U.S. MNT Face Old Rivals Ghana in Gold Cup Prep
U.S. MNT Face Old Rivals Ghana in Gold Cup Prep avatar

The U.S. MNT face old foes Ghana Saturday evening in Connecticut with the Gold Cup just days away.

John Brooks scored the winner agains Ghana in their previous meeting.  (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

When last these two countries met a late John Brooks goal gave the Americans a victory in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Clint Dempsey had given the U.S. a dream start with a first-minute goal but Ghana had responded through Andre Ayew, setting the stage for Brooks’ heroics.

It was a sweet victory for the Yanks who had been eliminated from the two previous Mundials by the Black Stars, in overtime in 2010. The stakes will be considerably lower in East Hartford on Saturday, the first time the sides have played outside of those three dramatic World Cup meetings.

Like their host, Ghana is playing something of a new look team with the visitors rebuilding after leaving Brazil in turmoil. The 2014 World Cup ended for Ghana with a 2-1 loss to Portugal as the U.S. advanced to the round of 16 with Germany while Portugal and Ghana were eliminated.

Veterans Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng had been sent home a day prior to the Portugal match with Muntari accused of slapping a Ghanaian official while Boateng was said to have berated coach James Kwesi Appiah.

On Wednesday night with Appiah still, at the helm, Ghana lost 1-0 in Houston to Mexico’s B-side while the first tier El Tri squad was occupied with Confederations Cup. Neither Muntari or Boateng is a part of this Ghana side, although Muntari has reached out in search of a Black Stars return.

American fans will recognize several members of the new look Ghana team, six of the side play in the U.S. Five in MLS and former NYCFC man Kwadwo Poku, who is now with NASL club Miami FC.

The U.S. training in preparation for the Gold Cup. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

U.S. coach Bruce Arena will be looking to prepare for the Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Championship, which begins for the Americans July 8, in Nashville versus Panama, by far the team’s toughest group game.

In recent World Cup Qualifiers Arena showed that he is unafraid to play relatively untested players and shuffle formations to suit opponents, so it should be instructive to see who Arena turns to versus Ghana.

Gold Cup Group B:
July 8, 2017, 3:30 PM CT MNT vs Panama Nissan Stadium; Nashville, Tenn.
FOX, Univision, UDN

July 12, 2017, 9 PM ET MNT vs Martinique Raymond James Stadium; Tampa Bay, Fla.
FS1, UniMas, UDN

July 15, 2017, 7 PM ET MNT vs Nicaragua FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio
FXX, Univision, UDN

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 54/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 39/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 39/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 2/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 47/5)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 8/0), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 5/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 60/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 17/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 0/0), Kenny Saief (Gent/BEL; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 31/6)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/2)

Ghana Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Joseph Addo (Aduana Stars; 0/0), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars; 4/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC/USA; 78/0), Lumor Agbenyenu (1860 Munich/GER; 1/0), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor/TUR; 11/1), John Boye (Sivasspor/TUR; 60/4), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC/USA; 58/1), Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea; 0/0), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty Professionals; 0/0), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa/QAT; 8/0),

MIDFIELDERS (8): Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew SC/USA; 5/0), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht/BEL; 19/2), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda/NED; 1/0), Winful Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak; 0/0), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart/GER; 1/0), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution 0/0), Kwadwo Poku (Miami FC/USA; 1/0), Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor/TUR; 1/0)

FORWARDS (4): David Accam (Chicago Fire/USA; 8/1), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich/SUI; 1/0), Asamoah Gyan (Al-Alhi/UAE; 102/49), Majeed Waris (Lorient/FRA; 27/4)

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NWSL Roundup
NWSL Roundup avatar

In the midst of a crowded season, all but two NWSL sides played Wednesday night after weekend matches and that is ahead of a full slate of matches this weekend, so let’s see who did what this past week.

The defending champion North Carolina Courage, as the Western New York Flash, was one of just two NWSL teams to have Wednesday off, Washington was the other, and the Courage enjoyed that respite from the top of the league standings.

Ashley Hatch celebrating her goal. (ISI Photos/Tim Bouwer)

NCC visited last place Boston on Saturday and came away with a 1-0 win on an Ashley Hatch goal. The gulf in class was clear enough between the first place Courage and last-place Breakers, who continue to miss their injured U.S. WNT star, Rose Lavelle.

Boston bounced back somewhat on Wednesday evening when they picked up an always valuable road point in a 0-0 draw in Houston.

No club was able to pick up the full six points on offer during the week but two squads did manage to claim four, Houston and Seattle.

It was a nice haul for the ninth place Dash, although Carli Lloyd and co. must have thought the full six was a reasonable goal after beginning the week with a 2-0 win in Houston on Saturday, June 24.

Lloyd scored her first goal of the season in the NWSL. (ISI Photos/Wilf Thorne)

Lloyd scored her first NWSL goal of the season in that victory, a nice bit of instant revenge for the Dash after having dropped a 4-2 decision to the Lions at BBVA Compass Stadium just seven days prior.

Seattle began its busy schedule with a 1-1 home draw versus Kansas City FC before improving on the result with a 2-1 victory over Chicago on Wednesday. Oddly enough both Seattle goals versus the Red Stars came on Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks. Pinoe Penos, if you like. Both matches were at home, so the Reign may be less than thrilled with that four point total.

Chicago ended the week second in the table behind North Carolina, splitting its week with a home win over Sky Blue to go with that loss at Seattle. Chicago spotted the New Jersey side an early lead when rookie Madison Tiernan picked up her first league goal off of corner kick in just the third minute.

The visitors could not make that lead stand up for the remaining 87 minutes, conceding goals to Vanessa DiBernardo in the 63 minute and Sofia Huerta four minutes later.

It was all part of a lost week for Sky Blue, the only team to end up with zero points to show for their efforts from the busy week. Sky Blue had to think three points were in reach when they scored on either side of the halftime break in Wednesday’s home loss to Orlando to overturn the Pride’s 1-0 lead.

Kelley O’hara(ISI Photos/Robyn W McNeill)

Sky Blue’s opener came via a Kelley O’Hara penalty kick but the Jersey girls second was far from routine with Sam Kerr putting the home team ahead with a flamboyant bicycle kick in the 46th minute.

But Orlando bounced back with goals from Marta and Rachel Hill, enough with Chioma Ubogagu’s first half tally to end Sky Blue’s week on a down note.

Washington had a relatively quiet few days, resting easy Wednesday night, having secured three points the previous Saturday in a 1-0 win over Portland at home. The Spirit were without Mal Pugh but managed to get over the line thanks to a 19th-minute goal from Francisca Ordega.

Portland would bounce back from that disappointment with a decisive 3-0 home victory Wednesday against FC Kansas City. Canadian star Christine Sinclair was the star for the Thorns, scoring twice and having a third goal called back for a handball.

Sinclair had a good running mate in Haley Raso, the Australian picked a goal and an assist in Portland’s win.

The busy NWSL continues this weekend with four games on Saturday and one on Sunday night. The Lifetime Game of the Week kicks things off on Saturday, July 1 at 3:30 when North Carolina welcomes a Sky Blue team suddenly in bad need of a win.

With the home teams listed first, here is the rest of the Saturday schedule. All times ET.

Boston Breakers vs Washington Spirit (4:00)
Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars (5:00)
Seattle Reign vs Portland Thorns (10:30)

Sunday, July 2.
FC Kansas City vs Houston Dash

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Viewing the Hudson River Rivalry Through the “Butkus” Lens
Viewing the Hudson River Rivalry Through the “Butkus” Lens avatar

As I settled into my seat in the perfectly situated Red Bull Arena press box to watch the home team take on cross-river rivals New York City FC on a perfect Saturday afternoon my thoughts turned to my father.

Fans at the red bull stadium. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

Why? Allow me to explain. Quite a few years ago my father came to this country from Ireland where he was a renowned athlete, a Gaelic footballer. This was long before Sky TV, ESPN, before a lot of things, actually. Which is to say that he hadn’t a clue about American football when a friend brought him along to Yankee Stadium to watch the New York Football Giants take on the Chicago Bears.

What does this have to do with the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC you may well ask? I thought of my father on Saturday afternoon because of what I call, “The Butkus Technique.” My father, ever the sportsman, was happy to get a look at this strange new game and was especially anxious to check out the Bear’s fearsome linebacker, Dick Butkus – I said it was a long time ago.

Like I said, the sport of American football was all but unknown to my father, but he had heard of Butkus, so on that afternoon way back when he concentrated his gaze on big number 51 in dark blue.

Yangel Herrera in action for the NYC FC. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

On Saturday last, I made it my mission to adapt and adopt this strategy in order to focus on the midfield battle between New York City FC’s 19-year-old Venezuelan Yangel Herrera and the Red Bulls Tyler Adams, one year younger.

The pair had faced off just a few weeks earlier in the quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup in South Korea. The South Americans dominated that day with only Jonathan Klinsmann’s Tim Howard v. Belgium impersonation keeping the match goalless until the 97th minute in a game Venezuela would win 2-1.

Adams was long gone by then, substituted in the 51st minute. Adams looked tired that day, the indefatigable midfielder finally laid low, it seemed to me, by the compact tournament schedule more so than Herrera or any of his opponents.

Herrera was excellent in that game and would be recognized as the third best player in the tournament as his nation fell to England 1-0 in the Championship match.

With the soccer/football world watching both players had raised their stock but now it was back to earning a paycheck and producing for their MLS clubs. With Herrera still recovering from his U20 World Cup exertions, the Big Apple rivals met at on June 14th at Red Bull Arena and Adams was his tigerish self as the Bulls hung a 1-0 U.S. Open Cup victory on the Bronx side, whetting the appetite for the rematch 10 days later at the same venue.

Tyler Adams (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

At close quarters it is hard not to note that at 6’0” Herrera towers over the 5’8” Adams and while size is not meant to matter in the beautiful game it often does in some of the game’s less picturesque moments.

To the match, then. Herrera was on the ball early, pressing Red Bulls fullback Kemar Lawrence into a turnover. The rangy Venezuelan started a NYC attack before drawing a foul just outside the home team’s 18-yard box. Given the freedom of the pitch by coach Patrick Vieira, who rated the youngster highly enough to sit Italian legend Andrea Pirlo in his stead, it was quickly apparent that Herrera would be a problem for the Red Bulls on this day.

Adams was slower to find the game but then he was being used in a different role by his coach Jesse Marsch. Adams, who passed on attending his High School graduation for this game, was playing deeper than Herrera, although he did get forward to fire high over Luis Robles’ goal on one rare up field foray.

Adams was effective winning balls and making the simple pass to teammates like Felipe and Sacha Kljestan. The teens were not directly marking one another although they did go toe to toe on numerous occasions. Herrera had the edge in most of those showdowns and Adams picked up a couple of fouls, although I thought the calls were a bit harsh.

In a scrappy start to the match referee Alan Kelly handed out three yellow cards before the half and would issue six before he was done. Neither Adams or Herrera was cautioned, which is not to say the teens were shying away from the trenches.

Herrera, in fact, seemed to relish the chance to get under opponents skin and was involved in several off the ball scuffles, including one with his former U20 World Cup opponent.

The matchup ended when Adams was pulled by Marsch in the 82nd minute with NYC up 2-0. Adams hadn’t played poorly but as in the U20 match Herrera was on the better team on the day and like in South Korea, Herrera was a big reason why his team was the better team.

So, what did viewing this math through the lens of the Butkus technique reveal? First, both are talented young players with bright futures but Manchester City property Herrera is ahead of Adams at the moment. The Venezuelan’s physicality is part of his edge over Adams but there is also a maturity to Herrera’s game that belies his youth.

Watching Herrera engage in scraps with New York’s midfielders Kljestan and Felipe was instructive as he caused the Red Bulls vets to lash out with a push or a shove while Herrera remained nonplussed.

That attitude along with his toughness, ability to cover ground, to deliver a range of passes, and create danger at the offensive end show Herrera as a player on the rise.

Adams is asked to play a different role with the Red Bulls, deferring to Kljestan and Felipe while Herrera, particularly with Maxi Moralez out injured for NYC, is less inclined to step back. In South Korea Adams showed that he has similar box to box skills to his rival but those skills may need a little more time to incubate.

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Arena Pares 40 Down to 23 for Gold Cup
Arena Pares 40 Down to 23 for Gold Cup avatar

With the U.S. MNT facing a busy and crucial period coach Bruce Arena revealed his strategy Sunday with the release of what is very much a “B” team for this summer’s “B” event, the Gold Cup, starting with the first name on the list, goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who figures to get starters minutes on the rapidly approaching Gold Cup.

Guzman has been selected for the Gold Cup squad. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Which is not to disparage Guzan, normally second choice to Tim Howard, or his roster mates but Howard and most of the “A” team are missing from this group, with Bruce Arena electing to rest his first team for September’s World Cup Qualifiers, although some may be called in for the KO stages of the Gold Cup.

And while this group is clearly not his best group Arena was conceding nothing in remarks to USSoccer.com. “It’s a good roster with a nice blend of experienced, veteran players and a good group of newcomers as well. There’s good balance at every position, we can play a number of ways and I think all these players have a desire to play for the U.S. and will be working hard. It will be a competitive camp, they’re going to be highlight motivated, very coachable and they have an opportunity to make a statement.”

Let’s take a look at Arena’s choices, keeping in mind that up to six changes can be made after the group stages. Players must be on the 40 man roster to be added.

As mentioned Guzan is expected to see the lion’s share of the minutes in goal at this event and if the U.S. advance as expected Arena may decide he doesn’t need to trouble Howard for this tournament. Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson also get the call, reuniting the duo that as younger men were seen as battling for the number one jersey at some point down the road.

That road has been seen a share of potholes as both keepers have struggled with lapses in form and Hamid has been dogged by injuries, but with both men now firmly in their prime goalkeeping years and playing very well at the club level this Gold Cup could be big for at least one of the pair.

Gonzalez training with the U.S. in November 2016. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Eight defenders have answered Arena’s call and as we see throughout the roster most of the presumed first team has been left out. No Geoff Cameron or John Brooks means an opportunity for current third choice center back Omar Gonzalez to solidify and perhaps improve on his position.

Like Gonzalez, Matt Besler has also slipped from starter to a backup and the Sporting KC man will look to grab his chance. Arena also has Matt Hedges and Matt Miazga available and don’t be surprised to see either of these two play, especially if Arena springs his three center back set.

Fullback/wingback DeAndre Yedlin is another starter given time off from U.S. MNT duty, although his partner Jorge Villafana has been included. Eric Lichaj has long struggled to establish himself with the national team and gets another chance while Justin Morrow gets a call, his experience in the TFC three back system can’t have hurt. Converted midfielder Graham Zusi has plenty of experience and Arena’s trust. So don’t be surprised to the SKC man called on in a tight spot.

The story remains the same in the midfield with World Cup veteran Alejandro Bedoya, 60 caps, and Gyasi Zardes, 31, leading a group that includes three players looking to break their international duck.

Cristian Roldan (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

The cap-free three includes Seattle Sounders Cristian Roldan, New England’s Kelyn Rowe, and Israeli-American Kenny Saief, the latter who has just recently been cleared to play for the U.S.

After impressing versus Mexico at the Azteca just over two weeks ago in World Cup Qualifying play the team’s other Kellyn, FC Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta, looks ready to assume a bigger role in the team.

Like Acosta, Paul Arriola was thrown into the deep end versus Mexico and emerged relatively unscathed, so the Tijuana man has shown he can be relied on. Dax McCarty has earned raves for his play with his new club since his shock trade from the New York Red Bulls to the Chicago Fire but the midfielder has struggled for playing time with the nats, so this could be his chance.

With 17 appearances for the U.S. MNT, Arriola’s TJ teammate Joe Corona is the third most capped midfielder in the bunch and he will be hoping to use the Gold Cup to re-establish himself in the group after having fallen out of favor.

Arena will have just three forwards available, although Zardes is often played as a striker. Jordan Morris has a lot to prove having scored just twice so far this year in Seattle after his 12 goal Rookie of the Year campaign in 2016.

On the other hand, Juan Agudelo started this year with a flourish, leading the Revolution with seven goals and giving hope that this could be the year that the 24-year-old puts it all together and finally lives up to his immense talent.

Dom Dwyer deserves the opportunity to show what he can do on the International stage. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

This is a first call to the U.S. MNT for new citizen Dom Dwyer and given his scoring record in MLS it is hard to say that the English-born SKC striker has not earned it.

Arena will have a chance to evaluate his options in a friendly versus Ghana on Saturday, July 1 in East Hartford, Connecticut before opening Gold Cup play versus Panama on July 8, in Nashville.

The opener is by far the most difficult match of the Group B schedule for the Americans, who are looking to put a terrible, fourth place finish at the 2015 event behind them. After Panama, the U.S faces Martinique on July 12, and wrap up group play on the 15th against Nicaragua.

The top two teams in each group advance along with the best two third place finishers, so the Americans should advance.

Quarterfinal play begins on July 19, in Philadelphia and continues a day later in Glendale, Arizona. The semifinals will be July 22, or 23 in Arlington, Texas or Pasadena, and the Championship match is on July 26, in Santa Clara.

Friendly – July 1, 2017, 4:45 PM ET MNT vs Ghana Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field; East Hartford, Conn.
ESPN, UniMas, UDN (pregame 4pm ET)

Gold Cup Group B

July 8, 2017, 3:30 PM CT MNT vs Panama Nissan Stadium; Nashville, Tenn.
FOX, Univision, UDN

July 12, 2017, 9 PM ET MNT vs Martinique Raymond James Stadium; Tampa Bay, Fla.
FS1, UniMas, UDN

July 15, 2017, 7 PM ET MNT vs Nicaragua FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio
FXX, Univision, UDN

23 Man Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 54/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 2/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 5/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 39/1), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 39/1), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 2/0), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 11/0), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 2/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 1/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 47/5)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 8/0), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 5/2), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 60/2), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX; 17/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 6/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 0/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 0/0), Kenny Saief (Gent/BEL; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 31/6)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 23/3), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/2)

40 Man Roster:
GK: Joe Bendik (Orlando City SC), Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
DEF: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Jonathan Spector (Orlando City SC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MID: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Tommy McNamara (New York City FC), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Kenny Saief (Gent/BEL), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
FOR: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

It’s MLS Rivalry Week and with that in mind let’s have a look at our latest MLS Big – 5.

NYCFC Present and Future Collide.

David Villa reached and surpassed the half-century mark when he bagged both goals in New York’s 2-1 win over Seattle in a Yankee Stadium downpour last Saturday.

Villa continues to shine in the MLS. (ISI Photos/Michael Lawrence)

The 2016 MLS MVP has scored 51 goals in just 79 games sparking talk that El Guaje may be the best MLS player ever.

At the other end of the career spectrum from the 35-year-old Spaniard is 16-year-old James Sands who became the first Homegrown player in NYCFC’s brief history when he put pen to paper on a professional contract on Wednesday.

The young talent impressed NYC brass when he joined the club in preseason, looking not at all out of place alongside veteran Andrea Pirlo in the NYCFC midfield versus Ecuador club Emelec in front of 40,000.

Sands also showed well on international duty with the U.S. U17 side that lost the CONCACAF Final to Mexico on pks. (Sands made his).

The Rye, N.Y. native lined out at center back for the Young Yanks and is likely to do so again at the U17 World Cup in India in October.

2) DC Sign Brown

They say defense wins championships but that old chestnut assumes a certain amount of goals or points, depending on the sport, as DC United are finding out.

With a league-worst 10 goals from 15 games Ben Olsen’s side needs some goals and have acquired Deshorn Brown in hopes that the former Colorado Rapids speedster can provide them.

Deshorn Brown will be hoping to be an offensive threat. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Brown’s record suggests that he is a good bet to do just that. Brown nabbed 10 goals in both 2013 and 2014 for the Raps before moving onto Valerenga (Norway) where he notched 13 goals in 37 games and then Shenzen (China) where he rang the bell seven times in just 14 appearances.

DC acquired Brown from USL side Tampa Bay after trading with the Houston Dynamo for the number one spot in the Allocation Order.

The swap cost United $100,000 GAM, 75,000 TAM plus a 2018 international player slot. It is a lot to give up but DC is desperate for goals and if Brown finds the target with any regularity United followers will call this a bargain.

3) Mid-Week Results

It was a wild Wednesday night across Major League Soccer with simultaneous and overlapping matches taking place across the country.

As seen in item two DC United needed goals and the two they scored Wednesday against Atlanta was enough to edge Atlanta.

Newcomer Deshorn Brown saw 27 minutes off of the bench in his United debut and didn’t figure in the scoring. In the end, this DC victory came down to goalkeeping.

Mann made an error that cost his team all 3 points.(ISI Photos/Robin Alam)

Atlanta United keeper Alec Kann made an awful mistake to gift DC an equalizer through Luciano Acosta after Julian Gressel had given Atlanta the lead.

DC then went ahead on a Patrick Nyarko goal and that lead was preserved by Bill Hamid when the DC netminder saved spectacularly on the final kick of the game from Atlanta’s Josef Martinez.

Minnesota broke out of a three-match goalless streak to beat the Timbers 3-2. It was an eventful night for Abu Danladi, the first pick in the 2017 MS SuperDraft. The Minnesota attacker scored his second MLS goal in the 64th minute, just six minutes before the rookie was handed a straight red card along with Portland’s Sebastian Blanco.

Colorado was the lone home side to lose on Wednesday, falling 3-1 to rude guests Los Angeles. Jack McBean was the story of the night for the Galaxy, scoring his first goals since 2013. Dillon Serna nabbed the Rapids goal, a good sign for the talented but injury riddled player.

With a Cascadia rivalry match coming up on Sunday Seattle does not have much time to lick its wounds but Wednesday’s tie with Orlando will take some time to shake as Orlando scored on the last action of the match to swipe two unlikely points.

A needless Roman Torres foul gave the Lions the late, late chance and Orlando capitalized when Scott Sutter nodded home a driven free kick from Kaka to stun the hosts.

Will Bruin scored his fifth of the season to give Seattle the lead in the 19th minute but we now know how that turned out. In an exciting game, special note should be made of the goalkeepers, Stefan Frei (Seattle) and Joe Bendik (Orlando) each of whom were outstanding.

4) Canada Controversy

The first leg of the Canadian Championship two-hander between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC took place Wednesday night in Montreal with both coaches fielding strong teams despite the crowded fixture list.

Daniel Lovitz injury did not get a call from the referee. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

The controversy in this 1-1 draw came in the 30th minute when TFC scored the equalizer while Impact defender Daniel Lovitz lay on the ground in the 18-yard box looking for help from the officials.

Lovitz had collided with Toronto’s Steven Beitashour but it was not a head injury, so the game continued. Montreal coach Mario Biello wasn’t happy. “Obviously I was disappointed and I let the fourth official know, and it’s incredible,” Biello said.

Biello would have liked TFC to play the ball out of bounds and offered this to chew on for the second leg.

“That’s the choice they made, and if it happens our way, we’re going to know how to react too.”

5) Galaxy 2

Much has been written about the new look Galaxy as the team appeared to be moving on from the big names of the past to, well we weren’t sure.

Ashley Cole is one of the senior players for The Galaxy. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Younger international veterans like Giovani Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini both 28 and Joao Pedro, 24 are one part of the model and there are still vets like Ashley Cole and Jermaine Jones around but Wednesday’s night’s 3-1 win at Colorado reminded us not to overlook the Galaxy development system.

We have heard for years about the rich vein of Southern California talent that the Galaxy was set to mine only for the Galaxy to sideline that talent behind the likes of a faded Steven Gerrard.

And while one game is not enough to proclaim a philosophical turnaround it is worth noting that six Americans were in the L.A. starting lineup against the Rapids and Bradford Jamieson IV came off the bench to earn a penalty kick to set up the third Galaxy goal. This after Jack McBean scored twice for L.A.

A further look finds 18 California-born players on the Galaxy’s 27 men first team roster.

None of this is to suggest that the Galaxy’s days of chasing big names is over, especially with flashy new neighbors LAFC coming on board next season.

Still, from a U.S. soccer development point of view, this is encouraging news and we will be watching to see if former Galaxy II coach Curt Onalfo continues this mini trend.

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U.S. Soccer Giant Tony DiCicco Passes Away
U.S. Soccer Giant Tony DiCicco Passes Away avatar

Tony DiCicco, the only coach to lead the U.S. WNT to both an Olympic Gold Medal and a World Cup title has died at 68 sparking an outpouring of affection from former players as well as an array of people across all areas of the U.S. soccer landscape.

DiCicco guided the U.S. Women to the 1999 World Cup. (ISI Photos/J Brett Whitesell)

DiCicco was there at the beginning as the U.S. WNT became the standard bearer for the women’s game. The Wethersfield, Connecticut native served as goalkeeper coach under Anson Dorrance when the Americans claimed the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991 when it was known as the Women’s World Championship. Five years later DiCicco was at the helm when the Americans won the inaugural Women’s Soccer Gold Medal at the Atlanta Games.

DiCicco, who had taken over from Dorrance in 1994, led the Americans to a third place finish at the 95 Women’s World Cup before cementing his legacy and the place of U.S. at the top of the women’s game by winning Olympic Gold in Atlanta and the 1999 World Cup in front of 90,125 fans at the Rose Bowl.

After that triumph, DiCicco stepped down to spend more time with his family, although the coach stayed involved with the game, most recently as a prominent broadcaster.

DiCicco during his tenure at Boston. (ISI Photos/Howard C Smith)

DiCicco’s team, known as the 99ers, brought a new level of respect to the women’s game but a couple of quotes from those who knew him well suggest that there was a lot more to DiCicco than X’s and O’s.

Sunil Gulati. U.S. Soccer President:“Today we mourn the loss of one of the most influential coaches in U.S. Soccer history.” Tony’s passion for the game as a coach, administrator and broadcaster was always evident and his relationships with everyone in the soccer community distinguished him as a compassionate and much-loved man. U.S. Soccer will forever be thankful to Tony for his vast contributions to the game and we extend thoughts and condolences to his family and to the many people who were positively impacted by him during what was a remarkable life.”

Dan Flynn (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

U.S. Soccer Secretary General/CEO Dan Flynn. “Tony is one of the true legends of women’s soccer in the United States and the game would not be where it is today without his dedication and visionary work. We’ve lost a great man, but we all know that the impact he had at the beginning of our Women’s National Team program will be felt for generations to come.”

A member of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame and the winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history with a Globetrotter-like mark of 108-8-8, DiCicco is survived by his wife Diane and four sons. No cause of death was released, although a statement, released by the DiCicco family, indicates he had been struggling with ill health.

“While the health challenges Tony faced were confronted head on and with eyes open, we never could have foreseen the beautiful journey that truly defined the magnificence of this man’s life.”

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NWSL Roundup
NWSL Roundup avatar

It was a big week in NWSL play with some star turns around the league, so let’s start with a showdown in Houston where five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta faced off against two time, and current POY Carli Lloyd.

Home teams listed first.

Houston Dash (2-6) 2-4 vs Orlando Pride (2-3-3)

In her first game back with the Dash after a stint with Manchester City, Lloyd started and went 72 minutes, although the U.S. WNT legend was eclipsed by her Brazilian counterpart Marta, who finished her day with two goals and two assists.

Marta (R) was just unstoppable. (ISI Photos/Wilf Thorne)

Marta’s first helper set up fellow Brazilian Camila for a wonder goal struck from about 40 yards and placed in the top corner of the Houston net.

It was an unstoppable shot and unstoppable was the word for visiting Orlando as the Pride ran out to a 4-0 lead before Houston clawed back a couple of late goals to give the final scoreline a more respectable look.

It was quite a day for Brazilian players, with Houston’s first goal coming from Poliana, assisted by Andressa in the 89th minute while Canadian Nichelle Prince added a second Dash score in the 96th minute on a setup from Andressa.

North Carolina Courage (7-3) 3-1 vs Boston Breakers (2-5-2)

The Breakers, and for that matter the NWSL, received a bit of bad news when rising U.S. WNT star Rose Lavelle limped off in the final minutes of the national team’s 1-0 win over Norway last week, ruling Lavelle out for four to six weeks with a hamstring injury.

North Carolina were too strong for the Breakers. (ISI Photos/Andy Mead)

First place North Carolina had injury woes of their own with deadly strike duo Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald sidelined but the defending champions showed admirable resolve and impressive depth receiving a brace from Kristen Hamilton and a second goal in two games from Ashley Hatch.

Boston, meanwhile clearly missed its young star Lavelle, falling behind the Courage 3-0 with just a 73rd-minute goal from Adriana Leon standing between the Breakers and a shutout.

Chicago Red Stars (5-2-2) 1-1 vs Washington Spirit (2-5-2)

Two teams with mirror image records got together in Chicago and in the end, the 2-5-2 Washington Spirit had to be happier with the result than the 5-2-2 Chicago Red Stars.

With the Spirit missing dynamic 19-year-old Mallory Pugh due to what has been termed a minor ankle injury, picked up on U.S. WNT duty, the visitors took a 1-0 lead just before the intermission.

Cheyna Williams, and Francisca Ordega celebrate the opening goal. (ISI Photos/Daniel Bartel)

Francisca Ordega finished from Cheyna Williams to give the Spirit that lead in the 42nd minute but it was always going to be a challenge for Washington to hold off the star-studded, ehm Stars, for the final 45 plus.

That proved to be the case when Christen Press, coming off of a very impressive outing for the U.S. WNT versus Norway, earned and converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute.

Press’ goal was a bitter blow to the Spirit but Washington can’t be too unhappy with taking a point on the road from Chicago, undefeated at home and riding a six-match streak without a loss.

FC Kansas City (3-3-3) 2-2 vs Seattle Reign (3-2-4)

The Seattle Reign has never defeated FC Kansas City on the road, so when Nahomi Kawasumi broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 82nd minute Reign fans must have thought that Saturday might be the day.

Rapinoe goes past Averbuch. (ISI Photos/Amy Kontras)

Alas, it was not to be. That 2-1 Seattle lead would last but three minutes when Maegan Kelly got her head to a Yael Averbuch blast to level the match.

The home side had taken an early lead on Alexa Newfield’s 23rd-minute goal. Megan Rapinoe leveled just eight minutes later and that would be it for the scoring until that late flurry.

Portland Thorns (4-2-3) 1-3 vs Sky Blue FC (5-4-1)

Led by a brace plus an assist from Samantha Kerr and a record-setting goal from Rachel Rodriguez after just 25 seconds had ticked off the referee’s whistle.

Menges vies with Kerr for the ball. (ISI Photos/Sam Ortega)

In front of 16,736 fans at Providence Park, the visitors ran out to a 3-0 lead with Kerr completing her brace with tallies in the 70th and 88th minute rendering Christine Sinclair’s stoppage time goal mere window dressing.

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Red Bulls Tyler Adams in the Shop Window After U20 World Cup
Red Bulls Tyler Adams in the Shop Window After U20 World Cup avatar

It was just two years ago that 19-year-old New York Red Bulls center back Matt Miazga set tongues wagging with a performance at the U20 World Cup that would play a part in ushering the towering teen out of Harrison, New Jersey and onto the books of English Premier giants Chelsea.

Tyler Adams (L) in action for the Red Bulls. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

Then 16 years old and already in the Red Bulls fold, midfielder Tyler Adams was well positioned to watch the Miazga chase unfold. Now 18, Adams has just returned from a breakout performance of his own at the tournament often referred to as the biggest shop window in the sport.

After playing a leading role in the Red Bulls 1-0 U.S. Open Cup win over cross-river rivals NYCFC at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night, I mentioned Miazga’s experience to Adams.

“Yeah, Matt Miazga’s a great example,” Adams agreed. “”But,” the tireless midfielder added, “I’m just focused on what I’m doing here right now and to continue to get better every day.”

Those words could well have come from Miazga’s mouth, in fact they did, just two years ago when the young center back told GotSoccer in a March 24, 2015, interview, “I’ve just got to prove myself every day at training and try to impress and play well and get better every day.”

Like Miazga then, Adams is surrounded by veteran leaders who can show him the way and also like his predecessor, Adams has won the trust of his more experienced colleagues.

Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan wryly compared his young teammate to Miazga’s Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kante, even if Miazga is expected to go on loan from the Blues again this season.

“He looked like a little Kante tonight,” is how Kljestan put it in front of his locker following Wednesday night’s victory. The World Cup experience had been a positive one for Adams, Kljestan felt, surmising, “I think he’s probably just feeling good about himself, confidence-wise.”

Adams (L) had a pretty good U20 tournament. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

“He had a pretty good Under 20 tournament,” Adams’ midfield partner continued. “He showed himself on a world stage for his age group, so that should be good for him moving forward.”

With head coach Jesse Marsch sidelined on Wednesday due to a suspension, assistant Chris Armas took charge of the team and in that capacity the former U.S. international waxed enthusiastic when GotSoccer asked about Adams in his postgame press conference.

“I played that position on the field,” Armas said. “I think I know what goes into it, how demanding it is. I think he’s way better than I was.” Armas, who only missed out on making the 2002 United States World Cup team through injury, couldn’t contain himself and he went on.

“Watching him play, the way he can cover ground, at such a young age, he’s fearless.” Pointing to a second half recovery run in which the 18-year-old seemingly came from nowhere to break up a New York City attack, Armas said, “it’s remarkable to watch.” Then came the warning. “I think we all have to take note and enjoy that (for) as much as we’re going to have him here.” “I think with his mentality, his aspirations, I’m sure that he can play in a different league someday.”

Not that Armas is pushing the teen out the door, far from it. “Tyler’s ours,” the assistant coach began, “I hope we keep him for a long time but when it comes time for him to go we would be wishing him well.” “We want,” Armas concluded, “to see him do great things.”

Inevitable rumors of German interest surfaced in South Korea during the U20 World Cup, so how does Adams feel about all this? I asked him if his agent had relayed any offers?

“Nah, Nah” Adams calmly noted. “Just focused on what I’m doing here.” Even Kljestan’s invocation of Kante, who is after all the gold standard at his position, barely ruffled the youngster.

“One of my favorite players,” the Red Bulls defensive midfielder said when I passed along his captain’s remark. “It’s good to be compared to him and if anything I can continue to try to model my game after him.”

“I think he’s a great player and you know no matter your size, he’s fearless.” Fearless. Adams was unaware that Armas had used that same word to describe his own game and even if the 5’8” Adams is taller than the generously listed 5’7” inch Chelsea star, Kante is still a worthy role model.

In 2015 it was Miazga who came back from the U20 World Cup as one of the shiniest items in the shop window, now Adams takes a turn.

Miazga spent last season playing in the Eredivisie, unable to crack the loaded Chelsea squad. That will be another lesson for Adams to absorb, and who knows it may keep the Wappingers Fall, New York native in the Red Bulls midfield for a little while longer.

But for just a little while. So, Red Bulls fans and MLS fans, take it from Armas and enjoy watching Tyler Adams while you can because “Little Kante” is in the shop window and the bidding is sure to begin shortly.

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U.S. WNT Edge Past Norway
U.S. WNT Edge Past Norway avatar

The U.S. WNT wrapped up a quick European tour with a second consecutive 1-0 win on Sunday, this one against Norway after defeating Sweden by the same scoreline on Thursday.

Press scored the one goal of the match. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Christen Press provided the game winner in the 60th minute, scoring on a long ball from Becky Sauerbrunn with the America’s first shot on goal of the game.

With both U.S. opponents on this trip preparing for the Euros the Americans lack of a similar competition was highlighted and on Sunday the home team was the sharper of the two sides.

Coach Jill Ellis had to make a late change when Mallory Pugh injured her ankle while going through her pregame warmups forcing the U.S. coach to insert the Meghan Klingenberg in a midfield role rather than Klingenberg’s usual fullback position.

U.S. Soccer is attempting to bridge the competition gap with the four-team Tournament of Nations in late July and early August.

The U.S. got a late scare when Boston Breakers star Rose Lavelle pulled up with a hamstring injury, hopefully, the young star will be back soon.

July 27, 2017-7 PM PT WNT vs Australia – 2017 Tournament of Nations CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash. ESPN

July 30, 2017-5 PM PT WNT vs Brazil – 2017 Tournament of Nations Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif. ESPN2

August 3, 2017-7 PM PT WNT vs Japan – 2017 Tournament of Nations StubHub Center; Carson, California.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
NOR 0 0 0

USA – Christen Press (Becky Sauerbrunn) 60th minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara (8-Julie Ertz, 83), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), 14-Casey Short, 6-Abby Dahlkemper; 16-Rose Lavelle (10-Carli Lloyd, 86), 20-Allie Long, 3-Samantha Mewis, 7-Meghan Klingenberg (9-Lindsey Horan, 46); 19-Crystal Dunn, 23-Christen Press
Subs not used: 2-Sydney Leroux, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 18-Abby Smith
Not available: 22-Mallory Pugh
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

NOR: 1-Ingrid Hjelmseth; 6-Maren Mjelde (capt.), 11-Nora Holstad Berge, 2-Ingrid Wold, 8-Andrine Hegerberg (3-Maria Thorisdottir, 75), 19-Ingvild Isaksen (13-Guro Reiten, 82), 20-Emilie Haavi (17-Kristine Minde, 59), 28-Ingrid Marie Spord (21-Lisa-Marie Karlseng, 75), 9-Elise Thorsnes, 10-Caroline Hansen, 14-Ada Hegerberg
Subs not used: 7-Kristine Bjørdal Leine, 12-Cecilie Fiskerstrand, 16-Tuva Hansen, 22-Anja Sønstevold, 25-Synne Jensen
Head Coach: Martin Sjögren

Stats Summary: USA / NOR
Shots: 11 / 4
Shots on Goal: 1 / 1

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U.S. Picks Up Huge Point in Draw in Mexico
U.S. Picks Up Huge Point in Draw in Mexico avatar

An adventurous lineup, a competitive spirit and a sixth-minute wonder goal by Michael Bradley sparked a confident performance by the U.S. MNT in a 1-1 draw Sunday night in Mexico City at the once mighty fortress Azteca.

The U.S. had handled Trinidad and Tobago just three nights earlier, claiming all three points in a 2-0 win in Colorado. The quick turnaround meant changes were likely in the U.S. lineup, the surprise was how many, the new formation, and a goalkeeping change.

Guzan was a surprise selection. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

With goalkeeper Brad Guzan the most surprising of seven new faces in the starting lineup, the Americans faced a Mexico side down several players as well. El Tri veteran Rafa Marquez was one of the players unavailable to Juan Carlos Osorio but fullback Carlos Salcedo seemed all too happy to fill Marquez’ villain role, twice elbowing DaMarcus Beasley in the head in the opening minutes while somehow escaping punishment.

Then Bradley intercepted a pass around the midfield stripe and seeing Guillermo Ochoa stray from his line the American captain chipped a wonderful shot over the scrambling keeper from 40 yards to beat Ochoa and spark hopes of a first ever World Cup Qualifier win in Mexico in the U.S. camp.

Arena’s changes began with Guzan in place of Tim Howard and included every line in the team’s new 3-5-2 lineup. Only DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, Christian Pulisic, and Bradley returned from the starting side that topped T&T on Thursday.

Then Bobby Wood, another of Arena’s changes, missed a chance to put the Americans ahead dos a cero only for Mexico to equalize on a brilliant counter attack goal from Carlos Vela in the 23rd minute.

Ultimately, Vela victimized Beasley before beating Guzan with a perfectly placed shot in the 22nd minute. In truth, enough Americans had gotten back to prevent the Mexico leveler but none supported the U.S. vet.

Bradley (L) celebrating his wonder goal. (ISI Photos/David Leah)

Mexico had the better chances in the opening stanza with Beasley and his fellow fullback DeAndre Yedlin under heavy pressure from Mexico’s wide men, with Hirving Lozano giving Yedlin a particularly torrid time.

In a second half Mexico amped up the pressure but with Yedlin’s play dramatically improved and Beasley calling on all of his decades of experience the Yanks were able to withstand the home team onslaught.

Arena’s back three of Cameron, Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream was solid from the start with Cameron making a number of huge interventions in a Man of the Match-worthy performance.

Each team had chances to claim all three points with Mexico’s Hector Herrera’s tremendous 71st-minute free kick rattling Guzan’s crossbar minutes before Bradley missed out on a second golazo when his long-range effort clipped the upright.

Pulisic could have got the winner but could not get his shot on target.(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

The Americans had one last chance to claim the spoils in the 89th minute when Pulisic shook free only to fire a tired looking shot well wide of the mark. Pulisic would soon be replaced by Graham Zusi on what was a frustrating night for the 18-year-old.

But El Tri are not the Soca Warriors and it would have been foolish to expect Pulisic to have his way with Mexico on this stage but then the Hershey, Pennsylvania product has made fools of more than a few in his meteoric rise and if tonight was less than perfect it was still an important step in Pulisic’s development.

In the biggest game of his burgeoning international career, Kellyn Acosta made a strong case for a regular role in this team with an impressive two-way performance in the U.S. midfield.

It was just the third point the U.S. has picked up in World Cup Qualifying play in Mexico, although the Americans have now tied two in a row at Azteca.

The result gives the U.S. eight points, well behind Mexico who top the Hex with 14 points. Costa Rica is also on 8 and with six points Panama can pass the U.S. with a win over Honduras.

With four games left Arena has the American World Cup bid back on track with the U.S. next hosting Costa Rica on September 1 before traveling to Honduras on September 5.

In the last set of Qualifiers, the Americans welcome Panama and then face Trinidad and Tobago away. It is a manageable schedule for Arena’s squad and one that should find the U.S. heading to Russia just about a year from now.

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

USA – Michael Bradley 6th minute
MEX – Carlos Vela (Javier Hernandez) 23

Lineups:
USA: 12-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 20-Geoff Cameron, 14-Tim Ream, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Paul Arriola (15-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 16-Kellyn Acosta, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 10-Christian Pulisic (19-Graham Zusi, 90+2); 9-BobbyWood (17-Jozy Altidore, 79)
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 22-Nick Rimando, 5-Matt Besler, 6-John Brooks, 8-Clint Dempsey, 13-Dax McCarty, 18-Jordan Morris, 21-Matt Hedges, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head coach: Bruce Arena

MEX: 13-Guillermo Ochoa; 3-Carlos Salcedo, 5-Diego Reyes, 15-Héctor Moreno (capt.), 4-Oswaldo Alanís (23-Jesùs Gallardo, 31); 6-Jonathan Dos Santos (18-Orbelín Pineda, 77), 16-Héctor Herrera, 8-Marco Fabián (7-Javier Aquino, 53); 11-Carlos Vela, 14-Javier Hernández, 22-Hirving Lozano
Subs not used: 1-Rodolfo Cota, 12-Alfredo Talavera, 2-Luis Reyes, 9-Raúl Jiménez, 10-Giovani dos Santos, 17-Jürgen Damm, 19-Oribe Peralta, 20-Jesús Dueñas, 21-Jesús Molina
Head coach: Juan Carlos Osorio
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 7 / 10
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 0 / 0
Corner Kicks: 7 / 9
Fouls: 21 / 13
Offside: 2 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 44th minute
USA – Paul Arriola (caution) 56

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U.S. WNT Top Sweden on Lavelle Goal
U.S. WNT Top Sweden on Lavelle Goal avatar

With all eyes on Christian Pulisic and the U.S. MNT, the American women flew a bit under the radar with their 1-0 road victory over Sweden earlier on Thursday.

Lavelle once again shone for the U.S. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Rose Lavelle continued her rise up the depth chart scoring the game’s only goal, the second in just five caps for the 22-year-old.

With the new Tournament of Nation’s coming soon, late July and early August, Jill Ellis’ team is seeking to shake off the lingering stench of March’s SheBelieves flop when the Americans finished last in the U.S. based tournament.

In this friendly Pia Sunhage’s Sweden side did not repeat the defensive tactics that frustrated and defeated the U.S. in the Olympics, prompting the infamous “coward” outburst that seems to have spelled the end of goalkeeper Hope Solo’s U.S career.

With less at stake, this time around Sweden opted for a more open style of play making for a more entertaining match, with each side having moments of ascendancy.

Dunn was able to put in a perfect pass to set up Lavelle (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Ultimately the game came down to one excellent moment between Crystal Dunn and Lavelle. With the Chelsea star in possession, Dunn picked up her head and found Lavelle with a perfect pass. The Boston Breakers star kept her composure before finishing her chance from a tight angle in the 56th minute.

Now the Americans move on from Gothenburg to Sandefjord, Norway where the U.S. WNT will again serve as the opening act to the men, who face arch rivals Mexico Sunday night at the Azteca in Mexico City.

June 11, 2017, 1 PM ET WNT vs Norway: Komplett Arena; Sandefjord, Norway.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

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

USA – Rose Lavelle (Crystal Dunn) 56th minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara (8-Julie Ertz, 84), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 14-Casey Short, 7-Meghan Klingenberg (6-Abby Dahlkemper, 46); 16-Rose Lavelle (15-Megan Rapinoe, 90+2), 20-Allie Long, 3-Sam Mewis, 22-Mallory Pugh; 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) 9-Lindsey Horan, 46), 19-Crystal Dunn (23-Christen Press, 75)
Subs not used: 2-Sydney Leroux, 18-Abby Smith
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

SWE: 12-Hilda Carlén; 15-Jessica Samuelsson, 3-Linda Sembrant, 5-Nilla Fischer (6-Magdalena Eriksson, 75), 2-Joanna Andersson; 9-Kosovare Asllani, 7-Lisa Dahlkvist (11-Stina Blackstenius, 87), 17-Carolina Seger, 22-Olivia Schough 10-Julia Spetsmark, 63); 18-Fridolina Rolfö (20-Mimi Larsson, 46), 8-Lotta Schlein (capt.)
Subs not used: 1-Hedvig Lindahl, 4-Emma Berglund, 14-Hanna Folkesson, 16-Hanna Glas, 19-Pauline Hammarlund, 21-Emelie Lundberg, 24-Josefin Johansson, 25-Petra Andersson
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

Stats Summary: USA / SWE
Shots: 7 / 13
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 10
Fouls: 4 / 14
Offside: 4 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
None

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What Will Bruce do Against El Tri?
What Will Bruce do Against El Tri? avatar

What will Bruce do? That has been the burning question for followers of the U.S. MNT since it became clear that Trinidad and Tobago did not have a late comeback in them Thursday night and the U.S would be heading to Mexico on the back of a 2-0 victory.

Arena may switch his squad for Sunday’s match.(ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Arena hinted that he may be considering some squad rotation for Sunday’s match when he brought up the effects of altitude on the players, saying “the altitude is an issue,” at his post-game press conference.

With a two-goal lead on Thursday Arena pulled Clint Dempsey from the match in favor of FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta, prompting an angry reaction from his veteran striker and inciting speculation that the U.S. may line out in the more defensive 4-2-3-1 formation against El Tri after kicking off versus T&T in a 4-4-2 diamond.

Acosta would be favored to partner Michael Bradley as one of the two deeper midfielders in that system, especially with Geoff Cameron needed at center back against the dangerous Mexico attack.

Some have speculated that Omar Gonzalez, based in Mexico with Pachuca, would get a start. Gonzalez could fill in for Cameron if Arena does opt to move the versatile Stoke man up the pitch or Gonzalez could replace John Brooks, who had a few rough moments on Thursday.

Alejandro Bedoya is a dependable and tireless midfielder that the U.S. coach might choose to start in an effort to blunt the Mexico attack, although the Union man does not provide much going forward and Arena may be inclined to keep the trio of Christian Pulisic, Darlington Nagbe, and Fabian Johnson intact behind a lone striker.

That is if the coach elects to play in that 4-2-3-1 setup.

Dempsey could be on the bench.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

It could leave Arena with the difficult task of telling Dempsey that he is not in the starting 11, and if Deuce was unhappy with being removed on Thursday, he is unlikely to be pleased with sitting from the start against Mexico.

Dempsey’s feelings are hardly Arena’s main concern and the boss said that he and Dempsey spoke and that all was well. Altidore has never liked playing up top on his own while Wood seems a bit better suited to the sometimes thankless task.

If Arena does make this move, and I believe that he should, I look for Altidore to start. The powerful TFC striker is a good passer, the team’s best holdup forward and if Pulisic and Nagbe can provide periodic help in the attack, then I believe that Altidore could thrive in the role.

Mexico has four wins and one tie in five matches to top the Hex and the U.S. has never defeated Mexico in a World Cup Qualifier in Mexico. The Americans did, however, earn a draw there in 2013, perhaps lessening somewhat the Azteca intimidation factor.

The Americans figure to be on the defensive for most of this match and will likely need a counter attack goal if they are to get on the board. A shutout and a goal on the break is no easy task against a talented team like Mexico, but it may be the best chance the US. MNT has for victory, or even a draw on Sunday.

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Pulisic’s Brace Lifts MNT to Victory over Trinidad & Tobago
Pulisic’s Brace Lifts MNT to Victory over Trinidad & Tobago avatar

A pair of second half Christian Pulisic goals roused the U.S. MNT from its lethargy and sparked the Americans to a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago Thursday night in Commerce City, Colorado.

Playing in front of an enthusiastic sellout crowd of 19,188 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park just outside of Denver the Americans came out sluggish in a first half performance reminiscent of Saturday’s opening stanza against Venezuela.

Pulisic continues to shine for the U.S. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

U.S. coach Bruce Arena called out his side for its ponderous ball movement at halftime on Saturday, so it must have been discouraging for the boss to have to repeat that same charge against his players at Thursday’s intermission.

The Americans came back to salvage a 1-1 draw in that friendly versus Venezuela but the stakes were much higher against the Soca Warriors in Thursday’s World Cup Qualifier.

T&T entered the match at the bottom of the Hex (CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers) while the Americans were just one point better in fourth. Never having lost to Trinidad and Tobago in a home WCQ (7-0-1) the U.S. figured to come out flying but that was not to be the case.

With T&T content to sit back and let the favored Americans apply the pressure the Americans tested Soca Warriors keeper Jan-Michael Williams early. Clint Dempsey fired high in the 15th minute before John Brooks and Jozy Altidore were denied by the in-form keeper on back to back efforts in the 33rd minute.

Pulisic celebrates scoring against Trinidad. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

The U.S. were in charge but the home team caught a break in the form of the woodwork when a Kenwyne Jones header crashed off of the crossbar with Tim Howard beaten and central defender Brooks stranded.

It was a bad moment for the Americans and not the only one on the night for the U.S backsmen.

The U.S finally got the badly needed breakthrough when Pulisic finished a good U.S. move started when Darlington Nagbe made a bold run at the T&T defense before laying off to Dempsey. Dempsey found DeAndre Yedlin and fullback delivered a tantalizing ball into the box for Pulisic to slide into the net.

It was a just the tonic for the Americans and 10 minutes later Pulisic both the future of American soccer and the present of the American game struck again. This time Altidore delivered the final ball, springing Pulisic in behind the defense with just Michael Williams to beat. Pulisic did just that, going short side on the T&T goalkeeper to complete his brace, the second of his 15 game U.S. career, giving the Borussia Dortmund man a total of seven international goals in those 15 matches.

That would be all of the scoring and if the night was something less than an artistic success, then a look at the Hexagonal Standings will surely be a beautiful sight to U.S. fans as the Americans rise from the fourth place playoff position into an automatic qualification spot at the halfway point of the CONCACAF WCQ.

Up next for the U.S. is Mexico on Sunday at the fabled Azteca where the U.S. has never won in World Cup qualifying play. The U.S. did pick up a point in Mexico City during the last cycle, a result that would surely satisfy Arena come Sunday.

It may not, however, be enough for Thursday’s hero. Speaking to FOX TV after the match Pulisic said, “it’s going to be a tough one down there, in Mexico especially, but we really want some revenge on them for when they got us earlier this year.”

Pulisic wasn’t done yet, adding, “So we’re really confident going in that game and we’re going to come out with a win there, too.”

USA 2-0 vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Costa Rica 0-0 vs. Panama
Mexico 3-0 vs. Honduras

STANDINGS
POS. TEAM  W D L GD. PTS
1. Mexico       4   1  0   7    13
2. Costa Rica 2  2  1    4    8
3. USA            2   1   2   3    7
4. Panama      1   3  1    1    6
5. Honduras   1   1  3  -8   4
6. T and T       1   0 4  -6    3

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

USA – Christian Pulisic (DeAndre Yedlin) 52nd minute
USA – Christian Pulisic (Jozy Altidore) 62

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 21-Jorge Villafaña; 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 23-Fabian Johnson (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 74), 10-Christian Pulisic, 15-Darlington Nagbe, 8-Clint Dempsey (16-Kellyn Acosta, 61), 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Bobby Wood, 83)
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Tim Ream, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Paul Arriola, 18-Jordan Morris, 19-Graham Zusi
Head coach: Bruce Arena

TRI: 21-Jan-Michael Williams;; 11-Akhenaton Edwards, 4-Sheldon Bateau, 17-Mekeil Williams, 5-Daneil Cyrus; 10-Kevin Molino, 19-Kevan George, 8-Khaleem Hyland (23-Leston Paul, 76), 3-Joevin Jones (12-Shahdon Winchester, 68); 7-Nathan Lewis, 9-Kenwyne Jones (capt.) (20-Jamille Boatswain, 82)
Subs not used: 1-Marvin Phillip, 2-Aubrey David, 6-Radanfah Abu Bakr, 13-Hughtun Hector, 14-Andre Boucaud, 15-Curtis Gonzales, 16-Alvin Jones, 18-Hashim Arcia, 22-Adrian Foncette
Head coach: Dennis Lawrence

Stats Summary: USA / TRI
Shots: 15 / 11
Shots on Goal: 9 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 4 / 5
Fouls: 3 / 4
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
TRI – Leston Paul (caution) 76th minute
USA – Alejandro Bedoya (caution) 85

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U.S. MNT Face Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup Qualifier
U.S. MNT Face Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup Qualifier avatar

When the United States steps on the field Thursday night in Commerce City, Colorado to face Trinidad and Tobago the time for practice and preliminaries will be over as the serious business of World Cup Qualification once again takes center stage.

The U.S. looked far from the finished product in Saturday’s 1-1 friendly draw versus Venezuela conceding a goal after failing to clear a corner kick while not moving the ball decisively enough when in sight of the opposition net.

Arena was not too pleased with his team’s performance agains Venezuela. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

After the game Arena analyzed the goal his side conceded this way, “you mark a guy and you beat him to the ball,” the coach said. “When the ball is cleared and played back in you’ve got to stay with your man, and beat him to the ball.

“It’s simply individual breakdowns. Players have to do better.”

The U.S. performance picked up after Arena made a switch to a 3-5-2 formation after beginning the match in a 4-4-2 diamond. Arena had about a week to work on the new setup with the team but is still expected to trot out the more familiar diamond Thursday night in Commerce City.

Center back John Brooks picked up a leg injury versus Venezuela and while the newly signed Wolfsburg defender hasn’t been officially ruled out by U.S. Soccer, Brooks may well miss out.

With 11 defenders on his expanded roster Arena is not lacking in options with Omar Gonzalez expected to partner Geoff Cameron in front of Tim Howard.

Arena appears to have settled on DeAndre Yedlin and Jorge Villafana as his fullbacks, especially with Fabian Johnson settling in at midfield after shuffling back and forth between fullback and his preferred role further up the pitch.

Arena has also fixed on Michael Bradley as his deepest lying midfielder, part of the new manager’s effort to stop shifting players around from position to position.

Arena believes that there was too much roster uncertainty under his predecessor telling Goal.com, “one of the things that was confusing as I came in and evaluated the rosters was there was just too many players called in for whatever reason from everywhere and no consistency.”

It may be a bit unseemly to criticize the man you replace but Arena wanted to make a point, so he continued, “so I’m trying to get a rhyme and reason here. I’m trying to have a little bit of consistency, and sometimes you’ve just got to make a decision. All things being equal you decide to stick with one guy and you stay with him until he proves otherwise.”

On that note, the rest of Arena’s lineup looks pretty well set with Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, and Christian Pulisic expected to complete the midfield although Arena has a decision to make with his forwards.

Altidore should see playing time against Trinidad. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

With Jozy Altidore a late arrival at camp and therefore unavailable versus Venezuela Bobby Wood and Clint Dempsey started up top for the U.S. Wood ended the Bundesliga campaign battling injury and poor form and that lack of sharpness was apparent versus Venezuela.

I expect Altidore and Dempsey to get the nod from Arena on Thursday night as the U.S., sitting fourth on the Hex, look to secure three valuable points and Dempsey seeks to tie and possibly surpass Landon Donovan for the top spot on the U.S. Men’s international goal scoring list.

U.S. MNT Roster By Position (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 13/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 0/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 35/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (11): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 33/6),Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 11/1), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER; 3/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 20/2), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 3/0), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 14/0), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 0/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 4/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 2/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 17/3)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 2/0),Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 2/1),Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 8/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 33/6), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 15/1), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 5/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 38/18)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 36/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 38/18), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 8/4)

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