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US National Team

14 March 6:42 de la tarde

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.

14 March 1:19 de la tarde

Photo Courtesy of ussoccerstore.com

I decided to look at the US Soccer online store today, and it had nothing to do with the e-mail blast they sent out telling me about their Spring collection. Cross my heart and hope to die.

And though it may not be particularly Spring-y, I found a hoodie that was well worth the price of admission.

The words on the back say, and I quote, "Haters Welcome."

I'm not really sure what that means. Is it a defiance thing a la "Don't Tread On Me?" Kind of a "hate us because we win?"

Is it an invitation to soccer "haters" to start watching? God knows I have enough friends who are haters, but I'm not sure that wearing this sweatshirt would convince them to start watching games with me.

Look, I'm all for helping the uninitiated get into soccer. Convincing – and I mean really convincing – someone to follow the beautiful game is unbelievably rewarding. Haters? Not sure if it's worth the fight. After all...

Thoughts, everyone? Smart? Silly? Would you wear it? Hit up that comment section and let us know.

02 March 5:33 de la tarde

TUCSON, Ariz. – Juan Agudelo returned to New York Red Bulls practice here on Friday, walking a little taller. Literally.

The 19-year-old striker scored the US Olympic team’s opener in their 2-0 win over their Mexican counterparts in Texas on Wednesday – his first goal in a US shirt since his strike against Argentina nearly a year ago.

And Agudelo gives full credit to the bleached mop rising off the center of his scalp.

“It was just a play that we drew up the day before at practice, actually,” he explained to MLSsoccer.com. “Just a near-post cross off a corner kick and I was able to get my head on it with the Mohawk.”

If that ‘hawk looks like an homage to a certain Wesley Snipes movie to you, you’re not alone. Apparently Agudelo’s ‘do immediately reminded US Under-23 head coach Caleb Porter of the Stallone/Snipes sci-fi action classic Demolition Man.

 

 

And right there, folks, is where the generation gap between the 37-year-old coach and the teenage striker becomes apparent.

“Caleb told me about that – I didn’t really know about Demolition Man,” Agudelo admitted.

Fair enough. He wasn’t even a year old when the movie came out in 1993.

“I searched on Google images and it was like I was staring at myself,” he continued. “It wasn’t what I was going for, but that’s the way it worked out.”

Maybe it's time to add "Simon Phoenix" and "Demolition Man" to Swagudelo's growing list of nicknames.

WATCH: Agudelo on his time with the US U-23s

02 March 3:33 de la tarde

De vuelta en Orlando, Fla. para el juego pretemporada entre FC Dallas y Toronto FC, me topé con Zarek Valentin, el defensa del Montreal Impact que nos compartió su alegría por la victoria que obtuvo con el equipo preolímpico de Estados Unidos sobre México en un crucial amistoso esta semana… pero ojo, se le está olvidando el español por estar aprendiendo francés.

02 March 2:15 de la tarde

By Greg Seltzer

GENOA, Italy — The aftermath of the US men's national team's first-ever win over Italy on Wednesday is proving almost as fun as the event, and most of the report cards reflect that.

It looked as though Azzurri ace Andrea Pirlo was getting around to giving the home side's "B+" side the lead, but the visitors made sure that never happened. The Yanks played confidently enough in their own right to allow red, white and blue-hot Clint Dempsey to fire up the victory celebration.

As a periodic reminder, "6" is the average mark. All ratings are relative to match time played, with a 90-minute "7" standing higher than one given for 15 minutes.

Tim Howard (7) - It was very unlike the Everton star to have a couple of early calamities dealing with both the bouncing ball and an Azzurri onrusher, but fortunately he got away with them. After those nervous opening moments, it was Howard business as usual.

Steve Cherundolo (7) - Back in his corner, 'Dolo kept things rather tidy. Offensively, the Hannover 96 skipper was hampered by having a defensive midfielder up his flank. Cherundolo managed to rush forward into great crossing position once, but over-hit it.

Clarence Goodson (6.5) - There were times when he needed help or good fortune (and got it) dealing with Pirlo's paintbrush. However, Goodson more often than not was clearing attacks (even when he looked in trouble).

Carlos Bocanegra (8.5) - The captain was in total command, so he deserves a salute. Nearly flawless on the night, Bocanegra even managed to make a couple of big plays when he'd initially been beaten.

Fabian Johnson (6.5) - I'll admit to grumbling and shaking my head when the line-up sheet was handed to me. But fair is fair, and Johnson was largely fair. He found plenty of time to press into attack, contributed to the winner and eventually settled in at the back as a disruptor. It's those repeated issues in his corner over the opening half hour and the fact that he'd rather wiggle into the area on the dribble than cross that keeps my mind made up he should be properly played on the wing. Not budging on that, would rather he not have to travel so far to get to the area.

Maurice Edu (7) - Mo has gotten smoother as a guided missile defensive midfielder almost every time out for months now, both with club and country. His ability to periodically dip into attack is less convincing, though.

Michael Bradley (8.5) - I'll guess that I've been in the stands to watch Mikey "clock in" about 30-35 times. He may have two or three better overall performances than he had on Wednesday. The fully apparent fun he was having bossing midfield in the second half, however, stands numero uno.

Daniel Williams (5.5) - It seems so unfair to grade him for playing out wide, but of course we'll go right ahead with it. Williams actually performed a couple of genuine offensive intent actions this time, but the best we can say is still that he's sure one fine track-back wing man.

Clint Dempsey (8) - Deuce was filled with intent if not terribly effective before the break. He was just softening them up. Gianluigi Buffon, who hardly stood a chance on Dempsey's shot from 18 yards out, might want to start checking underneath his bed for the American; he was a monster post halftime.

Brek Shea (5.5) - To be fair, he was probably up against the second-best Italy player on the night, Christian Maggio. Shea's still a work in progress, but this match will help his art form.

Jozy Altidore (7) - I keep telling everyone how his passing is so underrated. This striker feeds an easy pass to hit. Altidore also did the hold-up work, showing again that AZ was the right move.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (8) - As noted here, there are are still questions about his field placement for players. That unpleasantness out of the way, this team now plays out of the back until holding a 1-0 lead in the waning moments. This team now goes out on the Luigi Ferraris pitch and "plays football" like it expects to grab the game against an Italy, no matter who may be missing.

Yeah. You saw it. And you also saw why Klinsmann makes the big bucks.

Subs:

Sacha Kljestan (6) - I'm not exactly sure what he's supposed to do on left wing, other than help at the back. And there ya go.

Jonathan Spector (8) - There aren't many 13-minute shifts that practically seal victory, some don't even get a grade. Spector may need an exorcism because he was possessed in the final minutes. He blocked, poked away or shoulder-bumped silly anything that came near him as the hosts scrambled for an equalizer that never came.

Terrence Boyd (-) - After the match, he still looked in a daze walking to the team bus. That about sums up his cameo, but I have a new research project to find the last international player in the world to get his debut cap before appearing for a club first team - which likely explains the cameo.

Edson Buddle (-) The guy with the shortest shift did manage to kill a bit of time.

02 March 10:36 de la mañana

It was a boldface lie. Ferrell has turned around and shot a film entirely in Spanish … So what better place than Mexico vs. Colombia to promote the flick alongside stunning actress  Genesis Rodriguez? With Ferrell’s attendance at a Mexican national team match, we put his Spanish and his loyalty to the US colors to the test.

02 March 1:37 de la mañana

Do you know what I love more than ice cream and Sacha Kljestan's moustache? Eric Wynalda talking US Soccer. 

Sure, you or I may not agree with a lot of what he has to say but you can't argue that he's always entertaining. Hear what the US World Cup veteran had to say about the Yanks' big win over Italy yesterday on today's episode of Kick's The Mixer. Come for the Wynalda, stay for the Conrad.

29 February 8:21 de la tarde

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.

29 February 7:50 de la tarde

While most of us where tuned in to the USMNT's (surprise?) win over Italy at a bar, online or on our couches, the MLS players that are here in Orlando for the Disney Pro Soccer Challenge took in the game from their hotel rooms.

While the scene played out at team hotels all over town, Kevin Ellis and Dom Dwyer's room might have been the only one with an MLS camera in it. Check out their predictions and first-half thoughts in the clip above. You'll also find out why Kevin Ellis is, also surprisingly, pro-Italia.

23 February 10:45 de la tarde

Expect to see more of this as we inch ever closer to the March 11th debut of MLS on NBC Sports. Arlo White, the former voice of the Sounders and the future voice of MLS on the peacock network, joined host Russ Thaler on NBC Sports Talk tonight to discuss some of the big storylines around the league heading into the 2012 season.

And you know what? He looked damn good doing it. Here's to more soccer talk on Sports Talk.