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Short, Short, Long: MNT Friendlies in Europe Serve Dual Purpose

The U.S. MNT's friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland in Europe have provided head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the squad an opportunity to try out some new faces alongside the team's core group in the short term. In the long-term, this international window has helped broaden the pool of players who can help the USA win this summer's important edition of the Gold Cup.

MNT Continues Tough Gold Cup Prep against Switzerland

After a tough loss in Denmark, the U.S. Men’s National Team will face off against Switzerland in Zurich, for the second leg of its European training. Kickoff at Stadion Letzigrund is set for Tuesday, March 31 at 12 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1, UniMás and univisiondeportes.com. Fans can also follow along on Twitter via @ussoccer and @usssoccer_esp

The Americans are coming off a 3-2 loss to Denmark on March 25 after Niklas Bendter completed a hat trick with a game-winning goal in stoppage time. Switzerland, ranked No. 12 in the world, was one of the eight seeded teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and will provide another test for the U.S. MNT in a year of challenging matches, which include facing CONCACAF rival Mexico on April 15, meeting No. 5-ranked Netherlands in Amsterdam on June 5, and a matchup against 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany in Cologne on June 10.

Klinsmann has 22 players in Zurich, including nine players from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Roster. U.S. team captain Clint Dempsey suffered a right hamstring strain in training on Monday, March 23 and was ruled out for both matches. Fellow striker Aron Johannsson is undergoing treatment for a toe infection and will also be out against Switzerland. Klinsmann added U-23 MNT forward Jordan Morris to the roster on March 29.

Tuesday’s game marks just the second time in the last 20 years the USA has met Switzerland. In their previous meeting on Oct. 17, 2007, Michael Bradley scored the only goal of the match – his first international tally – to give the USA the 1-0 shutout victory in Basel. Overall, the U.S. is 1-3-3 all-time against Switzerland, and unbeaten in its last three. 

In the meantime, the Under-23 Men’s National Team defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-2 on March 27 in Tuzla, earning Andi Herzog a win in his first game as head coach, as the team continues preparations for Olympic qualifying this October. The U-23s kick off the second match of their European training camp against Denmark tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET. Fans can follow @ussoccer_ynt for updates on the U-23s and all U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams.

USA VS. SWITZERLAND:

  • The United States is 1-3-3 all-time against Switzerland and undefeated in the last three matches between the two teams. In seven games, the pair has combined to score 13 goals, with five coming from the U.S. and the other eight from the Swiss.
  • The most recent encounter between the two was the USA’s 1-0 victory on Oct. 17, 2007, at St. Jakob Park in Basel, Switzerland. On a rainy night, Michael Bradley broke a scoreless tie in the 86th minute to give the U.S. its first win against the Swiss.
  • The U.S. and Switzerland met twice in 1994. In January, they played to a 1-1 draw in Fullerton, California in a World Cup warm-up. They faced off again in June at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where they again drew 1-1 in front of 77,000 fans in the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.
  • U.S. defender John Brooks and Switzerland’s Fabian Lustenberger and Valentin Stocker all play for Bundesliga club team Hertha Berlin. Midfielder Julian Green is teammates with Johan Djourou and Valon Behrami at Hamburg. Defender Timmy Chandler plays with Haris Seferovic at Frankfurt, while midfielder Fabian Johnson is teammates with Switzerland’s Yann Zommer and Granit Xhaka at Borussia Monchengladbach. 

U.S. Men’s National Team by Position – Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Southampton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club León)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Hamburg), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht)

U.S. ROSTER NOTES:

  • Two firsts occurred for the USA in its last game against Denmark: defender Timmy Chandler earned his first point with the MNT with an assist on Jozy Altidore’s goal, and Ventura Alvarado earned his first international cap for the U.S. when he entered in the 80th minute, replacing fellow Liga MX defender Michael Orozco.
  • A total of nine players in the squad were members of the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster that traveled to Brazil and helped the USA advance out of the “Group of Death,” including two goalscorers (John Brooks and Julian Green).
  • Michael Bradley was the only player who started in all four matches for the USA during the World Cup.
  • Bradley is the leading cap-winner on the roster with 94, and is in line to reach the century mark soon.
  • Seven countries and nine leagues are represented on the roster: Canada, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, and the United States.
  • Altidore has two goals in three matches to start 2015 for the MNT, while Bradley and Brek Shea are the other goal scorers on the roster. At the club level, Altidore netted a pair of goals in his debut match for Toronto FC to start the 2015 MLS season.
  • Goalkeeper Nick Rimando boasts an impressive 11-2-2 career record with four shutouts. He got his first start and appearance on European soil in the match against Denmark.
  • Greg Garza played in the last five games of 2014 and started three following the World Cup. The Club Tijuana left back has been a part of every level of U.S. National Team programming, beginning with the U-14’s.
  • Danny Williams has the opportunity to get his first action since March 5, 2014, when he appeared against Ukraine in Cyprus.
  • Rubio Rubin, who earned his first MNT cap and start on Nov. 14, 2014, against No. 3-ranked Colombia, spent the weekend with the U-20 MNT and captained the team in its friendly against England on March 29. At 19 years old, Rubin is age-eligible for this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
  • William Yarbrough was born and raised in Mexico to two American parents. He marshaled the backline for Club Leon to the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura titles. This is Yarbrough’s first call up to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
  • Miguel Ibarra, who earned his first cap for the U.S. in 2014, is the reigning MVP of the NASL. 

IN THE RECORD BOOKS:

  • Jozy Altidore is fifth on the MNT’s all-time goal scoring list with 27 goals, adding two in three games so far this year. Altidore is now three goals behind fourth-place Brian McBride (30 goals from 1993-2006).
  • Midfielder Michael Bradley is inching closer to the century cap mark with 94 appearances since debuting for the MNT in 2006. He is 18th on the MNT all-time list, one appearance behind McBride.
  • Bradley ranks 13th on the all-time goals scored list with 13 goals, and is tied with Marcelo Balboa and Hugo Perez.
  • Nick Rimando ranks fifth on the all-time wins list with 11. The Real Salt Lake man is 11-2-2 all-time with the USA.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (34-17-11) ranks third among the USA’s all-time winningest coaches. Ahead of Klinsmann are National Soccer Hall of Famers, Bruce Arena (71) and Bob Bradley (43).

BY THE NUMBERS:
2                Players on the U.S. MNT seeking their first international cap
4                Players on the U.S. MNT roster playing in Mexico’s Liga MX
12              Switzerland’s current FIFA ranking
27              Career goals by Altidore, which is fifth on the USA’s all-time scoring list
32              USA’s current FIFA ranking
34              Victories under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann 

2015 U.S. MNT SCHEDULE:

Date

Opponent

Result/Time (ET)

U.S. Goal Scorers/TV

Venue

Jan. 28

Chile

2-3 L

Shea, Altidore

Estadio El Teniente; Rancagua, Chile

Feb. 8

Panama

2-0 W

Bradley, Dempsey

StubHub Center; Carson, Calif.

March 25

Denmark

2-3 L

Altidore, Johannsson

NRGi Park; Aarhus, Denmark

March 31

Switzerland

12 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Stadion Letzigrund; Zurich, Switzerland

April 15

Mexico

8:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Alamodome; San Antonio, Texas

June 5

Netherlands

2:30 p.m.

ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Amsterdam Arena; Amsterdam, Netherlands

June 10

Germany

2:45 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Rhein Energie Stadion; Cologne, Germany

July 7

Honduras

9:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás

Toyota Stadium; Frisco, Texas

July 10

Haiti

8:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás

Gillette Stadium; Foxborough, Mass.

July 13

Panama

9:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás

Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.

JURGEN KLINSMANN FACT FILE: Jurgen Klinsmann became the 35th head coach in the history of the U.S. Men’s National Team on July 29, 2011. Here is a look at the program’s achievements since that time:

  • Overall, Klinsmann has a 34-17-11 record, third on the U.S. MNT’s all-time coaching wins list. The top five include: Bruce Arena (71), Bob Bradley (43), Klinsmann (34), Bora Milutinovic (30) and Steve Sampson (26).
  • He won a record-setting 13 straight games at home from June 2, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014, and has guided the team to an unbeaten record of 17-0-3 in its past 20 matches on home soil.
  • He led the MNT to a 12-game winning streak in 2013, the longest in program history.
  • The U.S. finished 2013 with a 16-4-3 record. The 16 victories and .761 winning percentage are all-time U.S. MNT records for a calendar year.
  • The U.S. finished the final round of 2013 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying atop the Hexagonal with a 7-1-2 overall record, including an unblemished 5-0-0 home record that was achieved by pitching clean sheets in all five matches.
  • The team won six straight games en route to capturing the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, during which the squad scored a tournament-record 20 goals.
  • Committed to challenging the group against the best, under Klinsmann, the United States has a 2-3-2 record against teams ranked in the top 10 in the world. With Klinsmann at the helm, the U.S. has also collected four historic victories:
    • Beating four-time World Cup champion Italy for the first time
    • Earning the first win against Mexico on Mexican soil
    • Defeating Jamaica on the road for the first time in World Cup Qualifying
    • Topping second-ranked Germany in U.S. Soccer’s Centennial Celebration Match
  • Klinsmann’s U.S. coaching debut was a 1-1 draw against Mexico on Aug. 10, 2011, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. During Klinsmann’s abbreviated 2011 tenure, the USA’s two victories included a 1-0 win against Honduras (Oct. 8) and a 3-2 victory against Slovenia (Nov. 15).
  • Klinsmann was named Germany’s National Team manager in 2004 and guided Germany to a 20-6-8 record and a third-place finish in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He earned Coach of the Year honors in Germany, and two years later, he took over the head coaching position at Germany’s most high-profile club, Bayern Munich.
  • As a player, Klinsmann played 17 club seasons from 1981-98 with the following teams: Stuttgarter Kickers (1981-84), VfB Stuttgart (1984-89), Internazionale (1989-92), Monaco (1992-94), Tottenham Hotspur (1994-95, 97-98), Bayern Munich (1995-97) and Sampdoria (1997-98). During that time, he scored 226 goals in 506 appearances. He was named German Player of the Year in 1988 and 1994 and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1995.
  • Klinsmann earned 108 caps with the German National Team, scoring 47 goals. He participated in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998) and won the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
  • Klinsmann was born on July 30, 1964, in Goppingen, Germany.

IN FOCUS: SWITZERLAND
Swiss Football Association (Schweizer Nati)
Founded: 1895
FIFA affiliation: 1904
Head Coach: Vladimir Petković
FIFA World Ranking: 12
Best World Cup Finish: Quarterfinal, 1934, 1938, 1954 

SWITZERLAND ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Burki (SC Freiburg), Yann Sommer (VfL Broussia Monchengladbach), Marvin Hitz (FC Augsburg)
DEFENDERS (6): Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Stephen Lichsteiner (Juventus), Fabian Lustenberger (Hertha BSC Berlin), Jacques Fracois Moubandje (Toulouse FC), Ricardo Rodriguez (VfL Wolfsburg), Fabian Schar (FC Basel), Steve Von Bergen (FC Zurich), Silvan Widmer (Udinese Calcio),
MIDFIELDERS (9): Valon Behrami (Hamburger SV), Blerim Dzemaili (Galatasary SK), Gelson Fernandes (Stade Rennais FC), Fabian Frei (FC Basel 1893), Gokahn Inler (SSC Napoli), Kasami Pajtim (Olympiacos FC), Xheridan Shaqiri (Inter Milan), Valentin Stocker (Herta VSC Berlin), Granit Xhaka (VfL Borussia Monchengladbach
FORWARDS (3): Josip Drmic (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Haris Seferovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Admir Mehmedi (SC Freiburg), 

SWITZERLAND ROSTER NOTES:

  • Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic has coached six games for the Swiss and has gone 3-1-2 in that span.
  • Switzerland qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup from UEFA by winning its group. In the group stage in Brazil, the Swiss went 2-0-1 and advanced to the Round of 16, where they lost to eventual World Cup runner up Argentina, conceding a goal in the match’s 118th minute.
  • Sixteen players from its 2014 FIFA World Cup roster appear on this roster.
  • Xherdan Shaqiri recorded three assists in Switzerland’s game against Estonia last week. He has recorded 10 points on three goals and four assists in Switzerland’s last four matches, in which the team has gone an unbeaten 3-0-1.
  • Of this Swiss roster, Shaqiri is the leading goalscorer with 15 tallies in 42 games played. Gokhan Inler is the team’s international cap-leader with 81.
  • All but one player, goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, have earned at least one cap.
  • Silvan Widmer is the youngest player on the roster at 21 years old.

LAST TIME:

On the field for the USA against Switzerland:
Oct. 17, 2007 – St. Jakob Park; Basel, Switzerland – International Friendly 

USA                1          Michael Bradley 86
SUI                 0          

Lineups: 
USA: 24-Marcus Hahnemann (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo, 22-Oguchi Onyewu (2-Dan Califf, 46), 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.), 7-Eddie Lewis (9-Danny Szetela, 84); 5-Benny Feilhaber, 13-Maurice Edu, 4-Michael Bradley,17-DaMarcus Beasley (11-Heath Pearce, 31); 20-Taylor Twellman (25-Freddy Adu, 77), 8-Clint Dempsey (29-Robbie Findley, 90) 
Subs not used: 23-Jay DeMerit 
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
 

SUI: 1-Pascal Zuberbühler; 2-Johan Djourou (25-Steve Von Bergen, 17), 3-Ludovic Magnin (Capt.), 5-Xavier Margairaz (22-Hakan Yakin, 46); 11-Marco Streller (31-Blaise Nkufo, 46), 13-Stephane Grichting, 14-David Degen, 16-Tranquillo Barnetta (17-Christoph Spycher, 75), 27-Gokhan Inler, 29-Stephan Lichtsteiner, 35-Fabio Celestini (33-Gelson Fernandes, 46) 
Subs not used: 12-Diego Benaglio, 37-Germano Vailati 
Head Coach: Jakob Kuhn
 

COPA

Morris and Rubin Zig Zag to Zurich

As the U.S. Men’s, U-23 and U-20 National Teams near the end of their coinciding European camps, the continuity and unity between the three sides has played out in the movement of players this week.

With a desire to build more chemistry as the U.S. U-20 squad heads to New Zealand for this summer’s FIFA World Youth Championships, Utrecht forward Rubio Rubin was named to both that squad as well as Jurgen Klinsmann’s senior team last week.

Rubin began camp with the full National Team in Aarhus, coming on as a 67th-minute sub for Aron Johannsson in the team’s 3-2 defeat to Denmark. He then headed west to join Tab Ramos and the U-20s, captaining the side and playing 75 minutes in a 2-1 defeat to England at Home Park in Plymouth on Sunday.

Rubio Rubin
Striker Rubio Rubin has seen regular time in full USMNT camps, yet is still age-eligible for this summer's U-20 World Cup.

The 19-year-old then turned right around and rejoined the senior team Sunday night in Zurich ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Switzerland.
Twice capped by the senior side, Rubin had a strong desire to be a part of both camps this week and he credited the plan Klinsmann and Ramos devised with helping him make an easy transition. 

“Jurgen managed it well with Tab,” he said. “I was happy to go in and play against England and coming back now to get ready for Switzerland, it’s kind of cool to do both things. I want to prepare myself for the U-20 World Cup – that’s big for me and for the team – but being with the senior team is important so we can develop chemistry as well.”

While the Beaverton, Oregon, product’s travel plans were set and discussed before the camp, those of fellow forward Jordan Morris altered unexpectedly Sunday. 

In camp with the U.S. U-23s, the Stanford striker scored the opening goal in the side’s 5-2 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 27 in Tuzla. Expecting to prepare for the team’s second friendly versus Denmark in Copenhagen on Tuesday, Morris instead was summoned to Zurich to replace Johannsson, who was ruled out of the Switzerland match with an infection.

“It was a great experience in Bosnia,” Morris said from Zurich, where he arrived Sunday. “I think it’s good in gearing up toward the Olympics to get a core group of guys together. We had a great game there and continue to play well. That said, it’s an honor to get called up to the full team and something I dream about all the time. It’s tough leaving those guys [in Demark] because I want to play with them as well, but it’s such an honor to come here, continue to work hard and grow as a player.”

Like Rubin, Morris’s call isn’t the first for the Seattle, Washington product. He made headlines last September when he was invited to camp ahead of a friendly against the Czech Republic and became the first collegiate player to earn a senior team cap since Ante Razov in 1995, coming on as a substitute in last November’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland.


College forward Jordan Morris is part of the U-23 MNT's plans for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers this fall as well as a potential long-term striker for the full MNT.

Having previously played with both the U-20 and U-23 sides, Morris said that having the teams on the same page creates continuity but also helps to set goals for players.

“When you’re on the U-20s or U-23s there’s always something to strive for,” Morris added. “That gives players something to work on, when they’re not in camp, they have stuff to work on to make that next jump to the full team. That unity is very special because it gives them that desire to grow as a player. That can be making the first team, getting into these camps and hopefully getting some playing time.”

U.S. Soccer to Hold Fan Headquarters April 14-15 Prior to USA-Mexico, Presented by AT&T

CHICAGO (March 25, 2015) – U.S. Soccer is planning an exciting series of activities to energize fans and display the passion for the sport of soccer in San Antonio, Texas, beginning on April 14, as the U.S. Men’s National Team is set to take on Mexico, Presented by AT&T, on April 15.

U.S. Soccer’s Fan Headquarters in San Antonio is the official pregame party for fans attending the USA vs. Mexico match. FanHQ San Antonio will kick off on April 14, the night before the game, at Sunset Station to celebrate one of the biggest matchups of the year. Space is limited and an RSVP is required for admission to this free event.

FanHQ at Sunset Station
Date: April 14
Time: 7 p.m.-12 a.m. CT
Location: Sunset Station, 1174 E Commerce St, San Antonio, TX 78205
Space is Limited, Tickets Required - RSVP Below

Fan HQ San Antonio will continue on April 15, outside the Alamodome in the North Plaza, starting at 3:30 p.m. CT, prior to kickoff of the sold-out USA-Mexico game at 7:30 p.m. CT.

The event will include a wide array of activities, ranging from exhibitions to giveaways and contests, for fans to enjoy and experience ahead of one of the biggest rivalries in soccer. There will also be food and beverages available for purchase, and an on-site official U.S. Soccer store.

Several of the exhibitions that will take place will connect art, fashion and culture to the game of soccer, as well as to the USA-Mexico match itself. 

Kicks to the Pitch, an online magazine and live event production company, will bring three exhibitions that together aim to showcase the game in a fresh, unique and cutting edge way to attract tastemakers and trendsetters to the sport. These will include: Stash (a graffiti pioneer); Transhoeformers (turning old sneakers into collectible works of art); and Sneaker Summit alongside SNKSUP (a display of collectible sneakers aiming to unite America through its sneaker culture).

These three innovative exhibitions will each bring something unique and fresh into the event as each aims to tie in their own one-of-a-kind talents with the game of soccer and the match between CONCACAF heavyweights.

Furthermore, U.S. Soccer sponsors will also be on hand for fans to enjoy the festivities while playing games, taking photos and winning prizes.

Finally, TV broadcasters will host their pregame shows outside the Alamodome, as both FOX Sports 1 and Univision will be on-site to prepare the crowd and TV audiences ahead of one of the most anticipated games of the year.

More detailed information of the events taking place can be found below. You can also find detailed information in the USA-MEX match page.

Art and Culture Exhibitions: 

  • Stash: Stash will paint two wall-sized canvasses inspired by the USA-Mexico match, Presented by AT&T, live at FanHQ. He has also created a custom name and number set available for customization on the new U.S. Men’s Nike Away Jersey. The customized jersey is extremely limited and can only be purchased at ussoccerstore.com or on-site at FanHQ. 
  • Transhoeformers: At FanHQ, Transhoeformers will display art created from the back of U.S. Soccer’s equipment room. Old boots and balls intended for National Team players that were never used will be given a new life. He has created model robots, vehicles and animals entirely from sneakers and other recycled materials. Transhoeformers’ work is truly one of a kind. His intricate and creative pieces are a masterfully examples of craftsmanship, ingenuity, and sustainability.
  • Sneaker Summit and SNKSUP: will exhibit a display of unique and collectable sneakers that connects sneaker culture to soccer in America. Sneaker Summit provides a platform for sneaker enthusiast to celebrate sneaker culture and to buy, sell, trade and discuss rare, vintage, and collectible shoes and apparel, and has grown to be one of the biggest sneaker conventions in the country. SNKSUP provides a showcase for sneaker aficionados and collectors to talk shop and come together to celebrate the thriving sneaker culture in Texas. This event is held annually in San Antonio, TX and attracts sneakerheads from all across the country.

Contests, Displays and Giveaways:

  • AT&T: Visit AT&T for the Slo-Mo Photo Op, where fans have the opportunity to showcase their best group goal celebrations and have them turned into a slo-mo video which can then be shared via email/social media. Also, check out the Digital Free Kick game, a fast-pace phone game where fans try to score as many goals as possible in 60 seconds through flicking a ball from a handset into a goal on a monitor. The top scorers are rewarded with great prizes. Fans can also win prizes by taking the “It Can Wait Pledge” to not text and drive and sharing the message on their social channels as well as winning the Speed Kick Challenge, where fans test how hard they can strike a ball on goal.
  • Bud Light: Visit Bud Light’s mobile bar to audition for your chance to be a part of the “Up For Whatever” campaign and play FIFA 15 with other fans.
  • Chevy: Check out Chevy’s display to see new Chevy vehicles, get your face painted in support of the USA, have your image included into the Men’s National Team Starting XI photo, and take home prizes and giveaway items.
  • Continental Tire: The Continental Tire Cornering Performance Challenge allows fans to complete a product information “Challenge” and receive a free Continental Tire scarf (while supplies last). Participants will also be entered to win a U.S. National Team Jersey. Fans can also participate in the Corner Kick Pic; to take a picture against a soccer themed backdrop and retrieve the picture online. Also at Continental Tire’s section, Tic-Tac-Tire, where fans will kick or throw a plush soccer ball into tires to play tic-tac-toe.
  • Coppertone: At Coppertone’s tent, fans will be encouraged to demonstrate their soccer skills by kicking a ball through a target. Prizes awarded while supplies last.
  • Liberty Mutual: Come pick up your crown at the Liberty Mutual Insurance tent where fans will be given the chance to share their passion in a fun, memorable way by posing for a vintage soccer poster (while supplies last). Posters will be printed on-site and also provided digitally to allow fans the ability to share on their social media.

A New Adventure

For young defender Ventura Alvarado, getting the call as a regular starter at Liga MX powerhouse Club América was significant. Yet, it was the call he wasn’t expecting that was even bigger.

“I was surprised,” Alvarado said about the call he recently received from U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “I was about to go to Phoenix for a vacation and an assistant let me know that a call from the U.S. National Team might be coming Ten minutes later coach Klinsmann called me and I was just surprised!”

Phoenix was where it all started for Alvarado 22 years ago. Born to Mexican parents in the United States, the maturing center back is eligible to represent both the U.S. and Mexico on the international soccer stage. For the moment, he is a U.S. player, and his parents, who had initially thought Mexico might be the better place for him, have enjoyed seeing him in the U.S. jersey.

“My family was really excited when I got called up for the U.S. National Team,” he said. “They were happy when I started playing for Club América, and now they’re really happy. They sent me a picture of my nieces and they were holding a newspaper that said ‘Ventura Alvarado goes to the U.S. National Team,’ and they are all smiling. They’re just partying over there right now. They’re so happy, and just hearing them makes me really happy too.”

Ventura Alvarado
USMNT Defender Ventura Alvarado makes his international debut against Denmark in the rain of Aarhus.

While still one of the team’s newer players, Alvarado was glad to come in and see some familiar faces like Michael Orozco and Greg Garza, his opponents in Liga MX, who are now his U.S. teammates.

“Guys like Michael Orozco, he has more experience than me. He’s been here a lot of years, and Greg Garza, he has a lot of experience too and has been playing very well in Tijuana. Everything they say to me, it just gives me confidence,” Alvarado said. “It’s nice to have them because we have so much in common, players they know, clubs and coaches. They are my friends. It helps me out a lot.”

Flash forward to last week in Aarhus, Denamrk. Michael Orozco had to come out of the USA’s international friendly against the Danes with a knee injury, handing Alvarado his chance to get on the pitch.

“Earning my first cap, it was an incredible experience,” Alvarado said. “They said, ‘you’re going in,’ and I was just excited!”

Making his first appearance for the USA may be just the first step in Alvarado’s international career. The athletic defender hopes to work his way up to one day to play on soccer’s biggest stage, and so far he’s relishing the opportunity he’s been given with the U.S MNT.

“I hope to work and little by little start getting more minutes, getting more games,” he said. “Little by little, work my way towards being a starter and being known and getting the confidence up of the fans and the coaches and everybody. My ultimate goal is to go to the World Cup. It’s a dream for every player.”

American Opportunity

Thirty years ago, Lee Yarbrough and Stacy Story moved from the United States to Mexico and they never left. William Yarbrough was born in Mexico four years later and brought up there. Two weeks ago, his family history collided with his personal past when he received his first ever call-up to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“My parents moved to Mexico as missionaries and they’ve been there ever since,” Yarbrough told ussoccer.com. “At an early age I knew what I wanted to do, which was play soccer.”

Yarbrough has played professionally in Liga MX since 2010, when he began his professional career with Pachuca before moving to his current club León in 2012. At León, Yarbrough has backstopped the team to the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura titles. Beyond the club level, he knew he wanted to play international soccer, and as a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he always thought there might be a choice to make one day.

His performances with León caught the eye of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who sent scouts to Mexico City before sending the invitation. Ultimately, Klinsmann elected to call up the goalkeeper, and so far, he likes what he sees.

“William has a wonderful positive character,” Klinsmann said. “He’s highly motivated and wants to learn. Chris Woods, our goalkeeper coach, is full of compliments already so we are really glad to have him in camp.”

William Yarbrough
Goalkeeper William Yarbrough makes a save on the training pitch in his first camp with the USMNT.

At the moment, Yarbrough is just trying to take advantage of the opportunity to be in camp with the Men’s National Team.

“I like living day-by-day and doing my best every day,” Yarbrough said. “Right now, I’m just looking to give coach Klinsmann and the rest of the teammates a good impression of myself. I want them to know that I’m a person who’s going to give everything on and off the field, who truly shows passion and a commitment to the meaning of representing the United States.”

It certainly helps to have familiar faces on board, and with fellow Liga MX members Ventura Alvarado, Greg Garza, and Michael Orozco also in Zurich, Yarbrough has been able to draw on their experience as he gets adjusted to the new environment.

“It’s been great to talk to those guys that I’ve played with and against in Mexico, and they’ve all been hugely helpful to me, as have the rest of the guys.” Yarbrough said. “My experience with this first call-up has been great. I’ve learned a lot of things. Everyone helps you adapt in a very quick way. Coach Klinsmann has been very helpful with that, too.”

Yabrough has always been a follower of soccer in the United States, but his first real moment of pride in the colors of the National Team came as a 10-year-old watching the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“When the U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup in a penalty shootout, I was pretty young,” Yarbrough recalled. “I was up in Montana when that happened, and just seeing the reaction of so many people to a sport that was just growing in the United States was something that caught my attention in a big way.”

His first time with the group has already been a thrill while the prospect of earning his first cap looms as a huge reward for the work he’s put in for so long.

“It’s just an honor,” Yarbrough said. “It’s a privilege to be representing the United States, and I’m trying to take advantage of this opportunity because I don’t want it to be just one time. I want there to be many to come. I think what’s helped is the way the rest of the team helps you feel like you’ve been a part of this group for a really long time.”

Gallery: U-23 MNT Holds First Olympic Qualifying Prep Camp in Bosnia

The U-23 Men's National Team is holding its first training camp of 2015 ahead of Olympic qualifying this fall. The U-23's trip included a 5-2 win against Bosnia's U-21 side in Tuzla where the team has been based for a majority of the camp. Next up for the U-23's is a friendly against Denmark on March 31. Keep up with the U-23 MNT's camp and match against Denmark on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp.  

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