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U.S. MNT Goalkeeper Tim Howard Takes Break from International Soccer

CHICAGO (Aug. 21, 2014) – Three-time FIFA World Cup veteran Tim Howard has asked to take a break from duties with the U.S. Men’s National Team until next fall, and after discussions with U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann the Everton goalkeeper will not be considered for selection to the U.S. roster until September of 2015.

Howard is not retiring from international play. The decision is driven mainly by the desire to spend more time with his family.

“Having played overseas for the last 12 years and missing out on spending time with my family, making this commitment to my family is very important at this time,” said Howard. “I am grateful for the willingness of both Jurgen Klinsmann and Everton manager Roberto Martinez to afford me the opportunity to spend time with my kids. It’s the right decision at the right time. Jurgen has always been up front with all the players in saying you have to earn your place, which is something I agree with, so I look forward to coming back next fall and competing for a spot.”

Klinsmann and Howard had extensive conversations prior to the decision, and the U.S. coach is supportive of the approach.

“We had a very good and productive conversation,” said Klinsmann. “I totally understand Tim’s situation. He was very straight forward and honest in his approach, and I admire him for that. He has a wish to take a step back to take care of his family, and we came to the conclusion that it’s absolutely fine that he takes time off from international soccer until after next summer’s Gold Cup, and then we reevaluate. I told him as long as he is the same Tim Howard that we always see performing well, he will be welcome back with open arms and right back competing for a spot. He knows that he has to prove that he deserves to be back.”

Howard will miss as many as eight friendly matches as well as the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, giving Klinsmann the chance to see other goalkeepers in action. He will continue in his starting role for Everton of the English Premier League, which is now in the second week of the 2014-15 season that runs through May.

Howard has amassed 104 caps and is the USA’s all-time leader for goalkeepers in appearances and wins (55). The 35-year-old has played every minute for the United States in the last two FIFA World Cups. In Brazil this past summer, he twice earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors, including the 2-2 draw against Portugal and the Round of 16 game against Belgium in which he posted a World Cup-record 15 saves.

“This gives us a huge opportunity to see Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando going forward and fighting for the No. 1 spot,” said Klinsmann. “We have young talented goalkeepers with Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid, who have been brought along the last couple years, so this may give them a chance here and there to get some game time. Always when somebody steps aside for a moment, it gives an opportunity for the next ones in line.”

The U.S. Men’s National Team will travel to face the Czech Republic on Sept. 3 in Prague, marking the first match for the United States following the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The match will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network and UniMas. Fans can also follow on Twitter @ussoccer.

Tim Howard

Q&A with U.S. MNT Goalkeeper Tim Howard

U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard said Thursday that he will be taking a break from MNT duties to spend additional time with his family. After a lengthy conversation with USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Howard vows to make himself available for selection starting in the fall of 2015.

ussoccer.com caught up with the star goalkeeper about this decision.

What prompted you to make this decision to take a year off from international duty?
Tim Howard: “Having played overseas for the last 12 years and missing out on spending time with my family, making this commitment to my family is very important at this time. I am grateful for the willingness of both Jurgen Klinsmann and Everton manager Roberto Martinez to afford me the opportunity to spend time with my kids. It’s the right decision at the right time. Jurgen has always been up front with all the players in saying you have to earn your place, which is something I agree with, so I look forward to coming back next fall and competing for a spot.”

ussoccer.com: How do you feel physically at this stage of your career?
TH: “Physically and mentally I feel as strong as ever. I’m also 35 years old and it’s four years before the next World Cup. If I want to be able to get to the next World Cup, I also have to be smart about managing my body. I will get a bit of extra time off during the international windows, and this will also be the first real summer break that I have had in 12 years.”

ussoccer.com: Do you want to play in another World Cup?
TH: “Right now my heart, mind and body all say yes, but it’s difficult to predict the situation in four years. I will always be upfront about my intentions, and of course the manager has to select you. I am fully committed to the cause, and it’s important to me that my teammates understand that.”

Have you been assured the No. 1 spot when you return?
TH: “Absolutely not. Jurgen has always been upfront with all the players in saying you have to earn your place, which is something I agree with. Every player makes their own choices for their own reasons. In my case, this is a decision for my family. For me, it’s important that my teammates and my coaches have a clear understanding of where I’m coming from. I hope by now they know what I am about. I’ve had honest conversations with Jurgen and Roberto Martinez, and I appreciate their understanding. It doesn’t change the fact that I have to earn my spot, and I look forward to doing that.”

Abby Wambach Takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

U.S. WNT forward Abby Wambach completes the #alsicebucketchallenge from U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. She will be donating to this worthy cause and challenges the #USMNT.

U.S. WNT Tallies Three Second-Half Goals in 4-1 Rout of Switzerland

CARY, North Carolina (Aug. 20, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Team scored three second-half goals and earned a 4-1 victory against Switzerland in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,992 at WakeMed Soccer Park.

A well-rounded scoring effort featured goals from Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Abby Wambach. Lloyd’s 56th-minute penalty kick served as the game-winner, and Wambach’s second-half PK pushed her USA-record goal scoring total to 168.

This was the first meeting between the two countries at the senior team level. Switzerland has already qualified for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, and the USA will prepare for FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying in October in the United States.

Wednesday marked the first opportunity for goalkeeper Hope Solo to set a new shutout record (currently tied with Briana Scurry with 71 clean sheets), but a Switzerland penalty kick from Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic put that milestone on hold.

The U.S. goal total could have been far greater if not for Switzerland goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann. She made seven first-half saves as the USA pelted the Swiss goal with eight shots – all of them on frame.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Sydney Leroux), 3rd minute: From midfield, Rapinoe started the U.S. attack and dished to Leroux on the left side. Leroux cut to her right and played the ball back to Rapinoe about 10 yards above the box. Rapinoe fired with her left from about 22 yards out. It took a slight deflection off Switzerland’s Rahel Kiwic and squeaked inside the right side of the frame for the early lead. USA 1, SUI 0

USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty), 56th minute: Megan Rapinoe’s cross from the left side of the box hit the hand of Switzerland’s Fabienne Humm and the USA was awarded the penalty kick. Lloyd was called in for the occasion and stepped up confidently with a low right-footed shot into the left of the frame for the two-goal cushion. Switzerland goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann had anticipated the shot going the other direction. USA 2, SUI 0

SUI – Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (penalty), 70th minute: In a similar fashion leading to the USA’s penalty kick, Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann crossed from the left side and the ball struck U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s arm. Referee Katja Koroleva pointed to the spot, and Crnogorcevic took the PK. USA goalkeeper Hope Solo, attempting to break the U.S. WNT shutout record, leaned to her right and Crnogorcevic shot in the other direction to cut the USA’s lead to one. USA 2, SUI 1

USA – Christen Press (unassisted), 77th minute: Following a Christie Rampone free kick into the box, the ball fumbled around and Switzerland’s defense weakly cleared. From 25 yards out, Press chest-trapped the short clearance and fired a right-footed shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and over the end line as goalkeeper Thalmann could only watch. USA 3, SUI 1

USA – Abby Wambach (penalty), 87th minute: On a Carli Lloyd cross from the right, Wambach drew a foul against Switzerland second-half sub Nicole Remund, who shoved the USA striker and earned the PK. Wambach took the penalty herself, a right-footed shot that clipped off of Thalmann’s gloves and into the net for her fifth goal this year and 168th of her storied career. USA 4, SUI 1 (FINAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
SUI – Gaëlle Thalmann, 20th minute: USA goalkeeper Hope Solo delivered a deep ball toward a darting Christen Press as she had a step on Switzerland’s back line. Thalmann instinctively rushed off her line and outside the box and headed the ball away before Press could converge.

SUI – Gaëlle Thalmann, 39th and 40th minutes: The busy Switzerland goalkeeper made back-to-back diving stops against the USA’s lethal attack. First, it was an Alex Morgan left-footed shot from the left side of the box that was headed toward the inside of the far right post, but Thalmann dove to her left for the save. Then, Lauren Holiday took a crack from just outside the top of the box, and again Thalmann made a diving save at the near right post.

SUI – Stenia Michel, 46th minute: In the first 12 seconds of the second half, the U.S. nearly took advantage of an errant pass in Switzerland’s half. Carli Lloyd fired from outside the box and Michel, who had just entered the game, made a swatting right-handed save on a shot that was bound for the upper right corner.

Milestone Watch:

  • Defender and team captain Christie Rampone made her 295th appearance as she nears the 300-cap milestone. Rampone is second all-time in WNT history to Kristine Lilly in games played. Lilly had 352 caps from 1987-2010.
  • Carli Lloyd moved past Briana Scurry for 13th in career appearances with 174.
  • Hope Solo tied Michelle Akers for 17th all-time in career caps with 153.
  • Lloyd now has 51 goals for her career as she is ninth on the all-time goal scoring list.

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. WNT will host two matches against Mexico, first on Sept. 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (4:30 p.m. MT), followed by a Sept. 18 match at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York (7 p.m. ET).
Broadcast information: Sept. 13 – TBD; Sept. 18 – ESPN2, WatchESPN
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt | @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • The U.S. is now 8-2-3 this year.
  • Hope Solo moved to 118-9-18 for her career. She is second only to Briana Scurry for all-time wins (Scurry went 133-12-14 from 1994-2008).
  • Christen Press now has 13 goals in 25 international appearances.
  • The USA improved to 108-2-8 when Abby Wambach scores a goal.
  • Wambach has now scored at least five goals in a calendar year 11 times in her 14 years with the WNT.
  • U.S. head coach Jill Ellis’ starting lineup featured a defensive corps led by Solo in goal, Crystal Dunn at left back, Ali Krieger at right back and the center back duo of Becky Sauerbrunn and team captain Christie Rampone.
  • The midfield of the 4-3-3 featured Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe.
  • The USA’s starting forward trio included Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan and Press.
  • The U.S. rolled out three substitutions to open the second half. Wambach entered for Leroux, Meghan Klingenberg replaced Krieger and Julie Johnston got the call for Sauerbrunn.
  • Heather O’Reilly replaced Morgan in the 66th minute, Morgan Brian entered for Rapinoe in the 78th minute, and Allie Long replaced Holiday in the 85th minute.
  • O’Reilly, Press and Sauerbrunn have played in all 13 games this year.
  • Krieger and Lloyd lead the USA with 12 starts apiece in 2014.
  • Ellis is now 8-0-3 as the U.S. WNT head coach.
  • Ten players on the U.S roster that trained this week in North Carolina return to National Women’s Soccer League play for the semifinal stage of the league’s second season. FC Kansas City hosts Portland Thorns FC on Saturday, Aug. 23 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN2), and Seattle Reign FC takes on the Washington Spirit on Aug. 24 (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

-U.S. Women’s National Team Report-

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Switzerland
Date: Aug. 20, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, North Carolina
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 9,992
Weather: 77 degrees, cool

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 3 4
SUI                          0 1 1

USA – Megan Rapinoe (Sydney Leroux)    3rd minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty)                         56
SUI – Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (penalty)    71
USA – Christen Press (unassisted)              77
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty)                 87

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger (25-Meghan Klingenberg, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (16-Julie Johnston, 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Crystal Dunn; 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Holiday (6-Allie Long, 85), 15-Megan Rapinoe (7-Morgan Brian, 78); 2-Sydney Leroux (20-Abby Wambach, 46), 13-Alex Morgan (9-Heather O’Reilly, 66), 23-Christen Press
Substitutions Not Used: 18-Alyssa Naeher
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

SUI: 1-Gaëlle Thalmann (12-Stenia Michel, 46); 5-Noëlle Maritz, 14-Rahel Kiwic (8-Sandy Maendly, 82), 15-Caroline Abbé (capt.); 7-Martina Moser (22-Vanessa Bernauerk, 68), 9-Lia Wälti, 16-Fabienne Humm (2-Nicole Remund, 68), 18-Vanessa Bürki (6-Selina Kuster, 56); 10-Ramona Bachmann, 11-Lara Dickenmann, 13-Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (19-Eseosa Aigbogun, 74)
Substitutions Not Used: 23-Fabienne Bangerter
Head coach: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

Stats Summary: USA / SUI
Shots: 16 / 7
Shots on Goal: 15 / 1
Saves: 0 / 10
Corner Kicks: 8 / 3
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 3 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
SUI – Rahel Kiwic (caution)           19th minute
SUI – Lia Wälti (caution)               45+1
SUI – Caroline Abbé (caution)      58
USA – Carli Lloyd (caution)          85

Officials:
Referee: Katja Koroleva (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Felisha Mariscal (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Amanda Ross (USA)
Fourth Official: Christopher Spivey (USA)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Lauren Holiday

Rodriguez, Sauerbrunn Reflect on 2004 Trip to Thailand

The very first venture into big-time international soccer for U.S. Women's National Team players Becky Sauerbrunn and Amy Rodriguez turned into a bittersweet experience.

Their participation at the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship was quite sweet because of its exotic location – Thailand – and the competition opened the eyes of both teenagers to the demands of one the highest levels of international soccer.

It was bitter as well, because the Americans failed in their quest to win the championship and due to the damage and loss of life the great tsunami caused a month afterwards.

The team had discovered paradise in Phuket, Thailand.

"I loved my experience in Thailand," Rodriguez said. "It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Actually, one of my favorite countries ever. Very exotic, very beautiful. It was gorgeous. It was amazing."

Amy Rodriguez and Becky Sauerbrunn

The team's first two group-stage games were in Phuket. The USA stayed at a beach hotel.

"We lucked out," Sauerbrunn said. "You look out your window and you're looking straight at the ocean. The first time I walked through the lobby I was like 'Oh my God. I had never seen this.' It was beautiful. I really wasn't expecting the turnout at the games, either. The Thai people really came out. We got 10,000 people for the opening matches and for a lot of us; we had never played in front of that kind of crowd before. The country did the tournament justice."

It might have been paradise, but the tournament was work for the WNT. The U.S. won its first four matches before running into a talented German side, losing them in the semifinals, 3-1. Germany would go on to win the tournament. The USA blanked Brazil and an 18-year-old Marta in the third-place match, 3-0.

Rodriguez said not winning "was quite disappointing," which only left the players hungry for more success.

"Most definitely," she said. "My goal, my ultimate career goal at this point is to win a World Cup. I'm hoping that I have a good year this year and I can make that World Cup team and hopefully get that World Cup gold that I haven't been able to get."

The tournament turned out to be a learning experience on several levels.

"It was a gut check," Sauerbrunn said. "It was kind of an expectation that we were going to win. For a lot of girls it was the first time, like, wow, we're not used to this. This is not a good feeling. What I carried on from the U-19s is that it doesn't matter how hard you prepare, what you're doing; you show up on that day, you take care of business."

Nikki Krzysik, Becky Sauerbrunn and Amy Rodriguez

Rodriguez remembered how fast the players and teams were.

"I was shocked as a 17-year-old playing against these great players," she said. "The speed of play was much quicker. I was still in high school at the time when I was brought in with the U-19s, so I learned to play a lot of faster and how to go against tough competition."

They also learned how fragile life and paradise can be. On Dec. 26, 2004, about month after the tournament final, a tsunami wreaked havoc in 15 countries. The Phuket hotel was destroyed. More than 230,000 people were killed, including almost 5,400 in Thailand.

"I felt very fortunate to be there when I did in such beauty and such an awesome experience, but it was sad to hear that it was destroyed by a giant tsunami," Rodriguez said.

Added Sauerbrunn "It just makes you put things into perspective a little bit about soccer. For us it's a passion, but it’s not an end-all, be-all of life. We were so sad about the people that we met, the hotel staff. We were still bummed about the tournament then it was kind of like well, there way worse things that can happen to us. We should be really fortunate for everything that we had."

Amy Rodriguez, Jen Redmond and Becky Sauerbrunn

Two-Time U.S. Paralympian Jon McCullough Passes Away

CHICAGO (Aug. 16, 2014) – Jon McCullough, chairman of U.S. Soccer’s Athlete Council and a longtime leader and volunteer in the Olympic and Paralympic movements, passed away after succumbing to cancer.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of Jon McCullough’s passing,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “Jon lived his life with the embodiment of team spirit, always willing to give everything he could for the good of the sport and his community. The U.S. Soccer and Paralympic communities have lost a great advocate and an even better person. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

McCullough represented the U.S. Paralympic Team in the 1996 and 2004 Paralympics as a defender. He was a member of the USA squad for 12 years, also playing in the 1998 World All-Star Game in Brazil, three ParaPan American Games and three World Championships.

McCullough’s on-field passion for soccer filtered off the field as he served in a variety of leadership and volunteer roles in the Olympics and Paralympics. He was a member and chair of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athletes Advisory Council, a chairman of U.S. Soccer’s Athlete Council and a member of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. McCullough also served on the International Paralympic Committees Athlete Council and the USOC’s Paralympic Advisory Committee.

At the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, McCullough was a keynote speaker for the Man-Up Summit, a weeklong gathering of 150 international delegates seeking to develop domestic initiatives to halt violence against women and girls, using sport and music as tools. Also in South Africa, McCullough was a facilitator for FIFA’s youth initiative Football for Hope.

Most recently, McCullough served as the executive director at BlazeSports America, based in Decatur, Georgia. BlazeSports provides all children and adults with physical disabilities the chance to play sports and live healthy and active lives.

McCullough was a decorated disabled veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and held an undergraduate dual degree in international environmental health from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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