See the training facilities for the US camp in Brazil

Very interesting to see the facilities the USMNT will train at during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  It’s also interesting to see US Soccer be so aggressive in making relationships with the soccer media in Brazil.

This charm offensive is a breath of fresh air in comparison to years past with closed training sessions and the cold and icy demeanor of, say Bob Bradley or Bruce Arena.

The added exposure with the media and acclimatizing of the players will all work toward giving the US an advantage once they arrive in Brazil …. because they’re going to need all the help they can get!!!


How the US scored against Honduras

Jozy Altidore, Fabian Johnson and Graham Zusi take us through their involvement in Altidore’s game-winning goal against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 18. With the 1-0 win, the U.S. Men’s National Team are now unbeaten in five FIFA World Cup Qualifying games and sit on top of the CONCACAF hexagonal standings with four games remaining.

Klinsmann Realeses 24 Man Roster for Hex Qualifying

ussoccerJugen Klinsmann released his final roster for the Hexagonal qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Although there wasn’t too much of a mystery with the roster selection perhaps a couple of players stand out for their selections.

Brad Evans and Brad Davis are the most notable selections from the MLS players invited into the previous camp and Matt Besler receives his first official call up.  Evans was curiously played out of position, so to speak, during the friendly against Canada while Davis put in a workman like shift patrolling the left side of the park.  Neither player seemed to make a significant impact but Klinsmann must have saw enough to include the MLS standouts and Besler is the reigning defender of the year in MLS.

Timmy Chandler receives a call which seemed in doubt when he was wavering on whether he wanted to represent the US internationally.  I guess the doubts will be put to rest when he receives his first cup tie game, making him ineligible to play for any other country.  Although, it is curious that his selection seemed almost automatic over a player like Eric Lichaj who has received significant minutes with Aston Villa, all be it in a losing cause, but he’s no more responsible for that than Brad Guzan is.

Of course, Omar Gonzalez’s selection was a foregone conclusion with his spectacular season domestically along with his speedy recovery, the tall center back left no doubt after his performance against Canada last week.

Lastly, Eddie Johnson’s selection does not seem the most convincing.  Although his season with Seattle was a resurgence in his career he left little to be impressed when facing the likes of a Canadian national squad made up of mostly youngsters.  I don’t suppose we have another forward who is performing well enough to warrant a selection, or at least better than Johnson did this past season.

World Cup Qualifying for Brazil 2014 begins Feb. 6 in San Pedro Sula at 3 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on beIN SPORT.

The U.S. team trains today in Miami before departing for Honduras later in the afternoon.  “We want to have a sense of urgency right from the start of the Final Round,” said Klinsmann. “We have a lot of respect for Honduras, but our message to the team is that we are going there to get three points. One thing we learned from the Semifinal Round is that you have to bring the right mentality to play in the tough games on the road, and I’m confident we are ready to do that.”

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (World Cup qualifying Caps/Goals)
: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa – 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton – 22/9 SO), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire – 0/0)
DEFENDERS (9) : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City – 0/0), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander – 31/5), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City – 5/0), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana – 0/0), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg – 0/0), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders – 0/0), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy – 0/0), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim – 3/0), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg – 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Michael Bradley (Roma – 19/5), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo – 0/0), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor – 9/0), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04 – 5/0), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht – 12/0), Jose Torres (Tigres – 9/0), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim – 4/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City – 3/0)
FORWARDS (4 ): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar – 17/6), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur – 26/10), Herculez Gomez (Santos – 6/2), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders – 11/10)

With the match falling on a FIFA international fixture date, Klinsmann is able to call upon a full squad that includes a total of 17 players based in Europe and Mexico. The roster is loaded with experience, including five players with 50 caps or more.

The United States holds a 12-3-3 lifetime record against Honduras in a series dating back to 1965. Both the United States and Honduras earned a place in the Final Round by virtue of winning their respective Semifinal Round groups. The Catrachos qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup after only losing once at home in nine qualifiers throughout the cycle. That lone loss came against the United States.

The U.S. and Honduras are part of the six-team Hexagonal along with Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama. The 10-game, round-robin format will be contested from Feb. 6-Oct.10. The top three teams will automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place team will compete in a two-leg playoff against the champion from the Oceania Confederation.

Manchester United’s ‘Keeper Paradox And Why Tim Howard Should Return

At the end of the 2010-2011 campaign for Manchester United, a couple of key events occurred that placed Manchester United into a ‘keeper paradox.  One was a not so smoothly executed farewell speech by then goal tender Edwin van der Sar.

During his speech he lamented the fact that, “he wish he could have been their sooner,” I’m paraphrasing.

edwin-vandersar_1748222cEdwin van der Sar’s remarks, whether he knew it or not, exposed the obvious past mistakes with the goal keeper position including the very public failure to sign van der Sar when he was available in 2000-2001.  In replacing Peter Schmeichel, Fabian Barthez, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll, Ricardo Lopez Felipe all proved to be unworthy.  Until van der Sar was signed, United went through a visible low period.

The second event has been the success of Tim Howard at Everton.  Perhaps if Tim Howard were given time at United to adjust, even keeping him there as a back-up to van der Sar, would have ultimately proven to be wise.

With the current position oscillating between David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard, who is United’s number one is clearly a toss-up.  As rumblings of high profile signing, David De Gea’s unhappiness with life in England continue to surface, Lindegaard hasn’t proven to be equal to task either.  Although I feel both players have quality, it may have been proven to be at a level less than United requires to compete with the elite in Europe.

Tim Howard EvertonMeanwhile, Tim Howard is recognized across the BPL as one of the top net minders in England, reaching milestones for the Blues and providing an equal quality in international play as well.  World Cups, domestic cup finals, European competition … there isn’t much the American hasn’t seen and one wonders whether Ferguson has been watching and repressing the urge to wonder, “what if?”

To ask ‘what if?’, however, could be seen as academic, after all, if Tim Howard had stayed with United his career would not have blossomed as it has.  But I don’t think there is any mistake in saying that Tim Howard is better than any goalkeeper Manchester United currently has now.  AND, Tim Howard is only 33, still in his prime as a goal keeper as he may even have a good ten years left to play.

While Sir Alex Ferguson may not want to make the same mistake with David De Gea, and may elect to keep the Spaniard to allow him to grow; the existence of a ‘keeper paradox is evident.

If Sir Alex Ferguson keeps De Gea, as he is clearly the better option of the two young goalies, he will have to accept the growing pains while maintaining a positive environment while De Gea continues his baptism of fire.

But if he signs a more veteran, established goal keeper, De Gea will be limited and will not get to play as often as he could with another club.  Even if De Gea moves to Real Madrid, as has been rumored, his playing options will be less but behind a legend in Iker Casillas.  So a move could be seen as worth the opportunity to go home to more familiar surroundings and to a much bigger club.  The same cannot be said about the situation at Manchester United, as big as they want you to believe they are.

So the paradox is thus: if De Gea stays, United may not be able to compete with the elite in Europe …. if United sign a more established, veteran – up to the task ‘keeper – De Gea will most likely leave but United may be able to retain it’s elite status.

So the question then becomes, “should United sign a more proven goal keeper and should that be Tim Howard?”  The answer is YES, and hears why.  As I stated before, Tim Howard is still only 33, but he is also clearly one of the best goal keepers in England.  He may not be the most accomplished but for his age, it is only because he is at Everton, no offense.

Tim Howard is also familiar with Manchester United, after playing there, whether his time was good or bad, the experience and the knowledge will serve him well.  Also, Howard is more accomplished internationally with his World Cup appearances and with valuable experience in Europe on top of that.  You can’t say he is ignorant to the fire.

Perhaps De Gea just wasn’t the right move, but signing Tim Howard and forcing De Gea to leave, will allow Ferguson some breathing room to wisely pick among a crop of emerging young talent at the ‘keeper position.  A crop of young talented ‘keepers groomed behind a Tim Howard for the next five years will ensure there is no lapse in performance between the sticks for United.

Even if De Gea stays, you still get the best of both worlds.

I think Tim Howard would be up to the task, he appears to be more knowledgeable, more philosophical and generally consistent with his performances.  When the US met England in group play for the World Cup in South Africa, it didn’t seem out of place that Tim Howard was in goal for the US, but it did seem out of place for Roy Carroll to be there for England.

So Tim Howard should be considered based on the evidence I presented but also because United fans will see the logic, and after seeing what he has done wearing blue for so long, might even welcome it.


1924 U.S. Open Cup footage, Super Rare Video

This is pretty cool footage from the US Open Cup.  Thanks to NESN Soccer for finding this, you can read the full article HERE

Scorpions Re-Sign Ryan Cochrane, Add Two New Players – Ryan Cochrane Announces Retirement

SA_Scorpions_300XThe San Antonio Scorpions FC continue to hold on to key players during the off season with the recent signature of Central Defender Ryan Cochrane.  Cochrane, who is still only 29, will retain his spot in the top defense from the 2012 NASL season.

Cochrane was a significant contributor in the Center position often partnering with Greg Janicki and even Fabian Kling at times.

Cochrane will continue to act as the calming experienced leader in the defense, now having lived through a full NASL season.  Although he never looked uncomfortable with the pace of play, a 4 goal drumming from the Puerto Rico Islanders to open the season was a great way to be introduced to second division soccer.  Needless to say, if the Scorpions want to remain competitive locking in a dependable back line is imperative.

Still, on a business level, it shows the sporting environment for top level soccer in San Antonio is worthy enough for a player of his caliber to agree another deal.

I think maybe the San Antonio experience all-round might be enticing enough to secure the signature of future talent.  The opportunities in San Antonio are enough to attract talent from around the world.

Such is the case with the two new additions in Lyle Martin and Edin Husic.

Both players are coming from foreign leagues but while Martin is American, the opportunity to play in second division soccer in San Antonio was enough to lure the ex-MLS player.  Hopefully Edin Husic will find our southern comfort enough for his liking and will hopefully provide some strength at the defensive midfield position.

Here’s the press release:

Scorpions Re-Sign Ryan Cochrane, Sign Two More

Scorpions solidify backline and midfield for 2013 season

SAN ANTONIO, TX (Dec. 19, 2012) - The San Antonio Scorpions have re-signed defender Ryan Cochrane and added two new players, defender Lyle Martin and midfielder Edin Husic, to their roster for the 2013 season.Cochrane, 29, will return for his second season with the Scorpions after starting in all 25 games he appeared in last season, scoring one goal and tallying three assists as a key member of a backline that allowed the fewest goals in the NASL in 2012.“Having Ryan back, who was one of the NASL’s Best XI players last season, will solidify the defensive line for next season,” Head Coach Tim Hankinson said of Cochrane. “We are very glad to have him back.”

Martin will join Cochrane on the backline after a stint with the Bejing Baxy of China Division One. The American defender was drafted by Chivas USA of Major League Soccer in the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft and played with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL First Division from 2007 to 2009.

With the Whitecaps, Martin, 27, was awarded the team’s Newcomer of the Year Award in 2007 and helped the Whitecaps win their second league championship in 2008.

“Lyle has versatility at the right back and right midfield position,” Hankinson said. “He has tremendous athleticism and we will be looking at him to hold down the right side of the backfield.”

Husic, 27, comes to the United States from Bosnia, where he played with FK Sarajevo. The 6-foot-1 midfielder has also made three appearances for the Bosnian national team in his career.  

“Edin brings top level eastern European professional experience and though he is by position a defensive midfielder, he has great quality coming forward in the attack,” Hankinson said.

I’ve included the press release of the announcement which informed us of Ryan Cochrane’s retirement below.  The news came abruptly after the announcement of his signing which seemed to signal the solidifying of the Scorpions defense, but as Football goes, it’s never a done deal.

Ryan Cochrane Announces Retirement

Scorpions star accepts coaching job at Alma Mater

 SAN ANTONIO, TX (Dec. 28, 2012) - San Antonio Scorpions star Ryan Cochrane has announced his retirement from professional soccer.  After nine years of playing professionally for six different clubs, Cochrane, 29, has accepted an offer to coach at his alma mater, Santa Clara University, for whom he played for in 2001-2003.

 Cochrane’s professional debut as a defender was with the MLS San Jose Earthquakes in 2004. From there he went on to play for the Houston Dynamo, the New England Revolution and most recently with the San Antonio Scorpions.  During his career he played in 173 matches scoring 6 goals. Cochrane also played in 2 MLS Cups, won 2 MLS Western Conference Championships, was awarded 1 MLS Supporters Shield and was named one of NASL Best XI Players in 2012.

 “Working with Ryan was a great experience; he was an important factor in our success for last season and always was a pleasure to coach,” said Scorpions Head Coach Tim Hankinson. “We wish him the best of luck in his transition with the next stage of his life.”

 Coaching following his playing career has always been a goal for Cochrane.  During his season with the Scorpions, Cochrane was asked what he would be doing if he was not a professional athlete and he replied, “I would be coaching soccer and playing a lot of golf.”

 “I’m truly honored to have spent my final season with the San Antonio Scorpions,” said Cochrane.   “From top to bottom the organization is first class and I wanted to thank everyone involved for welcoming me into their family.”

 Although Cochrane may be moving on to a new career, he will take his experience with the Scorpions along with him.  

 “What the club stands for goes far beyond competition and athletics and it’s a fantastic example for athletes, fans and all those in the community,” said Cochrane. “It is a club to be proud of and I was certainly proud to wear the colors. I will always be grateful for my time spent in San Antonio and I will be a lifelong fan of the Scorpions and the cause the organization represents.”

 With the signing process well under way, Coach Hankinson will continue to build the Scorpions roster.  

 “We will work hard to fill the hole that Ryan’s departure leaves.  We have plenty of time to find a talented replacement and there has already been significant interest from premier players around the world who want to come to San Antonio, play in a magnificent new stadium and win a NASL championship.”

Scorpions Re-Sign Blake Wagner, Pat Hannigan

Two players re-sign for the Bexar County club after an impressive season for the organization, wing back Blake Wagner and keeper Pat Hannigan.

The Scorpions pushed the limits for what is to be expected of an expansion club and secured a spot in the second round of the playoffs only to loose to last years cup holders, Minnesota Stars FC.

Minnesota went on to loose in the final to eventual cup winners Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Although their season ended in bitter disappointment, the Scorpions did earn the title of regular season champions and that was because of a deep squad who always performed at a consistent level.

While Darryl Sattler enjoyed an award winning season, earning the 2012 NASL Golden Glove Award, back-up and one-time starter, Pat Hannigan dutifully acted as support throughout the season.

Hannigan had won the job from Sattler and right from the start you could see it was deserved as the former professional indoor soccer player proved his worth in the early stages.  But his starting position was threatened when he went down to a rather serious injury and Sattler was asked to step in as the full-time starter.

Sattler went on to prove himself worthy of the Golden Glove, but it was clear that either player would have been successful behind the accomplished Scorpions back line.  They allowed the fewest goals in the 2012 NASL season.

Blake Wagner, on the other hand, was a big reason for the Scorpions’ strong defensive play.  Blake continually threatened opposing defenses breaking down the left side and often initiating offense where the normal attacking options seemed to falter.  Although he isn’t the speediest of players his skill compensates for his lack of pace against faster midfielders who are often forced to defend his marauding runs down the line.

Blake was one of the more consistent defenders in the league and provided a steady touch at both ends of the pitch.

Although Wagner and Hannigan are not new signings, based on their solid and consistent play at this level, it appears to be a good bit of business for the Scorps.

Here’s the press release below:

Scorpions Re-Sign Blake Wagner, Pat Hannigan

Scorpions retain goalkeeper and key defender for 2013 season

SAN ANTONIO, TX (Dec. 7, 2012) - The San Antonio Scorpions continued to make progress this week in building their roster for the upcoming season, re-signing defender Blake Wagner and goalkeeper Pat Hannigan for the 2013 season.

Wagner, who was a member of the Scorpions backline that allowed the fewest goals during the 2012 NASL season, will return for a second season in San Antonio after starting in all 23 matches he appeared in and logging 2025 minutes on the year. Wagner also tallied a goal and assist.

Hannigan started the first three matches of the 2012 season for the Scorpions before suffering a leg injury that sidelined him for several months. He finished the season with a 2.05 goals against average and nine saves in three matches played.”Having Blake back is great for our team moving forward. Not many wing defenders have the ability under pressure to retain possession and also press the attack forward like he can,” Head Coach Tim Hankinson said. “Pat began last season as our starter and was unfortunate to fall to injury, but he has made a great comeback and I’m sure he will be our hungriest player, looking to make a mark this upcoming season.

Before signing with the Scorpions last March, Wagner was a member of FC Dallas from 2006 to 2009 before signing with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2010 and stayed with the team when they transitioned to Major League Soccer in 2011. The American defender finished the 2011 MLS season with Real Salt Lake.

Prior to joining the Scorpions, Hannigan was playing professional indoor soccer with the Rochester Lancers in 2011 and played with Miami FC, currently the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, in 2007 and 2009.