US vs. Canada [Periodic Updates], Winner On to Beijing

RECAP: A 3-0 win and as you can see, the internet wasn’t quite working throughout. I eventually gave up trying to get updates through and drank beers instead. Freddy Adu hit for a brace – going full circle with two brutal set piece goals – and Sacha Kljestan hit home with the third. Like I said below, the US came out organized and ready to play today. There were few glaring weaknesses that Canada could even exploit. Both Orozco and Spector really rendered Will Johnson and Ricketts useless. Marvell Wynne fulfilled Nowak’s wishes with his play on the right side, but that was mainly because he didn’t do too much out of the ordinary. All four midfielders from inside to out did exactly what they needed to in order to create space for Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore. Overall, a great win – and it was clear that we were the stronger team and worthy of the Olympic bid.

PREGAME: Honduras prevails with Sideshow Bob making the crucial stop.

PREGAME: Lineup below. Penalties between Honduras and Guatemala which means a definite delay for the game. Honduras will win this – mainly because their goalkeeper Hernandez looks like Sideshow Bob. You can’t beat that.

Can’t LiveBlog – internet is too unreliable right now. So when I can – I’ll be updating you with big news during the game.

PREGAME: Both Guatemala and Honduras are in extra time and getting ready for penalties. This probably means that the US/Canada game will be delayed a bit.

PREGAME: So Marvell Wynne gets the nod over Kamani Hill at right fullback. Spector in the middle is not surprising at all even though he spends more of his time at fullback for West Ham. He’ll be able to organize in Bocanegra fashion while Orozco patrols and acts a bit less defensively. It’s nice to see Maurice Edu back in the middle, but last time we saw McCarty and Edu in the middle – things were a bit shaky. Expect that to to change.

PREGAME: U.S. Lineup!





————- ——-Altidore——————–

PREGAME: Lineup to come…what do you think the keys to the game will be?? Zizzo, Gaven, Kljestan, or Holden on the wings? Edu, Orozco, or Spector in the middle?? Altidore up top?

Olympic Qualifying, USA vs. Canada: “Join or Die”

No. – Name – Pos. – D.O.B. – Club
1 – Asmir Begovic – GK – 20.06.1987 – Portsmouth FC/ENG
2 – Graham Ramalho – DF – 12.01.1986 – FC Groningen/NED
3 – Jacob Lensky – MD – 16.12.1988 – Feyenoord Rotterdam/NED
4 – Dejan Jakovic – MD – 16.07.1985 – U. Alabama-Birmingham/USA
5 – Andrew Hainault – DF – 17.06.1986 – Sparta Prague/CZE
6 – Nikolas Ledgerwood – DF – 16.01.1985 – 1860 Munich/GER
7 – Andrazes Ornoch – MD – 21.08.1985 – Esbjerg FB/DEN
8 – Ryan Gyaki – MD – 06.12.1985 – Hansa Rostock/GER
9 – Andrea Lombardo – AT – 23.05.1987 – Toronto FC
10 – Will Johnson – AT – 21.01.1987 – De Graafschap/NED
11 – Tosaint Ricketts – AT – 06.08.1987 – U. Wisconsin-Green Bay/USA
12 – Diaz Kambere – DF – 18.10.1985 – Vancouver Whitecaps
13 – Kyle Hall – AT – 27.01.1986 – Syracuse University/USA
14 – Tyler Hemming – DF – 09.05.1985 – Toronto FC
15 – Tyler Rosenlund – MD – 13.09.1986 – no club
16 – Keegan Ayre – MD – 04.07.1988 – Berwick Rangers FC/SCO
17 – Marcus Haber – AT – 11.01.1989 – FC Gronengen/NED
18 – Joshua Wagenaar – GK – 26.02.1985 – no club
19 – Isidro Sanchez – MD – 05.06.1987 – no club
22 – David Monsalve – GK – 21.12.1988 – no club

Our boys must be pretty happy with their steady progress heading into the semifinals, with Nowak’s trial by error tactical approach working somewhat decently without any dire consequences. Canada, however, just came off one hell of an emotional roller coaster in which it took them 5 goals and a trouncing of eventual Group B winners Guatemala to squeak by an uneasy Mexico. Both Will Johnson and Tosaint Ricketts had braces in the win and Josh Wagenaar won the war in between the posts, but does dramatic momentum outweigh rest for your stars? Freddy Adu, Altidore, Maurice Edu, etc. have all gotten the full rest they deserve after getting beat up in their first two games [Altidore especially – taking hits from eventual Cuban defector Yendry Diaz]. I just hope it doesn’t come down to an arguably botched call like in last summer’s Gold Cup. With Jonathan Spector in there now and Orozco, Sturgis, and Edu looking good – we should have solid enough back four to keep anything suspect from happening. The Canadians are going to have a handful with Altidore (as any team does) without the presence of a bruiser like a Yendry Diaz, i.e. someone that can handle Jozy’s physical presence. That certainly doesn’t mean the tone of the whole game won’t be physical. It’s more of a product of an opponent’s placement of mroe defenders behind the ball than real quality man-to-man marking. Therefore, expect it to be crowded in the middle, but if they stick to their wings – as they have tried – the goals should come. That’s the biggest question though – who to terrorize the wings? Holden seems a lock. It’s either Zizzo and Gaven for the other spot as Findley and Davies still haven’t won me over since the first game against Cuba. I’d pick Zizzo (even though Jeff might disagree) based on speed although Gaven has been slowly getting more and more comfortable out there. Zizzo, on numerous occasions, was able to work his way into the box, finding the easy square pass, and creating the chances.

Watch Out For:

FW Tosaint Ricketts – the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay striker has that speed and strength combo that made Cuba’s Linares so dangerous and he’s really come into his own so far this tourney. Ricketts has done admirably well in Green Bay, but he is still relatively new to the international scene only joining the national team program last winter. What a better way to make a name for yourself then score the goal that sends your team to the Olympics?

FW Will Johnson – You could just as easily put Andrea Lombardo in here, but the truth is, Johnson has his name at the top of the scoring charts. A former Chicago Fire discovery signing, Johnson now is on loan at De Graafschaap in the Dutch Eredivisie from Michael Bradley’s Heerenveen. He has also spent time in Blackburn’s youth set-up and has worked well enough within the national team to earn 3 senior caps.

DF Andrew Hainault – captains a defense that has only faltered against Haiti but held strong with a tie against Mexico and a Guatemalan team that – despite the 5-0 win – managed to threaten the Canadian defense on occasion. Hainault plays in the Czech Republic with powerhouse Sparta Prague as one of the only foreigners on the team. His play there has earned him 9 caps with the senior side as well.

Regarding the XI, I would expect for the US:


Holden ————Adu——————Zizzo





Mexico heads home, Canada through in crazy last match day

You beat someone 5-1 and you pretty much expect to qualify for anything, right?

Mexico did that – destroying Haiti 5-1, with the opportunity to hit for even more. But they didn’t – and it cost them. Hugo Sanchez and his boys new full-well they needed to win by 5 in order to get through. Canada – the same one that was beaten by Haiti a couple days ago – came out in Tampa and put on a scoring clinic for the impotent Guatemalan offense. Will Johnson and Tosaint Ricketts were the show – 4 goals between the two of them and Josh Wagenaar made some decent saves to secure a shutout in which Guatemala had almost double the scoring chances, but not a goal to show for it.

Mexico, however, had more than enough quality to get it done and you could even argue it gave them more of a sense of urgency. You could tell from the get-go, a rout was on hand. Minor detail: they couldn’t find the back of the net on a steady basis. They could build, collect, keep patient, and pick an opportune time to shoot – but nothing was going in. At least for a solid 60 minutes. Cesar Villaluz did break through Johnny Placide’s man-made wall in the 18th minute and the chances didn’t cease. If anything, the chances on goal increased exponentially – especially with the ejection of Haiti’s Judelini Avesta in the 28th minute. The goals eventually came, four more to be exact, but they needed another to overcome Canada’s 5-0 shocker. Another ejection with 5 minutes to go aided Mexico’s cause, but once again, too little too late. It was Canada’s day, after bouncing back from a 2-1 loss to a Haitian team that Mexican swept under the table, and Mexico was sent home. An Olympics without Giovanni Dos Santos, Omar Esparza, Guillermo Ochoa, Carlos Vela, and Andres Guardado will definitely be a weird one. But, more importantly, what will happen to Hugo Sanchez? He’ll stick around – but is seat definitely got a lot hotter.

Canada’s win will pit them against Altidore and Adu in the semifinals in a do-or-die match-up on March 20th in Nashville. Should be a good one.

LiveBlog of USA/Honduras tonight! – Sans Altidore, Adu, Edu

90′-5′ – EDDIE GAVEN CONVERTS!!!!!! a 1-0 win, the USA wins the group!
90′-4′ – Davies gets another penalty; great first touch and he’s leveled at the penalty bo
90′-2′ – Not much to really say about this game. Except I can see Edu and Orozco as your centrebacks in the next round, Hill and Sturgis as your fullbacks, Holden and Zizzo/Given on either wing, Kljestan and McCarty in the middle, Altidore up front with Adu withdrawn
88′ – here comes the ‘I have a cramp and need to waste time’ tactic, we’ve seen this one before
87′ – Findley keeps taking people on, getting in the box, but not shooting for net!! – he passes the damn ball off and it is blocked.
85′ – a great run from Bernardez is pulled back to the top of the penalty box and rocketed on net, it hits the left post and clangs out – guess who it was?? Ramon Nunez.
84′ – Holden has chance to shoot, Davies has a chance to shoot, nobody shoots though – the build up is great but there is no one pulling the damn trigger
80′ – almost all of the action has been on the left side of the field this half, I haven’t heard Kamani Hill’s name once
77′ – there is a girl in her bra and thong on the field. Faaaaaaaaaantastic. Wrapped in an American flag. Not bad looking. Who said Tampa wasn’t trying? – FSC just replayed it again.
74′ – maybe I was wrong about Davies’ speed, he is definitely giving the Honduran centerbacks a lot of trouble
72′ – I will definitely take that, Davies beats a defender with speed, cuts off, tries to curl to the post but hits the goalie in the chest – good to see him get after it though
SIDENOTE: San Jose 1, Toronto FC 0, but the game was suspended due to severe lightning in the area which also postponed the Red Bulls/Charleston 8:15 matchup – those wondering, FC Dallas is kicking off against Los Angeles right now on
68′ – Here comes former FC Dallas man Ramon Nunez for Luis Lopez
66′ – Eddie Gaven with a pretty turn, but not much comes of it
62′ – DAVIES MISSES WIDE!!! Ew. He wanted that so bad, yet you could pretty much tell he was going to miss. Yikes, why wouldn’t Holden take that?
61′ – Charlie Davies DOESN’T DIVE!!!! he gets a great square ball from Hunter Freeman and the Honduran defender drags Davies down, Davies to take the penalty
60′ – Davies comes on for Zizzo and apparently that injects “a little bit of pace” into the line-up; not true – their speed is pretty comparable, fresh legs are good though, Dax McCarty also comes in for Sacha Kljestan
57′ – Hunter Freeman is booked for bowling over Padilla, who seems to be the victim of a lot of hard challenges today…legitimate hard challenges
56′ – Welcome (#24! who is NOT Hendry Thomas) receives a nice long ball from Honduras’ backs, he gets a shot off but the 6’6″ Cervi gobbles it up
54′ – crowded box and a Honduran cross leads to a shaky recovery from Dominic Cervi; the two Hondurans barrelling into the box land right on top of each other…but no, both did not feign an injury
52′ – good give and go between Findley and Holden finds Holden one on one with keeper 5 yards away; his subsequent shot is blocked though – Findley and Holden have worked well together, a better game from Robbie but he’s missing that instinct we saw him have last MLS season
51′ – a short corner this time but Holden skies the cross, it gets hit out and in order to stop the Honduran counter attack, Sacha Kljestan scissor tackles a Honduran midfielder
49′ – Ianni has to control himself, he just horse collared (ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad) a Honduran striker, got away with it but he’s sitting with a card and has retaliated once or twice before
48′ – I don’t think the USA has had ANY effective restarts tonight – Holden is definitely no Freddy Adu on those set pieces
46′ – Honduras is playing without Hendry Thomas…I mistook Thomas for #24…I guess their resting their best players too. Which would make sense…I’d like to see Ramon Nunez at some point too.
SIDENOTE: Why am I so damn excited for this MLS season to start? Why are you? Why aren’t you?
HALF-TIME – and we look the better team, just need Robbie Findley to be a little more productive and Chad Barrett needs to wake the hell up (I think he knows that though, you can tell he’s pretty pissed with himself)…
45′ – Reyna comes in real hard on Zizzo, gets a yellow – no, it’s not Claudio Reyna, he wouldn’t do that to Sal Zizzo, he’s a nice guy.
42′ – another over-head through ball that almost puts a Honduras striker through, offsides is called though
42′ – more diving from Honduras
41′ – does anyone know what’s up with Barrett? he just botched a simple trap – confuddling…
40′ – I like Zizzo on this wing, a lot, but not sure if I like him there more than I liked Holden
38′ – pretty uneventful right now, although I must say, the midfield and defense look decent today – we just need to convert the chances
33′ – nice dummy by Stuart Holden leads to a Chad Barrett shot, the shot isn’t threatening however, Fernandez gobbles it up
28′ – first Honduran shot on goal, Cervi handles well
26′ – WOW. Findley just destroyed Hernandez, the Honduran goalkeeper…but he didn’t score. Looked pretty clean too – Hernandez came out, Findley’s eye was on the ball and they collided with the RSL striker coming out on top
24′ – someone tell Floppy McGhee on Honduras front line to go the hell home, he looks like Charlie Davies flopping around like that
22′ – a Sal Zizzo square pass is handled well in the 6 by Findley, who then has a point blank shot snuffed by Hernandez, the Honduras goalkeeper – pretty decent.
20′ – Kamani Hill looks a lot better tonight at right fullback – could it be due to a lack of motivation for Honduras? he just advanced up the field then threw a snake on the defender and sent a decent ball in which was unfortunately lost on the bounce
17′ – why is Chad Barrett on the field?? he receives a great ball, has space, then shanks a cross – then again, watch him score tonight…
15′ – Patrick Ianni gets booked for getting in a scuffle with Hendry Thomas – on a good note, however, the passing out of the back has been pretty damn good
13′ – Holden levels Honduras’ Daniel Alvarez who proceeds to roll around on the ground for a while, no booking issued
12′ – Zizzo and Findley one-two in the box leads to nothing but at least they’re communicating – Findley probably should have shot the ball instead of laying it off to Zizzo
9′ – Honduras has goal disallowed when – the aforementioned Cervi made the wrong decision leaving the net open – luckily, it was offsides and Cervi got the chance to level Hendry Thomas in the process – both Orozco and Ianni were caught on an over-the-head through ball
8′ – 6 foot 6 inch Dominic Cervi would eat Peter Crouch for lunch, bet you his dancing is better too
6′ – the Americans have come out swinging here, trying the long balls, working the wings, give and gos, and holding strong on any counters
4′ – great ball from Kamani Hill springs Zizzo, who promptly passes back to Hill – Kamani unloads a great cross into the box which is almost put away
3′ – Barrett’s first touch was good, which is promising – Holden’s run moves square to Kljestan who first times a shot on net, it swerves but right into the keeper’s mitts
1′ – Zizzo darts into the penalty box right away and gets robbed of a penalty kick
GAME ON! – sidenotes: please show the other side of the stadium, at least there are people there.

Pregame: You’ve heard his name already this tournament, mainly for his two goals, but the Honduran to watch out for is forward Hendry Thomas. The 22 year old has been capped over 10 times for the senior national team and his combination of speed and strength makes him a problem for Ianni and Orozco in the back. Honduras also has a defensive leader in Emilio Izaguirre who has also been capped over 15 times for the senior national team.






Well, it looks like first place doesn’t really matter to Nowak. Actually, to be fair, this line-up should be able to beat Honduras, but if you have the chance to rest Adu and Altidore you might as well take it. It’ll be interesting to see Holden in the middle with Kljestan as he was a great on the wing the other day and in the middle he’ll have to operate with much less room. Pretty excited to get a look at Dominic Cervi though and hopefully Orozco can repeat his previous performance. Findley and Barrett will redeem themselves – just a hunch.

Pregame: San Jose is leading Toronto 1-0 at the Charleston Challenge Cup, right before the break. SJE goal was scored in the 22′ by defender Jason Hernandez. Julius James looks decent starting at center back for TFC and some crazy bastards from Toronto actually made the trip down to Charleston for the match – all of 20, but still…

Pregame: Cuba is being picked apart by Panama, who are 3-0 up.

Pregame: Get on over to for a little while before kick off and watch expansion San Jose versus last year’s expansion club Toronto FC. Ronnie O’Brien looks decent so far and, most importantly, healthy.

1st Place in Group A has taken on a new meaning now that Mexico lost to Guatemala yesterday and sits dangerously close to elimination and almost guaranteeing that the highest they can finish is Group B Runners Up. Which means, if the Americans win the group – they get Mexico in the all-important semifinals (as only the two teams that make the FINAL, qualify for the Olympics).

If Nowak goes for the win against Honduras, which he should, and the steady progression of improvement continues then we shouldn’t worry about opponents. There will be more info tonight after I get back from a day of scrimmages.

7:00pm, FSC.

Big Game Deserves LiveBlog: USA U-23s vs. Panama U-23s

Share your thoughts below!!! Who was your man of the match? Keep this Starting XI for Honduras??? Let me know…hope you enjoyed the game. 

It’s all over!! – Nowak and crew get the win, but in truth, it wasn’t all that convincing – hopefully it’s a stepping stone into Saturday’s match-up vs. Honduras who sits on top of the group with 6 points.
90′ + 4′ – game’s not over and Christian Miles is ALREADY CALLING THE WIN, tell him to shut it
90′ + 3′ – Findley and Davies coming on as time-wasting subs, Panama’s whole team tries to physically push Altidore off the pitch, the Panama captain almost escorts Freddy Adu off
90′ + 2′ – ball hits referee, everyone laughs; Panama is trying to pour people forward
90′ – Altidore receives a nice counter ball from Kljestan from the back, taps around the defender and off to the races – he tries to cut at the last second in the box but he gets tripped up and his attempt interrupted
88′ – Zizzo almost outruns the whole Panamanian right side, intercepted at the last second
***Sidenote – it was Jimenez who took the shot at Freddy Adu that went unnoticed by the ref
86′ – Freddy Adu turns over a midfield square pass and Panama put together a nice counter, finding Aguilar with enough space to rocket a shot that misses just wide of Seitz’s right side
84′ – Last Sub for Panama
82′ – Altidore shows he has a little gas left in his tank, he weaves through a couple defenders – loses the ball – wins it back, but gets tripped up in the box after holding on to it for a little too long
81′ – Holden with a give and go on the left side of the field, almost cuts between two defenders but the ball ricochets off Torres calf
79′ – Altidore almost poke-tackles Sal Zizzo on a breakaway but is called for a foul
78′ – waiting for that second sub!? McCarty, Kljestan are starting to look a bit tired.
74′ – Holden rips a shot from 25 yards out that is parried away by Jose Calderon
72′ – is it me or does Altidore play a little better with fatigue? – a nice turn draws a foul and it was all Altidore
71′ – Roman Torres has done a nice job stopping Altidore and Adu at times; there’s a reason why this guy starts at central defense for Panama’s senior national team
69′ – nice Adu, Kljestan touches in the middle almost leads to a Zizzo breakaway
68′ – Second Sub for Panama
67′ – through ball from Adu to Holden almost sticks, Holden is a bit offside though
64′ – YEP, that’s what it is – Zizzo for a tired Gaven…not a terrible outing, just lost in a crowd for Eddie
63′ – ABOUT TIME!!!! Sal Zizzo looks to be coming on, possibly for Gaven.
61′ – Barahona (#10) has worked hard today, this time weaving through Sturgis and Edu and getting hacked down 20 yards out – nothing comes of the restart
60′ – Gaven gets open with a nice Kruyff, but botches a cross which Adu makes the most of, deflecting a shot off a Panamanian defender
59′ – good one v. one stop on Gabriel Torres by Maurice Edu
58′ – Quintero tries to work his way through a slalom of American defenders, dives, gets a card
***Sidenote – Is it me or does Bob Bradley NEVER look happy?
56′ – damnit, exactly what I don’t want to see – Freddy Adu gets hit hard in the chest by a Panama midfielder; up and walking after a minute or so on the ground
54′ – Holden takes the restart and misses wide left, good attempt though but Calderon sees it out
53′ – good!!! Altidore gets the ball in the corner and, normally, he would take the two men on – instead Jozy chooses to lay a ball back to a streaking Freddy Adu who gets leveled 20 yards out, setting the US for a good set piece – good to see Altidore recognize that he’s not exactly on point today…
51′ – apparently, Kljestan and Sturgis don’t like 50/50 balls, midfield is giving up too many stupid balls
50′ – Holden comes charging through to clear up a Freddy Adu mess; cuts beautifully by a Panama defender and lays it square to Gaven who forgets to shoot one time, immediately closed off
47′ – an errant deflection off the ensuing free kick almost skips by Jose Calderon, Calderon saves it though
46′ – Gaven tries to split two Panama defenders; gets leveled but also the free kick in the process
**Looks like no changes.
**Ready to go again here. Checking on the changes…
**I think it’s safe to say that Gabriel Torres and #10 are the only real threats for this team. They’ll only strike however if we allow them the build-up, which hasn’t really happened so far…
HALFTIME – This game is only going to get more physical and heated. I’m just hoping no one gets injured.
44′ – Panama comes back at the US, but Seitz manages the situation but gets a little bit of kick out from Gabriel Torres; the 6’4″ Seitz gets in Torres’ face, Torres swipes at him – tempers flare
42′ – GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!!!! Freddy converts to Calderon’s left, mid-to-upper 90 – you gotta like the fact that even though Altidore is having a pretty bad game he still makes the most of his chances
42′ – Freddy Adu up for the penalty, Calderon with the booking
41′ – Eddie Gaven plays a sublime over-the-defense through ball in to ALTIDORE, one on one – Jozy almost screws it up with too big of a touch, but he flicks around Calderon and gets taken down!
40′ – this is like a field hockey game! a damn whistle EVERY TWO SECONDS…haha, imagine Marvell Wynne playing field hockey.
37′ – Gaven breaks the cardinal soccer rule – don’t clear the ball into the middle!
36′ – McCarty has most of the fouls and he’s all of what? 5’1″?
34′ – Altidore peeks his head through the clouds, only to be called for a handball – what’s goin’ on with him?
33′ – a possible penalty could have been called for the US, but Adu was taken down after he put his right stud up and almost into the Panama defender’s shin
30′ – two botched shots by McCarty and Adu, Gaven was open on the wing and sent a nice square pass in – getting closer!
30′ – verdict is still out on Orozco, but Sturgis seems to be passing the test on the wing
27′ – “I’d start calling him Little Braveheart”
26′ – Wynne…….ew……sad attempt at a cross
25′ – once again Holden wins a challenge that looked lost; Freddy Adu follows it up by getting stripped
23′ – no sign of Altidore and real urgency of getting it to him; I don’t think this lone striker tactic is going to last
22′ – a terrible pass by McCarty almost leads to a Panama long attempt
20′ – Adu shows up, dances a little, gets the restart – his cuts are ridiculous
18′ – Wynne with another clumsy challenge, getting a booking on this one
17′ – Holden is EVERYWHERE. Left, right, middle.
14′ – Wynne looks a little odd out there, but Holden is making for Wynne’s fumblings – chasing the loose balls, not giving up
12′ – I like what I’ve seen from Kljestan so far, a couple decent through balls
9′ – some dancing by Stuart Holden, only to get muscled off the ball – nice though
8′ – Roman Torres beats Maurice Edu to a corner and powers just over the cross bar…
7′ – the back four already look a little unsure, although it was nice to Nathan Sturgis break
down the wing
2′ – watch that Number 9 – Gabriel Torres is pretty damn good.
1′ – if only Dax McCarty was 6 inches taller. Adu sent in a real nice dangerous cross.


*Not a soul on one side of the stadium. At least on Tuesday there were a couple.

*Honduras-Cuba ends 2-0

*Still pretty pissed we’re not seeing Sal Zizzo, but Holden and Gaven will have to do.

*Gretna of Scotland (former club of RSL’s Kenny Deuchar and Houston’s Tony Caig) is in deep deep trouble – a ten point deduction (which doesn’t really change the already inevitable relegation expected). They have said players can now legally leave the team as they are playing for nothing. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they’re stadium was broken into recently.

*Apparently Honduras is up 2-0 right now. Hendry Thomas, who scored the only goal in their win against Panama, has scored the 2nd goal.

PLEASE share your thoughts in the comments section…

United States Starting XI:


Wynne——Orozco—–Edu (c)——Sturgis




– Those are some significant changes. Almost a line change actually. Ianni gets no second chance and Nowak shared the consensus sentiment – Kamani Hill, Hunter Freeman, Robbie Findley, AND Charlie Davies didn’t cut it. This line-up looks odd, but it will work. Hopefully, Maurice Edu shows well in the back, but I’m pretty sure Kljestan can do the same job Edu was doing on Tuesday. Adu will most likely still play withdrawn, but there will be much more support for Altidore. Orozco gets his chance and for most of us, this will be our first time seeing him.

Olympic Qualifying, USA vs. Panama: Beware of the Torres

No. – Name – Pos. – D.O.B. – Club
1 – Jose Calderón – GK – 14.08.1985 – Chepo FC
2 – Jean Carlos Cedeño – DF – 09.07.1985 – Municipal Chorrillo FC
3 – Reinaldo Anderson – DF – 12.04.1986 – Deportivo Árabe Unido
5 – Roman Torres – DF – 20.03.1986 – CD La Equidad/COL
6 – Erick Vásquez – DF – 08.01.1988 – Municipal Chorrillo FC
7 – Edwin Aguilar – AT – 07.08.1985 – Coastzacoalcos/MEX
8 – Cristian Vega – MD – 02.04.1985 – CD Plaza Amador
9 – Gabriel Torres – AT – 31.10.1988 – CD La Equidad/COL
10 – Nelson Barahona – MD – 22.11.1987 – C. Altetico Fenix/URU
11 – Aníbal Godoy – MD – 10.02.1990 – Arsenal/ARG
12 – Gilmar Torres – GK – 11.11.1985 – Alianza FC
13 – Adolfo Machado – DF – 14.02.1985 – Alianza FC
14 – Juan DeGracia – MD – 21.04.1990 – Chepo FC
15 – Rolando Algandona – DF – 12.04.1989 – San Francisco FC
16 – Alberto Quintero – AT – 18.12.1987 – Municipal Chorrillo FC
17 – Manuel Bonilla – MD – 09.04.1988 – Municipal Chorrillo FC
18 – Reggie Arosemena – MD – 09.09.1986 – Tauro FC
19 – Carlos Rodríguez – MD – 12.04.1990 – Defensor Sporting Club/URU
20 – Eduardo Jiménez – MD – 02.04.1986 – San Francisco FC
21 – Guillermo Murillo – GK – 04.11.1987 – Chepo FC

1-0 losers to Honduras doesn’t exactly make Panama push-overs and even if Panama were 3-0 losers, Altidore and company would still have to tread lightly. To deal with it and get the result early, you can expect to see Piotr Nowak go with two forwards up front and probably some changes in the back as well. According to most other sites, Patrick Ianni was dreadful (which I somewhat disagree with, at best he was serviceable) and Kamani Hill struggled mightily (he made it hard for himself, not the other way around). If a change is necessary, expect Marvell Wynne in for Hill.

Jozy Altidore – who took a beating against Cuba as the lone striker – is expected to suit up and you could expect either Findley or Davies up there with him. If Nowak was as displeased with Davies’ diving as I was, he could even put Kamani Hill up there. One thing being thrown around is Maurice Edu moving to central defense as it seems he spent most his time close to there in the Cuban encounter anyway. Nowak should stick to his guns in this situation. Ianni needs a game to settle and, clearly, he doesn’t have time as a luxury but the Houston defender should make the most of his second chance. If you move Edu to the back, however, you place McCarty back at holding midfielder and give Stuart Holden and Sal Zizzo the chance to terrorize the wings. I just don’t know if I can give Findley and Davies another chance on the wings, but you never know…

Projected Line-Up (Actually, who I’d like to see…)






For Panama, it is a must-win situation and they have the speed and athleticism to capitalize on any mistakes the United States might make. They have an experienced and highly touted Roman Torres in the back. The La Equidad propsect looked solid against Honduras, but he needs to rally his defense into keeping disciplined and frugal, not making runs that aren’t needed which is what hurt them on Tuesday. The fullbacks trekked forward only to be caught napping on the counter attack. The 21-year old has already grabbed 14 caps for the senior national team and would be your man to mark Altidore (especially if Nowak opted for the single striker tactic again). He, alongside 2007 Gold Cup Best XI pick Filipe Baloy, started all three of Panama’s group stage matches, making it to the second round where they lost out to the United States, 2-1. You can expect that Torres will have the desire to tackle hard. A couple other U-23 members have recently been brought up for senior national team duty, midfielder Reggie Arosemena and goalkeeper Jose Calderon. If things are working the way they should be Nowak, Calderon should be a very busy person. Forward Gabriel Torres – who also plies his trade for La Equidad in Colombia – could pose a threat if Ianni, Sturgis, or whoever is back there are off-kilter. Torres was the captain of Panama’s U-20 team at the World Cup in Canada this past summer. No idea if there’s a relation between Gabriel and Roman (Torres is kind of a popular last name), but it seems there could be considering they both play for the same club (or not…).  

Key Players to Watch:

DF Roman Torres
GK Jose Calderon
FW Gabriel Torres

TUNE IN AT 8:00pm, FOX SOCCER CHANNEL…might go with the LiveBlog tonight.

Olympic Qualifying, Wednesday: Giants follow suit, while Avila puts Guatemala in the driver’s seat

Canada 1, Mexico 1

Luis Angel Landin converted a penalty to give Mexico a somewhat undeserved point against Canada. Their defense was sloppy and it showed glaringly in the first 5 minutes. Andrazes Ornoch intercepted a shoddy Julio Dominguez clearance. He then found Will Johnson almost at the penalty spot. Johnson converted putting Canada up. It took Mexico about 80 minutes to wake up, but the last 10 minutes they had the Canadians on the backtrack, almost putting away an injury-time stunner. Their equalizer came well before that though when Cesar Villaluz – a prospect I’m still waiting to see shine – was taken down in the 22nd minute. Landin converted only to get sent off in the middle of the second half. Actually, both goalscorers, Landin and Canada’s Johnson were sent off 10 minutes apart from each other. Three Toronto FC players – goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar, forward Andrea Lombardo, and Tyler Hemming saw time. Wagenaar looked great in goal.

Guatemala 1, Haiti 0

Guatemala got the three points and the early group lead through an early Martin Avila goal. Former Rapid Fabrice Noel got in for the last half and played moderately well. Both looked poised to make this group an interesting one which – like the United States – if Mexico doesn’t wake up, there could be two unknowns heading to Beijing.

Standings look like this:

Group/Grupo A GP/PJ W/G L/D T/E +/- PTS
Honduras 1 1 0 0 1:0 3
Cuba 1 0 0 1 1:1 1
USA 1 0 0 1 1:1 1
Panama 1 0 1 0 0:1 0
Group/Grupo B GP/PJ W/G L/D T/E +/- PTS
Guatemala 1 1 0 0 1:0 3
Canada 1 0 0 1 1:1 1
Mexico 1 0 0 1 1:1 1
Haiti 1 0 1 0 0:1 0

Olympic Qualifying, USA vs. Cuba – Gifting a tie; does Sweden teach diving?

Well, I think it’s safe to say the United States played themselves into a tie. Freddy Adu had the only goal within the first 15 minutes of the first half, but Cuba equalized right before the half. Not thinking coherently right now, I find it appropriate to just lay out what thoughts I can muster:

The lineups were (one or two of Cuba’s midfield might be wrong):





Freeman—–Ianni—–Sturgis—-K. Hill







First off – about Cuba – if I had to pick three to defect right now, it would be the three I mention extensively – Leonel Duarte, goalscorer Roberto Linares, and goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda. Duarte had trouble getting involved attacks going, but really looked good on and off the ball. Linares was fast and powerful, poking in the one ball that Ianni and Sturgis forgot to track. Miranda was Cuba’s man of the match, hands down. The goalkeeper turned away several Freddy Adu screamers, etc.

– Freddy Adu was the only creative force we had on that field. Kamani Hill certainly tried to get things moving from right fullback, but his forward runs were generally predictable and led to an errant pass or touch.

– Freddy looked rather rusty though. He was lost at times and, for at least 30 minutes, no one could find him. He disappeared like Landon Donovan often does and that can’t happen.

– Dax McCarty looked decent organizing the central midfield but he often overdoes the whole “I’m small and scrappy” bit, hurting his play in the process. If he had just calmed down on several occasions, more threatening opportunities could have been created. With that said, it was only McCarty and Adu willing enough to take the long shots from outside. Both, along with Kamani Hill, were the only ones that fought the whole game. McCarty never stops moving – seems he’s picked up a step or two from Juan Carlos Toja.

– After 20 minutes or so, it’s like the squad forgot the tactic. Using the wings became the last thing they wanted to do. Classic example of a team thinking they are automatically better than their opponent. It was clear they were, but they didn’t do what they had to do.

– Why no Sal Zizzo? I understand he’s been on the bench for Hannover 96, but come on – on behind Gaven and Barrett? Between Robbie Findley’s finishing and Charlie Davies’ diving, their inconsistent play on the wings was a big reason nothing was getting accomplished. On three separate occasions, Charlie Davies clearly dove instead of staying on his feet and taking a shot on net. Ives Galarcep sums up Davies nicely after he was subbed for Chad Barrett – “Barrett coming in for Charlie Louganis, I mean Davies.”

– I agree with Piotr Nowak that Altidore was taking himself out of the game and looked tired, but who else was an option? Both Findley and Davies showed no composure and couldn’t make chances for themselves. Chad Barrett was useless (was that just me?). Eddie Gaven needed another 15 minutes to actually get in the game.

– It is safe to say that Ianni and Sturgis in central defense is definitely one of the weaknesses. Our fullbacks – Freeman and Hill, however, worked well at times and were probably – positionally that is – the best overall for the US.

– Chris Seitz didn’t get much to do. Maurice Edu looked like he was almost too good for the game. Between him and McCarty, nothing really ever got going. I might be judging them harshly, but a 1-1 tie to Cuba in front of 50 people speaks for itself.

***Expect an aggressive American side come Thursday. Probably a team more reminiscent of the squad’s first 10 minutes tonight against Cuba. Nowak needs to let them take men on a bit more – like Edu’s quick swivel in the box that set up a shot, McCarty’s change of pace that opened him up for a 20-yarder, and Adu’s fake which he then chipped over the Cuban defense and into the path of Robbie Findley.

Olympic Qualifying Breakdown – Who’s Your Best XI?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Cuba

Thursday, March 13, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Panama

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
U.S.A. vs. Honduras

Roster was released – as I am sure you have seen – over the weekend and some notable omissions include Gold Cup hero turned Derby County wantaway Benny Feilhaber, last summer’s U-20 standout Robbie Rogers, and FC Dallas’ creative midfielder Arturo Alvarez. Michael Bradley of Heerenveen was left out due to club obligations. Heerenveen is still in the fight for the Dutch Eredivisie title and/or European contention with Ajax and PSV and Bradley is no doubt a huge part of that. The goal is to finish in the top two of their group, beat their opponent in the semifinal and make it to the finals which guarantees them a spot at this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

GK (2): Dominic Cervi (out of contract), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders (6): Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

Midfielders (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)

Forwards (5): Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg)

With this roster, I would certainly expect Piotr Nowak to go with Jozy Altidore as the lone forward, putting Freddy Adu right in behind them as they did at the U-20 World Cup. Zizzo has got to go on one of the wings as I remember his dismantling of the Brazilian defense in Canada as well. Expect either Eddie Gaven or Stuart Holden to patrol the other wing. I, for one, can’t understand the necessity of carrying a Chad Barrett over an Arturo Alvarez, who is versatile and serviceable on either of the wings, in the middle, or up top as striker. Then again, I also can’t understand the choice of 5 strikers when the tactic should be tailor-made for Jozy. Robbie Rogers has apparently been fighting an injury which makes his absence a bit understandable. I am just hoping that due to the lack of a Zizzo-like left winger, we don’t see Freddy Adu put out there. He needs be tucked in behind Altidore where he can dictate the run of play and roam freely. What I really like about this group, though, is the attacking presence in the back. At the Olympic level, I think this crop of fullbacks – with only one appearing regularly for the senior national team – could make a play for the weakest spot on the field for our Nats. Wynne, Freeman, and Spector should do well (Spector won’t be joining them until after the Group Stages though so Freeman and Wynne will be left to prove themselves).

The XI see being used:






First game is Tuesday at 8:00pm EST on Fox Soccer Channel. What’s your take on the Starting XI?

Getting My Head Around Olympic Qualifying

Yeah, about 75% of you covered this stuff a couple months back, when all this was announced, but I’m just getting to it now. For what it’s worth, I blame February. In spite of being the shortest month, there’s just something about it that takes forever. With any luck, though, I’ll help out a couple other people coming late to the party.

So, Olympic qualifying for the United States U-23s (aka, Lil’ Yanquis) starts this coming Tuesday. All Li’l Yanquis games will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel, as will both semifinals, the third-place game (what? who cares?), and the final. A quick list of games, the opposition, and kick-off time (Pacific Standard):

Tuesday, March 11, 5 p.m. v. Cuba
Thursday, March 13, 5 p.m. v. Panama
Saturday, March 15, 4 p.m. v. Honduras

With that, you have all the teams in our group, that is Group A. There’s just Group B besides, so, to put it all together: Continue reading