Daily news roundups

Must win x 2 for US, Blake up for Player of the Month, more Union and Bethlehem bits

Photo: Earl Gardner

US

Some headlines before tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Guatemala (7 pm, ESPN2, UniMas, UDN):

Sounds familiar, right? That’s because a similar scenario was in play only four years ago. From US Soccer: “Four years ago, the U.S. found itself in a nearly identical scenario to Tuesday’s upcoming showdown in Columbus. The same sequence of results – a relatively comfortable 3-1 home win against Antigua & Barbuda, followed by a 1-1 draw in Guatemala and then a 2-1 defeat in Jamaica – left the MNT in need of a result as it turned around to play the same Reggae Boyz side four days later in the Buckeye State.” The US would prevail 1-0 in Columbus on September 11, 2012 against Jamaica thanks to a Herculez Gomez goal from a free kick.

A piece at Fox Soccer is emphatic: “The U.S. will not go out in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying. The track record for U.S. teams at home against most CONCACAF competition is pretty lopsided. No matter how bad the U.S. looks, they are still odds-on favorites to win on American soil.”

But, as the saying goes, that was then and this is now. After all, the US were also odds-on favorites to win last Friday’s game in Guatemala. More to the point, fans are tired of repeated calls for keeping the faith being followed by head-scratching inducing lineups and underwhelming performances.

If the US fails to win tonight, it is almost certain the US will miss its first World Cup since 1990, which was itself the first time the US had qualified since 1950. The damage failing to qualify would do to soccer’s continuing development in this country cannot be overstated.

But, hey, maybe we should all just relax. Landon Donovan says the US is going to win the next three games.

More previews of tonight’s game at US SoccerWashington Post, Los Angeles Times, ESPN (1, 2, 3,  Fox Sports, SI (1, 2), Soccer AmericaYahoo Sports, Goal.com (1, 2, 3), MLSsoccer.com (12), and American Soccer Analysis.

Of course, the game in Columbus isn’t the only must-win game the US is playing tonight (9:20 pm, ESPN2). In Frisco, the US U-23s host Colombia in the return leg of the Olympic qualification playoff, the first game of which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Head coach Andi Herzog says goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who had to leave the game in Colombia after a collision with Colombian player, is fine and available for selection for tonight’s game.

Previews at US SoccerESPNSI, Pro Soccer Talk, Goal.com, MLSsoccer.com

Action News Jacksonville reports the World Cup qualifier on Sept. 6 against Trinidad and Tobago will be played at EverBank Field.

US Soccer has announced the nominees for the Player, Veteran, and Builder ballots of the 2016 class of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Philadelphia Union

Vote Andre Blake for MLSsoccer.com’s Player of the Month. Blake will be in goal tonight when Jamaica faces Costa Rica in World Cup qualification after drawing 1-1 at home on Friday. If you have access to beIN Sports Connect (Comcast subscribers do not, FiOS, DirecTV and Dish Network subscribers do), the game is being streamed at live at 9:45 pm. beIN Sports will join the game in progress at 11 pm following the conclusion of Paraguay-Brazil, which kicks off at 9 pm.

The Union prepare this week to face Chicago away on Saturday. Former Union man and Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic said of facing the Union,

Philadelphia is a team that’s performed very well this season. They started very well this season. We prepare for everyone and want to win. We respect our opponents and expect to play good soccer…

It’s early to say what the plan is but what we want to do is keep defensive level and keep more possession. We want to have more possession and convert those chances that we had in other games…

Right now we’re more solid defensively, but we have to maintain that. We have to keep possession to be effective…

For everyone winning is very important. We know it won’t be easy. We have a good opponent in front of us, who for me personally brings many memories. It’s a team that I played for in my last year as a professional and they treated me very well. I’m very grateful to Philadelphia for the opportunity they gave me to finish my career but now we’re in different situations. I have maximum respect and admiration for that city but we want to win.

More from Paunovic at Chicago Fire and Chicago Fire Confidential. Section 215 previews Saturday’s game in Chicago.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead talks to Fabian Herbers about scoring the first-ever Bethlehem Steel FC goal in league play, getting minutes with Bethlehem, settling in in Philly, and being Keegan Rosenberry’s roommate.

At Brotherly Game, Matt Ralph has a good read on Ken Tribett’s former Drexel teammates coming out to support him in the Union’s home opener win over New England.

Bethlehem Steel FC

Following Bethlehem’s season opening win on the road against Montreal, the team comes in at No. 9 in USLsoccer.com’s power rankings: “The Steel got out to a great start with a win on the road, but will probably feel they have another gear or two to hit. They’ll likely need that this weekend in their home opener as they welcome an FC Cincinnati side that looked strong despite its defeat to Charleston.”

Also at USLsoccer.com, a review of the league’s opening weekend says, “Bethlehem Steel FC will be entertaining to watch this season. The Steel could have won their opening game against FC Montreal more convincingly with some sharper finishing, but Fabian Herbers provided some excellent moments on top of his first professional goal.”

Unauthorized Bethlehem Steel Blog looks at what was learned in Bethlehem’s season opening win.

At the Union website, postgame video from Bethlehem Steel’s .

Cincinnati.com has a preview of Bethlehem Steel’s home opener on Sunday against FC Cincinnati.

Philadelphia Union Academy

Union Academy defender Rayshaun McGann started in the US U-17’s 3-2 win over France to win the 44th Mondial Football de Montaigu championship on Monday. McGann went the full 90 in the 1-1 draw with Brazil to open the tournament and in the subsequent 2-2 draw with England, and was a 76th minute sub in the 4-0 win over Russia to complete group play.

More on the win over France at MLSsoccer.com, Brotherly Game, BFM TVEspoirsDuFootball.com, and L’Equipe.

Local

US Soccer has announced an amendment to the policy regarding team eligibility. As you will recall from the official announcement in January, teams that are owned by a higher division team cannot participate in the tournament. Thus, the Philadelphia Union-owned Bethlehem Steel is ineligible to compete in the US Open Cup. Now, teams whose rosters are managed by a higher division team, such as USL-side Rio Grande Valley FC, whose roster is managed by Houston Dynamo, also cannot participate. The US Soccer announcement says, “As a result of one fewer Division III team entering the competition in the Second Round, the U.S. Open Cup Committee has determined that the top Premier Development League qualifier (Kitsap Pumas) and the top National Premier Soccer League qualifier (Chattanooga FC) will be granted byes to the Second Round.”

Elsewhere

From Goal.com: “Snipers will be deployed to boost security at Stade de France for Tuesday’s international friendly between France and Russia.”

Also from Goal.com: “FIFA president Gianni Infantino has tentatively backed a joint bid by Argentina and Uruguay to host the 2030 World Cup.” Uruguay hosted the first World Cup in 1930.

Reuters reports: “Former Honduran President Rafael Callejas pleaded guilty on Monday to U.S. charges that he participated in bribery schemes that are under investigation at soccer’s world governing body FIFA.” More from the AP.

The New York Times on how players being punished by being forced to train alone amounts to what one European labor representative describes as physical and psychological torture.

23 Comments

  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Boy have we gotten a mile out of that look from Jurgen Klinsman… as if a will tonight solves the greater issue of this team not improving an iota in over for years or the style less tragically boring brand of soccer it plays… yeah yeah yeah Group of Death Belgium yadayadayada.
    .
    I repeat congratulations to BeIn Sport for Spolighting how adrift US Soccer is.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    I have one point to quibble on. If the US loses tonight, you are right, they probably won’t qualify for Russia. However, a draws still leaves them with a reasonable hope. They would obviously need to turn things around by September and win their last two. If they did that, then the only way they wouldn’t qualify would be if Guatemala and Trinidad draw and the US comes in 3rd on goal differential which is somewhat unlikely since they are currently 1 goal ahead of Trinidad (who they would beat and who would draw against Guatemala).
    .
    So if the US draws tonight and beats SVG, they’ll know going into the last game what margin of victory is needed to assure qualification.

    • pragmatist says:

      The larger point is that we shouldn’t be concerned with how a draw or loss affects us. We should be preparing for the World Cup, not sweating qualification.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        For Brazil, Mexico more than sweated over qualification..
        .
        We have an old core group. Blooding new guys is risky, but necessary (see Netherlands, Euro 2016).
        .
        Only the few true powers can be expected to turn over their squads and still qualify. Even among them there are nerves.

      • Mexico really only sweated the Hex, not the semifinal round, but they only qualified because Graham Zusi decided to score a late goal and advanced on goal differential, so they most certainly sweated. That being said, Mexico still had to play in a playoff, albeit against New Zealand, but can we really trust this team to go out and win in a home-and-home series right now if needed?

  3. klinsmann’s comments about not playing players out of position are so obviously untrue that they are borderline insulting

  4. What have we come to? At least the U17’s got a result and the U23’s, while not playing great, gave themselves a chance with playing well tonight. I’m really worried about the Guatemala game, which is pathetic, but even when looking at the bench there are not really any outstanding options. The best thing JK could to is to at least play the guys in their more preferred positions.
    With who is there, I go:
    Howard
    Yedlin, Cameron, Gonzalez, Castillo
    Bradley, Bedoya
    Finley (Zardes), Dempsey, Nguyen (Nagbe)
    Altidore (Wood)

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I’d move Nguyen (Nagbe) centrally and leave the deuce on the flank.

      • I was thinking that but I wasn’t sure if he’d have the legs to last. The thought really though is that either would drift centrally as needed. Also this highlights the fact that without Johnson we have no left wing player right now

      • Personally,

        I say:
        Howard
        Yedlin Cameron Besler(Brooks)(not sure if there are injuries haven’t noticed)Castillo
        Bradley
        Bedoya Nguyen Nagbe
        Dempsey Zardes(Wood)

    • A few tweeks from me. 4-3-3 with Bradley playing the deepest in midfield. Zusi tracks back but Dempsey has freedom to stay higher and so defensively shifts more toward a 4-4-2. Brooks over Gonzo because the latter usually plays at RCB not LCB. Dempsey has been on the wing for Seattle so should be comfortable. I doubt Altidore is 90mins fit coming off of injury so Wood gets the start again. Went with Nagbe and Bedoya over Nguyen because I think the former two are better two-way players. I could be convinced on Finley over Zusi but I went with experience.
      .
      Howard
      Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, Castillo
      Nagbe, Bradley, Bedoya
      Zusi, Wood, Dempsey

  5. “So much to read . . . so little time” – Leonard Smalls

    (“My friends call me Lenny… only I ain’t got no friends.”)

  6. Great coaches play to their team’s strengths. Without doubt JK since Brazil has simply not done that, Yedlin & Cameron being the latest, most obvious examples. Oddly, his shaming of Fabian sparked his bezt league play. Still results speak for themselves. I fault him less for style of play – that is a long-term goal heavily dependent on talent (which is emerging). The lack of focus on the pitch may say that he’s lost the locker room. If LD is right, we survive the Hex and maybe make the Olympics. If you blow it up, you start all over with no reassurance of improvement.

  7. Roger Allaway says:

    The page from the USSF website that’s linked to here concerning the National Soccer Hall of Fame nominees has the wrong names for the Veterans finalists. Apparently, someone in Chicago pressed the wrong button and inserted the names of the people who were eligible for the Veterans Ballot for the first time this year instead of the names of the finalists.

    The correct finalists are Barry Barto (the only person I see on this list with Philadelphia connections), George Best, David Brcic, Mike Burns, Teofilo Cubillas, John Doyle, Marco Etcheverry, Linda Hamilton, Cyril Hannaby, Mary Harvey, Lori Henry, Frank Klopas, Shannon MacMillan, Shep Messing, Brian Quinn, Tisha Venturini, Roy Wegerle and Richie Williams.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Thank you, Roger, for the clarification. I just checked and it appears the announcement post on the US Soccer website has been updated.

  8. Would it really matter if BSFC beat Union in the Open Cup… isn’t an Open Cup by its very definition open?
    .
    I’m giving golf lessons to someone younger and not as good as me… we’re still allowed to enter the same tournament though and he is still allowed to kick my ass… and while I’d be pretty pissed I’d also think damn I’m a good teacher and damn that youth of mine can play.
    .
    Seems counterproductive to the tournament that the USL clubs owned and operated by parent MLS clubs cannot play…it speaks to the backward nature of our game in this country… it is really troubling and disappointing.
    .
    MLS and US Soccer is so concerned with a USL team beating and knocking off a few MLS teams? Are you that flipping superficial with either an inferiority or superiority complex? You are bollox and the WHOLE system you have built is frivolous.

    • While I understand that it would be nice to have BSFC in the Open Cup. I think I understand the thinking behind not having captive USL clubs play. If I was running an independent USL club, (and I think that the push for this ruling truly comes from the independent clubs) I would question any result of a match between a captive club and a parent club. Did the captive club fall on their sword to let the parent club advance? Did the owner of the two clubs not call both coaches and say “no one gets hurt in this game”. So we are left with a friendly scrimmage with the outcome already decided. If I am the owner of an independent club that is my fear. With so many MLS club having captive clubs, it becomes impossible from a scheduling standpoint to keep a captive and parent club from playing each other at some point. Then there is the whole issue of who or when a player is cup tied. If the Union and BSFC are going to be really fluid with player transfers, it could make for really strange line-ups if the Union were to play BSFC in an Open Cup game. Which would also feed the paranoia that the one or the other team is not fielding the best team therefore throwing the match.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Captive. What an apt choice of words. Solid rebut.
        .
        I’m curious if the B teams in other countries are allowed to play in their open competitions. This would help the opinion I took on this particular issue.

  9. On a side note about that Brotherly Game article on Tribbett, I was sitting in front of those dudes and they were awesome and hilarious. For both PKs they were screaming for Ken to take it. Every time he got the ball or made a play they freaked out. Very cool of them.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Just looked at the HOF ballot and my first choice would be Briana Scurry. After that there are several others I would consider but no one stands out as much as she does.

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