Kick Off: Players admit USMNT is still "work in progress"
Fans might still be fretting over the USMNT’s performance in Friday’s slim 2-1 World Cup qualifying win in Antigua and Barbuda, but the players are surely not dwelling on it.
Midfielder Michael Bradley admitted the USA's search for a style is "a work in progress," but he put things in perspective: “At the end of the day, when you get to the World Cup, nobody remembers how you get there.”
With the scene shifting to Kansas City, Kan., the local paper isn't cutting them any slack. The Kansas City Star delves into the "style" that US manager Jurgen Klinsmann promised upon taking over. Well, you may have to wait awhile for it.
“We’re still trying to figure out what’s going to work best for us,” US star Clint Dempsey admitted. “The most important thing is you put yourself in position to get out of the group and to qualify for the World Cup. That’s when you’re really going to be able to gauge what kind of style we play.”
So what’s new in USMNT camp? Two shoo-in starters won’t be there on Tuesday night: Left back Fabian Johnson apparently can’t shake the flu bug and won’t travel to the US, while Jermaine Jones has already returned to Germany since he’s suspended for Tuesday’s match against Guatemala. Check back for all the updates from camp with MLSsoccer.com's own Andrew Wiebe on the ground in KC.
San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon, meanwhile, is looking forward to once again making a difference after his game-winning assist in Antigua: "I was glad to kind of prove Jurgen right. It was a risk to bring me on."
Meanwhile, US national team captain Carlos Bocanegra is poised to resume left back duties in Fabian Johnson’s absence. When it comes to his club, Bocanegra made an interesting revelation to Goal.com: "At the moment, I'm enjoying this year," he said of his first weeks at Racing Santander in Spain’s second division. "Obviously, when it gets closer to the summer, I'm still a part of Rangers. I'd like to go back, I hope that stuff changes a bit there.”
Not much of a change for Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi, who will get to play in his home stadium tomorrow. But as a member of the USMNT, he can’t sleep at his own place: “It’s really strange,” he told The Washington Post. “I live three minutes away. I can see my building from my [hotel] room.”
Like Zusi, the USMNT is glad to be at home at Livestrong Sporting Park for the group finale, especially after the nightmare on the Antigua and Barbuda cricket pitch: “To be back on a field like this I think you’ll see more of our quality in the game,” Dempsey said. “We’re looking forward to expressing ourselves a little bit more.” (VIDEO)
In Jamaica, they’re hoping that either the USA or Guatemala express themselves enough to win the game in KC. The Reggae Boyz know that a win by three goals or more against Antigua and Barbuda along with a loss by either the USA or Guatemala would give them a ticket to the Hexagonal. “We are still very much in the race,” says Jamaica’s head coach.
Klinsmann’s side has its back to the wall to a certain extent but don’t try convincing LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena that it’s the same situation as it was in 2000, when the USA needed to beat Barbados to advance to the hexagonal: “Apples to oranges," Arena told the Los Angeles Times. "The national team program coming off the '98 World Cup was a program where you would argue whether we were in the top five in CONCACAF. So it's different. We were trying to build a program. Not build one back."
If you talk to ESPN’s British play-by-play commentator Ian Darke, he feels that USMNT fans should feel better about themselves: “I’ve always felt that perhaps American soccer, there’s a feeling that American soccer has a bit of an inferior complex,” Darke said. “The truth is, if you talk to soccer fans in Europe, there is a lot of respect for US soccer. There’s a healthy respect.”
So the USA have two results that can go in their favor against Guatemala, and it’s the same story for Canada when they face Honduras tomorrow afternoon. Only the Canadians have to do it on the road.
Toronto Sun reporter Kurtis Larson broke into Honduras' national stadium which Canadian defender Andre Hainault still recalls as “the most hostile atmosphere I’ve ever played in,” partly because of the caged tunnel players walk through.
The Houston Dynamo defender spoke to the media upon arriving in Honduras yesterday and talked about the people breathing and spitting on the Canadians as well as the in-stadium tailgate. (VIDEO)
The Honduran media were following their every step from the moment the Canadians touched down in San Pedro Sula. Watch this video to see what awaited manager Stephen Hart and his squad. (VIDEO)
Hart has called in Uruguay-based forward Lucas Cavallini since forward Olivier Occean is suspended for the match. And he’s also busy warning his team against playing for a draw: “The most dangerous thing to tell a team is they need a draw. It’s very dangerous.”
You’d think it would be similarly dangerous to hand the controls of a plane to an MLS left back, right? Well, the Whitecaps’ Jordan Harvey tested that theory out for himself during his off weekend. See how it went in this video. (VIDEO)
Staying in the Pacific Northwest: In what has been a rough season for the Portland Timbers, local fans can at least take some pride in the BBC feature that ran about the club and city, labeling it as “the US town which is fanatical about soccer.” Watch the segment here.
Tifo and green smoke is not the only thing that sets the Timbers Army apart. A tip of the cap to the two fans who saved a 60-year-old man who was experiencing a heart attack at a local pick-up soccer game. They were identified by one person as the TA’s @Bule_Betawi and @soccadad on Twitter.
Some more MLS talk courtesy of Sirius XM FC, the new 24-hour soccer radio channel: D.C. United manager Ben Olsen describes his team’s change to a more defensive style and he looks ahead to this weekend’s match against the Crew: “Columbus is the most important game for some our guys’ lives.” (AUDIO)
LA Galaxy fans will be glad to know that Designated Player Robbie Keane has apparently recovered from his Achilles injury and is fit enough to travel to face the Faroe Islands.
When it comes to his fellow Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan? Details are hard to come by on the injury that kept him out of the US qualifiers.
It’s tough to see in the rain, but the Philadelphia Union’s Keon Daniel was at it again with a hat trick for Trinidad and Tobago against Anguilla. (VIDEO)
Our first taste of MLS action after the FIFA break will come on Wednesday when the Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake in a potential Western Conference playoff clash. But RSL are confident heading to CenturyLink Field: “I don't feel we've ever been there and not performed well,” said manager Jason Kreis of his club’s matches in Seattle. “We've had games where we didn't get the results we liked. But I've always felt like the guys are up for the game there.”
There was no international stop for the NASL playoffs, which proved to offer some thrilling semifinal matchups. Find out who made the final in these recaps of the San Antonio-Minnesota series and the Tampa Bay-Carolina barnburner. The Soccer Bowl will be decided on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.
Next we go to third division action from Brazil to witness the Santa Cruz player who smears his own blood on his Fortaleza counterpart after getting busted open near his right eye. (VIDEO)
In Brazil they always love them some Neymar. So no surprise that he’s now been immortalized in a wax figure that allows the Brazilian star to change outfits. (PHOTO)
US women’s star Abby Wambach won’t need to change lunch spots. Ever. Apparently she’s getting a Chipotle gold card which guarantees her free Chipotle for life.
And lastly, here’s a treat to brighten up your Monday morning: One person took on the painstaking task of compiling every one of Lionel Messi’s touches during Argentina’s win against Uruguay in World Cup qualifying. (VIDEO)
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