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
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Besler: This is Why We Play the Game

Sporting Kansas City’s captain Matt Besler had a busy night in the Final of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer club championship. The U.S. National Team defender and Kansas native kept things tight at the back, resisting the menace of New York Red Bulls’ ace marksman Bradley Wright-Phillips and their elegant playmaker Sacha Kljestan. Amid the celebrations, fireworks and blue confetti at Children’s Mercy Park, the good-natured skipper took a few minutes to talk to ussoccer.com about what it means to bring another title to Kansas City.  

ussoccer.com: It’s another Open Cup title for Sporting Kansas City. That makes it four in all. How does it feel to be a part of a club that has never lost an Open Cup final?
Matt Besler:
This is what it’s all about. These are the nights you live for as a soccer player. Here with these fans right now and my teammates, celebrating a win like this is the reason why you even play this game.

ussoccer.com: The game had a physical edge from the start. The tackles were flying in and no one on either team gave any quarter. Did you expect the game to play out the way it did?
MB:
It was a tough game. Everyone was working for everything and it was clear that both teams were committed and trying their all to win this Cup. Both teams were really aggressive in their tackles and it really played out like a classic cup final. I felt like this was the kind of game we were going to have tonight and we were good enough to get through it in the end. But it was never easy.

ussoccer.com: The New York Red Bulls didn’t go quietly. They were pressing hard at the end with the score at 2-1 and it looked like an equalizer might be in the cards…
MB:
You have to credit the Red Bulls for the effort they put in, but at the end of the day we did what we needed to do and it was enough for us to win. You can never predict how a final is going to go, but you can be sure they’re not going to be easy. None of our games in this Open Cup were easy. We had to work for everything. And this one went our way tonight and I don’t really have the words to describe what I’m feeling right now.

ussoccer.com: It seemed like there was a special feeling to this Sporting Kansas City team from the start of the Open Cup campaign. Would you say there was something like destiny about this Cup run?
MB:
I would. It started in our first game. We really felt like something special was happening with us. There was a real special feeling in the locker room and around the club. When we played in Dallas and had to be a man down for almost 90 minutes, there was something about winning that game with all of that going against us, that just made it seem like we were headed for something great.

ussoccer.com: The SKC Family suffered a loss not long before that FC Dallas game…
MB:
One of our owners, Neal Patterson, passed away a week before the Dallas Quarterfinal. It was a tough thing for the club and for everyone connected to it. I’d just like to dedicate this win to him. 

ussoccer.com: You’re getting to be an old hand at winning Cups – MLS Cups and Open Cups. How does this one measure up to the rest?
MB:
Any Cup feels just as sweet as the one before. It never gets old. I don’t even know how I feel right now – I’m still in a haze about it. I haven’t had a minute to even digest it. We’re trying to win as many of these things as we can before we’re done playing. Nothing compares to the feeling.

ussoccer.com: Latif Blessing, a young man with a lot of talent, had a big night. In a team with many experienced leaders, it must be satisfying to see one of the youngsters step up in such a big way…
MB:
Latif stepped up tonight. He was a threat from the opening whistle. It was unfortunate that he had to leave the game with an injury, but he certainly made his mark on it. He imposed his will while he was in there. We couldn’t ask any more of him.

ussoccer.com: What do you have to say to the fans that have been such a huge part of your 2017 Open Cup campaign and all of the success that has come to this club?
MB:
I just want to say “thank you” to all of them. They are our twelfth man, they are our lifeblood, whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t matter. We owe a lot to these fans right here. They’re just the best. They’re always there for us. You can’t find better fans anywhere.

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U.S. Open Cup Sep 21, 2017

Sporting KC Defeat NY Red Bulls 2-1, Win 2017 U.S. Open Cup Crown

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 20, 2017) – Sporting Kansas City kept alive their perfect record in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Finals, beating New York Red Bulls 2-1 to claim their fourth crown in this the 104th installment of U.S. Soccer’s club championship. In front of a huge home crowd of 21,523 (third-largest in the history of Children’s Mercy Park), Peter Vermes’ SKC were in control from the start, and goals from Latif Blessing and substitute Daniel Salloi were enough to give the home team, and their boisterous fans, yet another night to savor. 

The first-half proved that the pre-game promises of a wide-open Final that came from both sides were more than just empty advertising. Inside the 3rd minute, Gerso Fernandes latched onto a clever diagonal pass from Roger Espinoza and snuck in behind a flat Red Bull defense. Only a last-ditch tackle from Aaron Long kept the home side from carving out an early lead.

The pattern repeated itself on the ten-minute mark, with the speedy Gerso racing in from the right side and collecting the ball again from the foraging Espinoza. This time, though, the live-wire attacker made the wrong choice. Instead of pulling the trigger from a tight angle, he tried to lay the ball back across the box for the onrushing Benny Feilhaber. The noisy section behind the goal, the one they call the Claudron, responded with a groan before promptly getting back to drumming, chanting and general merry-making. 

Bradley Wright-Phillips plowed a lone furrow for himself in attack at the other end. But even all on his own, the English-born striker was a threat not to be underestimated. His first effort to get on the end of a long ball saw him stray into an offside position. The next time, Matt Besler bundled him over. But the time after that, in the 13th minute, BWP forced SKC keeper Tim Melia to stretch to his limits and punch clear at the last possible second. The goalkeeper, who only allowed one goal in four games leading up to the Final, wasn’t off the hook yet. Sacha Kljestan, Red Bulls captain, got hold of the clearance and fired low with his right foot, forcing Melia into another fingertip save.


U.S. Youth International Tyler Adams of New York shadows U.S. MNT and Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi.

It was the Red Bulls turn to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Shortly after their captain made Melia work, U.S. youth international and native New Yorker Tyler Adams tried his luck from the edge of the box too. Melia, again, was equal to the task with a fine low save.

But all that good work proved a false dawn for the New Yorkers. In the 25th minute, the roof flew off Children’s Mercy Park when Latif Blessing – the shortest and slightest player on the pitch – rose highest to meet Graham Zusi’s inch-perfect cross from the right to make it 1-0 for the home team. Ryan Meara got a glove to the shot, but the effort only had eyes for the net.


Sporting KC's 5'5" forward Latif Blessing leaps in front of his marker to provide the opening salvo in his team's 2017 U.S. Open Cup triumph.

In the venerable tradition of the best cup finals, the game developed a physical edge. It straddled the line between tough and nasty. Every loose ball was challenged and every player on the pitch, even the darlings like SKC schemer Benny Feilhaber and New York’s elegant Kljestan, went hell for leather into tackles and 50-50 balls.

In the 41st minute, the diminutive Blessing was at it again. This time he hustled and harried to win the ball deep in his own half before sending a curling ball 60 yards up the field to pick out the flying Gerso. The man from Guinea-Bissau was all alone and bearing down on goal. A tug of the shirt from Adams and a charge from Meara, who stood in for regular No.1 Luis Robles for every minute of the Red Bulls’ 2017 Open Cup campaign, was enough to throw off Gerso’s shot and keep the game alive. 

Having turned the contest on its ear with a goal and no shortage of lively play, it was a sad sight to see Blessing limp off two minutes from the interval with an injury. There was the sense he had more to offer the game with his guile and pace. Tempers flared on the stroke of half-time with both sets of player agitated over tight calls and even tighter no-calls.

The second-half picked up right where the first let off, with both sides fighting for every ball. Sporting Kansas City, with a 1-0 lead to comfort them, didn’t need to take any chances. Vermes strengthened the midfield by bringing on Jimmy Medranda for Gerso, almost daring the Red Bulls to push into attack.

Sporting KC - Daniel Salloi
Sporting KC forward Daniel Salloi revs up 'Blue Hell' after putting the home team ahead 2-0 midway through the second half of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup Final.

But before the visitors even had a chance to mount a charge, Sporting KC doubled their lead in the 66th minute. Feilhaber collected the ball out wide on the left and used his fly’s-eye vision to curl a pass in for Salloi, the substitute from Hungary who came on to replace opening goal-scorer Blessing. Meara hesitated before racing off his line and found himself in no-man’s land by the time the wispy Salloi stretched to poke the ball home to a roar of delight from the elated Kansas City crowd. They could sense a fourth Open Cup crown was on the cards for their heroes.

And so it was to be. Despite a late Wright-Phillips consolation goal in injury time, the 2-1 result earns Sporting Kansas City $250,000 dollars in prize money and a place in the CONCACAF Champions League, the competition which sends CONCACAF’s representative to the annual FIFA Club World Cup. But all of that is gravy for later, as the night and its celebrations, both in the stands and down on the pitch, were what it was all about. It was a fitting end to another unforgettable Open Cup. 

2017 U.S. Open Cup Champions Sporting Kansas City

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U.S. Open Cup Sep 20, 2017

Panama Announces Roster for Oct. 6 World Cup Qualifier in Orlando

While Bruce Arena will use the next few weeks to round out his roster for October’s crucial World Cup Qualifiers, one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s opponents for the pivotal set of games has already named theirs.

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez announced the 22-player roster that will take part in USA-Panama, presented by Volpi Foods, on Oct. 6 in Orlando before closing out qualifying home against Costa Rica four days later.

Known for naming his starting lineups the day before Panama’s games, Gomez is largely relying on the same group he has throughout the Final Round, with 20 of the players on this roster most recently taking part in Los Canaleros’ September matches.  

One notable returnee is veteran goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Capped 125 times by Panama, the former LA Galaxy net minder missed out on September’s matches with a groin injury.

Check out the full list of 22 players that have been called up by Panama:

GOALKEEPERS (2): José Calderón (Marathón/HON), Jaime Penedo (Dynamo Bucharest/ROM)

DEFENDERS (8): Felipe Baloy (Municipal/GUA), Érick Davis (Dunajská Streda/SVK), Fidel Escobar (New York Red Bulls/USA), Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo/USA), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls/USA), Luis Ovalle (Deportes Tolima/COL), Román Torres (Seattle Sounders FC), Jan Carlos Vargas (Tauro)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Édgar Bárcenas (Tapachula/MEX), Ricardo Buitrago (Juan Aurich/PER), Armando Cooper (Toronto FC/CAN), Aníbal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes/USA), Gabriel Gòmez (Atlético Bucaramanga/COL), José González (Árabe Unido), Alberto Quintero (Universitario/PER)

FORWARDS (5): Abdiel Arroyo (Danubio/URU), Roberto Nurse (Zacatecas), Blas Pérez (Municipal/GUA), Luis Tejada (Universitario/PER), Gabriel Torres (Lausanna-Sport/SUI)

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MNT Sep 20, 2017

The Journey: Mal Pugh

WNT Sep 20, 2017
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