Concacaf Champions League Groups Set
Concacaf Champions League Groups Set avatar

Just in case the U.S. summer soccer schedule wasn’t busy enough, here comes the Concacaf Champions League (CCL), set to get underway August 6 and run until a winner is crowned next April.

Donovan and co have never won the Concacaf Champions League. (ISI Photos/

Donovan and co have never won the Concacaf Champions League. (ISI Photos/

24 teams from 11 nations will play for the right to be called the top team in the Concacaf region, sort of a poor man’s UEFA Champions League. No Major League Soccer team has won the CCL in the five times that the tournament has been run under this format since 2008. DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy won the CCL’s predecessor, the Concacaf Champions Cup, in 1998 and 2000, respectively.

Mexico's Monterrey were the last season's winners. (Getty Images)

Mexico’s Monterrey were the last season’s winners. (Getty Images)

Whoever takes the prize this time around a new champion will be crowned, because three time defenders Monterrey, surprisingly failed to qualify. The 24 contenders have been split into eight groups of three, and the eventual winner will represent the region in the club World Cup.

Mexico have ruled the roost in CCL play, and in recent years MLS has stepped up their efforts to win this tournament. Remember that Commissioner Don Garber has said that Major League Soccer will be one of the world’s top leagues within a decade. That remains a dubious claim so long as Mexico retains a stranglehold on the regional club championship.

All five champions in the CCL era have come from Mexico, with Atlante and Pachuca joining Monterrey among the honors. The L.A. Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders disappointed at the semifinal stage last year, setting up an all Mexican final between Santos Laguna and Monterrey.

The winner’s of each of the eight groups in CCL play move on to the Championship round, contested on a home and away, aggregate goals basis. Below are the groups.

Group 1: Arabe Unido (Panama) Houston Dynamo (USA) W Connection (Trinidad and Tobago)
Group 2: Olimpia (Honduras) Sporting Kansas City (USA) Real Esteli (Nicaragua)

Group 3: Herandino (Costa Rica) Cruz Azul (Mexico) Valencia (Haiti)

Group 4: America (Mexico) Alajuelense (Costa Rica) Sporting San Miguelito (Panama)

Group 5: San Jose Earthquakes (USA) Montreal Impact (Canada) Heredia (Guatemala)

Group 6: Comunicaciones (Guatemala) Toluca (Mexico) Caledonia AIA (Trinidad and Tobago)

Group 7: Tijuana (Mexico) Victoria (Honduras) Luis Angel Firpo (El Salvador)

Group 8: Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) Cartagines (Costa Rica)

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2013 Southern Regional Championships- Boys Finals
2013 Southern Regional Championships- Boys Finals avatar

U.S. Youth Soccer Region III teams wrapped up the 2013 Southern Regional Championships Thursday in Edmond, OK, with 14 crowned champs moving on to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, KS July 22-28.

The U17B Triangle United SA Gold had a thrilling final match against theWest Pines Strikers, coming out on top in penalty kicks and were the only North Carolina team to make it to the finals. The U19B Plantation Copa were the underdogs, defeating Vestavia Steamers 94 Black in the final after the Steamers beat them earlier in the tournament.

U13B United FA Elite coach Gaucho stands with Niko Tzevelekos, who won the Golden Glove award, and Carlos Reyes with his MVP award

U13B United FA Elite coach Gaucho stands with Niko Tzevelekos, who won the Golden Glove award, and Carlos Reyes with his MVP award

U13B United FA 00 Elite Beat Andromeda 00B Red 2-0 to Clinch Regional Title

The United boys started things of on a quick note, putting away two first half goals for an early lead. Carlos Reyes scored the winning brace, with two consecutive goals within the first five minutes! It was all over from that point on, and both team’s back lines made sure of that. The scoreboard remained untouched till the end, and United took the Regional title 2-0.

U14B Solar Chelsea Red 99 Advance to Nationals with 3-0 Win Against Texas Rush 99 Prep

The U14 boys from Texas faced off for the Regional title, and Solar swept the field with a clean shut out. Javier Leija opened scoring with a goal in the 11th minute and Gage Ott added another in the second half. The final goal came minutes before the end from Victor Garcia.

3-0 Shut Out for U15B Final, as Sunrise Elite 97/98 Defeated FC Dallas 98 Premier

Defending champs Sunrise started early on with an immediate goal scored by Emmanuel Perez in the 8th minute. His teammate, Lucas Deoliveira wasn’t far behind, upping the lead 2-0 in the 17th minute. The final goal came in the second half. Donald Emerson sent the ball into the back of the net for a glorious finish and the Regional title. FC Dallas also get a spot at Nationals as a representative, since Sunrise won its division in the U.S. Youth Soccer National League.

Phoenix 97 Red Win U16B Regional Title Against NASA B15 Elite 2-0

GSA fell short in the 2012 Regional Championships, but this year was a different story. Joseph Efford beat out the opposition and fired the ball into the net within the first five minutes of the game. Shadrack Nsukami added the winner in the 28th minute to nab the title. NASA will travel to Nationals as a representative since GSA won their division in the National League.

It was a long game, but perseverance pays off, and the U17B TUSA team won the Regional title in penalty kicks!

It was a long game, but perseverance pays off, and the U17B TUSA team won the Regional title in penalty kicks!

TUSA 95 Gold Bring Home Club’s 4th Title, Winning in Penalty Kicks

TUSA took on the West Pines Strikers for the U17B Regional Championship and played to a scoreless draw through overtime. It was time for penalty kicks, and both teams made four out of five attempts. TUSA’s Michael Barrell made the final goal, and TUSA goalkeeper Justus Heizer an incredible save on West Pine’s next attempt. They fought hard for that title, and will head off to Nationals.

Team Boca Breaks Through Tough Lions Back line to Win the U18B Championship

The Florida boys on Team Boca prevailed against the 95 Lions White with a 4-0 win. Both teams went into the second half 0-0, as the Lions defense stayed strong under pressure.  Boca’s Hunter Pritchard broke through in the 48th minute with the first goal, and scored a brace soon after. Yaincy Gutierrez also scored a brace at the end to cement the win.

Underdog Plantation Copa Take the U19B Regional Title and Look Forward to James P. McGuire Cup

It was flip flop for the U19B final, as Plantation Copa went up against Vestavia Steamers 94 Black, who had beaten them earlier in the tournament. The Steamers charged the beginning, and Jack Hopkins knocked in a penalty kick in the 38th minute to put them in the lead. Plantation came back fighting, and Gonzalo Gelso equalized just two minutes later. It was a clash between the teams up until the 75th minute, and that’s when Plantation got their chance. Jeffrey Michaud put the winning goal away 2-1 and the Florida team became 2013 Regional Champs.

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2013 Southern Regional Championships- Girls Finals
2013 Southern Regional Championships- Girls Finals avatar

U.S. Youth Soccer Region III boys and girls teams wrapped up the 2013 Southern Regional Championships Thursday in Edmond, OK, with 14 crowned champs moving on to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, KS July 22-28.

The final games were fierce, and tight competition resulted in several closely contested matches. U19G NASA 12 Elite II snatched the Championship in penalty kicks and the U16 and U17 girls finals also pushed into overtime to decide the winners. U15G defending champs Tennessee SC 16 kept their Regional title secure and look on towards Nationals.

photo 2

After a back and forth game between U13G Liverpool 00 Elite and Oklahoma FC 00, Catiana Lychywek’s second half goal won the title!

Close U13G Final Results in Liverpool 00 Elite the 3-2 Winner Over Oklahoma FC 00

It was a neck-and-neck game and both teams wanted that ticket to Nationals badly, but only one could advance and it was Liverpool. They had to earn that spot, and Oklahoma put up a hefty fight! Liverpool’s Lauren Tovy opened scoring with a goal in the 15th minute, but OFC wasn’t far behind, with Mackenzie Belyeu equalizing just two minutes later. Then, it was Liverpool’s turn, and Sydney Simmons put her team back in the lead at the 52nd minute. Of course, OFC wasn’t going to let them pull away, and Brianna Amos answered back with a goal eight mins later to tie up the score 2-2.  With time running out, Liverpool’s Catiana Lychywek stepped up, making a speedy dash with the ball from midfield, and scored the winner to give her team the coveted title.

Golden Goal Gets U14G Tophat 17 Gold the Title Against Tulsa Blitz 99 White

It was a nail biter of a game for the U14 girls as they battled into the second half 0-0 and the crowd waited to see who would make the first break away. It looked like it might be Tulsa midway through the half, when Nayeli Perez took a shot at the goal, but it bounced off the crossbar. The final minute of the game dawned, and that’s when Tophat got their chance. Emma Kurtz blasted a low shot past the Tulsa keeper for the 1-0 win and the Regional title.

Defending Champs Tennessee SC 16 Keep Their Title With a 3-1 Win over Tampa bay United 97 Premier

The U15 Tennessee girls got the ball rolling when Danielle Marcano scored the opener in the 25th minute. TBU stayed right with them, and Elaina Laxer equalized four minutes later. It was a tie going into the second half, and that’s when Tennessee showed they weren’t playing around. Maddison Falter scored an early goal and Marcano scored a brace for the 3-1 win.

A goal scored by  Eleanor Pratt in overtime clinched the U16 girls Regional title

An overtime goal scored by Eleanor Pratt of the U16G Louisiana Fire Navy got the 2013 Regional title (Photo Credit: Louisiana Soccer Association)

Louisiana Fire Navy Score in Overtime to Defeat 97 FC Alliance Black 1-0

A single golden goal scored in the 103rd minute by Fire’s Eleanor Pratt clinched the U16 girls Regional title, and it was a hard earned win at that. Both team’s went head to head throughout the game, and pushed into overtime 0-0 before that goal. The Fire girls will head off to Overland Park for Nationals.

Tight Regional Tournament Ends in Even Tighter Final for U17 Girls

The AHFC 96 girls and Tampa Bay United U17 Premier both pushed it to the brink with the Regional title fixed in their sights. After both teams won extremely close semis, they went into the final which would prove to be even more enduring. AHFC took an early lead when Angelica Grayson scored in the 13th minute, but from that point no more goals would be added from either team. AHFC took the title 1-0 after a long, well played tournament.

U18G Push Into Overtime, Oklahoma FC 96 Emerge Victorious

It was an aggressive battle to the end for the U18 girls, as OFC and Lonestars 95 Red locked heads to the very last kick. OFC opened scoring in the first half with two goals scored by Lexi Carroll and Rachel Thun. The second half belonged to the Lonestars, and Elizabeth Fish got them on the board with an immediate goal in the 47th minute. With 10 minutes left in the game, Alyssa Conde put one in to equalize, and it was on to overtime to decide the winner. Two minutes in, OFC’s Karla Cabello capitalized on a loose ball in the box, and sent it to the back of the net for the winner.

U19G NASA 12 Elite II Defeat TBU Premier Girls 93 in Penalty Kicks to Claim Regional Title

It was a long final for the U19 girls, and with no winner after regulation and overtime periods, penalty kicks were the deciding factor. NASA goalkeeper Alyse Scott did her part well, and made three outstanding saves to take her team to the top.  NASA moves on to compete in Overland Park next month with a hard earned Regional title in their pocket.

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Abby Wambach is Coming to Florida
Abby Wambach is Coming to Florida avatar

Abby Wambach is coming to Orlando, FL, Nov. 9 to help raise money for Florida’s TOPSoccer with the “Play Hard Play Fair” fundraiser.

The All-Time international goal scorer will team up with Florida Youth Soccer Association for the event. She came to Florida last year to raise money for TOPSoccer, and it was a major success.

“I’m thrilled to team up again with Florida Youth Soccer Association to raise both money and awareness for Florida TOPSoccer,” Wambach said in a press release. “We held a similar event last year in Ft. Lauderdale and I can’t wait to meet the young soccer players of Florida in Orlando on November 9!”

Here’s how it works:

  • Players who raise $150 will earn a special one-of-a-kind “Play Hard Play Fair” wristband.
  • Players who raise $200 will earn a “Play Hard Play Fair” t-shirt and limited edition Abby Wambach art work.
  • Players who raise $250 will spend the day with Abby! This will consist of lunch and a Q&A session. The top 64 fundraisers will get to participate in a soccer game with the star. Top 10 get to sit with her at lunch while top two sit right next to her.

Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity!

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Indy Eleven to Hold Open Tryouts
Indy Eleven to Hold Open Tryouts avatar

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer announced last week that the North American Soccer League Expansion Club will be holding two open tryouts in July for a chance to play for the new team.

Indy Eleven head coach Juergen Sommer will lead evaluations July 16-17 and July 25-26 for potential players to fill 36 slots. All sessions will run from 9AM-11AM at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium.

Tryouts are open to players 17 and older. Players under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Make sure to bring soccer equipment, because it will not be provided.

“This first round of player tryouts marks another exciting step in the growth of Indy Eleven, and one I have been looking quite forward to getting underway,” said Juergen Sommer, Indy Eleven Director of Soccer Operations and Head Coach. “Judging from the early interest we have received from quality players locally, nationally and internationally, these sessions are certain to provide a highly-competitive environment.”

You must apply online and if selected, pay a $100 registration fee. Please read the full story on the Indiana Soccer Association website.

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NWSL Week 12 – Top Teams Topple
NWSL Week 12 – Top Teams Topple avatar

Seattle Reign FC Nabs First Win of the Season!

It was an exciting Wednesday for Seattle Reign, as they defeated Boston Breakers 2-1 at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville for their first season win.

The match started off with the Breakers taking the lead in the 51st minute. The goal came off a corner kick initiated by forward Katie Schoepfer. The ball bounced off a player and  midfielder Mariah Nogueira was there to slam it home. It was Nogueira’s first NWSL goal.

Seattle's Fishlock got them on the scoresheet and helped lead them to victory. (ISI Photos

Seattle’s Fishlock got them on the scoresheet and helped lead them to victory. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Breakers defense stood tall for the next 25 minutes of the second half, and things were looking a bit daunting for Seattle, but as the 78th minute approached, the tide began to change. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe ushered in a free kick from 20 yards out, but Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was able to deflect it. The ball bounced in front of the goal and midfielder Jessica Fishlock swooped in and sent the ball back into the net to equalize.

With the clock ticking down the final minutes of the game, both teams needed a swift goal to pull ahead. It was Seattle midfielder Christine Nairn to the rescue, capitalizing on a cross from forward Liz Bogus and scoring in the 86th minute.

“I think Seattle is going to steal a lot of wins from (teams),” Breakers head coach Lisa Cole told reporters. “We have to take some accountability. We’re doing some things really well, but we’ve got to play well for 90 minutes. I thought we started better and didn’t give up an early goal. There were some positives in the game, but we’ve got to find some wins.”

Scoring Summary

  • BOS- Nogueira 51’
  • SEA- Fishlock 78’
  • SEA- Nairn (Bogus) 86’

Carli Lloyd Takes Over with Hat Trick, Flash Defeat Spirit 4-0

Friday’s game at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester belonged to midfielder Carli Lloyd, who helped lead the WNY Flash to victory against Washington Spirit with a her second hat trick of the season.

Lloyd opened scoring in just three minutes with a nice header. Defender Alex Sahlen crossed to Lloyd from the right side and she put the ball away with a powerful bump off of her head.

Carli Lloyd (C) celebrates scoring with her teammates. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Carli Lloyd (C) celebrates scoring with her teammates. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

It was Lloyd again at the 22nd minute off an assist from forward Abby Wambach. She sent the ball into the box and it clipped the heel of Spirit defender Candace Chapman. Lloyd pounced on the deflected ball and sent it flying past Spirit keeper Ashlyn Harris for the 2-0 lead.

The Lloyd hat trick was concluded in the 55th minute. She caught a runaway pass from Wambach and found herself face to face with Harris in the net. She took the shot, Harris dove, and it looked like she had made the save, but then the ball came loose from under her. Lloyd wasn’t finished, and leapt over Harris to connect with the ball and the net.

Defender Brittany Taylor scored the final Flash goal in stoppage time, with Wambach on the assist. It was a clean sweep victory and Flash’s 9th consecutive win.

Scoring Summary

  • WNY- Lloyd (Sahlen) 3’
  • WNY- Lloyd (Wambach) 22’
  • WNY- Lloyd 56
  • WNY- Taylor (Wambach) 91+

Breakers End Sky Blue Reign 3-2

The Boston Breakers returned to Dilboy Stadium in Somerville on Sunday for another match, this time against No.1 team Sky Blue.

After getting shut down by Seattle Reign earlier in the week, the Breakers were looking for some redemption, and got exactly that with a thrilling 3-2 win over Sky Blue.

Sydney Leroux has got 7goals to her tally this season. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Sydney Leroux has got 7goals to her tally this season. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

It was an aggressive match from the start and both goalkeepers were put to the test, stopping shots from either side. In the 29th minute, defender Jazmyne Avant made her Breakers debut. She got the ball and sped down the right side of the field and crossed to Sydney Leroux in the box. Leroux slammed it into the net to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

Sky Blue didn’t let that lead linger for very long. Just three minutes later, midfielder Sophie Schmidt equalized  off an assist from forward Monica Ocampo.

Boston wasn’t going to waste any time, and rebounded right back into the lead at the 35th minute. Midfielder Heather O’Reilly sent a corner kick to the back post where midfielder Mariah Nogueira was waiting. She headed it in for her second goal of the week and of the season.

Sydney Leroux scored the brace that added cushion to Boston’s lead. In the 41st minute she took a powerful long shot from 20 yards out and it sailed past Sky Blue keeper Brittany Cameron. Ocampo scored in the 58th minute fro SKy Blue, but Leroux’s goal held Boston above water for the win.

Scoring Summary

  • BOS- Leroux (Avant) 29’
  • SBFC- Schmidt (Ocampo) 32’
  • BOS- Nogueira (O’Reilly) 35’
  • BOS- Leroux 41’
  • SBFC- Ocampo 58’

FC Kansas Shut Out Portland Thorns 2-0

The Blues defeated top dog Portland on Sunday 2-0 at the Shawnee Mission District Field in Kansas.

Head coach Andonovski adopted a new strategy for the game to confront the unstoppable Alex Morgan and Chrisitne Sinclair duo that had thwarted the Blues advances in past games. With Melissa Henderson, Lauren Cheney, Jen Buczkowski and Desiree Scott lined up, balls were denied across the middle, and Cheney and Henderson were able to prodcue some goals.

Cheney (C) is the top scorer in the league. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Cheney (C) is the top scorer in the league. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Cheney scored the opener in the 10th minute. She got the ball from defender Leigh-Ann Robinson and charged down the middle. She took a shot and the ball flew just out of goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc’s reach to give Kansas the 1-0 lead.

The second half saw Portland looking to equalize, but the Kansas back line stood solid against any advances. In the 71st minute Robinson intercepted a pass and crossed to defender Merritt Mathias, who scored the game winner.

Scoring Summary

  • KAN- Cheney (Robinson) 10’
  • KAN- Mathias (Robinson) 71’

Reign Gets 2nd Win of the Week Against Red Stars 3-1

Kyle in action for Seattle. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Kyle in action for Seattle. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Seattle Reign is on fire this week, collecting their second win of the season on Sunday at Starfire Stadium in WA, to move them out of last place in league standings.

The first goal didn’t come until the second half. Seattle forward Kennya Cordner was brought down by Chicago defender Sonja Fuss and a penalty kick was called. Cordner took the shot and defender Kaylyn Kyle converted it, blasting the ball into the left side of the goal.

Six minutes later Seattle broadened their lead 2-0. Midfielder Jess Fishlock capitalized on a pass from forward Christine Nairn, volleying the ball over Red Stars keeper Erin McLeod into the upper-left corner of the net.

From that point, Chicago started looking for an opportunity to get on the board and found it in the 84th minute. Defender Michelle Wenino received a pass from midfielder Julianne Sitch and headed the ball in to change the score 2-1.

Seattle added extra security to their lead in stoppage time. Nairn crossed to Megan Rapinoe, who took on Erin McLeod in the box. McLeod fell off her line and Rapinoe took the shot, ending the game 3-1.

Scoring Summary

  • SEA- Kyle (PK) 51’
  • SEA- Fishlock (Nairn) 58’
  • CHI- Wenino (Sitch) 85’
  • SEA- Rapinoe (Nairn) 93+

League Standings- Week 12

# NWSL GP W L T PTS
1. Sky Blue FC 14 8 3 3 27
2. Portland Thorns FC 13 8 3 2 26
3. FC Kansas City 13 7 4 2 23
4. WNY Flash 12 6 2 4 22
5. Boston Breakers 12 4 5 3 15
6. Chicago Red Stars 12 3 6 3 12
7. Seattle Reign FC 13 2 9 2 8
8. Washington Spirit 11 1 7 3 6

 

 

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

With the Gold Cup set to kick off on July 7, MLS clubs will be reeling once again from national team absences, but there was still plenty of action, and plenty of news from around the league to make up this week’s MLS Big – 5.

1) Graham Zusi Re-Ups with Sporting KC

Perhaps no MLS player has seen his status rise more than Graham Zusi since Jurgen Klinsmann took the reins of the U.S. national team. The SKC midfielder has made the right side of midfield his own, to such an extent that many, most prominently Klinsmann himself, appear to have Zusi well ahead of Landon Donovan for the position.

Graham Zusi has being getting a lot of good press. (Getty Images)

Graham Zusi has being getting a lot of good press. (Getty Images)

I’m not there yet, I still think Donovan is the superior player, but I could see both in the team if Fabian Johnson reverts to fullback. Why do I bring this up? Because KC has extended Zusi’s contract, reflecting the attackers new found prominence in the league and with the national team. A good World Cup could still see Zusi bolt for Europe, but with his future tied to MLS, the league and SKC would get paid.

2) Clarence Goodson Comes Home to MLS – and Bocanegra Too.

Speaking of U.S. national team players signing with MLS clubs, central defender Clarence Goodson has signed with San Jose, after he spent six years plying his trade in Europe. The 31 year old defender played four seasons for FC Dallas, before heading first to Norway and IK Start, and then on to Brondby in Denmark.

Clarence Goodson (C) playing for the U.S.. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Clarence Goodson (C) in action for the U.S.. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Goodson was a part of the 2010 World Cup team, although he did not see any playing time. The lanky veteran is a good bet to make the team for Brazil, most likely in a reserve role. The significance of Goodson’s move is that Klinsmann’s willingness to turn to MLS players for prominent roles in the national team, see item 1, could be making the league a destination for players with national team aspirations.

Fellow center backs Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu are looking for teams, with Bocanegra rumored to be on his way back.  The rumors turned out to be true, Chivas announced that they had signed the former U.S. captain after this story posted. Gooch sounds like he’d prefer to stay in Europe, but given his last couple of years abroad, maybe it’s time for Gooch to follow Goodson and Boca’s lead and come on home.

3) Shakeup at Chivas USA

 Bocanegra will definitely add experience and leadership at the back. (ISI Photos/Nick Turchiaro)

Bocanegra will definitely add experience and leadership at the back. (ISI Photos/Nick Turchiaro)

They started the season with a new coach and a renewed commitment to their original goal of playing a team primarily stocked with Mexican and Latino players. After a briefly positive start the losses began to pile up and the manager was let go. Attendance continues to be embarrassing and a lot of people would just like to see this team moved to Orlando, Atlanta, Miami, anywhere really.

Now a mid-season shakeup is underway. New coach Jose Luis Real has come in with experience from the parent club in Guadalajara and four players were just sent packing. Former U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra we now know is on the way to Chivas, who will be counting on his leadership to help turn their season around.

Meanwhile the Goats broke a seven game losing streak, but they allowed an 88th minute goal and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with New England on Saturday at the StubHub Center, formerly the Home Depot Center.

4) San Jose Stun Galaxy in Front of 50,028 at Stanford

Clarence Goodson won’t be joining San Jose until after the Gold Cup, but he probably can’t wait to suit up for the Earthquakes after their 3-2 comeback thriller against the Galaxy on Saturday.

Alan Gordon got on the scoresheet to help lead his team to the victory. (ISI Photos/Michael Pimentel)

Alan Gordon got on the scoresheet to help lead his team to the victory. (ISI Photos/Michael Pimentel)

Trailing 3-1 and down a man due to two Victor Bernardez yellow cards, the Quakes scored twice in added time to send the crowd into delirium. L.A. actually led 2-0 before Alan Gordon scored his first goal of the season from a Shea Salinas feed. Then with Bernardez out, San Jose showed some of the “Goonies Never Say Die” spirit of 2012 and shocked L.A. while 50,028 people went mad. It was compelling stuff, a thrilling comeback, some great goals and a crowd that was positively Pacific Nortwestian in size and enthusiasm.

5) Gold Cup an MLS Showcase

According to MLS.com, and they should know, a record tying 32 MLS players will be taking part in the Concacaf regional championship – aka – The Gold Cup, beginning this Saturday when Canada play Martinique at the Rose Bowl.

MLS players are leading the way in the Gold Cup rosters. (Getty images)

MLS players are leading the way in the Gold Cup rosters. (Getty images)

The USMNT, not surprisingly leads the way with 11 MLSers on their roster. Canada are second with eight, followed by Costa Rica with four. Honduras, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago each have two, while Panama, El Salvador and Martinique each have a single MLS representative.

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Brazil humble Spain
Brazil humble Spain avatar

Brazil humbled world and European champions Spain with a scintillating 3-0 victory in Rio to win their third consecutive Confederations Cup.

Inspired by the electrifying atmosphere inside the famous Maracana stadium, Brazil overwhelmed Spain from the first whistle bringing an end to their three-year record run of 29 unbeaten competitive matches.

Much of the pre-match buildup had focused on what Brazil might learn from the reigning World Cup champions, but by the end of the 90-minutes it was Spain who received a soccer lesson from their South American opponents.

Brazilian fans partying outside the Maracana Stadium before the final. (Getty Images)

Brazilian fans partying outside the Maracana Stadium before the final. (Getty Images)

There were vast contrasts in the pre-match atmospheres before the game with large crowds protesting in the streets of Rio over the excessive costs of staging the World Cup, while outside the stadium tens of thousands of fans danced and sang.

By the time it came to kick-off the noise inside the Maracana was deafening and the passion created by the partisan crowd appeared to inspire Brazil immediately with the hosts snatching the lead with virtually the first attack of the game.

Spain looked uncomfortable at defending crosses in their semi-final win against Italy and once again showed their vulnerability with the game’s opening goal.

Fred (L) and Neymar (R) celebrate Brazil's opening goal against Spain. (Getty Images)

Fred (L) and Neymar (R) celebrate Brazil’s opening goal against Spain. (Getty Images)

Brazil forward Hulk picked up the ball on the right flank and sent in a speculative lobbed cross to the back post, which should have been simple for the Spanish backline to deal with. However, Pique, Arebelo and Spain goalkeeper Casillas all appeared to leave the ball for one another before the ball found its way to Brazil forward Fred, who managed to stab the ball home from two yards out despite losing his footing.

The early goal rattled the normally composed Spain and inspire Brazil, who pressed and attacked their opponents with pace and flair.

Spain did manage to work themselves back into the game and created a few chances with Andres Iniesta forcing a neat save from Brazil keeper Julio Cesar. Indeed, the Barcelona player seemed to be central to all of the world champions’ good play and started a move that saw Pedro end up with a one-on-one with keeper Julio Cesar.

David Luiz of Brazil makes the spectacular goal-line clearance. (Getty Images)

David Luiz of Brazil makes the spectacular goal-line clearance. (Getty Images)

The midfielder calmly directed a shot past the onrushing Cesar that was bound for goal before Brazil’s defender David Luiz spectacularly hooked the ball over from less than a yard out.

The goal would have given the Spain a tremendous boost going in at half-time, but instead of the finding themselves level, Spain soon fell further behind, as Neymar doubled Brazil’s lead a minute before the break.

The 21-year-old exchanged passes with Oscar on the left-hand edge of the box before smashing a fierce left-foot shot past Casillas into the roof of the net at the front post.

Spain looked stunned at halftime and seemed short of ideas. (Getty Images)

Spain looked stunned at halftime and seemed short of ideas. (Getty Images)

The world and European Champions looked happy to escape from the field and return to the sanctuary of their dressing room at half-time, but if they thought Brazil would let up in the second-half they were sorely mistaken, as the five-time World Cup winners extended their lead two-minutes after the restart.

Some tidy interplay in the Brazil midfield ended with the ball being played out wide to Fred on the top left-hand edge of the box, who delightfully side footed a first-time shot past Casillas to put the game beyond Spain with 43-minutes left to play.

Spain almost had a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on substitute Jesus Navas, but defender Sergio Ramos pulled his shot wide on a night where nothing seemed to go right for them.

The reigning world and European champion’s misery was compounded when Gerard Pique was sent off for a rash lunge on Neymar on 68 minutes, but by then the game was already long over.

Brazil lifting the confederations trophy. (Getty Images)

Brazil lifting the confederations trophy. (Getty Images)

At the final whistle the Brazil team celebrated to cheers of “the champions are back” from the home crowd, while the Spanish players looked on tasting the bitter flavor of defeat for the first time since 2010.

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Confederations Cup – The Dream Final
Confederations Cup – The Dream Final avatar

It is the final all us neutrals were wishing for as Brazil take on world champions Spain in the iconic Maracana stadium tomorrow.

The party continues for Brazil and Spain. (Getty Images)

The party continues for Brazil and Spain. (Getty Images)

The two powerhouses were heavy favorites to make it to Sunday’s final, but both struggled in their semi-final games, with Brazil just edging past Uruguay in a scrappy game. Spain won on penalty kicks after playing out a scoreless draw against Italy, who dominated and created more during the game.

Nevertheless, the two giants showed they have the grit and determination of champions and will both now face each other in a hotly anticipated final on Sunday.

Meanwhile, defeated semi-finalist Uruguay and Italy will faceoff against one another on Sunday before the final in the third-place play-off.

Semi-finals

Brazil 2-1 Uruguay

Brazil edged past Uruguay to make it to their fifth Confederations Cup
in a highly charged affair in Belo Horizonte.

The record three-times Confederations Cup champions secured a 2-1 victory thanks to late header from midfielder Paulinho.

After a fragmented opening, the game burst into life when a penalty was awarded for a foul on Uruguay captain Diego Lugano by Brazilian defender David Luiz.

Uruguay's Diego Forlan reacts to his penalty miss. (Getty Images)

Uruguay’s Diego Forlan reacts to his penalty miss. (Getty Images)

The penalty was delayed as Brazil players surrounded Chilean referee Enrique Osses and the stadium erupted in fury. The long wait appeared to effect Uruguay forward Diego Forlan who struck his shot tamely allowing Brazil keeper Julio Cesar to turn the effort around the post.

The rise in volume in the stadium seemed to momentarily shake Brazil into life with the hosts attacking and probing their opponents. However, they were unable to find a break through and the game once again became scrappy with a piece of good fortune, mistake, or moment of brilliance seemingly the only way to break the parity.

And so it proved with local boy Fred forcing in an effort with his shin after a fortuitous deflection sent the ball into his path to put Brazil one goal up just before half-time.

Edinson Cavani was outstanding for Uruguay and  topped his performance with a goal. (Getty Images(

Edinson Cavani was outstanding for Uruguay and topped his performance with a goal. (Getty Images(

Brazil were probably hoping to build on their lead during the second-half, but were pegged backed immediately after the restart when Thiago Silva rounded off a series of defensive errors by passing the ball to Uruguay forward Cavani, who took a touch before firing past Julio Cesar.

Brazil pushed forward in search of a goal with Uruguay happy to play on the counter. However, neither team appeared to have the class or composure to hurt the opposing side and the game seemed destined to head into extra-time.

Brazil has reached the final much to their jubilation.(Getty Images)

Brazil has reached the final much to their jubilation.(Getty Images)

But just as it seemed the bell was about to ring Brazil struck the knock out blow through Paulinho. The Tottenham Hotspurs target rose highest at the far post to head in a Neymar’s corner from the left to spars scenes of joy and send Brazil into the Confederations Cup final for the fifth time.

Spain 0-0 Italy

(Spain win 7-6 on penalties)

Favorites Spain made it to their first ever Confederations Cup final with a 7-6 penalty shoot-out win over Italy.

The semi-final was a repeat of last summer’s Euro 2012 final where Spain romped to a 4-0 victory of Italy. However, this game was always going to be a closer game and indeed it was Italy who largely dominated.

Andrea Pirlo (C) led his team well and continuously split Spain's defense apart. (Getty Images)

Andrea Pirlo (C) led his team well and continuously split Spain’s defense apart. (Getty Images)

Italy dominated a high-tempo first half employing similar tactics to that which Bayern Munich employed against Barcelona in their semi-final win over the Spaniards—staying tight and compact defensively and breaking quickly down the Spanish flanks.

The approach appeared to cause the reigning World and European champions problems with Italy looking dangerous every time they went forward.

Balotelli's injury caused him to miss the game and many will feel that if he had played Italy would have walked away winners. (Getty Images)

Balotelli’s injury caused him to miss the game and many will feel that if he had played –  Italy would be in the final. (Getty Images)

The Azzuri came into the semi-final without striker Mario Balotelli, who injured his thigh in the quarters, and missed his presence as they spurned chance after chance—with Italy wing-back Christian Maggio the biggest culprit, missing three gilt-edge opportunities.

However, the Italians could not find the break through and the game headed into extra-time.

Spain struggled at times to contain Italy and showed venerability in certain areas. (Getty Images)

Spain struggled at times to contain Italy and showed venerability in certain areas. (Getty Images)

Italy’s earlier efforts meant they began to tire in scorching heat with Spain taking control during extra-time. But the reigning World Champions also struggled to break the deadlock, though they almost scored a last-gasp goal when Italy keeper Buffon unconvincingly pushed Xavi’s long-range shot onto his left-hand post, before the game headed into a penalty shoot-out.

Both Spain and Italy’s keepers, Iker Casillas and Luigi Buffon, were virtual bystanders as the first 12 penalties were expertly dispatch with ease—with Antonio Candreva’s chip the pick of the bunch—before Bonucci fired over the bar.

The quality of the penalties was outstanding and when Italy missed - Spain were quick to celebrate. (Getty Images)

The quality of the penalties was outstanding and when Italy missed – Spain were quick to score and celebrate. (Getty Images)

The miss left Jesus Navas the opportunity to send Spain to their first Confederations Cup final, and the new Manchester City player made no mistakes firing low to the left to set up a mouthwatering final against hosts Brazil.

Final Preview

Brazil vs. Spain

It’s the final all the neutrals were been hoping for as the historically best team in soccer, Brazil, faces arguably the best side in the world at the moment, Spain.

Spain are appearing in the competition for their very first time, whereas reigning Confederations Cup Champions Brazil are in their third straight Confederations Cup final and fifth overall.

The atmosphere should be amazing and hopefully we will get an exciting final. (Getty Images)

The atmosphere should be amazing and hopefully we will get an exciting final. (Getty Images)

These two teams have surprising met only eight times, with their last meeting ending in a 0-0 stalemate in a 1999 international friendly. Brazil edge the overall meetings with four wins to Spain’s two (W4 L2 D2).

Spain are unbeaten in the last two encounters (friendly matches in 1990 and 1999), but their only competitive win against Brazil came way back in the first round of the 1934 World Cup.

It is unusual for Brazil not to be favorites, especially when they are playing in their own backyard, but on Sunday they will start as underdogs against Spain who have won the last three major international tournaments they have been involved in (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012).

Brazil will be hoping to continue the party. (Getty images)

Brazil will be hoping to continue the party. (Getty images)

Nevertheless, there is a sense that Spain’s aura of invincibility is beginning to wane and that the rest of chasing pack is catching up, so Brazil will be confident of their chances.

However, they will have to acclimatize to playing without the ball for large periods of the game, as Spain no doubt will have the lion’s share of possession. But when Brazil do finally get the ball, they will have to use it correctly.

Spain will be gearing for a 3rd consecutive championship title. (Getty Images)

Spain will be gearing for a 4th consecutive championship title. (Getty Images)

Bayern Munich used the flanks to attack Barcelona in the Champions League with great success and Italy did the same in the semi-finals, so Brazil will probably follow suit and do like wise.

A Seleção possess skill and pace on the flanks with the likes of Neymar, Lucas Moura, Dani Alves and Marcelo and big strikers in the middle, so they have all the tools necessary to hurt Spain.

But whether or not Brazil can survive Spain’s surging waves of possession is yet to be seen.

Key Players

Neymar

Neymar has been a real start and Brazil's golden boy. (Getty Images)

Neymar has been a real start and Brazil’s golden boy. (Getty Images)

The 21-year-old player will be plying his trade with most of the Spanish team next season when he joins Barcelona, but first he will experience what it is like to play against them. Spain are a tremendous side, but they have shown themselves to be vulnerable down the flanks and that means tomorrow’s final could be a field day for Neymar who is a bundle of pace, trickery and skill. The Brazil number Ten, who has three goals and two assists, usual occupies the left flanks and if Brazil can get him into one-vs.-one positions against the Spanish full-backs they could be half-way to winning their third Confederations Cup.

Xavi

If Brazil can stop Xavi and iniesta from getting the ball - then that will definitely stunt Spain's game. (Getty Images)

If Brazil can stop Xavi and iniesta from getting the ball – then that will definitely stunt Spain’s game. (Getty Images)

Spain have been the dominant force in world soccer over the last five years by suffocating teams and forcing them into submission with their tiki-taka possession soccer. No team before has worshiped and selfishly kept the ball like Spain do. Xavi has been the key to their style of play, starting and conducting their plays like a conductor instructing an orchestra. Brazil are used to bossing games with possession, but against Spain they will definitely play second fiddle, and if Xavi gets in mood and starts stringing together plays it could be a long afternoon of chasing the ball for Neymar and company.

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2013 Mid West Regional Championships- Boys Finals
2013 Mid West Regional Championships- Boys Finals avatar

The final games are over for the U.S. Youth Soccer Mid West Regional Championships, as Region II U13-U19 girls and boys teams played their hearts out in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday for a coveted spot in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships July 22-28 in Overland Park, KS.

Illinois Youth Soccer Association teams took home the most titles with five and Missouri wasn’t far behind with four titles.

The U15B Vardar 98 Defended their 2012 Regional Title and will be packing for Nationals with a 2013 title in the books. U18B Springfield SC had an epic finals match, battling the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors into penalty kicks where they were able to nab the big win.

U13B Raiders FC Seal the Deal in the First Half of Championship

It was cut and dry, as the Raiders defeated the OP Eagles 4-1, scoring all of their goals in the first half. Isaiah Nieves opened scoring in the 15th minute, followed by a second goal in the 26th from teammate Cesar Cosio. Anthony Aldape polished it off with a brace scored within 7 minutes. The Eagles weren’t going to leave without a goal though, and Ryan Burke managed to get his team on board in the 66th minute.

Michigan Wolves take the U14B Regional title with a 4-0 shut out!

Michigan Wolves take the U14B Regional title with a 4-0 shut out!

U14B Michigan Wolves Shut Out Phoenix Juventus 4-0 For the Title

What a game it was for the Wolves, scoring all 4 goals within the first half. Daniel Wright stole the show with an incredible hat trick, scoring in the 15th, 35th and 38th minute. His teammate Larry Chen scored in the 23rd, and paired with an impeccable performance by the Wolves defense, took them all the way to the top!

U15B Vardar 98 Defend Regional Title and Defeat Chicago Magic 1-0

The Vardar boys won their second consecutive Regional Championship with a golden goal scored by Nash Popovic in the 63rd minute. It was a battle to the finish up until then, and the hard earned goal gave the Vardar boys the coveted Nationals spot.

U16B Michigan Alliance Black Nab Regional Title with 3-1 Win Over PFC

The Alliance boys are headed to Overland Park, KS taking a swift lead with the first goal scored by Nedim Mehanovic in the very first minute of play! Add two more goals scored in the second half by Salvador Aldama and Kyler Beal, and you’ve got the winning U16B Regional team! PFC managed to get on board when Evan Powell scored in the 71st minute, but it wouldn’t be enough to catch Alliance.

Cup Crews Juniors Gold Takes U17B Final by Storm Beating SC Waukesha 6-0

It was a goal-filled game for the Crews, starting with first half goals by Trevor Thompson in the 33rd min and Thomas Moore in the 42nd. The second half got underway with Thompson scoring a brace in the 54th min to bring the Crews ever growing lead 3-0. Josh Grant, Jack Clark and Jacob Scheper added three more goals to round out the remainder, taking the Regional title and a spot at Nationals.

U18B Region II Champs- Springfield SC! (Photo Credit: MYSA)

U18B Region II Champs- Springfield SC! (Photo Credit: MYSA)

Intense U18B Match Ends in Penalty Kick’s- Springfield SC Emerge Victorious

The best of the best battled it out in a long game that surpassed overtime 0-0 and into penalty kicks to decide the winner. Springfield SC defeated Grand Rapids Crew Juniors with excellent goalkeeping and on point shooting. But nonetheless, both teams displayed great determination and prowess, refusing to back down till the end.

Chicago fire Academy Head Off to Overland Park After Defeating NFC 93/94 Blue 2-0

The U18 Chicago boys opened scoring immediately with a goal by Chisom Ogbanna in the 7th minute to take an early 1-0 lead. They held off NFC Blue throughout, and then in the 90th minute, Jourdan Gooden was able to capitalize on another goal, finishing 2-0. The 2013 Regional title is theirs, now onward to Kansas!

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2013 Mid West Regional Championships- Girls Finals
2013 Mid West Regional Championships- Girls Finals avatar

The final games are over for the U.S. Youth Soccer Mid West Regional Championships, as Region II U13-U19 girls and boys teams played their hearts out in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday for a coveted spot in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships July 22-28 in Overland Park, KS.

Illinois Youth Soccer Association teams took home the most titles with five and Missouri wasn’t far behind with four titles.

The U17G Iowa City Alliance Heatwave became the first Iowa team to ever win a Regional title, and after a five-year hiatus, the U19G LSC EGA Bravo team stepped up and won the Championship for their state. Defending champs, U15G Ambassadors FC, U18G Team Chicago Academy Botafogo all reclaimed their titles.

U17G Alliance Heatwave came and conquered, presenting Iowa with its first-ever Regional title

U17G Alliance Heatwave came and conquered- Allison Bitter breaks away with the ball!

The U13G Michigan Hawks Shut Out Carmel United SC Elite 3-0

The Hawks will be preparing for competition in Overland Park next month, but for now, they are the reigning U13G Region II champs. It was a 3-0 clean sweep for the girls, with Madison Wolfbauer and Alexa Spaanstra scoring in the first half followed by a final goal by Samantha Sklarski in the second half.

U14G NSA Rockets Defeat Kings Hammer Academy Red 4-0 with Impressive Goals

Following a scoreless first half, it didn’t take long for the NSA girls from Illinois to really start working the field. They ended the first half with a 45th minute goal from Lauren Long, but Simone Gardner really took the scoreboard by storm after halftime, nailing a hat trick, with all three consecutive goals scored within a 10 minute span!

U15G Ambassadors FC Defend Their Title Against the KCU Rangers and finish with a 7-0 Win

These girls swept the board, showing that they are more than ready for Nationals. Three goals were scored before the half by Samantha Slagle, Alexandra Wright and Sarah Krause. They continued on into the second half, adding four more goals. Caitlin Glascott added one in the 46th minute and Alexandra Wright scored a brace midway through. Sarah Krause finished off the game with a hat trick to take the Regional title.

IMG_1342

U14G NSA Rockets had an outstanding finish with Simone Gardner’s hat trick scored all within 10 minutes!

Golden Goal Earns U16G NSA Jaguars a Regional crown against Futura FC

The Jaguars dominated U16G Regional finals with an impeccable defense and a single 12th minute goal scored by Abbie Boswell. They accepted their hard earned title and will be heading off to Nationals.

U17G Iowa City Alliance Heatwave Make History in Their Home State

The Alliance girls came and conquered, presenting Iowa with its first-ever Regional title. They defeated Academy United 3-1 in a thrilling match that pushed into overtime. Alliance got the lead 1-0 when Kaela Dickerman scored in the 19th minute and they held that lead to the end of the game. Just when it looked like the title was their’s, Academy surged forward, with Jenna Kentgen equalizing just two minutes before the whistle. The heat was on as overtime commenced. Rose Ripslinger took the reigns and scored a brace for an epic Iowa win.

Chicago Academy Botafogo Reclaim U18G Regional Title with 2-1 Win Against FC United Select

The 2012 Regional champs defended their title beautifully, but it wasn’t won without a fight. FC United’s Lauren Smith opened scoring, with an early 13th minute goal, but Chicago stepped up and followed with two goals before halftime. Dana Miller scored in the 20th minute and Katie Ciesiulka in the 41st. They held their one point lead through the second half with a strong backline working to keep United at bay and were rewarded with the title and a ticket to Nationals.

DSC04062

It was a close battle, but the U19G LSC EGA Bravo take the Regional title!

Close match Ends with U19G LSC EGA Bravo Victorious Against Kolping Kicks SC Schmitt

Kolping Kicks came out charging with an early goal by Ashley Burton in the 18th minute, but Bravo wasn’t far behind, and Alyssa Flannery was able to equalize before halftime. It was tug o’ war in the second half, as both teams scored one after another. Bravo’s Jaylyn Odermann and Jackie Tondl cushioned the lead 3-1 but then Kolping’s Nicole Breece was able to add a second goal for her team 3-2. Bravo came back when Ava Ambrose scored in the 68th minute. Kolping’s Jennifer Miller scored two mins later for a 4-3 score, but Bravo was able to hold them off for the remainder, and nabbed the U19G Regional title.

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Donovan Returns
Donovan Returns avatar

Landon Donovan’s national team exile, self imposed and otherwise, has ended at last with Donovan’s inclusion in the USMNT roster for this month’s Gold Cup.

Landon Donovan return will be much welcomed by the American fans. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Landon Donovan return will be much welcomed by the American fans. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Donovan’s selection was by far the biggest news surrounding yesterday’s unveiling by U.S. Soccer, but it wasn’t the only story. Former captain Carlos Bocanegra missed out, while his longtime, former partner in the center of the U.S. defense, Oguchi Onyewu, was recalled despite receiving virtually no playing time for Malaga this past season. All this on a day when it was announced that veteran fullback Steve Cherundolo would again require knee surgery, a setback that calls the Hanover mainstays USMNT future in doubt.

Klinsmann seemed excited about Donovan's return. (Getty Images)

Klinsmann seemed excited about Donovan’s return. (Getty Images)

In a conference call with the U.S. soccer press on Thursday afternoon, it was no surprise that Donovan was the first question Klinsmann faced. The coach described Donovan’s return as, “exciting,” calling this recall, “a wonderful opportunity for him (Donovan) to prove where he’s at now.”

“We’re just curious,” Klinsmann continued, “to see how he picks up the rhythm, how he picks up the speed and tempo and all these elements, and therefore we’re excited to have him back.”

“With Carlos, I had a long talk,” Klinsmann explained and he cited Bocanegra’s club situation, when asked about the experienced defenders omission. “He basically is in the middle of another move,” Klinsmann said, possibly breaking some news, when he added that Bocanegra was going to, “leave it looks like today, he’s going to leave Racing Santander.”

Although no news of a Bocanegra move has broken, Klinsmann said that he wants to allow his former captain to get off to a fresh start with whatever new club he ends up at, and participating in the Gold Cup could interfere.

Onyewu returns tor the Gold Cup squad and will be hoping to make an impression. (ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

Onyewu returns tor the Gold Cup squad and will be hoping to make an impression. (ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

As for Onyewu’s coming back into the team despite a disappointing lack of playing time at Malaga, Klinsmann said, “this is huge for Gooch now, to prove a point with us. We know the qualities of Gooch, we know what his level can be.” Klinsmann believes, “that if he is in very, very good shape, if he’s really focused and if he picks up the rhythm, then he’s a very good center back.”

This roster isn’t only about the veterans, some younger players will get a chance to impress as well. Houston Dynamo fullback Corey Ashe and Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney are the only players who will be looking for their first cap, but the duo are part of a group of young and youngish players, trying to move up the national team depth chart.

Like Ashe, Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran will be looking for minutes at fullback, as will Edgar Castillo, who has been around the national team for a while now, without proving much. Young midfielders Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt and Alejandro Bedoya will battle for playing time with Jose Torres, on perhaps another “last chance” and the recovering Stuart Holden. This is an interesting group, with the dependable, if limited Kyle Beckerman, the only known quantity at this point.

MLS goal scoring leader McInerney (tied at 10 with Mike Magee and Marco Di Vaio) is joined up front by Will Bruin and vets Donovan, Herculez Gomez and Chris Wondolowski.

McInerney (R) is proving to be quite the force in-front of goal and is a surprise omission. (ISI Photos/ Howard C. Smith)

McInerney (R) is proving to be quite the force in-front of goal. (ISI Photos/ Howard C. Smith)

The 20 year old McInerney is among the most interesting players named in this group, because, well goals are interesting. A pretty fair goal scorer in his own playing days, Klinsmann said of McInerney, “we see there is a lot of talent coming through. He’s a hungry kid, he’s hungry for goals, he can score goals in many, many different ways, he’s providing assists, he’s there for his team, he’s chasing people down, he’s highly energetic.”

As if to temper expectations after that glowing review, Klinsmann added, “We just want to open the door now for him to become part of our group, and we would like to see him on a daily basis and possibly in the games as well.” “This,” Klinsmann concluded, “is a first step for him in the senior program.”

This year’s Gold Cup winners will play off against the 2015 champions for a spot in the 2015 Confederations Cup in Russia. Although the U.S. team is not at full strength because of the World Cup Qualifiers, Mexico is at a similar disadvantage, compounded by their participation in this year’s Confederation Cup in Brazil. Mexico have been knocked out of the Cup, but their team was named prior to that elimination, so this could be an opportunity for the U.S.

Kyle Beckerman (R) is the only MLS midfielder named to the squad. (Getty Images)

Kyle Beckerman (R) is the only MLS midfielder named to the squad. (Getty Images)

12 teams will compete in three groups in games played at venues throughout the United States. Here are the groups. Group A: Mexico, Panama, Canada and Martinique. Group B: Honduras, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti. Group C: USA. Costa Rica, Belize and Cuba. The top two teams in each group and the top two third place finishers move on to the quarterfinals, so it’s not that big an ask.

With one eye on Brazil, Klinsmann said that, “the Gold Cup is a huge opportunity for all the players to make a very, very strong statement.” For the U.S. that opportunity begins July 9th, when they play Belize in Portland, Oregon. Next up for the U.S. is Cuba, July 13 in Sandy, Utah before the hosts finish group play in East Hartford on July 16 versus Costa Rica.

Here is the 23 man USMNT Gold Cup roster. Four players can be added after group play is concluded.

U.S. ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8) : Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (7) : Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsinborg), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Joshua Gatt (Molde FK), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jose Torres (Tigres)
FORWARDS (5) : Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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U-20 World Cup – Ghana Eliminates USA
U-20 World Cup – Ghana Eliminates USA avatar

Ghana maintained their historic mastery over the United States men’s soccer team, eliminating the Americans from the U20 World Cup with a 4-1 victory today in Turkey.

The U.S. came into this game needing a win to advance to the knockout rounds after Monday’s solid tie against France. Ghana were pointless coming in, but the Black Stars have never lost to the U.S. at any level, most famously eliminating the Yanks from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and 2006 in Germany.

The starting lineup against Ghana. (Getty Images)

The starting lineup against Ghana. (Getty Images)

U.S. coach Tab Ramos made a couple of changes, inserting Oscar Sorto at right midfield and reinstating team captain Caleb Stanko at center back. The U.S. missed Benji Joya, who had formed an effective defensive central midfield tandem with Wil Trapp versus France.

The Americans had trouble today dealing with Ghana’s tremendous speed and quickness right from the start, in front of one of the bigger crowds so far at this U20 World Cup.

Ghana threatened early, but the U.S. should have taken the lead in the 13th minute when Mario Rodriguez somehow failed to score on an open header from no more than five yards, after an inch perfect cross from DeAndre Yedlin.

The result was not a fair projection of the game. (Getty Images)

The U.S. were outmuscled in the midfield . (Getty Images)

U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper was called into action, making a great save off of a breakaway that came from a very poor giveaway from Jose Villarreal, who was far too easily muscled off the ball by his opponent. The L.A. Galaxy man’s miscue foreshadowed a gamelong problem for the U.S. midfield, whose wastefulness with the ball put the back four under constant pressure.

Rodriguez had another chance to put the U.S. out in front, off of a good Wil Trapp pass and his own good run, but his tame effort was easily saved.
The wide open nature of the game seemed to better suit the Ghana side, and the Americans had Cropper to thank for keeping this game knotted at zero. Cropper was at his best in the 33rd minute, diving from a prone position to somehow make a save, getting an assist from Mikey Lopez, who saved the rebound.

Ghana's Frank Acheampong  (2nd R) celebrates his and Ghana's opening goal. (Getty Images)

Ghana’s Frank Acheampong (2nd R) celebrates his and Ghana’s opening goal. (Getty Images)

Ghana finally made the breakthrough after some sloppy defending presented them with a golden chance. Trapp and Stanko each had a chance to clear a loose ball, when neither did Frank Acheampong pounced, and the man his countrymen call Messi, did not miss.

The U.S. were under heavy pressure as the the second half got underway, and things got harder when Yedlin, carrying an injury and a yellow card, was subbed out. That pressure paid off for Ghana in the 58th minute. Danny Garcia, who had replaced Lopez after halftime, carelessly turned the ball over near midfield and the break was on. Ebenezer Assifuah finished the move with a beautifully taken goal, that Cropper somehow managed to get a piece off.

Defender Shane O’Neill cut the deficit in half in the 69th minute with a fine header, well set up by Sorto’s cross. There was plenty of soccer still to be played and the U.S. were still alive. Danny Cuevas had a chance to tie the game as he done against France, but his right footed shot was far too soft to get the job done.

Ghana still needed goals if they were going to advance, so the game continued at a breakneck pace. Then Assifuah badly beat a stationary Stanko to head home in the 83rd minute, effectively ending the U20 World Cup for the U.S.

Ghana added one last dagger, when Cropper let one through for a cheap goal. It really was a shame for Cropper, who added a fantastic performance today to a fine effort versus France.

The U-20's have struggled at this tournament and unfortunately are on their way home. (ISI Photos)

The U-20′s have struggled at this tournament and unfortunately are on their way home. (ISI Photos)

Questions will be raised in the coming days and weeks about this team. Were the right players chosen? What is the quality of this group? And Tab Ramos’ performance will be judged as well. All of that is as it should be. But, as with all youth teams, this ones true worth won’t be known until we see how many, if any, of these players graduate to the full national side.

From the evidence of this World Cup, DeAndre Yedlin, Luis Gil and maybe Cody Cropper, look most likely to make the jump. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Match: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
Date: June 27, 2013
Competition: 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup – Group A
Venue: Kadir Has Stadium; Kayseri, Turkey
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
Attendance: 4,873
Weather: 79 degrees, clear

 

Scoring Summary: 1   2   F
USA        0   1   1
GHA        1    3   4

GHA – France Acheampong 38th minute
GHA – Ebenezer Assifuah 58
USA – Shane O’Neill 69
GHA – Ebenezer Assifuah 78
GHA – Kennedy Ashia 83

Lineups:

USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 2-DeAndre Yedlin (20-Daniel Cuevas, 54), 4-Caleb Stanko (capt.), 5-Shane O’Neill, 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 15-Mikey Lopez (17-Danny Garcia, 46), 6-Wil Trapp; 18-Oscar Sorto, 10-Luis Gil, 9-Mario Rodriguez (7-Victor Pineda, 79); 11-Jose Villarreal
Subs Not Used:, 12-Kendall McIntosh, 13-Eric Miller, 14-Javan Torre, 16-Kellyn Acosta, 19-Alonso Hernandez, 21-Zack Steffen
Unavailable: 8-Benji Joya (suspended – yellow card accumulation)
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

GHA: 1-Eric Antwi; 4-Joseph Attamah, 5-Abdul Rahman Baba, 7-France Acheampong (3-Ebenezer Ofori, 89), 8-Seidu Salifu, 10-Clifford Aboagye, 13-Richmond Nketiah, 14-Lawrence Lartey (capt.), 17-Ebenezer Assifuah, 19-Moses Odjer (15-Kennedy Ashia, 74), 20-Yiadom Boakye (9-Francis Narh,74)
Subs Not Used: 2-Jeremiah Arkorful, 6-Joseph Duncan, 11-Baba Mensah, 12-Michael Sai, 15-Kennedy Ashia, 16-Richard Ofori, 18-Michael Anaba, 21-Princebell Addico
Head Coach: Sellas Tetteh

Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 10 / 25
Shots on Goal: 6 / 17
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 9 / 6
Fouls: 17 / 13
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:

USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 30th minute
GHA – Moses Odjer (caution) 40
GHA – Kennedy Ashia (caution) 84
GHA – Lawrence Lartey (caution) 85

 

 

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Lamar Open Cup – All MLS Semis
Lamar Open Cup – All MLS Semis avatar

And then there were none. The last two lower league teams were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup last night when Orlando SC fell 5-1 to the Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake eliminated the Carolina RailHawks 3-0, guaranteeing an all MLS final.

D.C.'s scorer Chris Pontius (13) in action agains San Jose (ISI Photos /Jose L. Argueta)

D.C.’s scorer Chris Pontius (13) in action against San Jose (ISI Photos /Jose L. Argueta)

The big surprise in the quarterfinals saw the DC United top the New England Revolution 1-0 for their second win in a week, after DC beat San Jose 1-0 in league on Saturday. Dwayne De Rosario, who is developing into a Open Cup hero for DC, scored the winner, after notching a hat trick last time out against Philadelphia to get United this far.

Chris Pontius opened the scoring in the waning moments of the first half with a right footed blast past Matt Reis to give DC a welcome lead at the break. The Revs came out strong at the re-start, leveling from a Juan Toja free kick, but the newly confident United came back to claim the victory.

DeRo headed home the go ahead goal off of a Pontius corner kick, and wouldn’t coach Ben Olsen like to see those two get it going. New England nearly tied the score via Juan Agudelo, but his 85th minute strike caromed off the post. Lionard Pajoy ended the suspense when he converted a penalty kick for DC just two minutes later, to send two time champs DC United to the semifinals at Chicago, where they will take on the Fire on August 7.

Chris Rolfe opened the scoring for Chicago. (ISI Photos/Michael Burns)

Chris Rolfe opened the scoring for Chicago. (ISI Photos/Michael Burns)

The Fire ended Orlando’s dream run with that decisive 5-1 win, but the result was in the balance for much of the game. Chris Rolfe got the Fire out to a quick start with a goal just six minutes from the opening whistle at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. But upset minded Orlando hung around, equalizing through Rob Valentino in the 51st minute.

The USL PRO side nearly took the lead moments later, but Sean Johnson stretched himself to deny Orlando’s goal scoring sensation Dom Dwyer with a game changing save. Chicago quickly turned things their way taking the lead with goals just four minutes apart from Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe. A 72nd minute red card to Orlando defender Yann Songo’o set the stage for late Fire goals from Mike Magee and Joel Lindpere, ending Orlando’s excellent adventure.

Like Orlando the Carolina RailHawks had played Cinderella in the Open Cup, in their case sending home both Los Angeles MLS teams in reaching this stage. But there was no more magic in their tank, as Real Salt Lake ended their fun. RSL got goals from Tony Beltran, Chris Wingert and Alvaro Saborio to earn a result that was never in doubt.

This win sets up an intriguing matchup with Portland, RSL’s current co-leaders at the top of the Western Conference, on August 7 in Sandy, Utah.

Frederic Piquionne (R) got the game winning goal for Portland to take them to the semis.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Frederic Piquionne (R) got the game winning goal for Portland to take them to the semis.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The Timbers earned their semifinal berth, the first in their history, with a 3-2 defeat of Dallas in steamy Frisco, Texas. The home team got on top with a 15th minute tally from Je-Vaughn Watson, and that lead stood up until the 61st minute.

Darlington Nagbe continued his run of good form scoring the leveler and then setting up Diego Valeri for the go ahead goal, just two minutes later. Substitute Frederic Piquionne added to Portland lead, and the Timbers held on despite a late Blas Perez goal.

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