Photo: Barb Colligon
The USMNT will face Honduras tonight in the Gold Cup semifinals (7 pm, FSC, UniMás, Fox Soccer 2Go).
Jurgen Klinsmann said of tonight’s contest, “It’s not going to be an easy game at all. I think (Honduras coach) Luis Suarez, over the last two years has formed a team that is very compact, very individually gifted, good individual players that can make a difference within a second.”
Klinsmann said of Honduras,
They don’t leave any space open, especially around the box. They make it tough. I think you saw the last 15 minutes against Costa Rica literally all of them were in the box. They defended it well, they got their result, they grinded it out and they’re in the semifinal. I think it has to do a lot with commitment, with discipline. That shows the handwriting of [head coach] Luis Suárez. He gives that team the belief [to get results]…
Does Honduras have a chance? Absolutely. We start this game nil-nil, so it’s 50-50. We know it’s going to be a tough game. It’s a game where we’ll have to be patient, we’ll have to keep a high rhythm, keep the tempo going. We’ll have to find ways to score first and not give a goal away first. We are ready for that, but every game in the knockout stage, there is no favorite team.
He explained further, “Honduras is a very, very tough team because of the way they compete, the way they stay compact on the field both ways. They’re moving forward in a 4-3-3, defensively switch over in a 4-5-1, and they do that really well.
Landon Donovan said of Honduras, “They’re a little atypical for Central American countries in that they’re more physical. They’re a little more athletic, generally, so that matches up a little better against us. We tend to be more athletic than some of the teams we play in Central America, but they have players that can compete in that way.”
Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suárez said, “A coach from any national team can say a million things about Honduras, but one thing that they will say is that they’re a difficult team to go up against.”
He continued, “There are several ways [to defend against the US]. Having possession of the ball is one of the main ones, and also with a great defensive line and being aggressive against them. With the US condition, with their speed and explosion, we have to perform that way as well. We can’t come and stay in our backline, but rather we have to propose the game against them.”
How would Suarez characterize his team? “You can classify Honduras today as an annoying team,” he said. “Because of the competition of the players who are in the team, although they might be losing, they always have attitude, the desire to win and to give everything to get it.”
The game—and the match between Mexico and Panama that will follow it—will be played on a temporary grass pitch that was laid on top of the artificial surface at Cowboy Stadium on Sunday. As late as Tuesday, the LA Times described the surface as “lumpy and uneven” and notes that it is “four meters narrower than a standard soccer pitch.” Klinsmann said about the field, “Whatever it is, both teams have to play on it. So we always make the best out of it. There’s no complaints on our end.”
Calling the temporary field “atrocious,” Grant Wahl reports,
Unlike most temporary grass surfaces, which are usually laid over an artificial-turf base, the one at Cowboys Stadium is laid directly over concrete. “It seems like concrete on top,” U.S. goalkeepers coach Kasey Keller told me as he checked out the surface. “Hard. Real hard.”
ProSoccerTalk’s take on the temporary field at Cowboys Stadium: “terrible.”
The team is on an nine-game winning streak, the longest such run in the team’s history. Landon Donovan says, “I’ve never been part of a run like this. It’s a lot of fun, not only the goals, but we’re creating lots of chances and that’s enjoyable.”
At SI, Grant Wahl talks to Matt Besler about becoming a mainstay in the US defense.
ASN has a Q&A with Omar Gonzalez, who joins the US for tonight’s game.
Soccer America profiles Eddie Johnson’s impact on the USMNT.
At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle notes that the success of the US at the Gold Cup is greatly due to the speed with which the team is moving the ball. But before we all get carried away with thoughts that the US can suddenly hang with the best teams in the world, Carlisle warns that it is important to remember that, like the US, many of the teams are fielding their “B” team.
At The Shin Guardian, Jay Bell reviews the results of the USMNT since the 2007 Gold Cup, the last time the US men won a tournament. “Credit has to be given to American players and teams for working their way to the finals of the competitions, but it is proving to be a difficult task to find that elusive championship victory…The US, especially in this Gold Cup, can match Mexico’s talent and tactics, but can they match El Tri’s championship intensity? The Americans have not been able to match neither Mexico’s determination nor focus since 2007.”
ProSoccerTalk plays the name the strongest US XI game.
Grantland jumps aboard the Klinsmann-as-fashion-icon bandwagon.
Former USMNT coach Bob Bradley will be the guest on Thursday’s The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
The Soccer Desk has a helpful recap of topics discussed at Tuesday night’s Supporters Summit. It doesn’t seem that much was said that hasn’t already been talked about with the exception of two things: 2014 season ticket prices, which will reflect the results of s survey that went out to season ticket holders Tuesday evening, and SoB road trips.
- If the survey results show that STHs want the 2014 ticket package to remain at 20 games, the price will remain the same as in 2013, if the number of bonus games is reduced, the price of season ticket packages will be reduced.
- Also, season ticket holders could receive free parking passes in honor of the team’s five-year anniversary in 2014.
- Member and non-member bus tickets prices will likely be available going forward for SoB road trips.
While Zac MacMath recorded his sixth clean sheet of the season against Portland, Andy Jasner suggests that it is a collective defensive effort that is getting the Union results. Sheanon Williams says in the article, “Obviously, there are some things to work on and we’re working every day to get better as a group. I think it shows we’re working hard together and we’re getting better…If we keep playing like that, we can continue to get results. Every 90 minutes under our belt gives us more confidence, more understanding with each other. We definitely had some rough times early. Were starting to understand each other better and it has definitely helped us. I think we’re in a very good place defensively and getting clean sheets always helps.”
MacMath received an honorable mention in this week’s MLS Best XI at SBI.
Portland may be disappointed with Saturday’s draw against the Union but Timbers head coach Caleb Porter is quick to put the result in context. in context. “We didn’t come here for a point,” said Porter, “we came here for three points. But we knew we’d have a battle. Credit to Philly, I thought they fought us tooth and nail, and they were certainly up for it as well. In the end it was probably fair…Listen, Philly’s a good team and there’s a reason why they have 30 points, and now 31. They’re a team that scores a lot of goals, and they do it by getting balls in the box. I’m happy that our guys were up for the challenge.”
In the second part of a Q&A with Tommy Wilson, the Union academy director talks about efforts aimed at developing an extensive local scouting network. “We’re currently putting in a scouting structure that will, if you consider the Philadelphia area your home territory, as a country, you know I think [Nick Sakiewicz] mentioned that there’s around seven million people that we can recruit from. That’s a country. That’s bigger than Scotland. I need to put in place a comprehensive scouting network that looks right across that region…our scouting needs to be comprehensive and inclusive, not focused on those who have the ability to pay but those who have the ability to play. That’s the most important thing for me.”
In the latest Castrol Weekly Top 20, Zac MacMath comes in at No. 9 and Jeff Parke at No. 14. In the full Castrol Index, the top five Union players are Jack McInerney (no. 2), Conor Casey (No. 19), Sebastien Le Toux (No. 49), Amobi Okugo (No. 56), and Zac MacMath (No. 69).
Reading United has booked its ticket to the PDL Eastern Conference playoffs after defeating Baltimore Bohemians 3-1 in a play-in game on Tuesday evening. Reading took an early lead with a goal from Mario Pinto Neto in the second minute before conceding a free kick that lead to a goal in the 29th minute. The score would remain level until the end of regulation time with Reading playing down a man for most of the second half after Keegan Rosenberry was shown a second yellow card in the 49th minute. Six minutes into extra time, Fatai Alashe put Reading ahead before Dante Marini scored again six minutes later. Both extra time goals were scored by recent PSP Player of the Week winner Jason Plumhoff.
Reading next faces Ottawa Fury at 3 pm on Saturday in the Eastern Conference playoffs, which are being hosted by Mid Atlantic Division champions Ocean City Nor’easters with Saturday’s games at the Tennessee Avenue Complex. A win sill see the Union affiliate in the conference final at Carey Stadium on Sunday at 7 pm.
More on the win from Reading Eagle.
Harrisburg will look to solidify their spot in the postseason when they host Dayton Dutch Lions tonight (7 pm, USL Live).
At Penn Live, Michael Bullock says that Sainey Touray, who missed the last two games with a hamstring strain, could play tonight. Bullock also says, “No word yet on when center back Greg Jordan may return from the knee injury that’s kept him idle for the past six weeks.”
Harrisburg City Islanders forward Lucky Mkosana has been named to the USL PRO Team of the Week after scoring goals in each of the team’s recent two-game trip to Florida. Tom Mellor and Union loanee Jimmy McLaughlin received honorable mentions.
Derek Meluzio has an update on how Harrisburg’s U-20 and U-23 teams have been doing.
Donovan Rickett’s save of Conor Casey’s blistering shot is up for Save of the Week.
Montreal Impact have signed Argentinian defensive midfielder Hernan Bernardello as their second designated player.
Chicago Fire have signed Ecuadorian striker Juan Luis Anangonó from Argentinos Juniors as a designated player.
FC Dallas forward Eric Hassli and Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert have each received a one-game suspension for violent conduct from the league’s disciplinary committee. Portland’s Andrew Jean-Baptiste was fined for embellishment in the draw against the Union.
The New York Times looks at the rise of Kansas City as one of the country’s premier pro soccer hotbeds. The key? “Serious Investment and Savvy Marketing.”
In an article about Toronto’s plans to upgrade BMO Field, Tim Leiweke says, “Kansas City’s stadium is fantastic. They market it the right way, they sell it the right way. Robb and Cliff (Sporting Kansas City co-owners Robb Heineman and Cliff Illig) do the best job in the league. I am in awe of Kansas City and the way they built that team and the way they built that stadium and the way they sell that product and the position they have in that marketplace. They are phenomenal and we should all aspire to be Kansas City and Portland and Vancouver and now Montreal.” I’m pissed off every time I see a story like this and Philadelphia isn’t included in the list of the league’s big success stories.
Believe it or not, Toronto have not won at home in league play since July 18, 2012.
New York Cosmos play English third division side Leyton Orient in England today. Asked about where the Cosmos, who play their first NASL game on Aug. 3, are competitively, Alecko Eskanderian says, “I would say we’re right there, level with most MLS. teams. And in some respects, we’re ahead of M.L.S. teams, better than MLS. teams. And in other respects, we still have a little work to do.”
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos says the return of the Cosmos could mean up to $19 million in new revenue for area businesses. The Cosmos will play their home games at Hofstra University.
FC Kansas City, unbeaten in seven games, host the Boston Breakers tonight (7:35 pm, YouTube). A win would see KC move into first place.
Reuters reports, “Conditions at Brazil’s new soccer stadiums have plummeted since the Confederations Cup ended and the arenas started holding Brazilian league matches, say fans and journalists who accuse football authorities of double standards. Media facilities have been dismantled, roads to stadiums are clogged with traffic and high ticket prices have left seats empty, they say.”
The Guardian uses Game of Thrones as the inspiration for a look at how calls to move the 2022 World Cup to winter could spark a civil war in the world of football.
Reuters reports, “The Italian football federation launched an investigation on Wednesday after the Milan midfielder Kevin Constant walked off the field following racist abuse during a friendly match.”