blog

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers

12 June 12:25 pm

 

*A previous version of this story claimed 500,000 Salvadorans welcomed Mexico at their hotel. After further review, the original article states around 1,500 were in attendance. Use online translation services with extreme caution.

You probably thought the US would have it bad in Guatemala City, what with the normal torments experienced by American sides venturing down to Central America.

But that appears to be strictly child's play when compared to the reception Mexico is getting in El Salvador. According to MedioTiempo.com, somewhere around 1,500 Salvadorans* gathered at El Tri's hotel on Monday night in San Salvador to make sure the team that arrives at Estadio Cuscatlán on Tuesday is running on as little sleep as possible. Google Translate tells me that the crowd banged drums, sang songs inapproriate for this space and set off rockets throughout the night, while also killing time by "jiggling" the cars that had the unfortune to turn up the wrong street.

You know, a normal Monday night with Mexico in town.

Now, I'm not entirely sure I buy the claim that the gathering drew 500,000 people essentially a fifth of the city's metro population but The video and photos paint a pretty clear picture. The Salvadoran fans mean business, and Mexico haven't even walked out of the tunnel yet.

10 June 9:48 pm

It's been a whirlwind few months for Terrence Boyd (above, credit: MexSport), and to cap it all off, he will soon get his first taste of top-flight soccer.

A report in Austria publication sport10.at (in German) suggests that Boyd's long-rumored move from Borussia Dortmund to Rapid Vienna is all but sealed. He is set to fly to Austria and finalize the deal following the United States' World Cup qualifier at Guatemala on Tuesday.

He is quoted as saying to sport10.at, "The league is very attractive and is highly-regarded in Germany. In my opinion a young player can advance a lot in this league."

In addition to playing top-flight soccer, Boyd will get to test his wits in the Europa League, by virtue of Rapid's second-place finish in the 2011-12 Austrian Bundesliga. The club was also a recent stop for a pair of D.C. United players – Hamdi Salihi and Branko Boskovic.

Boyd joins the 32-time Austrian champions on the back of a 20-goal season for Dortmund's reserve team, which plays in the German fourth division. His breakout year, movement, and ability to trouble defenders with his physicality earned him the attention of Jurgen Klinsmann and the US coaching staff. 

Though he hasn't played top-flight soccer yet, he made his national team debut in the USA's 1-0 victory over Italy in February and scored two goals in the ultimately disappointing Olympic qualifying campaign. He came on as a substitute in the Americans' 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Antigua and Barbuda, cap-tying him to the United States and bringing his total to four caps.

Is Boyd's move to Austria the right step forward for the 21-year-old? How do you think he will cope with the pressure of top-flight professional soccer? As is the case with young players, it's too early to tell, but all the signs point to a bright future for the young man.

08 June 9:19 pm

Well, that was unsatisfying. At least Canadians can look at their win over Cuba and say, "Hey, it was on the road." The US don't have that luxury after a hard-fought, uneven 3-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda in Tampa.

I can't say I'm surprised. Disappointed, surely, but not surprised. This is a disjointed, confused, and somewhat rudderless US team.

Oguchi Onyewu is done as an international-caliber defender

Bad showing against Brazil? Hey, it happens.

But the same against the Benna Boys? You're done.

It's kind of deceiving because Gooch still looks like he did way back in the summer of 2009 when he had that great showing in the Confederations Cup, but the similarity ends there. His lateral quickness is nil, his passing has always been subpar and his reading of the game has actually regressed. The vast majority of MLS defenders would have bottled up that touch from Byers; Gooch rolled with it and gave him a direct line to Tim Howard's goal.

That's unacceptable in any context. In a game that matters, with a then-fragile 2-0 lead? It's mutinous.

Jurgen Klinsmann needs to bury Gooch on the depth chart. He's a liability against even the worst teams.

If it comes down to goal differential, the US are in trouble

How many goals will the US score in Guatemala City or Kingston playing like this? It's relevant, since Mexico only went through to the Hexagonal on goal differential four years ago.

The US will not have that luxury — not after this performance, and even more so on Tuesday. That means the margin for error is razor thin, and any loss will be a potentially crippling one.

Does that mean Klinsmann should add more attackers to the mix?

Absolutely. Not only was the output poor, but so was recovery of the second ball and pressure in the final third. Putting Jozy Altidore or Terrence Boyd in alongside Herculez Gomez from the start would have given the US a better chance at taking advantage of all those chances they created.

Set pieces are still a thing the US can do well

Landon Donovan's service was perfect pretty much all game long. Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Herculez Gomez, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley are all excellent targets.

That was the difference against the Benna Boys. (How horrible is that to contemplate, by the way?)

It will continue to be the area where the US have the biggest advantage throughout this semifinal round. Klinsmann's men will have to milk that for all it's worth, or there may be no Hexagonal in 2013.

08 June 11:49 am

Le troisième tour des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde dans la zone Concacaf commence ce vendredi. Le Canada se déplace à Cuba (14h00) avec un seul objectif en tête : la victoire.

Il s’agit du déplacement théoriquement le plus facile pour les Canadiens… d’où l’obligation de gagner. D’autant que dans la Concacaf, les rencontres à l’extérieur sont rarement une partie de plaisir. « C’est probablement le pire terrain sur lequel j’ai joué », a déclaré Kevin McKenna après le premier entraînement sur place (video). Et pour ne rien arranger, le match est programmé en pleine chaleur de l’après-midi.

Mais à l’image de Dwayne De Rosarion, le Canada n’a qu’une seule préoccupation : les trois points. Il faudra pour cela battre un adversaire mystérieux. Et quand Stephen Hart a voulu les visionner en Jamaïque… Cuba avait emmené son équipe espoirs ! L’essentiel de la préparation de l’équipe a eu lieu au Brésil, contre des adversaires de divisions inférieures ou des équipes de jeunes. Les Cubains sont des passionnés de soccer, comme le confirme le joueur de Montréal Eduardo Sebrango, et espèrent terminer parmi les deux premiers de leur groupe et ainsi passer au tour suivant.

L’autre match du groupe C opposera le Honduras au Panama. Pour leur premier match officiel sous Jürgen Klinsmann, les États-Unis ne devraient éprouver aucune peine face à Antigua-et-Barbuda, pas plus que le Mexique contre le Guyana. Costa Rica - Salvador et Jamaïque - Guatemala complètent le programme.

07 June 11:13 am

Just suddenly having [Fabian Johnson] on the squad feels like finding a solution to a problem you'd gotten so accustomed to that you'd stopped even thinking of it as a problem. He's the soccer equivalent of laser eye surgery or getting air conditioning for the first time.

Is Fabian Johnson the irrefutable savior of American soccer? Alone, it's unlikely.

But in Brian Phillips' article on the US men's national team at Grantland, he argues that Johnson is just another reason why US soccer is poised to push the limits on how well – and subsequently, how poorly – they can play.

Essentially, with a more attack-centered mentality and a formation to maximize the talent in the midfield, the potential to produce big-time performances (we're looking at you, Scotland) are ever more likely.

With that being said, against powerhouse teams like Brazil – where a 4-1 loss seemed to sting a whole lot less than a scoreless draw with Canada because, well, the team looked better – the risk of being dumped with an unsightly scoreline is also on the rise.

It's time to drop the "up-and-coming" tagline (it's been far too long), start playing up to the talent available (not to say that the US will consistently take down the world's elite, but just ask the past two World Cup champions, Spain and Italy, if they still get a can't-wait-to-play-them feeling in their stomachs when they see the United States on their schedule), and stop accepting losses to teams well below the Americans' capabilities (a la Panama in the 2011 Gold Cup on US soil).

"By gambling that he can teach the USMNT to walk before it's really gotten world-class at crawling," Philips writes, "Klinsmann is taking an already chancy situation and stirring in a fresh vial of crazy."

With the 2014 World Cup as the ultimate showcase of Klinsmann's US side, perhaps straying from the status quo and going for glory is just the type of craziness we need.

06 June 11:33 am

Maintenant que le match du centenaire contre les États-Unis est passé, le Canada se concentre sur le troisième tour des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde dans la zone Concacaf, avec deux échéances aussi importantes que proches, ce vendredi à Cuba et mardi contre le Honduras.

Une seule rencontre de préparation contre un autre pays, solide et prestigieux, certes, mais dont le style ne correspond pas vraiment au jeu latino-américain des prochains adversaires : est-ce suffisant ? Heureusement, le Canada disputera son premier match à Cuba, équipe en théorie la plus faible du groupe et qui n’a plus joué depuis le mois de février. Mais tout droit à l’erreur est interdit sous peine de déjà compromettre la qualification.

L’attaquant Tosaint Ricketts ne s’attend pas à un déplacement facile. « Nous sommes préparés à une ambiance chaude : jouer à deux heures de l’après-midi, dans un environnement hostile. Les cubains sont de grands passionnés de football. Mais nous sommes pour la plupart des professionnels jouant dans des pays où nous effectuons des déplacements dans des stades hostiles. Nous devrons respecter la stratégie établie et rester concentrer sur notre match pour obtenir un bon résultat. » Le groupe s’y prépare dans la bonne humeur.

Ensuite, il faudra se mesure au Honduras, véritable bête noire du Canada, qui s’est préparé de la meilleure des manières en s’imposant de manière impressionnante 0-3 au Salvador (vidéo).

La journée d’hier a été marquée par le tirage au sort de la Ligue des champions et l’élimination de New York ainsi que du Cal FC en Coupe des États-Unis.

05 June 10:09 pm

As they say, timing is everything.

On the same day the Houston Dynamo found out that they will face Honduran side Olimpia in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League this summer, the MLS club has reportedly plucked one of Olimpia's most prized possessions.

Honduran international midfielder Oscar Boniek García is apparently heading to the Dynamo after rumors of the deal first surfaced several months back. Diez is reporting that the president of Honduran club Olimpia has confirmed the deal.

The article states that Boniek García, who was one of the stars of the 2011 Gold Cup, will be joining the Dynamo following the second of two World Cup qualifiers on June 12 in Toronto.

He's versatile enough to play in several of a number of positions from holding midfielder, to attacking midfielder and even on the right side of midfield, a position still in flux for Houston in 2012.

30 May 12:13 pm

For a change, it was the US national team coach's turn to tell someone else how to do their job.

In Tuesday afternoon's pregame press conference ahead of a massive match against Brazil, Jurgen Klinsmann on two separate occasions encouraged the Brazilian press on hand to support their national team. It was also an indirect message to the US soccer media on hand just before CONCACAF World Cup qualifying kicks off on June 8.

"[Mano Menezes, Brazilian national team manager] only has a chance to make that transition to integrate a new generation of players if he has the support by you — the Brazilian media, the Brazilian people," Klinsmann said in response to a question from a Brazilian reporter. "If you constantly doubt whatever he’s doing every game and every loss he has on the way to the World Cup in 2014, he’s going to have a really, really difficult time.

"I think you chose a very good coach and you have a very good coach and you've got to support him. So even if on the path to 2014 maybe it doesn’t work out perfectly, you have a new generation of players coming through. So I hope you give him the support and you don't doubt him every time maybe something goes wrong."

It brings up an interesting debate: Is the media's job to get behind their country's team? Or is the media's role to document, tell the story and analyze a situation when things go right and when they go wrong?

Fans of England's Three Lions may not want to read further. Klinsmann makes an example of the English national team to drive his point home later on in the press conference.
 
"It is very simple. In a soccer-driven country, which Brazil is, Argentina is, Germany is and England is, it all depends on how much you all go in the same direction," Klinsmann said when asked to share his experiences at the helm of Germany when that nation hosted the 2006 World Cup. "So you have two choices you can make: I support my team from a media perspective, too, or I given them trouble or give them doubts or give them nasty comments or whatever.

"If you look at England, England often beats itself. It's not the opponents necessarily. They make themselves so much problems they create before tournaments and you see how the last tournament went for then. So it’s the environment that you create. However, we were able to do that, the people started to be really positive [in Germany ahead of the 2006 World Cup]."

Does he have a point? The media has a role in the type of environment surrounding a sports team. But does the press really have any sort of moral obligation to their country?

11 May 4:50 pm

Earlier this week, MLSsoccer.com profiled Earthquakes right back Steven Beitashour as a player that could be on US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's radar.

Turns out, Klinsmann and US Soccer may have to move sooner rather than later if that's the case.

Beitashour, who led the Quakes last year with seven assists and already has four to his name in 2012, holds dual US-Iranian citizenship. According to Centerline Soccer's Robert Jonas, the San Jose native has been contacted by the Iranian national team, but not yet by the United States:

So it appears for the time being, Beitashour will hold out for a call from Klinsmann. But if the coach dawdles in calling up the third-year defender, Beitashour could easily be added to US Soccer's list of ones that got away.

Power 5: Steven Beitashour on Klinsmann's radar?