2
Jul

Tim Howard gets call from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

United States men’s national team goalkeeper Tim Howard became America’s favorite bailout plan on Tuesday night, and with good reason.

The USA netminder made 16 heart-stopping saves in USA’s 2-1 defeat Belgium — the most by any goalkeeper in a World Cup match since 1966. His exploits set the internet ablaze and got fans calling for the renaming of the Ronald Reagan Airport in his honor.

Now, the Pentagon joined in on the praise with Secratary of Defense Chuch Hagel calling the USA soccer hero after Hagel’s “Secretary of Defense of the United States of America” Wikipedia page was replaced with an image of Howard in action.

Per an official release from the United States Department of Defense:

“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called United States men’s national team goalkeeper Tim Howard to thank him for defending the United States of America at the World Cup. Secretary Hagel congratulated Howard on his record-breaking game and a great run in Brazil. He invited Howard and the entire team to come to the Pentagon later this year. He told Howard that with some training, he could someday become the real secretary of defense.”

And that’s not all! 

Later, President Barack Obama also dialed up Tim Howard, as well as captain Clint Dempsey to commend the team for their valiant performance.

28
Jun

Full of confidence! Team USA books flight home after World Cup final

He’s survived the Group of Death, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s revelation of the USA squad’s travel plans infer that he isn’t done just yet.

After booking a last-16 clash with Belgium — who hold a 100% record at the 2014 World Cup — Klinsmann told the press that his team plans to fly out from Brazil on July 13.

Before you check your calendars, that date should sound familiar: It’s the day after the World Cup final, after all. “You can always change your flights,” was Klinsmann’s clever quip.

Whether it’s mind games, confidence or just good planning, we like it. You’d forgive the United States for getting ideas above their station, with the side rightfully receiving plaudits for making the knockouts. Belgium lie in wait, and Klinsmann is wary of the Red Devils’ star power.

Klinsmann told the New York Daily News:

“Belgium is one of the secret favorites in the World Cup because of the players they have. We have absolutely no fear at all. We’re in position to challenge them. We have the foundation to beat them.”

Considering Klinsmann’s thoughts on Team USA’s chances before the start of the tournament, this seems to be a complete 180-degree turn, despite USA’s daunting 50-1 odds.

The huge clash will take place next Tuesday, with the winner facing either Argentina or Switzerland in the quarterfinals. Good luck, boys.

(H/T NESN and New York Daily News)

19
Jun

Rip Hamilton on a mission to convince Clint Dempsey to wear a face mask

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NBA star Rip Hamilton is on a mission to Brazil.

His goal is to convince Clint Dempsey to wear the plastic face mask to protect his broken nose.

He even posted a picture with a call out to Dempsey:

"On my way to Brazil to watch @clint_dempsey and Team USA at World Cup . @clint_dempsey if u need to borrow my mask I’m bringing them in my carry on bag.#MaskChangedMyCareer #TeamUSA #WorldCup#BrandJordan #BrazilPack #HugeFanOfSoccer #holdat”

Hamilton started wearing a mask in 2002 and turned it into a fashion accessory; he continued to wear one throughout his career.

Maybe Dempsey, who has so far avoided the plastic shield, would be more inclined if it got the hockey goalie mask treatment?

(h/t SB Nation)

Image courtesy of Getty.

20
Mar

FOX Soccer Exclusive: Julian Green opens up about decision to play for Team USA

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Editor’s note: Julian Green spoke to Ole Pongratz on Tuesday in Munich. This interview has been translated from German to English by FOX Soccer’s Thomas Hautmann.

Ole Pongratz: Reports in the United States said you were to be included in the US training camp ahead of the friendly against Mexico but you have said that this isn’t the case — yet. Can you explain?

Julian Green: Yes, Klinsmann wanted to invite me to the game against Mexico but because it is not an official international match, Bayern had to give me the clearance first. That [only] happened on Tuesday.

OP: Jurgen Klinmann has announced that you have chosen the United States and that you have handed in your request for the one-time association switch with FIFA. What can you tell us about that?

JG: Yes, that’s right: I have decided on the USA and I will play for them from here on out.

OP: And why did you choose the USA?

Read More

5
Mar

USA fail to impress in 2-0 exhibition loss to Ukraine

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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.

Read More

4
Sep

No surprise: USA gets hostile reception in Costa Rica

When the United States men’s national team squared off against Costa Rica last March, a snow storm hit Colorado making the game one of the most memorable contests in sports history.

Costa Rica wasn’t happy the game was allowed to continue. Maybe that’s because Costa Rica lost. Needless to say, the Ticos certainly haven’t forgotten about the incident.

A crowd of Costa Rican fans are heard chanting “No fair play!” as members of Team USA deplane and board the team bus on Tuesday. You can see exactly how much the perceived injustice earlier this year still sticks in their craw.

One might assume the confines of a bus would bring an end to the pestering. Wrong. According to the Tico Times, eggs were also launched in the salvo against the United States.

Perhaps they just thought the Americans needed a late breakfast after their flight? That’s a stretch. Either way, it should shape up for an even more interesting match come Friday.

13
Jul

Gold Cup: Five things learned from USA’s 4-1 victory over Cuba

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com

SANDY, UTAH

It took a bit longer than expected for the United States to hit its stride in their 4-1 victory against Cuba. The visitors even managed a stunning opening goal when Jose Ciprian completed a swashbuckling counter after 36 minutes. But the Americans equalized through Landon Donovan shortly before halftime to set the stage for a significant second-half improvement. Chris Wondolowski struck twice in the final half hour to ensure that the US will finish atop Group C with a victory (or a draw, most likely) over Costa Rica in East Hartford, Conn. on Tuesday.

 In the wake of a third straight heavy victory, here are a few points to ponder as the US approaches a decisive affair against the Ticos:

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6
Jul

Stuart Holden vows to fight for place in USA squad

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com

SAN DIEGO

Stuart Holden’s humbling road through injury-enforced wilderness took an unexpected comedic turn when he entered the United States’ 6-0 victory over Guatemala on Friday night.

Holden – a player of considerable repute with Olympic, Premier League and World Cup experience on his CV – heard the public address announcer mangle his name when he entered at the start of the second half.

“Stacy Holden? You try not to hear that stuff in the game, but when it was announced, it was hard not to laugh,” Holden said. “I was thinking, he’d better correct it. The guys were laughing about it. I heard him re-announce it.”

Holden then followed suit regarding his own international credentials with an encouraging display of his quality and his range in central midfield. His clever, inch-perfect service on Landon Donovan’s second goal captured the most attention, but his overall performance – adroit in possession, robust in his tackling, tidy in his positioning – showed the progress made over the past few months.

“I thought he was fantastic,” Donovan said. “He was calm on the ball. He tackled when he needed to. His service was great. His passing was excellent. I thought he was really good. I think we can all agree that it’s as good as he’s been since he’s been back playing. I’m really happy.”

The trick for Holden now: turning one good night into a series of influential Gold Cup showings over the next month. He faces a fight to earn playing time in the center of the park with Kyle Beckerman, Mikkel Diskerud and José Francisco Torres and push his claims for more than a handful of substitute appearances.

“If I didn’t I was 90 minutes ready and Jurgen didn’t think I was 90 minutes ready, then I don’t think I’d be a part of this group,” Holden said. “If I’m out there in the game, I’m hoping to play 90 minutes. As a competitor, you’re always a little bit bummed out because you want to be on the field and involved in every single play. I can guarantee that if I’m out there, I’ll give everything I’ve got.”

And if he meets his previous standards once more and reclaim his place in the full team, he can rest assured no one will forget his name.