Category Archives: U.S. National Team

A Moment of Brilliance: U.S. Women make the world stand still

By Kevin Koczwara

Abby Wambach never gave up. Neither did her teammates, the rest of the United States Women’s National Team. It seemed like fate was teasing and tormenting the USWNT and handing its skilled opponent, Brazil, all the breaks. But that didn’t stop Wambach or her teammates. Even when things looked dire, when Rachel Buehler was sent off with a straight red card and the Brazilians got two cracks at the ensuing penalty kick, the Yanks never gave in to fate.

The American spirit that the U.S. prides itself on, never left the side, and coach Pia Sundhage — a Swede — got a three course meal of American spirit, and it overwhelmed her. It ultimately helped the U.S. prevail despite being down 2-1 in in extra time with the whistle pursed between the refs lips, ready to blow.

“Getting the red card and going down in extra time is tough. It’s a tough hill to climb,” said Wambach afterwards. “But this team is willing to put their hearts on the line. This team is willing to do whatever it takes to win, and I think it showed tonight.”

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Worth the wait: The amazing USWNT

The hero, Abby Wambach. Wambach saved the U.S. from elimination from the 2011 Women's World Cupwith an amazing goal in extra time. (Courtesy, kate rw Flickr)

By Ryan Fleming

Sitting in my living room in the same chair where I watched the United States Men’s National Team defeat Algeria in what I thought, at the time, was the best sporting event I’ve seen in my 24 years, my opinion has now changed.

Admittedly, I was late in watching the game, coming back from a weekend away. On my drive home I followed the game through the numerous sports outlets I follow on Twitter (God save Twitter). I got home with about 15 minutes left in the game and couldn’t remove my eyes from the TV.

Something about the passion of USWNT forward Abby Wambach yelling, encouraging her teammates forward. The knowledge already of the red card that really wasn’t — sending off Yank Rachel Buehler in the 65th minute on her invisible foul that saw her and five-time World Player of The Year, Marta, collapse inside the box. The save that wasn’t – all to be taken away for an encroachment penalty, that is certainly correct by the book, but often gets overlooked.

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Flashbacks to '99: What the USWNT and Women's World Cup means

By Melissa Turtinen

In our swimsuits, we crowded around a small television at a teammate’s house as we watched the United State’s Women’s National Team make history. The TV was strategically placed so the sun wouldn’t cause a glare and so we could see every play. We’d jump in the pool to stay cool and listen for updates from our teammates as we ran from the pool’s edge to the picnic table where TV sat.

It was July 10, 1999 and the final game of the Women’s World Cup was going into extra time against China. The score was 0-0. The entire 12 and Under Classic 1 soccer team I played on gathered around the TV. No goals – the game was headed for penalties. On the fifth kick, Brandi Chastain scored the game-winning goal for the US and proceeded to rip off her shirt – we instantly idolized her as we prepared for our own version of the World Cup just a few days later.

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USMNT v Spain

On June 4, 2011 the United States Men’s National Team faced off against Spain at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough for a friendly international match. The USMNT was using the game as a warm up to the team’s next big cup competition, The Gold Cup, taking place this summer.

Spain came into the game ranked Number 1 in the world and off winning the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The side is the favorite to win the Euros in 2012.

The USMNT lost 4-0 to Spain. Photographer Alison Ciarleglio documented the match for The Soccer Guys. Check out her pictures below.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=104087

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U.S. Men's National Team can't handle Spain

By Melissa Turtinen

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Spain played effortlessly. They moved the ball where they needed to and passes were perfect, and if they weren’t they recovered smoothly not giving the United States Men’s National Team a chance to gain control of the ball.

Spain defeated the USMNT, 4-0, on Saturday and with the chances they had it should have been more. Spain proved that they deserve to be called the best team in the world with their control and perfect ball placement throughout the match.

“Three times now we’ve had a chance to play them and every time, believe me, you walk away incredibly impressed with how good they are,” said Bob Bradley, USMNT manager. “How they’re able to move the ball so intelligently, so skillfully. Just as you’re trying to close them down, the ball is already off and somewhere else. There’s not that many teams in the world that can show you that.”

Spain started the match in complete control. They had chances right away carrying the ball down the sides as the US attempted to clog the middle.

“You try and not let them come right through the center because they are so adept at opening up these little windows and getting people running through and playing balls. Yet, as you try to close that part away they’ve got plan B,” said Bradley.

Spain had a Plan B and it was successful. Spain moved the ball through the USMNT defense with ease. If the middle was crowded they took the ball down the flanks and crossed it in – the clogged middle seemed empty as Spain continuously moved the ball towards the goal.

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USMNT v Spain thoughts

By Kevin Koczwara

First Half Thoughts

Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and Euros in 2008 because it’s one of those rare national teams that works as a unit and is loaded with über-skilled players. The side has a style of play, and all of the players understand how it works. It’s remarkable to see them work as a unit and build the attack from the back while never losing a defensive shape.

The attacking shape Spain has isn’t anything any other team outside of Brazil and the Netherlands — when its best player stop fighting with one another — can play. There is not form or answer. Players keep switching, moving into space, moving out and filling. It’s like a beautiful blob that keeps creating and always looks to go to goal.

For the U.S. Men’s National Team, it needs to tighten up at the back and get the midfield some help. Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones are out numbered and out-classed trying to mark and play against Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets — who’s barely had to do anything — and David Silva in the middle of the field. Santi Cazorla is swapping flanks and opening up space for either Sergio Ramos on the left side or Alvaro Arbeloa on the right to overlap and get in behind the defense.

Spain has also taken advantage of the funny bounce on the grass laid over the turf at Gillette. The ball sits up nicely for an attacker when the ball lands and dies on the sod. Because of this, Spain has sent over a few balls into space and to an attacker making a run because the ball won’t continue to roll or bounce all the way to Tim Howard in goal, instead the ball settles nicely on the foot of an attacker. The U.S.’s high line in the defense isn’t helping either. The high line is allowing space in behind and Tim Ream and Oguchi Onyewu don’t have the pace or the communication, or so it seems, to keep up with the through ball.

Second Half Thoughts

The United States just couldn’t cope in the midfield all game, but it did improve in the second half. Spain’s possession game wears a team out, and it just killed the U.S. Michael Bradley — who came on at half-time — Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Spector — moving into the midfield after starting at right back — couldn’t swarm the ball or force mistakes with pressure because they were worn out from chasing the game.

Bob Bradley finally felt the need to bring on Clint Dempsey and move Jonathan Spector out of defense and into the midfield in the second half. Things clicked a bit better for the USMNT at that point, but it all didn’t work.

Dempsey playing high in the center of the midfield with Michael Bradley, who also came on at half-time, and Spector behind him gave Dempsey the freedom to open things up and hold the ball for the U.S., something the team lacked in the first half with Agudelo and Altidore up top as neither is particularly adept at brining other players into the game or holding the ball.

Kljestan was also impacted by Dempsey’s arrival and the Fulham player’s ability to get on the ball. Kljestan was almost invisible in the first half (I had to check with reporters around me to make sure he was a second half substitute). Kljestan had some positive moments on the ball when he came back and found some space because Dempsey was able to grab hold of the ball and allow Kljestan time to move into space to receive a pass, which is encouraging for Bob Bradley going into Gold Cup games because Kljestan will give him a positive player who can pass the ball and move in the midfield coming off the bench when something new is needed.

Spector looked more comfortable in the midfield than he did on the right side of the defense. At West Ham, he showed more potential and ability in the midfield as a ball winner who found himself ghosting into the box at the right time. Too bad for him that the depth in the midfield is the one area  the U.S. actually has some. He needs to improve his game at right back, still, or get it back to the level of the Confederations Cup in 2009 — where he was a notable addition and stand-out — to find playing time during the Gold Cup.

Steve Cherundolo seems to be aging backwards and doesn’t look like he’s giving the spot up on the right side of the defense anytime soon, which is good for Bradley because he is short of options there. But the U.S. needs cover for the 32 year old, and if Spector doesn’t pick up his game he might see Eric Lichaj jumping ahead of him, as well as Timmy Chandler — who isn’t on the roster because of fatigue from his club season in Germany.

As for Lichaj, he looked uncomfortable on the left, but he hasn’t been playing there for long and he’s right footed, not an easy transition, especially against the best team in the world. There is still promise for him, though. As a right back, we might be able to see more of his ability to get forward and cross the ball.

The key for the game against Canada will be the U.S. ability to create, and its obvious that Clint Dempsey gives them the best chance at creating through the middle and holding play up. Bradley may look for him to be the catalyst in Detroit, Mich. against Canada in the opener if Landon Donovan has to miss the game because of the illness that kept him out of today’s match with Spain. When Dempsey was on the field, the parts all seemed to move and his skill on the ball allowed other players to find space and get into better spots to receive the ball. Which is something this team sorely needs right now.

Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesocerguysonline.com.

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Fans encouraged to leave early or take train to USA-Spain

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Since traffic is anticipated to be heavy for the U.S. Men’s National Team friendly against Spain, Gillette Stadium officials are requesting assistance from local media in encouraging fans to leave early, carpool or take the MBTA commuter rail to the match today.

The parking lots at Gillette Stadium open at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and gates to the stadium open at 2:30 p.m. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Fans are strongly encouraged to arrive at the stadium lots by 2:30 p.m. and enter the stadium gates by 3:45 p.m. to ensure entrance into the match prior to kickoff.

The largest, most accessible parking lots at Gillette Stadium are the P10 and P11 lots, located directly across Route 1 from Gillette Stadium. Access and egress to and from these stadium parking lots is much quicker if fans arriving on Route 1 from the north use the right lanes to access P10. Likewise, fans arriving from the south must use the left lanes to access P11 or P10.

Thanks to the efforts of the MBTA, a special train will be running directly to the Stadium from Boston for the match. The train will depart from South Station at 2 p.m. (with stops in Back Bay, Dedham and Norwood) and will arrive at Gillette Stadium at 3:05 p.m. The train will also depart Foxborough approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the match.

For more information about attending USA-Spain via MBTA, fans can visit the MBTA website at  or call the MBTA at 617-222-3200.

For more information about parking at Gillette Stadium, fans can visit http://www.gillettestadium.com and click on “Parking.”

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Some USA Gold Cup Roster Analysis

Bob Bradley announced his squad for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup.

By Ryan Fleming


Bob Bradley, after all the delays, has finally released the 2011 Gold Cup roster for his US National Team. Now, that being said, naturally there are a few surprises included, or excluded in the roster.

Even with the surprises Bradley’s Yanks should be able to heave up their third trophy in four years, but if that’s the case, this teams going to have to play as a full unit and put all the second-guessing behind them.

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Quick thoughts on U.S. and Argentina friendly

Messi working his magic in and around the box. The little man seems to glide across the field when watching him in person. (Courtesy Alison Ciarleglio of APC Studios)

By Kevin Koczwara

1.) Jozy Altidore needs a partner in crime — He’s not a hold-up striker. Altidore is a ball at his feet type of player who likes to pass and move  and take on defenders. His body looks like it should be a that of a bruising center forward, but he’s not, no matter how much people want him to be.

Altidore works best when he has someone playing directly alongside him, and last night was proof, again. When Juan Agudelo came on at halftime, Altidore transformed, starting to hold up play a bit, open up space for other players, and connect passes. The 4-5-1 may put the best players on the field for the U.S., but it doesn’t work for the type of forward Altidore is. He can’t hold up play or swing the ball wide and get in behind defenses with break-neck speed on the counter. He is a solid, ball at his feet type of player who knows how to open space for his partner.

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USMNT draws with Argentina thanks to Agudela's second half goal

By Kevin Koczwara

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Juan Agudela has made a name for himself on the international stage for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Quickly. The 18-year-old striker again proved he was more than worthy of earning a spot on the team by scoring his second goal in three games with the USMNT.

Agudela’s goal sealed a 1-1 draw with Argentina, who scored in the 42nd minute when Esteban Cambiasso slammed a rebound from six yards out into the net. Anything less than a win for Argentina looked unlikely for much of the game as it controlled the tempo, almost all of the possession, and had the majority of the chances on net.

Argentina toyed with the USMNT at times in the first half, dominating the possession, forcing the U.S. deeper and deeper into it’s own end. Stretching play from one side to the other. Argentina forced Bob Bradley’s five-man midfield deep into its own end for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Angel di Maria had a great chance to open the scoring in the 34th minute when he found some space in the box after the U.S. was unable to clear the ball. Di Maria weaved around a few defenders but found himself to close to the touchline and had to shoot with no angle. Tim Howard made the easy save.

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