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31 May 11:49 de la mañana

Le Cal FC, Petit poucet de la Coupe des États-Unis, a réussi l’énorme surprise des seizièmes de finale, en gagnant à Portland 0-1 après prolongation (résultats complets ici).

De quoi susciter l’embarras du président du club de MLS, qui s’est excusé auprès de ses supporters, et permettre l’espace d’une soirée au Cal FC de faire partie des… tendances mondiales sur Twitter !

Le Cal FC est un club basé à Thousand Oaks, à environ 60 kilomètres à l’ouest de Los Angeles. Il a vu le jour en 2010 et évolue dans la « Gran Liga de Oxnard », une des divisions régionales de la USASA, le 5e niveau du soccer aux États-Unis.

Entraîné par l’ancien international américain Eric Wynalda, il est composé d’éléments locaux, jeunes (le plus âgé a 26 ans) et compte en ses rangs quelques joueurs prometteurs qui n’ont pas réussi à décrocher de contrat professionnel.

Avant de rêver aux exploits de Quevilly (club de D3 arrivé en finale de la dernière Coupe de France), le Cal FC devra commencer par passer l’écueil des huitièmes de finale : un déplacement à Seattle, triple tenant du titre !

Et vous, suivez-vous la Coupe des États-Unis ? Préférez-vous voir les équipes de MLS y démontrer leur suprématie ou s’y faire surprendre par des « petits » ?

30 May 10:08 de la tarde

When Jurgen Klinsmann was hired, the US were a mess. Their spacing was terrible, they couldn't get consistent performance from the fullbacks and the offense was inconsistent.

It looks like most of that has been cleared up. I'd go so far as to say that Klinsmann's done a pretty good job. But there are still some concerns.

This generation of US players is defined by their weakness in central defense

There's no disguising it against top-level talent. The US got a great result in Italy a few months back, but were protected throughout by a flag-happy linesman who blew five offside calls, and a handful of great 1-v-1 saves from Tim Howard.

Against Brazil, there was no such luck. Howard did make a couple of great saves and was bailed out by the post once, but for the most part, Brazil gave the US central defense the old orange cone treatment.

Oguchi Onyewu in particular — even without the (not remotely debatable) penalty — was awful. When defending on the ball he's on roller skates, and when defending in space he's basically lost. And he doesn't read the game well enough to make up for it against top competition.

What's even more disturbing is the US inability to hold a line. It happened at the beginning of the game, it happened in the middle, and it happened at the end with Onyewu (sorry to pick on you, Gooch), failing to step, leaving Pato to rip the fouth past a stranded Howard.

If you're slower and less skilled than the opponents — and against the great teams, that's always going to be the case for the US — then you have to be smarter and more organized.

This group is not. It's how Mexico killed the US last summer, and how Brazil killed them on Wednesday.

There were telltale midfield turnovers even against Scotland

And against Brazil, those turnovers became goals. It's something I stressed in our March to the Match podcast, but which went largely unnoticed otherwise since we were all stunned at the sheer ferocity of that 5-1 win.

I don't know how much scouting Brazil really did, but it's safe to say that the book on the US is "smother them, make them play combinations, and they will eventually beat themselves."

Even the Scots did it for a bit, specifically in minutes 15 through 35.

The Brazilians did it in minutes 1 through 90, and everyone on the US had their turn to play the goat. Including Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson.

Speaking of ...

Michael Bradley and Fabian Johnson are really, really good

Bradley's probably too valuable as an attacker and too much of a risk-taker on the ball to play as a true, lone d-mid (as he was in Klinsmann's 4-1-4-1 for most of the game). The other options are unappealing against top sides, though: Maurice Edu has a poor first touch, and Jermaine Jones isn't exactly known for his ability to get out of traffic with the ball on his foot.

So for now, Klinsmann has to keep Bradley in that d-mid role and then find more dynamic players to put in front of him. I'd prefer to see Jose Torres or Benny Feilhaber in one of the "advanced midfield" roles, rather than the uninspiring Edu/Jones combo.

And as for Johnson ... there's not much to say but, "Wow." He's been the best, most consistent attacking force on the US team for the past three games. Who thought we'd ever say that about a left back?

Defensively he still has work to do, especially in 1-v-1 situations (he literally spun in a circle when trying to defend Hulk at one point), but he's got plenty of time to work on it before Klinsmann's side takes on the big boys in a game that counts.

So for now, it's clear that Klinsmann still has a little bit of a mess to clean up. But the good news is that he's already made progress with what was left behind for him in the first place.

30 May 8:45 de la tarde

Pavel Pardo hizo un pare a su preparación con el Chicago Fire – que jugará el único partido de la fecha este sábado en su visita al New England Revolution (7:30 p.m. ET; ONLINE: MLS Live) – para recibir a la que fue su selección nacional en 148 ocasiones.

México esta en la Ciudad de los Vientos para jugar un partido de preparación ante Bosnia-Herzegovina el miércoles y aprovecharon la oportunidad para reunirse con Pardo, quien acompañó a los jugadores y cuerpo técnico en una cena.

FutbolMLS.com charló un rato con el volante del Fire sobre su experiencia de volverse a encontrar con el equipo al que sirvió por tanto tiempo. 

30 May 12:13 de la tarde

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?

30 May 11:00 de la mañana

Pour une équipe qui a des ambitions internationales, remporter la coupe de son pays est un chemin rapide pour accéder à la scène continentale. La Coupe des États-Unis ne fait pas exception.

Alors que le championnat est une épreuve d’endurance qui n’offre qu’une place en Ligue des champions (et deux autres aux finalistes de la Coupe MLS), il suffit de 5 rencontres à une équipe de MLS pour s’y qualifier via la coupe. On peut même y racheter sa saison, mais tout faux pas est interdit ! Le palmarès de cette vénérable épreuve presque centenaire montre toutefois qu’elle échappe rarement à un club de MLS depuis 1996.

Après deux tours qui ont opposé des équipes de divisions inférieures, les équipes de MLS entrent dans la danse cette semaine à l’occasion des seizièmes de finale. Toutes têtes de série, elles ne s’affrontent pas entre elles, ce qui n’a pas empêché 7 surprises à l’occasion des 14 rencontres disputées ce mardi. Pour les détails, voyez la couverture exhaustive offerte par mlssoccer.com.

Les supporters se passionnent aussi pour ce qu’on appelle le Petit poucet de la compétition, l’équipe de la division la plus faible. Au stade actuel, c’est le Cal FC (USASA), qui se déplace à Portland ce soir. Car les surprises font le charme de la coupe où, sur un seul match, les plus grands exploits sont possibles !

29 May 5:03 de la tarde

Schellas Hyndman is not a man worth messing with. Fortunately for MLS fans, comprehensive video backing that assertion up pops up from time to time.

The latest proof that pushing Hyndman too far is a terrible, no good, very bad idea comes from this video of the FC Dallas manager dropping a grown man to his knees with barely a touch. Hyndman was taking part in a radio interview that turned from soccer to, apparently, submission moves, prompting the black belt to demonstrate on one of his interviewers.

In case you were unaware of the former SMU head coach’s martial arts prowess, read this story from 2008 detailing Hyndman’s upbringing and eventual status as a master of self-defense. It’s fascinating stuff.

And in case you need further proof, here is a well-worn video that cements Hyndman as MLS’ toughest head coach (you can skip ahead to the 16-second mark).

29 May 4:41 de la tarde

La selección nacional de México jugará este jueves en el Soldier Field de Chicago (8 pm; TV: Univisión) ante un rival que ha de ser especial para el director técnico del Tri José Manuel de la Torre: Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Especial porque ese fue precisamente ese seleccionado que ‘El Chepo’ tuvo que enfrentar en su debut como mandamás de la selección mexicana el 9 de febrero, 2011 en el Georgia Dome de Atlanta.

A pesar de que el marcador terminó 2-0 a favor de México, algo para notar de ese partido fue la gran cantidad chances que el Chicharito, Dos Santos y sus compañeros se perdieron.

Ahora que van a Chicago, ¿Veremos mas contundencia del Tri o será mas bien una sorpresa?  

29 May 3:16 de la tarde

Total Points – Dwayne De Rosario (89)

With Thierry Henry missing several weeks due to a hamstring injury, DeRo has taken over as the No. 1 player in Fantasy Soccer: Manager.  He’s had a weeks of 10, 15 and 20 points, and his most recent point output was the most by a single player thus far in 2012.  DeRo has 20+ more points than the next closest midfielder, making him a legitimate threat every week and a player you can build your team around.

Percentage Owned – Jay DeMerit (35.3)

DeMerit has been the most widely selected player in FS: M the entire season. Thirty-five percent of all managers currently have him on their roster. The second-closest player is Kenny Cooper (28 percent). At one point, DeMerit had the highest score of any defender, but lately he’s been slipping. D.C. United players Daniel Woolard and Brandon McDonald, Aurélien Colin, and even teammate Lee Young-Pyo have since leapfrogged DeMerit, so only time will tell if it’s his worldwide fame or his actual production that makes him the most “popular” player in MLS.

Crosses & Key Passes – Graham Zusi (33) & (34)

Zusi has calmed down slightly after a fast start, but his 33 crosses are still seven better than the next closest player. Three successful crosses equals one bonus point, so Zusi could’ve potentially gained an additional 11 points for his efforts thus far. He also leads the league in Key Passes (34) and has seven more than the next closest player in this category as well. Zusi should continue to be one of the most coveted midfielders due to his time on the ball and SKC’s all-out attack style offense.

Big Chances Fluffed – Dominic Oduro (7)

One of the fastest – if not the fastest – players in MLS has been a huge bust in 2012. In the four games in which Oduro has scored, he’s tallied six or more points each time. However, in every other game this season (eight games) he’s managed just two points or less. In his last seven games he’s put up one point or less on six different occasions. Oduro is getting great looks, but he’s missing every single one of them. He leads all players in BCFs and has been deducted seven points total because of it. At this point, he’s more of a risk than anything.

CBI’s – A.J. Soares (123)

My initial pick for Defender of the Year is not having a sophomore slump by any means. His 123 CBIs (clearances, blocks and interceptions combined) leads all players and he’ll likely widen the gap with two games coming up in Week 13. Only three other players have more than 100 CBIs and none of them will be under more pressure than Soares should the rest of the season. He’s an absolute ball shark, but has never really been a threat on set pieces. One can only hope that his recent goal will encourage Jay Heaps to push him up more often.

Recoveries – Osvaldo Alonso (136)

Disregarding goalkeepers, there’s a tight battle for the title of “the best second-ball winner” in MLS. Alonso currently leads Dax McCarty (133) by only three recoveries, but that’s pretty much his only competition. Kyle Beckerman has the third most with 100, and it looks as if his absence due to national team duty will only widen the margin. Alonso has gained 19 bonus points already from recoveries so expect him to keep this all season long.

Transfers In – Nick DeLeon (3,800+)

When David Estrada (3,500+ transfers) started cooling down, DeLeon became all the talk. The D.C. United rookie is currently the most added player with over 3,800 transfers. His value started at $5.5m and quickly made its way to $6.8m. Now that he’s back from injury don’t expect him to return to his previous form. When DeLeon was clicking, DeRo and Salihi were in a slump. Now that they’re back in form, expect DeLeon to take a back seat. He’s still valuable, but not as much as he was back in April.

Dream Team – Kenny Cooper (4)

No one has made the “Dream Team” more times this season than Kenny Cooper, but you have to credit Thierry Henry with helping him reach this point. Coop-dog has scored six or more points on nine different occasions in 2012, making him one of the most consistent forwards in MLS. He continued to put up numbers even when Henry was out, so look for him to only get better now that he’s returned.

29 May 2:39 de la tarde

Auteur d’un magnifique but samedi dernier contre l’Écosse, Michael Bradley s’est une fois plus fait remarquer positivement par les nombreux clubs qui le convoitent.

Toujours sous contrat au Chievo Vérone, l’international américain peut partir pour une somme que les médias italiens estiment entre 2,5 et 4,5 millions d’euros (3,2 à 5,6 millions de dollars). Le directeur sportif du club déclare d’ailleurs que « la possibilité de le voir sous le maillot de Chievo la saison prochaine est vraiment faible ».

Le milieu de terrain est cité dans plusieurs clubs italiens. La Gazzetta dello Sport mentionne le nom de Palerme, mais ceux qui reviennent le plus souvent sont l’AS Rome et Naples. Toutefois, il pourrait bien prendre la direction d’Anderlecht, qui pense à remplacer l’international argentin Lucas Biglia, annoncé en partance.

L’information annoncée en Italie par Tuttosport et en Belgique par Het Laatste Nieuws est relayée par de nombreux médias. Le site officiel du championnat de Belgique (l’équivalent de mlssoccer.com) mentionne même que son agent dément les contacts avec Rome et Naples, et confirme des discussions de longue date avec Anderlecht.

En signant chez le champion de Belgique, Bradley y deviendrait coéquipier d’un autre international américain, Sacha Kljestan.

28 May 10:01 de la tarde

I don't have the words to explain how cool this is. I'm sure you understand.