July 9, 2013

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2014 FIFA WORLD CUP Qualifying

By: Tyler Vespa

The USMNT began this set of qualifying matches in 2nd place in the group with 4 points. They only trailed group leader Panama by a single point.

A win over Panama put the USMNT at the top of the group.

The U.S. continued their road to Brazil on June 7th with a hard-fought victory over Jamaica in Kingston.

Jozy Altidore put the U.S. on the board first with a well-timed header in the 30th minute off a cross from Graham Zusi.

The one goal lead lasted until the 89th minute, when Jermaine Beckford scored on a free kick from 6 yards away.

However, the U.S. was unfazed and looked to rebound right away. In the 92nd minute, U.S. defender Brad Evans found himself all alone on the back post and buried it past the diving Jamaican goalkeeper.

This frantic finish gave the U.S. 7 points as they continued to climb up the group standings.

Just 4 days later, the Americans took on Panama in Seattle. It was more of the same as Altidore again finished on a beautiful cross from Fabian Johnson in the 36th minute.

The U.S. got some insurance on a great goal by midfielder Eddie Johnson in the 53rd minute. Panama had no answer all night and was only able to place 2 shots on goal as U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard recorded a fairly simple shutout.

This win propelled the U.S. to the top of the group. With 10 points, they led both Costa Rica and Mexico by two points.

A week later in Utah, the Americans battled Honduras. The teams played to a scoreless tie at halftime. The U.S. broke the tie in the 73rd minute when Altidore took a pass from Fabian Johnson and buried into the lower corner of the net.

Honduras, much like Panama only was able to get one shot on goal, while only attempting 6 the whole contest.

Tim Howard posted his 2nd straight shutout and the American remained at the top of the group with 13 points, 2 in front of Costa Rica.

The U.S. men’s national team will compete in the Gold Cup from July 7th-July 28th. The U.S. has won the Gold Cup 4 times.

2014 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING continues September 6th, 2013 when the Americans battle Costa Rica at Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.

April 5, 2013

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2014 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: ROAD TO BRAZIL

By: Tyler Vespa

In the final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP, the United States men’s national team earned two favorable results after a disappointing loss to Honduras to open the hexagonal.

The USMNT continues FIFA WORLD CUP Qualifying on June 7th.

On March 22nd, amidst a blizzard in Commerce City, Colorado, U.S. forward and captain Clint Dempsey scored in the 16th minute to give his team a lead they would not relinquish.

With the victory, the U.S. earned 3 points that saw them rise from the bottom of the group.

4 days later at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the Americans earned only their 2nd point in World Cup Qualifying history on Mexican soil. The 0-0 draw put the U.S. in the top 3 teams in the group with Panama, who leads the group with 5 points and Costa Rica who has 4 points. The United States and Honduras also each have 4 points but Costa Rica and the U.S. remain 2nd and 3rd in the group based on goal differential.

The top 3 teams from each hexagonal go straight to the World Cup. The team in fourth must win a tiebreaker match to earn a spot.

In more good news for the U.S., star midfielder and forward Landon Donovan has hinted as to a return.

The USMNT continues FIFA WORLD CUP Qualifying on June 7th with a game against the “Reggae Boyz” in Kingston. They then host group leader Panama four days later in Seattle. So, hopefully Donovan is ready to go by then. Exhale.

February 8, 2013

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TIME TO PANIC FOR USMNT?

By: Tyler Vespa

The United States men’s national team began the hexagonal stage with a road loss to Honduras on Wednesday. The first-half was pretty even until Clint Dempsey scored on a volley in the 36th minute to give the Americans the lead. Honduras quickly halted that momentum when Juan Carlos Garcia tied the score on a goal in the 40th minute.

Can the USMNT rebound from their loss to Honduras?

In the second half, the U.S. came out considerably flat as Honduras had them back on their heels. The consistent pressure by “Los Catrachos” finally broke the tie on a goal by Jerry Bengtson in the 79th minute. The goal was scored on a broken play where U.S. goalie Tim Howard came out to play the shot with no defender left in the middle to block the open net.

Surprisingly, the U.S. did not seem to push forward to mount an attack in the final 15 minutes.

Bottom line, this team still has way too many questions to answer. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann seems to still be figuring things out all over the pitch. That’s alarming considering this is the final stage in World Cup Qualifying. Here are 3 reasons it’s time to panic for the U.S.

1. No Landon Donovan: It is unclear whether or not the team will have his services. I’m praying he doesn’t retire.

2. Lineup Moves/Substitutions: A lot of the decisions Klinsmann made were questionable, especially on defense. He passed on starting veterans Carlos Bocanegra and Michael Parkhurst for Timothy Chandler and Omar Gonzalez. Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres saw no action.

3. Formation: Klinsmann can’t keep juggling formations along with his lineup. He needs to find something that works and stick with it. The 4-4-2 might be strongest without Landon Donovan in the lineup. That will help our outside backs go on the attack.

The only thing working in the teams’ favor is the fact that they have over a month until their next qualifier against Costa Rica on March 22nd in Colorado. Whoever is chosen to play must bring an increased sense of urgency because one more loss could spell doom for the Americans.

October 5, 2012

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2014 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: Crucial Matches Ahead

By: Tyler Vespa

The United States men’s national soccer team will continue its quest to qualify for the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP with two matches in the next 12 days. On October 12th, they will travel to North Sound, Antigua to take on an Antigua & Barbuda squad that sits last in Group A with 1 point. Four days later, the Americans will battle Guatemala in Kansas City.

Will the U.S. have Landon Donovan vs. Antigua & Barbuda?

With 2 matches left in the third round of CONCACAF qualifying, the United States sits tied atop Group A with 7 points. Both of these matches are significant considering the fact that Jamaica and Guatemala are also tied for the group lead. Only the top two teams from each group advance to the next round of qualifying.

With execution at a premium, it will be interesting to see who head coach Jurgen Klinsmann calls up for these two matches. In the last qualifying match against Jamaica, he opted for Jose Torres, Graham Zusi, and Danny Williams in place of Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, and Maurice Edu. If this was still Bob Bradley’s team, Altidore, Beckerman, and Edu are staples for the lineup.

Another important piece is if the U.S. will have the services of Landon Donovan. Donovan missed the last two qualifiers against Jamaica because he was injured. I’m sure with absolutely no room for error, Klinsmann would be relieved to see Donovan on the pitch. Midfielder Michael Bradley echoes the same solace when in the lineup for the Americans. The midfield for the U.S. was average without Bradley against Jamaica.

The Antigua & Barbuda match should be a breeze for the U.S. The Americans defeated them 3-1 on June 8th.  Guatemala will be more of a challenge. The U.S. played them to a 1-1 draw on June 12th in Guatemala City.

June 22, 2012

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U.S. Begins Road To 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP

By: Tyler Vespa

Under the guidance of new head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team began qualifying for the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP on June 8 with a 3-1 victory over Antigua & Barbuda, and a 1-1 draw with Guatemala on June 12.

Landon Donovan continues to be one of the stars on the U.S. Men's National Team

Klinsmann, who was born in the little town of Gingen, Germany, was hired as the head coach on July 29, 2011, taking over for Bob Bradley who served as head coach from 2006- 2011.

The Klinsmann era began with much criticism, as the team had four 1-0 defeats to Costa Rica, Belgium, Ecuador and France.

However, this criticism may be another case of “making a mountain out of a molehill” as the U.S. men’s national team has gone 5-1-2, with their only loss this year coming against a 5th-ranked Brazil squad.

In their 3-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda, the U.S. got goals from defender Carlos Bocanegra, midfielder Clint Dempsey, and striker Herculez Gomez.

In their second game of World Cup Qualifying, Clint Dempsey put the U.S. in front 1-0 in the 40th minute with his 27th career international goal. However, Guatemala scored on a free kick from midfielder Marco Papa in the 83rd minute. Although it was just a draw, the U.S. kept their share of the Group A lead in the CONCACAF qualifying region with Jamaica.

On Sept. 7, 2012, the U.S. will continue CONCACAF qualifying when they travel to Kingston with the Group A lead on the line.