Happy Birthday, Deuce!
Happy Birthday, Deuce!
The United States men’s national team slumped to the occasion in their 2-0 loss to Ukraine in a friendly marred by circumstances on Wednesday. Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Devic dealt Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad a harsh blow in a wholly deserved loss. It was the final game in which Klinsmann had his European-based players at his disposal before convening his World Cup camp in mid-May, and he cannot have been pleased with what he saw.
"This game helped us a lot to see where individual players are, collectively where we stand with this group of players," Klinsmann said on ESPN after the match. "Obviously we had to form a couple of new things there, starting from the back line — and you could see that, that they never played together that much."
His motley USA side, comprised of a few regulars and a slew of players on the bubble, were outsmarted by a cunning Ukrainian side. Knowing full-well where the Americans were weak, Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka tore their flanks to shreds while the high defensive line was pelted with through balls.
The tentative American defense let the Ukrainians stroll through its line several times early on. In the 12th minute, a simple ball over the top caught the central defensive pairing of Oguchi Onyewu and John Brooks well out of position. That put Denys Harmash through on Tim Howard’s goal by himself. The American goalkeeper made a fine stop on his attempt, but Harmash coolly collected the rebound and laid it wide for Yarmolenko for him to pass the ball into the net.
Just a few minutes later, the Americans were caught out again on a clever play off a Ukrainian corner, but they were saved by a possibly erroneous offside call that time – Alejandro Bedoya actually appeared to keep the play onside. Sloppy and unimaginative in possession, the Yanks produced just two attacks of note in the entire first half. On the first, goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov alertly picked off the cross; on the second, Edgar Castillo’s cross wasn’t quite right and cleared. And they would give away several more fat chances, which a more incisive opponent might have punished, before the halftime whistle brought a respite.
Happy Birthday, Landon!
USA World Cup kit is… a golf shirt?
Just 110 days before the World Cup, USA fans may have received an early look at what their team will be wearing in Brazil.
(Image via Todos Sobre Camisetas)
Yikes! It looks more like an Old Navy polo than a soccer jersey. But lucky for all of us, USMNT fans are quite the, umm, creative bunch.
— Ryan Rosenblatt (@RyanRosenblatt)February 21, 2014
— Ryan Dunsmore (@d_more55)February 21, 2014
Pour one out for kit nerds everywhere.
Did you know United States men’s national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has a pilot’s license?
In the video above posted by US Soccer, Klinsmann takes to the skies in a helicopter and shares that flying was actually his childhood dream before he “unfortunately became a soccer player.” (Yeah, a real shame he did).
Klinsmann is famous for his incredible playing career and passion on the sidelines, but little did we know his true calling had nothing to do with the sport at all!
Philadelphia pursued Maurice Edu for the better part of the January transfer window. Club officials waded through the thicket of MLS regulations and wondered if Edu’s price tag would eventually scupper the deal. They pursued it anyways with the prospect of installing the United States international in the starting XI too promising to ignore.
The process took a bit longer than anticipated, but the Union finally secured its man on Monday. Edu returned to MLS on a 12-month loan deal with an option for a permanent move at the end of the agreement. The terms of his contract with MLS and the Union will make him a Designated Player in 2014, according to a club release.
Edu’s arrival in Philadelphia reflects a pragmatic streak from all of the parties involved. The public spat over Edu’s asking price for a permanent contract and MLS’ reluctance to meet it inspired a creative approach to strike a deal the Union desperately wanted to happen. Stoke’s desire to retain a portion of Edu’s wages paved the way for an inventive agreement designed to satisfy Edu and both clubs.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion)January 27, 2014
Philadelphia continues its midfield revamp by adding a player capable of dictating and driving the proceedings from a deep-lying position. Edu controls the game by disrupting the opposition and shuttling the ball onward to his more creative teammates. His robust work offers a different dimension and some much needed protection to an evolving side with Argentine schemer Cristian Maidana already in tow and French conduit Vincent Nogueira in talks to claim the Union’s third and final Designated Player spot.
By reinforcing its midfield, the Union places Edu in a position to thrive ahead of the World Cup. This group possesses the depth and the versatility to accentuate Edu’s strengths without asking him to accept a disproportionate burden. Edu must shake off any lingering rust from his time in the shadows and show the necessary sharpness to influence games, but this set of circumstances provides him with the best possible chance to impress USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann and work his way back into the national team setup over the next few months.
Only time will tell whether Edu can book a trip to Brazil with his displays for the Union. For now, he will take solace in a deal designed to place himself and his new club in a position to succeed in 2014.
Image provide by USA TODAY Sports.
Life is good for Chicago forward Mike Magee.
Magee emerged the shadows with LA Galaxy at the start of 2013 and took on a starring role with the Fire after his midseason trade. He ended last season with the MLS MVP trophy in his hands after warding off competition from Montreal forward Marco Di Vaio and former Galaxy teammate Robbie Keane. And he finished his finest professional season in his hometown.
“It was a very eventful season, a good season, as good as it can be without making the playoffs,” Magee recently told FOX Soccer analyst Keith Costigan. “It was exciting.”
Magee said he hopes the excitement will extend to an improved collective performance from the team. Veteran boss Frank Yallop assumed control of the technical side during the close season after the Fire failed to make the playoffs in 2013.
Yallop’s arrival hasn’t solved the persistent questions up front, but it has provided a spark ahead of the new campaign. Magee said the decision to hire the two-time MLS Cup winning-boss offers should suit the Fire well heading into 2014.
“Every time I played against him, I hated playing against his teams, which is a compliment to him,” Magee said. “From hearing what he says, he wants to press and play attacking soccer, which is perfect for me.”
Magee expects to play an integral role in implementing those plans. He should report to Fire camp in the ideal condition after spending most of January with the U.S. men’s national team. His inclusion in Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad and his rampant success last season offer considerable impetus to muster a thrilling second act after his MVP season a year ago.
“You have to make that trophy motivate you, not satisfy you. I’m not going to be satisfied,” Magee said. “I’m just going to try to help the team win some more games.”
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Consider the plight of Maurice Edu as the first significant repercussion from Toronto FC’s lavish outlay on Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe.
Edu has expressed interest in ending his time at Stoke City and returning to MLS in a bid to boost his hopes of playing in the World Cup. His yearly wages at Stoke fall in the region of $1.5 million, a fair number given his status as a Premier League squad player and a significant chunk of change in the MLS sphere.
In these sorts of situations, MLS often coaxes players into a discount in line with their value within the salary budget system. Michael Parkhurst – a similarly situated player in the national team pool and on the fringes of the squad at Bundesliga side FC Augsburg – agreed to terms on a deal that will pay him in excess of $300,000 this season and landed in Columbus on Monday. Parkhurst’s deal is healthy by MLS standards, but it still represents a pay cut from his European wages.
Edu, however, wants to remain in the same bracket if he returns home. His asking price – in the region of $1.2 million – makes him a Designated Player. Under most circumstances, league executives would not countenance such a deal. They would either mandate a lower price point more in line with their perception of the market or table the interest until such a point was reached.
LAUDERHILL, Fla. – In the middle of a hectic period destined to alter his professional future, Michael Bradley found a few moments to contact a person keenly interested in his decision to move from AS Roma to Toronto FC: United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
Bradley said he reached out to Klinsmann recently to chat about his impending $10 million transfer to MLS and explain why he decided to swap Serie A for MLS at the start of a World Cup year.
“He and I spoke at the end of last week,” Bradley told FOX Soccer in a phone interview after his unveiling in Toronto on Monday. “We had a good conversation. He and I have always had an honest relationship. I wanted to him to hear from me what I was thinking and how I was sizing everything up. It was a good conversation.”
The reasons behind the transfer — a thought process Bradley detailed here yesterday — matter far less than its impact on preparing for the World Cup at this stage. The lingering concerns about regular playing time at Roma ended once he agreed to terms with TFC. Now Bradley must simply use the next few months to hone his fitness and obtain his match sharpness before the delegation departs for Brazil.
MLS will not match the tactical and technical demands usually found in the upper reaches of Serie A, but its exacting and rigorous fare will test Bradley in a different fashion. He must navigate through those requirements with the pressure of an expectant public and the weight of a lucrative deal upon his shoulders. The difficulty of the task and the heap of the responsibility for its success or failure poses a considerable challenge, according to Bradley.
“At the end of the day, Jürgen wants guys who aren’t afraid to take risks, who aren’t afraid to put themselves on the line and challenge themselves to be better players, to take more responsibility, to be better leaders,” Bradley said. “That’s what I’m doing in Toronto.”
Several of his international teammates face the same challenges with their MLS sides. Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez committed their futures to LA Galaxy last year. Clint Dempsey signed in Seattle. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi stayed the course with Sporting Kansas City. Other players — including potential addition Maurice Edu (linked with a Stateside move by ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman on Tuesday) and recent returnee Michael Parkhurst — now see the league as a viable alternative to plying their trade overseas.
Bradley joined that group when he signed for Toronto FC, but he does not speak for it. Nor does anyone else. This trend place MLS in an awkward position (begrudging respect after World Cup success, vicious excoriation in the wake of failure) without capturing the individual reasons why each of those players made their particular choices to cast their lot at home, Bradley said.
“I’ve always said, at the end of the day, everybody has to make their own decisions,” Bradley said. “Even when I went to Europe and people asked, I always said everybody has to decide what is important to them, what challenges them, what motivates them. I think it’s important, still, for guys in the national team to have and have had the experience of playing in Europe. But, at the same time, guys who choose to play in MLS and challenge themselves by taking big roles here, I think that’s just as important.”
It may or may not represent the ideal path in Klinsmann’s estimation, but it is the route Bradley and several of his peers have chosen. They must now find a way to make it work for them as they spend the next few months preparing for their journey to Brazil.
Photo provided by The Associated Press.