CCL Fever – Catch It! Toronto Win – Red Bulls Lose
CCL Fever – Catch It! Toronto Win – Red Bulls Lose avatar

Major League Soccer went one for two in the first leg of this week’s CONCACAF Champion League (CCL) semifinals with Toronto FC topping Club America 3-1 in a battle of league champions Tuesday night in Canada before the New York Red Bulls fell 1-0 on the road Wednesday evening to Chivas de Guadalajara.

Neither result guarantees anything; even Toronto’s two-goal lead may not be enough when they kick off at fortress Estadio Azteca in round two while the Red Bulls may rue their inability to score at least one away goal when they host The Goats in the first game of next Tuesday’s CCL program.

Chris Mavinga was missing from squad. (ISI Photos/Andy Mead)

Toronto showed impressive resolve and depth in defeating Club America despite playing without regulars Victor Vasquez, Chris Mavinga, and Justin Morrow. Depth has long been cited as a reason that MLS clubs are unable to compete successfully with Liga MX sides in this competition, so Toronto rightly earned many plaudits for Tuesday’s win.

TFC opened the scoring when Sebastian Giovinco earned and then converted a penalty kick in the ninth minute. Andres Ibarguen leveled at the 21-minute mark but Jozy Altidore (44’) and Ashtone Morgan (58’) padded the TFC lead to secure a first leg victory, unfortunately an incident in the increasingly notorious BMO Field Tunnel and Club America coach Miguel Herrera’s reaction to that incident has cast a shadow over the match.

In a wild post-game press conference televised live on Univision Deportes “Pojo” accused members of the Toronto Police Department of physically attacking three of his players.

Here is a sample of the remarks from the controversial former Mexican national team coach.

“In my opinion, if the police are going to be in the tunnel area it should be to separate players, not to hit them. A CONCACAF staffer was present there and saw everything so I hope they report it.”

Toronto coach Greg Vanney saw things differently, telling MLSsoccer.com: “One of their coaches took exception to, I think, the PK, was having a go at Sebastian, and Sebastian kept walking and Johnny [Osorio] stepped in between the assistant coach and Sebastian. I told the coach and the head coach that his coach shouldn’t be talking to our players, he needs to keep moving. And the next thing was an elbow from said coach – [the] assistant coach who was talking – into Johnny’s nose. And if you want to see Johnny’s nose, you can take a picture of it if you want. And then it escalated from there.”

Osorio confirmed Vanney’s version of events to the Toronto Sun:

So, it should be more than a little interesting in Mexico City next Tuesday.

The Red Bulls 1-0 loss to Chivas de Guadalajara wasn’t quite as crazy, but hey, this is Concacaf, so there was still a little bit of madness to it.

How was this game crazy? Let us count the ways.

1)The Red Bulls conceded in the 26th minute on a turnover from 19-year-old rising club and USMNT star Tyler Adams.

2) RBNY goal-scoring ace Bradley Wright-Phillips, on fire this year in the CCL and MLS, missed a breakaway chance in the 79th minute.

3) New York played a man down from the 73rd minute when veteran defender Aurelien Collin foolishly left his leg in despite playing with an earlier caution.

4) The referee missed a blatant handball in the 60th minute when Chivas’ Carlos Cisneros handled in the box with his arm extended well away from his body.

5) After Adams was fouled a melee ensued during which Jair Pereira, henceforth known to be referred to as “the Chivas Strangler” grabbed Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis firmly around the throat while already playing with a yellow card.

But for sheer gall, my favorite part of this incident was that when Pereira finally released Davis’ throat from his grip the Chivas man directed a schoolmarm like finger-wag at the referee or perhaps his opponents as if to say, “No, no! there is nothing to see here!”

Yep, Tuesday night should be fun in the Concacaf Champions League. CCL Fever – Catch it!

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

MLS – Big 5: Special All ZLATAN! Edition
MLS – Big 5: Special All ZLATAN! Edition avatar

Major League Soccer ran a full schedule of games this weekend beginning on Friday night with the defending champions Toronto winning its first league match of the season. Vancouver handed Columbus its first loss of the campaign, 10 man Atlanta won in frigid Minnesota, NYCFC won to go top of the East despite the late withdrawal of David Villa.

So, lots of good games and exciting moments but all pales in the wake of ZLATAN! And so, in a first for GotSoccer’s MLS Big – 5, this week’s edition is all devoted to one man, one lion, the one called ZLATAN!

1) Making Bragging Fun Again

“It Ain’t Braggin’ if you Can Do It.” Dizzy Dean, baseball Hall of Famer. “I am the Greatest.” Muhammed Ali. Reggie Jackson upon joining the New York Yankees in 1977. “I didn’t come to New York to be a star, I brought my star with me.”

“They chanted ‘We want Zlatan.’ So I gave them Zlatan,” ZLATAN! to Fox following his MLS debut.

On Saturday the man who announced his decision to leave Manchester United and join the Los Angeles Galaxy with an image of himself as Jesus arm wrestling the Devil and a full-page ad in the L.A. Times that said simply, “Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome” joined the pantheon of legendary U.S. Sports Braggarts when he scored two goals in his MLS debut to defeat LAFC in the first meeting between the neighboring teams.

2) The Man Knows How to Make an Entrance

ZLATAN! does not wait around, he does not settle in, he simply gets right down to it. Known for scoring on his debut at previous stops in his illustrious career, Saturday’s effort is part of a pattern that includes goals in his first game in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Champions League.

So we shouldn’t really have been surprised that ZLATAN! suited up just nine days after signing with the Galaxy or that he scored just six minutes after entering the match on Saturday.

3) Audacious

It wouldn’t do for ZLATAN! to debut with a tap-in. No, the man who calls himself The Lion had to do something special for his introduction to Tinseltown, like maybe an almost 40-yard blast that leaves the keeper scrambling and clawing at the air helpless to keep the mighty strike from ZLATAN! out of his net?!

4) The Equalizer and then the Winner!

With ZLATAN! sitting on the bench the Galaxy trailed newcomers LAFC 3-0 and then 3-1 when Sebastian Lletget gave the Galaxy a glimmer of hope in the 61st minute. Chris Pontius made it 3-2 two minutes after ZLATAN! entered the fray.

Then ZLATAN! took over, scoring that stunning equalizer before rising majestically above the LAFC defense to power home the winning header in stoppage time, sending the StubHub crowd into a frenzy and damn near breaking American soccer twitter into the bargain.

5) Game Winner Looked Offside but…

As the hysteria surrounding ZLATAN’S! match winner subsided dissenting voice began to appear on Twitter noting that ZLATAN! looked to have been offside on the goal. Replays were produced which seemed to offer confirmation.

Then a different video emerged that seemed to show that the goal was good. Of course, it was. This was, after all, ZLATAN!

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

NWSL Roundup – Season Opening Edition
NWSL Roundup – Season Opening Edition avatar

A long, difficult off-season finally came to its natural conclusion this weekend as the NWSL regular season began with a full slate of just four games.

Forgotten for at least one day, perhaps, was a close season scarred by the dissolution of the Boston Breakers franchise with no new expansion franchises coming online to take Boston’s place.

Amanda Duffy still remains the face of the league.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The league still has not landed a commissioner, although General Manager Amanda Duffy remains the public face of the league in much the same way a commissioner would.

We also saw players orchestrating trades to their hometowns, Carli Lloyd, and for family reasons, Sydney Leroux. Hardly the sort of thing that screams big-time professional sports.

And then hanging over everything, unignorable even on opening day was the Christian Press mess. Traded from Chicago to Houston, Press said, um heck no, I won’t go, scotching what had been presented as a done deal.

Duffy had stated that the league was working on finding a landing spot within the league for Press but today the USWNT attacker ended that prospect, for now, with a tweet.

On to the games then, with Lloyd’s new team, Sky Blue FC sitting out this week.
Home teams listed first.

North Carolina Courage 1-0 vs Portland Thorns

It won’t take away the still lingering disappointment of last October’s Championship match loss to this same opponent but it was still a nice way for the NC Courage to open the new campaign after such a long off-season.

The home team may have been advantaged by the fact that the Thorns were missing six players, including U.S. international Tobin Heath but the Courage made the most of Portland’s misfortune despite doing without their own USWNT star Sam Mewis.

Denise O’Sullivan assisted on the winner for her team. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

North Carolina dominated possession in front of 4,210 fans at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Park but was only able to put one shot past Adrianna Franch, the 2017 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year who somehow continues to be left out by USWNT coach Jill Ellis.

The lone goal of the match came in the 70th minute and it was an absolute beaut off the boot of Debinha on an assist from Denise O’Sullivan.

The match also was an NWSL homecoming for Crystal Dunn. Dunn spent last season with Chelsea before returning to the league with North Carolina after her rights were traded from the Washington Spirit.

Orlando Pride 1-1 vs Utah Royals

It didn’t take long for Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir to put her name in the NWSL history books as the scorer of the first goal in the history of the Utah Royals, just three minutes in fact.

Jónsdóttir slipped behind an Orlando defense that was a bit slow to realize that the season had begun and expertly applied the finish to Diana Matheson’s inch-perfect long ball to give the new* club its first lead.

Marta scored from the penalty spot. (ISI Photos/Jeremy Reper)

The lead did not last all that long with Orlando equalizing in a controversial manner through a Marta penalty kick after Becky Sauerbrunn had been called for a deliberate handball and issued a yellow card in addition to surrendering the pk.

The game was the first for Sydney Leroux with Orlando and coach Tom Sermanni wasted no time in fitting the sometime U.S. international into the lineup alongside Orlando’s twin superstar strikers, Brazil’s Marta and USWNT’s Alex Morgan.

The trio didn’t light up the scoreboard in the opener but keeping the lid on the Orlando attack should cause many a sleepless night for opposing NWSL coaches and defenders alike in the coming weeks and months.
*FC Kansas City folded and the rights to those players went to the new franchise in Utah.

Seattle Reign 2-1 vs Washington Spirit

It was the Megan Rapinoe Show at UW Medicine Park at Memorial Stadium on Saturday when the USWNT star scored one goal for the Reign and set up Jodie Taylor for the second as Seattle treated the home fans to an opening match victory.

Rapinoe was once again at the heart of everything. (ISI Photos/Stephen Brashear)

Pinoe was all over the stat sheet taking 11 shots, with six on goal and creating 2 chances with 85 total touches. Statistics can, of course, tell many stories and sometimes none at all but this was not the case Saturday in Seattle when the numbers and the eye test told a similar tale.

Trailing 2-0 at the half Washington made a game of it when Joanna Lohman scored in the 68th minute in her first action since she tore her ACL on day one of the 2017 campaign.

Washington fans had their first chance to see the 2018 NWSL College Draft overall number one pick in action as USWNT midfielder Andi Sullivan went the full 90 in her NWSL debut.

Houston Dash 1-1 vs Chicago Red Stars

In an interesting scheduling quirk, the Chicago Red Stars visited the Houston Dash to kick off the 2018 season. Yes, the two clubs involved in the embarrassing Christen Press deal were matched up on opening day with Press nowhere in sight.

Press wasn’t the only prominent player MIA on Saturday, with Chicago hard hit by the injury bug to the tune of being forced to manage without six key players.

Keever (R) scored the opening goal for Houston. (ISI Photos/ Trask Smith)

2017 NWSL MVP Sam Kerr, who arrived from Sky Blue in exchange for Carli Lloyd, is on international duty for Australia while five more players, including 2017 U.S Soccer Female Player of the Year Julie Ertz, were unavailable through injury.

With all that to consider Houston’s new coach Vera Pauw will count herself a bit unlucky to have come away with just one point, especially given that the Red Stars goal came in stoppage time.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Young Yanks Search for Meaning in Win Over Paraguay
Young Yanks Search for Meaning in Win Over Paraguay avatar

The United States Men’s National Team defeated Paraguay 1-0 Tuesday night in North Carolina in front of a sellout crowd of 9,825!

A game between two nations that failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia this summer can’t help but inspire an existential moment or two. With that in mind, our word for today is “meaningless.” As in the phrase “meaningless friendly.” Or the question: “Can any game really be called meaningless?”

The players seemed to find meaning in the friendly match.(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

The players certainly seemed to find some meaning in the match with Paraguay piling up five yellow cards to two for the U.S.A., and this in a match where the referee exhibited a strong desire to, eh, “let them play.”

When not taking lumps out of each other the players clearly wanted to impress, although, with both sides coached by caretaker managers, the players would have been unsure of exactly which eyes it was that they were hoping to catch.

In the case of the U.S. players, there is also an as yet to be hired General Manager to convince. But with that in mind, there were some players who showed well on the night and here are a few thoughts on that.

Matt Miazga has polished off the rough edges from his game and has added physical strength to become a commanding presence at the heart of the U.S. defense.

He paired very well with Cameron Carter-Vickers, his old partner from the U.S. national youth teams, making it is easy to pencil in the two as the future of the position for the senior squad. Particularly with John Brooks’ constant injury issues.

But, and there’s always a but, both Miazga and CCV are at crucial points in their respective careers. Carter-Vickers is playing at Ipswich after a stint at fellow English Championship side Sheffield United. Miazga is in his second season at Vitesse in the Netherlands top flight. Both have benefitted from the experience gained on these loan moves from parent clubs Tottenham, for Cameron-Vickers, and Chelsea, for Miazga.

Wil Trapp got man of the match. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

What happens next season is paramount for the duo. It may not be at Chelsea or Tottenham but both need to step up a league if they want to lock down a couple of spots that are there for the taking.

“Wil Trapp, Wil Trapp, Wil Trapp.”

After Columbus beat the New York Red Bulls in a game at Red Bull Arena back in 2014 RBNY star Thierry Henry described the reason for the Crew’s effectiveness by singing the praises of the Columbus midfielder.

Henry seemed to indicate that he saw Trapp as a future member of the USMNT, when he said, “He has, hopefully for him, a good future. He’s American, you guys should be happy, but today I thought he was the difference.”

Since then Trapp’s senior international career has been limited to scraps. Last night Trapp was excellent. If this match turns out to be the start of something for the 25-year old that would give this match some meaning.

Run, Tyler, Run!

19-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams was everywhere against Paraguay, gliding over every inch of the pitch, including a lengthy gallop that earned a penalty kick for the lone goal of the match.

At one point Adams outraced an opponent to win a loose ball in the midfield despite having spotted his rival about six yards in a 10-yard race.

Adams broke through with the Red Bulls and the USMNT U20’s last season, he is breaking out with Red Bulls and the full national team this season and while Adams can still refine some of his offensive skills, new challenges beckon; sooner rather than later.

So, meaningful then? We will see.

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

USA – Bobby Wood 45th minute

Lineups:
USA: 12-Zack Steffen; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Matt Miazga, 5-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 19-Jorge Villafaña; 20-Wil Trapp; 6-Darlington Nagbe (9-Cristian Roldan, 90+2), 8-Marky Delgado (11-Tim Weah, 86), 4-Tyler Adams, 10-Kenny Saief (23-Rubio Rubin, 67); 7-Bobby Wood (18-Andrija Novakovich, 77)
Substitutes not used: 1-Bill Hamid, 13-Erik Palmer-Brown, 14-Antonee Robinson, 15-Eric Lichaj, 17-Shaq Moore
Head coach: Dave Sarachan

PAR: 1-Roberto Fernandez; 5-Bruno Valdez, 4-Fabian Balbuena, 3-Gustavo Gomez, 13-Junior Alonso; 16-Cristian Riveros (6-Richard Ortiz, 65), 8-Rodrigo Rojas (10-Derlis Gonzalez, 83), 21-Oscar Romero (19-Cecilio Dominguez, 80), 7-Nestor Camacho (17-Hernan Perez, 54), 23-Miguel Almiron; 9-Federico Santander
Substitutes not used: 12-Alfredo Aguilar, 2-Juan Patiño, 11-Angel Romero, 14-Luis de la Cruz, 15-Richard Sanchez, 18-Roberto Ovelar
Head coach: Gustavo E. Morinigo

Stats Summary: USA / PAR
Shots: 6 / 11
Shots on Goal: 3 / 3
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 1
Fouls: 15 / 19
Offside: 5 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
PAR – Roberto Fernandez (caution) 44th minute
PAR – Junior Alonso (caution) 53
PAR – Rodrigo Rojas (caution) 56
USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 62
USA – Cameron Carter-Vickers (caution) 81
PAR – Federico Santander (caution) 90
PAR – Richard Ortiz (caution) 90+1

 

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

It is three weeks in now and MLS season 23 is beginning to get its legs under itself. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s still too early to draw many conclusions but there are still some things to discuss. Like how about this for starters!

1) IBRA to LA!

It has been talked about for what feels like forever and now Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl is reporting that the wait is finally over and that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is winging his way to L.A. to become the latest star to join the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Ibrahimovic looks set to join the Galaxy.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

According to the SI report, the Galaxy has gotten themselves quite a financial deal in freeing the Swiss legend from Manchester United bench, with Ibra agreeing to a two-year deal worth just $3 million.

Zlatan hasn’t played much since returning to the United panel after recovering from a serious injury but it is not too difficult to imagine the showman that is ZLATAN! pulling out all the stops and finishing his career on a high note amidst the glamor of Tinseltown.

2) A Bridge Too VAR?

Clint Dempsey and all of his Seattle Sounders teammates coaches, fans, etc would certainly say yes, enough with the VAR.

Dempsey saw red. (ISI Photos/Andy Mead)

Dempsey saw red in the 37th minute of Seattle’s 3-0 loss to FC Dallas on the weekend, with the Video Assistant Referee called into play to lend a hand to chief whistler, Chris Penso.

The camera angles weren’t perfect but it seemed like a righteous red from my easy chair.

Less clear in my mind was the red dished out to Vancouver center back Kendall Waston in Vancouver’s 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Atlanta. Waston was called for a penalty and that red card in the 13th minute for a perceived infringement against Leonardo Gonzalez Perez.

To me, it looked like Gonzalez Perez initiated the contact and there should not have been a red or a foul but the referee and his pal VAR thought otherwise.

3) Toronto winless?! WT…H

Greg Vanney’s team has a heavier schedule due to their successful cup run. (ISI Photos/Andy Mead)

The league’s star-studded standard bearers, coming off perhaps the best season in league history, are 0-2. Which is surprising. But remember, that is just in league play. Greg Vanney’s team is fighting a battle on two fronts and the outlook is decidedly rosier on that second front, the Concacaf Champions League, where TFC has joined the New York Red Bulls as semifinalists in the North American version of the Champions League.

4) And NYCFC Makes 3

3-0-0, to put it more precisely. NYCFC entered its St Patrick’s Day showdown with ex-coach Jason Kreis and fellow Class of ‘15 members Orlando as one of four MLS sides sporting a perfect 2-0-0 record. By the end of the weekend, Columbus had drawn 0-0 at Philadelphia, Vancouver had been spanked 4-1 in Atlanta, while LAFC stood pat with a bye.

David Villa’s absence has had a negative impact on NYCFC’s attack. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

NYCFC had to make do without David Villa and the attack struggled in his absence. But the defense stood firm and a pair of opportunistic goals would be too much for Kreis and his Orlando strugglers who fell to 0-2-1.

5) The Old Lady to Take on the Best of MLS

Despite the recent partnership announced between MLS and Liga MX Major League Soccer will play at least one more foreign superclub in its annual All-Star match when Italian giants Juventus come to Atlanta this summer, putting the MLS vs Liga MX battle aside for now.

Buffon & Co will grace the MLS fields. (ISI Photos/Mark Lawrence)

It will be a chance for MLS supporters see the greats of the Italian league up close and personal, including goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon, star attackers Paulo Dybala, and Gonzalo Higuain, and defender extraordinaire Giorgio Chiellini.

And it will be a special treat to see Higuain face off against his brother, Federico, the playmaking wizard of the Columbus Crew.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Cordeiro and Fellow Co-Chairs Discuss United World Cup Bid
Cordeiro and Fellow Co-Chairs Discuss United World Cup Bid avatar

With the North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup firmly in FIFA’s hands, the bids were due last Friday, the Presidents of the U.S Soccer, the Mexico Football Federation, and Canada Soccer spoke to the media via conference call Monday from Kuala Lumpur.

Carlos Cordeiro

The three Presidents, Carlos Cordeiro, U.S., Decio De Maria, Mexico, and Steven Reed, Canada, traveled to the Malaysian capital in an effort to persuade the members of the Asian Football Confederation to cast its lot with what is known as the United Bid over that of its only competitor, Morocco.

As described by the trio of Presidents, the United Bid features three pillars, Unity, Certainty, and Opportunity. In the groups opening remarks Reed discussed unity, DeMaria tackled certainty, and Cordeiro finishing up by describing the opportunity to host the World Cup in North America in 2016 as a chance to “throw the biggest party the world has ever seen.”

Cordeiro also stated that the United Bid members, “see the opportunity for record revenues.” “We anticipate sold out stadiums for every match,” the U.S. Soccer President continued, with “an expected 9.8 tickets sold with ticketing revenues of more than $2.1 billion,” which Cordeiro called a new record.

It was all very positive but with Sports Illustrated’s recent article suggesting that the United Bid was in real jeopardy of losing out to Morocco along with disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s endorsement of the Moroccan bid- remember, this is FIFA- the first question went to Cordeiro and it concerned the chance that anti-American feelings could cost the group the World Cup.

Cordeiro wasn’t buying it, saying “we believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits,” expressing confidence that group’s submission, “on its merits will be seen to be a superlative bid.”

“This is not geopolitics, we’re talking about football,” Cordeiro replied when asked if U.S. decisions made by the Trump administration had sparked a “backlash.” “We’ve had no backlash.”

The Presidential Triad recently took the lead of the United Bid when the presidents were named as co-chairs of the bid committee, moving longtime U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati aside in the effort to bring the World Cup back to the continent for the first time since U.S. 1994.

The world cup (ISI Photos/Ben Queenborough)

Was that move made to push the “united” nature of the bid to the forefront in hopes of quelling any perception that the U.S. was the dominant partner with Gulati at its head?

Noting that he had just been elected as President of the U.S. federation in February, Cordeiro said: “it was natural that you would expect me, as the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, to take responsibility for our share of the bid and that is why I stepped up to the plate.” Cordeiro also pointed out that although the three were together in Kuala Lumpur they would more often be traveling separately as they chased down support. “Divide and conquer, right?” Cordeiro asked. “Isn’t that the saying.”

The U.S. Soccer President was backed by his co-Chairmen with De Maria saying colorfully, “we are nothing more than three guys representing three institutions, reaching for an objective,” while Canada’s Reed, pointed out that the three, “don’t really dwell on titles.” “We are three co-chairs at the present but we’ve always been together in terms of trying to achieve this common agenda.”

Unity, certainty, and opportunity. Will it be enough? We must wait until June 13, one day before the World Cup gets underway. In the meantime, the three co-chairmen will be seeing the world.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Still No Coach or GM – So Sarachan Names Young Roster to Face Paraguay
Still No Coach or GM – So Sarachan Names Young Roster to Face Paraguay avatar

With no World Cup positional battles to sort out and no job security issues to concern him, interim USMNT coach Dave Sarachan passed over mainstays from Michael Bradley to Christian Pulisic in favor of a young, inexperienced squad to face Paraguay in Cary, North Carolina on March 27.

This callow crew has an average age of just over 23 years old, so it is no surprise that the roster features five first time call-ups, with that quintet among the more interesting prospects in the group.

Weah in action for the U17’s. (ISI Photos/Casey Brooke Lawson)

Previously best known as the son of George Weah, the current President of Liberia and the former World Player of the Year, 18-year-old attacker Tim Weah recently made his senior debut for French super club Paris Saint-Germain after impressing for the U.S. at the U17 World Cup.

Another to make his European club debut of late is former U.S. U20 captain Erik Palmer-Brown who began his career with Belgian side KV Kortrijk, following a loan from Manchester City, who signed the center back from his home club of Sporting KC.

Antonee Robinson is another young player who has gone on loan to seek the first-team action, in his case the English born and raised 20 year old went from Everton to English Championship side Bolton, where he has seen regular minutes at a perennial position of need for the U.S., left fullback.

Another fullback to get his first call to the full national team squad is Shaq Moore, who made his La Liga debut for Levante in September, even earning a start against Barcelona. With competitors returning from injury, Moore has not seen much action of late for Levante, so this call-up comes at a good time for the 21-year-old.

The least known of the five is 6’4” striker Andrija Novakovich. The 21-year-old Wisconsin native signed on with English Championship club Reading in 2014 but has only recently hit his stride with a loan to Dutch second division side SC Telstar. Novakovich’s total of 18 goals is second in the Eerste Divisie, reason enough to bring the lanky striker in for a closer look.

Kenny Saief gets another chance to impress. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Though no longer a debutante Israeli-American Kenny Saief returns to the U.S. fold after picking up an injury in his U.S. bow at last summer’s Gold Cup. After switching allegiances from the Israeli national team Saief was injured in his Gold Cup debut last summer. Now after impressing this season for Anderlecht, the intriguing midfielder gets another chance to impress, well, I’m not sure who this group needs to impress.

WIth no permanent coach and no General Manager yet on board this young group will just have to go and do its job and let the chips fall where they may.

UPDATED U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 5/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 1/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town/ENG; 1/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 14/1), Matt Miazga (Vitesse/NED; 4/1), Shaq Moore (Levante/ESP; 0/0), Erik Palmer-Brown (Kortrijk/BEL; 0/0), Antonee Robinson (Bolton Wanderers/ENG; 0/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 15/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 49/0)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 2/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Kekuta Manneh (Pachuca/MEX; 0/0), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 1/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 24/1), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 2/0), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 1/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 3/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 0/0)

FORWARDS (3): Andrija Novakovich (Telstar/NED; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Club Tijuana/MEX; 4/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 36/10)

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Seattle Crash Out of CCL to Chivas- Club America Also Advance
Seattle Crash Out of CCL to Chivas- Club America Also Advance avatar

With a chance to join the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals the Seattle Sounders came up small Wednesday night with a 3-0 loss to Chivas in Guadalajara.

Seattle were minus their playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro (ISI Photos/Andy Mead)

The Sounders came into this second leg with a 1-0 lead but minus playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro. The bad news continued for Seattle when striker Will Bruin lasted just 8 minutes before he was sidelined with an injury. Center back Chad Marshall was then felled in the 35th minute following a clash of heads, forcing the Seattle captain out of the match with a with a badly swollen eye.

Seattle managed to make it to the break level at 0-0 on the evening and hanging on to that slim 1-0 aggregate lead but a pair of Chivas goals five minutes apart were as inevitable as they were deadly to the Sounders hopes.

First Oswaldo Alanís beat Stefan Frei with an impeccably placed free kick in the 50th and when Javier López added a second goal just five minutes later there seemed to be no way back for a Sounders side that was being badly outplayed by the home team.

Stefan Frei had a frustrating evening. (ISI Photos/Andy Mead)

José de Jesús Godínez made Seattle’s exit from the CCL all but official with a third Chivas goal in the 80th minute. In the evening’s other quarterfinal match Mexico’s Club America travel to Panama City with a 4-0 lead and had little trouble with Tauro, advancing with a 7-1 aggregate score after last night’s 3-1 victory.

It was quite a let down for MLS fans one night after the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC had flown the league’s flag proudly in securing Concacaf Champions League semifinals berths.

New York earned its spot by completing a two-game sweep of Club Tijuana, adding Tuesday’s 3-1 home win to a 2-0 road victory. TFC opted for a slightly more dramatic route versus Tigres UNAL, barely hanging on to lose 3-2 on the night in Monterrey, to draw 4-4 overall and advance to the semifinals thanks to the away goals rule.

The Reds got on the board first through an own goal in the 64th minute but that the lead would last just five minutes when it was erased by Tigres’ Chilean international Eduardo Vargas.

Sebastian Giovinco answered with yet another free kick goal to boost the visitor’s hopes. But Tigres were not done yet, adding goals from French international Andre-Pierre Gignac in the 84th minute and then in added time from the penalty spot.

Toronto managed to hang on to join the Red Bulls in the CCL semifinal where they will face Club America. New York takes on Chivas Guadalajara with both opening games taking place on April 3rd in Guadalajara and Toronto with the reverse fixture being held on April 10th.

The final is also played on a two-leg basis, beginning on April 17 and wrapping up on April 24th.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Youngster Adams and Vet Wright-Phillips Star as N.Y. Red Bulls Advance to CCL Semifinal
Youngster Adams and Vet Wright-Phillips Star as N.Y. Red Bulls Advance to CCL Semifinal avatar

Harrison N.J. – It was late Tuesday night in the depths of Red Bull Arena where the New York Red Bulls had defeated Club Tijuana 3-1 on the night and 5-1 overall to advance to the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League for the first time.

Adams put in a mature performance.  (ISI Photos Howard C. Smith)

The coaches from both clubs had spoken to the press and with the cold night drawing to a close, media members were crammed into the hallway outside the Red Bulls locker room, separated by the stadium version of a velvet rope from New York Red Bulls all-time leading goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips. BWP had sparked the home team to victory with three assists on the night, after netting twice in the first leg but now the talk turned to Tyler Adams.

Adams, a 19-year-old midfielder who has already made his full USMNT debut, scored the Red Bulls first goal of the night, the equalizer that sparked the Red Bulls back to life after Tijuana had threatened to run his team off the pitch in the opening half hour.

Wright-Phillips had made that goal happen, picking up the second assist when he led a slow motion, full field counter attack before teeing up Michael Murillo, who laid on the final ball to the indefatigable Adams.

Wright-Phillips talking to the media. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Wright-Phillips was asked about Adams and his impact on the game. “Credit to Tyler, he plays like a man,” Wright-Phillips noted, adding that he hasn’t been surprised by the teenager’s personality. “Not now,” said BWP. “The first training session he had had it, ever since then he hasn’t looked back. He’s not afraid to tell someone, even the coach, or me, or Luis (Robles) what he thinks and he doesn’t just talk, he’s out there pulling his weight too. He’s a big player for us.”

In a post-game soliloquy, Marsch had heaped praise on the Wappingers Falls, New York native. “A couple of guys, you could see were grabbing the team by the scruff of the neck a little bit and saying – All right, let’s keep moving- and one of the things that’s always a source of pride is when that guy is Tyler.”

The coach said of Adams that “his fearlessness and his way of going after games and of being up for big moments is something that makes our team good.”

When I spoke to Adams in late February at the club’s Media Day at Red Bull Arena the “fearlessness” that Marsch spoke of was on display when I asked Adams if he was ok with being tagged as the poster boy of the Play your kids movement.

Adams never flinched. “Yeah, I would say so. Of course, it’s important, giving the young kids an opportunity, one way or another will prove what they’re capable of.” “I think that for me,” Adams said then, “it came at a young age. I think that Jesse put some big goals in front of me and I was able to reach them.” “This year I’m looking to exceed those goals,” the ambitious youngster said.

So, for Adams the role model, em role, is a comfortable fit. “If you want to consider me the poster boy of having young kids play, I think that it’s definitely an influential role for a lot of young guys that you know, there’s inspiration. There’s guys that are doing it. There’s guys that were even before me, like Kellyn Acosta, who was playing at such a young age.”

But back to Tuesday night and Bradley Wright-Phillips who was asked if he had ever seen a young player with that attitude. In England, perhaps?

Wright-Phillips compared Adams to a young Gareth Bale. (ISI Photos/Kelley L. Cox)

Wright-Phillips thought for a moment before answering, “Gareth Bale.” “I saw a similar attitude,” BWP said of his former teammate at Southampton before catching himself. “Don’t get me wrong,” the veteran striker warned the press stragglers, “I know you guys like to twist things,” he said to a chorus of laughter. “I’m not saying they’re the same player, or that he’s going to have the same career as him but they both have a mentality where they know what they’re good at and you know, they’re not afraid when they step out on the field.”

Then BWP was off, but not before the night ended with one last moment of levity as Wright-Phillips turned back to jokingly admonish the media types when he heard one wit comment, “we have our headline now.”

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

MLS and Liga MX Announce Historic Partnership Featuring Annual Showdown Between League Champions
MLS and Liga MX Announce Historic Partnership Featuring Annual Showdown Between League Champions avatar

New York, N.Y. – “The Super Bowl of football, or soccer, in North America.” That is how Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla described the just announced Campeones Cup, the annual showdown between the MLS Cup winners and the champions of Liga MX.

The Cup is just one part of an agreement between Major League Soccer and Liga MX which was announced today by the two leagues and further discussed at a media roundtable at MLS headquarters in Manhattan that featured Bonilla and his MLS counterpart Commissioner Don Garber.

Speaking of this new deal between the rival leagues, Garber admitted that, “clearly this is an extension of the World Cup bid (2026).” “Both of us,” Garber explained, “are involved in that. We both are very focused on trying to bring the World Cup here to the U.S. Canada, and Mexico,” Garber said, noting that “the three (Federation) Presidents are now leading that effort.”

Another compelling part of this new arrangement will be an All-Star Game pitting the best players in the two leagues against each other in what Bonilla said will be the rare All-Star Game featuring a real “rivalry.” “We’re going to fight as if it is the World Cup because we want to win,” the Liga MX President said.

Also included in the deal is the exchange of ideas and best practices between the leagues with the two leaders saying that the leagues can learn from each other.

Bonilla expressed admiration for the “game day experience,” in MLS, which he termed “sensational,” while also noting that Liga MX could learn a thing or two about marketing from MLS.

Barber called Liga MX a mature league. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Garber called Liga MX, “a mature league,” while saying MLS is “still in its first phase, its first generation,” so the MLS Commissioner would like his league to emulate the “quality of their competition, the quality of their actual tournament.” Garber also spoke admiringly of Liga MX’s split season. “I’m really attracted to this concept of how they manage their schedule and yet have playoffs and are able to create a competition that makes sense for them in their market.”

And Garber sounded downright envious of the Mexican league’s clubs that have created a global following for some of their clubs while also producing “world class players.”

Garber is confident that the new Campeones Cup will not hurt the CONCACAF Champions League, a competition that has long struggled for attention in the American soccer landscape.

In fact, the Commission said, “I think it’s the opposite. I think this is going to elevate it. Its whole purpose is to serve as a vehicle to make this, the Concacaf Champions League more valuable, to give it more exposure, to show that the two largest leagues within the confederation can have a special moment, if you will, and it will just add value to and importance to these games that are taking place today and tomorrow.”

Bonilla and Garber announcing the Campeones Cup.

Much has yet to be worked out but we do know that the inaugural Campeones Cup will take place in Toronto on September 19th with 2017 MLS Cup Champion Toronto FC hosting the winner of the Liga MX Campeones de Campeones, featuring the Tigres, winners of Liga MX Apertura, and the Clausura champs.

Bonilla revealed today that the Campeones de Campeones or Champions of Champions game will be held in Los Angeles, on or around July 15.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

1) Atlanta!

72,035! Congratulations to Atlanta United FC and their fans for once again setting the MLS single-game attendance record. After taking the league by storm in its inaugural season, Atlanta will play at shiny new Mercedes Benz Arena all season in 2018 and if this keeps up more records are bound to fall to the 5 Stripes.

Well done Atlanta for your MLS single-game record crowd of 72,035 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (ISI Photos/Perry McIntyre)

Oh, and these guys can play. After a surprising 4-0 shellacking at the hands of the Houston Dynamo in week one Tata Martinez made a tactical switch to a 3-5-2 and saw it pay off in a decisive 3-1 win over visiting DC United.

Atlanta got goals from Joseph Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Hector Villalba in an expansive performance that gave that massive crowd much to cheer about, and plenty of encouragement to return.

2) The Perfects

New York City FC in action against LA Galaxy preseason. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

This is the time of year that we all stumble over ourselves noting that “it’s early, yet” but it is still fun to be 2-0, so enjoy your perfection, Columbus Crew, Vancouver Whitecaps, New York City FC and Los Angeles Football Club, however premature that may be.

3) It’s Supposed to be Harder than This

I’m talking to you LAFC. Most pre-season prognosticators focused on the shallow roster assembled by Bob Bradley and his front office when evaluating the L.A. newcomers chances of success in season one.

Sure, L.A. got off on the right foot with a 1-0 opening road win over Seattle but the Sounders were resting several regulars as they prioritized the CCL, and it’s early, right?

Carlos Vela looks comfortable in the MLS.  (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

But what to make then of the Galaxy’s noisy neighbors now in the wake of Saturday’s demolition of Real Salt Lake? 20-year-old Young DP Diego Rossi is tearing it up with three goals and three assists in the new season. Mexican international and LAFC’s marquee signing Carlos Vela looks very comfortable with his new running mate and MLS vets like Steven Beitashour and Bob Bradley’s old pal Benny Feilhaber are playing lights out for the expansion club.

Yes, it is early but so far so good for LAFC.

4) Red Bulls Play the Kids!

The Red Bulls have played just one regular season match so far in 2018 and they rested virtually their entire team in Saturday’s 4-0 home-opening victory over the Portland Timbers, coached by former MetroStar and New York soccer legend Giovanni Savarese.

With his club holding a 2-0 lead at the halfway point of its CCL quarterfinal aggregate goals match over Tijuana ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, coach Jesse Marsch took his own advice and played the kids.

Marsch stirred up some controversy just two weeks ago when, in answer to GotSoccer’s question, the NYRB coach bluntly stated that yes, “it is really important right now that we have coaches in MLS who are willing to play young players.”

That question and Marsch’s answer specifically referred to American players and against Portland Marsch included three fresh-faced young yanks among the nine changes from his first 11 and all impressed.

Derrick Etienne Jr.. is a New Jersey product.  (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

20-year-old new York born fullback Kyle Duncan excelled in his MLS debut, having just signed after spending two years trying to catch on in France. Derrick Etienne Jr. is a New Jersey product, even if the flamboyant attacker has pledged his international future to Haiti. Etienne Jr. picked up an assist on the first Red Bulls goal, the one scored by 17-year-old Ben Mines. Connecticut product Mines was dangerous for much of the night as he became the third youngest Red Bull/MetroStar to score in MLS play.

Play the kids Marsch said, and play the kids he did.

5) Kamara and Higuain on the Spot

Two MLS veterans reached milestones this weekend as Kei Kamara notched his 100th career MLS goal for his new club, Vancouver, in a 2-1 road victory, while Kamara’s former teammate Federico Higuaín tallied number 50.

That both men reached their milestones via penalty kicks is a rich irony given that Kamara left Columbus largely because of an ugly incident when the then Crew teammates fought on the field to decide which one of them would take a penalty kick.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

USWNT Top England to Regain SheBelieves Cup
USWNT Top England to Regain SheBelieves Cup avatar

It was fitting, perhaps that the lone goal in the USWNT victory over England, a win that secured the SheBelieves Cup for the Americans, was recorded as an own goal, fitting because the host nation managed to regain the title that it surrendered last season to France, without ever really impressing over three games.

U.S. celebrate the only goal of the game. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Fitting, too, because despite reversing 2017’s dismal last-place finish, coach Jill Ellis still has questions to answer regarding her best lineup with October’s CONCACAF World Cup Qualification Tournament creeping ever closer.

So, what can we take away from the SheBelieves Cup?

Julie Ertz Needs to Stay Healthy

The wider sports world got to know the USWNT midfielder earlier this year as the soccer playing spouse of Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl hero Zach Ertz but the former Julie Johnston has been known to WoSo fans for years now.

Julie Ertz dominance was missed.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

What has become crystal clear regarding JJ – still her nickname despite her new last name- is that the former center back has become an essential starter in the midfield for the national team.

Ellis tried some different combos after Johnston picked up a knock in game one without much success.

Get well, Julie.

Is Naeher Number 1?

It certainly is looking that way. Some, this scribe included, have wanted to see the competition to lock down Hope Solo’s old job more of a, well, competition. For a while, Ellis went back and forth between Naeher and Jill Harris, with Adrianna Franch rarely getting more than a cursory look.

Naeher is definitely the most experienced keeper going into the qualifiers. (ISI Photos/Howard Smith)

Now, with Ellis moving away from the experimental phase as she searches for her first 11, Naeher has picked up her game at the right time, with an especially convincing effort in game two of the SheBelieves, a 1-0 win over France in New Jersey.

NWSL 2017 Goalkeeper of the Year, Franch, was unavailable through injury for the tourney, and Ellis indicated the Thorns keeper would have made the roster if healthy. Would Franch have gotten a game? We’ll never know now so we will have to keep an eye out during a pair upcoming friendlies versus Mexico.

If Naeher goes 180 minutes we can call declare the “competition” over.

Fullback for Dunn?

Versatility can be both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because playing a variety of positions can help a player get on the field, a curse because it can make it difficult for a player to nail down a full-time job.

But Crystal Dunn is not the stereotypical “Jack of all trades, Master of None.” No, in fact, the case can be made that Dunn has mastered several positions and could make a claim to start at fullback, wingback, winger, or striker.

Dunn has proven that she can shine in multiple positions. (ISI Photos/Jeremy Reper)

So where does Ellis see Dunn come France 2019? The coach appeared to have settled on Dunn as a forward but when circumstances forced her hand last Sunday at Red Bull Arena, Ellis threw Dunn in at left fullback.

After the France match, Ellis noted that Dunn had played wingback for Chelsea and then started Dunn at left fullback against England. Ellis has time to sort out the Dunn conundrum but if the coach can work out the defensive cover, Dunn and Kelley O’Hara could be a nightmare attacking opposing defenses from the flanks.

England finished second under new coach Phil Neville, France came third after claiming the SheBelieves crown last year, while Germany finished last.

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

USA – Own goal (Karen Bardsley)                             58th minute

Lineups:

USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 16-Emily Sonnett, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 17-Tierna Davidson, 19-Crystal Dunn; 20-Allie Long (14-Sofia Huerta, 74), 9-Lindsey Horan (6-Morgan Brian, 74), 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.); 11-Mallory Pugh (12-Lynn Williams, 90+2), 13-Alex Morgan, 15-Megan Rapinoe (21-Savannah McCaskill, 80)
Substitutes: 2-Casey Short, 3-Andi Sullivan, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 8-Julie Ertz, 18-Jane Campbell, 22-Taylor Smith, 23-Christen Press, 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head Coach: Jill Ellis 

ENG: 1-Karen Bardsley; 2-Lucy Bronze, 15-Abbie McManus, 6-Millie Bright, 3-Demi Stokes (12-Hannah Blundell, 87); 22-Keira Walsh (8-Jill Scott 86), 16-Izzy Christiansen; 19-Mel Lawley (11-Toni Duggan, 52), 10-Fran Kirby (17-Rachel Daly, 75), 18-Ellen White; 9-Jodie Taylor (7-Nikita Parris, 52)
Substitutes: 4-Fara Williams, 13-Siobhan Chamberlain, 14-Alex Greenwood, 20-Georgia Stanwood, 23-Gabby George
Head Coach: Phil Neville

Stats Summary: USA / ENG
Shots: 8 / 6
Shots on Goal: 2 / 0
Saves: 0 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 13
Offside: 0 / 7

Misconduct Summary:
None

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

USWNT Fails to Impress in France Draw – Face England for SheBelieves Title
USWNT Fails to Impress in France Draw – Face England for SheBelieves Title avatar

Harrison, N.J. – The USWNT came into Sunday’s SheBelieves Cup match sitting in second place on goal difference behind England following the home side’s 1-0 win last week over Germany in Columbus and England’s 4-1 shellacking of old rivals France.

Rapinoe was unhappy with her team’s performance. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The World Cup is still a year off but with qualifying just around the corner time is becoming an issue for the Americans and Megan Rapinoe, for one, was clearly unhappy with the state of the U.S. team after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Les Bleus.

Citing “tactical, thinking errors” the dynamic winger summed up the defending World Champions performance as “pretty bad all around. I mean for where we are and where we want to be going, it’s just not good enough.”

And it was hard to disagree with ‘Pinoe, after watching the Yanks struggle to string together passes and control possession, which led the Americans to revert to the old hit and hope tactics of days gone by.

The midfield struggled in the first half. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

With Julie Ertz and Sam Mathis both missing out through injury, Jill Ellis installed Andi Sullivan and Morgan Brian into the what has become the regular midfield trio along with Lindsey Horan, and the results were poor.

Things picked up a bit in the second half when Carli Lloyd came off the bench to provide a couple of incisive passes as the Americans chased a late winner after the first half ended a 1-1 on goals by Mal Pugh and Eugénie Le Sommer.

The sellout crowd at Red Bull Arena seemed happy enough with the effort and a 2-2 draw between England and Germany in Sunday’s RBA nightcap means the U.S. can claim the SheBelieves Cup with a win over England tomorrow night in Orlando.

That may yet come to pass but for Megan Rapinoe the U.S. must be better and for her, the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the players.

“For me, it’s more of the intellectual part of the game, thinking quickly and tactically thinking part of the game. I think when you don’t think quickly you leave yourself having to make decisions under pressure and your technical mistakes are going to increase.”

Given the out of chalking it all up to “a bad day at the office,” Rapinoe demurred. “I don’t know – it was not good enough from anyone,” Rapinoe said.

Rapinoe felt that everyone played badly. (ISI Photos/Howard Smith)

“Everyone played bad on the day but you never really want to accept that or say that. It can’t be that it just happened, so I don’t accept that – we should have played a lot better. Obviously, we’ll look at film and see where we can improve.” “But” the demanding veteran concluded, “there are a lot of things that we can’t really look at film and improve that, that’s individual.”

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

“Talent Doesn’t Have a Nationality” Vieira Disagrees with Marsch
“Talent Doesn’t Have a Nationality” Vieira Disagrees with Marsch avatar

Orangeburg, N.Y. – A flicker of a smile creased Patrick Vieira’s lips on Thursday afternoon when GotSoccer asked the NYCFC coach for his reaction to Jesse Marsch’s recent comments suggesting that MLS coaches have a responsibility to play young Americans and the Red Bulls boss’s suggestion that foreign managers are perhaps not sufficiently interested in that aspect of the job.

Vieira was very vocal about his views. (ISI Photos/Mark Lawrence)

“I think I would disagree with that statement,” the Frenchman began, speaking to a small clutch of reporters at New York City Football Club’s new training center in Orangeburg, N.Y. “I think we are talking about talent and talent doesn’t have a nationality.” Vieira noted that NYCFC plays by the rules of the league saying, “when we decide to sign a player, for us, the only thing that we’re looking at is if the player is fitting well with the way we want to play the game.” “So,” Vieira added, “if the players are French or American, just the talent helps us make a decision.”

Asked about two of the young American players on his side, James Sands and Jonathan Lewis, Vieira made it clear that the duo would have to earn what they get. “They are both competing for the spot,” the coach stated and likely thinking back to his own playing days with Arsenal, Vieira continued:

“I strongly believe it is like in England when they said there’s too many foreigners and that’s why there is not enough quality players for the national team and I think,” the former French international said with emphasis, “that is hiding behind the (ineffective) work from the federation and the league.”

Vieira blames the state of the USMNT on the U.S. development system. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Vieira placed the blame for the state of the USMNT squarely on the development system in this country, ladling out an extra dose of culpability on the college game.

“People have to take responsibility, you have to look at how you are developing players, and (those are) the main issues here. How you educate coaches, how do you educate young players at grassroots.”

Vieira was similarly unimpressed when Mexico’s former system requiring guaranteed minutes for “home” players was raised. “You would have to play him, even if he is not good?” Vieira asked with a shrug, adding, “the problem is how come you don’t have quality players to play in the first team.”

“If you want to go to James Sands and say, ok James, I’m going to play you because you are American, I don’t think he is going to be happy about it. James will want to play because he is good enough to play.”

For Vieira, it all comes down to “the number of hours they spend on the field.” According to Vieira, “when you compare the French players, the number of hours that the young players spend on the field” is three times what his U.S. counterpart spends on the pitch.

“There is no secret,” Vieira said, “the more time you spend on the field, the better chance you will have to progress.”

The problem is not when the players reach MLS, the third year New York coach said, “the problem is before they get to the MLS.” To illustrate his point Vieira used his own second-year man Jonathan Lewis as an example.

Jonathan Lewis on draft day. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

“When you go to college, for the draft, to pick up a Jonathan Lewis who do four months of competition and training two, three times a week and he is 20 years old, how do you want him to fulfill his potential?”

By Vieira’s reckoning a player like Lewis has “been losing five, six, seven years,” and the coach wonders, “how do you want to get that back?”

And it’s not just with the college that Vieira sees problems, the coach believes that the American players are “losing too many years, between 10 and 20.”

The talent is there Vieira says, mentioning the players he sees at the NYCFC academy. “They’ve got the talent, they are good enough.”

So, no it doesn’t sound as if Vieira will be taking up Marsch’s challenge, because as the Frenchman put it, “we are talking about talent and talent doesn’t have a nationality.”

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment