Kick Off: Ecstasy for US, agony for Canada in WC qualifiers
Feel better? Okay, okay. That’s a tough question depending on which side of the border you’re on this morning.
In the United States, you’re waking up with a smile on your face, thanks to a huge win Tuesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City.
But if you’re in Canada, well … some of the players expected hell in Honduras, and it turns out that’s exactly what they got.
Let’s start with the US national team, who leaned on two goals from Clint Dempsey and another from captain Carlos Bocanegra to overcome an early deficit and top Guatemala 3-1 and clinch their berth in the Hexagonal stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
One thing the US team proved on Tuesday, even if they never really intended to do so, was that they can take a punch. And while Howard certainly insisted the Americans can’t afford “off games” from here on out, he also took the opportunity to make his opinion clear about the best team in CONCACAF.
“I say this without any arrogance: We feel we're the best team in the region,” Howard said.
Arguably the two biggest heroes of the last round of qualifiers were Dempsey and Seattle Sounders striker Eddie Johnson. The two were teammates both with Fulham and during the US team’s 2006 World Cup incarnation, and now they’re making magic again.
Former Houston Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron earned yet another start at center back on Tuesday night and, while he certainly played a part in Guatemala’s first goal from Carlos Ruiz, earned overall strong reviews for his play over the past two games. Is this the face of the future of the US backline?
“We are very, very pleased with Cameron’s development,” Klinsmann said. “He came in for the first time in January camp and I was impressed. He told me: ‘I want to go to Europe. I want to make it.’ I told him what it takes to get there and what to do. He’s very hungry.”
MLSsoccer.com's Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle might agree with Cameron’s inclusion, but come on. Can we finally get Omar Gonzalez in there to team with him, and when can we get Landon Donovan back?
Here’s the complete quote sheet from the postmatch interviews, and a look at the player ratings from MLSsoccer.com, The New York Times and ESPN.
So what now? It’s not too complicated. Things are about to get much more difficult for the US in the Hex, and here’s a look at all that lies ahead from the folks at Fox Sports and The Wall Street Journal.
As for Guatemala, the run to the World Cup is done, and it appears that Ruiz’s international career might be, too. The former MLS star told the media after the game that “This was my last game [with the team]. I had cried in the locker room to mourn, what happened had to happen.” [SPANISH]
One last bit on the US game comes from TV funny man and Seattle Sounders part owner Drew Carey, who accidentally mistook Guatemala for Ghana while celebrating the win.
Here’s a look at the roundup around CONCACAF, including breakdowns from big wins for Jamaica, Costa Rica and Mexico.
Canada fans, time to look away. Here’s a recap of the result from Tuesday in Honduras, where the Canucks put their World Cup hopes on the line and came away with a historically lopsided 8-1 loss.
Head coach Stephen Hart shouldered much of the blame for the loss, offering up a sobering mea culpa after the game: “You want desperately for Canada to do well. All I can do is ask the fans’ forgiveness on behalf of the players. I know they’ll never forgive me.”
Here’s FC Dallas midfielder’s Julian de Guzman take: “We pretty much embarrassed ourselves.”
The Canadian media didn’t go lightly on the Canucks’ performance either, but CBC’s Nigel Reed might take the cake. Writes Reed: “Losing with dignity, fight and spirit is one thing. Canada wasn't merely eliminated from the World Cup — it was exterminated.”
Vancouver Whitecaps team president and Canada legend Bob Lenarduzzi, however, took a different tack. He’s far more focused on what the future holds now for the Canadian Soccer Association’s youth development.
Check out a quick look at MLSers in action during the FIFA international date, including New York Red Bulls star Tim Cahil’s influential outing with Australia.
Two other qualifiers worth looking at from Tuesday: Germany head coach Joachim Loew was in a state of shock after Germany allowed four second-half goals to Sweden in a 4-4 draw, and Spain failed to win for the first time in the past 25 World Cup qualifiers, instead settling for a draw against France.
Let’s switch to the return of the MLS schedule, beginning tonight. It’s a huge match with postseason implications when the Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Find out which players the Sounders will miss for this one here, and here’s a look at the pressure building for RSL as the playoffs loom.
Staying in the West, could there a new goalkeeper on the way to LA? Check out this report, which indicates that a former World Cup hero from Turkey is in talks to join Bruce Arena’s side at the HDC.
New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, meanwhile, spoke to the media on Tuesday about those comments he made last week about a potential return to his native Sweden in 2013, and insisted that his comments were taken out of context.
The New England Revolution suddenly have a number of potential suitors for a new stadium. Count Fall River as the latest Massachusetts community interested in welcoming the Revs to town.
Two quick injury updates ahead of the weekend games in MLS: Chicago veteran Pável Pardo is likely out against the Revs this weekend, but Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam appears to be ready to go against Sporting Kansas City.
Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson is optimistic about the rise of MLS, indicated by this quick write-up about his recent comments in London regarding the projected increase in MLS franchise fees.
Former Chicago Fire hero Hristo Stoitchkov was in the news last week as a part of the club’s 15th Anniversary celebration, and here’s a close look at Stoichkov’s weekend in Chicago, culminating with an alleged physical altercation with a Bulgarian reporter.
And last but not least, if you thought the US looked good in their win on Tuesday night, they could be poised to get a bit better in the future. Stuart Holden is on the way back.
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