in South Africa, and he told GotSoccer that making the team this time around, “goes to show my hard work paying off.”

Just recently returned to the U.S. from Brazil, Bedoya chatted with GotSoccer on a beautiful Friday afternoon atop New York City’s iconic Empire State Building.

Bedoya posing for the photographers. (Snapshot by Peter Nolan)

Bedoya posing for the photographers. (Snapshot by Peter Nolan)

After posing for a group of photographers outside on the observation deck, Bedoya stepped inside for a few words with GotSoccer. While tourists swarmed, he talked honestly about his World Cup experience, one the midfielder termed, “pretty successful,” for the United States.

Bedoya started three of the four United States games in Brazil, most notably tracking Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo all over the pitch, helping to limit the World Player of the Year’s effectiveness, before being replaced with the Americans leading 2-1, in what became a deflating 2-2 draw for the U.S.

When it was put to Bedoya that many saw his individual performance at the World Cup as a good one defensively, if somewhat disappointing from an offensive standpoint, Bedoya agreed. “Yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment,” Bedoya admitted, before offering an explanation.

“Of course I tried to get involved as much (as possible),” Bedoya began, “and my thing is my movement off the ball to get the ball, but I think at times I wasn’t getting the ball, even if I made those runs I’m known for making.” “Diagonal runs behind the defense,” Bedoya continued, “or trying to find spots in between the midfielder and the defense.”

Bedoya and Dempsey challenging Germany's Philipp Lahm. (Getty Images)

Dempsey and Bedoya challenging Germany’s Philipp Lahm. (Getty Images)

The attack minded midfielder wasn’t looking to make excuses, but he did tell GotSoccer, “that fans expectations of me are a little bit flawed, I think, because I play out wide they were expecting me to be a winger, and get by with my speed or with step-overs, but that’s not my game.”

Bedoya said that, “the typical American fan, if they watch me play overseas, and in Europe, and how I’ve been playing in France, I play behind the striker, I play more centrally.” “I’m used to tracking back, like I showed,” Bedoya said, “but also being a possession player and moving off of the ball to find some space for myself and also for my teammates.”

Although he may sound a bit dissatisfied with his national team role, Bedoya makes it clear that he is not complaining. “No, not really,” was his his answer when asked if he was at all frustrated.

Bedoya feels he has proven himself in this tournament. (Getty Images)

Bedoya feels he has proven himself in this tournament. (Getty Images)

“We have great players all over the field, and I think that’s the position (outside midfielder) the manager sees best for me, and I’m happy getting playing time, but like you said,” Bedoya concluded thoughtfully, “the overall assessment, sometimes fans don’t take the tactical adjustments into it, or exactly what the players roles are, or are not familiar with the type of player that I really am.”

As he dodged tourists on a busy Friday afternoon high above Manhattan, Bedoya told GotSoccer, that in getting out of a difficult group the U.S. MNT, “were able to win the hearts of many Americans, and new supporters all over the world.”

The well traveled Bedoya noted that, “I got a lot of messages from France, and teammates there and people from Sweden and Glasgow, saying that they were really proud and that they were cheering for us the whole time.”

“They thought we played some good football at times,” Bedoya relayed, “tactically disciplined, as well as some exciting soccer.” Bedoya was also pleased to note, “I think they also took a liking to how Americans are, the show that we always put on, with the fans and the passion that we showed. It really surprised many,” Bedoya marveled.

Bedoya was delighted with the response the American team generated, and told GotSoccer that “in the stadiums you could hear the Brazilians.” “It felt sometimes,” Bedoya added, “like you were playing in the States, with the crowd support from all over, so it was cool.”

Having seen his World Cup dream deferred in 2010, Bedoya said that playing in the tournament was everything he expected. “Yeah, definitely,” Bedoya told GotSoccer, “it was that and then some.”

“Playing in Brazil, the mecca of soccer,” Bedoya mused, “they put on a great show.” “To see the passion from all of the fans, especially in Brazil, it was just amazing to see.”

At 27 years old Bedoya should be in the prime years of his career as he returns to Nantes. With a full season under his belt in Ligue 1, plus the experience of representing his country on the world’s biggest stage, a big year could be in the cards for the New Jersey native.

Bedoy as well as the rest of the U.S. men's national team have definitely grown and gained world wide respect. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Bedoya as well as the rest of the U.S. men’s national team have definitely grown and gained world wide respect. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Bedoya doesn’t shy away from the expectations, saying, “I think I’ve grown with the experience. Playing against some of the best teams in the world, some of the best players.” “I think,” Bedoya told GotSoccer, “that’s helping me to grow as a player and become more confident as a player and to take on more challenges.”

It may be because both his father and grandfather were professional soccer players in Colombia, but Bedoya has never been afraid to take on challenges in his career. First Bedoya skipped Major League Soccer, opting to challenge himself with a move to Swedish club Orebro.

Then, that habit of betting on himself brought Bedoya to Glasgow Rangers, and when the Scottish giants crumbled financially, Bedoya returned to Sweden with Helsingborgs, before moving on to Nantes in 2013.

It can be a risk for a player with national team aspirations to change clubs so close to a World Cup, and Americans have scant history of success in the competitive Ligue 1.

But Bedoya took a shot with newly promoted Nantes, and quickly made himself a key figure at Stade de la Beaujoire, impressing U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and putting himself back in the frame with the U.S. MNT.

The World Cup behind him now, Bedoya intends to, “keep improving at Nantes and showing that I’ve solidified my position there, and show that I’ve improved as a player, and keep progressing.”

Alejandro Bedoya () in action for French L1 side Nantes. (Getty Images)

Alejandro Bedoya (C) in action for French L1 side Nantes. (Getty Images)

So Bedoya’s journey continues, beginning with the three elevator trip from the top of the Empire State Building back to the New York City streets, then back to France, and then on to Russia in 2018?

“I hope so, that’s the plan,” Bedoya smiled, clearly ready to bet on himself one more time.

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NWSL Round Up Week 14: Chicago Red Stars Serve Seattle with First Loss
NWSL Round Up Week 14: Chicago Red Stars Serve Seattle with First Loss avatar

Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns Stun Top-Ranked Teams

The Chicago Red Stars had an impressive week at home in Lisle, IL, giving the crème of the crop plenty of trouble. They tied 1-1 with the Portland Thorns on Wednesday  and ended with a stunning 1-0 win against No. 1 Seattle Reign FC on Sunday.

In Wednesday’s match, both goals were scored on penalty kicks. The first was put away by Portland when a foul was issued in the 27th minute and Allie Long took the successful shot. Emily Van Egmond equalized for Chicago in the 86th minute.

The 36 year old veteran has done well sine her return to the NWSL. (Getty Images)

Shannon Boxx in action for the national team. (Getty Images)

U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx caused a happy stir with her long-anticipated season debut, having sat out the beginning of the season after giving birth to her daughter.

“It’s taken some time to come back, but I feel great,” Boxx told NWSL reporters. “We knew I didn’t want to take it too long tonight being my first game back.”

Canadian Trancredi got the goal that ended Seattle's undefeated season. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

Canadian Trancredi got the goal that ended Seattle’s undefeated season. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

An even greater celebration came later in the week, when Chicago served Seattle Reign with their first loss of the season. Melissa Tancredi scored the lone goal, attacking early in the 8th minute with a right-footed volley to put them up 1-0.

Paired with an impressive back line that saw Chicago goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc make five gallant saves under pressure, the Red Stars were able to cling to their lead and nab a spot in the playoffs.

“We look at the big picture,” LeBlanc told NWSL reporters. “We want to make it to the playoffs and then we want to win the championship. This was the next step to make that happen. Our focus is on ourselves.”

The Portland Thorns rocked the boat as well, crushing No. 2 FC Kansas City 7-1 on Sunday in in Portland, OR.

The results set three records, including most goals scored in a single game (7), largest margin of victory (6) and most combined goals scored (8) in league history.

Veronica Boquete opened scoring in the 3rd minute with Alex Morgan on the assist and then in the 25th minute Morgan added a goal of her own. Katrina Gorry scored the lone Blues goal of the night in the 30th minute, but Allie Long responded with a brace in the 43rd and 62nd for Portland. Boquete added another goal in the 80th off a penalty kick and Amber Brooks sealed the scoring spree in the 88th.

The overwhelming win demolished FC Kansas City’s seven-game winning streak, also ending a nine-game consecutive unbeaten stretch.

Ohai Leads Dash to Victory, Spirit Narrowly defeats Flash

On Friday, Houston Dash earned a close 2-1 victory over the Boston Breakers at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, with forward Kealia Ohai scoring the monumental brace.

They had much to prove after shoddy defending in the 4th minute saw the Breakers open scoring with a easy finish from Katie Schoepfer.

Kealia Ohai is finally settling into the NWSL and showing her worth. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Kealia Ohai is finally settling into the NWSL and showing her worth. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Ohai came to the rescue in the second half, jumping on a tackle and curling in a shot from the corner of the penalty box past Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to equalize.

The college draftee was in it to win though, and showed her talent and power with another goal just five minutes later. Jordan Jackson fed the ball through to Ohai and she took off on a breakaway towards goal, shooting past a single defender for the 2-1 win.

The ladies of Washington Spirit kept fans on the edge of their seats with 1-0 win over WNY Flash on Saturday In Rochester, NY, moving into the 3rd place spot in league standings.

The lone goal came from a penalty kick in the 56th minute after red card was issued to Flash defender Katherine Reynolds for taking down Kerstin Garefrekes in the box. Diana Matheson stepped up for the shot and dutifully sent it into the net and defense was able to keep that lead to the end of regulation for the win.

LEAGUE STANDINGS
# NWSL GP W L T PTS
1. Seattle Reign FC 17 13 1 3 42
2. FC Kansas City 18 10 5 3 33
3. Washington Spirit 17 8 7 2 26
4. Portland Thorns FC 17 7 6 4 25
5. Chicago Red Stars 17 7 6 4 25
6. Western New York Flash 18 7 9 2 23
7. Houston Dash 16 5 10 1 16
8. Sky Blue FC 17 3 7 7 16
9. Boston Breakers 17 3 12 2 11

 

 

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Super Mario sinks Argentina
Super Mario sinks Argentina avatar

Germany became the first European country to win the World Cup in the Americas when they defeated Argentina 1-0 Sunday evening in extra time at the Maracana, in Rio de Janeiro.

Goetze came off the bench to score a stunning game winner. (Getty Images)

Goetze came off the bench to score a stunning game winning goal and made history by being the first sub ever to score the winner in a world cup final. (Getty Images)

After neither team could manage a goal in 90 minutes of regulation time, German substitute Mario Goetze scored the dramatic winner in the 113th minute, off of a cross from fellow sub Andre Schurrle.

The game’s lone goal was a long time coming, but it was well worth waiting for. Schurrle broke down the left wing with an impressive burst of speed before crossing for Goetze, who expertly controlled the ball with his chest, before coolly beating Argentina’s goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who capped an outstanding tournament with a fine performance in this final.

Palacio should have scored past Neuer. (Getty Images)

Palacio should have scored past Neuer. (Getty Images)

The Germans came in as firm favorites over the South Americans, in large part because of their stunning 7-1 win over host’s Brazil.

Argentina rode a superb defensive record into this final, with Romero back-boning his team to three straight shutouts. Unfortunately Argentina were not getting the business done at the other end of the pitch, and that deficiency carried over to this final, where even Lionel Messi missed a good chance to beat German keeper Manuel Neuer.

The big miss of the match though came off of the crooked boot of Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, who was gifted the ball just outside the penalty area in the 21st minute, from an errant German clearance.

With time to consider his options Higuain mishit his chance, never even troubling Neuer in the German goal, a miss that will surely haunt the Argentine striker.

Joachim Löw selection throughout the tournament was excellent and his tactics were spot on. (Getty Images)

Joachim Löw selection throughout the tournament was excellent and his tactics were spot on. (Getty Images)

Germany were dealt a blow even before the game began, when influential midfielder Sami Khedira was pronounced unable to go. German coach Joachim Löw turned to Borussia Monchengladbach youngster Cristoph Kramer to fill Khedira’s spot.

Argentina’s creative midfielder Angel DiMaria had been missed by Messi and Argentina, and it seemed as if DiMaria might be in line for a return when he warmed up well before the match. As it turned out, DiMaria never came off of the bench, a loss for Argentina, who could have used the Real Madrid mans incisive passing.

Kramer was in hard luck when a hard collision knocked him silly in the 18th minute. Understandably reluctant to leave a World Cup Final, Kramer continued only to capitulate about 10 minutes later, looking very unsteady on his feet as he departed for Schurrle.

Kramer’s injury was one of several head injuries in Brazil that will surely spark FIFA to take some action to establish concussion protocols going forward, isn’t that correct FIFA?

The Argentinian's never had one shot on target in the whole match. (Getty Images)

The Argentinian’s never had one shot on target in the whole match. (Getty Images)

Despite the lack of goals there was plenty of good entertainment in this relatively open match, although Argentina in particular, seemed to run out of juice as the match headed toward extra time.

Both teams had heroic performers, primarily at the defensive end. For Argentina defensive midfielders Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia were excellent and center backs Ezequiel Garay and Martin Demichelis repelled every German attack until the 113th minute.

The great Lionel Messi will have to wait another four years to try and escape the shadow of fellow Argentine legend Diego Maradona, and although Messi was surprisingly crowned Player of the tournament, he will come in for some criticism when Argentina’s performance is reviewed.

And while Messi did come up a little bit short when it mattered most at this World Cup, his attack partners deserve the brunt of the scrutiny.

Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Rodrigo Palacio, the latter two who were used off of the bench against Germany, were all sub par, and none did anything to silence calls for an absent Carlos Tevez.

Germany were crowned the World Champions with a true team performance. (Getty Images)

Germany were crowned the World Champions with a true team performance. (Getty Images)

For Germany the image of Bastian Schweinsteiger, bloodied, but unbowed, may live in memory almost as long as the match winner from Goetze. Center back Jerome Boateng was another standout, especially on a day when partner Mats Hummels was not at his absolute best.

In the end Argentina were brave and did their part to make this a worthy World Cup Final, but Germany were deserved winners. Die Mannschaft were comfortably the best of the 32 teams at Brazil 2014, so congratulations.

Joachim Löw
“We started this project ten years ago and what has happened today is the result of many years’ work, starting with Jurgen Klinsmann. We’ve made constant progress, we believed in the project, we worked a lot and, if any group deserves it, it’s this team. We’ve always played good football and I believe that over this tournament, over seven matches, we’ve shown the best performances of any of the teams here in Brazil. The boys have also developed a team spirit which is unbelievable.”

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Dutch add to Brazil’s misery
Dutch add to Brazil’s misery avatar

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said of the FIFA World Cup Third Place game, that, “it should never be played.” Then his team went out and added to Brazil’s misery, beating the home side 3-0.

Robben was fouled which(Getty Images)

Robben was fouled outside the area but was awarded a penalty and Thiago Silva should have been shown red.(Getty Images)

Brazil started out like they agreed with the opposing manager, and within three minutes the home team were already down a goal. Yellow card suspension caused Thiago Silva to miss out on Brazil’s embarrassing 7-1 semifinal loss to Germany, but the Paris Saint-Germain defender seemed infected by the spirit of that match when he pulled Arjen Robben down for the early penalty.

Robin van Persie’s through ball had sprung Robben and the Manchester United striker stepped up and buried the resultant penalty kick.

The Brazilian crowd had come out to the stadium determined to encourage their fallen heroes, now shocked silence fell over the stands, stands that just minutes earlier had resounded with a moving acapella final chorus of Brazil’s national anthem.

The opening goal was something of a comedy of errors from the referee, who awarded the Netherlands a penalty kick for a foul that occurred outside of the penalty area, and somehow penalized Silva with only a yellow card, when a red was clearly warranted.

Daley Blind scored the Netherlands second goal. (Getty Images)

Daley Blind scored the Netherlands second goal. (Getty Images)

At the 16 minute mark the officials were at it again, this time an assistant referee missed an offside call in the build up to Daley Blind’s goal, a goal that made the score 2-0.

Brazil were working hard enough, and Oscar seemed to pose a genuine threat to the Netherlands defense, but there were no more goals as the teams went to the break at 2-0 to the Dutch.

The second half was much the same, with no goals coming until Georginio Wijnaldum converted from a fine cross from substitute Daryl Janmaat in added time.

The the Brazilian team, of whom so much had been expected, left the field to a chorus of boos, many of them unlikely to don the yellow, green, and blue of their national team ever again.

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Germany and Argentina in Epic World Cup Final
Germany and Argentina in Epic World Cup Final avatar

Germany strut into Sunday’s World Cup Final fresh off of their stunning 7-1 demolition of Brazil, while Argentina stutter in after advancing to this final on penalty kicks, following 120 goalless minutes versus the Netherlands.

Muller (L) has shone is this World Cup as he did in 2010 and he is still only 24. (Getty Images)

Muller (L) has shone is this World Cup as he did in 2010 and he is still only 24. (Getty Images)

The German team that will face Argentina on Sunday includes Miroslav Klose, who with 16, is the all time leading World Cup goal scorer, and Thomas Muller the best current World Cup marksman with 10 goals over the past two World Cups.

Argentina’s attack counters with Lionel Messi and, well not much else. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Remember, before the World Cup began fans and pundits alike salivated at the the thought of Argentina fielding an attacking four of Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel DiMaria.

Di Maria had also been poor but was able to score a game winner for Argentina. (Getty Images)

Di Maria had also been poor but was able to score a game winner for Argentina. (Getty Images)

But Aguero struggled, and then got hurt, and then DiMaria went down, and is out of the World Cup. Aguero is back, although he looked less than 100% in the semifinal against the Netherlands. Higuain was largely ineffective until the quarterfinal when he finally scored a goal against Belgium. The Napoli striker worked hard against the Dutch in the semis, but was unable to add to his goal total.

So that has left Messi, and a defense that has gotten stingier as La Albiceleste played deeper into this Cup. Coach Alejandro Sabella tinkered along the way, altering his lineup to include Martin Demichelis at center back and Lucas Biglia alongside Javier Mascherano in a defensive midfield role.

Mascherano (L) has got better and better as the tournament has gone on.(Getty Images)

Mascherano (L) has got better and better as the tournament has gone on.(Getty Images)

The new additions have gelled with Mascherano, Ezequiel Garay and company in front of goalkeeper Sergio Romero, to help Argentina rack up four clean sheets in six games, including the past three.

So Sunday’s final would seem to be a case of an immovable object, Argentina’s defense, meeting an unstoppable force, the German attack.

Unlike Messi-dependent Argentina, Germany have an array of goal scorers for the defense to keep an eye on. Muller leads the way with five goals, one behind Colombia’s James Rodriguez for the Golden Boot. Muller won the honor at South Africa 2010.

Seven other Germans have scored at this World Cup, and that is not counting Jermaine Jones, John Brooks, and Julian Green, who of course scored for the United States.

Lahm (Center) . (Getty Images)

Lahm (Center) has been moved position but shone when he went back to his favored fullback position. (Getty Images)

Like Sabella, Joachim Löw also took some time to find his best combination, with the team really clicking once Philipp Lahm dropped to fullback, Bastian Schweinsteiger joined Sami Khedira in the middle of the park, and Jerome Boateng replaced Per Mertesacker at center back.

The Germans enter this final with a real chance to become the first non South American side to win a World Cup on the continent.

Messi will find it difficult against a well disciplined and effective German . (Getty Images)

Messi will find it difficult against a well disciplined and effective German . (Getty Images)

To get to this point Germany have defeated the heat, the humidity, the travel, and of course the home team, Brazil. Argentina are a fitting final challenge. Sabella’s team won’t be as rash as Philip Scolari’s Brazilian side, and they will surely be far better organized defensively.

But as good as that Argentine defense has been, it can’t be overlooked that Argentina have scored just two goals from open play in the past three matches.

Argentina almost have to pitch a shutout to win on Sunday, and that looks like a big ask against this German team.

The GotSoccer pick is Germany to win the World Cup Final 3-1.

On Saturday in the Third Place game against the Netherlands, Brazil face the unenviable task of playing in a game that no one wants to play in at the best of times. And, these of course, are anything but the best of times for Brazil soccer.

Scolari will lead Brazil out in the 3rd place playoff but it will probably be for the last time. (Getty Images)

Scolari will lead Brazil out in the 3rd place playoff but it will probably be for the last time. (Getty Images)

Despite calls for his head from all quarters, Scolari has refused to fall on his sword. The nation that revels in its reputation as the “Spiritual Home of Football,” has been reeling since taking that semi final beating from Germany.

The Brazilian team has hardly been an emotional rock so far in this tournament, seemingly letting their emotions get the better of them after the Neymar injury, so it will be fascinating to see how the Selecao respond on Saturday.

Will Holland's main man cause even more pain for the Brazilian fans?) (Getty Images)

Will Holland’s main man cause even more pain for the Brazilian fans?) (Getty Images)

Just as interesting will be the reaction of the Brazilian public. Will they show up at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia? And if they do, will they boo and whistle, or will they try to encourage their downtrodden troops?

After all the protests, after all the money spent on stadiums instead of infrastructure, Brazil wasn’t supposed to be playing on Saturday, they had Sunday written in ink on their calendars.

This World Cup was meant to erase the bitter memory of 1950, when Uruguay defeated Brazil in the final of the only other World Cup hosted in the soccer mad country. The loss to Germany may have eclipsed 1950, if for all the wrong reasons, and win or lose, Saturday’s Third Place game is unlikely to provide any consolation to a stunned nation.

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Tab Ramos Names U-20 MNT Roster
Tab Ramos Names U-20 MNT Roster avatar

Although the United States are no longer involved in the 2014 World Cup, preparation for 2018 and beyond continues apace with U.S. MNT multitasker Tab Ramos announcing a 20 player roster for the 2014 NTC Invitational Tournament set to take place at the National Training Center in Carson, California from July 14-18.

Ramos has looked abroad for his youth team.(ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Ramos has looked abroad for his youth team.(ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

U20 headman Ramos has just returned from Brazil, where he served as an assistant on Jurgen Klinsmann’s staff. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Ramos is also U.S. Soccer’s Youth Technical Director.

Ramos has named a diverse squad of players, with eight players coming in from foreign clubs, three from U.S. friendly Mexican club Tijuana.

The U-20's have continued to produce some exciting players.(ISI Photos)

The U-20′s have continued to produce some exciting players.(ISI Photos)

The Philadelphia Union are one of seven Major League Soccer clubs contributing players, with the Philly side sending forward Zach Pfeffer and Academy product Zach Steffan. Steffan led University of Maryland to a runner up finish at the NCAA College Cup last season, and was part of the 2013 U20 World Cup team.

This an experienced group, with 11 players having earned at least 10 YNT invites, six have at least 20.

Chile, Australia, and Bermuda provide the opposition. The 20 man roster and tournament schedule are below.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Santiago Castano (New York Red Bulls; Union City, N.J.), Zack Steffen (Maryland; Downington, Pa.)

DEFENDERS (7): Michael Amick (UCLA; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Conor Donovan (Carolina RailHawks Academy; Fuquay Varina, N.C.), Chris Odoi-Atsem (Maryland; Mitchellville, Md.), Shaquell Moore (FC Dallas; Powder Springs, Ga.), John Requejo Jr. (Club Tijuana; Carpinteria, Calif.), Caleb Smith (Solar Chelsea SC; Arlington, Texas), Jesus Vasquez (UANL Tigres; San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Russell Canouse (TSG Hoffenheim; Lancaster, Pa.), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA; Glendora, Calif.), Romain Gall (Lorient; Herndon, Va.), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland; Santa Cruz, Calif.), Jacori Hayes (Wake Forest; Bowie, Md.)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Bradford Jamieson (LA Galaxy II; Los Angeles, Calif.), Benji Lopez (Arizona United SC; San Diego, Calif.), Andrija Novakovich (Reading; Muskego, Wis.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.)

U.S. U-20 MNT NTC Invitational Tournament and Broadcast Schedule:

Date Teams Time [PT] Location Broadcast

July 14 AUS v BER 1 p.m. Mooch Myernick Field none

USA v CHI 4 p.m. Mooch Myernick Field none

July 16 AUS v CHI 1 p.m. Mooch Myernick Field none

USA v BER 4 p.m. Mooch Myernick Field none

July 18 BER v CHI 4 p.m. StubHub Center ussoccer.com

USA v AUS 7 p.m. StubHub Center ussoccer.com

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Argentina beat Dutch in shootout to reach Final
Argentina beat Dutch in shootout to reach Final avatar

Argentina beat the Netherlands on penalty kicks Wednesday evening in Sao Paulo, and will meet Germany in Sunday’s World Cup Final. Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the pk hero, saving twice after the teams had played 120 minutes without a goal.

Robin van Persie (L) was a shadow of himself and looked physically weak. (Getty Images)

Robin van Persie (L) was a shadow of himself and looked physically weak. (Getty Images)

It was quite a change of pace from Tuesday’s semifinal when Germany rained goals down on Brazil, eliminating the World Cup hosts, and Argentina’s great rivals. In fact, the only thing that could make Brazil’s beleaguered fans feel any worse after that 7-1 stomping from the Germans, would be watching neighboring Argentina hoist the FIFA World Cup Trophy Sunday at the Maracana in Rio De Janeiro.

Argentina earned that opportunity on penalty kicks after a masterful defensive performance from both sides. Superstar attackers Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben were held in check, while Robin Van Persie, who had been nursing an illness as the game approached, was so ineffective that he was subbed out before penalty kicks

The Netherlands could have used Van Persie at the end, he would have made a more likely first pk taker than defender Ron Vlaar. It was a tough way for Vlaar to end what was probably the best game of his career.

Ron Vlaar had put in a good performance for the Netherlands. (Getty Images)

Ron Vlaar had put in a good performance for the Netherlands. (Getty Images)

After 120 minutes of rock like solidity at the heart of the Dutch defense, Vlaar gamely stepped up to take the opening spot kick. Romero guessed right and saved Vlaar’s effort; then Argentina’s first shooter stepped up; Lionel Messi.

Messi scored and the Argentina were on their way. Romero went on to make a spectacular stop on a fine Wesley Sneijder strike, while Netherland’s keeper Jasper Cillessen was unable to keep out a single Argentine shot, despite getting a hand on two.

That could be because Cillessen was out of practice, or maybe confidence. Dutch coach Louis van Gaal received a lot of praise when he subbed Cillessen out so Tim Krul could face the penalty kicks in Saturday’s quarterfinals against Costa Rica. Tonight, Van Gaal’s reviews won’t be as good.

When Klaas Jan Huntelaar, another good candidate to open the pk’s, replaced Van Persie the Netherlands were out of subs, and Cillessen would have to finish this one himself.

Mascherano was (Getty Images)

Mascherano was outstanding for Argentina. (Getty Images)

With defense the order of the day, defenders, and defensive midfielders stood out. D-mid Javier Mascherano was Argentina’s outstanding performer from regular play, continuing on after a brutal, if accidental head to head collision left him appearing woozy. Mascherano’s teammate, fullback Pablo Zabaleta, also took a hit to the head and like Mascherano he stayed in the game and was effective.

Taken together the two injuries highlight FIFA’s concussion protocol problem, the problem being a lack of any such protocol. Hopefully the organization will get to that soon.

Argentina’s veteran defender Martin Demichelis has his detractors, the Manchester City defender can appear slow at times, but Demichelis was on form versus the Netherlands.

Similarly, the Netherlands led from the back, with a good team effort limiting the magic of Messi. Nigel De Jong hurried back from injury to lend a hand with Messi, and he was solid before departing after 62 minutes for Jordy Clasie.

Initially the move looked as if it might pay dividends for the Dutch, with the smooth passing Clasie involved in some promising offensive moves right on his introduction. But like all promises of attacking soccer on this night, the promise soon fizzled, leading to penalty kicks.

Romero saved 2 penalties which earned him FIFA's player of the match. (Getty Images)

Romero saved 2 penalties which earned him FIFA’s player of the match. (Getty Images)

Maxi Rodriguez scored the deciding goal for Argentina, but it was goalkeeper Romero who was the hero. Argentina and Germany will meet for the third time in the final of the World Cup, the other times being 1986 and 1990. Argentina won 3-2 in Mexico in 1986 and Germany were the victors at Italia 1990.

For the Netherlands it is on to Saturday’s 3rd Place game and a match with the tournament’s wounded host’s Brazil

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Brazil’s World Cup Dream Shattered by Germany
Brazil’s World Cup Dream Shattered by Germany avatar

Brazil’s World Cup dreams came to an end in what is sure to be remembered as the most shocking result in World Cup history, the hosts were humiliated by Germany 7-1 at Belo Horizonte, on Tuesday afternoon.

Neymar's injury and absence seemed to mentally affect the Brazil. (Getty Images)

Neymar’s injury and absence seemed to mentally affect the Brazilians. (Getty Images)

As was to be expected, much of the pre-match chatter focused on how the home team would attempt to replace Neymar, with Thiago Silva, Brazil’s captain, and one of the very best defenders in the world, garnering no more than a passing mention.

Perhaps, in retrospect Silva’s absence should have been given just a little more weight.

Bayern Munich's Dante (L) looked nervous from the start as he probably knew what was coming. (Getty Images)

Bayern Munich’s Dante (L) looked nervous from the start as he probably knew what was coming from his team mate Muller (R). (Getty Images)

Although he had the option of selecting rugged two-way midfielder Willian, Brazil manager “Big Phil” Scolari opted instead for the more offensive minded Bernardo to fill Neymar’s shoes. Dante, a starter for Bayern Munich, filled in for Silva.

It would be difficult to pin a loss of this magnitude on one or two players, and it is worth remembering that there have been doubts about the home team at least since the Chile match.

And regardless of the circumstances, no Brazil side could ever be expected to capitulate so completely, at home no less.

So how did this happen? It happened because Germany are very fast, very talented, and completely ruthless. The visitors scored first in just the 11th minute, with Thomas Muller scoring his fifth goal of this World Cup. You may recall that Muller, scored five goals at South Africa 2010, and you might also recall that the 24 year old Muller is not really considered a striker.

Germany's Klose is now the holder of the most goals - and will be put in the book of legends. (Getty Images)

Germany’s Klose is now the holder of the most world cup goals scored with his tally of 16. (Getty Images)

Germany brought just one “true” striker to this Cup, Miroslav Klose. Klose scored Germany’s second goal, bringing World Cup career total to 16, the most ever. On this day of days it could only be a Brazilian (Ronaldo) that Klose took the record from.

Klose’s tally came in the 23rd minute. Toni Kroos hit for a brace in the space of two minutes, and Sami Khedira capped the German rally with a 29th minute strike. Germany had scored five goals in less than a half an hour, the final four in a mind boggling six minutes.

The match was effectively over when the Brazil trudged off the pitch at halftime, trailing 5-0. In fairness to them, Brazil came out firing in the second half, but German keeper Manuel Neuer wa having none of it, turning aside Brazil’s best attempts, before Andre Schurrle took over.

Schurrle scored twice, in the 69th and 79th minutes, merely rubbing salt in the wound. There is that German ruthlessness.

Oscar (center) looks inconsolable after the devastating defeat. (Getty Images)

The pressure finally got to this Brazilian team and they were totally overwhelmed by Germany. (Getty Images)

Oscar scored the least consoling consolation goal ever in the 90th minute, and the Brazil’s humiliation was over, for now.

Now comes part two of this World Cup semifinal showdown between the best in Europe and the top teams in South America with Argentina trying to restore South American pride when they face the Netherlands Wednesday at 4:00 ET.

Whatever the result, it would take something epic to match the shock of Germany 7-1 over Brazil.

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U20 WNT Roster Announced for World Cup Training Camp
U20 WNT Roster Announced for World Cup Training Camp avatar

With the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup just around the corner, the U.S. U20 WNT is gearing up for training camp July 9-23 in Seattle, Washington, and head coach Michelle French has called up 27 players to attend.

Lindsey Horan has played for the women's senior team and this should definitely be an advantage at this level.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Lindsey Horan has played for the women’s senior team and this should definitely be an advantage at this level.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Of the 27 players called up for camp, only 21 will be chosen to represent USA in Canada.  Defenders Cari Roccaro and Stephanie Amack helped the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Japan, while nine players on the roster played in the 2012 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup.  Midfielders Rachel Hill and Morgan Andrews flank Amack- a dangerous trio in the midfield.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Lindsey Horan adorns the roster along with forwards Summer Green, Makenzy Doniak and Margaret Purce. All have made their mark scoring crucial goals throughout the season, and though Horan has spent much time overseas, her  professional experience is a vital weapon against any opponent.

The U20 World Cup will take place Aug. 5-24 in Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal and Toronto, Canada. The tournament will begin for the U.S. on Aug. 5 when they travel to Edmonton to take on Germany in their first match of Group B play. Next, they will face Brazil on Aug. 8 in Edmonton and then China PR on Aug. 12 in Moncton.

U.S. U-20 WNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Jane Campbell (Stanford; Kennesaw, Ga.), Rose Chandler (Concorde Fire; Atlanta, Ga.), Katelyn Rowland (UCLA; Vacaville, Calif.), Morgan Stearns (Virginia; San Antonio, Texas)
DEFENDERS (7): Stephanie Amack (Stanford; Pleasanton, Calif.), Brittany Basinger (Penn State; Purcellville, Va.), Christina Gibbons (Duke; Raleigh, N.C.), Laura Liedle (Stanford; San Diego, Calif.), Katie Naughton (Notre Dame; Elk Grove Village, Ill.), Kaleigh Riehl (BRYC; Fairfax Station, Va.), Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Morgan Andrews (Notre Dame; Milford, N.H.), Carlyn Baldwin (BRYC; Oakton, Va.), Joanna Boyles (North Carolina; Raleigh, N.C.), Nickolette Driesse (Florida State; Wayne, N.J.), Rachel Hill (UCONN; Rollinsford, N.H.), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin; Cincinnati, Ohio), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Taylor Racioppi (PDA; Ocean Township, N.J.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
FORWARDS (7): Makenzy Doniak (Virginia; Chino Hills, Calif.), Summer Green (North Carolina; Milford, Mich.), Lindsey Horan (PSG; Golden, Colo.), Darian Jenkins (UCLA; Riverton, Utah), Savannah Jordan (Florida; Fayetteville, Ga.), McKenzie Meehan (Boston College; Scituate, R.I.), Margaret Purce (Harvard; Silver Spring, Md.)

 

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