As the U.S. Men’s National Team ramps up its final preparations for next month’s CONCACAF Cup playoff with Mexico, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s has brought several veteran faces back into the fold to compete for spots in October’s playoff.
Three of the players that return to the mix are midfielder Jermaine Jones, defender Matt Besler and goalkeeper Tim Howard – a trio that played every minute of every match at last summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. All recently absent from the team for different reasons, the three returned to MNT camp this week with joy at seeing teammates again and anticipation for the task ahead.
“It’s always nice to be back with the boys,” Jones told ussoccer.com Monday. “I think every player is happy to represent his country and I always want to play.”
Set to join the National Team for June’s friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany, Jones suffered a groin injury in his last match with the New England Revolution prior to leaving for the games. The injury required surgery, which subsequently kept him from last month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
While he got to see his teammates when they came to Boston for their second group match against Haiti, all he could do was watch. In the end, he felt the same disappointment as his teammates on the field when the U.S. fell 2-1 to Jamaica in the tournament semifinals, setting up October’s showdown with Mexico.
“It’s always bad if you have to fix an injury and be out because of it,” he said. “I was sad to sit upstairs and not play and watch on TV. I think the whole team isn’t happy with the result at the Gold Cup, but we have a chance on October 10 where we can fix it. This is the goal, and now we have two games with Brazil and Peru. I think we see them differently than other friendlies.”
Having first returned with New England a month ago, Jones has gradually built up his fitness, playing the first hour of the Revolution’s 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Union over the weekend.
“I try to get my fitness back,” he added. “I got 60 minutes with my club team now. It’s good to get a little bit harder training and get some good balance. I want to get my body to 100 percent as quick as possible.”
Recent Men’s National Team call-up and IMG Academy alum Aron Johannsson netted his first goal for Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on Sunday. Scoring a penalty kick in the 39th minute, Johannsson helped his side to a 2-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. The American forward, who has made three appearances for Werder Bremen this season, will meet up with fellow Development Academy alums Joe Corona (Nomads SC), DeAndre Yedlin (Crossfire Premier & Seattle Sounders), and Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) in Washington D.C. when the U.S. MNT takes on Peru on Sept. 4 at RFK Stadium.
Youth National Teams
- U-23 MNT Set for England, Qatar Friendlies: Thirteen players from this roster have ties to the Development Academy: Luis Gil (Pateadores), Ethan Horvath (Real Colorado), Emerson Hyndman (FC Dallas), Benji Joya (De Anza Force), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Minnesota Thunder Academy), Boyd Okwuonu (FC Dallas), Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids), Marc Pelosi (De Anza Force), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy & Pateadores), Zack Steffen (Continental FC DELCO), Wil Trapp (Crew SC Academy).
- U-20 MNT Heads to Czech Republic Tournament: Twenty-two players from this roster have ties to the Development Academy: Amir Bashti (San Jose Earthquakes), Coy Craft (FC Dallas), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls), Collin Fernandez (Chicago Fire), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake-AZ), Christian Hererra (Real Salt Lake-AZ), Nicholas Hinds (Kendall SC), Cameron Lindley (Chicago Fire & Indiana Fire Academy), Andrew Lombard (New York Red Bulls), Christian Lucatero (Houston Dynamo), Victor Mansaray (Seattle Sounders FC), Abuchi Obinwa (Chicago Magic PSG), Christian Onalfo (LA Galaxy), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Pablo Palaez (San Diego Surf), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Nash Popovic (Vardar), Emmanuel Sabbi (Chicago Magic PSG), Martin Salas (FC Dallas), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake-AZ), Ben Swanson (Crew SC Academy), Justin Vom Steeg (Real So Cal)
Across Major League Soccer
- Tim Parker (Albertson SC) helped the Vancouver Whitecaps earn a new piece of silverware with with a goal in the 53rd minute of a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship final last Wednesday.
- Conor Doyle (Dallas Texans) scored a 90th minute goal to punctuate a 3-0 victory for D.C. United over Montego Bay and all but secure passage to the knockout rounds of the 2016 CONCACAF Champions League last Tuesday.
- Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids) assisted Kevin Doyle’s game-winning goal in the 79th minute for the Colorado Rapids’ 2-1 victory over Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.
- Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution) scored the game-winning goal against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. The 20-year-old Fagundez became the youngest player in MLS history to score 25 career goals.
- Wil Trapp (Crew SC Academy) assisted Federico Higuain in the 10th minute off a corner kick in Columbus Crew SC’s 2-1 victory over New York City FC on Saturday.
- Sheanon Williams (FC Bolts Celtic) assisted Ricardo Clark in the 34th minute to help Houston Dynamo in a 2-0 league win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps.
CHICAGO (Monday, Aug. 31, 2015) – The Confederation of North Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) today announced that the two Oct. 10 semifinal matches of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship have been shifted forward by one hour, and are now set to kickoff at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. MT (3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET) in Sandy, Utah.
The tournament finalists qualify directly to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. The third-place finisher advances to a playoff against Colombia to determine an additional representative of the Americas in Brazil.
The USA opens qualifying with a pair of games at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, against Canada on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. CT [TICKETS] and Cuba on Oct. 3 at 4 p.m. CT. The U.S. will conclude group play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, on Oct. 6 against Panama at 7:30 p.m. MT [TICKETS].
2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship
Group A: Group B:
United States Honduras
Cuba Costa Rica
2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Schedule (Local time/ET)
Thursday, October 1 (Sporting Park)
5:30 pm (6:30 pm ET) Panama vs. Cuba
8:00 pm (9:00 pm ET) United States vs. Canada
Friday, October 2 (StubHub Center)
6:00 pm (9:00 pm ET) Honduras vs. Haiti
8:30 pm (11:30 pm ET) Mexico vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, October 3 (Sporting Park)
1:30 pm (2:30 pm ET) Canada vs. Panama
4:00 pm (5:00 pm ET) Cuba vs. United States
Sunday, October 4 (StubHub Center)
1:30 pm (4:30 pm ET) Honduras vs. Costa Rica
4:00 pm (7:00 pm ET) Haiti vs. Mexico
Tuesday, October 6 (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
5:00 pm (7:00 pm ET) Canada vs. Cuba
7:30 pm (9:30 pm ET) United States vs. Panama
Wednesday, October 7 (Dick’s Sporting Goods Park)
5:00 pm (7:00 pm ET) Costa Rica vs. Haiti
7:30 pm (9:30 pm ET) Mexico vs. Honduras
Saturday, October 10 (Rio Tinto Stadium)
Semifinals (Winners advance to the 2016 Olympic games)
1:00 pm (3:00 pm ET) 1A vs. 2B
4:00 pm (6:00 pm ET) 2A vs. 1B
Tuesday, October 13, (Rio Tinto Stadium)
3rd Place (Winner advances to Olympic Games play-in against Colombia)
5:00 pm (7:00 pm ET) Loser Semifinal 1 vs. Loser Semifinal 2
8:00 pm (10:00 pm ET) Winner Semifinal 1 vs. Winner Semifinal 2
Marlene Duffy didn’t ever think she would be a good enough player to advance to a high level. Although she loved the game, her 5’2” frame didn’t lend itself well to her position as a goalkeeper and eventually she chose a different way to be involved with the game by becoming a referee.
Duffy began that track at age 12, eventually rising through the ranks before joining the FIFA Panel, qualifying her to officiate international matches as an assistant referee in 2008. After nearly 25 years and 10 international tournaments, Duffy announced her retirement this week because of health reasons.
"I feel so lucky to have had the experiences I've had, travelled to some amazing places, and met so many great friends,” she told ussoccer.com.
After becoming a referee himself, Duffy’s father encouraged her to become an official. Like many, her early view of the work was to make extra money, but as time went on, Duffy became more interested in improving upon every performance.
“It wasn’t just about going out to get money for doing whatever game I could get anymore,” Duffy said. “It was about growing and doing better and better. I was trying to improve and excel and I wanted to see what the highest level I could achieve was.”
She went pretty high.
Her first big game came in 2004 when she worked Mia Hamm’s final international match. Her first international tournament came four years later when she officiated during CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2008 FIFA U-17 World Championship[NW1] . She stepped up the ladder later that year, running the line in a first round game of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing – a rematch of the previous year’s World Cup Final between Germany and Brazil.
Duffy’s most memorable match though came during the opening game of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final between France and Nigeria.
“The World Cup is the pinnacle,” she told ussoccer.com. “Everything is faster and there’s just a different level of experience when you get there.”
She would go on to work CONCACAF qualifying and the tournaments themselves at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup. Nearly all of her big international matches came working with one of the top female referees of all-time in Kari Seitz.
Marlene Duffy (left) and Keri Seitz (center-right) officiated together for many years at the pinnacle of the women's game.
Having retired herself in 2013, Seitz is the only referee – male or female – to work four FIFA World Cups and three Summer Olympic Games. The veteran referee garnered professional admiration from Duffy early on.
“I was amazed at how much preparation she put into every single game and her professionalism,” she said. “I don’t think I know of anybody who could say a bad thing about her. She was an excellent referee who I was pleased to have the ability to work with and learn from.”
Seitz had the highest praise for her former assistant referee.
“Marlene has been a wonderful representative of quality assistant referees in the USA,” Seitz told ussoccer.com. “She never stopped working hard to maintain the very highest standard. I am personally very fortunate to have the distinct pleasure of working with Marlene in many games including her first Women's World Cup and Olympic games. These are incredible moments in one’s referee career and I am incredibly proud to have shared them with Marlene. It's been an honor to work with her and she will be missed."
While she’s still trying to figure out how she wants to stay involved in the game, there are opportunities for Duffy to pass 25 years of experience along to a younger generation of referees as an instructor and assessor. Having surveyed the referee landscape, Duffy said the development of the Professional Referee Organization has seen her side of the game continue to grow.
"It’s getting better and becoming more professional,” she said. “It’s possible that’s a factor of me getting higher in the ranks and seeing more of it, but it seems more organized now and the experiences you get going to PRO camps now is more similar to what you see going to a tournament. The education is getting better.”