We Are Going to Brazil!!!

After a great run this year, USA continues to climb in the rankings. Why is this important? It’s important for seeding in the World Cup next summer. Right now, USA would be a 2 seed. It would be amazing to somehow gain a 1 seed. Here’s the latest FIFA World Rankings and a few of my thoughts:

1 – Spain (your possession style is over)

2 – Argentina (my favorite for the World Cup)

3 – Germany (my #1 vote)

4 – Italy (much improved from years past; they’re actually scoring goals & fun to watch)

5 – Columbia (too high for them)

6 – Belgium (well deserved)

7 – Uruguay (a little too high)

8 – Brazil (has to make them angry to be behind 3 other South American countries)

9 – Netherlands (meh)

10 – Croatia (scary team)

11 – Portugal (it’s gonna take more than Ronaldo to get me excited about this team)

12 – Greece (Pistachios for everyone)

13 – USA (needs to finish strong even though we’ve already qualified)

14 – Switzerland (really?)

15 – Russia (always a tough opponent)

16 – Chile (Who are these South American teams beating?)

17 – England (Always prepared to disappoint)

18 – Bosnia-Herzegovina (good team)

19 – Ivory Coast (Finally, an African team)

20 – Ecuador (what is this? A South American poll)

21 – Mexico (still too high; they’re in shambles)

22 – Sweden (they have Ibrahimovic)

23 – Denmark (boring 1-0 wins)

24 – Ghana (lumbering into the top 25)

25 – France (Oh, how the strong have fallen!)

 

Other thoughts:

-No Asians in the top 25

-South Americans with a strong showing

-Germany is changing the way soccer is played. They showed the world how to beat the Spanish style of play.

-Are things shaping up due to some traditional powers being weak, for Messi to lead Argentina to greatness?

-USA have lots still to prove and Klinsmann is the man to do it.

2013 Gold Cup Champs

USA takes the 2013 Gold Cup trophy. The Boys breezed through most of the tournament. The only real tests were versus Costa Rica in group play & in the final versus Panama. But even in beating both of those teams 1-0, the US dominated possession and creating scoring opportunities. During the tournament a few players made a good case for being on the top US squad. In my opinion, they were: Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson, DeMarcus Beasley, Mix Diskerud, Chris Wondolowski, Stuart Holden, Kyle Bekerman & Brek Shea. Klinsmann has some difficult decision to make between now and next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. But that’s a good thing. Congrats to the Boys!

Leading the Hex

Now USA sits alone atop the Hexagonal halfway through the final round of qualifying w/ a well deserved 10 points. It’s becoming clear what Klinsmann wants from our squad: to be fit enough to push the game and play w/ relentless effort for the full 90 minutes. Here’s Klinsmann’s comments about what he wants from the team following the 2-0 victory last night over Panama:

“As coaches, we always want to improve things. No matter what stage you take over a team you just want to help the team to get better and you want to give them as much knowledge as possible and as much guidance as possible in order for them to improve, to grow, and to start fine-tuning things and that’s what we said over the last couple of days. We want to fine-tune things. We want to improve the understanding on the field. We want to build partnerships. If it’s on the flanks, if it’s the two centerbacks, if it’s Jozy [Altidore] and Clint [Dempsey] up front, if it’s Michael [Bradley] and usually Jermaine Jones – today it was, in a very, very strong way, Geoff Cameron, we want to just improve that one game at a time. I think that they are growing in that process. When you bring young players along you want to give them that opportunity, too. I think the players, no matter if it’s a more experienced one that comes in like Brad Davis or it’s a young player like a Joe Corona, they understand their roles. They know now that’s what we demand from them. Obviously overall as a team we want to just get better and improve and be able then to compete one day with the best out there.”

Finally, it seems that Josmer Altidore is getting comfortable and playing with confidence. Many were worried about not having Jermaine Jones for this match, but as long as Michael Bradley is on the field, I don’t think it matters that much who is beside him. Bradley makes everyone on the team click.

Klinsmann on moving forward in the Hexagonal vs Honduras next week:

“We just need to get points after points. Next week is huge. We want to finish these couple weeks now with another win. Again, I said it today and I will say it again before that game, it’s a must-win. You’re at home, you’ve got to win your home games, then it makes it a lot easier going where we need to go. It’s going to be our job next week. If that happens then that would be just a very good position to have going into the fall period with four more games to go. But I think the team realizes now that you have to give everything you have, and you have to also learn to manage a game when you’re a goal up and go for the second one, and not just thinking you’ve got to hold that result. I think that’s what they did today. They were really eager and hungry to add another goal. And we could have added another one or two, but we are fine with that. It’s important that they keep playing, their rhythm, their pace, with their confidence going forward constantly. That’s really what pleased us a lot today.”

Eddie Johnson on scoring:

“It’s a dream come true. To play in the U.S. jersey, first of all, is an honor, but to play in front of my fans that I play in front of week in and week out—I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling after the goal tonight.”

HEXAGONAL

Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
USA 5 3 1 1 6 3 +3 10
CRC 5 2 1 2 5 3 +2 8
MEX 6 1 0 5 3 2 +1 8
HON 5 2 2 1 6 6 0 7
PAN 5 1 1 3 5 5 0 6
JAM 6 0 4 2 2 8 -6 2

Major Opportunity for USA

The US Soccer Men’s National Team is sitting pretty w/ 7 points in the hexagonal group after a victory in Jamaica last week. Tonight the boys can just about punch their ticket to Brazil if they defeat Panama in Seattle. Here’s some videos on the importance of tonight’s game:

Great thoughts below from Klinsmann about the cultural mindset changed needed to dominate the entire game:

Dempsey on the team’s depth. It will be tested as Zusi & Jermaine Jones are not available tonight.

Meet the new central defender for USA, Omar Gonzales:

USA Advances to the Hexagonal

USA defeated Guatemala last night 3-1 and advances to the final round of World Cup Qualifying in North America. Klinsmann has had his struggles, but the BOYS have come through in spite of some shady defensive play.

USA will be joined in the final round with Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Panama. Matches will be played from February 6, 2013 – October 15, 2013.

Defensively, the US have to find the 2 right guys to put in the central defense. Bocanegra made some pretty big mistakes again last night. I’m still not sure Cameron is the guy either. But something needs to be figured out by February.

We’re seeing good attacking soccer at times. And in the second half, the defense stood strong to hold Guatemala scoreless so the fans could sing, “You’re not going to Brazil!” to the Guatemalan players.

Below are some post game interviews and highlights:

Olympic Failure

Brek Shea disappointed after U-23 squad is eliminated from Olympics

I’m still disturbed that the US U-23 team did not qualify for the 2012 Olympics. But I can now assess what went wrong. We have the talent, but were just out hustled against Canada and El Salvador. There were glimpses of effort, but at this level you must attack and defend with everything you have for a full 90 minutes. When you have time, here’s an article that any US Soccer fan should read…Klinsmann Knows the American Problems, and Patience is Needed to Break the Chain. Here’s some thoughts from Jimmy Conrad and Claudio Reyna:

I think all soccer fans in our country would reaffirm the words of Jurgen Klinsmann when being questioned about this U-23 squad: “I want results. I want to taste victory. I want to see the best of what American soccer has to offer put its best feet forward and succeed. I want to win.”