Tag Archives: USMNT

The ‘Special Relationship’

United States v England.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated fixture in the history of US Soccer. Almost everyone in the United States has an opinion on this game and ESPN expect record ratings for the game. The US public have good reason to be excited by the prospect of the fixture against England. Bob Bradley, while often criticised by some elements of USMNT’s fans, has silently gone about building upon the work of predecessor Bruce Arena and created the best American football team ever.

England enter the World Cup with renewed optimism. They breezed through qualification, are helmed by Fabio Capello and boast three of the best players in the world in the form of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. The harrowing nature of the injury suffered by captain Rio Ferdinand has brought Ledley King into the starting XI. While King and Terry are undoubtedly very talented central defenders, they have been prone to errors this past season. They will need to be fully focused on the task of dealing with a United States’ line of forwards which comes bearing many speedy individuals.

The goalkeeper question has dogged Fabio Capello in the weeks leading up to the kick-off. With each of Joe Hart, David James and incumbent Robert Green rumoured to be ahead in the pecking order at some stage. It is strange for Capello to be uncertain, perhaps he is not and that the mystery is just created in the media. In any case, this position is one where the United States holds a significant advantage. The unheralded Tim Howard has become one of the most athletic and reliable goalkeepers in the Premier League and his understudies Marcus Hahnemann and Brad Guzan are both capable replacements.

For all of the reassurance brought by Howard, the United States defence will be severely tested by England’s attacking quartet. If Capello does as expected and names Heskey, Lennon, Gerrard and Rooney then the United States will need to retain discipline and patience but also be ruthless when necessary. The questionable temperament of Wayne Rooney when he plays for England has come under scrutiny since the friendly against the Platinum Stars, with many suggesting that the United States’ players should attempt to rile the 24 year old Manchester United star. Oguchi Onyewu was unconvincing in his performance against Australia and is yet to complete a full ninety minutes since sustaining an injury at AC Milan nine months ago. Onyewu is a dominating presence and if he is fully fit, as Bradley assures us, then the US may have reason to believe that they can keep England’s attacking options in check.

Fabio Capello’s outburst against intrusive photographers recently was seen by some as a sign that the pressures of being an England coach at a World Cup was finally taking its toll. While I do not agree that Fabio Capello has lost his trademark composure, I do believe that this England side is under pressure to perform against the US. The Three Lions were handed a favourable draw in Group C and are expected to progress with maximum points. Failure to do so could lead to a troublesome Round of 16 fixture against their traditional nemesis Germany and more potential horrors awaiting further into the knockout stages. If England are to reach the World Cup Final for the first time since their triumph in 1966 it is imperative that they beat the United States and top Group C.

USMNT will have other ideas. For so long they have been regarded as something of an oddity, an overachieving side from a nation that is not in touch with the game of football. Now, boosted by a legion of supporters unfathomable even four years ago, the United States will attempt to set about a run into the deeper stages of the tournament.

There is much riding on this game for both sides, failure for either side may have damaging ramifications for their World Cup ambitions.

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Squad announcement round-up

Italy: Marcello Lippi has removed Marco Borriello and Giuseppe Rossi from his World Cup squad.

Goalkeepers- Gianluigi Buffon, Morgan De Sanctis, Federico Marchetti

Defenders- Fabio Cannavaro, Giorgio Chiellini, Gianluca Zambrotta, Domenico Criscito, Christian Maggio, Salvatore Bocchetti, Leonardi Bonucci

Midfielders- Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Mauro Camoranesi, Daniele De Rossi, Angelo Palombo, Simone Pepe, Riccardo Montolivo, Claudio Marchisio

Forwards- Alberto Gilardino, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Antonio Di Natale, Fabio Quagliarella, Giampaolo Pazzini

United States: Veteran USMNT stars Sacha Kljestan and Brian Ching were omitted from the final 23-man roster by coach Bob Bradley. The final 23 is noteworthy for being perhaps the most experienced United States squad ever assembled. The decision to leave out Ching was apparently influenced by the unavailability of Charlie Davies, as Bradley sought to replicate Davies’ pace through young strikers Herculez Gomez and Robbie Findley.

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton)

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (ChivasUSA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Jonathan Spector (West Ham)

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jose Torres (Pachuca)

Strikers: Jozy Altidore (Hull), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca)

South Africa: Veteran Benni McCarthy has been denied the honour of representing Bafana Bafana in a World Cup on home soil. Coach Parreira’s decision was linked with McCarthy’s declining fitness, with rumours suggesting that McCarthy’s body fat index registered at over 24%.

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg United)

Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Sundowns), Anele Ngcongca (Genk), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth), Matthew Booth (Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Kagiso Dikgacoi (Fulham), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)

Strikers: Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Bernard Parker (FC Twente), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)

Germany: The injury ravaged Germany squad was announced by Jogi Löw yesterday afternoon. Jerome Boateng, the brother of Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, was included in the squad following injuries to Heiko Westermann and Christian Trasch. FC Bayern München’s Philipp Lahm will captain the side in the absence of Michael Ballack.

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen), Hans-Jorg Butt (Bayern Munich)

Defenders: Dennis Aogo (Hamburg), Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Hamburg), Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen), Serdar Tasci (Stuttgart)

Midfielders: Sami Khedira (Stuttgart), Toni Kroos (Bayer Leverkusen), Marko Marin (Werder Bremen), Mesut Ozil (Werder Bremen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Piotr Trochowski (Hamburg)

Strikers: Cacau (Stuttgart), Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Stefan Kiessling (Bayer Leverkusen), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Cologne)

USMNT revealed

United States Men’s National Team coach Bob Bradley has finally disclosed the identities of the the twenty-three members of his World Cup squad. Bradley has decided to risk fielding injured defender Oguchi Onyewu but has omitted veteran striker Brian Ching in favour of his younger counterpart Robbie Findley.

The addition of Findley has been received by the media as an attempt to replicate the speed and guile of Charlie Davies, whose recovery from a serious road accident seven months ago has not been quick enough.

Elsewhere, winger DaMarcus Beasley has been recalled nine months after his last appearance for the United States.

The United States now boasts a group of players of unquestionable quality, many of whom have experience in the preeminent leagues of Europe.

USMNT begin their campaign on June 12th against England in Rustenberg. The opening fixture is predicted to be the most watched football match in the history of American television.

For a full profile of the USMNT visit: https://worldcupdaily.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/usmnt/

The Squad:

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennais), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuca)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Edson Buddle (L.A. Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

Guest Blog: The Lowdown on Slovenia

In his latest squad profile veteran blogger and journalist with DCU’s College View, Niall Farrell details a talented and ambitious Slovenian squad,  a team making their second finals appearance in three attempts.

Slovenia

“Relative unknowns” is the term normally used to refer to the Slovenian national team. In a team which relies on mostly players from the lesser lights in the English, German and Italian leagues, household names are few and far between.

Underneath this relative anonymity lies a team with a strong spine. Quality, diligence and perseverance are the attributes which define this Slovenian team.

With a population of just under two million, Slovenia are one of the smaller nations to have qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

Slovenia were the sole unseeded team to emerge from the UEFA playoff system, defeating a strong Russian team after beating the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland to second spot (behind Slovakia in first).

Off-the-pitch problems have dogged Slovenia’s preparation, as a row over tournament bonuses threatens to escalate.

Organisation is key in the Slovenian camp, with coach Matjas Kek prizing a strong work ethic in his team. Normally Slovenia play with a flat 4-4-2 formation, with strikers Dedic and Novakovic forming an effective partnership up front. Dedic will commonly drift off to just behind Novakovic, creating space for his strike partner.

The aforementioned Dedic and Novakovic, of Bochum and Koln respectively, form the fulcrum of the Slovenian threat.

West Brom’s Robert Koren is used as an attacking central midfielder, with holding midfielder Aleksandr Radosavljevic often deployed alongside Koren.

Winger Valter Birsa is highly rated in Ligue 1 with Auxerre and poses a real threat down the left flank.

The other flank is usually occupied by Wisla Krakow’s Andraz Kirm, although the right side of midfield will be contested by both Mirnes Sisic of Larissa and Dalibor Stefanovic of Vitess Arnhem.

The defensive effort is coordinated by the excellent Samir Handanovic in goal. Handanovic has cemented his place as No.1 at Udinese in recent years and marshals his defence with authority.

Handanovic’s deputy will be his cousin Jasmin, who also plays in Italy with Mantova.

Bostjan Cesar of Grenoble is the leading centre-back in the Slovene back four and is partnered by either Matej Mavric of Koblenz or Marko Suler of Gent.

Miso Brecko is regarded as one of the most underrated full backs in the Bundesliga and will start at left back. Bojan Jokic has impressed while on loan at Chievo this season and should start on the other flank.

With a solid spine and capable backup in reserve, Slovenia are confident going into a difficult group.

England are favourites to top Group C, but the feeling in Slovenia is that they could challenge the USA and Algeria for the runner-up spot.

World Cup History

Slovenia have qualified for a World Cup just once since independence, in 2002. Their trip to Japan and Korea was characterised by dissent, as star player Zlatko Zahovic famously rowed with coach Srecko Katanec.

Zahovic was sent home by Katanec after Slovenia were defeated by Spain in their fist match.

Slovenia lost narrowly to South Africa and then to Paraguay  before returning home.

Slovenia failed to qualify in 2006, but the qualification for the 2010 tournament is being heralded by some as a swansong for the Slovenian “Golden Age’ of football.

The Coach

Matjas Kek had a distiguished playing career, both domestically with Maribor and in Austria with GAK Linz and Spittal/Drau.

Kek began his managerial career in 2000 with Maribor. In his time with The Violets, Kek won three Slovenian league titles and one Slovenian Cup before departing in 2006.

Before taking charge of the Slovenian national team in 2007, Kek managed the national under-15 and under-16 sides.

Star Player

Milivoje Novakovic

Novakovic is the third-highest international goalscorer in Slovenian history, with fourteen goals in thirty-seven appearances.

Currently with Koln in Germany, Novakovic earned his reputation as a ruthless goalscorer in Die Geißböcke’s promotion-winning season in 2008 when he netted twenty goals.

Previously to 2008, Novakovic was with Bulgaria’s Litex Lovech and several Austrian sides.

Novakovic was captain of Koln in 2008/2009 and scored another sixteen goals in their first season back in the Budesliga.

This season, Novakovic was involved in a dispute with Koln coach Zvonimir Soldo, but still starred as they finished thirteenth in the league.

One To Watch

Rene Krhin

Regarded as the ‘next big thing’ in Slovenian football, Krhin has broke into the Inter Milan first-team this season.

Krhin is a holding midfielder whose distribution and effective use of possession has been singled out for praise by Jose Mourinho.

Krhin may not play every match for Slovenia, but his inclusion in the Slovenian squad is a signal of things to come from this young midfielder.

Preliminary Squad:

Goalkeepers: Samir Handanovic (Udinese), Jasmin Handanovic (Mantova), Aleksander Seliga (Sparta Rotterdam), Jan Koprivec (Maribor).

Defenders: Bojan Jokic (Chievo), Marko Suler (Ghent), Bostjan Cesar (Grenoble), Branko Ilic (Lokomotiv Moscow), Matej Mavric (Koblenz), Dejan Kelhar (Cercle Brugge), Elvedin Dzinic (Maribor), Miso Brecko (Cologne), Aleksandar Rajcevic (Koper), Suad Filekovic (Maribor).

Midfielders: Andraz Kirm (Wisla Krakow), Andrej Komac (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Rene Krhin (Internazionale), Mirnes Sisic (Giannina), Darjan Matic (Rapid Bucharest), Dare Vrsic (Koper), Dalibor Stevanovic (Vitesse Arnhem), Robert Koren (West Bromwich Albion), Aleksander Radosavljevic (Larissa), Valter Birsa (Auxerre).

Strikers: Milivoje Novakovic (Cologne), Zlatko Dedic (VfL Bochum), Zlatan Ljubijankic (Ghent), Nejc Pecnik (Nacional), Miran Burgic (AIK), Tim Matavz (Groningen).

USMNT


The United States Men’s National Team (or USMNT) have long been chided internationally. Often seen as the domain of elementary school children, football has so far failed to capture the imagination of the American people. In Europe and Latin America, observers have scoffed at the American ‘soccer’ and what is perceived to be an inferior league where fading stars end their careers in obscurity.

No such accusations can be levelled at the United States as it approaches this summer’s FIFA World Cup. Football is, however gradually, increasing in popularity. US Soccer, the sport’s governing body in the United States have invested considerable amounts of capital and effort in the promotion of the game across the nation and in improving an already formidable infrastructure. There has been a concerted attempt to forget the sorry memories of USA ’94.

The last decade has been particularly fruitful for the national side. An unprecedented Quarter-Finals berth was reached in 2002 and since then the quality of American footballer has improved immeasurably. The Landon Donovan led side impressed on the way to the Confederations Cup Final just last year, beating European Champions Spain and taking a two goal lead against the eventual winners Brazil in the final.

The team itself is built on solidity rather than flair but in Donovan they have the creative acumen to cause problems for any side. Aided by Premier League players Jozy Altidore, Stuart Holden and Clint Dempsey as well as Glasgow Rangers’ Damarcus Beasley, Donovan is key to the offensive intent of the side.

Michael Bradley, 22, one of the youngest members of the squad should play a box to box role for the United States. A dexterous and perceptive midfielder, Bradley has the capability to change games for his side as he has for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga.

In defence, Oguchi Onyewu cuts an imposing figure in the centre of the back four and dominated forwards at the Confederations Cup, so much so that he was signed to a three-year contract at AC Milan. Onyewu hasn’t had many opportunities to impress at Milan, partially due to a ruptured tendon which he is currently recovering from. The fullbacks, Spector, Bornstein and Pearce are of varying experience but will be tested by the wingers in Group C. Between the posts, goalkeeper Tim Howard has emerged as one of the better ‘keepers in the Premier League with Everton following a spell of mixed fortunes at Manchester United.


World Cup Finals History

Surprisingly strong. The United States have qualified for eight FIFA World Cups, the last five consecutively. In the inaugural World Cup, 1930, the United States won its first match 3-0 over Belgium, following it up with another 3-0 this time against Paraguay. The two victories brought the United States to the World Cup Semi-Finals, still their best record.

Despite their performance in that tournament, the United States’ greatest World Cup moment came in 1950. After suffering a 3-1 humbling by Spain, the USA played an England side which included Tom Finney, Stan Mortensen and Alf Ramsey. The semi-professionals of the United States mortified the seasoned stars of England, beating them 1-0 in what is still considered one of the greatest upsets in football history.

It was forty years until the USMNT would play in the World Cup again at Italia ’90. They lost all three of their matches easily but were safe in the knowledge that they would have a chance to atone in four years time when the United States would host the 1994 World Cup.
Perhaps the most enduring memory of the United States in USA ’94 is that of Alexi Lalas and his Highland-esque hairstyle. The tournament itself is not remembered fondly by fans but marked the return of the United States to the Second Round, courtesy of the ill-fated Carlos Escobar and his own goal.
After an ignominious 1998 campaign, the USA reached the Quarter Finals in 2002 after a memorable 3-2 victory over Portugal in the Group Stage and a 2-0 win over border-rivals Mexico in the Second Round.

The Coach: Bob Bradley.

Father of the aforementioned midfielder Michael Bradley, Bob has followed Bruce Arena with distinction since 2006. Bradley has long been involved in the coaching side of football in the United States, having managed Ohio University at the age of 22. Since then, Bradley has managed in Major League Soccer at Chicago Fire, the MetroStars and Chivas USA with varying success.His appointment in 2006 as caretaker coach disappointed the football community in the United States, who had hoped that Jurgen Klinsmann would be Arena’s successor.

The fans will have had little to complain about since then as he has overseen the introduction of many young players into his side and engineered a glorifying 2007 Gold Cup venture as well as the recent run in the Confederations Cup.

Star Player
: Landon Donovan.

Record goalscorer for USMNT, the always outspoken Donovan has courted media interest in his Major League Soccer career, a prime example being his berating of David Beckham’s prolonged loan spell to AC Milan. Donovan himself was the subject of a similar deal to Europe’s leagues.His spell at Everton was an undoubted success, putting to rest any lingering doubts about his ability.

Regarded as one of the greatest American footballers of all time, Donovan starred at the 2002 World Cup where he was named Young Player of the Tournament. He plays as an attacking midfielder or just behind the striker, from this position he has managed a commendable haul of 42 goals for his country.

One to watch: Charlie Davies.

There are many reasons to award Davies with this honour, his incredible fortitude and resilience in returning from a life-threatening injury being just one of them. In October 2009, Davies suffered multiple injuries including a lacerated bladder, fractured tibia, femur and a fractured elbow. A long road to recovery was launched with his club FC Sochaux in Ligue where he is now in full training once again.

He is gifted with blistering agility and pace and will serve as a perfect foil to Jozy Altidore should the two resume their pairing that proved so effective in the Confederations Cup.