GUADALAJARA, Mexico – An already murky situation surrounding the future replacement of US goalkeeper Tim Howard has a new wrinkle thanks to news that broke this week in, of all places, Mexico.
Cirilo Saucedo, the 30-year old goalkeeper for Club Tijuana whose mother is a United States citizen, says he has been contacted by US Soccer about a possible call up to join the ever-changing pool of goalkeepers chasing Howard as the top choice for the US national team.
“There is the possibility of being called up for Mexico or the United States,” Saucedo (above) told the sports newspaper Récord. “My mother is American but first I want to focus on Xolos and afterwards we'll see what happens.”
He added: “I'm not closing or opening any door. I want to be in the playoffs with Xolos.”
Born in Mexico City, Saucedo was part of Mexico’s Under-23 setup but has never been called into the full national team, despite suggestions from parts of the local media that it would be deserved.
Earlier this week, Saucedo was named one of four candidates for the Balón de Oro Best Goalkeeper of the Clausura 2012, and he’s been a key part of Tijuana's success since the team was promoted from the second division in May 2011.
The Tijuana 'keeper first became a regular in the 2008-09 season with Indios de Ciudad Juárez before moving to Tigres UANL for a two-year stint, where he was the regular starter. He signed for Tijuana in the summer of 2011.
While Howard is the undisputed No. 1 goalkeeper for the US national team, Saucedo would likely be in the pool of goalkeepers on his tail that has changed dramatically since the 2010 World Cup. Expected incumbent Brad Guzan has lost his grip as the de facto No. 2, and MLS youngsters Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson and veteran Nick Rimando have all battled for the same spot in the past year.
For Mexico's national team, coach José Manuel de la Torre has alternated between Jesús Corona, Guillermo Ochoa and Alfredo Talavera, without giving others much of a look, something that Saucedo mentioned had frustrated him.
There are five other players on Tijuana's first-team squad with US ties, including two who were part of the squad that stunned Mexico at Estadio Azteca last week in Edgar Castillo and Corona. Greg Garza, Alejandro Guido and Stevie Rodriguez are all also on the roster for Tijuana.
Después de 75 años de no lograrlo, Estados Unidos finalmente puede decir que le ganaron a sus archirrivales de la CONCACAF en su casa. México cayó en el Estadio Azteca gracias a un gol de Michael Orozco (que irónicamente es mexico-estadounidense).
Muchos en Estados Unidos piensan que una importante barrera ha caído, que ese triunfo demuestra lo cerca que los estadounidenses están de los reyes de la CONCACAF, algo que llega en un momento critico, ya que recientemente el Tri había superado a Estados Unido en todo sentido… Copa Oro, Olímpicos, Mundiales juveniles, etc, etc, etc.
Sin embargo, es solo un partido, y no se jugaron puntos. Es solo un triunfo, en comparación de los muchos que ha tenido México ante los estadounidenses.
Pensando en eso nos preguntamos, ¿Cuántos partidos pasarán para que EE.UU. le vuelva a ganar al Tri en México? ¿Será que la brecha si se ha cerrado, o será que tendremos que esperar otros 75 años para ver esto?
Voten, comenten y escuchen el debate de Tiro Libre… la rivalidad continúa…
You've probably heard by now that Maurice Edu is most likely going to get a start in central defense for the US against Mexico on Wednesday night.
Jurgen Klinsmann has his reasons. First and foremost is that none of the newcomers in the US central defensive player pool — including Geoff Cameron — have shown that they're ready to lock down a starting spot. So Klinsmann has to turn every card he can looking for an ace.
Secondly, though — and this is pure speculation on my part — this might be a chance for Valencia to see what Edu looks like on the backline against top competition.
Valencia have been the third-best team in Spain for about the past 15 years, meaning that their interest in Edu is a gigantic step up from Rangers, or whatever mid-table French side is pursuing him. And we know how Klinsmann feels about stepping up to the next level.
But there's virtually no chance that Edu can play in the midfield for a team of Valencia's caliber. He doesn't read the game well enough in 360 degrees, and is always more comfortable when things are playing out in front of him. We've also seen plenty of shanked 22-yard shots from him, enough to know that he's not going to add Michael Bradley-esque offense when pushing forward.
What Edu has the raw materials for, however, is the center of defense. I think Valencia see that much, and I also think that if he'd gone anywhere but Rangers he'd have been pushed into that spot after his great performance there in the 2008 Olympics.
So if you're a fan of both the US and La Liga, keep your fingers crossed that Edu has a blinder on Wednesday night. If he does, it could mean a move to the Mediterranean will soon follow.
Des grands matchs, des beaux buts, du débat, de l’analyse, des sujets nationaux et internationaux, voilà le menu de votre émission Coup Franc hebdomadaire (à écouter ici) :
- Notre invité Patrice Bernier revient brièvement sur la victoire de Montréal à New England, parle de sa place en équipe nationale canadienne, de l’utilité du match de ce mercredi contre Trinité-et-Tobago et de la génération actuelle qui a une occasion unique du participer à la Coupe du monde.
- Faut-il faire pression sur les clubs de MLS pour que les internationaux canadiens y jouent à la même place qu’en équipe nationale ?
- Le titre olympique du Mexique, et l’utilisation des jeunes en championnat du Mexique et en MLS.
- Analyse des forces du leader San José en compagnie de Christian Schaekels de Vision du Jeu : Wondolowski qui marque encore plus que l’an dernier, les progrès accomplis en une saison, son efficacité offensive sur les flancs et sur phases arrêtées, ses capacités physiques et mentales, ses remontées et ses fins de match incroyables (voir le but de Lenhart contre le LA Galaxy).
- La bonne humeur à New York et l’implication de Tim Cahill dans les deux buts contre Houston (le 1-0 et le 2-0).
- Landon Donovan qui multiplie les éloges après la victoire du LA Galaxy contre Chivas.
- Quel but trouvez-vous le plus beau : celui de Kandji contre Montréal ou celui de Nyassi à New England ?
The final of the 2014 World Cup is two years from today. Amazing, huh? Seems like only yesterday, we were all huddled in soccer pubs and living rooms and tapas bars watching Spain beat the Netherlands in the final in Johannesburg.
But, in reality, that was a while ago. And now, everything is focused on 2014. Samba on the brain. Caipirinhas before dinner.
Seems like a good to look at what Jurgen Klinsmann's US national team needs to do to get to Rio.
Qualifying – "The Semifinals"
Technically, the current round of qualifying is called the Third Round. It's a group stage, and the US are in good shape after two matches. They beat Antigua and Barbuda 3-1 in Tampa on June 6 and then drew with Guatemala down in Central America four days later.
So at this point, the US are tied with Jamaica at the top of Group A, with four more matches to play.
That Guatemala away game would traditionally be the most difficult one of this round. But this cycle is a little different.
The trip down to Jamaica – who have improved greatly in the past few years – on September 7 will not be a Rastafarian walk in the park. It's made trickier because the two nations square off just four days later in Columbus. Klinsmann will have to manage his roster and squad smartly to avoid fatigue and any letdown in the second match.
Other than that is the away game in Antigua and Barbuda, on October 12, which will indeed be a walk in the park. The return match against Guatemala, at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City on October 16, won't be an easy three points, but the hope is that by then, the US won't need points. By then, they should've clinched a spot in the next round.
My guess is that the US will get nine more points – I think they'll struggle in Kingston – and move on without too many issues.
Qualifying – "The Hex"
Everyone's favorite game of Russian Roulette – the final round of qualifying for CONCACAF. Here are the most likely countries with bullets in the chamber:
Mexico: The Gold Cup champions are perfect in qualifying so far and will eventually cruise through.
Costa Rica: Los Ticos have been here before, and although they slipped up at home against El Salvador, they have enough firepower and experience (e.g. RSL's Alvaro Saborio) to make it.
Honduras: Loaded with familiar names, such as Sporting KC's Roger Espinoza and New England's Jerry Bengtson, los Catrachos are not the powerhouse they were a few years ago, but they still have enough to make the Hex.
Jamaica: This is the year for the Reggae Boyz – led by Colorado's Omar Cummings and Vancouver's Darren Mattocks – to make another serious run at a World Cup berth for the first time since 1998.
The sixth country is probably going to be either Panama or Canada.
Panama look very good through the first two matches, securing two wins, including a 2-0 shocker in Honduras. The other one, though, was a squeaker at home to unfancied Cuba. Still, Blas Pérez and the Panamanians are alone at the top of the Third Round Group C.
But Canada are nipping at their heels after battling for a win in Havana and then earning a draw at home against Honduras. They're in a good position, but will probably need to beat Panama at home and earn a result on the road against either Honduras or Panama.
No matter who makes it, the Hex will be rough road for the US, as it always has been. Klinsi got his first taste of life in CONCACAF when the US went to Guatemala. But the quality is better in the Hex. And the urgency, too.
The US has done well in the Hex recently, coming on top of the final six in each of the past two qualifying tournaments. But this is a different Mexican team than in the past – maybe the best Tri we've ever seen.
But the Yanks don't have to top the group. Just finish in the top three. Most likely, the cut-off for qualifying will be 16 points. That's what it was in 2010 and 2006. It was 17 in 2002, the last time the US qualified in the third spot.
Qualifying – Interconfederation Playoffs
What if the US stumble in the Hex and somehow finish out of the top three? Well, all is not lost. In fact, this year, the scheduling gods have smiled on CONCACAF: The fourth-place team in the Hex will still have a chance to get in through an inter-confederation playoff against the top qualifier from Oceania (a.k.a., New Zealand).
Last time out the playoff was between CONCACAF's fourth-place finisher and South America's fifth-place finisher. Costa Rica lost to Uruguay, as expected.
The hope for US fans, of course, is that it never gets to that point.
Fans longing for the bridge between North, Central and South American soccer, take notice. Change might just be on the horizon.
According to a statement released from CONCACAF, president Jeffrey Webb met with executive committee members of CONMEBOL on Wednesday in São Paulo, Brazil, to explore the potential for collaborative opportunities between the confederations.
Among the items discussed was the staging of a special Copa América in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of CONMEBOL that would involve CONCACAF's partnership and participation, referee development, technical programs and other synergies.
Webb is a special guest of CONMEBOL president Nicolás Leoz and will attend the second leg of the Copa Libertadores Wednesday evening between Corinthians and Boca Juniors.
"The discussions today were held in a spirit of genuine cooperation," said Webb, making his first trip to South America since his election as CONCACAF president on May 23. "I look forward to further talks and building a stronger relationship between our confederations."
Webb is accompanied on the trip by CONCACAF vice president Justino Compeán, who is also president of the Mexican Football Federation.
*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.
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.
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.
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:
Steven Beitashour after #SJEarthquakes training: "It's been a goal of mine, since I was a little kid, to play in the World Cup."
— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) May 11, 2012
Beitashour said he hasn't been contacted by #USSoccer, but with USA/Iran dual citizenship, says he has another option, play for Iran.
— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) May 11, 2012
#SJEarthquakes defender Steven Beitashour on playing for Iran "They've contacted me a couple of times about getting into some of the camps."
— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) May 11, 2012
Beitashour, born in the US, still favors playing for the #USMNT "Hopefully the US will come calling. If I get a chance, I'll impress them."
— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) May 11, 2012
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?