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?

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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.

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2
Feb

Jurgen Klinsmann explains his love for flying

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!

27
Jan

Philadelphia anchors its midfield with Maurice Edu

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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 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.

6
Oct

Klinsmann names roster for USA World Cup qualifiers

United States men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann dropped his long-awaited roster for the two final World Cup qualifiers at home against Jamaica on Oct. 11 and away to Panama Oct. 15 on Sunday afternoon. The games are more or less meaningless, since the USA secured qualification with a 2-0 home win against Mexico on Sept. 10.

Which is just as well, because this roster is more notable for the names not on it, or those that barely made it on there, than those players who are fit and playing regularly.

Clint Dempsey continues to battle a persistent hamstring injury that has kept him from getting into a regular rhythm since joining the Seattle Sounders this summer. Michael Bradley still hasn’t recovered from the ankle sprain he suffered in pregame warmups before the loss to Costa Rica on Sept. 6.

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Image courtesy of Getty

That means the U.S.’s two most important players, the men dictating the pace and rhythm, are absent.

Overall, the goalkeepers constitute the only line that’s complete, with Brad Guzan, Tim Howard and Nick Rimando all fit and thriving for their clubs. In defense, however, Steve Cherundolo still isn’t over his surgery, Timmy Chandler either remains in the doghouse for refusing call-ups or is still refusing them, and sometime-back Fabian Johnson isn’t 100 percent either and wasn’t called in.

In midfield, the aforementioned Johnson isn’t available on the left. Fellow winger Alejandro Bedoya did make the squad, but missed his last FC Nantes game because of sickness, so his status is questionable. Also unclear is the situation surrounding Jermaine Jones, who may or may not need meniscus surgery and was suspended for his club Schalke recently.

Up front, the group is in pretty decent shape. But Landon Donovan has also had fitness concerns of late. Herculez Gomez, recently back from a niggling knee injury, is back playing for Xolos in Mexico but didn’t get called in – Terrence Boyd got the call instead.

It is, in short, a roster littered with question marks.

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13
Sep

Joel Campbell reportedly being investigated by FIFA for fake injury

By now, most USA fans have seen the above video of Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell faking an injury that resulted in a yellow card for Matt Besler — which meant he was suspended for the United States' World Cup qualifier against Mexico on Tuesday.

While the United States did defeat Mexico — dos a cero, of course — and the suspension didn’t come back to bite them, Campbell’s acting might.

According to Al Dia, FIFA issued a statement to the Costa Rican Football Federation that announced they had opened an investigation into Campbell’s fake foul.

Apparently that’s not the only thing that FIFA is looking into. On the Encuentro Deportivo radio show earlier this week, Fedefutbol president Eduardo Li said that FIFA is investigating the federation for the actions of their fans.

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(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Before their World Cup qualifier against the USA, Costa Rican fans reportedly drowned out the United States national anthem with “loud jeers and catcalls,” which is a violation of FIFA’s Preliminary Competition laws.

On the radio show, Li said, “We will pay the fine, yes. But they ought to sanction the rest of the countries that have committed the same mistake.”

Costa Rica may have already qualified for the 2014 World Cup, but they are facing some repercussions ahead of it. Still, there’s no word if FIFA will look into Costa Rica’s trolling cow mascot that interrupted USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann during an interview last week:

10
Sep

USA qualifies to 2014 World Cup with win over Mexico

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Image: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The chants started even before kickoff. Dos a cero, dos a cero!

Two-nil. Such has been the end result, in favor of the United States, in the past four World Cup qualifiers against Mexico on American soil, Columbus Crew Stadium to be exact. Tuesday’s classic was also played in Columbus. It also ended 2-0.

Landon Donovan provided the preordained second goal after Eddie Johnson’s header made it 1-0 not long after halftime. As fate would have it — or was it just a cruel joke played on El Tri? — not even a late stoppage time penalty to the US could change the outcome. Clint Dempsey missed wide right. Way right. Dos a cero. Par for the course.

That’s when the chants began anew from the cheering sections of the American Outlaws, drowning out the final whistle. The US had triumphed over Mexico again — 7-0-3 all-time at Columbus Crew Stadium — and the real celebration was only just beginning.

The Americans still had to wait another 40 minutes or so before the tickets to Brazil for next summer’s World Cup could officially be booked. Honduras first needed to win or draw over Panama in the late match. A large fraction of the Outlaws — who made up most of the record 9,000 supporters’ group members in attendance — stayed in their seats and watched the match on the big screen.

Panama equalized twice to keep the fans — and the players in the dressing room — glued to the TV until the final whistle, but at last it ended in a 2-2 draw, clinching the Americans’ World Cup berth. Seconds later, the entire squad ran back out to their supporters, donning “Qualified” tees and leading the crowd into a new, even sweeter chant.

We are going, we are going, we are going to Brazil!

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Image: Jamie Sabau / Getty Images

9
Sep

Five things to watch for during USA vs. Mexico

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COLUMBUS, OHIO

In falling to Costa Rica for the seventh consecutive time on the Ticos’ home ground, the Americans added yet more gravitas to the already-loaded build-up for their World Cup qualifier against Mexico here on Tuesday. So, having allowed some time and space for hindsight, here are the relevant lessons drawn from the 3-1 loss as they relate to yet another crucial bout:

1. Michael Bradley is indispensable

Folding over his ankle in the final movements of the warm-up and ruling the central midfielder out of the game plainly unsettled the team. He is their emotional leader, after all, the man leading by his combative example and, from the looks of it, verbally too. But when he fell away, they lost more than that. What Bradley brings to the table, nobody else can replicate. Shuttling between boxes, he sets the pace, tone and rhythm of the run of play. He covers much ground defensively, distributes from deep and gets counterattacks started. Geoff Cameron, the late replacement for Bradley, tried to fill that role but he hasn’t the range and simply isn’t as tidy with the ball. Bradley’s absence against Mexico will have to be compensated for; his many roles filled by a combination of others.

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5
Sep

Five things to watch: Costa Rica v USA

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA

On Friday, the United States men’s national team plays its seventh of ten games in the final stage of World Cup qualifying against Costa Rica.

Here are five urgent questions heading into the game:

Is Jozy Altidore ready to go?

The young target man, newly of Sunderland, is recovering from a hamstring injury. After getting an MRI in Miami upon joining the team, he was given the go-ahead by the medical staff. But how effective he will be, and how durable, remains to be seen.

His importance can hardly be overstated. There is no other striker available who is so proficient at holding up the ball and getting the adjoining attackers involved. And Altidore has scored in his last five USA games, a record, tallying seven goals in all.

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Image courtesy of AP Images

Who will play right back?

Steve Cherundolo is still out with an injury. Timmy Chandler is unavailable too. And Brad Evans, who has played in the spot most recently, was a late scratch from the team because of a calf injury. He was replaced on the roster by Michael Parkhurst, but he, like fellow candidate Geoff Cameron isn’t a natural at the right back position.

Both have their limitations going forward. And both are fourth-stringers at best.

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1
Sep

Jozy Altidore’s absence creates cause for concern for US, Klinsmann

By Kyle McCarthy

The absence of Jozy Altidore from Sunderland’s 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday creates some cause for concern for United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico.

Sunderland announced Altidore missed the defeat at Selhurst Park with a hamstring injury on its official Twitter feed. The extent of the injury remains uncertain:

He is expected to link up with his American teammates in Miami and receive further evaluation by the U.S. medical staff, a U.S. Soccer spokesperson confirmed on Saturday.

Altidore’s importance to the side in recent months makes the diagnosis particularly influential. The former AZ striker has scored in each of his past five appearances, including a hat trick in the 4-3 victory at Bosnia-Herzegovina on Aug. 14. His recent form (he leads all scorers in the Hexagonal with three goals) and his status within the ranks leaves Klinsmann with a quandary if he is, for some reason, unable to feature.

Landon Donovan’s return to the ranks creates additional depth and flexibility in the attacking third, but Altidore plays a particularly vital role given his willingness to lead the line. Most of the players at Klinsmann’s disposal – including Donovan and captain Clint Dempsey – prefer to drift into dangerous areas from a variety of angles and operate in the space underneath a center forward. Altidore instead provides the touchstone required to allow other players to thrive. And there is no player in the current squad capable of replicating those exact contributions.

If Altidore cannot feature against Costa Rica or Klinsmann opts to hold him out to provide him with more recovery time (or sidestep a potential second booking), then the Americans must figure how to adapt without him.

There isn’t a simple answer to the quandary. Eddie Johnson probably presents the most natural swap – he isn’t a prototypical target player, but he does stave off defenders and surge behind the line – on a night when the Americans might have to soak up some pressure. Dempsey supplies the primary alternative given his dexterity and the potential opening created for Donovan, but a tethered position up front reduces his ability to influence the game in other ways. And Klinsmann – as evidenced by his willingness to deploy Johnson on the left side of midfield and use DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Evans at fullback – possesses the imagination to explore other options as well.

Klinsmann will certainly hope he does not have to pursue any of them. Altidore remains the firm first choice up front. But he will have to wait and see whether Altidore’s health will dispel any uncertainty in the coming days and permit him to take his usual place up front in San Jose on Friday night.

Images: Getty Images