U.S. take on Mexico in Azteca showdown
U.S. take on Mexico in Azteca showdown avatar

The U.S. train in the Azteca ahead of tomorrow's big game. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

The U.S. train in the Azteca ahead of tomorrow’s big game. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Mexico City, Mexico – “This is what they do, this is their life.” That is how Herculez Gomez described the importance of Tuesday night’s game versus the United States to the Mexican people. Born to Mexican parents and raised in Las Vegas, Gomez plays professionally for Santos Laguna, and he has been playing in Mexico’s top league since 2010. So Gomez knows what he’s talking about.

Gomez elaborated, “There is no Hollywood here, there is no NFL, there is no MLB, no NBA, no Nascar, NHL, any of that. It’s football,” Gomez said. “They breathe and die this, this is what they do.” “Their national team plays,” Gomez explained, “everything stops.” “The whole country will be watching, so it’s important to them.”

There was a lot of expectation on the Mexico national after they picked up gold at the London Olympics. (Getty Images)

There was a lot of expectation on the Mexico national team after they picked up gold at the London Olympics. (Getty Images)

That level of interest can of course, translate into pressure on the team. Mexico’s hugely passionate fan base is not happy that this team has played to two draws in their first two matches, including a scoreless tie at home versus Jamaica to open the Hex. Blowing a 2-0 lead at Honduras cost Mexico a win on Friday and this soccer-mad nation was predictably outraged. Coming off of an Olympic Gold Medal in London last summer, El Tri were widely considered to be the best team in the region entering the Hex, and this relatively poor start has the soccer press and public on edge.

Gomez alluded to that pressure when he spoke to reporters at a press event Monday at the U.S. team hotel. “I think, externally, they have a lot of pressure on them,” Gomez remarked. “Maybe not within the group,” Gomez said, “because they’re a very good group.”

“But,” the versatile U.S. attacker noted, “I think externally, they have an enormous amount of pressure on them.”

Mexico’s national team coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, or “El Chepo,” is feeling pressure just as Jurgen Klinsmann was feeling last week, when his leadership was called into question with the Costa Rica match looming. Well, El Chepo is feeling that pressure magnified by how much Mexico cares about soccer, in comparison to the U.S.

Just that quickly is how things turn around in sports. Whatever the result Tuesday night, seven games remain for all the teams in the hex. Nothing is close to being decided, yet the pressure is real. The U.S. win over Costa Rica lessened that pressure on the Americans, and has the squad confident and relaxed as the big game approaches. Captain Clint Dempsey said that the team also, “got confidence from our place in the table.” Omar Gonzalez said that the challenges from the teams difficult, controversial week, concluding with a win, had in fact brought the team, “even closer, than it was before.”

Coach Klinsmann was left bemused by question concerning Landon Donavon. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Coach Klinsmann was left bemused by questions concerning Landon Donavon. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Jurgen Klinsmann did express a little frustration at Monday’s press conference, when asked about the controversial column in Sporting News, that sparked last weeks fuss. Klinsmann is clearly fed up with talking about the subject, and if facial expressions are anything to go by, then the coach has had his fill of Landon Donovan questions for now also. The, “do you miss  Donovan,” question was addressed to captain Clint Dempsey, while Klinsmann looked on somewhat bemused.

The U.S. will have to make do without Jermaine Jones against Mexico and when asked who would replace the rugged midfielder, Klinsmann conceded that Jones would be missed, calling him, “one of our leaders.” Klinsmann, though expressed confidence in his potential replacements, with Maurice Edu being the most likely.

Klinsmann spoke of, “the spirit in the group,” in that Costa Rica game. “Coming out of a very, very good performance from those guys,” the coach said, “you don’t want to make too many changes.”

100,000 plus are expected to be on hand Tuesday night in Azteca for this showdown between old rivals, as the Americans try to pick up their first ever qualifier victory over Mexico in Mexico. Tuesday morning we will take a crack at picking the U.S. team.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup Qualifying Caps/Goals) 

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa – 6/4 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 0/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake – 0/0)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake – 0/0), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 7/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 2/0), Clarence Goodson (Brondby – 6/0), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes – 0/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla – 27/6), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake – 3/0), Michael Bradley (Roma – 21/5), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana – 1/0), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo – 0/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 11/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 13/0), Brek Shea (Stoke City – 2/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 5/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 19/6), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna – 2/0), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 28/12), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 7/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC – 13/10)

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Real Salt Lake partners with UYSA for State Cup
Real Salt Lake partners with UYSA for State Cup avatar

On March 15 Real Salt Lake announced that they will partner with Utah Youth Soccer to sponsor the RSL State Cup, formerly Utah State Cup.

The RSL State Cup is the premier youth soccer tournament in Utah. Winners from this elite youth tournament will qualify for U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Championships held in June.

“The RSL State Cup is the top youth soccer tournament in Utah and we’re excited to be the title sponsor for it,” Real Salt Lake President Bill Manning said in a press release. “RSL has always been committed to growing the game at all levels in our state and we think that this partnership with UYSA for the RSL State Cup will do just that.”

Read the full story on the UYSA Facebook page: Click Here

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ASSA needs referees!
ASSA needs referees! avatar

Course Instructor- Paul Lewis (Courtesy of ASSA)

Course Instructor- Paul Lewis (Courtesy of ASSA)

The Arkansas Referee Committee will be hosting an Entry-Level Referee Course thisSaturday, March 30th, from 9-5 pm at St. Marys Regional Hospital in Russellville, Arkansas!

More active referees are needed in Central Arkansas as more teams are playing tournaments, league matches, and friendlies. Please help spread the word about this course. Please visit the Arkansas State Soccer website to register: Click Here

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Sermanni Names Roster For Germany
Sermanni Names Roster For Germany avatar

The U.S. WNT 23-player roster was announced this week, as they prepare for two friendlies against Germany in Offenbach April 5 and the Netherlands in the Hague April 9.

Tom Sermanni has given so many of the young players time so showcase themselves(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Tom Sermanni has given so many of the young players time so showcase themselves(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

It’s been a whirlwind of a season so far, with two victories against Scotland and a 9th Algarve Cup title to boot. An obvious pattern has risen in regards to the roster and lineup for each game, leaving fans in suspense of what to expect.

Head Coach Tom Sermanni has done a savvy job of stirring up the player pot. So far we have seen favorites benched and a handful of first caps earned as younger players procure vital experience on the field against some of the world’s best.

Klingenberg a former UNC standout will be happy to see herself back in the U.S. squad. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Klingenberg a former UNC standout will be happy to see herself back in the U.S. squad. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

“We got the chance to play everyone on the roster at the Algarve Cup, and to see the young players step up and play well alongside the more experienced veterans was a positive step in the continued growth of the team,” Sermanni told USSoccer. “These matches present two more excellent opportunities to increase the competition on the squad and for players to show they can perform in difficult environments.

With Hope Solo and Jill Loyden inured and out the sky is the limit for new goalkeepers to step up and show off  their shut out skills in the box. Ashlyn Harris received her first cap in Portugal this month. Uncapped Western New York goalkeeper Adrianna Franch makes the roster for the trip to Germany- perhaps there is a first cap in her near future as well.

U20 WNT captain Julie Johnston, who earned her first cap Feb.9 against Scotland, graces the roster along with defender Meghan Klingenberg. Having recovered from shoulder surgery recently, the 2012 U.S. Olympic team alternate gets her first call up of the year.

Other 2013 first caps that made the roster include 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner Crystal Dunn, FC Kansas City midfielder Kristie Mewis and Tyreso Sweden forward Christen Press. Press has had an explosive 2013 start with four goals under her belt and leads the U.S. in goals so far.

Alex and Abby have built a great partnership in-front of goal. (Getty Images)

Alex and Abby have built a great partnership in-front of goal. (Getty Images)

Naturally, the dynamic duo Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach will travel to Europe as well. Fans watch as Wambach continues on her quest to nab the four goals she needs to tie Mia Hamm’s all-time scoring record of 158.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Adrianna Franch (Western New York Flash), Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit)
DEFENDERS (9): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Liverpool, England), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö, Sweden), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg, Sweden), Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (PSG, France), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Lyon, France)
FORWARDS (4): Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö, Sweden), Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash)

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Costa Rica Protest Snowy Loss
Costa Rica Protest Snowy Loss avatar

Mexico City, Mexico – Costa Rica were spitting mad after falling to the United States in snow covered Commerce City, Colorado on Friday night, and now they have filed a complaint with FIFA. The conditions at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park were indeed extraordinary, but it is difficult to see Costa Rica having their request for a do-over granted.

Dempsey celebrated the winning goal against Costa Rica(ISI Photos/Todd Jones)

Dempsey celebrated the winning goal against Costa Rica(ISI Photos/Todd Jones)

The decision to start the game was in the hands of the match commissioner and once the game began, it became the referee’s responsibility to play or not to play. With players from both teams having traveled to Denver from all over the globe, it would have taken a lot to send a sellout crowd of almost 20,000 people home. The snow continued throughout Saturday in the Denver area, a possibility match officials, and both managers, were surely aware of as the snow fell on Friday. With both teams scheduled to play equally important World Cup Qualifiers this Tuesday, the question of when this game would be continued was another factor in the equation.

And it would have been continued, not replayed. A recent rule change states that the game would be picked up at the point that it was abandoned. That could have resulted in trying to gather two national teams, from various points on the globe, while working around the crowded schedules of 46 international players.

Many neutrals were shocked that the game went ahead. (ISI Photos/Don Feria)

Many neutrals were shocked that the game went ahead. (ISI Photos/Don Feria)

Referee Joel Aguilar eventually stopped the game briefly in the 55th minute, drawing chants of Let them play! and USA! from the crowd. The crowd were clearly enjoying themselves, and like U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, wanted this match to continue with the Yanks leading. Aguilar quickly had the hard working Colorado grounds crew clear the lines and play resumed in a matter of minutes.

A bigger issue for FIFA and Concacaf to tackle may be the gamesmanship that traditionally has been employed in Concacaf World Cup qualifying play. That gamesmanship can manifest itself in matches played in the hottest of midday heat, as in February in Honduras, or in a Colorado snowstorm. Fields intentionally unwatered, or watered too much, grass as high as the Colorado snow, the list goes on. In any case, if the bodies charged with running the beautiful game have allowed these practices to become the norm, they can hardly step in when a spring snowstorm lands at the doorstep of the Rocky Mountains.

More Worry News

Mexico City, Mexico – Jermaine Jones has returned to Germany with an ankle sprain, and will miss Tuesday night’s showdown with Mexico. Jones is just the latest USMNT player to miss out through injury, and the Schalke destroyer will be missed.

Jermaine Jones returns to Germany after hurting his ankle (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jermaine Jones returns to Germany after hurting his ankle (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jones was aggressive and effective in snowy Colorado in the Americans win over Costa Rica on Friday, breaking up attacks and making a surprising number of good passes, given the conditions. The longtime Bundesliga veteran may have a bad habit of picking up yellow cards, but his toughness and experience would be invaluable against Mexico in a hostile environment.

When asked after Friday’s match if he would be ready to go against Mexico, a limping Jones told GotSoccer, “I don’t know, we need to look.”  Apparently what was seen was not good, so now the U.S. will have to replace yet another starter.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard and fullbacks Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson missed out on this trip and the next four most likely deputies at fullback also were unavailable. The midfield pool has been more fortunate however and Klinsmann does have options.

The U.S. came out in a 4-2-3-1 against Costa Rica with Jones and Bradley in front of the back four. Bradley stayed home most of the night in Colorado, leaving Jones to rampage forward in the snow. Klinsmann was always likely to go more defensive in Azteca, so a defensive minded midfielder could take Jones’ place on Tuesday.

Maurice Edu is the obvious choice, although Kyle Beckerman is someone Klinsmann could entrust with a defensive role. Sacha Kljestan, Joe Corona, Brek Shea and Brad Davis are Klinsmann’s other midfield options. The squad’s 24th man, Davis did not dress for Friday’s game, but should take Jones’ roster spot on Tuesday.

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U.S. Defense Defies Critics
U.S. Defense Defies Critics avatar

The U.S. defense came into Friday night’s crucial World Cup qualifier with something to prove. Labeled too young and inexperienced after a poor opening to the Hexagonal round in Honduras, the injury ravaged group stood tall in the Colorado snow Friday night.

Beasley proved his call up was well deserved. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Beasley proved his call up was well deserved. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jurgen Klinsmann, facing some doubts about his own performance, brought DaMarcus Beasley back in from the national team wilderness, handing the veteran his 98th cap. All Beasley did with his chance was turn in a Man of the Match performance, in a position he has only rarely played.

Beasley spoke to the press after the game and downplayed the positional switch. “Jurgen called me in to do a job tonight, obviously there were a lot of injuries,” Beasley acknowledged adding, “when I get called in I want to my best for my country and my team, and that job was left back tonight.”

The well travelled vet wasn’t concerned about where he played, he “was just happy that we got three points.” Beasley said there was no big discussion with Klinsmann about his role. “ After the first day he just told me, “Beas, you’re playing left back.” Beasley got a laugh with that, but he explained, “that was all he needed to say, I’ve been around for awhile.” “He (Klinsmann) said Beas, “you feel comfortable playing left back?” I said yeah.” “The conversation,” Beasley noted, “took literally, uhm, 10 seconds, and that was it.”

Beasley credits his last couple of season’s playing in Mexico with his recall to the U.S. team. “I love Mexico, Puebla, the team, the organization, they got me back on my feet, they got me back to where I am now.”

“It’s in the back of my mind,” Beasley admitted, when asked about getting to 100 caps. “It doesn’t come every day that someone gets 100 caps,” Beasley said. “I always thought I’d be back,” Beasley said, even if other’s thought his national team career was over. “I’m confident in my ability and confident if I played well, Jurgen would give me a shot.”

Many felt this game should have been postponed due to the severe weather conditions. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Many felt this game should have been postponed due to the severe weather conditions. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Geoff Cameron was moved out to right fullback where the Stoke man plays most often for the Potters. Cameron gave away a couple of potentially dangerous free kicks to Tico’s dangerman Alvaro Saborio, but overall was solid, at one point even helping the grounds crew with the shoveling. With Cameron at fullback the new center back pairing held up well in the crazy conditions. Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson kept it tidy in front of Brad Guzan, and later Gonzalez was, “feeling great.” “Three points for us at home is exactly what we want to be doing and we just have to now look towards a really hard game at Mexico.”

“I think everyone did a fabulous job for the conditions we were in, everyone worked hard for each other,” and the towering defender said, “it showed.” Gonzalez was also happy with how the defense performed as a unit.” “I think the backline, with Brad (Guzan) really worked well together.” “There was a lot of communication the whole game,” Gonzalez said. The L.A. Galaxy man added, “I think there was really good cover and balance and just everyone looking out for each other, and I thought it was great job by the back four.”

Gonzalez’ center back partner Goodson said after the game that the weather, “eliminates any football from being played and it just turns into a fight.” Goodson felt that, “it was great that we got a goal before the conditions got too terrible.” “After that,” he said that, “no one was playing anymore.”

Goodson didn’t care how the win came about saying, “this is what was thrown at us tonight and it was good to get an early goal and after that it was just about trying to defend and put the ball in their half as much as possible.”

Like Gonzalez, Goodson was happy with the backline’s performance on this difficult night. “You hope at this level you’d be able to put whoever together and they’d be able to mesh well.” Goodson commented that, “this game will be certainly go down in history as one of the wildest qualifiers, as far as weather concerned.”

Gonzalez laughed about how much one game can change the perception around a team. “ I know, I know,” Gonzalez said. “I like it a lot better this way,” and with that Gonzalez headed to the team bus, with three points firmly secured.

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U.S. Fights Through Blizzard For Win Over Costa Rica
U.S. Fights Through Blizzard For Win Over Costa Rica avatar

(ISI Photos)

Fans brave the cold to cheer on the Stars and Stripes. (Isi Photos)

Commerce City, Co. – On a night more suited to football than futbol, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park became a Winter Wonderland as the United States rode captain Clint Dempsey’s first half goal to a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Friday night in Colorado.

The weather was the story before the game as snow flurries grew more intense as kick off approached. With snow sticking to the field, first shovels and then plows were dispatched to clear the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park pitch.

With the U.S. off to a good start left fullback DaMarcus Beasley went down on the snowy turf after a serious looking clash of heads with Omar Gonzalez. Beasley shook it off and was quickly back in the game. Newly minted U.S. captain Clint Dempsey got the first chance of the night with a 16th minute blast that carried just wide, although Costa Rica keeper Keilor Navas seemed to have the shot in his sights.

(ISI Photos)

Dempsey scored early on to edge a tight affair. (Isi Photos)

Less than a minute later however, Navas would be helpless as Dempsey followed up Jozy Altidore’s deflected shot to give the Yanks an early 1-0 lead. None other than Roy Miller, the New York Red Bulls Calamity James, was the unfortunate Tico that Altidore’s shot caromed off.

(ISI Photos)

The win helps ease pressure on Klinsmann after a trying last few days. (Isi Photos)

The Americans brought this game to Colorado to take the Costa Rican side out of their comfort zone, to use a favorite Jurgen Klinsmann phrase. I’m not sure what soccer player or team would find this weather to be in their preferred comfort zone, but the home side seemed the happier of the two teams, getting out to a good start.

Afterwards Dempsey said, ”that the key tonight was getting the early goal.” Costa Rica were, “forced to try and chase the game,” the captain said, “ and they got even more frustrated.” “I don’t think any team could really play,” Dempsey remarked, “but the fact that we got the goal, we could sit back a little bit more, be a little bit more compact,” and Dempsey said, “not really chase the game too much.”

Jermaine Jones was very solid in the first half and the much maligned U.S. defense were solid all night long in difficult conditions. Jones received stitches at half time, battling on before being replaced in the 83rd minute by Maurice Edu. Jones was hobbling after the game, and he admitted that, “it was not easy on this pitch with the snow, but we got the three points and it was important,” and Jones added, “now we’re happy.”

The sellout crowd was boisterous all night, they were the 12th man just like the U.S. players and coaches were hoping for. Costa Rican center forward Alvaro Saborio was dangerous and won some potentially damaging free kicks, and Everton man Bryan Oviedo looked like trouble for the American defense before fading and being subbed out.

The Ticos thought they had an equalizer in the 69th minute when Michael Umana’s header beat Guzan, but the U.S. were relieved to see the offside flag. Guzan was solid filling in for the injured Tim Howard, fighting difficult conditions all night long.

The U.S had two calls for a penalty denied in the 39th minute, but had to be happy heading to the warmth and comfort of their locker room with a 1-0 lead. The second half featured a stoppage that lasted a few minutes, the game was resumed after some more shoveling by the heroic grounds crew. DaMarcus Beasley was awarded Man of the Match, but the hard working crew would have been worthy winners on this wild night.

Now the the U.S head off to play Mexico and suddenly it is the Mexican team that is feeling the pressure. After an unexpected tie at Azteca in their opening match with Jamaica, Mexico blew a two goal lead earlier on Friday at Honduras, to finish with their second draw of the Hex.

For the U.S. these three points make a memorable night in snowy Colorado an important one, as the Americans look forward to their showdown with Mexico in what will surely be drastically different conditions.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: March 22, 2013
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier; Final Round
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. MT
Attendance: 19,374 (sellout)
Weather: 29 degrees, snowy

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

USA – Clint Dempsey (unassisted) 16th minute

Lineups
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Clarence Goodson, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 13-Jermaine Jones (6-Maurice Edu, 83), 4-Michael Bradley; 19-Graham Zusi (18-Eddie Johnson, 75), 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Herculez Gomez (5-Kyle Beckerman, 90+4); 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 22-Sean Johnson, 12-Nick Rimando, 2-Tony Beltran, 14-Matt Besler, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 15-Justin Morrow, 10-Joe Corona, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 11-Brek Shea, 23-Terrence Boyd
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

CRC: 1-Keylor Navas, 2-Christian Gamboa (6-Juan Diego Madrigal, 81), 3-Giancarlo Gonzalez, 4-Michael Umaña, 7-Cristian Bolaños (12-Joel Campbell, 62), 8-Bryan Oviedo (16-Diego Calvo, 73), 9-Alvaro Saborio, 10-Bryan Ruiz (capt.), 11-Michael Barrantes, 13-Ariel Rodriguez, 19-Roy Miller
Subs not used: 18-Patrick Pemberton, 5-Celso Borges, 14-Christopher Meneses, 15-Osvaldo Rodriguez, 17-Yeltsin Tejeda, 20-Kendall Waston, 21-Keylor Soto, 22-Jairo Arrieta
Head coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 6 / 8
Shots on Goal: 1 / 5
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 16 / 15
Offsides: 1 / 5

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U.S. Take On Costa Rica in Huge World Cup Qualifier
U.S. Take On Costa Rica in Huge World Cup Qualifier avatar

Denver, Co. – The importance to the U.S. of Friday night’s World Cup qualifier versus Costa Rica becomes clearer as game time draws ever closer. Jurgen Klinsmann has already described this match as a must win, even if he amended that to say all home qualifiers are must wins.

Jurgen Klinsmann with Dempsey at press conference at Paramount Theatre. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jurgen Klinsmann with Dempsey at press conference at Paramount Theatre. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

At today’s press conference in Denver’s Paramount Theater, an unusually lavish spot for such an event, Klinsmann again faced questions regarding the controversial Sporting News article that called his leadership into question.

Klinsmann said that, “it doesn’t distract us at all,” in fact the coach said, “I think it’s a great sign.” All of the debate Klinsmann insisted, “shows that people care.” Still the constant questions play into the, “team in crisis,” image currently swirling around the group.

For sure injuries have played a role in creating that perception. But the uncertainty around the U.S. defense was in evidence versus Honduras, before this recent rash of injuries.

Klinsmann even fielded a question concerning his own job security at today’s press conference, possibly for the first time since his 2011 hiring.

Add into this mix the closing of U.S. practices, an unusual move since Klinsmann took control, and this is clearly bigger even, than the usual World Cup qualifier.

Before Thursday evening’s training session began in earnest at Denver University, a who’s who of former U.S. internationals, now all working members of the media, were on hand. Longtime U.S. center back Alexi Lalas wasn’t overly impressed by the controversy around the team, in fact he seemed more troubled by the U.S. defense when he spoke with GotSoccer.

Alexi Lalas is not too impressed (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Alexi Lalas is worried about the defense and is not surprised by the leakage to the press..(ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

“I think that if one article is going to send the 2013 version of the national team into turmoil, then any talk of progress is pretty much moot.” Lalas has been in the game a long time and feels that, “this is nothing new in sports and in soccer, it happens.” Lalas added, “I think it’s also an opportunity for Jurgen Klinsmann to use to his advantage, and also to maybe even make some changes.” Lalas said significantly, that although the players aren’t pleased with the public comments, “you don’t hear them talking about the fact that anything was not true.”

“I think the talent individually is there,” Lalas said of the U.S. defense corp. “But,” he continued, “we all know that especially when it comes to a back four or any kind of a defensive unit, if you put the defensive midfielder and the goalkeeper involved in it, the time that you play together you develop an understanding.”

Lalas reminds, “that just doesn’t happen overnight.” The problem Lalas believes is, “they’re being ask to do some things that take a long time and they just don’t have time.”

One of the defenders who came in for some criticism after the Honduras match is Omar Gonzalez, but he sounded confident when he spoke to reporters before Thursday’s closed practice. Gonzalez was unhappy with himself after the Honduras game, but on Thursday the big defender said, “I think I said that right after the game, but looking back on it I wasn’t as disappointed.”

“It was a big game to step into, the circumstances were really difficult, and I think that I held my own except for that one little mishap(that led to the Honduras game winner) at the end.” Gonzalez is, “feeling great going into this game and that game is long gone,” and Gonzalez concluded, “I’m feeling great right now.”

Brad Guzan is one starter that we can be certain Klinsmann will choose (Getty Images)

Brad Guzan is one starter that we can be certain Klinsmann will choose (Getty Images)

Gonzalez is likely to be part of the U.S. defense against Costa Rica, but the rest remains up in the air. Klinsmann elected to close the practices to keep the lineup from Costa Rica, and Klinsmann said at Thursday’s press conference, “so we can do closed door tactical sessions.” “It’s World Cup qualifying time,” the coach pointed out, “ and we have only a few sessions with these guys.” Klinsmann has dropped precious few hints about Friday’s lineup, repeatedly joking for instance, that DaMarcus Beasley can play anywhere, when asked if Beasley is a contender for a fullback spot.

So who will get the nod for the U.S. in tomorrow night’s big game with Costa Rica? We know that Brad Guzan will be in goal. Gonzalez seems likely at center back, but who partners him. Speculation has linked Geoff Cameron with a fullback spot, but that ruins any shred of continuity in that key area.

Klinsmann dropped one positional clue this week, when he mentioned that Maurice Edu has the ability to, “play outside.” Meaning fullback. I think we may see that tomorrow. The other fullback position may come down to which internationally inexperienced MLS defender Klinsmann feels more comfortable with, Justin Morrow or Tony Beltran. The versatile Edu could play right back if Morrow starts, or left back if Beltran gets the call.

I think the rest of the team will be Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Graham Zusi in the midfield, with Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez up top.

The U.S. press department very helpfully pointed out that the United States are on a 20-0-2 run in home World Cup qualifiers, a positive to take from what has been a difficult week.

If the U.S. can add win number 21 to that impressive streak tomorrow night, then it will be crisis averted and Brazil will seem that much closer.

————————————————————————————–

In other news U.S.Soccer announced the final four cities and stadiums chosen to host the remaining home World Cup qualifiers. On June 11 Seattle will host Panama at CenturyLink Field. The U.S. go against Honduras seven days later, June 18, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City. To no ones surprise, Columbus will host the September 10 game, between the U.S. and Mexico at Crew Stadium, and the home schedule will finish up on October 11, in Kansas City versus Jamaica.

The U.S. will also go against Germany in a friendly to celebrate U.S. Soccer’s Centennial, June 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.

And in one last bit of news, the United States will debut their new Centennial jersey’s in tomorrow night’s match against Costa Rica.

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Get involved: Soccer for Peace and Understanding in Jordan
Get involved: Soccer for Peace and Understanding in Jordan avatar

Ball State University, in collaboration with Indiana Soccer, received a two-year grant from the U.S. State Department’s International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI) to support “Soccer for Peace and Understanding in Jordan”.

Through the project, Ball State University and Indiana Soccer also partnered with Leaders of Tomorrow, Jordan Football Association, and Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre to teach citizenship and peaceful living skills through soccer clinics for youth coaches and athletes.

The program aims to promote empathetic on-going relations between Jordanian and U.S. youth soccer coaches, encourage youth soccer coaches’ effective citizenship behaviors with young athletes through soccer, advance Jordanians and U.S. youth soccer coaches’ knowledge about the technical aspects of coaching soccer effectively, and increase Jordanian and U.S. youth soccer players’ soccer skills while learning ways to peacefully interact with others of different cultures.

Want to get involved? Read the full story on the Indiana Soccer Association website.

Courtesy of Indiana Soccer Association

Courtesy of Indiana Soccer Association

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Indiana TOPSoccer course: Register now!
Indiana TOPSoccer course: Register now! avatar

Are you interested in acquiring the Indiana Soccer TOPSoccer certificate so you will be well educated in working with our exceptional athletes?

Indiana Soccer will hold a class on March 30 at Fort Wayne Sport Club from 9am-2pm. This course is FREE for all Indiana Soccer members! Click Here to register and visit the Indiana Soccer website for more details.

Courtesy of Indiana Soccer Association

Courtesy of Indiana Soccer Association

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MYSA announces results of President’s Cup draw
MYSA announces results of President’s Cup draw avatar

Check out the results for the 2013 Spring Missouri Presidents Cup below! This statewide tournament will take place April 6-7 at the Raytown Soccer Complex in Raytown, MO. For more information please visit the MYSA website: Click Here

U13 Girls – Five Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: KC Select Impact
  • A2: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Fenerbahce
  • A3: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC PSG
  • A4: J. B. Marine SC Parton – Premier Gold
  • A5: J. B. Marine SC Kayser – Premier Green

U14 Girls – Six Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC PSG
  • A2: Missouri Rush SC Menendez Swoosh
  • A3: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Juventus

Bracket B

  • B1: MYSASwarm
  • B2: Mamba Venom
  • B3: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Flamengo

U12 Boys- Four Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: Jefferson City Soccer Crew
  • A2: Nixa SC 00/01
  • A3: Ajax Elite FC Academy
  • A4: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Bayern Munich

U13 Boys- Three Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Premier Navy
  • A2: Missouri Rush SC-McCarthy
  • A3: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Premier Green

U14 Boys- Five Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: MAC United
  • A2: KC Blaze Strikeforce
  • A3: LSFC Adidas Elite
  • A4: KC Select Pumas
  • A5: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Norway

U15 Boys – Four Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: Lou Fusz SC Hawkins
  • A2: SSC Diablos 97-98
  • A3: Lou Fusaz SC Sanfilippo
  • A4: Missouri Rush SC Blue Puetz

U16 Boys- Four Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: Lou Fusz SC O’Keefe
  • A2: MAC United Phrenic
  • A3: Total Demize SC
  • A4: Missouri Rush SC-Swoosh

U17 Boys- Eight Teams

Bracket A

  • A1: Southwest United 95/96
  • A2: NORCO SC O’Neal
  • A3: Total Demize SC 95/96
  • A4: Missouri Rush SC- Swoosh

Bracket B

  • B1: KC Milan Red Devils
  • B2: Raytown SC Arsenal Gunners
  • B3: Missouri Rush SC Nike
  • B4: Lou Fusz SC Roeder
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Champions League Quarterfinals
Champions League Quarterfinals avatar

The dust has barely settled after the last round of games in the Champions League and already we have some tantalizing quarter-finals to look forward to.

 Champions League team quarterfinal draw(Getty Images)

Champions League team quarterfinal draw(Getty Images)

The quarters have an unusual look about them, as for the first time in 17 years no representatives from the EPL will be present in the last eight.

Nevertheless, the competition still has an exciting look about it, and with five different nations represented in quarter-finals it is hard to say which country will lay claim to the trophy with big ears come the end of may.

 

PSG Vs Barcelona

The quarter-finals kick off with perhaps the most alluring tie of the round, as the in vogue PSG take on the glamorous Barcelona.

PSG Ibrahimovic is suspended for the first match. (Getty Images)

PSG Ibrahimovic is suspended for the first match. (Getty Images)

PSG have never won Europe’s premier competition, but new owners The Qatar Investment Authority pledged to build a team capable of winning the Champions League when they bought the club and have now spent close to $215m in the last 18-months. The investment seems to have paid off with the Parisians reaching the knockout stages for the first time since 1995.

However, PSG now face their greatest test in the form of FC Barcalona. The Catalans have won Europe’s premier cup competition four times in total, three of which have come in the last seven years. Many questioned if Barcelona would be the same force when coach Pep Guardiola left, but if anything they have looked even more versatile and dangerous under new coach Tito Vilanova.

How they got here

PSG: The big spending Parisians topped their group in the first stage of the competition with five wins out of six, to give them a tally of 15-points—the highest of any team in the competition. However, they were made to work harder in the last round and just scraped past Valencia 3-2 on aggregate.

Barcelona: It is funny how much can change in the space of a game. Just over a week ago Barcelona were supposedly washed up and finished—It was the end of an era. They were seemly out of the Champions League having lost their first leg game 2-0 away to AC Milan. No team had ever recovered a two-goal deficit in the Champions League without scoring an away goal, and Barca would have to start the rebuilding process. But in the space of 90-minutes everything turned around, the mighty Barca made history blowing Milan aside 4-0 at the Camp Nou, and are once again favorites to lift the European Cup for the fourth time in eight years.

Key Players

PSG will be hoping they can knock out powerhouse Barcelona(Getty Images)

PSG will be hoping they can knock out powerhouse Barcelona(Getty Images)

Ezequiel Lavezzi: Under normal circumstances I may have chosen Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the mercurial striker is suspended for the first-leg and will thus be unable to make an impact over the course of the two games. But the Parisians still have Ezequiel Lavezzi to call upon—the forward is PSG’s top scorer in the competition with five goals. Quick, strong, and skillful, the Argentine international will probably play on the wing against Barca, keeping tabs on Dani Alves when PSG do not have the ball and moving more central when they do.

 

Messi was outstanding in his previous Champions League match  (Getty Images)

Messi was outstanding in his previous Champions League match (Getty Images)

Lionel Messi: I said the only way Milan could stop Messi was if he had a bad day at the office, and he did in the first leg – though Milan also defended very well. However, within five minutes of the second leg Messi showed he was in the mood, scoring a magnificent goal to help Barcelona on their way to thrash Milan 4-0. La Pulga or the Flea as he is affectionately known, has already scored 55 goals this term and recently set a record of scoring in 18 consecutive La Liga games. I guess PSG’s only hope is that Messi has two bad days at the office.

Previous Meetings

These two clubs have only ever met twice in competitive competitions, with each club winning one a piece.

PSG beat Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate at the same stage of the Champions League back in 1995.

While Barcelona avenged that defeat with a 1-0 in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1997.

Tactical breakdown

David Beckham will be hoping to make an impact and lead his team to the next round. (Getty Images)

David Beckham will be hoping to make an impact and lead his team to the next round. (Getty Images)

This game has many sub plots with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Motta both returning to face their former club, as well as David Beckham returning to Spain to face his old rivals, FC Barcelona, from his playing days at Real Madrid.

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti will probably try to replicate the tactics Milan used in their first leg win over Barca, where they prevented Barca time and space to pass the ball in the final third. But Ancelotti’s team does not really possess the type of personnel suited for such a disciplined style of play.

What they do possess is pace and guile in attack, and fighting fire with fire may well be their best option. However, I envisage PSG struggling to compete with Barcelona in the middle of the park and this quarter-final should be a fairly straightforward game for this vastly skilled and experienced Barcelona team.

 

Bayern Munich Vs Juventus

Ribery will be hoping he will have the opportunity to show what he can do. (Getty Images)

Ribery will be hoping he will have the opportunity to show what he can do. (Getty Images)

This is unquestionably the tie of the quarter-finals, as two powerhouses of European soccer clash horns for the right to play in the semi-finals.

Bayern Munich has won the coveted trophy on four separate occasions. They won three consecutive European Cups between 1974 and 1976, and won their last title in 2001 in a penalty shootout win over Valencia. The Germans have finished runners-up in two of the last three finals, but are in superb form this season and have more or less already won the German Bundesliga. Bayern have finished runners-up a record five times, but will be hoping to win their fifth Champions League before coach Jupp Haynckes retires at the end of the season.

Along with Bayern Munich, Juventus hold the record for most losses in a European Cup final—The Old Lady of Italian soccer has lost in five of her seven finals. But there is much optimism about this new Juventus side, who went the whole of last season unbeaten and currently lead the way in Serie A with a nine-point lead.

How they got here

Bayern Munich: Last year’s runners-up won their group, but only just scraped through the last round via the away-goals rule. Bayern won the first leg 1-3 away to Arsenal to give them a comfortable lead, but were made to sweat in the second leg as Arsenal won 0-2.

Juventus: The Italians topped a tough group containing Chelsea and Shakhter Donetsk. They then easily dispatched of Celtic in the last round, winning 5-0 on aggregate. However, they were rather lucky to win the first leg in Scotland, which Celtic dominated, and could well have found themselves a goal or two down had a couple of clear penalties been awarded.

Key Players

Kroos is a gifted attacking player, but his ability negate Pirlo's influence on the game could be the key to victory for Bayern. (getty Images)

Kroos is a gifted attacking player, but his ability to negate Pirlo’s influence on the game could be the key to victory for Bayern. (getty Images)

Toni Kroos: The German playmaker was excellent in Bayern’s first leg win over Arsenal, scoring the opening goal after only seven minutes. The 23-year-old is strong, good on the ball, and has an eye for goal. But against Juve he will also need to pay attention to his defensive duties, pressuring and preventing Juve’s deep lying playmaker, Andrea Pirlo, from making his mark on the game.

 

 

 

 

 

Pirlo destroyed Germany at the Euros with his slick passing, and Juve will hope he can do the same again. (Getty Images)

Pirlo destroyed Germany at the Euros with his slick passing, and Juve will hope he can do the same again. (Getty Images)

Andrea Pirlo: The 33-year-old deep lying playmaker is enjoying another terrific season with Juventus. Nicknamed “l’architetto”or the architect, Pirlo likes to pick up the ball deep and construct forward plays with his vast array of accurate passes. Pirlo can be devastating if he is given too much space to operate in, as Toni Kroos and Germany found out to their expense during last summer’s Euros.

Previous Meetings

These two powerhouses of European soccer have only ever met in the group stages of the Champions Leagues. Juve edge the meetings with three wins to Bayern’s two. However, Bayern won the last meeting 1-4 back in 2009.

Tactical Breakdown

Juventus put in a very solid and professional performance in the previous round. (Getty Images)

Juventus put in a very solid and professional performance in the previous round. (Getty Images)

This is definitely a clash of style and tactics—Bayern play the popular modern formation of 4-2-3-1 with emphasis on central passing play with the ball, and compact high pressing without the ball. Juventus employ a formation that is currently the craze in Italy, the 3-5-2 formation with its rampaging wingbacks and traditional two-man duo upfront.

Bayern are flying this season and are many people’s pick for this year’s crown, but their loss to Arsenal has shown there are a few chinks in the armor. Juve are playing well and are unbeaten in this year’s competition. They convincingly beat Celtic in the last round, but looked far from comfortable during the first leg in Scotland – Pirlo and the entire Juve side struggled when Celtic pressed them high up the field, and I expect they will struggle again when Bayern do the same.

 

 

Malaga Vs Dortmund

Dortmund are still undefeated in the Champions League this season. (Getty Images)

Dortmund are still undefeated in the Champions League this season. (Getty Images)

This is probably the least glamorous of all the quarter-finals, but it should not be any less intriguing and could well turn out to be the most exciting and entertaining of all the quarter-finals.

Malaga have enjoyed extreme success in their maiden Champions League campaign, topping a group that contained AC Milan and Zenit St Petersburg. Qatari Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani purchased the club in 2010 and invested large sums of money on players with the promise of making Malaga a European power. Despite this, Malaga have been beset with financial woes, and at the end of last year were handed a one-season ban from European soccer by UEFA.

Borussia Dortmund are one of only two teams yet to lose a match during this season’s Champions League. German Bundesliga champions for the last two years, Dortmund have European pedigree, having won the Champions league back in 1997, and are many people’s dark horses for this year’s title.

How they got here

Malaga: After selling a number of high profile players during the summer due to financial troubles, Malaga were predicted to struggle in a group that contained Zenit St Petersburg and AC Milan. However, The Andalucians not only qualified but also managed to top the group unbeaten. They then turned around a 1-0 first leg defeat against Porto, triumphing 2-0 in the return leg to advance to the quarter-finals in their maiden Champions League season.

Dortmund: The German champions lived up to their billing as dark horses topping and going unbeaten in a tough group containing Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Ajax. Die Schwarzgelben (The Black Yellows) then brushed aside the stylish Shakhtar Donetsk in the last round winning 5-2 on aggregate.

Key Players

Isco has been Malaga's danger player. (Getty Images)

Isco has been Malaga’s danger player. (Getty Images)

Isco: The 20-year-old Spaniard has been Malaga’s top performer this year, and has been linked with a $45m move to Arsenal next season. The stylish midfielder is quick, can pass and dribble the ball, and also possesses an eye for goal—He is Malaga’s top scorer in the Champions League with three goals.

 

 

 

 

 

20-year-old Gotze already looks like the finished article. (Getty Images)

20-year-old Gotze already looks like the finished article. (Getty Images)

Mario Gotze: Striker Robert Lewandowski may grab all the headlines, but Mario Gotze is definitely the key to Dortmund’s attack. The young 20-year-old playmaker usually plays just behind the striker, but has also played in the ‘false nine’ role when Lewandowski has been out. Quick and skillful, Gotze already has two goals and four assists in this year’s competition.

Previous Meetings

These two sides have never played one another before, but Dortmund will hope to maintain their good record against Spanish opposition—the German champions have won three of the five ties they have played against Spanish opposition in the knockout stages of tournaments.

Tactical Breakdown

Malaga has been this year's surprize package. (Getty Images)

Malaga has been this year’s surprize package. (Getty Images)

Dortmund will start this quarter-final as overwhelming favorites, but Malaga have already upset the odds to make it this far and should not be underestimated.

Formation and tactics wise, it is the old school verses the new school. Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is a fan of the old-fashioned 4-4-2, using wingers to exploit width and create chances. Borussia Dortmund favor the currently popular 4-2-3-1 formation, playing more centrally and using their advantage of numbers in the middle to press and dominate the opposition.

Dortmund have looked like the real deal so far in the Champions League, and should take this one. But they have shown they are vulnerable when attacked down the flanks, and with Malaga favoring such a style of attack this should be an intriguing battle.

 

Real Madrid Vs Galatasaray

Real Madrid will be full of confidence after knocking out Man Utd. (Getty Images)

Real Madrid will be full of confidence after knocking out Man Utd. (Getty Images)

Real Madrid have won Europe’s most coveted prize a record nine times and will fancy their chances of winning their tenth title after a favorable draw against Galatasaray.

However, the Turkish champions do possess some world-class players and will be hoping they can reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1989.

How they got here

Madrid: The record nine time European cup winners have not had an easy route to the quarters. First they had to negotiate a tough group containing Manchester City, Ajax, and Dortmund, and then they just squeezed past Manchester United in the last round.

Galatasaray: The Turkish champions have not done things the easy way. They just about sneaked out of the group stage after a poor start, and then drew 2-2 at home with Shalke in the last round, to leave the odds stacked against them. However, the Lions then put in a sensational performance away from home winning 2-3 in Germany to advance to the quarters.

Key Players

Ronaldo is joint top-scorer in the Champions League with 8 goals. (Getty Images)

Ronaldo is joint top-scorer in the Champions League with 8 goals. (Getty Images)

Ronaldo: The Portuguese superstar admitted he struggled with the occasion of playing his former side Manchester United. However, he still scored two vitals goals to help Real progress and is currently joint top-scorer in the Champions League with eight goals.

 

 

 

 

 

Drogba won the Champions League last season with Chelsea, and his experience could be vital to Galatasaray progressing. (Getty Images)

Drogba won the Champions League last season with Chelsea, and his experience could be vital to Galatasaray progressing. (Getty Images)

Didier Drogba: Fellow Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz is joint top-scorer in the Champions League with Ronaldo on eight goals, but the one player that will strike fear into the Real Madrid team is Didier Drogba. The big Ivorian has a tendency to play well and score in big games, but against Madrid his biggest job will be to hold the ball up and help alleviate the pressure on the Galatasaray defense whenever possible – much like he did for Chelsea in last year’s semi-final with Barcelona.

Previous Meetings

These two sides have only ever previously met twice in Europe, with each side winning one a piece. Galatasaray won the first encounter in 2000, beating Real Madrid 1-0 in the UEFA Super Cup final. However, Madrid enacted revenge a year later, winning a Champions League quarter-final clash 5-3 on aggregate.

Tactical breakdown

Galatasaray will be hoping to knock powerhouse Madrid of their podium. (Getty Images)

Galatasaray will be hoping to knock powerhouse Madrid of their podium. (Getty Images)

On paper this looks to be the most uneven match-up of the quarter-finals, and most people expect Madrid to comfortably progress through to the semis.

However, Galatasaray do possess a tactically brave coach and players that can hurt Madrid. The problem for the Turkish Champions is that if they get too adventurous, they could leave themselves open to being exploited by the best counter-attacking team in the business.

For that reason Galatasaray will probably try to sit back, keep things compact, and hit the ball to Didier Drogba whenever possible. But whether they will have the discipline and stamina required to keep Madrid at bay for 180 minutes remains to be seen, and in all honesty this should be a walk in the park for Spanish champions.

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Bradley Labels Klinsmann Criticism ‘Shameful’
Bradley Labels Klinsmann Criticism ‘Shameful’ avatar

“Commerce City, Co. – Yeah I saw it, I think it’s shameful.” That was Michael Bradley’s reaction when asked if he had read Tuesday’s controversial Sporting News article that cited anonymous sources in and around the United States national team, and was very critical towards coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Bradley training ahead of the game against Antigua and Barbuda. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Bradley stated that the anonymous comments about Klinsmann are shameful. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Klinsmann’s strategy was called into question and the U.S. coach was said to regularly change tactics at the last minute, leaving his players ill prepared. Players were said to be shocked that Carlos Bocanegra was dropped from the starting lineup on the day of the Honduras match. It was also reported in the piece by Brian Strauss that some of the American born players felt that the German born contingent were preferred by Klinsmann, and sources suggested that the “Germericans,” are not as passionate about the U.S. team as native born players.

Speaking after a closed training session Wednesday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, as the American team prepared to face Costa Rica, Bradley was clearly angered that any player would break the sanctity of the locker room. “I think it’s embarrassing, Bradley said.” He spoke quietly, thoughtfully; forcefully making his point. “I think for every guy who has ever played on a team, you give everything you have,” Bradley explained.

Klinsmann's decisions have obviously left someone bitter. (ISI Photos/Brad Shea

Klinsmann’s decisions have obviously left someone bitter. (ISI Photos/Brad Shea

“At any team in the world,” Bradley went on, “not every guy is going to be happy, on every team in the world, there’s going to be guys that go back to their room and talk to their roommate about things that they wish could be different, about things that could be done in a different way.”

“But that’s normal,” Bradley added. “If that wasn’t going on, then something wouldn’t be right.” “But,” Bradley emphasized, “you cross a line when you take those thoughts and you take your disappointments, outside of the team.” He never raised his voice, but Bradley was clearly aggravated as he spoke.

“So for me,” Bradley said, getting to the crux of the matter, “it doesn’t help anybody, it doesn’t help anything that we are trying to do this week.” Then taking dead aim at the anonymous sources, Bradley said this. “When you play in a team you have a chance every day to give everything you have.” “And part of that means,” Bradley said, “having the balls to say things to guys to their face and having the balls to say things in front of the team.”

“In those ways,” the Roma man said, “it’s really disappointing.” But Bradley does not believe that this controversy will impact the team’s performance in these two crucial games. “The challenge of every guy in our team right now is to step on the field Friday night and to make sure that for every American watching, that there is no sign of anything that’s gone wrong this week.”

“It’s our job,” Bradley underlined, “to represent ourselves, to represent our country in a way that makes everyone proud.” Bradley didn’t attempt any spin on the controversy. “ I think we let ourselves down in that way, but like I said, the best part about sports is that when you step on the field you have a chance to put everything right, and so our chance is on Friday night.”

When Bradley and the U.S. team do step on that field on Friday night, they will be led out by acting captain Clint Dempsey. Bradley was one who many thought would get the armband, but Dempsey is certainly worthy.

Dempsey  (Getty Images)

Dempsey has been named as Captain for the upcoming game. (Getty Images)

“It’s an honor,” Dempsey said. Named as captain for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, Dempsey continued, “You want to go out and represent your country, you have more pressure on your shoulders and you’ve got to step up to the task.” Dempsey explained his approach to the captaincy, “I’ll do my best to lead by example, and try to help this team get the right result.”

If the U.S. can get that,“right result,” they might find that winning games is the best way to kill a controversy.

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Lend a hand at The Ken Smith Memorial Scramble
Lend a hand at The Ken Smith Memorial Scramble avatar

Courtesy of NTSSA

Courtesy of NTSSA

The Ken Smith Memorial Scramble- the annual golf tournament held to raise funds for North Texas referees- is set to take off May 14 at the Canyon Creek Country Club in Richardson, TX.

Held each spring, this fun spirited competition provides the resources necessary for the Ken Smith Memorial Scholarship program. This is one of the few athletic scholarships offered for young refs.

The request for more financial assistance for referees has risen, prompting the need to offer more scholarships. That is where North Texas youth soccer members can help!

There are many ways to lend a helping hand! Check out some volunteer options below and for more details on the event, please visit the NTSSA Website.

  • Playing in the scramble can be the most exciting way to help — and no, you don’t need a single-digit handicap to have a great time or win one of our great prizes.
  • Volunteering the day of the scramble is great fun for those that choose not to play.
  • Making a direct cash donation
  • Becoming a sponsor
  • Making a donation for the raffle and/or auction
  • Helping find individuals and/or businesses for any of the above

 

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