All or Nothing – USA vs Belgium
All or Nothing – USA vs Belgium avatar

It’s game day for the United States versus Belgium in Salvador, Brazil, and while the torrential rainfall of Recife is not in the forecast, at a projected 94% humidity is, conditions should be swamp like, if the rain does hold off.

With a place in the World Cup quarterfinals on the line the Americans go against the stingy Belgians today at the Arena Fonte Nova.

Belgium have benefited from their bench in this World Cup. (Getty Images)

Belgium have benefited from their bench in this World Cup. (Getty Images)

While the U.S were surviving the Group of Death, Belgium ran the table in the group stage beating Algeria 2-1, before shutting out Russia and then South Korea, each by a narrow 1-0 score.

Belgium features a host of stars familiar to fans of the world’s game, starting with talented 22 year old goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who beat his parent club Chelsea in the Champions League, while on loan to Atletico Madrid.

Another Chelsea man Eden Hazard is perhaps the most creative player on this young Belgian side. Hazard hasn’t lit it up so far in Brazil, maybe that is why the Belgian attack has been somewhat stagnant.

Coach Marc Wilmots has some injury concerns ahead of this match, but Belgium has the depth to overcome the absences of Thomas Vermaelen, Anthony van Boden, and suspended Steven Defour. Wilmots will have a harder time replacing center back Vincent Kompany if the Manchester City stalwart can’t make it.

The coach says Kompany is 50/50, so you can expect the captain to lead Belgium out later today.

Altidore had looked strong and scored a brace against Nigeria in their friendly in June.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Altidore had looked strong and scored a brace against Nigeria in their friendly in June.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

On the U.S. injury front Jurgen Klinsmann says that injured striker Jozy Altidore will be available. How available, he can’t say.

Klinsmann has a decision to make at center back, between Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez. The more mobile Cameron was given a mental health day after his nightmare against Portugal, and Gonzalez stepped in, and stepped up against Germany.

Klinsmann will decide between the hot hand, Gonzalez, or the player he originally judged as the better fit for his defensive philosophy, which values Cameron’s speed, athleticism and passing ability over Gonzalez’s size and heading ability.

Gonzalez did a good job against Germany. (Getty Images)

Gonzalez did a good job against Germany. (Getty Images)

The rest of the U.S. lineup should be predictable, with Alejandro Bedoya expected to resume his wide midfield role at the expense of Brad Davis.

The earliest goal that Belgium has scored so far in Brazil came in the 70th minute of their first game, from Marouane Fellaini. Recent Round of 16 matches have seen underdogs play well early, without coming up with the goals needed to hurt their more illustrious opponents.

And while the gap between these two teams is hardly equivalent to say, the Germans and Algerians, Belgium are solid favorites.

The best way for the U.S. to attack Belgium would seem to be from wide areas. Like Germany, Belgium’s fullbacks are big men, generally regarded as center backs. Left fullback Jan Vertonghen plays both wide and centrally for Tottenham and Toby Alderweireld plays as a center back for Atletico Madrid.

Fabian Johnson played every minute in all 3 group games. (Getty Images)

Fabian Johnson played every minute in all 3 group games. (Getty Images)

U.S. fullback Fabian Johnson has gotten forward to good effect at times during this World Cup, and while DaMarcus Beasley has been more conservative, the longtime winger still has the speed to stretch a defense.

Wide midfielders Bedoya and Graham Zusi will need to pick up their offensive games as well.

Finally, what about penalty kicks? If the game gets that far, who will have the advantage? Belgium is the youngest team in the World Cup, and only defender Daniel van Buyten has played in the World Cup before(2002). Will that youth and inexperience come back to haunt Belgium?

And who will step up to the spot for the U.S. MNT? You may have heard that Landon Donovan isn’t with the team, he has been the Americans top pk man for years.

Captain Clint Dempsey is a likely choice, although Deuce hasn’t always been at his best from the charity stripe. Jozy Altidore would step up if he is on the field, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones are likely suspects, as well.

Coming into the Brazil 2014 the young Belgian side were everyone’s favorite dark horse, with the U.S. expected to struggle to escape the opening round. The Americans passed that first teat. Now they will have to beat Belgium. Can the U.S. do it?

The GotSoccer pick is for a nail biting, heart racing 2-1 United States win in regular time.

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Germany Leave it Late
Germany Leave it Late avatar

Heartbreak has been the order of the day for the non-traditional soccer powers in the Round of 16 here in Brazil. Chile, Mexico and,  Nigeria earlier today against France, put a scare into countries with bigger reputations.

Then in Monday’s late match Algeria gave Germany a real run for their money, taking mighty Germany to extra time, 90 minutes at 0-0.

Andre Schurrle was another super sub at the World Cup. (Getty Images)

Andre Schurrle was another super sub at the World Cup. (Getty Images)

Algeria were every bit Germany’s equal in those 90 minutes, and if not for some aggressive goalkeeping from Manuel Neuer the Desert Foxes may have taken the lead several times.

Neuer brought new meaning to the term sweeper-keeper, racing from his box almost 20 times to break up surging runs from Algeria’s pacey attackers Sofiane Feghouli, and Islam Slimani.

Germany were playing at a much slower speed than usual, and Joachim Löw’s lineup featuring Philip Lahm at midfield instead of fullback, wasn’t clicking. It may sound cold, but it worked in Germany’s favor when fullback Shkodran Mustafi went off injured.

Löw had to turn to Sami Khedira, meaning Lahm had to go back to fullback.

Still no one could make a breakthrough until extra time. Germany got the goal from half time sub Andre Schurrle in the 92nd minute.

Algeria put in a fine performance but their final ball let them down. (Getty Images)

Algeria put in a fine performance but their final ball let them down. (Getty Images)

The underdogs had a mountain to climb now, and as time went on Algeria tired visibly. With Germany peppering his goal Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi was outstanding, but eventually, in the 119th minute Mesut Ozil added a second goal for the favorites.

Slimani got one back less than a minute later, but Algeria’s brave challenge fell short, sending Germany on to the quarterfinals.

France also left it late Monday afternoon, but in the end Les Blues beat Nigeria 2-0 to advance to a quarterfinal showdown against Germany on July 4.

That 2-0 scoreline greatly flatters the French, who were outplayed by the Super Eagles for considerable stretches of this entertaining match.

Both teams came out determined to attack, with each side creating numerous chances. Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and French custodian Hugo Lloris took turns frustrating the opposition in a game that seemed destined for goals.

Surprisingly we would have to wait until the 79th minute for that goal to finally come, with Paul Pogba the scorer for France. 21 year old Pogba became the youngest goalscorer in a World Cup for France since Thierry Henry, also 21 at the time, scored in a 3-0 French victory over South Africa at France 1998.

Paul Pogba of France scores his team's first goal. (Getty Images)

Paul Pogba of France scores his team’s first goal. (Getty Images)

The goal that eventually put Nigeria on the ropes came from a corner kick, but it was Nigeria’s inability to make something of the numerous corner kicks that went their way that kept the game level at 0-0 until Pogba opened the scoring.

The French turnaround roughly coincided with the introduction of Antoine Griezmann for Olivier Giraud in the 62nd minute. The change allowed Karim Benzema to move to the center of a three man front line after playing out wide.

Benzema was ineffective in the first half where he played on the left wing. (Getty Images)

Benzema was ineffective in the first half where he played on the left wing. (Getty Images)

Griezmann better fills the role of the absent Franck Ribery, who missed the Cup through injury, and Benzema is better suited to the central role.

Nigeria were hoping to qualify for their first ever World Cup quarters, and for much of the afternoon the raucous pro-Nigeria crowd in Brasilia had to be feeling pretty good about their chances.

But then Enyeama’s weak swat at a French corner kick which Pogba took full advantage of and headed it home to give Les Blues the lead, from there it was all France and Joseph Yobo’s late own goal sealed it. It was harsh on the Nigerian keeper who had been so good up until this point, not just today, but throughout the World Cup.

For France this World Cup has been all about wiping out the stench of South Africa 2010, and restoring pride in Les Blues.

The project went very well in the first two games, a 3-0 win over Honduras and a 5-2 pasting of Switzerland. A 0-0 draw with Ecuador was less impressive in their final group game, now France will try to recapture the magic of those first two matches next Friday against old rivals Germany.

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NWSL Round Up Week 12: Portland Thorns Fall with Double Loss
NWSL Round Up Week 12: Portland Thorns Fall with Double Loss avatar

FC Kansas City and Sky Blue FC Upset Portland Thorns

The Blues have been slowly rising in the ranks over the past few weeks, adding another win Saturday at Durwood Stadium in Kansas City, MO 1-0 over the Portland Thorns.

Lauren Holiday once again was the hero for Kansas. (ISI  Photos/Tony Quinn)

Lauren Holiday once again was the hero for Kansas. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Forward Lauren Holiday netted the winning goal in the 41st minute, with defense managing to keep that lead throughout the second half, despite multiple shots from the likes of Alex Morgan. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made three crucial saves, adding a clean sheet to her growing list of achievements this season.

The end-of-the-week loss was a disheartening blow for the Thorns, who also lost to Sky Blue FC 2-1 earlier on Wednesday in front of 10,477 Portland fans at Providence Park.

Sky Blue got on the board early in the 8th minute when Katy Freels chipped a long ball over Portland goalkeeper Nadine Angerer’s head and into the net, but forward Christine Sinclair was able to equalize in the 54th minute to keep the suspense going strong.

Despite a dominating Thorns attack, ultimately outshooting Sky Blue 18-3, Lindsi Cutshall was able to break past the Thorns back line in the 65th minute and score the final goal to seal the deal for Sky Blue.

The early week win was a definite confidence booster for Sky Blue, and they went on to play No. 1 Seattle Reign FC on Saturday at home on Moda Pitch in Seattle, drawing 0-0. With the results, Portland is tied for 4th place with WNY Flash and Chicago Red Stars with 20 points each, while Sky Blue nips at their heels in 7th place with 16.

Breakers Ousted by Flash; Spirit Clinch Win Over Houston Dash

WNY Flash earned a close 2-1 win over the Boston Breakers on Friday in Rochester, NY, moving up to tie for 4th place with 20 points- a huge leap from 6th place.

The first half went scoreless as both sides battled with the Flash outshooting Boston 8-5. They picked up the momentum considerably in the second half while Boston fell behind in performance- holding possession and outshooting 14-3.

Lloyd (L) got the two goals to earn her team the victory. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Lloyd (L) got the two goals to earn her team the victory. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

The dangerous attack was led by none other than U.S. National Carli Lloyd, who scored the brace that ushered in the 2-1 victory.  She opened scoring in the 59th minute off a perfectly placed cross from Brittany Taylor, heading the ball in for her fifth goal of the season.

Nkem Ezurike equalized for Boston in the 71st minute, putting fans at the edge of their seats, but Lloyd added her second goal in the 83rd, upsetting the Breakers in the final minutes of regulation.

No. 3 Washington Spirit also bagged a close 1-0 victory over Houston Dash Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX.

With muggy, humid weather thwarting both sides physically, shots were 9 for 9 throughout regulation, and no goals were scored in the first half.

English forward Jodie Taylor was once again the scorer Washington to earn them victory over Chicago. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

English forward Jodie Taylor was once again the scorer Washington to earn them victory over Houston. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Jodie Taylor and Diana Matheson stepped up for Washington, breaking the scoreless deadlock in the 62nd minute. Taylor got the ball from Matheson and lobbed the ball past Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod to nab her 7th goal of the season and put Washington in the winner’s seat for the day.

NWSL Pts GP W L T GF GA GD
1. Seattle Reign FC 36 14 11 0 3 29 10 19
2. FC Kansas City 30 16 9 4 3 25 17 8
3. Washington Spirit 22 15 7 7 1 23 30 -7
4. Western New York Flash 20 15 6 7 2 25 19 6
5. Chicago Red Stars 20 14 6 6 2 18 15 3
6. Portland Thorns FC 20 14 6 6 2 19 19 0
7. Sky Blue FC 16 16 3 6 7 16 25 -9
8. Houston Dash 13 14 4 9 1 16 24 -8
9. Boston Breakers 10 14 3 10 1 17 29 -12

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dutch fightback stuns Mexico
Dutch fightback stuns Mexico avatar

Both of Sunday’s games ended in dramatic fashion, with CONCACAF taking center stage. For Mexico, it was a late surge by the Netherlands that eliminated the Mexicans 2-1, while Costa Rica advanced to the World Cup semifinals when they beat Greece on penalty kicks.

Dos Santos (L) has had a pretty good tournament and exited the World Cup with a wonderful strike. (Getty Images)

Dos Santos (L) has had a pretty good tournament and exited the World Cup with a wonderful strike. (Getty Images)

Mexico held a 1-0 lead until the 88th minute of Sunday’s Round of 16 match against the Netherlands, before goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar ended El Tri’s World Cup in the cruelest of fashions.

Giovani Dos Santos had given Mexico the lead in the 48th minute with a wonderful goal after he controlled well, and blasted from long range.

Mexico had dominated the first half, but El Tri had gotten away with a clear foul on Robben in the dying moments of the first half, when Arjen Robben was tripped in the box.

Robben was at times, the Netherlands lone attacking option, as his teammates stood and watched the tricky Bayern Munich winger dance around the Mexican defense.

Time and again Robben ran at the Mexican defense, almost always cutting in to his left. The Mexican defenders converged, just about keeping Robben in check.

Mexico retreated deeper and deeper as the game continued, looking to play out the clock on a brutally hot day at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Robben's fall in the box was a tad dramatic. (Getty Images)

Robben’s fall in the box was a tad dramatic but there was contact. (Getty Images)

It was not surprising that the  Netherlands breakthrough came from a corner kick, Mexico has continuily struggled with defending set pieces in this World Cup.

Robben’s high corner was headed back toward the top of the 18 yard box by Huntelaar who had replaced the ineffective Robin Van Persie in the 76th minute, where Sneijder pounced. Sneijder had been quiet all day, but he took this one chance and blasted his shot past a helpless Meme Ochoa in the Mexican net.

Ochoa had been called on to make a couple of big saves for Mexico, continuing a stellar World Cup for the keeper, highlighted by his Man of the Match performance against Brazil.

But Ochoa could do nothing with Sneijder’s shot, and minutes later the keeper was similarly helpless to stop Huntelaar’s penalty kick.

Mexico were unhappy with the referee’s call, but replays showed that although Robben’s fall was typically dramatic, there was no doubt that Mexican captain Rafael Marquez stepped on Robben’s foot.

Huntelaar was another wonder sub in this world cup to score and win the game for his team. (Getty Images)

Huntelaar was another wonder sub in this world cup to score and win the game for his team. (Getty Images)

Huntelaar confidently put his penalty kick away and Mexico were done. This will be a tough loss for Mexico to swallow, victory was within their grasp, but they fell once again in the Round of 16.

And so the Netherlands, the 2010 World Cup runners up  move on instead to face Costa Rica in the quarterfinals. The Oranje weren’t great today, but they got the job done, and isn’t that what knockout play is all about.

Costa Rica continue to be the Cinderella of Brazil 2014, and today it looked as if the clock was just about to strike midnight.

Bryan Ruiz scores the opening goal of the match. (Getty Images)

Bryan Ruiz scores the opening goal of the match. (Getty Images)

After a nervous first half that saw both teams booed off of the pitch for their uninspired play, the game picked up when Costa Rica broke the deadlock with a fine goal from Bryan Ruiz.

The match immediately perked up, and then the match took another turn when Costa Rica went a man down after Oscar Duarte picked up a second yellow card in the 66th minute. Greece were a man up now, and they pressed their advantage by dominating possession.

But true to form the Greeks had a lot of trouble when it came to actually putting the ball in the net. Partly because of a lack of scoring prowess, and partly because of Costa Rica’s top flight keeper Keylor Navas.

But Greece kept working, and the goal did come. They had to wait until the 91st minute, but Greece scratched out the equalizer. Center back Sokratis Papastathopoulos followed up a rebound from a Theo Gekas shot, and Costa Rica looked set to follow CONCACAF rivals Mexico out of the World Cup.

Costa Rica players celebrate the win after the penalty shoot out. (Getty Images)

Costa Rica players celebrate the win after the penalty shoot out. (Getty Images)

Costa Rica looked increasingly spent as the game went on, and it seemed as if Greece had to win this game in extra time. But Costa Rica held on, and made it to penalty kicks. Costa Rica went first and scored. They set a pattern as the first seven players hit the target.

Then Navas saved the day, getting his left hand to a decent strike from Kostas Mitroglou and Costa Rica had the opening they needed.

Michael Umana stepped up with the game on the line and fired Costa Rica into the World Cup quarterfinals against the Netherlands on July 5th.

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Rodriguez Double sets up Brazil Showdown
Rodriguez Double sets up Brazil Showdown avatar

It was South America Day at the World Cup today, a day that saw Chile take the home nation to penalty kicks, before Neymar saved Brazil’s blushes.

Chile were a team that many thought could give Brazil some problems and that turned out to be the case in this evenly played match.

David Luiz got credited with the goal but it looked like a Chile og)

David Luiz got credited with the goal but it looked like a Chile og(Getty Images)

Brazil got on the scoreboard first, with center back David Luiz credited with the goal, although the ball looked to have been deflected into the Chile goal by Gonzalo Jaro for an o.g.

Chile came back, pressuring a Marcelo throw-in and dispossessing Hulk, leading to an Alexis Sanchez goal in the 32nd minute.

Both Julio Cesar in the Brazilian net and Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo came up big throughout the day. Bravo in particular shone in the late stages of regulation as Brazil was pushing for a winner.

Sanchez (L) got the equalizer for Chile. (Getty Images)

Sanchez (L) got the equalizer for Chile. (Getty Images)

Cesar came up huge to save the first two penalty kicks from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez, putting Chile in trouble.

Pinilla had almost won the game for Chile when he fired a rasper off the crossbar in the closing moments of the second extra time period. Brazil had a Hulk goal overturned by referee Howard Webb, who correctly ruled that the powerful Brazilian had controlled the ball with his arm. The home team still might have won this match in regular time if not for Bravo’s heroics and the poor shooting of Brazil’s striker’s. Both starter Fred and his replacement Jo missed good chances.

Neymar was very quiet for most of the game but did take an excellent penalty.(ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Neymar was very quiet for most of the game but did take an excellent penalty.(ISI Photos/Kieran McManus)

Brazil’s Golden Boy Neymar, scored what proved to be the decisive penalty, when Jara blasted his penalty try off of the post, eliminating Chile and sending Brazil on to a mouth watering quarterfinal matchup against James Rodriguez and Colombia.

Rodriguez has been perhaps the breakout star of this World Cup, on Saturday JRod scored twice in Colombia’s 2-0 win over Uruguay, and his first goal might have been the goal of Brazil 2014.

Colombia once again put in a great team performance and Rodriguez was their star..(Getty Images)

Colombia once again put in a great team performance and Rodriguez was their star..(Getty Images)

Luis Suarez, absent from the Uruguay team, was the story of the day when this game began, afterwards all anybody wanted to talk about was Rodriguez, the 22 year old AS Monaco midfielder, and the remarkable goal that he volleyed into the Uruguayan net in the 28th minute.

Without Suarez, Uruguay were poor in their first World Cup game, a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, and on Saturday without the disgraced striker Uruguay were outplayed by this exciting young Colombian team.

La Celeste are following their shamed genius home but not in quite the fashion we imagined. Colombia skip on to the next, and so far greatest, challenge of their young lives.

 

 

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Belgium to face U.S. in Final 16
Belgium to face U.S. in Final 16 avatar

Despite going a man down because of a red card served to Steven Defour in first half injury time Belgium beat South Korea 1-0 to top Group H and set up a Round of 16 matchup Tuesday afternoon with the United States.

Jan Vertonghe (L) scored the winner for Belgium for them to top the group with 9 points. (ISI Pohots/Rick Osentoski)

Jan Vertonghe (L) scored the winner for Belgium for them to top the group with 9 points. (ISI Pohots/Rick Osentoski)

Algeria came back from a first half deficit to become the second Group H team to advance, and the Desert Foxes will play Germany on Monday June 30, at 4:00 Eastern Time.

South Korea were unable to make use of the man advantage, instead surrendering a 77th minute goal to Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen that all but sealed their fate.

Algeria had a two point advantage on Russia and South Korea entering the days matches, and knew a draw would see them through. The Desert Foxes were in trouble early when Aleksandr Kokorin tallied in the sixth minute to put Russia ahead.

Algeria put in a real team performance and made history by advancing to final 16 for the first time. (Getty Images)

Algeria put in a real team performance and made history by advancing to final 16 for the first time. (Getty Images)

Algeria’s hero was Islam Slimani who shot Algeria into the final 16 on a close in header set up by Yacine Brahimi’s cross on the hour mark.

Algeria will have a chance serve some revenge on Germany, and if they are able to upset the favorites, this revenge will indeed be served cold.

Algeria’s grudge goes all the way back to the 1982 World Cup in Spain when the Foxes were the victims in one of the “beautiful games” ugliest incidents. In the match between West Germany and Austria, West Germany scored an early goal after which neither team made much of an effort to score another. West Germany won the match 1-0 would, allowing both teams to advance and eliminating Algeria.

Now 32 years later Algeria will have a chance exact their revenge for a game that became known as “The Non-Aggression Pact of Gijon.”

Group G

 
Position Team Played GoalDifference Points
1 Germany 3 5 7
2 USA 3 0 4
3 Portugal 3 -3 4
4 Ghana 3 -2 1

Group H

 
Position Team Played GoalDifference Points
1 Belgium 3 3 9
2 Algeria 3 1 4
3 Russia 3 -1 2
4 South Korea 3 -3 1
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U.S. Advance from Group of Death to reach Final 16
U.S. Advance from Group of Death to reach Final 16 avatar

The United States advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup despite losing 1-0 to Germany in rain soaked Recife, Thursday afternoon.

Recife was waterlogged and many fans were late arriving at the game. (Getty Images)

Recife was waterlogged and many fans were late arriving at the game. (Getty Images)

With the streets of the Brazilian city awash in waist deep flood waters, somehow the field at Arena Pernambuco was kept in reasonable shape.

U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann made two changes to the side that tied with Portugal on Sunday, one worked and the other did not. Omar Gonzalez replaced Geoff Cameron, whose error gifted Portugal an early 1-0 lead, while Alejandro Bedoya gave way at left midfield for Brad Davis.

Gonzalez (L) took time to settle and in the end put in a solid performance. (Getty Images)

Gonzalez (L) took time to settle and in the end put in a solid performance. (Getty Images)

After getting away with an early gaffe that could have been trouble for the U.S., Gonzalez settled down to play an excellent game. Davis, though, looked out of his depth defensively and was unable to deliver one of the crosses, or set pieces, that are his reason for being on this roster.

Despite the excellent drainage the field did play heavy and the ball travelled slowly across the sodden pitch. Germany were the much brighter team from the beginning, essentially playing keep away for most of the first 20 minutes.

Howard(Getty Images)

Howard once again was up for the task.(Getty Images)

Tim Howard was alert and sure handed despite the wet ball, and he had to be. The American defense was allowing itself to be backed into its own 18 yard box, as the Germans passed the ball around with little resistance.

The U.S. finally earned a crust of possession after 19 minutes resulting in a DaMarcus Beasley shot, but the ball was well off target. Graham Zusi came closer in the 22nd minute, and after a good series of passes, the wingers shot carried just high.

The United States came into the match knowing that if they could earn even a draw against the Germans, passage to the knockout rounds would be assured. So when the short whistle blew and the rain soaked Yanks retreated to the dry warmth of their dressing room, they had to be relieved.

Portugal were leading Ghana at the half too, and if those results stood the Americans knew that they would advance. Klinsmann stayed with his 11 on the restart, but the pattern of the game was unchanged with Germany continuing to dominate play.

Germany finally broke through, as it seemed they must, with Thomas Muller the goal scorer. The sequence began when Michael Bradley committed a foolish foul in the 53rd minute. It was another poor play from Bradley, who has mysteriously failed to provide what his team has expected and needed from him in this World Cup. Following the free kick Germany won a corner. Howard saved from Per Meterserker’s header, but the long rebound fell to Muller, who rarely misses the target in World Cup play.

After the Portugal match Klinsmann complained that FIFA had set things up to the advantage of the “big” teams, like Germany. Klinsmann cited the amount of miles the U.S, had to travel, and was unhappy that his team played on Saturday, in the Amazon, giving Germany an extra day of rest.

The U.S. struggled to keep possession and created few scoring opportunities. (Getty Images)

The U.S. struggled to keep possession and created few scoring opportunities on a very wet afternoon. (Getty Images)

The coach backed off of those charges after this game, but his team did look heavy legged, as the Americans became the fifth team to lose their next match after playing in Manaus. No team has won after Manaus.

Klinsmann eventually went to the bench and had Bedoya replace Davis, undoing his pre-match switch. Bedoya added some freshness and had a late shot spectacularly blocked by Lahm, when it looked like the Nantes man was about to tie the match.

Bedoya was also involved in a nasty head to head collision with teammate Jermaine Jones that caused the game to be held up in the 74th minute. Both men continued, and appeared to be fine, but it was a scary moment for the Yanks.

Scary, primarily because the U.S. cannot afford to lose Jones, who has been the most consistently good American player in this tournament.

The Americans did just about enough to keep the Germans from adding a second goal, and with word that Ghana has tied Portugal 1-1, a second German goal could have sent the U.S. home.

Howard remained sharp and he received solid protection with Besler, Gonzalez and Beasley leading the defense. The Yanks made a late rush, with sub DeAndre Yedlin providing the impetus for the second match in a row.

Ronaldo's Portugal won against Ghana but it was too little too late.(Getty Images)

Ronaldo’s Portugal won against Ghana but it was too little too late.(Getty Images)

Word arrived late to Recife that Cristiano Ronaldo had done the U.S. a good turn by doubling Portugal’s lead, and when the final whistle came a relieved U.S. MNT knew that they had done enough.

Next up for the Americans is a Tuesday afternoon date with the Group H winner, likely Belgium, at 4:00 in the Arena Fonte Nova, in Salvador. The U.S. will have four days to recuperate from the grueling group stages, and will hope that Jozy Altidore can heal up enough to provide Clint Dempsey with some help up front.

With today’s results Germany qualify at the top of Group G with 7 points and the U.S. finish second with 4 points, the same as Portugal. The U.S. advance thanks to a superior goal difference to Portugal. Ghana finish last with 1 point.

Group G

 
Position Team Played GoalDifference Points
1 Germany 3 5 7
2 USA 3 0 4
3 Portugal 3 -3 4
4 Ghana 3 -2 1
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6th Annual Utah Youth Soccer Golf Tournament
6th Annual Utah Youth Soccer Golf Tournament avatar

Courtesy of UYSA

Courtesy of UYSA

For more information, please visit the UYSA website.

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Suarez handed record ban for biting Chiellini
Suarez handed record ban for biting Chiellini avatar

The 2014 World Cup is over for Luis Suarez with FIFA announcing that it has suspended the three time offender for his attack on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win in Natal on Tuesday.

Suarez and the Uruguay FA have the audacity to claim that it was no big deal. (Getty Images)

Suarez and the Uruguay FA have the audacity to claim that it was no big deal. (Getty Images)

This is the third biting offence for Suarez, FIFA could also have considered the rest of Suarez’s rap sheet, which includes a red card for a deliberate handball in the 2010 World Cup, and most infamously his racial abuse of Patrice Evra.

Under the ban Suarez will miss nine official international matches, beginning with the remainder of Uruguay’s World Cup games in Brazil, the first being the team’s Round of 16 tilt against Colombia on Saturday.

The ban is the biggest in World Cup history, beating the eight games given to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for elbowing Spain’s Luis Enrique in 1994.

“Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and, in particular, not at a Fifa World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field,” Claudio Sulser, chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee, said in a statement.

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce added: “I think the punishment handed out to Luis Suarez is fully justified. Hopefully he will have learnt that this type of behaviour cannot be tolerated.”

The Liverpool striker cannot take part in any kind of soccer related related activity for four months, and may not darken the door of any stadium while the ban is in effect.

Suarez has also been fined 100,000 Swiss Francs ($111.000).

Uruguay FA have confirmed that they will lodge an appeal against the decision, calling it an “excessive decision” for which “there was not enough evidence”.

Uruguay Football Association president Wilmar Valdez added: “I have seen more aggressive incidents recently.

“It is a severe punishment. I don’t know exactly which arguments they used but it is a tough punishment for Suarez.”

Luis Suarez is a huge talent but obviously has some very serious issues. (Getty Images)

Luis Suarez is a huge talent but obviously has some very serious issues. (Getty Images)

Given Suarez’s outsized influence on the Uruguayan team as well as the fine form displayed by Colombia, it seems likely that Uruguay will be headed out of the World Cup as soon as Saturday. Any hopes that Uruguay may have held of replicating their World Cup Championship from 1950, when the Copa was last held in Brazil, would similarly seem to be doomed.

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Ghana Send Home Boateng and Muntari
Ghana Send Home Boateng and Muntari avatar

Just hours before taking on Portugal in a crucial World Cup match Ghana have sent home two of their top players, midfielders Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

The Ghana Football Association released a separate statement regarding each player on their website. First on Muntari.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has suspended Sulley Ali Muntari indefinitely from the Black Stars with immediate effect.

The decision was taken in the wake of his unprovoked physical attack on an Executive Committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars, Mr. Moses Armah on Tuesday 24th June, 2014 during a meeting.

Muntari was accused of attacking a member of staff. (Getty Images)

Muntari was accused of attacking a member of staff. (Getty Images)

Muntari’s accreditation for the 2014 World Cup has been withdrawn with immediate effect.

The GFA released a similar statement regarding Boateng.

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has approved coach Kwesi Appiah’s decision to suspend Kevin-Prince Boateng indefinitely from the Black Stars.

The decision takes immediate effect.

The decision was taken following Boateng’s vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah during the team’s training session in Maceio this week.

Boateng has since showed no remorse for his actions which has resulted in the decision.

Boateng’s accreditation for the 2014 World Cup has been withdrawn with immediate effect.

Boateng was suspended for vulgar abusive language. (Getty Images)

Boateng was suspended for vulgar abusive language. (Getty Images)

The suspensions add to the turmoil swirling  around the Black Stars, who need no less than a win against Portugal if they are to have any hope of advancing to knockout rounds of the World Cup.

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama was forced to intervene to ensure that the players would receive promised payments. The President took the dramatic step of sending an airplane containing up to $3 million in cash for the Ghanaian players, who were said to be considering boycotting the Portugal match.

Ghana midfielder Christian Atsu denied that a boycott was ever on the table. “We are not going to say we are not going to play because of the money,” Atsu said. “We love our nation and we are going to play for our nation.”

Each of the Black Stars is said to have between $75,000 and $100,000 coming their way, and Atsu was asked what they would do with all that cash.“I think we will keep it in our bags and we’ll just lock them,” he said. “And we will transfer the money to our accounts.”

With Ghana in apparent disarray, Portugal’s problems are easy to overlook, but the European side have worries of their own coming into this crucial encounter. Listen to what the team’s superstar Cristiano Ronaldo had to say after his last second assist against the U.S. in Manaus kept Portugal alive in the Cup.

Portugal have struggled to find form in this tournament . (Getty Images)

Portugal have struggled to find form in this tournament . (Getty Images)

“We’re probably just an average team. I’d be lying if I said we were a top team,” Ronaldo conceded. “Portugal was never a favorite. I honestly never thought I would be World Cup champion.”

The Ballon d’Or winner continued, “we have to be humble and know what we’re capable of,” he said. Commenting on his own play Ronaldo, who has struggled with a knee problem admitted, “recently I haven’t been how I had hoped,” he said.

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Messi Shares the Spotlight
Messi Shares the Spotlight avatar

Groups E and F wrapped up today with France and Switzerland moving on to the knockout rounds from Group E while Argentina and Nigeria advanced from F.

Antonio Valencia was shown a straight red for this challenge. (Getty Images)

Antonio Valencia was shown a straight red for this challenge. (Getty Images)

A scoreless draw with France wasn’t good enough for Ecuador, who shot themselves in the foot when team captain Antonio Valencia drew a straight red card in the 50th minute for a hard foul.

Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez kept his country’s hopes alive with a series of strong saves when France’s attackers weren’t doing the job for him with their terrible shooting.

Xherdan Shaqiri (L) scored a hat-trick to guarantee Switzerland a place in the Final 16. (Getty Images)

Xherdan Shaqiri (L) scored a hat-trick to guarantee Switzerland a place in the Final 16. (Getty Images)

Ecuador needed to outperform Switzerland to advance, but the Swiss weren’t cooperating, in particular Xherdan Shaqiri, whose hat trick heroics against Honduras accounted for all of the games goals.

Honduras bowed out of the World Cup with zero points, while Switzerland moved on to face Argentina on July 1.

Messi goals once again baled them out but Argentina definitely looked vulnerable at the back. (Getty Images)

Messi goals once again baled them out but Argentina definitely looked vulnerable at the back. (Getty Images)

In a 3-2 win Argentina got a brace from Lionel Messi, who opened the scoring after only three minutes. Messi rebounded Angel Di Maria’s shot, for the opener, but Nigeria came right back with a goal just a minute later.

Ahmed Musa got the score and he would match Messi with a brace of his own. With the match even at 2-2, an unlikely goal scorer, and an unlikely goal broke the deadlock.

Defender Marcos Rios scored off a corner that hit off of his knee to beat the flummoxed Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Enyeama had a fine game, but their was no way he could have predicted the flight of Argentina’s winning goal.

The result gave Argentina the top spot in Group F, with second place Nigeria moving on to face France on June 30th. the other Group F match was Iran versus already eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina. Iran had a slim chance of advancing, but first time World Cup participants Bosnia-Herzegovina ended those hopes beating Iran 3-1.

Ahmed Musa was the star for Nigeria and helped make it out of the group stages.(Getty Images)

Ahmed Musa was the star for Nigeria and helped make it out of the group stages.(Getty Images)

The Group stages end tomorrow with Groups G and H in the spotlight. G are on at noon, and of course that means U.S vs Germany, and Portugal vs France.

Belgium top the group with six points and are assured of advancing, they play South Korea (one point). Algeria sit second in the group with 3 points and they will face Russia (one point).

Group E

 
Position Team Played GoalDifference Points
1 France 3 6 7
2 Switzerland 3 1 6
3 Ecuodor 3 0 4
4 Honduros 3 -7 0

Group F

 
Position Team Played GoalDifference Points
1 Argentina 3 3 9
2 Nigeria 3 0 4
3 Bos-Herce 3 0 3
4 Iran 3 -3 1
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U.S. Face Germany With World Cup Survival on the Line
U.S. Face Germany With World Cup Survival on the Line avatar

It may seem like old home week for Jurgen Klinsmann and the five German-American players on the U.S. team this Thursday when the U.S and Germany meet in their final Group G match, but there’s too much at stake for any glad-handing.

Klinsmann and Löw have a long history and friendship. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Klinsmann and Löw have a long history and friendship. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

With a draw sending both teams through, and considering the close relationship between Klinsmann and his former assistant, German coach Joachim Löw, some have asked if the two teams might cooperate to produce a tie, a possibility that Klinsmann rejected out of hand.

Klinsmann has said that his team will be playing for a win, and Löw’s team will be expected to do the same. Still, if the match is tied with time running down, it is not hard to envision both teams easing off the gas.

The Americans will be without Jozy Altidore again, and following a quick turnaround after the Portugal heartbreaker, Klinsmann may tweak his lineup. After Sunday’s game the U.S. coach complained that FIFA had set things up to suit the big teams, noting that Germany would have an extra day to rest before this match.

With the main training camp being based in Sao Paolo it has meant more travelling for the team. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

With the main training camp being based in Sao Paolo it has meant more travelling for the team. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

The U.S. has in fact travelled more than any other team at this World Cup, but it was Klinsmann’s decision to quarter his team in Sao Paulo, a decision he stuck with even after the draw determined where the U.S. would be playing its group games.

Germany appear to be healthy with the possible exception of defender Jerome Boateng. Normally a center back, Boateng has been a starter at right fullback in both of Germany’s games, but the Bayern Munich man had to be pulled at halftime of Germany’s 2-2 draw versus Ghana with a hip injury.

Boateng was replaced by a more traditional fullback, although Shkodran Mustafi did not receive raves for his performance.

The Germans are still one of the front runners for the trophy. (Getty Images)

The Germans are still one of the front runners for the trophy. (Getty Images)

Löw’s lineup choices have been called into question by some in the German media, particularly following the Ghana match. Germany has started a back line made up four central defenders in each game. Remember how well that worked for Diego Maradona in 2006?

In addition to Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker, who have filled the center back roles, Löw has started Boateng and Benedikt Lowndes, both center backs for their clubs, as his fullbacks.

This, while using Philipp Lahm as a defensive midfielder. That has been Lahm’s position this past season under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, but Lahm has been one of the best fullbacks in the world for several years and with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger in reserve, Germany has cover in midfield.

Löw courted controversy when he brought just one true striker with the team to Brazil, even if that striker was Miroslav Klose. Klose was not needed as Germany cruised past Portugal 4-0, but the veteran bailed Löw out in the Ghana match when he tied the game at 2-2, just minutes after subbing in. With his goal Klose tied Ronaldo, the original, for the record with 15 World Cup goals.

Germany will still be heavy favorites against the U.S., but the idea of the Americans earning a point versus Germany is not quite as outrageous today as it was a week ago.

(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Altidore was a big loss for the Americans.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Health and freshness will play a role in Klinsmann’s first 11 on Thursday. We know Altidore is out, but Klinsmann has said that Matt Besler is ready to go. There has been no word on Clint Dempsey, who left the Ghana match limping slightly, so we must assume that the U.S. captain is good to go.

So, with a place in the knockout rounds at stake, and all his players presumably healthy, we can expect Klinsmann to pick essentially the same team that started against Portugal. One possible change could be to sit Alejandro Bedoya. The midfielder’s hard work helped to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in check, Bedoya had been subbed out before the late goal, but the Nantes attacker contributed little going forward.

Brad Davis would be the likely replacement, unless Klinsmann turns to the more creative Mix Diskerud. Neither player has seen any time so far. If Klinsmann wants to roll the dice, might he start DeAndre Yedlin at the right midfield spot that he threw the youngster into against Portugal?

With that in mind, let’s look at how the U.S. can qualify for the Round of 16.

First the easy route, Win or tie on Thursday. No, neither of those results will be easy to accomplish versus the Germans, especially with Die Mannschaft still expected to be smarting from Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Ghana.

Jones will need to put in a big performance against the Germans.  (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jones will need to put in a big performance against the Germans. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Easy, mathematically. If the U.S. MNT can beat or tie Germany, then the Americans will advance, simple right? But what if the U.S. lose the game on Thursday?

That’s when goal difference enters the picture, and the math gets a little more involved. In this scenario Germany would go through at the top of the group, so the battle would be for the second bid from Group G into the knockout rounds.

The United States have a plus one goal difference, Ghana has a minus one and thanks to the 4-0 beating that Germany put on them, Portugal has a minus four.

The best case for the U.S. in the event of a loss to Germany would be a draw between Ghana and Portugal. Otherwise the U.S will need to keep it close against the Germans and hope that neither Ghana or Portugal beats the other by a big enough score to overturn the Americans advantage in goal difference.

If the points and goal difference are the same, here are the rest of the tiebreakers via the FIFA rulebook.

1. Greatest number of points obtained in all group matches.

2. Goal difference in all group matches.

3. Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.

4. Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned.

5. Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.

6. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned.

7. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.

Group G

 
Position Team Played GoalDifference Points
1 Germany 2 4 4
2 USA 2 1 4
3 Ghana 2 -1 1
4 Portugal 2 -4 1
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Fort Worth Vaqueros Reach Out to the Community
Fort Worth Vaqueros Reach Out to the Community avatar

Courtesy of NTSSA

Courtesy of NTSSA

Community.

If there is a single word that describes the direction the new Fort Worth Vaqueros soccer team is taking, it would certainly be community.

Before the new National Premier Soccer League club even had a name, its goal was to reach out to the Fort Worth community and get it involved in the team.

It was the community that picked the name Vaqueros.

It was the community that picked the logo.

It was the community that picked the two scarves that Vaqueros fans will wear and wave.

The community will pick the music in the stadium.

The community first attitude is the product of owner Michael Hitchcock’s vision for Fort Worth and its new club, which began play May 9th at Fort Worth’s historic LaGrave Field featuring a post-game Fireworks Show.

“We knew from the beginning that we wanted this to be a team that truly let the supporters take charge in shaping the club’s identity,” Hitchcock said. “The fans and Fort Worth leaders have embraced that idea and have provided meaningful decisions in the club’s identity and future.”

For the full story on the new Fort Worth Vaqueros soccer team, please visit the North Texas Soccer Association website.

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OSA 3rd Annual Goalkeeper Boot Camp
OSA 3rd Annual Goalkeeper Boot Camp avatar

Courtesy of OSA

Courtesy of OSA

Oklahoma Soccer Association will hold its 3rd annual OSA Goalkeeper Boot Camp in Oklahoma City July 28-31 and in Tulsa Aug. 4-7. The camp is for boys and girls ages 9-19 and players will be grouped by ability/gender.

Multiple techniques will be covered, from basic catching to distribution with hands and feet, to dealing with crosses and power diving and camp topics will be adjusted based on developmentally appropriate level to keep players challenged, but still safe.

Later in the week, local field players will be brought in to play some games and work on tactical awareness and reading the game- an essential part of a GK’s development.

OSA is currently finalizing the staff for the summer, but the lead staff will be:

TULSA:

Kurt Luitwieler: Director of Coaching for Oklahoma Soccer Association, USSF A License, USYS National Youth License, NSCAA Regional GK Diploma, Author of OSA GK Coaching Course, USYSA Region 3 Staff GK Coach, USSF National Instructor

Sid Goodrich: Executive Director for Oklahoma Soccer Association, USSF A License, All-American University of Buffalo

OKC: [In addition to Kurt Luitwieler]

Lexi Vizeralis: USSF National A License, former professional GK in England. (A little team called Arsenal.   May have heard of them.) Current club coach for OFC as well as coach at USAO.

OSA will also have some advanced boys and girls to help with the young GKs for more Coach/Player interaction. The goal is to have about a 1 to 8 ratio or less.

Tulsa Assistants: (They will help Kurt with the youngest group.)

Dean Goodrich: Region 3 GK, Player on TSCH ’97

Hailey Melton: Region 3 and National Pool GK, Plays for TSCH ’98 ECNL, Union Starting GK as Freshman and Sophomore (All-Conference)

Bronwyn Luitwieler: 2-Time Olympic Development Program All-Star GK at Sub-Regional ODP Camp. Plays for Blitz United.

(OKC Assistants TBD)

COST: To do personal training usually costs about $50/hour. With a group of 4 or 5, will reduce to $35/person for the hour.  With this camp, you get close to that level of personal instruction, at a fraction of the cost: $200 (200/16 hours = $12.50 per hour.)

Daily schedule: (Field Number to be determined)

  • 8:00-9:15: Field Session 1
  • 9:30-10:00: Heat Break (get out of heat, get a chalk talk, cold treat, etc.)
  • 10:15-11:45: Field Session 2
  • 11:45-12:00: Wrap-up, cool down, re-hydrate.

BRING:  (NAME CLEARLY MARKED!)

  • Properly inflated ball (proper size for child’s age group)
  • Properly fitting soccer shoes.
  • Properly fitting GK gloves.
  • GK Jersey.  Even in heat, long-sleeve is preferable to protect against abrasions.
  • Water jug/bottle! Big one!
  • Sunscreen!
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