Kick Off: Miami heat helps USMNT prepare for Jamaica
The thermometer showed 90 degrees in Miami as the US national team opened camp on Monday ahead of their World Cup qualifier in Jamaica. That temperature was about perfect as Jurgen Klinsmann and the Americans began preparations for what is expected to be a hot, humid night on Friday in Kingston.
Everyone seems to agree that the match will be “difficult,” especially considering only one player on the roster, Carlos Bocanegra, has ever played a qualifier in Jamaica. One of the many greenhorns is Brek Shea, who is more than excited for the match. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, it’s a World Cup qualifier and that’s where you want to be,” he said.
Most of us are curious to see how American striker Clint Dempsey will fare, given that the veteran goalscorer has not played in months as he waited out a transfer saga that eventually saw him move from Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur. “I'm disappointed in the way I was portrayed, in the end, with Fulham,” he said on Monday, adding, “There were some things that were said that weren't true.”
Dempsey’s former New England Revolution manager Steve Nicol still seems flummoxed over why Liverpool made such a “derisory offer” for the onetime Fulham star.
For the Jamaicans, the US match has extra importance, as the nation continues to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire. “This national team has never played a game that we don't have to win, so that is our objective with our 50th anniversary,” manager Theodore Whitmore said. “Now is the time."
The National Stadium at Independence Park is the official name of Jamaica’s home, but everyone calls it "The Office." “No one comes to your office and bosses you around,” says Reggae Boyz speedster Dane Richards.
Meanwhile, Canada are prepping to take on Panama at BMO Field on Friday night. The Panamanians, who boast healthy again FC Dallas striker Blas Perez, began practicing at Toronto FC’s training facility on Monday. (SPANISH)
An “armada” of MLS players traveled to Central America to join up with Honduras, who will take on Cuba on Friday.
Before the international matches on Friday, though, there are three MLS matches in midweek, including a visit by Columbus to New England. The Crew arrive at Gillette Stadium carrying a 4-0-1 record in their last five matches, thanks largely to newly acquired Federico Higuain. “When he starts a game, he believes we are going to win. Not if, not maybe, but definitely,” says Crew coach Robert Warzycha.
Meanwhile the Revolution continue their slide. They are winless in their last 10 matches now. One observer noticed that their possession stats, for what those are worth, do not look good.
Data collection has become the “It” thing in MLS in 2012, with the launch at the All-Star Game of the adidas miCoach Elite system. Even Wired magazine is impressed. So is the guy who helped design the system.
Also on Wednesday, the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids will redo what they just did over the weekend. Last Friday, the Timbers emerged victorious at JELD-WEN Field, and on Wednesday, they will try to extend their two-game winning streak at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9 pm ET, NBC Sports Network).
On Thursday is a heavyweight one: Houston hosting Real Salt Lake. The Dynamo will be without several starters, including Oscar Boniek Garcia and Jermaine Taylor, away on international duty.
But the international date will give other clubs, including the sliding Vancouver Whitecaps, a chance to regroup. TSN commentator Luke Wileman argues the time has come for head coach Martin Rennie to implement a new formation.
Tim Cahill doesn’t need a new formation to see success in New York, but his teammate Thierry Henry thinks the referees need to adjust the way they call things on him. “I think the referees are getting him wrong sometimes,” Henry says.
Where did the Red Bulls end up in the Week 26 MLS Power Rankings on MLSsoccer.com?
Away from MLS, there are some other power rankings. The US college season is under way, and MLSsoccer.com unveiled its first college rankings of the year.
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