The nice thing about age-group soccer is that another chance to make good is always right around the corner.
For the US, that means shifting focus from the failure of the U-23s to the next crop of U-20s. Or as I'll be referring to them in my head, "Luis Gil's Group."
The Real Salt Lake youngster is by far the most experienced player in Tab Ramos' squad, announced by US Soccer on Monday, which also includes three other MLSers: Jack McBean of the LA Galaxy; Jonathan Top of FC Dallas; and Victor Pineda of the Chicago Fire.
Here's the whole squad, courtesy of US soccer:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Tomas Gomez (Georgetown; Webster Groves, Mo.), Jake McGuire (Chivas USA Academy; Pomona, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (9): Christian Dean (California; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Bryan Gallego (Akron; Kinnelon, N.J.), Jordan McCrary (North Carolina; Marietta, Ga.), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), William Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Jeffrey Payeras (LA Galaxy Academy; Hawthorne, Calif.), Derek Vogel (Pateadores; Long Beach, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Seth Casiple (California; Rocklin, Calif.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (D.C. United Academy; Chevy Chase, Md.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Wil Trapp (Akron; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6): Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Ethan Decker (New York Red Bulls Academy; Manahawkin, N.J.), Daniel Garcia (FC Dallas Academy; Dallas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), James Rogers (New Mexico; Salt Lake City), Jonathan Top (FC Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas)
One player not on the list? Charles Renken. The 18-year-old midfielder is still settling in with the Portland Timbers, seeing action in reserve games and regular run in practice. But apparently he's not ready for the U-20s quite yet.
Erik Soler wasn't kidding when he said he'd work to find a home for Luke Rodgers.
The English striker, who was denied a visa to ply his trade in the US on Friday, appears to be headed to Lillestrøm in Norway, according to reports in the Norwegian press.
"The Englishman has signed a contract that extends the season, and joins LSK from the tips of sports director Erik Soler."
Rodgers had 10 goals and three assists in 25 games across all competitions for RBNY last season.
Thierry Henry can be a bit moody and machiavellian on the field, but off the field he's proven time and again to be a man of charity, conscience and kindness.
So it was no surprise that the New York Red Bulls striker hopped on a plane to visit Fabrice Muamba, the 23-year-old English midfielder who's made a stunning recovery after suffering from cardiac arrest in Bolton's abandoned match against Tottenham on Saturday.
Henry was the brightest light in North London when Muamba was just another kid in the Arsenal academy. But the Gunners legend didn't forget.
US soccer announced on Wednesday that John "Clarkie" Souza had passed away over the weekend. The 91-year-old National Soccer Hall of Famer was a starter for the squad that famously beat England 1-0 at Belo Horizonte in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
Souza is the second member of that famous team to pass away in recent months, as standout defender Harry Keough was laid to rest on Feb. 7.
Follow the US MNT Blog for confirmed funeral arrangements.
Last year, before the season started, I very cleverly predicted that LA would win the West, the Shield and the Cup. I predicted that Houston would win the East. And I came up with a few other good ones that panned out.
Unfortunately I made these predictions on Twitter, and 4000 posts later, I was no longer able to have my moment of glory. Not gonna make the same mistake this year.
Real Salt Lake
US Open Cup
Defender of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Coach of the Year
And the most important question... will another forward come out of the blue and rack up double-digit goals? Wondolowski and Dom Oduro have done so in the last two seasons. This year's version will be... Tommy "Disco" Heinemann.
Feel free to bookmark this and throw it in my face 9 months from now.
Cheers, and enjoy the soccer.
I've always been of the opinion that the argument is "Pele vs. Maradona" instead of "Pele vs. Maradona vs. Di Stefano" simply because the Blond Arrow never won a World Cup.
Fifty years later, we may be in the midst of Di Stefano Part II.
What if that's Lionel Messi's destiny? What if his next seven years are as great as his past four, but Argentina comes up short in both 2014 and 2018? Will he truly be in the argument with Pele and Maradona? Or will he languish with Di Stefano, Cruyff and Puskas in the ranks of those who never got it done on the world's greatest stage?
Where do you stand?
Get it churnin', DaMarcus!
Would love to come back to the club that gave me my first chance! The Chicago Fire is like my family.. #fireforlife
— DaMarcus Beasley (@DaMarcusBeasley) March 2, 2012
Beasley, who turns 30 later this year, is currently a starter with Puebla in the Mexican Primera.
Here in the US we're fed a steady diet of "don't get too worked up about friendly wins." And it's sound advice that goes all the way back to the 3-6-1 thrashing of Austria in the lead-up to the 1998 World Cup.
In Italy, though, they are a bit more... passionate. Or uncompromising. Or irrational.
However you want to put it, the Italian press is, in the wake of the US' 1-0 win over the Azzuri on Wednesday, showing the fight and engagement that both the players and fans in Genoa clearly lacked (the crowd, I think we can all agree, was terrible).
La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian soccer bible, called the US win "A fiasco." And it gets more colorful from there.
Happy reading, folks.
It's one of the favorite pastimes of MLS supporters (and detractors): Figuring out where the league stands in the grand scheme of things.
Most feel it's somewhere between 10 and 15, and ESPN's Adrian Healey comes in at the upper limit of that range.
"I feel it is now a top 10 league in the world. I would say it’s right in the mix now with something like the Dutch Eredivisie in terms of the talent, the standard of play and the infrastructure," Healey told Prost Amerika on Wednesday in a must-read interview. "The only thing it doesn’t have yet is a history and a body of work, but that is coming. It has made amazing strides in just over a decade and a half."
Anyway, where do you feel MLS ranks among the world's leagues?