USA! USA! USA!
It started with the USWNT’s 5–0 demolition of Denmark in their opening game in the Algarve Cup. It continued with the USMNT’s historic 1–0 win over Italy in Italy. It ended with the USMNT U-23s convincing 2–0 win over Mexico’s U-23s. Three-for-three with three shutouts in one day—surely that’s never happened before in US Soccer. Henceforth, Leap Day 2012 shall be forever remembered by US Soccer fans as Leap for Joy Day.
Here you can read PSP’s report on the U-23 win.
Alex Morgan scored two goals in the victory over Denmark. Abby Wambach, whose goal was assisted by Morgan, said, “Alex Morgan is playing so well right now, she’s lifting the players around her and that a sign of greatness.”
Jurgen Klinsmann said of the win over Italy, the first for the US against that country in 11 games over 78 years, “It’s historic for us beating a team of Italy’s level. But what we wanted to do above everything was to learn, to see how we could do against a team like Italy. I think the boys did very, very well. They played great for 90 minutes.”
Jozy Altidore said of Clint Dempsey’s goal, “Clint’s always in a good spot. I just laid it off to him and it was a terrific finish, absolutely fantastic finish. It was a great goal. I think we look like a top team in the sense where we have one chance and we’re going to make it count. And that’s what you have to do to be the best team.”
U-23 coach Caleb Porter said, “We knew this match would be a challenge and we have much respect for Mexico as a soccer playing country. One of the reasons we wanted to play this game prior to qualifying was to get some questions answered and measure ourselves. I’m very proud of the guys and looking forward to qualifying.”
Let the Dempsey love flow.
Oh yeah, how about the new USMNT away jersey? My initial reaction was “meh,” but now I’m warming to it. The Original Winger says of the white sleeves, “the design inspiration for this was inspired by collegiate athletics and the ever so popular varsity jackets that are worn in high school and college.” Here’s another take on the new jersey. Looking forward to the new home jersey release, which seems likely to be the red and white hoop jersey leaked a while back.
Finally, Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola, Desmond Armstrong and Tony DiCicco were elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
In Costa Rica, the Union play Belen today in their final preseason game. They return to Philadelphia on March 4.
The season preview for MLSsoccer.com by the Union’s in-house reporter Dave Zeitlin can be summed up—as, indeed, just about every season preview you will come across can be—by this sentence from the closing paragraph: “It’s hard to get an accurate reading on the Union since a few of Philly’s key players have yet to play an MLS game.”
Zeitlin’s Union depth chart points out a still distressing thinness in goal and in the backline and the overwhelming youth of the otherwise promising forward line. He writes that the midfield is “so deep that it’s hard to create an accurate depth chart” and then, surprisingly, he has at left mid: 1. Marfan, 2. Garfan, 3. Daniel; and at right mid: 1. Adu, 2. Witkowski, 3. McLaughlin. Marfan as the No. 1 left mid? It might be more accurate to say center midfield is so deep that it will be hard to get legitimate starters on the field in their natural positions.
Earl Reed’s season preview at MLS Talk ends with this prediction: “I think the Union will finish in the same spot as last season, 3rd in the East, and will lose in the Conference Finals.”
Major League Soccer UK’s Marcus Ibberson previews the Union. Nice to have some trans-Atlantic Union love.
Philadelphia Union Academy U17/18 member Alex Murphy is going to Penn in the fall.
The Brotherly Game says a “source with knowledge of the situation” informs them that Bob Rigby will join JP Dellacamera in the booth as the Union’s color commentator. Oh, my.
In more TV talker news, Kasey Keller will make his debut as an ESPN analyst during the broadcast of the Union’s opener against Portland on March 12.
More on soccer broadcasting: Is how games are broadcast part of the reason more Americans aren’t interested in soccer?
Ghana v Chile at PPL Park
Anyone who was hardy enough to venture out to PPL Park for the 1–1 draw between Ghana and Chile on Wednesday night got a taste of what it would be like if MLS moved to the international calendar. Kerith Gabriel and Jonathan Tannenwald report on the game. Here are PSP’s report and photo essay from the game.
Union Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Dave Rowan tells Chris Vito of the Delco Times what the club hoped to get out of hosting the match:
It’s a fantastic opportunity, and it’s a great statement for the Philadelphia area to be able to host a game like this…The teams trained here, and they said that they’ll be back and that they’re looking forward to playing. This place reminds them of that authentic feel as a soccer-only facility…What’s most important is to put on a great show.
Vito explains further that “attendance was of little concern to Rowan, who acknowledged Mother Nature’s hindrance. His focus was on the team covering its costs, something he indicated they had accomplished, and etching PPL Park’s name onto the list of viable stateside destinations for squads seeking to expand their brands in the increasingly soccer-hungry United States.”
Is Chelsea coming stateside to play Seattle, DC and New York this summer?
Sebastien Le Toux scored for the third consecutive preseason game in Vancouver’s 3–0 romp over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Jordan Harvey and Brad Knighton also featured in the game. The Whitecaps are now 3–0–2 against MLS opposition in the preseason. When the Union open the season on March 12, they will be 0–0–0 against MLS opposition in the preseason.
Local lad Ryan Richter, on trial with DC United after being released by the Union, scored in DC’s 3–1 win over Charleston Battery.
New York beat LA 2–1 in Desert Diamond Cup play with goals from Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper.
In more stadium news, the total costs of Montreal’s Saputo Stadium, including the ongoing expansion due to be finished in June, come in far below those of building a new stadium.
MLS target Junior Flores has, according “to a source,” signed a four-year contract with an unnamed team overseas.
A Regular Guy wonders about the proposed expansion of the Reserve League.
A Q&A with NASL commissioner David Downs.
The league announced on Tuesday that it is in “active discussions with prospective owners in over 20 markets.”
Women’s Pro Soccer
Aztec MA, one of the eight teams participating in the new WPSL Elite League, will have an amateur roster that looks like it will largely be made up of local former college and youth internationals, as well as current college players.
FIFA will investigate Bahrain’s 10–0 win over Indonesia in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday. Bahrain needed to overcome a nine-goal deficit against Qatar to qualify. They also needed Qatar to lose against Iran but they drew.
Mexico lost 2–0 to Colombia in Miami. Good times, good times.
England, losing 2–0 to the Netherlands in the closing minutes, scored two goals only to give up the game winner and lose 3–2.