U.S. Soccer

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

Lineups:
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:
None

Officials:
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

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MNT May 27, 2014

Fans to Receive Commemorative USA Poster as Part of Pre-Match Stadium Card Stunt

As an artist and a soccer fan, Jason Seife has always seen a connection between the two disciplines.

“Although sport is not something that is initially thought of as a creative field, it truly is,” he said. “It’s something that you work very hard at, you put yourself out there, and it’s a way of expressing yourself. That’s what art is, that’s what music is. It’s all intertwined.”

But it wasn’t until a meeting with U.S. Men’s National Team player Alejandro Bedoya where that connection became more personal.

“He is actually a close friend of mine and a collector of my work,” said Seife, who is based in Miami. “He’s someone that I met through the art world, but we hit it off on a more personal level, both being from South Florida. Aside from being a soccer lover, having a personal connection with Bedoya has brought me even closer to the team and makes me even more stoked to be a part of this project.”

The project Seife is referring to is an exclusive poster he was selected by U.S. Soccer to create for every fan in attendance at the USA-Honduras World Cup Qualifier, presented by Volpi Foods, on March 24 in San Jose, Calif.

The collectible poster is on the back side of the card stunt each ticketed fan will receive when they get to their seat in Avaya Stadium. The card stunt will display red and blue seating sections that spell out “USA” and “One Nation, One Team”. All fans are encouraged to arrive early to participate for the full-stadium card stunt, which will take place during the Star-Spangled Banner before the game kicks off.

MNT Card Stunt

Seife’s artwork, inspired by traditional Heriz rug design, deftly renders intricate, colorful patterns with a mixture of acrylic and ink. While the paintings utilize familiar motifs in Persian rug design like leaves and geometric shapes, Seife introduces colors and patterns not normally associated with the heavy textiles, creating his own interpretations that reflect his mood and thoughts while creating his pieces. 

“My work is inspired by old, traditional, Persian rugs,” he said. “A lot of people are attracted to my work because it’s something that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but has meaning behind it. As an artist, you have to find a balance between what’s meaningful to you but is also pleasing to the eye. That’s how I came to this type of work, and I’m learning more about it as I go along.”

“For this piece, the type of rug I was inspired by was given to warriors and their families after they would go to battle. It was considered almost a royal symbol to commemorate their accomplishments. I felt it was good match for this piece because symbolically, we are going to battle and there’s a lot on the line for this game. Although this piece will be given to fans before the “battle”, to me this will celebrate what is about to happen and how I feel the outcome will be.”

When creating the poster for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Seife imagined the large center medallion representing the obstacle that is in front of the U.S. MNT at this moment in the qualifying campaign, and the colorful ink reflects the pride in red, white and blue millions of Americans plan to show as they support the team on March 24.

MNT v HON Poster

“With a very important three points on the line, I wanted the artwork to reflect the USA’s pride and resilience when our backs are against the wall,” Seife said. “If I had to sum this piece up in one word, it would be unity. No matter what the outcome is, what we can take away from this is that we’re coming together in a challenging time and we need to fight to get the outcome we want.”

Below is the full Q&A with Seife about his inspiration for the piece, his heritage, and connection to soccer.

ussoccer.com: Tell us more about your background and your specific craft? When did you get started?
Jason Seife: “I was born in Miami, but my parents emigrated from Cuba. Since a very young age, I was inclined to the fine arts. I had an elementary school teacher that realized I had talent and she suggested that I apply to a program specific to the arts. From then, I started realizing how passionate I felt about it. Now, my main craft leans more towards fine arts and painting, but I also do some graphic design work.”

What is your connection to soccer and specifically to the USMNT?
JS: “I have a lot of different connections to the sport and the USMNT, starting by simply being a huge fan of soccer in general. I’ve played since I was a kid, and continue to play for fun to this day. On a deeper level, I have a personal connection to U.S. MNT midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. He is actually a close friend of mine and a collector of my work. He’s someone that I met through the art world, but we hit it off on a more personal level, both being from South Florida. Aside from being a soccer lover, having a close friendship with Bedoya has brought me even closer to the team and makes me even more stoked to be a part of this project.”

What does it mean to you to have millions of Americans support their country through your artwork?
JS: “It’s extremely humbling. Any part that I can have in supporting our country is an amazing feeling. It’s great to know that my artwork has put me in a position where I could do something like this, where I can lend a small hand in bringing the U.S. together. However, it’s a lot of pressure. It’s something that I deeply care about so I wouldn’t do something just for the sake of doing it. It would have to be a situation where I felt I could bring something substantial to the table. This opportunity is something that I don’t take lightly, and I’m excited to be a part of this. I hope that the fans will appreciate it.”

Can you expand on your inspiration for this piece?
JS: “The meaning behind the design stems from being an immigrant in this country. Having Cuban, Lebanese and Syrian backgrounds, I understand that diversity and the mix of different cultures is what makes this country so great. It was cool to be able to bring a bit of my heritage and background into it, and then put a twist on it to make it American in its own way.

My work is inspired by old, traditional, Persian rugs. A lot of people are attracted to my work because it’s something that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but it has meaning behind it. As an artist, you have to find a balance between what’s meaningful to you but is also pleasing to the eye. That’s how I came to this type of work, and I’m learning more about it as I go along.

For this piece, the type of rug I was inspired by was given to warriors and their families after they would go to battle. It was considered almost a royal symbol to commemorate their accomplishments. I felt it was good match for this piece because symbolically, we are going to battle and there’s a lot on the line for this game. Although this piece will be given to fans before the “battle”, to me this will celebrate what is about to happen and how I feel the outcome will be.”

What message are you looking to convey to the team and the fans through your art?
JS: “If I had to sum this piece up in one word, it would be unity. If you look at the design, you’ll notice that every single line ties into the next one. The team is on the field, the crowd is in the stands, the fans are watching at home, but at the end of the day we’re all tied in together supporting the same cause in unison. No matter what the outcome is, what we can take away from this is that we’re coming together in a time when our backs are against the wall and we need to fight to get the outcome we want. There’s a lot going on in our country right now that is separating people, so it’s always great when we have sporting events like this that bring people together from all sorts of different places.”

How do you believe sports and art are tied together?
JS: “Although sport is not something that is initially thought of as a creative field, it truly is. It’s something that you work very hard at, you put yourself out there, and it’s a way of expressing yourself. That’s what art is, that’s what music is. It’s all intertwined.

My friendship with Bedoya developed through mutual appreciation of art. It started off with him being a soccer player and me being a soccer fan, but there are a lot of similarities between sports and art, including the amount of time and effort you put into your craft and the passion you feel towards what you do.”
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MNT Mar 23, 2017

The Black & White Collection: MNT Continues Preparations to #Get3 vs. Honduras

Stylized black and white photos from the U.S. Men's National Team training session on March 22 in San Jose, Calif. The MNT is preparing to take on Honduras with hopes to earn what will be a critical three points in their World Cup Qualifying campaign. The match take place on March 24 in San Jose's Avaya Stadium. Coverage of USA-Honduras, presented by Volpi Foods, begins at 7:30 p.m. PT on FS1, UniMas and UDN. Fans can also follow the game live on Facebook and Twitter at @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.

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MNT Mar 23, 2017

U.S. MNT and the Will to Win in Big Moments

No matter which country you’re talking about, qualifying for the World Cup has never been simple. Every four years, difficult conditions on the road, injuries and simply bad runs of form test teams on their quest to reach the world’s biggest sporting event.

One of only seven nations to appear at each of the last seven FIFA World Cups, the U.S. Men’s National Team has shown a collective will to win in the tough moments. It’s a character trait that has come to define the MNT, according to three-time World Cup veteran Earnie Stewart.

“It has to do a lot with our culture that once the flag goes up and the national anthem is sung, it doesn’t really matter how you got there. Everyone knows what’s on the line.” he told ussoccer.com. “One of the things that we’ve always had is character and team spirit, and that can take you very, very far.”

In 2001, the U.S. ran out to a 4-0-1 start in the Final Round of qualifying only to lose three straight matches, leaving their qualification to Korea/Japan in serious doubt with two games left. The MNT hosted Jamaica on Matchday 9, knowing that a loss against The Reggae Boyz would end their qualifying hopes.

“It was nerve-wracking going into that game, but I do remember that we came together as a team,” Stewart said. “When adversity is there, you’ve got to make sure you’re all together because no one is going to help you.”

Less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks and on the day the nation began military operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. put in an inspired team performance, using a Joe-Max Moore brace – an early header and an 81st minute penalty kick – to earn a 2-1 win. Thanks to other results in the group, the team went from the possibility of missing out to actually qualifying for the World Cup.

“We kept things to ourselves and to the circle we could influence, and that began with us. We made sure that we were okay with each other. When you stick together, it’s so much more gratifying when you do get those results and qualify.”

In the midst of his third qualifying cycle, MNT captain Michael Bradley has been through plenty of ups and downs and vividly remembers bumps in the road on the way to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.

“We all get this idea that you’re going to have to suffer. There’s a moment or two in every qualifying campaign where you’re looking at things and understanding that you’re at a really important time and the pressure is on to get a result.”



One of those moments came at the start of the 2013 Hexagonal, when the U.S. opened with a 2-1 defeat on a hot and muggy day away to Friday’s opponents Honduras. Losing on the road in qualifying is nothing out of the ordinary, but things were made more difficult by the fact that U.S. faced Costa Rica at home and Mexico away in its next two matches.

Instead of buckling, the team again showed resolve by gutting out an unforgettable 1-0 victory in the Snowclasico against Los Ticos before going on the road to earn an historic 0-0 draw at Mexico days later, carrying that momentum all the way through the remainder of the Final Round.

The MNT has even been here during the current qualifying cycle.

Almost exactly a year ago, the U.S. faced another one of those difficult moments. After a 2-0 away defeat to Guatemala on Matchday 3 of the Semifinal Round, the MNT had to turn around and face Los Chapines four days later at home in Columbus. A loss would have almost surely knocked the U.S. out of contention for the Final Round of qualifying, but the team answered the call again, rebounding with a convincing 4-0 win.

“We had to beat Guatemala and we did it,” said MNT defender and goal scorer that night, Geoff Cameron. “You have ups and downs throughout qualifying. That’s a given. You have good moments and you have bad moments. Right now we kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we should be fine. If we can perform very well Friday night and show that we can play with confidence and play our game plan, we should be okay.”

With zero points from its first two Final Round matches, the MNT is here again. According to Bradley, the players clearly recognize the importance of getting three points on Friday against Honduras.

“it never goes perfectly to plan, and in those moments you have to have a group that embraces that, understands the situation and knows while we may have let ourselves down with a performance or two in terms of putting ourselves in this situation, it’s still very much reality. It’s a reality we see time and again. The more guys you have that understand that and in these moments can step on the field and go for it in a fearless way, that makes a difference.”

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MNT Mar 23, 2017
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