Tag Archives: USMNT

The H1N1 virus hits the USMNT

Sweden v USA

They say that playing a match at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City is tough, but following Wednesday’s match between the USMNT and Mexico at the Azteca, a breaking news story has surfaced.

Landon Donovan, who most USMNT supporters would consider the team’s best player, has contracted the H1N1 flu virus.  In an article posted on SI.com, soccer writer Grant Wahl is reporting that the USMNT star has tested positive for the virus. (Wahl’s article)

While the news most American sports fans will wake up to is the fact that Michael Vick has now signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after his two year stint in prison for his connection to a dog fighting ring, Donovan will only receive the back page stories.  What is the American media coming to when we no longer care about our stars who do right and play through the tough times, but instead focus on those who break the rules and receive a mere slap on the hand for doing so?  Vick, while he will be taunted and picketed against by various organizations this season, will be rewarded for his athleticism.  Donovan on the other hand, will be pushed to the back pages and none will be the wiser about his struggles in a tough match for the USMNT.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to wake up.  We should not be giving attention to a player like Vick.  Donovan struggled throughout the match Wednesday, and while he thought it was just from the altitude, smog, and heat; it was actually something much more.  Donovan did not contract the virus while in Mexico, but here in the US where he was tested on Sunday.  Normally one of the most influential players on the pitch for the US, Donovan only managed an assist on Wednesday early in the match before looking sluggish and out of sorts to the viewing public.

Donovan has not said whether he will play this weekend or not, but one thing is for sure.  If he feels up to it and is allowed to play, he will be on the pitch captaining his team.  This has come at a poor time for Donovan as his current run of form has been brilliant the past few months, having netted in his last three MLS matches to help pull the Galaxy towards the top of the Western Conference.  This could hurt the Galaxy in the short term, and though I am not always the staunchest Donovan supporter, I do wish him well.  He has class and has come to show what it means to put your team before yourself.  So while you are reading your Michael Vick stories in the morning flip to the back and try to catch a glimpse at the blurb they give Donovan for his performance in a match for his country, during which he was obviously struggling.

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Filed under CONCACAF, International Football, Los Angeles Galaxy, Mexico, MLS, Uncategorized, USMNT, World Cup

Disappointment and Defeat at the Azteca

MEX SOC DOS SANTOS

Being blocked all week has not been fun but today’s match has unblocked me and I actually had to wait a bit before writing this so it would be readable for any and all ages who may be reading. So first off I have to say I was disappointed but not totally disappointed at the same time.  Does not make much sense I know, but going into this how much were we the USMNT fans actually expecting?  I know I expected to see a tough match that would produce some great moments, and I think for the most part we got that out of this match.  I would also say I expected much more than I got in the form of entertainment from the TV broadcast of this match.  But let us get into it now as there is no need to delay the inevitable story on how the USMNT has yet again failed to produce in Mexico. Well the score line was 2-1, so right off, Guardado was wrong and we did not lose 3-0.  The match gave all USMNT fans hope early as they did not look to be affected by the altitude, smog, or stage they were playing on.  Charlie Davies did not disappoint but did not come on as a sub as most fans would have expected either, netting from a one on one with the Mexican keeper Ochoa on a ball played into space by Donovan in the 9th minute, putting the USMNT up 1 and taking the crowd out of the match for the moment.  Now this goal should have been a great thing since Davies is only the 4th player to net for the USMNT in a match in Mexico, but it would prove to not be any more important than a future stat or trivia question as the match went on.  I can see it now, “Who was the 4th American to score a goal on Mexican soil?”  It will be a question we will all know the answer to but one we would rather not think about.

Mexico v USA - FIFA World Cup Qualifier

With fans thinking the USMNT might finally be in the driver’s seat during a match in Mexico, we all sat back and breathed a sigh of relief to see the side score.  Not a good thing at all since the team decided to do that as well for the majority of the rest of the match.  All I have to say is one goal is not enough and if the players thought that they accomplished something by scoring in Mexico then they are wrong.  I did not go into this expecting us to win but after scoring early there is no need to pack it in and play 9 and 10 behind the ball, basically closing up shop.  The boys basically gave the Mexicans the ball and said, “Here if you can penetrate the defense then you can have the match!”  Now I know many of you think this is not true and that the boys played hard and all that but I tell you to, “Wake up!”  After scoring the boys played horribly and put on possibly one of the worst performances I have seen out of them to date.  The most unlikely person to net would manage a shot from around 25-30 yards out that would stay up just long enough to beat Howard, but there was no pressure at all.  The goal was a beauty and one that I am sure Mexican fans will remember for awhile, since barely ten minutes had past from the opening goal by the USMNT.  The boys would continue to pack it in and try to counter on into the second half to their demise again as poor defense and lack of pressure left Aguirre’s super sub Miguel Sabah open in the box to poke a shot over Howard that would propel the Mexicans to a much needed victory.

MEX SOC RIOT

Now aside from the poor performance by the USMNT, the officiating was atrocious!  Having complained enough to have the referee who had previously tossed Aguirre from the Gold Cup, the Mexicans would find a new sucker in Roberto Moreno Salazar from Panama.  Now a ref missing a call here and there is one thing, but the amount of calls this ref missed, his crew got wrong, or he just decided not to call was appalling.  I am not saying the ref and his crew are cheats or anything but in a match that was physical from the start it is questionable that the only cards given in the first half were to the Americans, and not just any Americans but 3 of the starting back 4 for the USMNT.  This is no excuse for the poor performance but you would think after Donovan being pulled down after beating a defender twice would result in something, and tripping Steve Cherundolo, who is not the fastest, would lead to something.  As it happened though the Mexicans would not receive any cards until a scuffle in the 75th minute when Davies was down on the pitch with cramps and Nery Castillo decided to drag Davies up off the pitch by his head along with 2 other Mexicans in order to get in a quick corner.  The ensuing scuffle would earn the USMNT’s Benny Feilhaber and Mexico’s Gerardo Torrado yellows for an altercation that took place after Feilhaber stepped in to protect his teammate and Torrado went for Benny’s throat.  Not class by either side, but honestly with all of Mexico’s posturing and flopping about on the turf they of all sides have no right to touch a downed opponent.  All in all it was a poor performance by the Panamanian crew and I would hope not to see them in an officiating capacity for a USMNT match anywhere in the near future, though I am sure the Mexicans will be saying a few prayers that Salazar and crew are at every match of theirs throughout the rest of qualifying.

Mexico v USA - FIFA World Cup Qualifier

As an American I know some people see us as racist or closed minded when it comes to cultural aspects of other countries and all but I honestly do not want to ever have to watch another match put on by mun2 or any other related channel when watching the USMNT.  After all the hype and press that this match garnered leading up to the English language broadcast, the best the channel could do was bring in Tom Schoen and Marcelo Balboa to commentate.  The broadcast was one of the worst I have watched as they obviously did not know their details and could not even correctly pronounce half the names right that they were talking about.  I hate to admit it but I was actually thinking that it would not have been such a bad thing to have to listen to Alexi announces the match.  I know that bad right?  After listening to that I am actually looking forward to MLS announcers as well as some of the others who I normally do not prefer to listen to.

Mexico v USA - FIFA World Cup Qualifier

It was a poor match but one in which the USMNT did not get a fair shake in my opinion.  The Mexican fans proved their worth again as they tossed cups of beer and other things at Donovan when he was taking a corner to try and tie the match up.  Come on people can you not have any class when leading a match?  Do you have to go out and make yourselves and your country look classless at every opportunity?  In the end I can console myself with the fact that no matter what happens the rest of the day, the USMNT is still above Mexico and in no imminent danger of missing out on the World Cup.  The road will be a bit tougher but we will be stronger for it and managed a better result than most were expecting, so El Salvador lookout as the USMNT will be out to recapture those points in the next match.

And here is a brief performance grade on the USMNT players who graced the pitch today.

Howard – Not a bad match for Howard but it was his first loss to Mexico and his defense did him no favors in the end.

Cherundolo – Gave a concerted effort on both ends.  Not spectacular but I do not think anyone can argue that Spector would have done a much better job in this match.

Onyewu – An early yellow hampered Gooch’s play but he played hard throughout and saved the US on many occasions.

DeMerit – Still showing as a good option in the back, though an early yellow hampered how aggressive he could be for much of the match.

Bocanegra – Looks to have wrapped up the LB spot at the moment but was caught out on both goals and looked to be struggling at times.

Donovan – Played a decent first half but disappeared in the second half.  Needs to step up his play and give a full 90 if this team is going to be successful.

Clark – Did not hear much about Clark until his exit, but not hearing a holding midfielders name means he was not screwing up.  I was surprised to see him on the pitch after his recent club schedule but he did his job in the middle as always.

Bradley – Supposed to be the second holding midfielder but everyone thinks he needs to get involved in the attack.  He played solid in the middle but never looked dangerous going forward.

Dempsey – I was completely unimpressed with Dempsey’s effort and performance on the day.  He looked tired and disinterested until he moved up top, and honestly if he is not going to produce unless he is up top, then bring him off the bench as a forward.

Ching – I cannot say anything bad about Ching as the front men did not receive much service throughout the match, but he did not look to be too dangerous on the day, minus one header over the crossbar.

Davies – He scored a goal and tried to be involved until he exited the match.  I am still not convinced he should be starting though as his pace would be more helpful after the other side are tired.

Feilhaber – Aside from his yellow card the match, Benny was a non factor during his time on the pitch today.

Holden – Holden had his moments on the day and would be a good replacement if Dempsey cannot get it together sometime soon.  He managed to find spots when everyone else looked defeated and made an impact on the right side after he entered the match.

Altidore – Not much to say about Jozy as he did not get much time or service, but he will be an asset going forward to the World Cup.

And to close it all out, “Who is going to learn to clear the ball out of the back without sending it right back to the opponent?”  The play from the back was awful all match long and there is no excuse for it at all.  Cards and poor officiating have nothing to do with being able to find a mate on the pitch to dish the ball to.  The boys looked like a bunch of school kids out there seeing how far they could boot the ball down the pitch at points, not impressive at all, and it did not help get the Mexicans out of the final third all match.  So now it is time to write this one off and look forward, good to see my block is now gone and I have something to say again.

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Filed under CONCACAF, International Football, Mexico, USMNT

Jozy’s Future – New Move to Hull City?

SOCCER: APR 01 World Cup Qualifier - Trinidad and Tobago at United States

Speaking from his Twitter account, Jozy Altidore has announced that there will be an announcement on his future at a 2:30 press conference tomorrow, adding a wink wink and telling us that the clubs first match is against Chelsea FC.  Information from Tuesday had Altidore linked with Fulham and Hull City of the English Premier League.  Checking the schedule against Jozy’s post would indicate that he has found a home at Hull City, team voted most likely to be relegated this season after barely escaping the drop last season.  Now while another American International in the EPL will boost the position of American soccer on the global front, is it really a good move for the young American?

I think it is.  After being sold to La Liga side Villareal by MLS side New York Red Bulls, Altidore found himself first on the bench then on the way out the door on loan to the Spanish second division side Xerxes.  Altidore did not find much favor in either place spending the majority of his time on the bench in his first season abroad, but strong performances with the US Mens National Team over the past year has garnered interest from other clubs.  The rumors circulating earlier this summer were that Altidore would find himself in Greece with Olympiacos, but when the loan deal fell through it was looking as if Altidore might find himself on the bench for another season.

This season is important for Altidore as he needs as much time on the pitch as possible leading up to next summer’s World Cup in South Africa.  With Fulham and Hull City both interested in the young American it was hard to decide which club I would rather see him at.  With Fulham he would most likely find the bench again behind proven players in the EPL, but at Hull City, a team who struggles to score goals; it looks more likely that he will find plenty of time on the pitch.  This increased pitch time against quality opposition week in and week out should improve Altidore’s already impressive skill set, but if he was looking for a winning side to move to he may be sadly disappointed.  As one fan on Twitter put it, “Jozy you know Hull is a s***hole!”  I could not agree more, but playing time is playing time, and I would rather have the future of US soccer playing against quality instead of less quality sides or sitting the bench for another term.

Whether or not Hull stay up this season is not really the concern here, as I am sure the addition of one goal scorer will not make a big enough difference to avoid Hull’s fated drop back to the Championship.  The main thing is that Jozy gets time on the pitch.  He should have no trouble working into the lineup at Hull City, with his skill set and athletic ability.  I am afraid he will burn out as many other Americans have when going to the EPL though.  This fear is not to worry about though as he is reportedly set to sign only a one year loan deal, no details on whether or not there is an option to buy at the end, and if he does not cut it in the EPL he will just find himself back with Villareal at the end of the deal.  Should Jozy impress though he could see himself do one of three things.  Either sign with Hull full time, if there is a buy option attached to the loan.  Earn himself another shot with Villareal, though they have a strong attack currently already which is why Altidore is being loaned in the first place.  He could also have a good enough season to earn himself interest from other clubs that Villareal could sell him to, making some cash on their initial investment but losing a talented young player in the process.

So heading to the World Cup next summer the outlook is good.  Most of our first team squad is playing their trade in Europe, and we have players in Europe who are actually seeing time on the pitch.  While this does not mean more Americans will follow, it does open the door for clubs abroad to look in at the merchandise.  I was not initially happy about the decision to ship Jozy to Hull City, but in delaying this article to think on the topic some, I have come to a conclusion.  This is the best thing US soccer and Jozy could have hoped for leading up to the new season!  He goes to a side where he will see playing time ahead of the World Cup, have quality opponents, and be plying his trade in a country where he can further his skills in the game.

Looking forward to the press conference tomorrow, I will now be happy to see Jozy become a Tiger.  I wish him good luck this season and will be watching him progress against some of the best players in the world.  The US is invading Europe, and little by little they will recognize us and the quality of players we are producing.  So, good luck Jozy, I will be watching and hoping you get what you wanted out of this move.

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Filed under EPL, Hull City, La Liga, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Rest of the World, Uncategorized, USMNT, World Cup