Tactician’s Corner: On best options for Michael Bradley and the USA’s diamond MF

April 7, 2014

“The United States’s 2-2 draw with Mexico Wednesday night included an overwhelming start that gave way to a blown lead, but add in a new formation and Julian Green’s highly anticipated debut, and it was worth staying up late to watch. For the first time in Jürgen Klinsmann’s time as head coach, the U.S. trotted out a diamond midfield, anchored by Real Salt Lake holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who plays the same role for his club team. Brad Davis and Graham Zusi, usually wingers, had more withdrawn starting positions, and Michael Bradley floated freely in the middle.” SI

Burn, destroy, wreck, kill

April 2, 2014

Sounders Win in Stoppage Time
“In 1859, an American farmer in the Northwest shot and killed a pig that was on his land. The pig belonged to an Irishman, who demanded $100 in repayment. Instead, the two men feuded for years, a squabble that escalated into an international conflict that eventually led to both American and British soldiers being called in to duty. No one fired a shot, and after a decade of periodic military huffing and puffing, the two sides resolved the issue. The absurd incident became known as The Pig War. A similar war has been ignited in the Cascadia region of the Pacific Northwest between the cities of Portland and Seattle. The battlefield is green turf with painted white lines. No pigs have been killed, but every week the armies suit up without ever stepping foot on the field that separates them.” SB Nation, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers

For Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, Mexico friendly offers chance to re-establish chemistry

April 2, 2014

“Exhibitions between the U.S. and Mexico already are pretty unfriendly. They attract large, divided crowds (more than 55,000 tickets have been sold for Wednesday night’s tilt here at University of Phoenix Stadium), and there’s an abundance of history and animosity on which to draw. Conversation this week has ranged from U.S. coach Jurge Klinsmann’s annoyance at Puebla FC’s refusal to release defenders DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco to Mexico manager Miguel Herrera’s claim that El Tri doesn’t owe its World Cup qualification to the Americans. In fact, he said, the U.S. owes Mexico for taking California.” SI

Failed Auditions: Three thoughts on the USA’s 2-0 loss to Ukraine

March 7, 2014

“In an exhibition played under unprecedented circumstances, a U.S. national team comprised of players hoping to make their World Cup case was outplayed Wednesday by a Ukrainian side motivated by a whole lot more. There were only a handful of fans in attendance at Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus, but their blue-and-yellow flags and banners calling for Ukrainian unity set the stage. The ‘hosts’ were in gear early in the first half and eased to a 2-0 triumph over the Americans behind goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and substitute Marko Devic.” SI

Don’t Take Julian Green to the World Cup

March 5, 2014

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Julian Green is a special soccer player. The 18-year-old winger already made his first-team debut for Pep Guardiola’s world-destroying Bayern Munich, and has scored nearly a goal a game for its reserve team this season. Born in Tampa, Green has lived in Germany since he was 2. He is, at worst, an exceptionally promising prospect. At best? Who knows; projecting the future of a teenage soccer phenom is an exercise in cloudy crystal-ball reading under the simplest circumstances, and Green’s situation is far from simple. He’s not Lionel Messi, but he’s closer to him than he is to Freddy Adu. Let’s just say he’s the type of player who, in the right situation, could dramatically improve the fortunes of the United States national team this summer in Brazil.” Grantland

Responding to Klinsmann, U.S. players say it’s opportunities they lack – not belief

February 23, 2014

“If it can be measured or tested, Jurgen Klinsmann has measured and tested it. From strength and agility to VO2 max, pattern recognition, sleep and caloric intake, U.S. national team players have been subjected to an unprecedented amount of quantitative analysis under their thorough and ambitious coach. As Klinsmann has claimed repeatedly over the past two-plus years, it’s all designed to help forge players who can compete at soccer’s highest level.” SI

Does Wondolowski have a realistic shot at Brazil?

February 2, 2014

“Even before the final whistle sounded, it was the question on everybody’s mind. Can striker Chris Wondolowski, who scored both goals for the U.S. national team in Saturday’s 2-0 friendly win here against South Korea, somehow grab one of the final spots on the Americans’ World Cup roster when coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his 23-man squad in May? The answer may actually lie in another question: Will Klinsmann take four forwards to this summer’s tournament in Brazil?” ESPN

The top 13 stories from American soccer’s unforgettable 2013

January 2, 2014

“The year in American soccer was bracketed by bitter cold, which brought out the best in those who rose to the occasion and helped shape the sport in 2013. Way back in January, Jozy Altidore exuded dignity and determination during a Dutch Eredivisie game that featured snowballs and racial abuse cascading from the stands. In March, a beleaguered U.S. national team began its dramatic climb to the top of CONCACAF in a fearsome Colorado blizzard. And in early December, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake contested an unforgettable MLS Cup final that was hampered, yet somehow heightened, by a frozen field and record-low temperatures.” SI

U.S. draws incredibly difficult group, but one filled with opportunity

December 7, 2013

“The U.S. had drawn Germany, Portugal and Ghana, the hardest opening-round group the Americans have ever faced in a World Cup. Germany, a three-time world champion, could easily win the tournament. Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, who may be about to win the Ballon d’Or as the world player of the year. And Ghana has been the destroyer of U.S. dreams at the last two World Cups, eliminating the Americans both times. Group G has easily the most difficult average FIFA ranking of any World Cup group: 11.25. Germany is No. 2, Portugal No. 5, the U.S. No. 14 and Ghana No. 24.” SI

USA’s 2014 World Cup group overflowing with history
“You wanted a World Cup group with some sumptuous storylines? You got one. The USA was drawn into a Group of Supreme Death with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, with Jurgen Klinsmann needing to gameplan for the likes of Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo while aiming to break the Ghana hex — just to reach the knockout stage. The amount of history that the USA has against its group opponents is staggering, too.” SI (Video)

United States likely to face a treacherous World Cup draw with loaded field

November 22, 2013

“Frustrated by the draw that placed his U.S. Olympic team alongside Argentina and Portugal back in 1996, coach Bruce Arena famously lashed out at the ‘nice Americans’ who “don’t cheat” and who are ‘too stupid to fix a draw.’ Arena took some heat for that little rant and sure enough, the host U.S. finished third in its quartet and was eliminated from Olympic competition. Still two years away from taking over the senior U.S. squad, Arena called soccer ‘the biggest cheating sport in the world,’ implying – likely with tongue in cheek — that manipulation of those all-important plastic balls is par for the course at the game’s highest level.” SI

Major League Soccer’s Stadium Revolution

November 20, 2013

“This weekend features the second leg of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference Championship, a winner-take-all showdown between the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City. The series is great for fans, not only because of the talented teams involved, but also because it’s being contested in the league’s two newest stadiums, Kansas City’s Sporting Park and Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. That may not initially seem significant, but when these two teams met in the Conference Final round just six years ago, they played in Houston’s Robertson Stadium, a decades-old football stadium that has since been demolished. That same year, Kansas City (then the Wizards) played home games at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium, far from the ideal home for an MLS team.” Forbes

Emotional end to CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in images, videos and words

October 18, 2013

“North America is still buzzing following the unforgettable conclusion to CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying competition. Planet Fútbol has compiled the sights and sounds of the triumph and tragedy of Tuesday night’s results, as well as the poignant and pointed aftermath. Mexico, now a shadow of the juggernaut that claimed the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and the 2012 Olympic gold medal, was minutes from a historic and humiliating World Cup elimination. Then Brad Davis found Graham Zusi with a pinpoint cross, and with a flick of his head, the Sporting Kansas City midfielder altered the fate of two countries.” SI (Video)

EA Sports FIFA, US, and The Global Game

October 6, 2013

“In the United States, Saturdays and Sunday are reserved for one thing: football. Across the country, people neglect their chores, homework, jobs, and responsibilities to flock to sports bars, friend’s couches, and the biggest TV they can find to in order to watch college and professional football. Recently, however, American sports fans have been putting aside one kind of football in favor of another. American soccer, or football, as it’s known to the rest of the world, has seen a seismic shift in popularity during the last several years. According to Rich Luker, the brains behind the ESPN Sports Poll, soccer is America’s second most popular sport for those aged 18-24. How? What could be the source of this newfound fanfare? Perhaps it’s the increasingly global reach by the world’s most popular clubs? Soccer Politics

John O’Brien: all American hero

September 14, 2013

2002 World Cup in South Korea, John O’Brien
“John O’Brien was once lauded as the greatest American footballer of his generation. He successfully conquered Europe with his exploits at Ajax in Holland’s Eredivisie and drew many plaudits for his performances for the US national team at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. But for the Californian born soccer star, his career was left largely unfulfilled. Blighted by a history of chronic injuries, O’Brien never truly reached the level of performance that his potential promised, however, he did enjoy sustained success for a short time and his influence on football in the United States was no less important.” World Soccer

Player grades: U.S. versus Mexico

September 11, 2013

Mexico at USA
“The song remained the same for the U.S. men’s national team against Mexico at Crew Stadium. So did the score, as the Americans defeated their bitter rivals 2-0 on Tuesday night and are now on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup. Eddie Johnson broke a scoreless tie four minutes into the second half, heading home Landon Donovan’s corner kick. Donovan then added an insurance tally in the 78th minute, converting from close range after excellent work from substitute Mix Diskerud. A makeshift U.S. back line, with some considerable help from goalkeeper Tim Howard, performed solidly on the night and then was able to see out a critical victory.” ESPN (Video)

For Klinsmann’s U.S., competitive culture pays off in Mexico win
“The U.S. national team that will fly to Brazil for next summer’s World Cup will consist of 23 players. That limit is unfortunate, because it took a lot more than 23 to earn the trip. Clarence Goodson may not make it. The San Jose Earthquakes defender was an alternate on the current qualifying roster. He played in Tuesday’s clincher here at Crew Stadium only because of Matt Besler’s suspension. Mikkel Diskerud may not make it. He’s one of several players vying for minutes in a crowded and talented midfield. The same could be said for Alejandro Bedoya. Yet all three played an integral role in lifting the U.S. to another 2-0 win over Mexico and a seventh consecutive World Cup berth.” SI

U.S. Wins and Secures Spot in World Cup
“… Almost 30 minutes later, Landon Donovan tapped home the Americans’ second goal, extending a tradition at this stadium, against this opponent. The United States had defeated Mexico here, 2-0, in their three previous World Cup qualifying cycles: 2001, 2005 and 2009. And they did it again Tuesday night, weathering an early storm from a desperate Mexican squad before Johnson and Donovan delivered the killer blows to delight an announced crowd of 25,584.” NY Times (Video)

Make or break for World Cup hopefuls

September 5, 2013

“Scheduling pressure on international football from disgruntled clubs has one big positive for fans; the increasing presence of exciting and meaningful double-headers in the space of five days. This week’s raft of World Cup qualification doubles will go some way to deciding the line-up for Brazil next summer, with some new names on the brink of a first participation and some established ones facing the hour where it’s put up or shut up. Here are some of the major plot lines to look out for over the coming days.” ESPN (Video)

A Sardinian Summer: The Forgotten Story Of the Chicago Mustangs

August 25, 2013

“Cagliari Calcio are an altogether unremarkable football club. For much of their existence they have been a yo-yo team, alternating between promotion and relegation and oftentimes languishing in the rustic depths of the Serie C, the third tier of Italian football. In their 93 years of existence they have conquered just one piece of silverware, a lone Scudetto won in 1970. In those brief glory years they were led by the inspirational Gigi Riva, the all-time leading goalscorer of the Italian National team. Since their latest promotion to the top flight in 2004 they have managed to stave off relegation but have been in a perpetual state of purgatory; too far off the top to the table to harbor realistic European ambitions, yet too far from the bottom to risk a return to Serie B. Their record is, for the most part, unexceptional. Yet in a curious episode long forgotten in the annals of football history, for a brief period of time they were known as the Chicago Mustangs. For one fleeting summer, Cagliari Calcio, the team from the picturesque Mediterranean island of Sardinia, used Comiskey Park on the South Side of Chicago as their home ground. This is their story.” In Bed With Maradona

America’s Most Important Soccer Player Conquers The Old World

August 19, 2013

“By the time I arrived at the Stadio Olimpico for the Rome Derby this April, ultras had already knifed four people, cracked open someone’s head with a bottle, and terrorized an ambulance with rocks and explosives. Uprooted flagstones lay strewn about the foot of a lonely obelisk dedicated to Mussolini. Copies of Corriere dello Sport scurried in the wind like tumbleweeds in a spaghetti Western. Clearly, this was a showdown that mattered. Inside the stadium, over 50,000 AS Roma and Lazio fans were in full throat. Their teams were battling for Serie A’s final Europa League spot, not to mention local ascendancy. The Derby della Capitale promised to be one of those high-stakes contests that make Europe a crucible for the world’s best talent. It was the kind of match in which Americans appear too infrequently. And that was why I’d come: to watch the American.” deadspin – Howler Magazine (Video)

Invisible Men? Racism in Honduran Soccer

August 6, 2013

“… In the United States we hear a lot about racism in soccer, but it is always in the context of events in Europe. Most people who follow the sport know about the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand affair, for which Terry was stripped of the England captaincy. And many are familiar with the more recent cases involving fans making monkey sounds at Kevin Prince Boateng and Mario Balotelli. Even when a Latin American player is involved–such as in the Luis Suárez-Patrice Evra incident–the question of whether or not something qualifies as racism is interpreted through a European (not to mention a U.S.) lens.” Soccer Politics

Crying Out Loud

July 29, 2013

“There’s this Felt song called ‘I Will Die With My Head in Flames’ that I sometimes think of when I think of Landon Donovan. Not because he’d like it — it’s existential mid-’80s jangle-pop, and his taste trends more toward SUV-Bluetooth music, or whatever you want to call the Venn diagram intersection that includes both T.I. and the Fray. A certain type of SoCal white-dude uncoolness has become as central to his image as his rank as the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men’s national soccer team; if you doubt this, please examine the covers of the first two 9-and-up children’s biographies to answer an Amazon search for his name.” Grantland

Klinsmann, players elated with U.S. progress

July 22, 2013

Jurgen Klinsmann
“Things could have gone differently for Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. national team after that article came out back in March. The pressure on Klinsmann already was mounting after the Yanks lost their opening match of the final round of World Cup qualifying in the previous month, and the critical Sporting News piece — the one whose headline challenged the coach’s ‘methods, leadership and acumen’ — broke just days before an injury-ravished American squad played a pair of pivotal Hexagonal games versus Costa Rica and at Mexico.” ESPN

Has the time come for Klinsmann to replace Howard in goal?

June 11, 2013

” In his nearly two years as manager of the U.S. national team, Jurgen Klinsmann has been anything but averse to change. Before Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Jamaica, Klinsmann had not started the same lineup in two successive games during his now 26-match tenure. He has repeatedly shown that individuals are subjugated to the bigger cause. Klinsmann’s unofficial excommunication of the country’s all-time leading scorer, Landon Donovan, has gotten the lion’s share of media and fan attention, but Donovan isn’t alone in feeling the wrath of Klinsmann’s detachment. Last fall, lead striker Jozy Altidore was left off the roster for the team’s final two semifinal qualifiers despite being in the midst of a breakout season at his club, AZ Alkmaar. The morning of the opening match of this year’s Hexagonal in Honduras, team captain Carlos Bocanegra was dropped to the bench. He’s not even on the roster for this series of June matches.” SI

USA celebrate centenary in style

June 4, 2013

“Jurgen Klinsmann’s United States earned a morale-boosting 4-3 win over Germany in a thrilling international friendly in Washington DC. Jozy Altidore gave the hosts the lead before Marc-Andre ter Stegen scored an embarrassing own goal. Heiko Westermann pulled a goal back for Germany, but Clint Dempsey struck twice in four minutes to make it four for the hosts. Max Kruse and Julian Draxler made things interesting with late goals, but the United States held on for victory.” ESPN (Video)

ESPN: Highlights Germany 4-2 Ecuador (Video)


May 29, 2013

“Maybe he needed to work more, meditate less. Or maybe the gray had finally started to show, taking years off his expiration date. But he still had the spark, or at least the kindling; he was sure of that. He still squared himself in front of defenders. He still lifted his head to survey the field. He still left a trail of pointed fingers and agitation every time he dropped his defender. Dip the shoulder. Accelerate. No-look pass. Keep pace. Bring it down. Chip it back. Goal. His game had never been about misdirection; the words of his coaches still rang in his head: ‘focus on fundamentals.’ Sure, the gap was smaller than the days when bleached hair and cut-off shorts were all you needed to turn pro, but he could still tug the string and leave defenders in knots.” futbolintellect

Altidore has found his form at AZ, but is he headed for another move?

May 14, 2013

“Jozy Altidore’s European club season is over, and the final eye-popping numbers are in: 31 goals in all competitions for AZ Alkmaar, including 23 league strikes and eight in the Dutch Cup, which AZ won last week with Altidore scoring the game-winner. AZ did struggle in the Dutch league, finishing a disappointing 10th, but the 23-year-old Altidore’s 31 goals broke Clint Dempsey’s year-old record for goals scored in a European club season by a U.S. national team player.” SI

How life (and death) change Egyptian soccer and its American coach

May 14, 2013

“Bob Bradley wasn’t looking for an adventure as much as he was looking for a job after being fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team two years ago. But in Egypt he found both. When Bradley arrived in the fall of 2011 to take over Egypt’s national soccer program, the country was teetering between revolution and rebellion. The Arab Spring uprising had already unseated longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, and five months after Bradley began work a deadly riot broke out at an Egyptian Premier League match, killing 74.” LA Times

For well-traveled Freddy Adu, next stop is Brazil

April 7, 2013

“Last month, Freddy Adu arrived in Salvador, Brazil, to meet with officials of what is now his latest club, Bahia. He had worn out his welcome in Philadelphia after two troubled seasons with the Union; the team’s management was just unwilling to keep paying him a star’s wage (rumored to be upward of $500,000) to play like a journeyman. Whether Adu was misused by his coaches, bored by the competition or weighed down by the city’s excellent cheesesteaks, he delivered a total of seven goals and two assists in 35 league appearances, hardly the kind of résumé you expect from a guy who dated pop singer JoJo and had a $1 million contract at 14. So, in a now very familiar scene, Adu packed his soft-sided suitcase of promise and headed to the airport.” ESPN

Four Thoughts: U.S. earns hard-fought point at Estadio Azteca

March 28, 2013

“Four thoughts after the U.S.’s 0-0 tie against Mexico in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier: • The U.S. got a Golden Point in the vaunted Estadio Azteca. Sixteen years after the U.S. got its only competitive point against Mexico in the history of this stadium, another group of committed Yanks pulled off the same feat, earning a deserved tie in the Thunderdome that used to be the U.S.’s house of horrors. Mexico was a remarkable 68-1-6 in World Cup qualifiers in the history of the Azteca, but El Tri hasn’t played well here lately, and the U.S. weathered a storm of Mexican attacks down the right side (targeting left back DaMarcus Beasley) and kept its mettle in the most difficult of road environments. It’s amazing how much can change in a week.” SI

USA did it in 1994, why not Qatar?

March 26, 2013

“The latest debate in World football is getting ugly. A political agenda is being created. A heated discussion on culture. Questions are being raised over just the nature, ethics and customs of the host nation. As Marina Hyde puts in her piece for the Guardian ‘football may finally be about to go to war’. And this unfortunate chain of events has taken away the beauty of this beautiful game, and put it into a cringe-worthy and down right embarrassing situation. The respect that this ‘World’ sport demands, its very synonym of a ‘Global’ game may seize to exist.” Outside of the Boot

U.S. victory at Estadio Azteca no longer impossible challenge

March 26, 2013

“Is Estadio Azteca losing its mystique? It seems like a crazy question ahead of the U.S.’s much anticipated World Cup qualifier here on Tuesday against archrival Mexico (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Univision). After all, Mexico has lost only one World Cup qualifier at the Azteca (vs. Costa Rica in 2001) in the history of the stadium, which was built in 1961. Nor has the U.S. ever won an official game here, managing just one tie in 1997.” SI

Friendly fire: U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s methods, leadership, acumen in question

March 19, 2013

Carlos Bocanegra went to sleep on the evening of Feb. 5 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, expecting to play his 111th game for the U.S. national team the following afternoon. Entering his seventh year as captain, the 33-year-old center back had been training with most of the projected starters and was by far the most experienced defender at U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s disposal.” SI

Bring Out Your Faithful

March 17, 2013

“Sad Landon, Existential Donovan, Forlorn Landycakes – call him whatever you like, there’s a lot of talk about Landon Donovan these days, and rightfully so. Start with tepid National Team performances under Jurgen Klinsmann, add in a less star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy, and dabble in concerns about the marketing prospects of MLS, and you’ve got a concoction that’s led us all to agree that the world is coming to an end, and that Donovan-mania – can we use the term Landonicism? – is our only refuge from the impending catastrophe.” futbol intellect

Futbol In A Baseball Park

February 11, 2013

“On Sunday 27th January 2013 the final of the Copa Centroamericana was settled by a firm header from Costa Rican defender Geancarlo González. The hosts extravagant celebrations in their modern national stadium belied the fact that it’s not the most prestigious international tournament. Held every two years and featuring the seven Central American nations, the prize for the participants is obtaining one of five places at CONCACAF’s Gold Cup, held in the United States later in the calendar year. Such was the competition’s lack of esteem, beaten finalist Honduras’ domestic league had a full programme throughout, and the only European-based players called upon were those on a winter break.” In Bed With Maradona

Interview with Marco Garcés, Head of Scouting for Pachuca CF

February 5, 2013

“In the past few years, many Mexican clubs have taken an interest in American players. Several clubs have placed particular emphasis on youth players, scouting extensively in the United States for the next Jose Torres, Joe Corona, or Edgar Castillo. No club has put more resources into recruiting young Mexican-American players north of the border than Pachuca. In September, I sat down with Marco Garcés, head of scouting for Pachuca to discuss the phenomenon of Mexican-American players heading south in ever greater numbers (a larger article on this topic will appear in issue three). Garcés was in San Diego for a tryout, which brought players from throughout the area who hoped to get noticed by Pachuca.” XI Quarterly

Soccer in the World’s Most Violent City: Why Are You Here?

February 5, 2013

“Those words came out of the mouth of some man—southern, reasonably-tall, and apparently the mayor of San Pedro Sula, based on some of the I’m-sort-of-a-regular way he tried to talk about the place—on our shuttle from the airport to the hotel. It doesn’t really matter that the driver’s name was Melvin—he got three letters right, at least—or that, after a back and forth, they decided that the coup happened no later than 2008. The coup happened in 2009, as Noah Davis, esteemed person-who-has-been-to-Honduras-once, told me from the back of the shuttle. And what matters here is just that the coup happened. It happened less than four years ago, and now I’m here, rolling through the streets in a van, navigated by a man not named Javier, who has no problem cutting through gas stations instead of waiting for a red light to turn.” Outside

America’s Next Top Messi

January 28, 2013

“Part 1: Whither Lionel? A cruel accusation is often lobbed at America’s soccer powers that be: How can a nation blessed with a diverse population of over 315 million have failed to produce a single Lionel Messi? Or, for that matter, a few more Clint Dempseys and Landon Donovans?” ESPN

Everyman A Herculez

January 23, 2013

“How did a washed-up, written-off, tossed-away journeyman named Herculez Gomez become one of the most beloved members of the U.S. Men’s National Team?” What A Howler

Blatter Critical of M.L.S. in Interview

December 31, 2012

“FIFA President Sepp Blatter is many things — we’ll pause this post briefly so you can insert your own description here — but he is apparently not a fan of Major League Soccer. In an interview with Al Jazeera that was broadcast on Saturday, Blatter was critical of both the league and the development of the sport in general in the United States. The comments came as part of a larger discussion about FIFA’s role in developing the game around the world.” NY Times (Video)

My favorite soccer stories of 2012

December 26, 2012

“To mark the passing of another eventful year of championships, triumphs and memorable moments, SI.com’s writers are remembering the stories they connected to most across the sports landscape in 2012.” SI

Identity crisis: America’s dual nationalities face a tricky choice

December 18, 2012

“Fans of the United States national team have a tradition of eager impatience upon the release of the squad for any game. When the squad was named before their game against Russia last month there was general surprise to see the re-inclusion of Nuremberg’s Timmy Chandler, sparking the latest chapter in a raging debate about football and identity.” World Soccer

Winning Over The World

December 12, 2012

“It says something about Egypt’s political scene, and something else besides, that the most popular authority figure in the nation at present was born in New Jersey. That would be Bob Bradley, the former Princeton star and U.S. Men’s National Team manager whose Egyptian national team currently sits atop of its World Cup qualifying group. Under Bradley’s leadership, the seven-time African champions appear headed to Brazil in 2014. In a country that’s currently not enamored of most people in positions of power, this has made Bradley both popular and the most visible American coach in the international soccer world.” The Classical

Corona, Tijuana climb atop Mexican top flight, more Americans Abroad

December 5, 2012

“Joe Corona’s list of accomplishments with Club Tijuana keeps growing. It was Corona who scored in the club’s promotion-battle win over Irapuato in May 2011, as the then-relative unknown attacker helped lead his relatively unknown club to the Mexican top flight. Upon arrival, the U.S. national team midfielder scored Tijuana’s first goal as a top-tier side and turned in a productive year that helped Los Xolos remain in the first division. It’s no surprise, then, that with Tijuana remarkably climbing the league mountain in little time that Corona was a vital participant as Los Xolos were crowned Mexican champions.” SI

Diskerud goal in injury time gives Americans draw at Russia

November 14, 2012

“Mix Diskerud scored his first international goal in the third minute of injury time, giving the United States a 2-2 draw against Russia on Wednesday in a friendly at Krasnodar. Michael Bradley, who scored in the 76th minute, sent a long ball into the penalty area toward Terrence Boyd, who was marked by defender Sergei Ignashevich. The ball rebounded off Ignashevich to Diskerud, and the 87th-minute substitute sent a 20-yard, right-foot shot in off a hand of goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov.” SI

U.S. fortunate to escape Russia with draw in final match of 2012
“The U.S. got a tie despite being largely outplayed. This was just a friendly, so there’s little reason to make much of the result, just as there was little reason to do so when the U.S. won at Italy and Mexico in friendlies earlier this year. That said, there’s still some value in bagging a tie even when you weren’t the better team on the day, and the U.S. managed to do so thanks to Mix Diskerud’s injury-time equalizer. Goalkeeper Tim Howard made several key saves that kept the U.S. in the game, and give some credit to subs Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd, who had knockdown header assists on the U.S. goals. It’s fair to ask if Michael Bradley may now be making The Leap. The Roma starter was the best player on the U.S. squad, continuing an upward trend in his play over the past year, and his opening strike from distance was a thing of beauty.” SI

Scout Report: Tim Howard – Best of the rest?

October 16, 2012

“When you’ve had the pleasure of watching one of the greatest players of all time in his position play for your club, it’s difficult to judge his successors fairly. Only Nigel Martyn has been universally accepted by the Goodison faithful as a great keeper since Neville Southall left Everton in 1998. Tim Howard easily comes next as best of the rest but he’s never totally convinced all fans that he’s as good as we can get. Is this fair? What can the stats from last year tell us about Everton’s No 1?” The Executioners Bong

Russia, England under scrutiny as World Cup qualifying resumes

October 12, 2012

Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery, quarterfinal match
“1. Capello faces crunch match against Portugal. It’s far too early to call it a crisis, but for all the money that Russian football has lavished on players and coaches this summer, there has been precious little return — yet. The country’s two Champions League representatives, Zenit St. Petersburg and Spartak Moscow, are both pointless after two group games (despite Zenit spending €80 million on Hulk and Axel Witsel and Spartak playing Celtic at home), and now attention turns to the national team, World Cup hosts in 2018.” SI

We’re Entering A Golden Age of Long Form Soccer Writing

October 10, 2012

“The human condition is marred by a short attention span and thus a lack of historical context. Not recognizing this flaw is what leads each generation to automatically believe that now is the best time to be alive, and place zero value in those who have preceded it. Similarly, not having a full appreciation of the drawbacks and benefits of a certain time in our past can also breed a shallow nostalgia that cloaks fear of change in a more tolerable desire for the “good old days”. Such a cultural battle between futurists and nostalgists has been playing out in the global soccer community since the game’s earliest days, and has only been accelerated during the globalization of the sport over the last several decades. Thus, it is with great caution that I state we are embarking on what may come to be viewed as a golden age for long form soccer writing.” Forbes

Early, historic returns show Spurs, Dempsey could be set for success

October 7, 2012

“It took Clint Dempsey just five games to stitch his name in to the tapestry that tells the story of Tottenham Hotspur. His first goal for the club, Tottenham’s third on Saturday and what was in the end the difference between them and Manchester United, broke a hoodoo that had lasted almost a quarter of a century. Spurs fans arrived in Manchester hoping to see something different but dreading another defeat after 23 years without a win at Old Trafford. Dempsey’s calmly side-footed effort for a 3-1 lead was greeted with delirium; even after Shinji Kagawa’s almost immediate reply put the score at 3-2 with more than half an hour to play, the traveling supporters gave in to the opiate effects of belief.” SI

What is American Soccer?

September 14, 2012

“For Howler’s debut issue, Matthew Doyle (MLSsoccer.com’s Armchair Analyst) watched more than 50 hours of USMNT tape (going all the way back to Italia ‘90) to discern what—if anything—characterizes the American style of play. With tomorrow night’s WCQ against Jamaica looming, we thought we’d share it early, especially because his analysis has a lot to say about what went wrong in Friday’s loss to Jamaica.” Howler

Is Juergen Klinsmann as conservative a coach as Bob Bradley?
“In preparation for the release of Howler magazine, the whatahowler tumblr released the full text of an article with the ambitious title, “What is American Soccer?” by MLS Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle, and it is a riveting read for CONCACAF nerds especially (full disclosure—I contributed a short piece for issue one). I was struck though by the final paragraphs on US mens national team coach Juergen Klinsmann’s dogmatic belief in the possession-based 4-3-3, and they should be of interest to Toronto FC fans in particular, still reeling from the collapse of the Aron Winter era…” The Score

Dempsey, United States stunned by Jamaica in World Cup qualifier

September 10, 2012

“Three thoughts on the United States’ 2-1 loss against Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier on Friday… • The U.S.’s lack of width and possession were killers. The Americans were always going to have to deal with the injury-related absences of Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan, but their inability to possess the ball meant that some degree of width in the attack was necessary, and that width wasn’t there.” SI

The rise of Mexican soccer is a positive for the United States

August 15, 2012

“I’m going to say something that may bother you: The rise of Mexican soccer is only a good thing for the United States. That’s not to say it’s easy right now if you’re a fan of the U.S. men’s soccer team. In fact, it’s probably painful, a sharp and enduring ache that feels like a punch to the gut. The U.S. meets its greatest rival, Mexico, in an exhibition here on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/3, Univision) — I’m sure as hell not calling it a ‘friendly’ — and the gap between the two countries is bigger than it has been in more than 20 years. Just last Saturday, Mexico won the Olympic gold medal, outplaying a star-studded Brazil team that will provide much of that nation’s 2014 World Cup squad. The U.S., by contrast, failed to even qualify for the Games.” SI


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