28
Jul

Stu Holden suffers “very serious” knee injury in Gold Cup final

By Jamie Trecker, FOXSoccer.com

CHICAGO

Stuart Holden is facing the possibility of another long layoff from soccer after suffering what American manager Jurgen Klinsmann described as a “very serious” knee injury in today’s Gold Cup final. Holden was injured in the 22nd minute after a collision with Panama’s Alberto Quintero that left the Bolton star in a heap on the field, clutching his right knee.

Further tests will take place tomorrow, but the concern was evident in Klinsmann’s delivery. It seems clear that the Americans do not expect Holden to be in uniform any time again soon.

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Omar Gonzalez carried Holden onto the field after the win. (Getty)

Holden has struggled with serious injuries throughout his professional career. He was infamously attacked outside a Newcastle bar and was left with a fractured eye socket; he has injured his ankles repeatedly, and has struggled to maintain fitness since. Holden also suffered serious injury to his left knee, taking twenty-six stitches after a tackle by Manchester United’s Jonny Evans in March 2011. He would end up sitting out of the sport for over a year. Since 2010, he has only made a combined 34 club appearances between Bolton and a loan spell with Sheffield Wednesday.

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Holden’s latest injury is a serious blow. If it is confirmed he will be on the sidelines for an extended spell, he may miss out on the 2014 World Cup. At 27, Holden is also facing a race against time: not many clubs are likely to take a chance on a player who is more often in a hospital than on a field.

U.S. Soccer is expected to issue a statement on Holden’s condition following an examination here tomorrow.

28
Jul

Loud silence permeates Soldier Field before Gold Cup final

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Photo: Jamie Trecker/FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker, FOXSoccer.com

CHICAGO

The Lakeshore Segway riders caromed through Soldier Field’s plaza. They wobbled and weaved, but didn’t hit anyone. There was almost no one to run in to.

This was the Gold Cup final at Soldier Field, an event CONCACAF and the city of Chicago both hoped would fill the lakefront on this unusually chilly July afternoon. Instead, both were to confront the reality that this soccer game was to be a quiet one.

Two hours before kickoff, the sponsor’s tents sat vacant; the speakers at 7UP’s pavilion were turned down so as not to deafen. A group of Panamanian fans posed for the local Univision channel, a rare splash of color on an otherwise quiet afternoon day. Tickets were freely available for $30 – the scalpers that showed up didn’t even make an effort – and some sponsors were simply passing them out to early arrivers.

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Photo: Jamie Trecker/FOX Soccer

The reason? Mexico didn’t make the final, and that killed whatever walkup crowd might have showed up. Chicago has an enormous Latino population, and it is overwhelmingly Mexican in origin. One of the biggest communities of Mexican emigrants sits just twenty blocks west of Soldier Field, with Pilsen and Little Village comprising the largest concentration of Mexican ex-pats outside of Mexico City itself.

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27
Jul

Suspended? Here’s a solution for Jurgen Klinsmann

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Jurgen Klinsmann makes a solid Uncle Sam. (Bruce Raksnys/FOX Sports)

After a sideline outburst in Wednesday’s semifinal, USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann is suspended for the Gold Cup final against Panama on Sunday.

While the team surely knows the game plan by now, Klinsmann has a knack for making timely substitutions. Like this one:

The USA will sorely miss Klinsmann’s in-game sideline tactics, but there is a way to communicate with the coaches on the bench: the American Outlaws.

This rowdy group of USA fans can be heard loud and clear across any stadium, and they’re willing to lend their pipes to Klinsmann to help him lead the team to Gold Cup glory.

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All Klinsmann needs to do is throw on some red, white and blue, hop on the capo stand and let the Outlaws do the rest.

24
Jul

Klinsmann sent off against Honduras, could miss Gold Cup final

By Leander Schaerlaeckens

ARLINGTON, Texas – USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann could miss Sunday’s Gold Cup final after being dismissed for complaining and slamming down the ball after a series of non-calls in the United States’ 3-1 semifinal win against Honduras.

Since there is no such thing as a red card for managers, only straight ejections, suspensions are not automatic and a disciplinary committee will take referee Walter Quesada’s match report into consideration and deliver a verdict within 24 to 48 hours, according to a CONCACAF spokesman.

In the 87th minute of the match, with the score at 3-1 in the USA’s favor, DaMarcus Beasley looked to have been fouled after losing control of the ball, which went out of play for a Honduras throw-in. An enraged Klinsmann had a few choice words for the referee, gesticulating and possibly swearing in multiple languages until the official sent him out of his coach’s box.

“It was just a reaction out of frustration because fouls had added up throughout the last half an hour, one really, really bad right before our third goal,” Klinsmann explained following the game. “And then came this foul on [DaMarcus] Beas[ley] with two guys going into him from behind and I just kind of overboiled it.”

Klinsmann chuckled at that point, having long since returned to his invariably laid back demeanor. Then he turned apologetic. “Obviously you shouldn’t then throw the ball down on the ground,” he said. “I apologize for that reaction. It was not meant against the referee, against nobody. It was just frustration because you fear the health of the player in that moment.”

“He sticks up for us players, so I don’t have any complaints about that,” said Beasley, the captain.

Yet for the coach’s contrition, his fate is at the mercy of other men. “That would not be good for us,” star forward Landon Donovan said of a possible suspension. “We’re very hopeful that that’s not the case. You never want to see a player or a coach suspended for a final so hopefully whoever reviews that takes that into consideration. Sometimes that happens in the game and we’ve all made those sorts of decisions at times so hopefully it doesn’t affect us.”

“It’s going to be a loss if he’s not with us on the sideline,” Beasley said. “But at the same time, he’ll be with us in spirit if he’s not there. I’m sure he’ll be cheering us on wherever he’s sitting.”

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24
Jul

The sorry state of the sod in Dallas

By Leander Schaerlaeckens, FOXSoccer.com

ARLINGTON, TEXAS

It never ceases to be a problem: rolls of grass sod laid over artificial turf for a few days so that a soccer game might feel like an actual soccer game.

The United States men’s national team played on one such field in Seattle during a World Cup qualifier last month and the interim surface held up fairly well. It did too in Baltimore for the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, in spite of the lashing rain.

But this time around, the prospect of playing yet another game on this strange arrangement is a bleak one. The grass laid over the Cowboys Stadium turf for the USA to face Honduras in the Gold Cup semis on Wednesday – and for Mexico to face Panama a few hours later – looks in dreadful shape long before it’s even been played on:

imagePhoto: Leander Schaerlaeckens/FOXSoccer.com

Ahead of their only practice on the field on Tuesday afternoon, the American outfit was predictably diplomatic about the prospects of playing on another such field. (“We’ll deal with it then,” and “Both teams have to play on it,” and other such stock answers were delivered.) But this field must have inspired a real terror in them when they first trod on it.

Frankly, it looks like it was poorly laid, using a poor stock of grass. It is patchy, with long gashes between strips of it that don’t touch or line up. Green sand was being used to fill those holes, but that could do little to make the surface any softer. Walking over it even as a reporter in sneakers, the ground beneath you was noticeably hard and unforgiving. 

How then, will players who have overcome serious knee injuries like Stu Holden or the newly recalled Omar Gonzalez handle playing on it? Will head coach Jurgen Klinsmann risk their health on it at all?

When I asked him how much of a consideration the management of minutes for those recovering from injuries, fresh to the team or indeed in danger of re-aggravating old ailments because of the surface was at this pivotal stage of the tournament, Klinsmann said it wasn’t any different than usual.

But this time it is different. You don’t want to dilute your lineup any for fear of surface-induced injuries. Not in a semifinal. Yet the sorry state of the grass at Cowboys Stadium has made that impossible for him,whether he’ll admit to it or not.

22
Jul

DaMarcus Beasley, Stuart Holden and Chris Wondolowski hungry for success

With Mexico and the United States leaving some of their biggest stars off the Gold Cup roster, there is some question as to how crucial winning the tournament really is to the big nations.

However, there is no doubt over how important the Gold Cup is for the individual players who were called up — the Cup has shown in the past that it can serve as a springboard for fringe players to make the following year’s World Cup rosters.

This year on the United States’ side, three names have come in focus particularly: Chris Wondolowski, Stuart Holden and DaMarcus Beasley. The “late bloomer,” the “comeback kid,” and “the captain,” respectively.

FOX Soccer took all three on a relaxing boat ride in Baltimore ahead of the USA’s quarterfinal win against El Salvador, and each spoke about their goals, each other’s talents, and what makes suiting up for the red, white and blue so special.

21
Jul

Gold Cup: Five things learned from USA’s victory over El Salvador

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com

Baltimore, Maryland

Landon Donovan scored once and prompted three other goals to lead the United States to a 5-1 victory over El Salvador at a sold-out M&T Bank Stadium.

The final score reflects the Americans’ dominance on the day without telling the entire story. El Salvador reduced the deficit to 2-1 through a Rodolfo Zelaya penalty eight minutes before the interval and threatened to nick an equalizer early in the second half.

Eddie Johnson eventually removed most of the doubt by scoring seconds after his introduction. A pair of goals in the final quarter of an hour secured a semifinal date against Costa Rica or Honduras in Arlington, Tex. on Wednesday.

U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann will take plenty with him – including these five points – from this match ahead of the more difficult task ahead in midweek.

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21
Jul

Eddie Johnson: #DemolitionMan

The US men’s national soccer team put on an impressive show in a 5-1 win over El Salvador to secure a spot in the Gold Cup semifinals. Landon Donovan was the Man of the Match for his goal and three assists, but it was substitute Eddie Johnson who stole the show.

If you blinked, you might have missed it. It took Johnson a ridiculously fast 14 seconds after jogging onto the pitch to score on his very first touch of the game. His header off a perfectly executed short corner kick gave the US a 3-1 lead with 30 minutes to go.

The immediate impact led Gus Johnson to emphatically pronounce him the “Demolition Man!”

Not surprisingly, the twitterverse was abuzz following Gus’s call:

Even US Soccer’s account got in on it:

It’s safe to say that Johnson, whose goal was the quickest ever by a substitute in the history of the Gold Cup, now has a new nickname, courtesy of our own Johnson!