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U.S. WNT Meets Brazil in Tournament Final in Brasilia

2014 International Tournament of Brasilia
U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Brazil
Mane Garrincha Stadium; Brasilia, Brazil
Dec. 21, 2014

U.S. WNT FACES BRAZIL IN TOURNAMENT TITLE GAME: The U.S. Women’s National Team will face Brazil in the title match of the four-game International Tournament of Brasilia on Sunday, Dec. 21. The match comes a week to the day after the USA fell 3-2 to Brazil in group play as Brazilian star Marta scored all three goals. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET for what will be the USA’s 24th and final match of the year. In group play, the USA drew 1-1 with China PR, fell 3-2 to Brazil and smashed Argentina 7-0. Those results were good for second in the group and a place in the championship match. China, a 4-1 loser to Brazil in the group finale, will play Argentina for third place. Fans can follow along on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp and full highlights will be available on ussoccer.com.

BRAZIL TOPS GROUP: Brazil enters the match coming off a dominant 4-1 victory against China in a match in which it started numerous reserves. Brazil got an early goal from Darlene via a goalkeeper gaffe by China and then went up 2-0 off a brilliant free kick from Andressinha. Brazil’s two goals in the second half came from Debinha and Andressa. Brazil’s 4-0 victory against Argentina featured a brace from veteran midfielder Formiga. Debinha opened up the scoring with a first-half header and Formiga pushed the lead to 2-0 just before halftime with a header off of a set piece. In the second half, Argentina’s defense broke down and allowed an own goal, and Formiga capped off the scoring with a 20-yard strike, placing her shot in the lower left of the frame.

International Tournament of Brasilia Group Standings

Team

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Brazil

3

3

0

0

11

3

+8

9

USA

3

1

1

1

10

4

+6

4

China PR

3

1

1

1

8

5

+3

4

Argentina

3

0

0

3

0

17

-17

0

International Tournament of Brasilia Schedule

Date

Opponent

Kickoff/Result

Dec. 10

USA vs. China PR

1-1

Brazil vs. Argentina

4-0

Dec. 14

Argentina vs. China PR

0-6

Brazil vs. USA

3-2

Dec. 17

USA vs. Argentina

7-0

Brazil vs. China PR

4-1

Dec. 21

Argentina vs. China PR (third place)

1 p.m. ET

USA vs. Brazil (championship)

4 p.m. ET

LLOYD LEADS WAY: Carli Lloyd has scored in all three games of this tournament, finding the net once against China PR and Brazil and three times against Argentina. Lloyd has now scored in seven consecutive matches, pounding in 10 goals over that time. She is just two games away from tying Michelle Akers for the most consecutive games with a goal. Akers scored a remarkable 17 goals over those nine games.

DOWN A FEW FORWARDS: The USA will head into the match with Brazil with an unusual lack of numbers at the forward position as three of the USA’s most pacey strikers are unavailable. Alex Morgan, who has been training hard to recover from her ankle injury suffered during Women’s World Cup qualifying, is doing very well, but is still not cleared for game action. Sydney Leroux, who received a red card in stoppage time against Argentina on Dec. 18, is suspended. Christen Press, the scorer of four goals against Argentina, has returned to the United States due to a death in the family.

WNT LOOKS FORWARD TO 2015 SCHEDULE: The U.S. WNT will begin 2015 with an extended training camp in January at StubHub Center in Carson, California, and then will travel to Europe in early February to face France on Feb. 8 in Lorient and England on Feb. 13 at venue to be determined. The USA will also participate in the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal in early March. The USA’s domestic schedule for 2015 leading into the Women’s World Cup will be announced when finalized.

TIE GOES TO BRAZIL: There will be no overtime or penalty kicks should the match against Brazil on Dec. 21 end tied after regulation. The tournament rules state that a draw would give Brazil the tournament title based on the fact that it had more points in group play. Teams are allowed four field player substitutions per match, and a fifth if the team needs to change a goalkeeper.

24 TO BRAZIL: U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis named 24 players to travel to Brazil for the International Tournament of Brasilia. Ellis named all 20 players who helped the USA win the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October to qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In addition, she named Washington Spirit defender Crystal Dunn, who was initially on the qualifying roster before suffering an injury in the lead-up, Boston Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, former UCLA midfielder and 2014 MAC Hermann Trophy candidate Samantha Mewis and Chicago Red Stars defender Lori Chalupny. The official tournament roster is 23 players so one player per game will not suit up for the matches.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9): Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)

USA DRAWN INTO GROUP D AT 2015 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: After the Final Draw was conducted on Dec. 6 in Ottawa, Canada, the U.S. Women’s National Team learned it will face Australia, Nigeria and Sweden in Group D at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, taking place from June 6-July 5 in Canada. The U.S. will open Group D play against Australia on June 8 at Winnipeg Stadium. The USA then faces Sweden on June 12 in Winnipeg, followed by Nigeria on June 16 at BC Place in Vancouver. The USA, Nigeria and Sweden have competed in every edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

U.S. 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Group D Schedule
  • June 8: vs. Australia at Winnipeg Stadium; 6:30 p.m. / 7:30 p.m.
  • June 12: vs. Sweden at Winnipeg Stadium; 7 p.m. / 8 p.m.
  • June 16: vs. Nigeria at BC Place; Vancouver; 5 p.m. / 8 p.m.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • Christen Press’ four-goal performance against Argentina was the ninth such game in U.S. history and second of the year after Abby Wambach scored four times against Costa Rica in the championship game of the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament. It was the first-career hat trick for Press.
  • Press is the only WNT player to appear in all 23 games this year.
  • Carli Lloyd’s hat trick was the second of her career.
  • With the three goals, Lloyd takes over the team lead in scoring this year from Abby Wambach with 15 goals. That ties Lloyd’s career high in a calendar year. She also scored 15 in 2012.
  • Lloyd moves ahead of Shannon MacMillan for seventh place on the WNT’s all-time goal scoring list. Lloyd has 61 goals in 184 matches. MacMillan scored 60 goals in 176 games.
  • Alyssa Naeher, the 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year for the Boston Breakers, made her USA debut against Argentina and became the 22nd goalkeeper to suit up for the U.S. WNT.
  • Naeher also became the seventh U.S. WNT goalkeeper to earn a shutout in her first appearance. The others are Gretchen Gegg (1986), Amy Allmann (1987), Mary Harvey (1989), Briana Scurry (1994), Hope Solo (2000) and Emily Oleksiuk (2001).
  • Wambach, who assisted Press’ second goal against Argentina, now has 69-career assists, which ranks third all-time in U.S. WNT history.
  • The USA is 16-3-4 in 2014.
  • The U.S. is 16-1-4 under head coach Jill Ellis.
  • Left back Lori Chalupny has played in two matches of the tournament since her return to the U.S. team for the first time since the fall of 2010. She now has 94 caps while Megan Rapinoe has 95 as those two potentially could reach 100 in the spring of 2015.
  • Sydney Leroux’s red card in stoppage time against Argentina was the first ejection for the USA since the last match of 2013 when Lloyd was sent off against Brazil in Orlando, Florida, also in stoppage time.
  • The USA is currently ranked No. 2 in the world behind Germany, dropping into second place for the first time in seven years in the latest FIFA rankings released on Dec. 19. Brazil is eighth, China PR is 13th and Argentina is 36th.
  • The USA, China PR and Brazil have qualified for next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  • Among the seven 2014 FIFA World Cup matches played at the National Stadium Mane Garrincha last summer were Argentina's 1-0 quarterfinal victory against Belgium and Brazil's 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the third-place match.
  • The National Stadium Mane Garrincha cost $900 million to build, making it the second-most expensive soccer stadium in the world after England's Wembley Stadium. It opened during the summer of 2013.
  • Wambach was the top scorer in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship with seven goals and holds a world record with 177 goals in her career. She has yet to score in this tournament, but has scored seven goals vs. Brazil in her career.
  • Lauren Holiday was named the 2014 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year on Dec. 6, and was also voted the Young U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 2007 as Lauren Cheney. The 2013 NWSL MVP and 2014 NWSL Championship Game MVP became the 30th American female player to earn 100 caps when she played against Canada on May 8. She currently has 113 caps.
  • Morgan Brian was named the 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year. She had two assists vs. Argentina to up her career assist to four.
  • Wambach is the USA’s top scorer on the roster with 177 goals. After Wambach, Lloyd is the top scorer with 61-career international goals. Alex Morgan has 49 and Heather O’Reilly has scored 41. Leroux is quickly climbing the charts with 33. Rapinoe has 29 and Amy Rodriguez has 28.
  • Wambach has now reached double figures in goals in eight different calendar years. Mia Hamm still holds the record with nine years in double figures.
  • Lloyd’s eight assists are best on the team this year and she is followed by Megan Rapinoe with seven.
  • Thirty players have seen game action for the USA in 2014, including first-cappers Samantha Mewis, Sarah Hagan, Allie Long and Naeher.
  • Christie Rampone, the active caps leader in the world, earned her 303rd cap on Dec. 14. She rested against Argentina and now trails only Kristine Lilly (352 games from 1987-2010) on the all-time list.
  • Kelley O’Hara earned her 50th cap against China PR, making her the 48th player to reach that number for the U.S. WNT.

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Defending Champion U.S. MNT Placed Atop Group A for 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

CHICAGO (Dec. 16, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team has been placed atop Group A for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup as it seeks to defend its Gold Cup title and qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. 

The U.S. will play the tournament’s opening match on July 7 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, followed by a July 10 game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Three days later, the USA will complete the group phase at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. 

Complete groups and schedule, including selection of dates and assignment of matches for the knockout round and the awarding of the final, will be announced in early 2015. Fans interested in learning about a special, holiday season gift package and exclusive presale ticket offer can find more information at www.concacaf.com

CONCACAF's top-ranked teams – the United States, Costa Rica and Mexico – will headline the 12-nation tournament from July 7-26, along with Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Canada, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Haiti and Cuba. Honduras and French Guiana will meet in March with the playoff winner securing the final berth in the 2015 Gold Cup. 

A total of 13 North American cities will host matches throughout the event – Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Toronto. 

As defending champion from the 2013 competition, a Gold Cup championship this summer would guarantee the United States as the CONCACAF representative in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. If the USA is unable to defend its title, it would then face the 2015 champion in a playoff. 

The team’s opening match will be the USA’s first Gold Cup match in Frisco. Overall, the U.S. has a 1-0-1 record at the home of FC Dallas, last appearing in the venue in 2007. 

Foxborough has a storied history hosting the USA in the confederation championship, with the United States boasting an unbeaten 6-0-2 record dating back to 2003. Ten different U.S. goal scorers are on the books in games from Gillette Stadium, which has welcomed the MNT for five group games and three quarterfinal matchups. 

The MNT holds a perfect 3-0-0 record at Sporting Park, with all three matches coming in official competition against CONCACAF opponents. The U.S. made its debut appearance there in 2011 with a Jozy Altidore goal securing a 1-0 win against Guadeloupe and a first-place finish in Group C of the 2011 Gold Cup.

Four-Time FIFA World Cup Defender DaMarcus Beasley Retires from International Soccer

CHICAGO (Dec. 15, 2014) – U.S. Men’s National Team defender DaMarcus Beasley has announced his retirement from international soccer. Beasley caps off a stellar career that spanned 14 years and included 121 appearances.

This past summer, Beasley became the first U.S. player to make an appearance in four FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). He joined Kasey Keller (1990, 1998, 2002, 2006) and Claudio Reyna (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006) as the only USA players to be a part of four World Cup teams.

Beasley’s 11 caps in the World Cup tie for second-most in U.S. MNT history, and his 121 appearances rank fifth on the all-time list since debuting in 2001.

In 2014, Beasley started in six of seven games while logging 530 minutes. He was one of seven MNT players to start in all four games during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and Beasley was one of only four players to play in every minute during the tournament.

Beasley tallied 17 international goals, which ties for ninth on the all-time list with Earnie Stewart. Beasley’s 13-career assists tie for eighth on the all-time list with Clint Dempsey.

During his tenure, Beasley won four CONCACAF Gold Cup titles (2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013), the latter serving as the team captain. His 2013 campaign included a career-high 17 appearances and 1,469 minutes.

Beasley first made his name known among the U.S. Under-17 and U-20 Men’s National Teams, playing in FIFA World Cups at both age levels. He won the Silver Ball at the 1999 FIFA U-17 Youth World Championship as the tournament’s second-best player as the USA advanced to the semifinal stage of that event. Beasley also played in every minute of the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He was named the U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year in 2001.

Professionally, Beasley became the first American to score in the Champions League for two teams – Rangers and PSV Eindhoven – and holds the MNT record with 22 Champions League appearances overall. Beasley won two Dutch league championships with PSV and two Scottish titles with Rangers.

Beasley has had two stints in Major League Soccer, first with the Chicago Fire and then most recently with the Houston Dynamo. Beasley won the 2000 and 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with the Fire.

DaMarcus Beasley's U.S. Men's National Team Moments

ussoccer.com remembers some of former Men's National Team player DaMarcus Beasley's best moments with the USA!

WNT Edged 3-2 by Brazil in Second Match at International Tournament of Brasilia

BRASILIA, Brazil (Dec. 14, 2014) – Despite taking an early two-goal lead, the U.S. Women’s National Team lost 3-2 to Marta and  Brazil in the USA’s second match of the 2014 International Tournament of Brasilia. Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe scored early goals for the USA in an action packed game, but Brazilian ace Marta replied with a hat trick for the hosts. 

Brazil sits atop the tournament table with six points, followed by China PR – which beat Argentina 6-0 earlier in the day – with four. The USA is third with one point and faces last-place Argentina on Wednesday on the final day of round-robin play. The top two teams at the end of group play will meet for the championship while the third- and fourth-place teams will meet for third place. Both placement games will be on Dec. 21. The USA can still reach the championship match, but it must hope that China loses to Brazil and then make up the gap in goal difference; China is currently at +6 while the USA is at -1. 

In sharp contrast to the USA’s opening game against China, the match between the USA and Brazil was a wide open, flowing affair that featured end-to-end attacking throughout the game. Both teams carved out chances that had the crowd at Mané Garrincha Stadium regularly rising to its feet. The Americans had the better of the scoring chances, but Brazil had Marta, who made her three shots on goal count. 

The USA was unlucky to twice hit the woodwork on shots by Rapinoe and second-half sub Christen Press in the final minutes of each half, and were also thwarted on multiple occasions during the second stanza by Brazil goalkeeper Luciana, whose performance was outshone only by that of Marta. 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath), 6th minute: End-to-end action in the opening five minutes led to a USA corner that Megan Rapinoe whipped into the heart of the Brazil penalty area. Tobin Heath was on hand to knock down an attempted Brazil clearance right to the feet of Lloyd, who controlled the ball in the middle of the six-yard box, swiveled her hips towards goal and snapped a shot into the left hand side of the frame. USA 1, BRA 0  

USA – Megan Rapinoe (Abby Wambach), 9th minute: Rapinoe collected the ball from Abby Wambach wide on the right flank and beat her defender with a burst of pace. As she cut toward goal, Rapinoe unleashed a stinging shot from near the top of the box that caught Brazil goalkeeper Luciana off her line and dipped into the far left side netting. USA 2, BRA 0

BRA – Marta, 19th minute: The Brazilian ace got loose in midfield and put the USA center backs under pressure with a weaving run up the middle and then across the top of the USA box. With a defender and USA goalkeeper Hope Solo closing in, Marta blasted a shot from near the penalty spot into the right side of the goal. USA 2, BRA 1 

BRA – Marta, 55th minute: Against the run of play, Marta scored a spectacular solo goal. Picking the ball up just inside her own half, the Brazil forward drove toward the top of the USA penalty area. Cutting behind a diverting run from Debinah, Marta touched the ball wide left of the net and angled a hard, low shot back across the face of goal and into the far right hand netting. USA 2, BRA 2 

BRA – Marta (Beatriz), 65th minute: Beatriz seized on a USA turnover in its own half and slipped a pass to Marta in the right channel. Marta once again carried through a crowd of players before unleashing a dipping drive from distance that squeezed past Solo at her near right post. USA 2, BRA 3 (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Meghan Klingenberg, 24th minute: With Brazil growing in confidence after scoring in the 19th minute, Klingenberg was alert to the run of Marta, tracking the Brazil attacker across the box and getting in a leaping block to deny the five-time World Player of the Year’s overhead kick attempt. 

USA – Hope Solo, 57th minute: Christie Rampone tried to guide the ball back to Solo in the USA box, but Debinha was able to slip around the veteran center back and send a strong toe poke toward goal that Solo did well to smother. 

BRA – Luciana, 75th minute: Forward Christen Press worked herself some room  to shoot from outside the top of the box and let fly with a hard shot but it was not far enough outside Luciana’s range as she dived to her left to gather the shot. 

BRA – Luciana, 86th minute: The USA had numbers up on a counter attack as Press carried the ball in from the left flank. Press smacked a dipping drive while in full stride that was headed for the left upper-90, but Luciana was able to recover her momentum and made a soaring stop to keep Press from equalizing. 

BRA – Luciana, 90th minute: The USA won a free kick just outside the top middle of Brazil’s penalty area after Tobin Heath was taken down and Carli Lloyd stepped up to send a well-placed free kick toward the right-hand roof of the net, but Luciana got in a strong leaping parry to send the shot over the crossbar. 

Milestone Watch:

  • Christie Rampone, the active caps leader in the world, earned her 303rd cap. She trails only Kristine Lilly (352 games from 1987-2010) on the all-time list.
  • Carli Lloyd’s 58th goal put her just two shy of Shannon MacMillan for seventh on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list. Lloyd is also just three goals shy of her career best 15 goals she scored in a calendar year for the USA in 2012.
  • Lloyd moved past Julie Foudy into ninth place on the WNT’s all-time points list with 148 (58 goals, 32 assists). Foudy had 145-career points (45 goals, 55 assists). 

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. WNT will close out group play at the International Tournament of Brasilia against Argentina on Dec. 17 (4:20 p.m. ET) before playing a final placement match on Dec. 21.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram 

Additional Notes:

  • The USA is now 15-3-4 in 2014.
  • The U.S. WNT falls to 25-3-3 all-time against Brazil.
  • Outside back Lori Chalupny made her first appearance for the U.S. WNT since October of 2009, playing 31 minutes and then as planned, exited the match and was replaced by Ali Krieger.
  • U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made all of her allowed four substitutes in the match, beginning with Krieger. In the second half, Christen Press came on for Megan Rapinoe, Morgan Brian entered for Lauren Holiday and Samantha Mewis made her first appearance for the WNT since March 10 against Denmark in the Algarve Cup when she subbed on for Sydney Leroux with 10 minutes to play.
  • The U.S. WNT is now 90-9-14 in the 111 games that Rampone has been the team captain.
  • The match marked the first loss under head coach Jill Ellis. The U.S. is 15-1-4 under head coach Jill Ellis. 

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report - 

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Brazil
Date: Dec. 14, 2014
Competition: 2014 International Tournament of Brasilia; Group Play
Venue: Mané Garrincha Stadium; Brasilia, Brazil
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local / 4 p.m. ET
Attendance: 5,421
Weather: 72 degrees, cloudy 

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            2          0          2
BRA                            1          2          3 

USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath)                                6th minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Abby Wambach)                   9                    
BRA – Marta                                                               19
BRA – Marta                                                               55
BRA – Marta (Beatriz)                                                65        

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 25-Meghan Klingenberg, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 16-Lori Chalupny (11-Ali Krieger, 31);  12-Lauren Holiday (7-Morgan Brian, 65), 10-Carli Lloyd, 20-Abby Wambach; 15-Megan Rapinoe (23-Christen Press, 64), 2-Sydney Leroux (22-Samantha Mewis, 79), 17-Tobin Heath
Subs Not Used: 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Whitney Engen, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 13-Alex Morgan, 14-Julie Johnston, 18-Alyssa Naeher, 19-Crystal Dunn
Head Coach: Jill Ellis 

BRA: 12-Luciana; 2-Poliana,  3-Bruna (capt.),  4-Tayla,  11- Andressa Alves, 7-Maurine (21-Beatriz, 59), 5-Thaisa, 20-Formiga, 8-Rosana (6-Tamires, 71), 9-Debinha, 10-Marta (17-Andressinha, 88)
Subs Not Used: 1-Andreia Suntaque, 13-Camila, 14-Monica,  15-Erika, 16-Rafaelle, 18-Fernandes, 19-Darlene,  22-Gabi, 23-Barbara
Head Coach: Oswaldo Alvarez 

Stats Summary: USA / BRA
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 1
Fouls: 20 / 8
Offside: 3 / 2 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Megan Rapinoe (caution)                   31st minute
USA – Hope Solo (caution)                            41
USA – Abby Wambach (caution)                   68
BRA – Tayla (caution)                                                89 

Officials:
Referee: n/a
Assistant Referee 1: n/a
Assistant Referee 2: n/a
Fourth Official: n/a 

Budweiser Woman of the Match:   Meghan Klingenberg

Sneak a Peek Inside Tim Howard's New Book "The Keeper"

I will never forget our bus ride to the Loftus Versfeld, the Pretoria stadium where we’d play our win-or-go-home match against Algeria. All along the route, American fans stood on the road, waving and cheering. By the time Loftus came into view, the bus had to roll to a stop. A sea of supporters stretched out in all directions. Some wrapped themselves in American flags, others had painted stars and stripes on their faces, and everyone rocked the national colors—red, white, and blue. They held up scarves like one might see at a Premier League match except these said LAND OF THE FREE. They held up signs proclaiming ONE NATION. ONE TEAM, and DIVERSE. HUNGRY. UNITED. AMERICA. Fans were rapping on the windows screaming “USA!” They also held up our bus—not that anyone minded. We were so far from home, and yet all these fans made us feel like were home. “Holy crap,” said Carlos. “This is awesome.” 

The game was scoreless for 90 minutes. A draw wouldn’t be good enough for us; to advance we had to win. At a certain point, tactics went out the window. Defensive principles? Gone. The notion that a soccer game might be a chess match? Forget about it. With the clock ticking down and the prospect of our World Cup ending, there was no time for rhyme or reason. If we had a strategy, it was this: throw everything we have at them and hope they break. 

We attacked with three strikers and a midfield that marauded forward with only one thing on its mind: putting the ball in the back of their net. Algeria massed as many as nine players in front of their goal. Still we had chance after chance. We hit the post. We had a goal called back for offsides. We did everything but score. I watched on full alert, thinking, All we need is one play, one moment of inspiration where we catch them on their heels. And then, a minute into stoppage time, it arrived.

Algeria’s Rafik Saïfi had a clear header at goal but it was weak and straight at me. The ball bounced and I caught it. I had to move fast. There was no time to survey the field and pick out a safe outlet. There wasn’t time to even look up. I had to operate on instinct. My instincts were formed on the fields of New Jersey with my goalkeeping coach Tim “Mulch” Mulqueen hammering certain lessons into my brain. When the ball comes in from the left, look to the right. A split second after catching that ball, I knew—I just knew—that Landon would be tearing down the right flank. And because the game had been stretched wide open in those final frantic minutes, all those players abandoning their positions in their desperation to score, I also knew there’d be acres of green grass in front of him. So I hurled that ball as far as I could to where Landon would be by the time it landed. It came to rest at his feet, like Mulch always insisted it would.

Landon set off toward the Algeria goal, 10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards, chewing up the space as he searched for an open teammate. He pushed the ball ahead to Jozy, who picked out Clint across the box. I thought Clint would finish it but at the exact moment that he reached Jozy’s pass, the Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi threw himself bravely at Dempsey’s feet. The ball ricocheted off their keeper and away from goal. For a moment, it looked to most of the world like we were going home.

But my eyes were on Landon. He was still running, accelerating as he moved closer to the ball. I’m not even sure the Algerian defenders knew he was there. That’s the thing about Landon. He doesn’t broadcast his presence like some of the flashier players. He glides in, cool-as-you-like, and no matter how high the stakes, no matter how pressurized the situation is, he does what Landon always does—executes the finish with flawless precision.

There were 92 minutes on the clock. The ball had traveled from goal line to goal line in a few historic seconds before Landon buried it in the back of their net.

Landon raced toward the corner flag. He stretched out his arms and dove, bodysurfing along the grass. Benny Feilhaber slid behind him. Then everyone got in on it. All the guys on the field. All the guys on the bench. The coaches. The staff. Everyone. They ran toward Landon and threw themselves on top of him, one after another. Jozy flew onto the pileup like he was Superman. Jay DeMerit finished it off with a rolling somersault over the whole delirious gang. I watched the jubilation from the far end of the field. I kneeled down and touched the grass, five precise touches. I stood. I kissed my goalkeeper’s gloves, and raised my arms toward the sky.

“Thank you,” I said, looking up. “Thank you.”

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