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U.S. MNT Opens Send-Off Series with 2-0 Win Against Azerbaijan, Powered by Yingli Solar

SAN FRANCISCO (May 27, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team opened its three-game Send-Off Series with a 2-0 victory against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park as second-half substitutes Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson each scored a goal.

The match, powered by Yingli Solar, saw U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard tie Kasey Keller’s record of 53 career U.S. MNT victories. Howard also posted his 35th career shutout, making two saves for the clean sheet.

Next up for the USA is a match against Turkey on Sunday, June 1, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey (2 p.m. ET). The game will be broadcast on ESPN2, WatchESPN, Univision, Univision Deportes Network and ESPN Deportes Radio. Fans can also follow the MNT on Twitter @ussoccer.

Throughout the first half and into the second, the USA always seemed like the team that would score the first goal and the U.S. finally broke the stalemate in the 75th minute. Substitute Brad Davis delivered a free kick from the left side and Azerbaijan’s Ilkin Girtimov headed the ball up, but not out of danger.

Diskerud got a head on the falling ball it and it bounced to Michael Bradley, whose shot from 13 yards out was alertly blocked by Azerbaijan defender Elvin Yunuszade on the goal line with his left foot. The ball ricocheted to Diskerud, who had entered the match just four minutes earlier, and he finished with skill and powered it into the right side of the net. It was Diskerud’s third career tally and first of 2014. (SEE GOAL)

In the 81st minute, Johannsson doubled the USA lead off a Davis corner kick from the right side. Johannsson was completely unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box and he flicked his header into the upper right corner of the goal for the 2-0 lead. It was Johannsson’s first goal of 2014 and second of his young U.S. MNT career. (SEE GOAL)

Though the first half was scoreless, the U.S. created the majority of the scoring chances. Forward Chris Wondolowski, who got the start after Clint Dempsey was a precautionary scratch due to some soreness in his groin, put headers on frame in the fourth and 15th minutes. Both were saved spectacularly by Azerbaijan goalkeeper Kamran Aghayev, the first with his legs and the second with a tremendous tip over the crossbar.

In the second half, the USA had several chances but shot high, including a Michael Bradley took a free kick in the 49th minute that sailed just over the goal. The placement of that free kick carried some controversy as Brad Davis appeared to have been fouled just inside the penalty area, but the free kick was awarded a foot outside the box.

Budweiser Man of the Match Jozy Altidore also had a couple scoring chances, including a 63rd-minute sequence in which he received a pass on the ground from Bradley, held off his defender well on the turn and fired over the crossbar.

Defensively, Howard needed to make only two saves for the clean sheet, the biggest stop coming in the seventh minute against Vagif Javadov after the USA gave up the ball outside the box. In swirling winds, Howard confidently pushed the shot away for a corner kick.

Milestone Watch:

  • U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard tied Kasey Keller’s record of 53 victories, and Howard is now 53-28-15 since debuting for the U.S. MNT in 2002. Keller was 53-27-18 during his tenure from 1990-2007.
  • Howard is two appearances away from reaching the 100-cap milestone. He now has 98 career appearances as he looks to become the 15th U.S. MNT player to reach the century mark.
  • With Tuesday’s victory, Jurgen Klinsmann (29-11-8) is now one win away from matching Bora Milutinovic’s career wins total (30) for third on the all-time list. Ahead of them are Bruce Arena (71) and 2014 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Bob Bradley (43).
  • DaMarcus Beasley, who is looking to become just the third USA player to appear in four World Cups, earned his 115th career international cap and his first of 2014. He is fifth on the all-time caps list.

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT faces Turkey in the second game of the Send-Off Series at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 1, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
Broadcast information: ESPN2, WatchESPN, Univision, Univision Deportes Network and ESPN Deportes Radio
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • This was the USA’s first international matchup against Azerbaijan.
  • The U.S. MNT is now 2-1-1 in 2014.
  • The USA is 2-2-0 at Candlestick Park.
  • Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann went with a starting lineup that featured goalkeeper Tim Howard, left back DaMarcus Beasley, right back Fabian Johnson and a center back pairing of Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron.
  • The midfield in Klinsmann’s 4-4-2 included Alejandro Bedoya on the left, Graham Zusi on the right, Jermaine Jones as the holding midfielder and Michael Bradley at the top of the diamond.
  • Chris Wondolowski and Jozy Altidore were paired up front.
  • Howard wore the captain’s armband for the first time in 2014 and the 10th time in his career. The U.S. MNT is 5-4-1 in games when Howard is the captain.
  • Klinsmann made three halftime subs as he readies this 23-player roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He made two defensive subs, bringing in center back Omar Gonzalez for Cameron and left back Timmy Chandler for Beasley. In the midfield, Brad Davis replaced Zusi to open the second half.
  • For Chandler, it marked his first appearance with the U.S. MNT since the squad’s 2-1 loss to Honduras on Feb. 6, 2013, in World Cup qualifying.
  • With Davis entering the match on the left side of the midfield, Bedoya switched roles to the right side.
  • In the 62nd minute, forward Aron Johannsson entered the game for Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin replaced Johnson. Johannsson made his eighth career appearance and Yedlin his third. Both players also have former ties to U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy – Yedlin with Seattle Sounders FC and Johannsson with IMG Academy.
  • Mix Diskerud was the USA’s final sub, replacing Bedoya in the 71st minute.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Azerbaijan, powered by Yingli Solar
Date: May 27, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Candlestick Park; San Francisco, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Attendance: 24,688
Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        0 2 2
AZE                        0 0 0

USA – Mix Diskerud                            75th minute
USA – Aron Johannsson (Brad Davis)  81

USA: 1-Tim Howard (capt.); 23-Fabian Johnson (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 62), 20-Geoff Cameron (3-Omar Gonzalez, 46), 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Timmy Chandler, 46); 19-Graham Zusi (14-Brad Davis, 46), 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Mix Diskerud, 71); 17-Jozy Altidore, 18-Chris Wondolowski (9-Aron Johannsson, 62)
Subs Not Used: 6-John Brooks, 8-Clint Dempsey, 12-Brad Guzan, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Julian Green, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

AZE: 1-Kamran Aghayev, 3-Rasim Ramaldanov, 4-Mahir Shukurov (capt.) (25-Ilkin Girtimov, 46), 7-Vagif Javadov (13-Dmitrij Nazarov, 60), 8-Gara Garayev, 10-Rufat Dadashov (28-Pardis Fardjad-Azad, 66), 11-Rauf Aliyev, 15-Ruslan Abishov (2-Badavi Guseynov, 46), 20-Ufuk Budak, 24-Abdulla Abasiyev (18-Maksim Medvedev, 71), 29-Elvin Yunuszade
Subs Not Used: 5-Shahriyar Aliyev, 9-Jihan Ozkara, 12-Emil Balayev, 14-Rashad Sadigov, 23-Salahat Aghayev
Head Coach: Berti Vogts

Stats Summary: USA / AZE
Shots: 14 / 7
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 11 / 6
Fouls: 9 / 16
Offside: 1 / 1

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Henry Bejarano (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Warner Castro (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Fernandez (CRC)
Fourth Official: Armando Castro (HON)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore

  • DateTuesday, May 27, 2014
  • VenueCandlestick Park; San Francisco, Calif.
  • Kickoff7:00 PM PT
  • Attendance24,688

USA Downs Cuba 6-1 to Advance to Olympic Qualifying Championship Semifinal

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Oct. 3, 2015) - The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team advanced to the semifinal round of the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship with a 6-1 win against Cuba in Group A play at Sporting Park. 

Jerome Kiesewetter continued his fantastic form for the USA, scoring two goals to lead the way offensively for the Stars and Stripes. Center back partners Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga opened the scoring with a goal apiece and the U.S. then got strikes from Emerson Hyndman and Alonso Hernandez to go up 6-0. Cuba added a consolation goal in stoppage time. 

The USA next plays Panama at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on Oct. 6 to round out group play. A win or draw against Panama would guarantee the U.S. top spot in Group A. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on NBC Universo. A full Match Report will be available shortly.

Klinsmann Calls 23 Players for Epic CONCACAF Cup Clash with Rival Mexico

CHICAGO (Oct. 3, 2015) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named the 23-player roster for the winner-take-all CONCACAF Cup against Mexico, which grants the victor a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.

The match will kick off Saturday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m. PT at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports GO, Univision and the Univision Deportes Network.

“This roster is obviously full of experience,” said Klinsmann. “This is about having a group of players who understand exactly now what this is all about. This is about momentum. This is about high energy. This is about representing my country. This is about belief and a high-level of aggressiveness in a one-off game to beat Mexico and to get to the Confederations Cup. It’s a unique opportunity, and you have to embrace it and give everything you have.”

The U.S. roster is loaded with experience, including seven players with 50 or more caps and four - DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard – that have surpassed 100 appearances for the United States. A total of 16 players in this group were a part of the USA’s 2014 World Cup roster.

The match is a faceoff between the region’s fiercest rivals. In a series dating back to 1934, the U.S. has taken the momentum in recent years. The MNT has dominated at home, amassing a 10-2-4 record on U.S. soil against El Tri since 2000. Additionally, the United States is unbeaten in the last four years with a 3-0-3 record, including the team’s first victory against Mexico on Mexican soil.

The teams most recently met in April in San Antonio, where the U.S. triumphed 2-0, a score line that has highlighted nine MNT victories against Mexico since 2000. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will look to extend his lifetime unbeaten streak as a player and coach against Mexico to 11 games (5-0-5 all-time).

The USA’s place in the playoff was secured when it won the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Mexico won the 2015 edition of the tournament and in so doing qualified for the playoff.

U.S. Roster By Position:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

U.S. Roster Notes

  • Jozy Altidore has appeared in nine games for the MNT this year. The forward scored a pair in the team’s 2-1 win against Peru in September, which was the fourth multi-goal game of his international career. With four goals in 2015, he is now just one goal behind Brain McBride (30) for fourth on the MNT’s all-time goal-scoring list.
  • Clint Dempsey led the way for the U.S. at this summer’s Gold Cup where he won the Golden Boot; his seven goals are the most scored by an American player in a single Gold Cup in the 13 editions of the tournament. The Seattle Sounders FC forward has nine goals in nine games this year, and holds second place on the USA’s all-time scoring list with 48 total.
  • DaMarcus Beasley is the leading capwinner on the roster with 122 international appearances. He has scored 17 goals, including the clincher in the USA’s 2-0 win in the World Cup qualifier against Mexico in 2005 that secured the team’s place in the 2006 World Cup.
  • Michael[MK1]  Bradley moved over the 100-cap mark this year. The midfielder has punched in three goals while recording five assists in 2015. Bradley has the most goals against Mexico (3) of any U.S. player on the roster, including both in the USA’s 2-0 win against El Tri in February of 2009 that opened the final round of 2010 World Cup Qualifying.
  • Brad Guzan earned Golden Glove honors as the top goalkeeper at this summer’s Gold Cup and has posted a 9-3-3 record since September of last year. Guzan shut down Mexico and helped the U.S. earn a 0-0 draw in its away World Cup Qualifier with El Tri in 2013 at Estadio Azteca.
  • Alejandro Bedoya has seven matches under his belt for the United States this year. The French Ligue 1 midfielder tallied an assist in the USA’s 1-1 draw against Panama in the Group Stage of the Gold Cup.
  • Fabian Johnson is only the player on the U.S. roster currently competing in the UEFA Champions League. He has started four straight matches for Borussia Monchengladbach after being out five weeks due to injury, and scored a goal in his first match back.
  • Jermaine Jones has also been on the road to recovery, making his return from injury for the USA in September in starts against Peru and Brazil.
  • Gyasi Zardes was called in for his first MNT camp last January and has appeared in 15 games, starting in 13. The LA Galaxy forward has scored twice and assisted on four goals.
  • Kyle Beckerman has appeared in eight matches with the MNT this season and has recorded six starts. Beckerman started and contributed to the USA’s 2-0 win against Mexico in April.
  • Danny Williams closed the Brazil game off on a high note, scoring a stunning long-range goal to put the USA on the scoreboard. Williams also scored a clutch goal that helped the U.S. knock off then sixth-ranked Netherlands in Amsterdam earlier in the year.
  • Matt Besler returned to the MNT fold last month, making his first appearance since February in the match against Peru. In just his second appearance for the United States, Besler earned a start in the MNT’s 2013 road World Cup qualifier against Mexico at Estadio Azteca, where the U.S. earned a point for only the second time in team history.
  • Michael Orozco started against Peru and Brazil in September, taking up both the right back spot and then centerback. Orozco – who moved to Club Tijuana this summer - owns a piece of history as the scorer of the game-winning goal in 2012 that led to the USA’s first victory at the Azteca.
  • Ventura Alvarado has appeared in 12 matches this year. The Club America defender made his debut in a U.S. uniform on March 25 against Denmark, and he became cap-tied to the U.S. after starting in the first match of the Gold Cup against Honduras on July 7.
  • Geoff Cameron has started and played 90 minutes in all of Stoke City’s 2015 Premier League matches. Cameron returned to action for the U.S. after last appearing in 2014 in its last camp and made appearances against both Peru and Brazil.
  • Brad Evans has played in six games this year, coming on as a late sub in the MNT’s 2-0 win against Mexico in April.
  • Tim Ream, who recently completed a transfer to Fulham, earned honors as the Player of the Year for his former club Bolton in each of the last two seasons. Ream has started in the last three MNT matches.
  • Nick Rimando is back in the mix after missing the September matches. The MLS All-Star has started five games in goal for the MNT this year.
  • Jonathan Spector returns to the squad after being a late add to the roster for the Peru and Brazil friendlies.
  • Chris Wondolowski is one of the top five scorers in MLS this year with 15 goals. He has scored double-digit goals in six straight MLS seasons.
  • DeAndre Yedlin has appeared in 15 of the 16 MNT matches in 2015 and tallied three assists, which puts him third on the team behind Michael Bradley (five) and Gyasi Zardes (four).

Q&A: Klinsmann “It’s a unique opportunity for every player to really write a piece of history." This game is unique in that the U.S. has never played in a one-off final before, and you face your biggest rival to boot. How much did experience factor into your choices for the roster?
JK: “Well eventually what happened in the Gold Cup this summer turned now into this CONCACAF Cup final. It’s a one-off, and a one-off always has its own dynamics and that’s why you need a roster of 23 guys where you really feel as a coach that in this one specific opportunity that they are the right ones to get the job done. That’s why this roster is obviously full of experience. There are a lot of players that experienced different challenges over their careers and managed them and bring now their experience into this one-off clash against Mexico. That’s why you look for players - like a DaMarcus Beasley, a Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Kyle Beckerman and Chris Wondoloski - these types of players that have done so much for the National Team program that they understand exactly now what this is all about. This is about momentum. This is about high energy. This is about belief and a high-level of aggressiveness in a one-off game to beat Mexico and to get to the Confederations Cup.” What is the approach you want this group of players to take?
JK: “When you look at a one-off game, it’s a final. It’s a trophy. It’s an opportunity that will not come back to you anymore in your career. You need players that really now embrace that moment and say ‘shoot, whatever happened has happened in the Gold Cup.’ Whether or not it was controversial, it’s in the past. Now it’s about winning a trophy. It’s about in 90 or possibly 120 minutes in front of a sold-out Rose Bowl crowd of 90,000. It’s about performing. It’s about representing my country. It will stay with you for the rest of your life. They can be excited about it and always look back and say I was there that special day. You want them to understand that from the first second they come on in camp. This is the CONCACAF Cup. This is the ticket to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. It’s a unique opportunity.” Team spirit is always an important element to success, but you’ve stressed that for this game it’s even more critical. Why?
JK: “I think team unity, chemistry, the atmosphere between the players, the bonding, is huge in this game. It’s probably one of the key factors in order to win. It’s that they are there for each other. They understand that this is not about me, this is about the United States, this is about representing my country and this is about winning a trophy with my teammates. I think the word chemistry is huge approaching that Mexico game.” There are some familiar names not on the list that weren’t able to beat the race to return to fitness … 
JK: “Obviously it’s a specific moment now, and in that moment John Brooks is not 100 percent. Aron Johannsson is not 100 percent. Greg Garza actually had surgery a few weeks ago. There are always players that you’d love to have be a part of games like this that are just not there. It’s unfortunate for them, but it is reality.” What is the message to the players who didn’t make the final roster?
JK: “Every time you have to cut down a roster like now from 35 to 23, there are some players that do not make it and it looks like they are not good enough, which is not the case. The competition is very, very tight. Not having Omar Gonzalez or Mix Diskerud on this roster, for example, is not because they are not good enough, it’s just because you see another player that is better in their position right now in this specific moment. Those are always tough decisions that a coach has to make, and we believe everyone in that roster will get the job done and the other ones are there to support. They also need to be ready still because they are on standby in case someone goes down in training and they get the call.” Did the team that you expect Mexico to bring have any impact on your roster selections?
JK: “We’re looking at their roster and their qualities and we think we know a way of getting the job done, but it doesn’t really have too much impact on our selection of players. I think our selection of players is based on our strengths, based on how we want to play the game, based on how much in the flow in a rhythm they are right now. Everyone’s in a different situation. The players in Europe are in a different situation. The players in MLS are in a different situation and the players that play down in Mexico. For us coaches, it’s always kind of a new picture opening up and deciding what is best now for the National Team in order to win a game.”
JK: “I think this new rule now from CONCACAF to have the winner from the Gold Cup against another winner of the next Gold Cup, which if not the same team ends in a one-off final, gives it a very special spice. It’s huge, especially if it ends with the U.S. playing Mexico. It can’t get any bigger in our region. I would love to play that game in Azteca Stadium. That would be even more exciting, but the decision is made. The game is at Pasadena. We know that many Mexican fans will be at the stadium as well. It will be rock. It will be a special atmosphere. It will be high intensity from the first second of that game. This is what you’re hoping to experience as a coach, as a player, as a fan. You want to go into these very unique games and experience it and really enjoy that moment. This will be a game that for the next two or three years to come is probably the biggest game because it decides who goes to Russia in 2017 and it gives you a CONCACAF title, so it’s difficult to beat the importance of that one.” For both players and coaches, the chance to play for a trophy is always special. What makes this game different?
JK: “It’s a unique opportunity for every player to really write a piece of history. How often do you play in a CONCACAF final against your biggest rival that people will talk about for a long time? Obviously Mexico won in 2011 at the Rose Bowl and it was a big bummer for the whole team and the whole program, but these moments are remembered and I think when you have that opportunity now in front of you, you can set the tone and you can write this little piece of history that a lot of people will talk about for a long time. You’ve got to grab that moment. You’ve got to come into camp and say ‘let’s do it’. I think the team is more than ready. There’s a lot of frustration after what happened in the Gold Cup. There’s no doubt about it. The only controversial stuff that was said and done is behind us. It is now a final and you have to go in there and just embrace it and give everything you have. If they give everything they have, then I’m pretty confident that we’ll come out as the winning team.” There are quite a few veterans in the group that have seen a lot at the international level. Do you see this as a different opportunity for them?
JK: “I think it’s really an interesting moment now because you have a core group of players that are kind of running out of time and I just want them to just embrace that moment. We’re going to play for a trophy. We’re going to play for a trip to Russia in 2017, and maybe you’re not there anymore for that because you are now 32 or 33. We have players on our roster that have done so much for the National Team program, but that are also not getting any younger. All these guys in their thirties, they need to realize ‘you know what, I’m may not be getting these opportunities any more. This is it. We better take that trophy.’ However it looks like, we’ve got to go and get this thing. This is really about chemistry and getting the group together and making it a really special atmosphere the whole week leading into the Rose Bowl moment.” The rivalry with Mexico in some ways is a legacy passed down to each generation of players, particularly from those who were able to help turn the table and establish the USA’s dominance at home. Is there a “responsibility” to beat Mexico?
JK: “USA-Mexico is a unique situation, and it’s comparable for me as a German to when you play Holland. The whole country rocks. For me, it was interesting over time to learn how much this rivalry really means to the people that really love soccer, whether it’s the coaches, the fans, the kids, or the players. When we beat them the first time at the Azteca stadium three years ago, for me it was not as big a deal. Yes, it was big that we won there and we’d also won in Italy and now in Germany, and those are always something special. But the response that I received from a lot of people in the U.S. after that win in Azteca was so different. It showed me then - and it was a learning curve for me as a coach - how much it really means to the people to beat Mexico, to have this rivalry going in a healthy way, in a respectful way. There’s a lot of admiration there for the Mexican soccer team and the players because the people love that sport. It’s their number one sport. I think in a certain way, do we have that responsibility to our fans? Yes. Are we accountable for what happens at the Rose Bowl? Absolutely we are, and obviously the players that were on the field for that CONCACAF Gold Cup final that we lost 4-2 - the Michael Bradley’s, the Tim Howard’s, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey - there is something in them that is still burning. There is so much energy now being generated towards that game, it is just awesome. I want the players to enjoy that and to just grab that moment and get the trophy.”  At the same time the Senior Team has the clash with Mexico, the U-23s are attempting to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. How big a week is this for U.S. Soccer?
JK: “I think it can’t get any bigger than the next 10 days for soccer in our country on the men’s side. The Olympic team starting the qualification for Rio de Janeiro is huge. This is big for everyone. We’re going to give them all of the support we can, and hopefully the fans come out in numbers to all the venues they play in and give them big, big support because that is what they need to help them to qualify for the Olympics. At the same time, we play the clash with Mexico which decides who goes to the 2017 Confederations Cup. So, within the next 10 days it doesn’t get any bigger. The senior team is going to watch the Olympic Qualifying games and cheer for them. We know they’re going to play the decisive semifinal on Oct. 10 before we play Mexico that evening, and they’re going to sit in front of the TV that night and they’re going to scream for us. We are there for each other.”

Pilot of Progress: Keller's Hall of Fame Career Pioneers Professional Ground for American Players

One of three 2015 inductees to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Kasey Keller has long been referred to as a pioneer for American players in Europe. At just 22-years-old and without a professional domestic league in the United States, Keller went across the Atlantic to sign for English First Division club Millwall in 1992.

He had no idea about the career longevity he’d have playing abroad.

“I remember going over to Europe and thinking, ‘Oh man, if I could play five seasons, if I could play 10 seasons,’ and then ending up playing 17 years,” Keller told earlier this year.

A product of the University of Portland, Keller’s European club adventure took him from east London to Leicester City, Spain’s Rayo Vallecano, Tottenham Hotspur, Germany’s Borussia Monchengladbach, Fulham and even a short stint with Southampton. Seven clubs in three of the world’s top leagues and from the beginning, he did it while on an American passport.

Over time, Keller became a guide to fellow Americans interested in his advice for a potential move abroad.

“By the time I’d met him, he’d already been in England for so long,” said former U.S. international Eddie Lewis. “As a player that was older than me, both from an age and experience standpoint, having been abroad for so long, I often asked him many questions about Europe and particularly about England. As a young player coming into the National Team, I wanted to go overseas and I used him as a sounding board on many occasions.”

And while he spent 17 of his 20 professional seasons an ocean away, his devotion to playing for his country never wavered.

At the National Team level, I very rarely had a player like Kasey that never refused a call up,” said former Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena. “Kasey would travel and play for the U.S. whenever – he was very dedicated to the National Team program.”

Keller’s international career really began before his club career at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championships in Saudi Arabia. Playing at the University of Portland at the time, Keller won the Silver Ball at the tournament after helping the U.S. U-20 side to a fourth place finish.

Keller as an up-and-coming goalkeeper with the U.S. U-20 MNT.

Just a year later, the 20-year-old earned his first of 102 caps for the Men’s National Team. That summer he was named to the first U.S. World Cup team since 1950, pushing but eventually backing up Tony Meola as a young U.S. squad went three-and-out in Italy. 

With a wealth of talented goalkeepers, Keller’s early competition with Meola was only the beginning of a battle for the number one spot on the U.S. team. 

“I know when I first came on the international scene, Tony Meola was the number one goalkeeper and that’s who Kasey and I were trying to knock off the perch,” said fellow goalkeeper Brad Friedel. “Even from my college time, it was myself and Kasey – we were in the Olympic team together battling out to see who would play in ’92 in Barcelona.”

Though Friedel won that battle and Keller was left off the U.S. team altogether in 1994, his competition with Friedel would really heat up the following year as the two often split goalkeeping duties in important matches the next eight years. Both put in key performances in big matches along the way -- Keller’s wins against Chile and Argentina at Copa America ‘95, his form in World Cup qualifying and ultimately, his 10-save effort in the U.S. team’s 1-0 win against Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup semifinal gave him the starting nod at that summer’s World Cup in France.

Highlights: Morris, Gil Power USA Past Canada in Olympic Qualifying

Two goals from Jordan Morris and an insurance strike from the penalty spot by Luis led the USA to open qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games with a 3-1 victory over Canada.