Archive for the ‘Friendlys’ Category

San Pedro Sula North?…Not In Section 137

The match (and referee) were a disappointment on Saturday evening at the Home Depot Center, but even more disconcerting, though not shocking, was the continued lack of support for the USMNT on their home soil. Regardless of the validity of the overall attendance figures, the crowd was approaching 70 / 30 split between Honduran supporters and US supporters.

While no one expected a packed house awash in red singing God Bless America, the paltry support for the USMNT makes one wonder if the soccer hype and hipness generated by the Confederations Cup last summer expired when the calendar flipped to 2010.

The view from the American section.

US Soccer may point out that the January friendly saw an attendance increase of nearly 100% from a reported 9,918 for the match versus Sweden in 2009 to a reported 18,626 on Saturday night, but how much of that boost can be attributed to a blue-and-white opponent instead of a blue-and-yellow one?

With US Soccer spending a month on the ground, two MLS teams in residence and a population approaching 10,000,000 in Los Angeles the USMNT should have garnered better support. Of course one can contend the game was meaningless and featured the “B” team, but on-the-other-hand the US is kicking off a World Cup year after finishing first in CONCACAF qualifying and playing for the first time on the “home” turf since October.

No amount of lamenting in words is going to change the landscape overnight, but a group of people banding together in support of the USMNT has got this moving in the right direction. The enthusiasm of the US supporters in attendance on Saturday night should be commended. If you were in or around section 137 you saw what could be, and should be encouraged.

So, good folks of the American Outlaws, Sam’s Army and the US Soccer Supports Club keep fighting the good fight, think of creative ways to get people to the game and continue to forge the American soccer identity. (Any chance these groups can sit next to each other in a “super-section” of peace, harmony and raucous support?)

After a rough performance on Saturday night, US supporters need a little pick-me-up. Thankfully, Max of the Tony Danza Army has come to the rescue with another video for the people.

Home of the brave…indeed.

Added note from Matthew here:

I had the occasion to finally catch up personally with Justin Brunken, a founder of the American Outlaws USMNT support group. I have to apologize for not knowing the full history of the group at the time–I’ll claim that my writing fully envelops me completely and blindingly.

I was absolutely astounded by a few things that I wanted to add to Mark’s column here:

» Justin architected and now manages the American Outlaws (with his fellow founders) for free. I felt certain that a group as organized and as fervent as the American Outlaws certainly commanded at least one person fulltime on them. Not the case I learned; amazing. Even more amazing considering they only began in 2007.

» The chapter phenomenon is one that AO initiated and has served the American Outlaws well…..so much so that legacy fan support group Sam’s Army has decided to adopt the same approach through “brigades.”

» I had one member tell me, “These guys are great. I joined just this year and when I needed a place to stay for the Haiti game in Boston, a number of guys said I could crash at their pad.”

Can you imagine this parallel happening in other sports? I can imagine the conversation would go something like this on a message board.

“Hey I’m Matt. I’m a huge New York Giants fan and I’m going to be at the game this weekend in Kansas City. Anybody have an empty couch that they wouldn’t mind sharing for a big fan?”

“Freak!”

“Freeloader.”

“Do you have a criminal record?”

Nice work AO.

Orange Wedges: The USMNT Is Back

Orange Wedges is TSG’s gameday post that  is updated until kick-off.

Fond memories from the last time the US played Honduras.

The USMNT takes the pitch for the first time in 2010 for a friendly versus Honduras tomorrow in Los Angeles (Carson). It has been 66 days since we last saw the US squad put on a forgettable performance in Denmark, but this is a new year…a World Cup year!

The match will kick-off at 9:oopm Eastern / 6:00pm Pacific time and can be viewed on Fox Soccer Channel and Telefutura. TSG will be converging on Carson to watch the match live from in the American Outlaws section at the Home Depot Center.

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Preview: Not Quite October 10th, But We’ll Take It

Good day and welcome to our USMNT-Honduras preview for this Saturday.

Coach USA congratulating the king before he assumed the throne four days later...

Beyond the visage of Jonathan Bornstein and Conor Casey taking the pitch for the home side Saturday, the match is nearly inverse in all ways to the nervous match that sent the States to the World Cup Finals later this year.

TSG will focus almost exclusively on the USMNT here in this preview as the side that Honduras is bringing is not immediately clear.

What we do know is that the first half should show some high quality competitive soccer, and the 2nd half as substitutions are introduced, might drop a notch in quality, but should be no less competitive.

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Boom Goes The Dynamite: DEN 3, USA 1

Jeff Cunningham flew into the line-up and produced the USMNT's lone goal.

A quick note on the title…”boom goes the dynamite” is a reference to one of the all-time best YouTube clips. The classic line comes at the 2:29 mark.

No “W” for the USMNT and not even a “D” as a listless second half saw a 1-0 US lead go by the wayside in the span of about 7 minutes for a 3-1 win by the Danish Dynamite.

Since it is a friendly and everyone knows about the USMNT absences due to injury, MLS playoffs and other things (Cherundolo / Dempsey), there is not much to glean at a team level other than the fact that the USMNT doesn’t look all that deep.

Perhaps one observation of note is that the US seemed to struggle in the one area where they fielded the most regulars, the mid-field. This shouldn’t be that surprising since the Junior-Rico combo out there today has struggled for some time.

Overall, it was a forgettable performance that saw the US on its heels most of the game with short stretches of possession that rarely crossed into the offensive-third of the pitch.

(Note: In the unlikely event you want to watch a replay, it is available on ESPN360.)

Awards

Best Play of the Game — Jeff Cunningham’s goal: Sure it was gift pass from the Danish keeper that set-up the chance, but Cunningham kept his composure and buried it with his left foot! (He’s a righty.) Given that the 33-year-old’s strike was the only goal in 180+ minutes of play on this European vacation, he’s deserves some recognition.

Most Unheralded Play Jonathan Bornstein getting a boot on the ball to stop the Danish counter in the first half: After a turnover in the mid-field the Danes tried to feed an outlet pass to their right winger. Bornstein managed to get his left boot on the ball and control. If the outlet pass had gotten through, the Dynamite winger had acres of real estate in front of him to set-up a great chance on goal.

The Golden Shin Guard Benny Feilhaber: Played inspired ball in-front of his hometown fans. Benny made smart passes (including a beautifully slotted ball to Cunningham), drew fouls, took a few shots and limited the turnovers as he went the full 90.

Preview Follow-up

Edgar Castillo.

Frankie's last hurrah?

As expected, Señor Castillo collected his first cap for his country of origin. Castillo entered in the 61st minute at left-mid (with Feilhaber shifting inside). The lack of any semblance of possession or rhythm down the stretch severely limited his touches, although he did have one nice feed into Altidore that set-up a shot for Rogers at the top of the area.

As a projected left fullback by most (except TSG Matthew) it was certainly interesting to see Castillo play in the mid-field in his debut. Only time will tell if that is Bob-O’s long-term plan for Castillo.

Okay, what’s going on now with the RB situation? Or should we call it the Specs situation?

TSG assumed Spector would man the right side, however he stayed in central defense with Frankie Hedjuk getting the starting nod. While Hedjuk is a fan favorite in part for his frenetic style, today’s start may have been his swan song for the national team as he looked over-matched all day and was borderline reckless at times. If Hedjuk’s 85th cap is his last, consider the captain’s arm band given to him when Boca subbed-off kind of like the gold watch at his retirement party.

While there is no additional clarity at the top of the RB depth chart with Cherundolo and Spector sitting 1-2 in some order, it should be noted that Heath Pearce didn’t even make it on the bench for either friendly.

Will a woeful attack see a new strategy…..

Bob-O did switch up the strategy today which was both a product of the personnel he deployed and the 4-3-3 Danish formation. Bradley and Rico formed a holding tandem in the mid-field and the US generally attempted to push the ball wide to take advantage of playmakers Stu Holden and Benny Feilhaber on the wings.  You also saw the central backs spread a little wider and work to get more involved in the attack to take advantage of Spector’s service abilities.

….or a new entrant?

Looks like the preview piece should have read “and / or” as both the strategy was changed and a new striker was deployed. The aforementioned Jeff Cunningham was awarded the start while Conor Casey didn’t even make the bench. Aside from the goal and brilliant hold-and-cross, Cunningham’s day was rather uninspiring although the lack of a cohesive attack plagued his chances.

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Starting XI: USMNT vs. Denmark

Ladies, Gentlemen and Other, please welcome your newish starting striker for the USMNT, Jeff Cunningham!

Pretty interesting line-up all-around with Hedjuk getting the nod, Spector staying central and Benny! presumably playing outside. The attack may not be better than Saturday, but it sure will be different.

Here’s the squad that will take the pitch shortly at NRGi:

GK: Guzan

DEF: Spector, Bornstein, Bocanegra, Hedjuk

MID: Clark, Bradley, Holden, Feilhaber!

ST: Cunningham, Altidore

BEN: Conrad, Goodson, Castillo, McCarty, Johnson, Hahnemann, Rogers

Orange Wedges: Who’s House?…Aarhus!

Orange Wedges is TSG’s game day post that kicks-off within 24-hours of game time
and is updated until kick-off.

The game may be meaningless, but TSG really wants one of these to end the year.

The USMNT takes on Denmark today in its 24th and final match of 2009. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30pm EST / 11:30am PST.

For those not in the City of Smiles, television coverage begins at 2:25 EST / 11:25 PST on ESPNClassic. Upon the conclusion of the 2nd leg of the Ukraine / Greece WCQ which is being shown on ESPN2, the USMNT match will be simulcast on both ESPNClassic and ESPN2.

The match can also be viewed on what has become the best part of ESPN online empire, ESPN360.

(Aside: The USMNT is on two channels for a November friendly versus Denmark, but couldn’t even get one channel for its World Cup clinching match versus Honduras…that makes sense.)

  • Well, no Sacha Kljestan in the eighteen, so that solves that issue. In more significant news, no Conor Casey either. TSG will post the starting XI when it is released about an hour before kick-off.
  • With the two new midfielders called in you have to wonder whether Bradley was guarding against a potentially nervous Mr. Victoria’s Secret as the Final 2 will be announced in his girlfriend’s “competition” today. (Please note sarcasm.)
  • Looks like the US will close out the 2009 campaign in cold, windy and potentially rainy Aarhus.
  • After Steve Cherundolo lost a disputed team shooting competition to Jozy Altidore prior to the Slovakia friendly, word out of US Soccer is that Carlos Bocanegra prevailed in today’s finishing competition. Have US Soccer and TSG been searching in the wrong place for the stand-in for CD9?
  • The game will take place at NRGi Park in Aarhus, the home stadium for Danish Superliga team AGF Aarhus and UMSNT’s own Benny Feilhaber

“How can i love one woman when i’m in love with 11 men”…

Always singing when you're winning

So I’m a Liverpool fan. For most of my life things have been pretty good. In the early years, they were winning the League, the FA Cup, European cup and the Milk cup (Carling cup). I loved my team but I was too young to be completely overwhelmed by wins or losses. Sure I was disappointed when they lost games but I got over it pretty quickly.

Internationally things were different. I’m English but I grew up in Switzerland and like a lot of kids those days my footballing heart was with Brazil. Their 82 and 86 teams were amazing. They boasted world class players like Zico, Falcao, Socrates, Careca etc… and were a pleasure to watch. Their 82 team is often considered the greatest team never to win the WC. They all came back in 86, seasoned, wiser and favored to win. I was 100% on their bandwagon though now my allegiance to my country of birth was playing a greater role. My ultimate dream/nightmare was for England to meet Brazil in the final. Obviously I would root for Brazil but I was fine with an England win. England as you may or may not know were divinely eliminated in the quarters by the “hand of god” (admittedly his second goal was pure class) and Brazil were eliminated by France, a day earlier, in one of the greatest matches ever played. They say no team deserved to lose that game and the footballing spectacle was one for the ages. It came down to penalties and when it was over I was in shambles. It was up until then the hardest and saddest two days of my life.

It was the first time a non parental scolding or physical injury brought me to tears. I was so invested in the Selecao, followed them with such passion that their premature exit from the WC was something that I couldn’t understand, I couldn’t grasp that it was just a game and everything would be ok…my life as I knew it was in ruins.

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