There is suddenly a lot going on in U.S. soccer circles, so let’s take a quick look at today’s news. First item, the U20’s dropped the opener of the Toulon Tournament yesterday 4-1 to rude hosts France.
Toulon is not sanctioned by FIFA and as such is a bit of an oddity. The games are 80 minutes long and while the tournament is a U21 competition, many teams are fielding U20 sides in preparation for the U20 World Cup, beginning later this month in Turkey.
As the home team France are going all out to win this event, fielding an experienced side featuring several 21 year olds that are regulars in League 1 play. France were too much for the U.S. U20 side yesterday, but coach Tab Ramos will still take away some positives from Tuesday’s defeat.
In heavy rain the U.S. started slowly, with the speed of the French team putting the Americans back on their heels. The Yanks seemed to come to grips with the pace of the game and looked like getting out of the 40 minute half at 0-0, before the French struck for two late goals.
France captain Alexandre Coeff pulled one of his bag of tricks, with a back heeled volley that left U.S. keeper Cody Cropper with no chance. Two minutes later though, Cropper had every chance to save a simple shot from Gianelli Imbula Wanga, but somehow he fumbled the shot and allowed it to roll through his legs, a real backbreaker for the Yanks.
Benji Joya scored on a 72nd minute free kick, but the U.S. conceded just a minute later, quelling a potential comeback. Substitute Jordan Morris looked dangerous when he entered, and he should have earned a penalty with the game not yet out of reach at 3-1.
Jordan took on and beat his man, crossing from the endline. Somehow a clear hand ball was missed by the referee and his assistant. A late French goal finished the U.S. and hurt the Americans on goal difference.
Joya, Morris and the man Morris replaced, Alfred Koroma were best for the U.S.
Ramos will make wholesale changes for Thursday’s match versus Colombia as he prepares for Turkey and the World Cup which starts June 21. Colombia defeated South Korea 1-0 in their opener, also on Tuesday.
US Open Cup Upsets
What would the US Open Cup be without some David’s rising up and knocking off a couple of Goliath’s? We’ll probably never know.
The third round of the Cup saw two MLS sides taken out by slingshot, with the Charleston Battery sending home the San Jose Earthquakes with a 1-0 win, while Orlando City eliminated the Colorado Rapids 3-1.
Both lower league winners played at home, with Charleston getting the lone goal of the match from their Irish center back Colin Falvey, while Sporting Kansas City loanee Dom Dwyer notched a brace for Orlando. English striker Dwyer has been tearing it up all season for Orlando City and his heroics have set up a fourth round match at Kansas City on June 12.
Sporting can recall Dwyer at any time, although I don’t know how sporting that would be.
Other U.S Open Cup results were Philadelphia Union 2-1 win over the Ocean City Nor’easters, on Brian Carroll’s stoppage time goal. An 89th minute Sheanon Williams own goal had given the Nor’easters hope after an early Jack McInerney goal put Philly ahead.
FC Dallas won 2-0 over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on goals from Blas Perez and Matt Hedges. A brace from Kelyn Rowe led New England to a 5-1 rout of the Rochester Rhinos. Defending champs Sporting KC topped the Des Moines Menace to set up that match up with Orlando City, getting goals from Kei Kamara and Claudio Bieler.
Struggling DC United survived to win on a shootout, after a 0-0 draw with the Richmond Kickers. Keeper Joe Willis was the hero, saving two pk’s.
Real Salt Lake avoided pk’s with two extra time goals to beat the Atlanta Silverbacks and assistant coach Eric Wynalda 3-2. A 98th minute goal from Devon Sandoval and one in the 101st minute by Khari Stephenson got RSL through.
Finally, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy took matters into his own hands, or foot, scoring a 62nd minute penalty kick to give Chivas USA a 2-1 win over the L.A. Blues.
USMNT Take On Belgium
The U.S. begin preparations for three big Hex matches in June with a friendly against Belgium in Cleveland tonight. Jurgen Klinsmann named 30 players for this series of matches, but a few have come up lame, Maurice Edu, Brek Shea and Corey Ashe. Some others are unavailable because their season ran long. The Hoffenheim duo, Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams, Joe Corona and Fabian Castillo of Tijuana and Roma’s Michael Bradley won’t be in Cleveland.
Klinsmann has already let slip that Sacha Kljestan will start alongside Jermaine Jones in the center of the midfield. Does that mean a return to the old 4-4-2? The Anderlecht man has just won a second straight Belgian title and this will be his first start under Klinsmann and a rare chance to play in his natural position, rather than out wide where he often ends up for the U.S.
DaMarcus Beasley is expected to start, and earn his 100th cap, congratulations to Run DMB for reaching that milestone. Klinsmann’s backline choices will be worth watching. Does he go with Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler or does Geoff Cameron or even Clarence Goodson get a run? Klinsmann has hinted at trying Fabian Johnson as a winger, he has played there often for Hoffenheim.
Belgium will certainly be a stern test for the U.S. Currently everyone’s favorite pick as the next big thing, Belgium are loaded and players like Marouane Fellaini, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele, to name a few will be lining out tonight versus the U.S.
It should be a good test and with Germany coming up on June 2nd the Americans will have been challenged by two serious teams before the Hex resumes June 7th in Jamaica. The Americans then host Panama in Seattle and Honduras in Sandy, Utah on June 18th.