Kick Off: Listless draw leaves USMNT looking for answers

Oof.

Ask any US national team fan or critic about the Americans this Wednesday morning and you’re unlikely to get more than that or a similar one-syllable response, following a listless and scoreless draw against Canada on Tuesday night in Houston.

And maybe it doesn’t warrant much more, considering that the US team struggled to find offensive chances against a young Canucks team and that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was left with the dreaded “no surprises” comment when asked if anyone impressed him from the MLS-heavy group.

Or maybe you could fire up the laptop and write a few words like ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, who held the team’s feet to the fire in his write-up following the draw at BBVA Compass Stadium. “In short, it was the weakest performance by a US team in recent memory,” Carlisle writes. “Worse, Klinsmann learned practically nothing that will help him going forward.

Just how did everyone fare in the matchup vs. Canada? That’s always up for interpretation in the world of player ratings. We’ve got just about everyone’s take after the match: MLSsoccer.com, Goal.com, SI.com, Soccer America and the The New York Times.

SI.com’s Tom Dart, meanwhile, takes a look all that depth the US team was supposed to showcase on Tuesday night and compares the talent pool to a puddle, while Goal.com examines the play of five US players who earned their first cap.

If you’re a Canada fan this morning, you’re smiling because of a gritty outing for a relatively inexperienced team and an interim coach at the helm. Colin Miller was all smiles following his team’s result on Tuesday, telling the media that his guys “showed everything about a Canadian football team that we would expect in terms of heart, commitment, endeavor, everything.”

And for those hankering for more player ratings, here’s a look at the Canadian report card, courtesy of the folks at Sportsnet.

And the final thought on Tuesday’s game goes to perhaps the happiest man in the building: Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. He played well, his team got an encouraging result, and the fans in his former home of Houston still adore him.

One player who will undoubtedly feature in the US team’s World Cup qualifying run made international headlines on Tuesday, but not for the right reasons. Add AZ Alkmaar and USMNT striker Jozy Altidore to the growing list of players who have been victims of racial taunting, following an ugly incident in the Netherlands.

"It's a bit disappointing that these things still happen in this time that we're in, but what are you going to do?” Altidore said following AZ Alkmaar’s win over FC Den Bosch in a KNVB Cup match “Just have to hope that these people can find a way to improve themselves, and you can only pray for them.”

Check out video of the alleged incident before Altidore took a successful penalty kick late in the match, and take a look at some of the other prominent US players who have been subjected to these kinds of incidents in the past.

So was there any good news to report involving US players on Tuesday? Sure, if you’re a fan of Timmy Chandler. It looks like the German-born defender is ready to pledge his allegiance and suit up for the US against Honduras next week.

FC Dallas winger Brek Shea could have a new club as early as today, if Stoke manager Tony Pulis gets his way. Pulis told StokeCityFC.com on Tuesday that a deal is in place to finally bring the MLS star across the pond, with only the obligatory medical exam and work permit still standing in the way.

"I think it is close now, and we are hoping that we can get that deal done in the next day or so,” Pulis said of Shea, who watched the team’s 2-2 draw against Wigan from the stands on Tuesday. “Brek is a very, very exciting player, and one who we believe could go on to become a very good player for the football club."

Got questions about Shea? ESPN.com has answers, on everything from where he should play, to how concerned Stoke fans should be about that foot injury, to if the team should loan him out right away to help him get acclimated.

So what exactly does the deal mean for FC Dallas for the 2013 season? NBC Sports’ Steve Davis takes a stab at that, with one conclusion: They need help.

The coaching carousel has stopped in New York, where the Red Bulls announced last week that Mike Petke will be their man in charge for 2013. But there’s still a matter of the rest of the coaching staff, and Soccer By Ives reports that former Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser has been selected as Petke’s right-hand man. Still no confirmation from the club.

What about the fate of Dilly Duka? Once considered one of the top young talents in the league, Duka is on the trading block in Columbus and, according to Frank Klopas, the Chicago Fire are definitely interested.

And here’s Crew coach Robert Warzycha talking about a potential deal: “If we don’t come to an agreement and don’t trade him, then he’s going to come back to Columbus and play for us. That’s a possibility too. He’s a good player. Whether he’s happy or not happy, I don’t really care about that. He’s our player and he’s going to have to play for us, and I’m sure he’s going to do the best that he can.”

Here’s another personnel bit, this one involving that ever-changing lineup at Chivas USA. It looks like former FC Dallas and Portland Timbers defender Steve Purdy is close to a deal to join the Goats. [SPANISH]

News of the strange up in Seattle, where the Sounders received the word on Tuesday that defender Patrick Ianni did indeed suffer a slight fracture in his foot during the preseason rust test (ahem, jump test) and will miss up to six weeks of action.

Are the Vancouver Whitecaps still shopping? During a busy week when they’ve already signed a Japanese playmaker, it looks like they’re on the prowl for a defender from Honduras.

Is it preseason already? It is down in Arizona, where five MLS teams shook off the dust. Check out the results and all the highlights from the Desert Friendlies down in Tucson, including a solid debut for Portland’s new Designated Player Diego Valeri against Colorado.

San Jose also topped Houston in action in Arizona, and Sporting Kansas City settled for a draw against FC Tucson.

Toronto FC are expecting the long-awaited arrival of new head coach Ryan Nelsen in the coming days, after the longtime EPL veteran wrapped up his playing career on Tuesday with Queens Park Rangers. Unfortunately it didn’t quite go as planned, as QPR goalkeeper Júlio César nearly stole the spotlight in the traditional guard of honor ceremony.

Remember all that talk about Thierry Henry’s offseason loan to Arsenal? Turns out it was all for naught. The New York Red Bulls striker told the media Tuesday that “I never spoke to the boss about it and he never mentioned it to me, so it was not an issue.” Cool, thanks for clearing that up.

Former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza has wasted little time drawing rave reviews in his time with Wigan, and he was it again in the club’s draw against Stoke on Tuesday. Espinoza set up both goals in the draw.

Former Houston Dynamo defender and Canadian national team fixture Andre Hainault officially has a new home at Ross County in Scotland after his work permit was approved.

David Beckham’s been in the news for the past few days thanks to his training spell with Arsenal [VIDEO],  but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been quick to pour cold water on talks that the former Galaxy star will actually be signed.

Missing the Manchester City madness already? Maybe. Here’s a farewell letter to Mario Ballotelli that sends the former Manchester City maverick off to AC Milan in style.

There will be no repeat champion in the Africa Cup of Nations this time around, thanks to another draw for reigning champs Zambia, who crashed out of the tournament on Tuesday.

And last but not least, ever left your car running outside of your house during a cold winter morning? Ever wondered if someone might actually steal your car while you’re grabbing that last sip of coffee? It happened to Manchester United icon Paul Scholes.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

Brad Davis on USMNT: "I know I belong at this level."

Young American headed to Chivas, but which one?

Valeri makes solid debut for Portland


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