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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 3:40 pm

If you're Polish, probably pretty good - and we have the video to prove it:

The rest of the game, probably not so much. Brutal result for the co-hosts.

By the way, Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha was at the game. He probably won't come home with Robert Lewandowski, but given all the talk out of Crewland about a new DP for the summer, maybe he'll figure out a way to smuggle countryman Pawel Brozek back to Ohio?

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.

08 June 10:34 am

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07 June 2:46 pm

Eh bien voilà, je préparais tranquillement un texte intitulé « Peter Byers défie l’Amérique » pour vous présenter les éliminatoires de la Concacaf dans les autres groupes que celui du Canada, quand le Toronto FC a encore frappé.

Aron Winter est la victime de cette nouvelle poussée de renvoyite aiguë : le Néerlandais cède sa place à Paul Mariner, qui devient le septième entraîneur d’un club qui joue en MLS depuis à peine plus de 5 ans. Nommé en janvier 2011, Winter détient pourtant un record de la longévité à la tête du TFC.

Il était venu pour construire, prônait un système de jeu chatoyant et a lancé plusieurs jeunes comme Morgan ou Henry, promis à un bel avenir. Winter a hissé l’équipe en demi-finale de la Ligue des champions, a remporté deux fois la Coupe du Canada, mais ce n’était pas suffisant. Ses dirigeants lui font payer les résultats désastreux de l’équipe en MLS… juste au moment où elle commence à prendre des points et de la confiance.

Et maintenant ? Mariner dit qu’il suffit de « quelques ajustements mineurs »… demandant « beaucoup de travail ». Comme le dit une chanson pour enfants : Trois pas en avant, trois pas en arrière, trois pas sur le côté, trois pas de l’autre côté…

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 8:58 pm

The 2012 Olympic Games are right around the corner, and although the US men's team won't be featuring in this year's soccer tournament, one of MLS' most recognizable figures just might be. (Not to forget the US and Canadian women, either.)

In a new video from KickTV, LA Galaxy star David Beckham talked about the pride his country is feeling when it comes to hosting the Olympic Games and expresses his hope that he might be able to represent the UK in one of the world's biggest sporting extravaganzas. He's also got a great quote about captaining the England national team, saying, "Captain of my country was one of the best and biggest things I've ever done in my career."

What do you think? Will Beckham make the Olympic squad? Does he have what hit takes to lead the UK to Olympic glory? Will you be following the Games, soccer tournament or otherwise?

06 June 6:50 pm

Manchester United.

That’s the match – back in July 2010 – that many MLS observers still hang on to when it comes to reminding themselves of the promise of former Philadelphia Union striker Danny Mwanga.

But the magical days in a Union shirt for the former No. 1 SuperDraft pick have been few and far between in the last two seasons.

Mwanga’s last goal for Philadelphia in MLS play? It came nearly a year ago (June 25, 2011).

The 20-year-old has been on the field for 61 league matches over three seasons and found the back of the net in just 11 of those games.

One reason for the limited production is injuries. Plenty of them. Rarely will you find a third-year player who has missed matches due to the same variety of injuries: hip, right knee, groin, hamstring, shoulder and a case of sore ribs after falling on them in practice earlier this season.  

If Mwanga’s durability to withstand the physical rigors of MLS is a concern, his lack of production without Sebastien Le Toux is downright alarming. Of his 12 goals in his MLS career, nine came off assists from Le Toux. The other three were unassisted.

In MLS you have to be tough and you have to be ready to adjust to any situation and any player. That’s why the Union are better off with the experienced Jorge Perlaza.

The Timbers highlighted Perlaza's speed when they acquired him at the start of last season and we’ve seen signs of how much of a factor it can be. But not in the goal-scoring department. Six goals in 32 starts – none this year – is nothing to write home about.

However, put Perlaza’s production into perspective: The Timbers are a team that don’t score many goals in general, whether Perlaza is there or not. In fact, only three teams have scored fewer goals than the Timbers this year. It was the exact same story at the end of last year.

Does Mwanga have more upside? Sure. He also brings good hold-up ability and the potential to playmake and create his own opportunities. But that’s also what Darlington Nagbe was expected to bring at the second forward position.

Mwanga’s integration into Portland’s system and his impact on Nagbe’s position will be fascinating to watch. It may not prove as seamless, however, as Perlaza who has the traits to be the perfect partner for hard-working compatriot Lionard Pajoy in the Union attack.

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.