EPL Week 30 – Manager transfer windows, EPL previews, and a FA Cup showdown
EPL Week 30 – Manager transfer windows, EPL previews, and a FA Cup showdown avatar

Well we are into the final furlong of the EPL season now with only nine games left to play. Manchester United look to have claimed their 20th League title with an unassailable 15-points lead at the top, but there is still a lot to be decided—like Champions League and relegation places—and many scores to be settled before the season is out, so without further ado lets see what lies ahead of us in week 30.

NEWS

Diaby out for the rest of the year

(Getty Images)

Diaby’s time at Arsenal has been fraught with injuries. (Getty Images)

Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby has been ruled out of action for up to nine months with a knee ligament injury.

The 26-year-old French man has been plagued with injuries throughout his time at Arsenal, making only 92 starts for the Gunners since 2006.

A club statement said: “Abou Diaby injured his left knee in training on Wednesday and he has torn his anterior cruciate ligament.

“Abou will undergo surgery to repair the injury in the near future.”

Diaby’s injury leaves Arsenal short on numbers in the midfield department, with fellow midfielders Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott both out for up to two-weeks.

Ince wants Manager transfer window

(Getty Images)

Ince feels managers deserve to be protected like players. (Getty Images)

Blackpool manager Paul Ince has suggested the FA should introduce a transfer window for managers.

The former Manchester United, Inter Milan, and Liverpool midfielder feels the next generation of soccer managers will be put-off of prospective careers in management with 34 managers already sacked this season.

Talking to BBC Radio Lancashire, Ince said: “Why would the Steven Gerrards and the Jamie Carraghers want to go into management when there’s no protection for them?”

“There needs to be some legislation where there’s protection for managers,”

Blackpool face Blackburn, who sacked their Manager after only 67 days, on Friday. And Ince, who was also dismissed fairly quickly when at Blackburn—177 day to be exact—feels a transfer system akin to the one used for players could be a solution to problems facing managers.

“You look at Michael Appleton – he’s a young English manager coming into the game. To lose your job after 67 days is ridiculous. We’re not getting any time.

“That’s what disappoints me with the Blackburn situation. It’s OK that we can protect players because they’re on contracts. We can sell them in January, and if they don’t want to go, they stay.

“It should be exactly the same as a manager. It stops all the commotion and it makes sense. Someone needs to seriously look at it.”

MPs plea FA to make stand against FIFA ‘sham’ reforms

(Getty Images)

FIFA do not seem to want greater transparency. (Getty Images)

British Members of Parliament have urged the English, Scottish, and Welsh Football Associations to help stop FIFA’s internal reform becoming a ‘sham’.

The move comes after Alexandra Wrage, a leading member of Fifa’s Independent Governance Committee (IGC), said the reform process was becoming neutered with FIFA rejecting several of the proposed measures such as stricter controls for deciding how future World Cups are awarded and disclosing how much FIFA president Sepp Blatter and other leading executives are paid.

Following Wrange’s complaints, representatives from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties requested the various British Football Associations raise the issues at FIFA’s annual congress in May—though the deadline to add items to the agenda for the annual congress is this Saturday.

Damian Collins and Alun Cairns (Conservative), Jim Sheridan (Labour) and Adrian Sanders (Liberal Democrats) are the MPs who have made the requests.

In a letter to FA chairman David Bernstein, Conservative MP Damian Collins wrote: “This was supposed to be the moment when FIFA embraced the need for greater transparency in its financial affairs and key decision-making processes.

“Instead the impression has been created that Sepp Blatter and the FIFA executive committee have no serious commitment to reform, and that the whole process has been a sham.

“According to FIFA statutes, any member may make a request for an item to be included on the agenda for the Congress, and I would like to ask if the FA would submit a proposal for the four key recommendations for reform recently presented by the Independent Governance Committee to be debated and voted on.”

Collins added: “These issues are of real concern to football fans around the world. To many the FIFA executive committee look like a group of hard-faced men who have done very well out of football.”

Previews and Predictions

 

Score

My Predictions

SATURDAY
Everton v Man City 2-0 2-1
Aston Villa v QPR 3-2 1-2
Southampton v Liverpool 3-1 0-2
Stoke v West Brom 0-0 0-1
Swansea v Arsenal 0-2 0-2
Man Utd v Reading 1-0 4-0
SUNDAY
Sunderland v Norwich 1-1 2-1
Tottenham v Fulham 0-1 2-0
Chelsea v West Ham 2-0 2-0
Wigan v Newcastle 2-1 2-1

A correct result is worth ONE point, while a correct score earns THREE points.

Last time out I got FIVE correct results, with THREE perfect scores, giving me a combined total of 11-points, which is just two points shy of my best total of 13-points back in week 14.

There is a real mix and match about the fixtures this week with the top, middle, and bottom teams all playing one another. Man City vs Newcastle and Swansea vs Tottenham are probably the picks of the EPL games, though Chelsea and Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final replay on Monday is undoubtedly the biggest game this week.

Week  30

My Predictions

SATURDAY
Sunderland v Man Utd 0-2
Arsenal v Reading 4-0
Man City v Newcastle 3-1
Southampton v Chelsea 1-2
Swansea v Tottenham 1-1
West Ham v West Brom 2-1
Wigan v Norwich 2-1
Everton v Stoke 2-0
SUNDAY
Aston Villa v Liverpool 0-2
MONDAY
Chelsea v Man Utd (FA Cup) 1-2
Fulham v QPR 2-1

Saturday

Sunderland vs Man Utd

Van Persie said he would like to finish his career with Utd earlier this week.  (Getty Images)

Van Persie said he would like to finish his career with Utd earlier this week. (Getty Images)

Manchester United may be tempted to field a weakened side against Sunderland with their FA Cup quarter-final clash against Chelsea scheduled on Monday.

However, even though the Red Devils have a 15-point lead at the top of the EPL it seems unlikely Ferguson will rest most of his star players. The Scot will want to wrap up the EPL as soon as possible, and it should also be noted that Ferguson fielded a strong team against Everton just before United’s away clash with Real Madrid in the Champions League – which was arguably a bigger game than the Chelsea clash is.

Sunderland have struggled with their form all season and are without a win in their last seven EPL games, taking a measly three points from a possible twenty one. The Black Cats lie only four points off the relegation zone, and need to start picking up points quick or risk sinking into the abyss.

However, with top goal scorer Steven Fletcher out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage, it is hard to see how Sunderland will score the goals they have struggled to find all season.

United have no injury worries and their only real conundrum is whether or not to rest players ahead of Monday’s clash with Chelsea.

Sunderland have only ever beaten United once in 23 meetings, and with the Black Cats present form, even the most optimistic of Sunderland fans would be hard pressed to predict a win.

Prediction: 0-2

Arsenal vs Reading

The Gunners will be hoping to return to winning ways having lost last weekend at home. (Getty Images)

The Gunners will need Carzola and Arteta to help their fragile midfield. (Getty Images)

It looked like Arsenal’s hopes of making it into next season’s Champions League were all but over when they lost to Tottenham a few weeks back, but a couple of good wins coupled with Tottenham’s traditional end-of-season capitulation have left the Gunners within four-points of their neighbors with a game in hand.

Arsenal have nine games left in the EPL, five of which are home games. The first of those homes games is against joint-bottom of the EPL Reading, and if the Gunners are serious about finishing in the top four then they simply must beat the Latics.

Reading recently appointed Nigel Atkins, who was only sacked by Southampton a couple of months back, but it is unlikely he has the time or resources to keep Reading in the EPL. The Latic are just lacking in the class department, though they more than make up for it with their spirit, and will always give their opponents a good game.

Abu Diaby, Jack Wilshere, and Theo Walcott are all out for Arsenal with Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosiky and Oxlade-Chamberlain likely to replace the injured trio.

These two have played twice already this season with Arsenal winning on both occasions and scoring 13 goals in the process. The Latics have bundles of team spirit and can score goals, but they seem to be naive or short in class at the back and that is why I am going for an easy Arsenal win.

Prediction: 4-0

Manchester City vs Newcastle

City will be hoping to welcome back Aguero as he is surely key to their success. (Getty Images)

City should welcome back Aguero after a three week lay-off. (Getty Images)

City’s loss to Everton last time out means the Champions are basically playing for second place. They did overhaul an eight-point lead last season, but United now hold a massive 15-point lead over City and would basically have to lose all of their remaining games for City to even stand a chance.

Newcastle lost at Wigan in their last game, and seemed to be effected by some poor referring decision. But the result was in keeping with the Magpies form this season, which has been topsey turvy at best.

City look certain to be without captain Vincent Kompany, who aggravated a calf injury while playing for Belgium that has kept out of action for the champions since January, though striker Sergio Aguero should return to the starting line-up after recovering from a knee injury.

The champions have not hit the dizzying heights they reached last season and their biggest problem has been scoring goals. They may be out of form and only playing for second place, but I still cannot see anything other than a comfortable home win for City.

Prediction: 3-1

Southampton vs Chelsea

Frank Lampard need just two goals to equal Bobby Tamblings Chelsea goalscoring record of 202 goals. (Getty Images)

Frank Lampard needs just two goals to equal Bobby Tambling’s Chelsea goalscoring record of 202 goals. (Getty Images)

Southampton pulled another one out of the bag in their last game, defeating an in-form Liverpool side to maintain their target of EPL survival. The Saints have now taken points off of Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool at the St Mary’s Stadium this season, and will not be afraid of the task awaiting them on Saturday when they line up against European champions Chelsea.

After an indifferent start to the year, Chelsea have suddenly hit a bit of a purple patch in form, and they may be disappointed the international break came when it did as it might have broken their momentum.

Both these teams are playing well and need a win from this game—Southampton to ward off relegation and Chelsea to cement a spot in next season’s Champions League. Tinker man Rafa Benitez may field a weakened team with one-eye on Monday’s game with Manchester United, but either way I think the Blues will just about edge this one.

Prediction: 1-2

 (Getty Images)

Spurs will be hoping that Dempsey and their other international players are not suffering from ‘Fifa virus’. (Getty Images)

Swansea vs Tottenham

Both these teams lost in their last outings and will want to turn things around with a good win on Saturday.

Swansea seem to have gone off the boil after winning their historic first trophy, and have now lost two games on the trot. Club Captain Ashley Williams spoke this week about the danger of their season petering out, but I don’t think that will happen and I expect the Swans to bounce back soon after this mini-hangover.

However, they face no easy task against fourth placed Spurs, who desperately want to be in next year’s Champions League after missing out last year despite finishing fourth, only because Chelsea won Europe’s premier competition.

Spurs’ win over Arsenal looked to have put them in a commanding position for a Champions League spot, but consecutive losses in the EPL have allowed Chelsea to leapfrog the north Londoners and left arch-rivals Arsenal in with a chance of stealing fourth place.

This should be a good game to watch, as both sides like to keep the ball on the deck and play passing soccer. Spurs have the better players and normally I would pick them to win this one, but with a week of international soccer having just passed I feel a few of the Spurs players may be suffering the effects of ‘Fifa virus’ and that is why I will go for a draw.

Prediction: 1-1

Sunday

Aston Villa vs Liverpool

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

Brad Guzan hopes the Villa crowd can help Villa overcome Liverpool. (Getty Images)

Aston Villa got a massive win against relegation rivals QPR to keep them just above Wigan and outside of the relegation zone.

The Villains seems to be finding a bit of form just at the right time, and have now won three of their last five games in the EPL. U.S. international keeper Brad Guzan, who has been in inspired from for both club and country recently, feels Villa’s form has come from their rocking home supports, and they will definitely need that 12th man when they face Liverpool on Sunday.

The Reds surprisingly lost to Southampton last week, but were in good form before that, winning four consecutive games in the EPL. Brendan Rogers ideas seem to have come to fruition and new signings Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho seem to have added a different dynamic to the Liverpool attack.

Villa beat Liverpool away back in December, and with two consecutive wins under their belt they may just fancy their chances of beating Liverpool again. However, it should be noted that Villa’s last two wins were against the two bottom sides in the EPL, and even with the help of the 12th man I cannot see anything but a Liverpool win.

Prediction: 0-2

Monday

Chelsea vs Man Utd (FA Cup quarter-final replay)

 

Chelsea will have to be wary of Chicharito who has scored (Getty Images)

Chelsea will have to keep a close eye on Chicharito who has scored 7 goals in 10 appearances against them. (Getty Images)

Chelsea looked dead and buried after the first 15-minutes against Man Utd in the initial game, conceding two early goals. But the blues fought back valiantly in the second-half to tie the game and in the end were disappointed not to have won.

Chelsea seem to have improved a lot in recent weeks, as the Chelsea fans seem to have gotten bored with booing and shouting abuse at interim manager Rafa Benitez. Chelsea have had a strange season, it started out so well and then turned into a bit of a disaster. But the same happened last year and Chelsea ended up having their greatest season ever, winning the Champions League, and the Blues could still yet have another historic season with the FA Cup and Europa League still within their grasps.

But the west Londoners will first have to get past Manchester United, who will want to add the FA Cup to an EPL title that is all but already theirs. The Red Devils have won the world’s oldest cup competition a record 11 times, and will be itching to exact some revenge on Chelsea who defeated them in the 2007 final.

Chelsea are in form and at home, so they should really be favorites to take this game. However, playing at home has sometimes been harder for the Blues this season with the home fans spending most of their time abusing coach Benitez.

United felt aggrieved after bowing out of the Champions League and will want to end their season with a little FA Cup gloss. They were lucky not to lose to Chelsea in the last game, though they could have been out of sight by half-time.

This should be close and thrilling encounter, but United seem to have more match winners in their team and that is why I will back them to edge this one.

Prediction: 1-2

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Donovan Back And Hoping For U.S. Spot
Donovan Back And Hoping For U.S. Spot avatar

Landon Donovan has returned to training with the Los Angeles Galaxy, and has let it be known that he wants back in on the U.S. national team too. After winning a second MLS Cup in a row with the Galaxy last December 1, Donovan went on an extended sabbatical, as he tried to re-ignite his passion for the game.

Donovan returned to training with the Galaxy (Getty Images)

Donovan returned to training with the Galaxy (Getty Images)

The longer Donovan, the United States all time leader in both goals and assists stayed away, the more the tide of public opinion seemed to turn away from the longtime face of U.S. soccer. And while Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. national team members have been careful not to say anything negative about Donovan’s decision to stay away, it became apparent that constant questions about the situation had worn thin.

Just this week in a pre-game press conference a member of the Mexican based media asked U.S. captain Clint Dempsey to comment on Donovan’s absence. Seated beside his captain, a small smile on his face, Klinsmann’s expression seemed to say, “not this again.” U.S. soccer scribes had long since stopped asking about Donovan, what more was there to say? The party line was, he’s not training or playing for his club, so he can’t be considered for the national team.

Clint Dempsey led his team to a draw at the Azteca for the second time only without Donovan (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Clint Dempsey led his team to a draw at the Azteca for the second time only in the U.S. history. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

To the foreign media though, to see a United States team without Donovan was still big time news, particularly in Mexico where Donovan has long been the number one villain, so the question was to be expected. Dempsey acknowledged that, “you want to have your best players that you possibly can at your disposal.” “But,” Dempsey went on, “Like you said, he’s been absent, he hasn’t been training, so how can he be available for selection.”

“We go on, we battle on,” the captain said. He sounded as if he was standing up for the group of players who have been available these last months when he noted, “we were able to do that (battle on), in the last round of qualifying.” “If he wants to come back,” Dempsey said, “then we will have to wait and see what happens,” but, “ Dempsey continued, “we have to keep moving forward.” “We’ve got a great group of guys and I think we have the team with the quality that we can get the right results that can put us in a position to qualify for the World Cup.”

Donovan is no fool and he seems well aware that he has some fences to mend before he is accepted back into the group. He told MLS.com that, “Jurgen and I have always been very honest with each other. That’s one thing thing that I respect about him.” Donovan admitted, “he certainly hasn’t agreed with a lot of my choices and that’s understandable.” “But,” the wayward American star contends, “we’ve always been honest and I let him know that I needed some time away.”

Donovan went on, “He heard that a lot from me, unfortunately,” indicating that the two men may been communicating fairly often. “I needed to do that for myself, but he has always been supportive and now my task is to find a way back in.” Donovan realizes that, “there certainly is no obligation on anyone’s part to let me back in, I’ve got to earn my way back.”

Donovan will hope that he can make an impact for his club and country. (ISI Photos/

Donovan will hope that he can make an impact for his club and country. (ISI Photos/

“If I can go back in with the national team and they ask me to play goalie, then I’ll play goalie,” Donovan deadpanned during a conference call with reporters.

He added, more seriously: “My job now is to make it so that he wants me back. He has not said anything — he hasn’t said he doesn’t want me to be part of it. He has said the door is open and once I’m playing again, he’ll evaluate me like any other player, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

No mention was made of his teammates in Donovan’s remarks, and it is not difficult to imagine some players resenting Donovan’s proposed return. This past 10 days the U.S. team seems to have established a camaraderie and a willingness to fight for one another in the face of an article that painted the team as divided. The U.S. picked up four valuable points in difficult conditions in Colorado and Mexico, pulling together when they most needed to.

Now, ironically a player who has meant so much to this national team for so many years will have to earn not only his coach’s trust, but perhaps more importantly, the trust of his teammates.

********************************************************************************************************
Holden Loaned To Sheffield Wednesday

Like Donovan, Stuart Holden has been away from the United States national team for some time now, although Holden’s absence was anything but voluntary. Holden has been trying to work his way back from a devastating knee injury for most of the last two years. Originally injured against Manchester United on March 19, 2011, Holden returned to action in September of the same year. Unfortunately Holden required another operation just days later and was out of the game until this January. Holden hasn’t played for Bolton since late February, so this loan is designed to give the midfielder some game time.

Both Bolton and the U.S. will hoping he can get back to the form he was in prior to his injury. (ISI Photos/Joe Toth)

Both Bolton and the U.S. will hoping he can get back to the form he was in prior to his injury. (ISI Photos/Joe Toth)

Sheffield are in the midst of a relegation battle in the English Championship, while Bolton are in 8th place in the same league, and are not entirely out of the running for a spot in the playoff to earn promotion back to the Premier league.

The loan runs for one month, before the former Houston Dynamo returns to the Wanderers. Holden’s contract with Bolton is up at the end of this season and the Lancashire club have made it clear that they would like for Holden to stay on.

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Don’t miss NE Revolution Coaching Development Night
Don’t miss NE Revolution Coaching Development Night avatar

logoSave the date! NHSA and NE Revolution will hold a special Coaching Development Night May 14 from 5-8 PM at Gillette Stadium.

All youth soccer coaches in the region are invited to this free event to hear Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps, his coaching staff, and Revolution Academy coaches talk about the day in the life of the MLS Coaching Staff walk through innovative drills and tips for  training.

Read the full story on the NHSA website: Click Here

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Get Kickin’ for Breast Cancer Awareness
Get Kickin’ for Breast Cancer Awareness avatar

Courtesy of ASSA

Courtesy of ASSA

The 6th annual Melinda Marie Evans Kick for the Cure Adult 7v7 soccer tournament is coming up April 13-14 at Burns Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Come on out and help raise awareness for breast cancer while partaking in some friendly competition. All proceeds will benefit the Arkansas Susan G. Koman for the Cure foundation.

Last year, $19,000 was raised for the Arkansas Chapter and the event continues to grow and expanded with the inclusion of a college 7v7 division and multiple adult divisions. This is a great way to get educated- it’s time to go above and beyond for 2013!

Get full event details and register at the ASSA website: Click Here

 

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U.S. MNT Tie Mexico to Secure Crucial Point
U.S. MNT Tie Mexico to Secure Crucial Point avatar

The U.S. survived some scary moments to pick up only their second ever point at the Azteca. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

The U.S. survived some scary moments to pick up only their second ever point at the Azteca. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Mexico City, Mexico- A crazy week ended in historic fashion for the U.S. men’s national team as they survived to claim an unlikely 0-0 tie against Mexico Tuesday night at the fortress Azteca.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan made two fantastic saves just before time expired, allowing the U.S. to narrowly escape with an invaluable point on a night that began with the U.S. national anthem being booed and ended with U.S. fans being pelted with cups and debris.

Keeper Brad Guzan inspired from. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Mexico could not find a way past Brad Guzan who was an inspiration for the U.S. MNT. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann kept faith with much of the same team that triumphed in that mad match in the Colorado snow last Friday night. With Jermaine Jones back in Germany with a sprained ankle Klinsmann had an obvious replacement in Maurice Edu and Edu filled in admirably against the dangerous and lightening quick Mexican side. Less obvious was what to do about late scratch Clarence Goodson.

Goodson let Klinsmann know that his hamstring injury might keep him from playing the full 90 against Mexico. Klinsmann was impressed by Goodson’s honesty and impressed as well by his replacement, Matt Besler. Klinsmann likes to say you have to, “throw them into the cold water.” Meaning that you have play players in big games in order to find out about them.

Against Honduras, hexagonal debutant Omar Gonzalez had his troubles. Last night Besler picked up a first half yellow card. Klinsmann was impressed by how the Sporting KC center back handled it. “In a place like this, against Chicarito, this is a tricky situation,” Klinsmann said. But Besler assured the coach at the break, “coach, no worries, I will be focused, I will get it through and nothing else will happen.”

Besler and Gonzalez, who has steadily improved since Honduras, made big play after big play, on a night when the Mexican attack threatened to completely overrun the U.S. The speed of the Mexican team was something to behold, but for all of that Mexican verve that had the crowd baying at the full moon sitting high above Azteca, the goals just never came.

(Getty Images)

Mexico players surrounded the ref after they were denied what seemed a stonewall penalty.  (Getty Images)

To be sure the Americans had some luck on their side. Mexico’s dangerous winger Javier Aquino was brought down from behind by Edu for what looked like a stone cold penalty, but the call was corner kick. Similarly, Michael Bradley looked like he got away with a first half shove in the box on Hernadez. Mexico were furious about both, but on this night Guzan might well have saved the penalty kicks.

What a difference a week can make. In the run up to the Costa Rica match in Colorado the U.S. were a team that seemed to be on the ropes. Injuries were piling up at a record pace, the sanctity of the locker room was breached by a controversial article that quoted anonymous players as critical of the teams direction, and the team was coming off of a bad loss.

One character building win and tie later and the outlook is entirely different. The thing that has always made the USMNT what it is on their best day, seems to be back. Last night Klinsmann called it, “the spirit in the team.” And for all the criticism that the coach has taken of late, he has to be given some credit too. Credit for having the nerve to throw young players into that, “cold water.”

Klinsmann congrautlates Gonz (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Klinsmann congratulates Gonzalez after another terrific display at the back.  (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Now, two games after Honduras, Gonzalez is the leader of the back four, and he looks like he may be on the way to becoming the special talent that Klinsmann has said he will be. Besler was cool all night, had he not taken that yellow card, Mexico might have been off on a breakaway.

DaMarcus Beasley defended and fought all game, another feather in Klinsmann’s cap. Sure, Mexico were the more exciting team. It is still hard to believe that El Tri didn’t score two or three goals.  But they didn’t. Over the years the U.S. has been a team that has accomplished a lot on heart. That quality has been missing somewhat in recent months, as losing leads became a nasty habit.

Mexico will feel they should have won last night, and they dominated, everywhere but where it counts, on the scoreboard.

Scoring Summary:    1      2      F

USA                            0      0      0
MEX                            0      0      0

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 20-Geoff Cameron, 4-Omar Gonzalez, 14-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 4-Michael Bradley, 6-Maurice Edu; 19-Graham Zusi (11-Brek Shea, 82), 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 9-Herculez Gomez (13-Brad Davis, 71); 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Eddie Johnson, 55)
Substitutions Not Used: 5-Kyle Beckerman, 2-Tony Beltran, 23-Terrence Boyd, 10-Joe Corona, 21-Clarence Goodson, 22-Sean Johnson, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 15-Justin Morrow, 12-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

MEX: 1-Guillermo Ochoa (capt.); 13-Severo Meza, 16-Diego Reyes, 15-Hector Moreno, 20-Jorge Torres Nilo (8-Angel Reyna, 72), 17-Jesus Zavala, 3-Carlos Salcido, 11-Javier Aquino (9-Omar Bravo, 81), 18-Andres Guardado, 14-Javier Hernandez, 10-Giovani Dos Santos
Substitutions Not Used: 2-Francisco Rodriguez, 4-Hugo Ayala, 5-Carlos Alberto Peña, 6-Gerardo Torrado, 7-Hector Herrera, 12-Jesus Corona, 19-Jonny Magallon, 21-Jesus Molina, 22-Raul Jimenez, 23-Alfredo Talavera
Head coach: José Manuel de la Torre

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 1 / 17
Shots on Goal: 0 / 3
Saves: 3 / 0
Corner Kicks: 2 / 15
Fouls: 13/11
Offside: 1/ 4

 

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It’s Match Day in Mexico
It’s Match Day in Mexico avatar

Mexico and the U.S. clash tonight (Tony Quinn/Isi Photos)

Mexico and the U.S. clash tonight in an eagerly awaited contest. (Tony Quinn/Isi Photos)

Mexico City, Mexico – It’s match day in Mexico and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has some decisions to make. In fact, Klinsmann has likely made those lineup choices by now. This series is full of plot lines, from the often heated mood of these games, to Mexican- Americans playing for the U.S. team, as well as the increasing presence of Americans playing in the Mexican league.

Klinsmann will have to replace Jermaine Jones and he will have to decide on a strategy to contain the dangerous Mexican attack. Javier Hernandez, “Chicharito,” gets all the attention and he deserves it. The Manchester United forward is a poacher supreme. His movement baffles defenses, and then from nowhere a half chance is in the net. Hernandez is well provided for on this Mexican side. Wingers Andres Guardado and Javier Aquino can tear open a defense and attacking midfielder Giovani Dos Santos can cause havoc, as the U.S well know.

Number four Oroco scored the goal that gave the U.S. their first ever win at the Azteca last August. (Getty Images)

The U.S. recorded their first ever win at the Azteca just last August thanks to a solitary goal from number four Orozco.  (Getty Images)

The Americans have just one win ever in Azteca, a friendly last August. The goal scorer that day, Michael Orozco Fiscal, a Mexican-American who plays his club soccer for Puebla with DaMarcus Beasley, has been added to the U.S. roster to replace Jermaine Jones. The Americans are 0-13-1 in World Cup Qualifiers in Mexico, yet they might have a chance tonight.

Mexico have two draws from two WCQ’s so far and El Tri had to settle for a 0-0 tie against Jamaica at Azteca in the Hex opener. The Yanks are feeling good coming off that crazy snow game in Colorado, so who will Klinsmann pick as the U.S. attempt to make history tonight?

Javier Hernandez(Getty Images)

The U.S. will have to keep a close watch on Man Utd striker Chicharito. (Getty Images)

At yesterday’s press conference, Klinsmann said that he wouldn’t make many changes and he expressed confidence that his center backs, unnamed, could handle Chicharito.  Brave words, but If Klinsmann leaves his back line intact, he will have to give them some help. Michael Bradley or Maurice Edu can play the number six role in front of the back four. Kyle Beckerman could also possibly play the role. The injured Danny Williams has played there for the most for the Americans. I think Klinsmann will play Edu in the role. Edu played center back in the Azteca win in August, so he could line up at the six to keep an eye on “the little pea.”

The other mids will have to help out with those dangerous Mexican wingers, so the U.S. may find it hard to get forward. Bradley will play of course. Sacha Kljestan, Graham Zusi, Eddie Johnson and Joe Corona will be up for the other spot with Clint Dempsey possibly playing at the top of a midfield diamond.

Dempsey . (Getty Images)

U.S. captain Clint Dempsey will probably play a hybrid midfield/forward role like he does at Spurs. (Getty Images)

Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez would be up front, with Gomez called on once again to do his iron man thing, meaning cover acres of ground while still providing an offensive threat. Dempsey will also be asked to do a lot in a hybrid midfield/forward role.

The altitude will only add to the task, but Jamaica showed that it can be done and last August will give the visitors some belief. The bench will have a role to play also. Importantly for the U.S., Friday’s win in Colorado takes the pressure off, putting it squarely on Mexico’s shoulders. A tie would do wonders for the U.S., a win would be historic and a loss wouldn’t be the end of the world.

 

With all of that in mind here is the GotSoccer projected U.S. lineup for tonight.

  • Brad Guzan
  • Geoff Cameron
  • Omar Gonzalez
  • Clarence Goodson
  • DaMarcus Beasley
  •  Maurice Edu
  • Michael Bradley
  • Sacha Kljestan
  • Clint Dempsey
  • Herculez Gomez
  • Jozy Altidore

 

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)

Michael Orozco Fiscal, Puebla/on loan from San Luis, has been added to replace the injured Jermaine Jones. 

 

 

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MLS- The Big 5
MLS- The Big 5 avatar

1) No Stopping MLS – World Cup Qualifying or No

There is no stopping the MLS or Henry once they get going. (Getty Images)

There is no stopping the MLS or Henry once they get going. (Getty Images)

Even during the World Cup break, MLS rolls on. The United States domestic league is not the only league to play through the FIFA sanctioned break, but they are like the only “major” one. And so that is number one, Top of the Pops on this weeks, GotSoccer Big 5.

2) Montreal – Tres Bien!

Montreal (Getty Images)

Montreal could be one to watch this year, the Impact have made a perfect start in the Eastern conference. (Getty Images)

We marveled at the Impact’s performance last week, and while we loathe to repeat ourselves, attention must be payed. Montreal are a perfect 4-0-0 and lead the Eastern conference by five points over Columbus.

3) The Chicago Fire were beaten 4-1 by Chivas USA and that brings us to numbers 3 and 4 on our list. In the third spot Chivas USA, because we try to accentuate the positive.

(Getty Images)

Chivas USA and striker Juan Agudelo have both burst out of the traps this season. (Getty Images)

The Goats were busy this past off-season signing strong minded Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, AKA El Chelis to run this moribund franchise. With rumors of a move away from The Home Depot Center/StubHub Center on the back burner for now, Chivas USA made a big point of going back to their Mexican/Hispanic roots. That unsettled some, who wondered, was this racial profiling? The debate has been bandied about some in the media, but with the season underway, Chivas now have seven points and are just two behind first place F.C. Dallas, another early surprise, in the West.

Juan Agudelo, a Colombian born, U.S. raised, USMNT player, starred with a goal and an assist against Chicago- see how tricky this ethnic business can get. Maybe this will be the year that it all comes together for the talented Agudelo.

4) Which Brings Us to Chicago

(Getty Images)

Things haven’t gone to plan for the Chicago Fire. (Getty Images)

A raft of off-season moves was supposed to firm up the Fire midfield and set the Fire on the road to the playoffs, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Key veterans were injured, in particular former German international defender Arne Friedrich, and winter pick ups Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz haven’t worked out so far. We say so far, because as any follower of the league knows, it takes a very, very bad start to bury yourself in MLS.

L.A. and Houston both gave it a shot with awful starts last year and of course, they met in the 2012 MLS Cup. But Chicago had better wake up soon; They have scored one goal this year while surrendering nine, a pretty bad ratio.

5) Let’s face it, in American soccer circles this week is all about the men’s national team. So how about a shout out to the current and former MLS talents who suited up for the nats in Colorado for Friday night’s invaluable win, and who will be there for the big challenge on Tuesday in Mexico.

(John Todd/Isi Photos)

Ten of the U.S. players that braved the cold on Friday have played in the MLS. (John Todd/Isi Photos)

Of Friday’s eleven U.S. starters, only German born and raised Jermaine Jones has never played in the MLS. Two of the three subs used in Colorado currently play stateside, while Maurice Edu got his start  in MLS.  Of the remaining nine bench players in Colorado seven play or have played in the U.S. domestic league. So, well done Major League Soccer as we close out this weeks MLS Big 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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