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US National Team

06 June 2:23 de la tarde

Même par temps calme, il se passe toujours quelque chose en MLS. Sur le terrain, d’abord, puisque hier, Philadelphie a sèchement battu Columbus 3-0 (résumé vidéo). L’Union savourait l’ampleur des chiffres mais surtout le fait que McInerney est loin d’être son seul atout. Du côté des visiteurs, personne n’a pris la barre du navire après le but d’ouverture et l’entraîneur Robert Warzycha exige un changement drastique d’attitude d’ici le prochain match, contre Montréal.

On s’active aussi beaucoup dans les coulisses avec, en première ligne, le passage d’Alain Rochat de Vancouver à DC United. Les rumeurs vont également bon train. Le LA Galaxy aurait ainsi fait une offre mirobolante à Giovani Dos Santos, ex-enfant prodige du football mexicain qui a aujourd’hui 24 ans et évolue à Majorque. Si Galatasary veut garder son médian défensif Felipe Melo, l’ancien international brésilien serait aussi convoité par Seattle, Sao Paulo et Cruzeiro. Avec les blessures d’Alonso et Zakuani, du renfort serait le bienvenu à Seattle.

Le classement Fifa publié aujourd’hui est toujours emmené par l’Espagne. 17e, le Mexique est le meilleur représentant de la Concacaf, devant les États-Unis, 28es. Le Canada glisse au 83e rang. Mais ces chiffres n’auront que valeur de statistique demain, lors des matches des éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde disputés un peu partout sur la planète. En Jamaïque (49e), les Américains peuvent par exemple s’attendre à une chaude réception, digne de leur dernier déplacement chez les Reggae Boyz, qui avait mal tourné.

03 June 10:22 de la mañana

Arrière-gardes les plus solides depuis le début de la compétition, New England et Colorado ont davantage peiné au moment de faire trembler les filets adverses. Ce ne fut pas le cas ce week-end…

Cinq joueurs différents ont trouvé le fond des filets pour permettre à New England d’infliger au LA Galaxy sa défaite la plus sévère en championnat depuis 2002. Atiba Harris a vu ses efforts récompensés par deux buts pour contraindre au partage le leader Dallas, qui doit son point au réalisme de Blas Perez. En bas de classement, Mike Magee a permis à Chicago de sortir vainqueur du duel des attaques faméliques face à DC United.

Mais le grand gagnant de la semaine est encore une fois Montréal, qui s’est imposé à Kansas City dans un match tendu par un penalty, une exclusion et des échanges de noms d’oiseaux entre les bancs. Certains joueurs locaux cherchaient quand même une explication sportive à leur troisième défaite à domicile de la saison.

Plusieurs équipes de la Conférence Ouest ont réalisé une bonne opération : Portland, sans jouer, mais surtout Salt Lake et Seattle, qui remercient respectivement Javier Morales et Obafemi Martins, tous deux dans un grand jour. Mauvaise affaire en revanche pour New York, battu par Vancouver et « délaissé par la chance », dixit Thierry Henry, alors qu’un point à Columbus rend heureux Houston encore victime de blessures en plein match.

La Fédération américaine de soccer a également fêté son centenaire et son équipe nationale s’est bien relevée de sa défaite contre la Belgique en battant l’Allemagne 4-3 (résumé vidéo).

LES RÉSULTATS
Toronto - Philadelphie
New York - Vancouver
Columbus - Houston
Kansas City - Montréal
Colorado - Dallas
Salt Lake - San José
Chivas USA - Seattle
New England - LA Galaxy
Chicago - DC United

 
1-1
1-2
1-1
1-2
2-2
3-0
0-2
5-0
2-0

Classement général
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo

 

30 May 10:05 de la mañana

Aucun match de championnat au programme, mais quel mercredi soir messieurs, dames, riche en spectacle, en suspense et en surprises.

Montréal représentera le Canada lors de la prochaine Ligue des champions après avoir partagé l’enjeu 2-2 à Vancouver (résumé vidéo) en finale retour du Championnat canadien Amway (aller 0-0). La défense Québécoise a longtemps été méconnaissable mais l’équipe locale fut incapable d’en profiter et semblait s’en vouloir autant à elle-même qu’aux autres après la rencontre. Montréal a retrouvé ses esprits après la pause et, mené deux fois à la marque, est chaque fois parvenu à égaliser. Le but de la qualification a été inscrit de la tête par Hassoun Camara, qui n’a pas manqué d’éloges pour son entraîneur Marco Schällibaum.

Pour me mettre en appétit, j’avais regardé États-Unis - Belgique, qui s’est soldé par une nette victoire 2-4 des Diables Rouges (résumé vidéo). Beaucoup d’Américains ont découvert l’équipe belge, envers qui les médias locaux ont été élogieux. Jürgen Klinsmann est de cet avis et trouve qu’il est mieux pour sa sélection de gagner de l’expérience en affrontant les meilleures équipes du monde (rien de moins !)

Dans le même temps, le charme de la Coupe officiait ailleurs aux États-Unis. Alors que Frédéric Piquionne faisait exploser le marquoir à Portland, ce fut au tour de Seattle et du LA Galaxy de se faire surprendre par des adversaires de divisions inférieures.

Et comme si toute cette agitation ne suffisait pas, la soirée a aussi été celle du premier changement d’entraîneur de la saison en MLS. Le truculent Chelis a été démis de ses fonctions à Chivas USA et est remplacé par Jose Luis Real.

29 May 10:43 de la mañana

En ce milieu de semaine, tant le Canada que les États-Unis voient leurs meilleurs clubs et joueurs se battre pour gagner ou conserver leur place sur la scène internationale.

Ainsi, Vancouver et Montréal s’affronteront ce soir (22h00 HE, direct Sportsnet et TVA Sports) en finale retour du Championnat canadien Amway (aller 0-0) avec pour enjeux la Coupe des Voyageurs et la place canadienne en Ligue des champions, ce qui serait une double première pour la formation basée en Colombie-Britannique. Elle partira avec l’avantage du terrain et mise sur ses joueurs expérimentés pour hausser son niveau. Les visiteurs ne comptent pas jouer avec le frein à main, sachant que le fameux but à l’extérieur pourrait être dévastateur pour leurs hôtes. Une longue partie de l'émission Coup Franc de cette semaine est consacrée à ce duel.

Pendant qu’on en est à l’apothéose au Canada, les États-Unis ne sont qu’aux prémices de l’édition 2013 de leur coupe nationale. Le stade des seizièmes de finale (3e tour) voit l’entrée en lice des clubs de MLS : Colorado et San José sont tombés hier, et d’autres seront en péril ce soir.

Mais les yeux des amateurs de soccer américains seront surtout rivés sur leur équipe nationale, qui accueille la Belgique en match amical (20h11 HE, ESPN). Les deux formations préparent d’importantes échéances en éliminatoires de la Coupe du monde. Les Américains s’attendent à un affrontement difficile, avec une défense qui aura fort à faire contre un des adversaires les plus redoutables qu’ils ont affronté ces derniers temps. Les Diables Rouges prennent ce match au sérieux et veulent montrer que leur voyage de ce côté de l’Atlantique n’est pas une colonie de vacances en battant « une équipe qui est en train de grandir ».

Hier, c’était le Costa Rica qui préparait ses rendez-vous qualificatifs pour le Brésil. Il s’est imposé 0-1 à Edmonton contre une jeune équipe canadienne qui n’a toujours pas gagné cette année mais n’éprouve aucune anxiété particulière à quelques semaines de la Gold Cup.

14 May 4:22 de la tarde

Jurgen Klinsmann dropped an intriguing tweet into the Twitter timelines of US soccer fans on Tuesday morning, announcing that he had made the 6,000-plus-mile journey from Southern California to São Paulo, Brazil.

The US national team boss flew south to catch Tuesday's pivotal Copa Libertadores match between Palmeiras and reigning Mexican champions Club Tijuana (9 pm ET, Fox Deportes), where US internationals Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo are likely to feature for Los Xolos as they seek to advance to the quarterfinals of South America's most prestigious club tournament.

With Tijuana facing an uphill battle far from home thanks to last month's 0-0 first-leg stalemate in Mexico, the big match at Estádio Pacaembú should provide Klinsmann with a useful perspective on the gringo duo's form and mentality as he prepares his roster for the USA's upcoming slate of friendlies and World Cup qualifiers.

READ: American Exports: Klinsmann attends Tijuana's Copa Libertadores game, Yanks fail to shine

Yet that's surely not the only reason the German-American coach has made the draining voyage across five time zones and many, many miles.

The USMNT's place in World Cup 2014 is far from assured and their destinations will not be known until next year's draw. But Klinsmann is a meticulous planner and he is probably taking this opportunity to scout the lay of the land where his team will – should their ship stay on course in the next few months – spend a month or more next summer.

São Paulo is one of 12 host cities for next summer's tournament, with both group-round and knockout matches scheduled to take place at the new Arena Corinthians, the future home of Palmeiras' cross-town rivals Corinthians, which is scheduled for completion later this year.

READ: Report: Klinsmann to leave Landon Donovan off USMNT roster for June WCQs

With the sprawling metropolis located in relative proximity to fellow host cities Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, it would offer a decent home base for the Yanks should they receive a southern Brazilian posting from FIFA. However, Brazil's somewhat controversial decision to make World Cup venues out of several distant northern and interior destinations means that it's likely too early to start reserving hotels and training grounds just yet.

São Paulo sits just far enough from the Atlantic Ocean for Klinsmann to miss out on the nation's famous beach culture on this trip. The chopper pilot-in-training might have been tempted to take his flight log with him, though – because epic density and congestion has made it one of the most helicopter-friendly cities on earth, with many well-to-do Paulistas avoiding horrendous traffic jams by commuting via rotary-wing aircraft.

14 May 12:28 de la tarde

ESPN may have finally exhausted its full allotment of Barclays Premier League television broadcasting rights – they'll relinquish that hold to the NBC Sports Group in the fall – and the broadcasting behemoth may only have one more World Cup to televise before FOX Sports takes over in 2018, but that doesn't mean the Worldwide Leader is looking to get out of the soccer business anytime soon.

ESPN announced on Tuesday morning that the network will launch a brand new, highlights-driven soccer studio show called "ESPN FC" later this year, set to hit cable boxes on August 11. The 30-minute show, which will air Sunday through Friday each week, will be shown primarily on ESPN2 six days a week, with the Sunday edition spanning an hour. ESPN FC's daily scheduling has not yet been announced, but soccer fans around the United States will be hoping for a prime, mid-morning or early evening time slot.

ESPN recently rebranded its online soccer coverage with a change from the old ESPN Soccernet to the new ESPN FC iteration, and the broadcast side will focus primarily on the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Spain's La Liga, the US and Mexican national teams and, of course, Major League Soccer. 

Some of the regular contributors to ESPN's digital and television soccer coverage – and potential on-air personalities for ESPN FC – include the likes of Derek Rae, Tommy Smyth, Shaka Hislop, Gabriele Marcotti and Janus Michalik. ESPN also boasts a stable of MLS-centric commentators and analysts such as Adrian Healey and former MLS-ers Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman. With Premier League and World Cup rights going the way of other broadcasting companies, MLS could be in a position to move closer to the forefront of ESPN's soccer coverage, both on television and digitally.

ESPN and ESPN2 have been a longtime official television broadcast partner of Major League Soccer since the league's inaugural season in 1996. The current broadcast agreement between MLS and ESPN runs until the end of 2014, with the network carrying 20 2013 regular-season games.

Stay tuned for further news regarding ESPN FC in the coming weeks and months. Who would you like to see spearhead this new venture for ESPN?

UPDATE: SI.com's Grant Wahl on a potential time slot...

14 May 9:00 de la mañana

We already know the British tabloids can be over the top and insensitive when it comes to issues they don't understand, but perhaps no one in the American soccer community knows that better than US national team and Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The World Cup veteran and national team fixture since 2007 has gone from being called "disabled" and "retarded" by the British press when he moved to Manchester United in 2003 to something of a club legend and cult hero for current club Everton, all in the space of a decade.

Not only has Howard learned to cope with the Tourette's syndrome that accompanied him his entire life, but he's now raising awareness among children. The message? Tourette's hasn't defined Howard, and nor should it define them.

In the April-May issue of Neurology Now, Howard spoke at length about his life with Tourette's from his childhood struggles to life in the spotlight as a Manchester United and Everton star.

Said Howard of being a little boy with TS: “From the age of 9 to 15, it was just this chaos of different tics, and they were pretty strong. I would just begin to figure out how a tic worked with my body, and, bam, six months or a year later, a new tic would come.”

“On the field I wasn't Tim who had TS or Tim who had tics. I was Tim who scored goals or scored baskets or hit home runs.”

These days, Howard keep the goals out, but you can't help but admire him for pressing on and passing his message onto others with similar challenges.

Howard isn't the only professional athlete who thrived despite the sometimes nasty disorder. Former Major League Baseball player Jim Eisenreich had a 15-year career in the big leagues, while former NBA player Chris Jackson, who Howard himself cites as a role model in his early years with TS, was a first-round draft pick in 1990 and enjoyed a 15-year career in America, Europe and Asia.

07 May 1:11 de la tarde

Is the quest for a place in the UEFA Champions League comparable to liberating a faraway kingdom from a terrible dragon?

That might be a good question for Tottenham and US national team star Clint Dempsey, who is one of many English Premier League players taking part in “Premier League Reading Stars,” a commendable project intended to develop and encourage reading skills among children in the United Kingdom.

Deuce's favorite book? J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic The Hobbit, which he enthusiastically describes as “a good read” and  “a story about personal growth” in a video for the project.

“It's being able to go outside the comforts of your own home, and go out into the real world and see what's out there,” said the Texan as he explained why he loves the 75-year-old tale. “And even though it's going to be tough, and it's going to be ups and downs, it's about the adventure that you would've never got if you'd never left home. Without putting yourself outside your comfort zone, you don't know what you're capable of doing.”

READ: American Exports: Dempsey's goal sparks Tottenham to massive win over Manchester City

As Dempsey narrates the harrowing adventures of Bilbo Baggins and his colleagues, it's not hard to see parallels with Dempsey's own professional journey from an unheralded rookie with the New England Revolution to USMNT captain and standout performer in one of the world's toughest leagues.

“He was able to find that he had a lot of strength inside himself and that there were a lot of things he could accomplish,” said Dempsey of Baggins. “I think it's a great story about how you find strength from within, and strength from putting yourself in uncomfortable situations sometimes and being able to prevail.”

Though he's since moved on to become Toronto FC's head coach, Ryan Nelsen is also featured in “Premier League Reading Stars” with footage recorded during his final season as a player with Queens Park Rangers.

Nelsen picked a slightly different book, one from his five-year-old son's current rotation: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

“It just has a good buzz and wording to it, you can kind of sing it or you can read it,” said Nelsen. “My son absolutely loves it."

03 April 12:24 de la tarde

Consider it their very own Columbus Crew Stadium.

The Costa Rican soccer federation is set to decide on Wednesday whether to stage the Sept. 6 World Cup qualifier against the US national team at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, where the USMNT has never won, or at the newly constructed Estadio Nacional, which opened its doors in March 2011.

The artificial turf and the proximity of fans to the field and lockers have made the Estadio Saprissa a nightmare venue for the USMNT, living up to its nickname the "Monster's Cave." And the Costa Ricans know it.

PHOTOS & VIDEO: A look inside the Monster's Cave

The new Estadio Nacional, where Costa Rica have played their recent matches, was a gift by the Chinese government and features a pristine grass surface.

"I only want to confirm what I've been saying: Both stadiums are useful to the national team," said Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto in November 2012. "When we believe it's convenient, we'll use Saprissa or the National Stadium."

Especially in light of the SnowClasico victory by the USMNT — Costa Rica's protest of the match was struck down by FIFA — the Ticos want to do their best to exact some serious revenge on Jurgen Klinsmann & Co.

There's one hitch: Apparently the state of the artificial turf at Estadio Saprissa is such that it's not even clear that the Costa Rican national team players want to play on it.

Stay tuned.

USMNT at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa (last six matches)

Dec. 1, 1996 -- Costa Rica 2, USA 1
March 23, 1997 -- Costa Rica 3, USA 2
July 23, 2000 - Costa Rica 2, USA 1
Sept. 5, 2001 -- Costa Rica 2, USA 0
Oct. 8, 2005 -- Costa Rica 3, USA 0
June 3, 2009 -- Costa Rica 3, USA 1

03 April 11:14 de la mañana

On Tuesday night Seattle fans were directing "Sounders Reject" chants at USMNT forward Herculez Gomez in the first half, only to get their comeuppance after he scored the game-winner for Mexican side Santos Laguna in their Champions League semifinal first leg.

Gomez was loaned out to the Sounders in their USL days while he was still an LA Galaxy player.

“I love it. Being called a Sounders’ reject – any kind of reject – digs deep. It fuels fire,” Gomez said after the match. “I didn’t have the easiest go at the beginning of my career, so any chance I can get to definitely redeem myself is a good chance.”

So now what happens when the USMNT comes to town to face Panama in a June 11 World Cup qualifier at the same stadium? Will those same Seattle fans taunting Gomez on Tuesday cheer him on vs. Panama?

How do you feel about Seattle fans mocking a USMNT player during a club match?

Share your thoughts below.