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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

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

  • DateTuesday, May 27, 2014
  • VenueCandlestick Park; San Francisco, Calif.
  • Kickoff7:00 PM PT
  • Attendance24,688
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MNT Continues Tough Gold Cup Prep against Switzerland

After a tough loss in Denmark, the U.S. Men’s National Team will face off against Switzerland in Zurich, for the second leg of its European training. Kickoff at Stadion Letzigrund is set for Tuesday, March 31 at 12 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1, UniMás and univisiondeportes.com. Fans can also follow along on Twitter via @ussoccer and @usssoccer_esp

The Americans are coming off a 3-2 loss to Denmark on March 25 after Niklas Bendter completed a hat trick with a game-winning goal in stoppage time. Switzerland, ranked No. 12 in the world, was one of the eight seeded teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and will provide another test for the U.S. MNT in a year of challenging matches, which include facing CONCACAF rival Mexico on April 15, meeting No. 5-ranked Netherlands in Amsterdam on June 5, and a matchup against 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany in Cologne on June 10.

Klinsmann has 22 players in Zurich, including 11 players from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Roster. U.S. team captain Clint Dempsey suffered a right hamstring strain in training on Monday, March 23 and was ruled out for both matches. Fellow striker Aron Johannsson is undergoing treatment for a toe infection and will also be out against Switzerland. Klinsmann added U-23 MNT forward Jordan Morris to the roster on March 29.

Tuesday’s game marks just the second time in the last 20 years the USA has met Switzerland. In their previous meeting on Oct. 17, 2007, Michael Bradley scored the only goal of the match – his first international tally – to give the USA the 1-0 shutout victory in Basel. Overall, the U.S. is 1-3-3 all-time against Switzerland, and unbeaten in its last three. 

In the meantime, the Under-23 Men’s National Team defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-2 on March 27 in Tuzla, earning Andi Herzog a win in his first game as head coach, as the team continues preparations for Olympic qualifying this October. The U-23s kick off the second match of their European training camp against Denmark tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET. Fans can follow @ussoccer_ynt for updates on the U-23s and all U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams.

USA VS. SWITZERLAND:

  • The United States is 1-3-3 all-time against Switzerland and undefeated in the last three matches between the two teams. In seven games, the pair has combined to score 13 goals, with five coming from the U.S. and the other eight from the Swiss.
  • The most recent encounter between the two was the USA’s 1-0 victory on Oct. 17, 2007, at St. Jakob Park in Basel, Switzerland. On a rainy night, Michael Bradley broke a scoreless tie in the 86th minute to give the U.S. its first win against the Swiss.
  • The U.S. and Switzerland met twice in 1994. In January, they played to a 1-1 draw in Fullerton, California in a World Cup warm-up. They faced off again in June at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where they again drew 1-1 in front of 77,000 fans in the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.
  • U.S. defender John Brooks and Switzerland’s Fabian Lustenberger and Valentin Stocker all play for Bundesliga club team Hertha Berlin. Midfielder Julian Green is teammates with Johan Djourou and Valon Behrami at Hamburg. Defender Timmy Chandler plays with Haris Seferovic at Frankfurt, while midfielder Fabian Johnson is teammates with Switzerland’s Yann Zommer and Granit Xhaka at Borussia Monchengladbach. 

U.S. Men’s National Team by Position – Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Southampton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club León)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Hamburg), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht)

U.S. ROSTER NOTES:

  • Two firsts occurred for the USA in its last game against Denmark: defender Timmy Chandler earned his first point with the MNT with an assist on Jozy Altidore’s goal, and Ventura Alvarado earned his first international cap for the U.S. when he entered in the 80th minute, replacing fellow Liga MX defender Michael Orozco.
  • A total of nine players in the squad were members of the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster that traveled to Brazil and helped the USA advance out of the “Group of Death,” including two goalscorers (John Brooks and Julian Green).
  • Michael Bradley was the only player who started in all four matches for the USA during the World Cup.
  • Bradley is the leading cap-winner on the roster with 94, and is in line to reach the century mark soon.
  • Seven countries and nine leagues are represented on the roster: Canada, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, and the United States.
  • Altidore has two goals in three matches to start 2015 for the MNT, while Bradley and Brek Shea are the other goal scorers on the roster. At the club level, Altidore netted a pair of goals in his debut match for Toronto FC to start the 2015 MLS season.
  • Goalkeeper Nick Rimando boasts an impressive 11-2-2 career record with four shutouts. He got his first start and appearance on European soil in the match against Denmark.
  • Greg Garza played in the last five games of 2014 and started three following the World Cup. The Club Tijuana left back has been a part of every level of U.S. National Team programming, beginning with the U-14’s.
  • Danny Williams has the opportunity to get his first action since March 5, 2014, when he appeared against Ukraine in Cyprus.
  • Rubio Rubin, who earned his first MNT cap and start on Nov. 14, 2014, against No. 3-ranked Colombia, spent the weekend with the U-20 MNT and captained the team in its friendly against England on March 29. At 19 years old, Rubin is age-eligible for this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
  • William Yarbrough was born and raised in Mexico to two American parents. He marshaled the backline for Club Leon to the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura titles. This is Yarbrough’s first call up to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
  • Miguel Ibarra, who earned his first cap for the U.S. in 2014, is the reigning MVP of the NASL. 

IN THE RECORD BOOKS:

  • Jozy Altidore is fifth on the MNT’s all-time goal scoring list with 27 goals, adding two in three games so far this year. Altidore is now three goals behind fourth-place Brian McBride (30 goals from 1993-2006).
  • Midfielder Michael Bradley is inching closer to the century cap mark with 94 appearances since debuting for the MNT in 2006. He is 18th on the MNT all-time list, one appearance behind McBride.
  • Bradley ranks 13th on the all-time goals scored list with 13 goals, and is tied with Marcelo Balboa and Hugo Perez.
  • Nick Rimando ranks fifth on the all-time wins list with 11. The Real Salt Lake man is 11-2-2 all-time with the USA.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann (34-17-11) ranks third among the USA’s all-time winningest coaches. Ahead of Klinsmann are National Soccer Hall of Famers, Bruce Arena (71) and Bob Bradley (43).

BY THE NUMBERS:
2                Players on the U.S. MNT seeking their first international cap
4                Players on the U.S. MNT roster playing in Mexico’s Liga MX
12              Switzerland’s current FIFA ranking
27              Career goals by Altidore, which is fifth on the USA’s all-time scoring list
32              USA’s current FIFA ranking
34              Victories under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann 

2015 U.S. MNT SCHEDULE:

Date

Opponent

Result/Time (ET)

U.S. Goal Scorers/TV

Venue

Jan. 28

Chile

2-3 L

Shea, Altidore

Estadio El Teniente; Rancagua, Chile

Feb. 8

Panama

2-0 W

Bradley, Dempsey

StubHub Center; Carson, Calif.

March 25

Denmark

2-3 L

Altidore, Johannsson

NRGi Park; Aarhus, Denmark

March 31

Switzerland

12 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Stadion Letzigrund; Zurich, Switzerland

April 15

Mexico

8:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Alamodome; San Antonio, Texas

June 5

Netherlands

2:30 p.m.

ESPN2, WatchESPN, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Amsterdam Arena; Amsterdam, Netherlands

June 10

Germany

2:45 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás, univisiondeportes.com

Rhein Energie Stadion; Cologne, Germany

July 7

Honduras

9:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás

Toyota Stadium; Frisco, Texas

July 10

Haiti

8:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás

Gillette Stadium; Foxborough, Mass.

July 13

Panama

9:30 p.m.

FOX Sports 1, UniMás

Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.

JURGEN KLINSMANN FACT FILE: Jurgen Klinsmann became the 35th head coach in the history of the U.S. Men’s National Team on July 29, 2011. Here is a look at the program’s achievements since that time:

  • Overall, Klinsmann has a 34-17-11 record, third on the U.S. MNT’s all-time coaching wins list. The top five include: Bruce Arena (71), Bob Bradley (43), Klinsmann (34), Bora Milutinovic (30) and Steve Sampson (26).
  • He won a record-setting 13 straight games at home from June 2, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014, and has guided the team to an unbeaten record of 17-0-3 in its past 20 matches on home soil.
  • He led the MNT to a 12-game winning streak in 2013, the longest in program history.
  • The U.S. finished 2013 with a 16-4-3 record. The 16 victories and .761 winning percentage are all-time U.S. MNT records for a calendar year.
  • The U.S. finished the final round of 2013 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying atop the Hexagonal with a 7-1-2 overall record, including an unblemished 5-0-0 home record that was achieved by pitching clean sheets in all five matches.
  • The team won six straight games en route to capturing the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, during which the squad scored a tournament-record 20 goals.
  • Committed to challenging the group against the best, under Klinsmann, the United States has a 2-3-2 record against teams ranked in the top 10 in the world. With Klinsmann at the helm, the U.S. has also collected four historic victories:
    • Beating four-time World Cup champion Italy for the first time
    • Earning the first win against Mexico on Mexican soil
    • Defeating Jamaica on the road for the first time in World Cup Qualifying
    • Topping second-ranked Germany in U.S. Soccer’s Centennial Celebration Match
  • Klinsmann’s U.S. coaching debut was a 1-1 draw against Mexico on Aug. 10, 2011, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. During Klinsmann’s abbreviated 2011 tenure, the USA’s two victories included a 1-0 win against Honduras (Oct. 8) and a 3-2 victory against Slovenia (Nov. 15).
  • Klinsmann was named Germany’s National Team manager in 2004 and guided Germany to a 20-6-8 record and a third-place finish in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He earned Coach of the Year honors in Germany, and two years later, he took over the head coaching position at Germany’s most high-profile club, Bayern Munich.
  • As a player, Klinsmann played 17 club seasons from 1981-98 with the following teams: Stuttgarter Kickers (1981-84), VfB Stuttgart (1984-89), Internazionale (1989-92), Monaco (1992-94), Tottenham Hotspur (1994-95, 97-98), Bayern Munich (1995-97) and Sampdoria (1997-98). During that time, he scored 226 goals in 506 appearances. He was named German Player of the Year in 1988 and 1994 and FWA Footballer of the Year in 1995.
  • Klinsmann earned 108 caps with the German National Team, scoring 47 goals. He participated in three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998) and won the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
  • Klinsmann was born on July 30, 1964, in Goppingen, Germany.

IN FOCUS: SWITZERLAND
Swiss Football Association (Schweizer Nati)
Founded: 1895
FIFA affiliation: 1904
Head Coach: Vladimir Petković
FIFA World Ranking: 12
Best World Cup Finish: Quarterfinal, 1934, 1938, 1954 

SWITZERLAND ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Burki (SC Freiburg), Yann Sommer (VfL Broussia Monchengladbach), Marvin Hitz (FC Augsburg)
DEFENDERS (6): Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Stephen Lichsteiner (Juventus), Fabian Lustenberger (Hertha BSC Berlin), Jacques Fracois Moubandje (Toulouse FC), Ricardo Rodriguez (VfL Wolfsburg), Fabian Schar (FC Basel), Steve Von Bergen (FC Zurich), Silvan Widmer (Udinese Calcio),
MIDFIELDERS (9): Valon Behrami (Hamburger SV), Blerim Dzemaili (Galatasary SK), Gelson Fernandes (Stade Rennais FC), Fabian Frei (FC Basel 1893), Gokahn Inler (SSC Napoli), Kasami Pajtim (Olympiacos FC), Xheridan Shaqiri (Inter Milan), Valentin Stocker (Herta VSC Berlin), Granit Xhaka (VfL Borussia Monchengladbach
FORWARDS (3): Josip Drmic (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Haris Seferovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Admir Mehmedi (SC Freiburg), 

SWITZERLAND ROSTER NOTES:

  • Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic has coached six games for the Swiss and has gone 3-1-2 in that span.
  • Switzerland qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup from UEFA by winning its group. In the group stage in Brazil, the Swiss went 2-0-1 and advanced to the Round of 16, where they lost to eventual World Cup runner up Argentina, conceding a goal in the match’s 118th minute.
  • Sixteen players from its 2014 FIFA World Cup roster appear on this roster.
  • Xherdan Shaqiri recorded three assists in Switzerland’s game against Estonia last week. He has recorded 10 points on three goals and four assists in Switzerland’s last four matches, in which the team has gone an unbeaten 3-0-1.
  • Of this Swiss roster, Shaqiri is the leading goalscorer with 15 tallies in 42 games played. Gokhan Inler is the team’s international cap-leader with 81.
  • All but one player, goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, have earned at least one cap.
  • Silvan Widmer is the youngest player on the roster at 21 years old.

LAST TIME:

On the field for the USA against Switzerland:
Oct. 17, 2007 – St. Jakob Park; Basel, Switzerland – International Friendly 

USA                1          Michael Bradley 86
SUI                 0          

Lineups: 
USA: 24-Marcus Hahnemann (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo, 22-Oguchi Onyewu (2-Dan Califf, 46), 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.), 7-Eddie Lewis (9-Danny Szetela, 84); 5-Benny Feilhaber, 13-Maurice Edu, 4-Michael Bradley,17-DaMarcus Beasley (11-Heath Pearce, 31); 20-Taylor Twellman (25-Freddy Adu, 77), 8-Clint Dempsey (29-Robbie Findley, 90) 
Subs not used: 23-Jay DeMerit 
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
 

SUI: 1-Pascal Zuberbühler; 2-Johan Djourou (25-Steve Von Bergen, 17), 3-Ludovic Magnin (Capt.), 5-Xavier Margairaz (22-Hakan Yakin, 46); 11-Marco Streller (31-Blaise Nkufo, 46), 13-Stephane Grichting, 14-David Degen, 16-Tranquillo Barnetta (17-Christoph Spycher, 75), 27-Gokhan Inler, 29-Stephan Lichtsteiner, 35-Fabio Celestini (33-Gelson Fernandes, 46) 
Subs not used: 12-Diego Benaglio, 37-Germano Vailati 
Head Coach: Jakob Kuhn
 

Academy Alumni: Allen Notches Game-Winning Goal With First MLS Score

With the fourth week of the 2015 Major League Soccer season in the books, it was a former Development Academy player who stole the spotlight with not only the game-winning goal for his team, but with also his first goal in his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen, who played for Empire Revolution and Real Salt Lake AZ in the Academy, notched the game-winner for Real Salt Lake on Sunday to give his team the 2-1 victory over Toronto FC. The tally also marked his first MLS goal. Allen came into the match as a second half sub in the 74th minute. Additionally, there was another Real Salt Lake AZ alum that had a significant weekend as Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo made his debut in the 89th minute to help RSL seal the win.

header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

Former Crossfire Premier midfielder Kelyn Rowe, now with the New England Revolution, was the author of both goals in a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday in Foxborough. Rowe now has 17 career goals for the Revs, and had started all four games for New England so far this season. His two-goal performance earned him a spot in the MLS Team of the Week. (Watch: Rowe's Deflected Shot Gives New England the Lead; Rowe Nabs His Second.)

Chicago Magic PSG alum and current Chicago Fire forward Harry Shipp, also earned a spot in the MLS Team of the Week after assisting in the sole goal scored in the Fire’s win over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday. The win was Chicago’s first of the season.

With five saves against the LA Galaxy on Saturday, D.C. United Academy product Bill Hamid recorded his second shutout of the season, as United improved to 2-1-1 this year.

Also in action this weekend was Academy alum Andy Najar (D.C. United Academy). Najar plays for the Honduras National Team and over the weekend scored two goals to help Honduras defeat French Guiana 3-0 and secure his country a spot in Group A the 2015 Gold Cup alongside Haiti, Panama and the United States.

Finally, the U-23 MNT defeated Bosnia U-21’s 5-2 on March 27 with several former Academy players making an impact:

  • Pateadores alum Luis Gil captained the team and tallied 3 assists.
  • Seattle Sounders Academy product Jordan Morris scored the opening goal in the win over Bosnia and tallied one assist. He is now with the senior MNT after being called up by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on March 29 and will be available for the MNT’s game against Switzerland on March 31.
  • De Anza force alum Benji Joya tallied the third goal for the USA when he converted a PK in the second half.
  • Vardar product Fatai Alashe sealed the deal for the USA with a set piece goal in the 86th minute.

Short, Short, Long: MNT Friendlies in Europe Serve Dual Purpose

The U.S. MNT's friendlies against Denmark and Switzerland in Europe have provided head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the squad an opportunity to try out some new faces alongside the team's core group in the short term. In the long-term, this international window has helped broaden the pool of players who can help the USA win this summer's important edition of the Gold Cup.

Gallery: From Aarhus to Zurich, USMNT's European Training Camp

Ahead of its next match, the U.S. MNT has traveled and trained across Europe from Aarhus, Denmark to its base camp in Zurich, Switzerland. The USA faces Switzerland on March 31 at Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and UniMás. Fans can also get all the latest on the U.S. MNT on social media. 

              

A New Adventure

For young defender Ventura Alvarado, getting the call as a regular starter at Liga MX powerhouse Club América was significant. Yet, it was the call he wasn’t expecting that was even bigger.

“I was surprised,” Alvarado said about the call he recently received from U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “I was about to go to Phoenix for a vacation and an assistant let me know that a call from the U.S. National Team might be coming Ten minutes later coach Klinsmann called me and I was just surprised!”

Phoenix was where it all started for Alvarado 22 years ago. Born to Mexican parents in the United States, the maturing center back is eligible to represent both the U.S. and Mexico on the international soccer stage. For the moment, he is a U.S. player, and his parents, who had initially thought Mexico might be the better place for him, have enjoyed seeing him in the U.S. jersey.

“My family was really excited when I got called up for the U.S. National Team,” he said. “They were happy when I started playing for Club América, and now they’re really happy. They sent me a picture of my nieces and they were holding a newspaper that said ‘Ventura Alvarado goes to the U.S. National Team,’ and they are all smiling. They’re just partying over there right now. They’re so happy, and just hearing them makes me really happy too.”

Ventura Alvarado
USMNT Defender Ventura Alvarado makes his international debut against Denmark in the rain of Aarhus.

While still one of the team’s newer players, Alvarado was glad to come in and see some familiar faces like Michael Orozco and Greg Garza, his opponents in Liga MX, who are now his U.S. teammates.

“Guys like Michael Orozco, he has more experience than me. He’s been here a lot of years, and Greg Garza, he has a lot of experience too and has been playing very well in Tijuana. Everything they say to me, it just gives me confidence,” Alvarado said. “It’s nice to have them because we have so much in common, players they know, clubs and coaches. They are my friends. It helps me out a lot.”

Flash forward to last week in Aarhus, Denamrk. Michael Orozco had to come out of the USA’s international friendly against the Danes with a knee injury, handing Alvarado his chance to get on the pitch.

“Earning my first cap, it was an incredible experience,” Alvarado said. “They said, ‘you’re going in,’ and I was just excited!”

Making his first appearance for the USA may be just the first step in Alvarado’s international career. The athletic defender hopes to work his way up to one day to play on soccer’s biggest stage, and so far he’s relishing the opportunity he’s been given with the U.S MNT.

“I hope to work and little by little start getting more minutes, getting more games,” he said. “Little by little, work my way towards being a starter and being known and getting the confidence up of the fans and the coaches and everybody. My ultimate goal is to go to the World Cup. It’s a dream for every player.”

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