U.S. Soccer

Jozy Altidore Scores Twice as U.S. MNT Defeats Nigeria 2-1 in Final Match of Send-Off Series

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (June 7, 2014) – Forward Jozy Altidore scored his first two goals of 2014 as the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Nigeria 2-1 in front of a Florida-record crowd of 52,033 at EverBank Field.

With the start, goalkeeper Tim Howard became the 15th U.S. MNT player to reach 100 caps while also picking up the victory to break Kasey Keller’s all-time goalkeeper wins record for the United States.

The U.S. went 3-0-0 during the Send-Off Series and now sets its sights on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The USA will depart for South America on June 8 to begin final preparations for its Group G opener against Ghana on June 16 at Estadio Das Dunas in Natal.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson), 31st minute: A fantastic series of passes down the right side set up Jozy Altidore to break the deadlock. Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya dribbled down the right wing and spied Fabian Johnson making a darting run into the penalty area. He cut a short pass to the overlapping right back who slide a cross on the ground into the six-yard box where Altidore was unmarked for the tap-in. For Altidore, it is his first goal of 2014. USA 1, NGA 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley), 68th minute: Michael Bradley played a beautiful ball from midfield to Jozy Altidore in the left side of the penalty area. Altidore settled, cut inside to evade Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo and then fired the ball past Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama inside the near left post. His second tally of the match was his 23rd  international goal. USA 2, NGA 0 (SEE GOAL)

NGA – Victor Moses (penalty), 86th minute: With the game wide open in waning minute minutes and both teams attacking with fervor, Nigeria’s Victor Moses drew a penalty against U.S. defender Matt Besler and took the subsequent penalty kick. Moses took a slow approach on the kick before placing his right-footed shot into the lower left corner as U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard went the opposite direction. USA 2, NGA 1 (SEE GOAL) (FINAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
NGA – Godfrey Oboabona, 20th minute: The U.S. spent the first 20 minutes trying to get a hold of the game, but did have some good moments on the counter attack, and one potential chance came when Clint Dempsey stole the ball at midfield and fed to DaMarcus Beasley on the left. Beasley crossed into the box, but Nigeria defender Godfrey Oboabona broke up the USA’s opportunity to keep the score level at 0-0.

NGA – Vincent Enyeama, 23rd minute: Quick touches from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey in the midfield paved the way for Michael Bradley on the right side. After a couple touches, Bradley shot with his right from just outside the box and Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama made a diving save to his right, parrying the ball away for a U.S. corner kick.

USA – Tim Howard, 44th minute: Nigeria held the ball in its half for nearly the final five minutes of the first half. The closest chance came off of a corner kick from the left side as Eric Efe Ambrose rose for the header in between Geoff Cameron and Clint Dempsey. His low shot was driven toward Tim Howard’s feet and the U.S. goalkeeper was quick to smother just in front of the end line.

USA – Tim Howard, 83rd minute: Nigeria second-half sub Emmanuel Emenike turned and shot with his right foot just about the penalty area with eyes on the left side of the net. Tim Howard dove to his right for the stop.

Milestone Watch:

  • Correction: Tim Howard broke Kasey Keller’s wins record on Saturday against Nigeria. Howard was incorrectly named the winner of the USA’s 2-1 victory against Turkey on June 1. Though he left at halftime with the lead, second-half goalkeeper Brad Guzan was awarded the win as he was in the net while Clint Dempsey scored what proved to be the game-winning goal.
  • With Saturday’s win, Howard is 54-28-15 all-time, moving just ahead of Keller who finished his brilliant career with a record of 53-27-18. Brad Guzan is now 11-7-3 all-time following the victory against Turkey.
  • Howard is the 15th player and third goalkeeper in U.S. MNT history to reach the 100-cap mark. Howard is now tied for 13th all-time with 100 caps with Tony Meola and Joe-Max Moore.
  • With his 22nd and 23rd goals, Jozy Altidore moves into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time goal scoring list, moving ahead of Bruce Murray who had 21 goals from 1985-93.
  • Clint Dempsey played in his 105th game and is now in 10th place, one appearance behind Eric Wynalda (106 caps from 1990-2000) on the all-time list.
  • Michael Bradley now has 10 assists in his career, tying for 12th all-time with Steve Cherundolo, Chris Henderson, Brian McBride and Earnie Stewart.
  • Bradley earned his 86th cap, moving ahead of Frankie Hejduk and Bruce Murray for 20th all-time. Bradley is also one game behind 19th-place Cherundolo (87 games from 1999-2012).

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT now heads to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The USA opens Group G play against Ghana at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, June 16, at Estadio das Dunas at Natal.
Broadcast information: ESPN, WatchESPN and ESPN Radio
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • The USA is 2-0-0 in the all-time series against Nigeria.
  • The U.S. MNT is now 4-1-1 in 2014.
  • The USA is 17-16-9 all-time in games based in Florida and 4-0-1 in Jacksonville.
  • Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann started a defensive that featured Tim Howard in goal and a back line featuring left back DaMarcus Beasley, right back Fabian Johnson and center backs Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler.
  • Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya played side-by-side in the 4-3-2-1 formation, with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in front of them.
  • Striker Jozy Altidore played up top in the formation.
  • The U.S. is now 8-3-2 with Dempsey as the captain.
  • For the only time in the Send-Off Series, Klinsmann made no changes to start the second half. The USA’s first sub came in the 60th minute, when Graham Zusi entered for Bedoya.
  • With a 2-0 lead in place, Klinsmann went back to his bench in the 72nd minute with Mix Diskerud replacing Beckerman.
  • In the 75th minute, Timmy Chandler replaced Beasley at left back and in the 80th minute, Omar Gonzalez entered for Altidore.
  • Chris Wondolowski was brought in for Dempsey in the 87th minute.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Nigeria
Date: June 7, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Florida
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Attendance: 52,033
Weather: 83 degrees, overcast

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

USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson)    31st minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley)   68
NGA – Victor Moses (penalty kick)        86

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 5-Matt Besler, 20-Geoff Cameron, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Timmy Chandler, 75); 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Graham Zusi, 60), 15-Kyle Beckerman (10-Mix Diskerud, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley; 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (18-Chris Wondolowski, 87), 17-Jozy Altidore (3-Omar Gonzalez, 80)
Subs Not Used: 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 6-John Brooks, 9-Aron Johannsson, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

NGA: 1-Vincent Enyeama; 2-Joseph Yobo (capt.), 5-Eric Efe Ambrose, 13-Juwon Oshaniwa, 14-Godfrey Oboabona; 10-John Obi Mikel (4-Ruben Gabriel, 46), 15-Ramon Azeez (25-Michael Uchebo, 74), 17- Ogenyi Onazi; 8-Peter Osaze Odemwingie (18-Michael Babatunde, 46), 11-Victor Moses, 23-Shola Ameobi (9-Emmanuel Emenike, 64)
Subs Not Used: 3-Elderson Echiejile, 6-Azubuike Emmanuel Egweukwe, 7-Musa Ahmed, 12-Kunle Odunlami, 16-Austine Ejide, 19-Uche Nwofor, 21-Agbim Chigozie, 22-Kenneth Omeruo
Head Coach: Stephen Keshi

Stats Summary: USA / NGA
Shots: 11 / 7
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 6 / 10
Fouls: 12 / 9
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Simon Beck (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Simon Bennett (ENG)
4th Official: Andre Mariner (ENG)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore

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MNT Jun 7, 2014

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Nigeria
Date: June 7, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Florida
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Attendance: 52,033
Weather: 83 degrees, overcast

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

           

USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson)           31st minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley)           68
NGA – Victor Moses (penalty kick)                 86

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 5-Matt Besler, 20-Geoff Cameron, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Timmy Chandler, 75); 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Graham Zusi, 60), 15-Kyle Beckerman (10-Mix Diskerud, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 4-Michael Bradley; 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (18-Chris Wondolowski, 87), 17-Jozy  Altidore (3-Omar Gonzalez, 80)
Subs Not Used: 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 6-John Brooks, 9-Aron Johannsson, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

NGA: 1-Vincent Enyeama; 2-Joseph Yobo (capt.), 5-Eric Efe Ambrose, 13-Juwon Oshaniwa, 14-Godfrey Oboabona; 10-John Obi Mikel (4-Ruben Gabriel, 46), 15-Ramon Azeez (25-Michael Uchebo, 74), 17- Ogenyi Onazi; 8-Peter Osaze Odemwingie (18-Michael Babatunde, 46), 11-Victor Moses, 23-Shola Ameobi (9-Emmanuel Emenike, 64)
Subs Not Used: 3-Elderson Echiejile, 6-Azubuike Emmanuel Egweukwe, 7-Musa Ahmed, 12-Kunle Odunlami, 16-Austine Ejide, 19-Uche Nwofor, 21-Agbim Chigozie, 22-Kenneth Omeruo
Head Coach: Stephen Keshi

Stats Summary: USA / NGA
Shots: 11 / 7
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 6 / 10
Fouls: 12 / 9
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (ENG)      
Assistant Referee 1: Simon Beck (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Simon Bennett (ENG)
4th Official: Andre Mariner (ENG)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore

MNT Routs Bolivia 4-0 in Final Copa America Warm-up

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (May 28, 2016) –The U.S. Men’s National Team added a line to record books as it swept past Bolivia 4-0 at Children’s Mercy Park in its final tune-up match before this summer’s historic 2016 Copa America Centenario.

The 4-0 score line, which is the largest margin of victory in U.S. MNT history against a South American country, was highlighted by Christian Pulisic’s strike that made him the youngest goal scorer in the USA’s modern era (since 1990) at 17 years, 253 days old. Forward Gyasi Zardes notched a pair of tallies – one on either side of the break – to earn the first multi-goal game of his international career. Defender John Brooks also added to his burgeoning tally with his third goal in a U.S. shirt while also helping U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan pitch the team’s second consecutive shutout.

The MNT begins the 2016 Copa America Centenario on June 3 vs. Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1, Univision, UniMAS, UDN). The U.S. will then continue group play on June 7 vs. Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago (7 p.m. CT; FS1, UniMAS, UDN), before facing Paraguay at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMAS, UDN).

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya), 26th minute:
A flowing team passing sequence allowed Alejandro Bedoya to chip a perfect pass over the Bolivia defense to the streaking Zardes. Bolivia goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra rushed out of the goalmouth and to the top of the penalty area in an attempt to cut down the angle and clear the ball away, but Zardes beat him to the ball and calmly rolled a one-touch shot into the vacated net. USA 1, BOL 0 [ WATCH]

USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya), 37th minute: U.S. captain Michael Bradley alertly picked out Bedoya from a quickly-taken U.S. set piece and the Nantes midfielder slipped past the Bolivia defense to cut a low cross through the penalty box from the right side. With the Bolivia defense caught scrambling, Brooks lost his marker and easily side-footed the ball into the left side of the goal from the top of the six-yard box. USA 2, BOL 0 [ WATCH]

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood), 52nd minute: Zardes began the goal sequence by recycling a U.S. possession through Bradley who switched the point of attack with a long, pinpoint pass to Bobby Wood out wide on the left. Wood beat his defender to the end line with a speedy move and just before the ball went out of bounds, sent a low cross through the six-yard box. Zardes did well to get inside position on his defender and slid to one-time a left-footed shot into the Bolivia goal. USA 3, BOL 0 [WATCH]

USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe), 69th minute: Nagbe seized on a loose ball on the left side and darted through the Bolivia defense with the aid of a slick one-two with Jermaine Jones before drawing the last defender to him. Pulisic was making a run on Nagbe’s right and Nagbe slid a short pass into his path. Pulisic made no mistake and pushed a hard shot past Viscarra into the lower right corner to cap the scoring. USA 4, BOL 0 [ WATCH] FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The USA commences group play at the 2016 Copa America Centenario against Colombia in the tournament’s opening match on Friday, June 3 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. PT and the game will be broadcast on FS1, Univision, UniMAS and UDN.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer)

Milestone Watch:

  • Clint Dempsey made his 124th international appearance, moving him ahead of DaMarcus Beasley into fifth on the MNT’s all-time caps list. He sits three back of Marcelo Balboa (127) for fourth place.
  • Christian Pulisic scored his first international goal at 17 years, 253 days, becoming the youngest goal scorer in modern era of the U.S. MNT history. Juan Agudelo previously held MNT record for youngest scorer (17 years, 359 days) when he tallied against South Africa on Nov. 17, 2010.
  • Gyasi Zardes’ two goals mark the LA Galaxy forward’s first multi-goal game for his country. He now has five career goals for the USA.

Additional Notes:

  • The win marks the USA’s first victory vs. Bolivia, improving the MNT’s all-time record against La Verde to 1-4-2.
  • The four-goal margin marks the largest margin of victory for the MNT against a South American nation.
  • The MNT won all three of its Copa America warm-up matches defeating Puerto Rico 3-1, Ecuador 1-0 and Bolivia 4-0.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Bolivia
Date: May 28, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Attendance: 8,894
Weather: 73 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             2          2          4
BOL                              0          0          0

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya)                        26th minute
USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya)             37
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood)                   52
USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe)         69

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan, 14-Michael Orozco (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 46), 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 5-Matt Besler (23-Fabian Johnson, 46), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (19-Graham Zusi, 73), 13-Jermaine Jones, 9-Gyasi Zardes (17-Christian Pulisic, 63), 8-Clint Dempsey (18-Chris Wondolowski, 72), 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used:
12-Tim Howard, 22-William Yarbrough, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

BOL: 23-Guillermo Viscarra, 4-Diego Bejarano, 21-Ronald Eguino, 5-Nelson Cabrera, 3-Luis Gutiérrez (17-Marvin Bejarano, 68), 13-Alejandro Meleán (18-Rodrigo Ramallo, 54), 8-Martín Smedberg-Dalence (22-Edward Zenteno, 74), 20-Fernando Saucedo (15-Pedro Azogue, 46), 10-Jhasmani Campos (11-Bruno Miranda, 46), 9-Yasmani Duk (capt.); 19-Carmelo Algarañaz (14-Raúl Castro, 46)
Subs not used:
1-Carlos Lampe, 12-Rómel Quiñónez, 2-Mario Saavedra, 6-Wálter Veizaga, 7-Juan Carlos Arce, 16-Cristhian Machado
Head
Coach: Julio César Baldivieso

Stats Summary: USA / BOL
Shots: 9 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 18
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
BOLJhasmani Campos (caution)              30th minute
BOL – Yasmani Duk (caution)                      76

Officials:
Referee: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Mangandi (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Leonardo Sanchez (CUB)
4th Official: Marlon Mejia (SLV)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes

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MNT May 28, 2016

Countdown to Brazil Well Underway for WNT

While 2016 has certainly been a busy year for the U.S. Women’s National Team – par for the course for any year hosting an Olympic Games – the USA has made the most of its eventful schedule during the run-up to the tournament and the first five months of the year can certainly be described as highly successful. The USA is 11-0-0 in 2016, earning 10 shutouts while allowing just one goal. 

The U.S. Women kicked off its Olympic cycle with a 5-0 win against Ireland in late January and then went on to qualify for the Olympic Games while also winning two tournaments – the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, its fourth consecutive title at such event, in February; and the SheBelieves Cup in March. In April, the U.S. women played two friendly matches against Olympic Group G opponent Colombia, winning 7-0 and 3-0 with seven different players scoring the 10 goals. 

Following the games against Colombia, the U.S. WNT returned to their respective National Women’s Soccer League clubs to kick off the historic fourth season, thus maintaining their fitness and sharpening their leadership skills during the break from National Team duties. Six weeks later, they are back together in Denver, Colorado to resume preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games with a pair of matches against 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup finalist Japan, on June 2 in Denver and June 5 in Cleveland.

“It’s good to be back in camp,” said U.S. WNT goalkeeper Hope Solo. “I think what’s great is that everyone is fit because we’ve been playing games in the NWSL. Of course, there’s a couple of people who are battling injuries like Carli Lloyd but she’s coming back healthy and strong. It’s nice to see everyone feel confident because we’ve been playing, we’ve been getting minutes. I think it makes for a short, strong camp where we can get in specific work.”

After the matches against Japan, the USA will finish its Road to Rio with two Olympic Send-Off games, a meeting with South Africa for the first time in history on July 9 in Chicago, and a soon to be announced match in late July right before the team departs for Brazil.

The countdown to Brazil is clearly ticking and there is little time left before the quest for Olympic gold begins anew. The players – who are trying to make the Olympic roster -- and staff – who are picking it -- knows this is the time when every training, every gym session and of course, every match, represents a chance to impress, improve and tweak anything that needs fine-tuning. It is important to peak at the right time and the U.S. has always proved to be adept at finding that final chemistry on the field before taking it to the big stage. This is one of the reasons why this two-game set against Japan will be an excellent test of mental and physical strength.

“We have two games against a great team,” said Solo. “I know Japan doesn’t have a lot of their well-known players but we’re all really excited to see the younger, technical side of Japan. We don’t know what they’re going to bring but it will be great, and it will be a little bit different than what we’ve seen in the past.”

The USA and Japan have a rich history dating back to 1986, but it’s the more recent meetings between the two sides that have bound these two countries together in women’s soccer history and provided a world class display of talent, emotion and gritty competition. Japan will miss out on this year’s Olympic Games after failing to qualify out of the difficult Asian Football Confederation, but that will not diminish the intensity and quality of the games we can expect to see. 

The USA and Japan have met in the last three world finals, with the USA losing the 2011 Women’s World Cup in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie over regulation and overtime, then winning the 2012 Olympic goal medal game 2-1, and the historic 2015 Women’s World Cup Final 5-2. These will be the first meetings with Japan since the Women’s World Cup and the USA has an all-time record of 25-1-6 against the Asian nation, outscoring them 92-22.

With only four international friendly games left on the schedule before the team hops on a plane to Brazil, the U.S. WNT is aware of the importance of time and the challenges that await in Group G, where the USA will face New Zealand, France and Colombia. The USA has played all three of those opponents in the last year and is more than ready to get things started. Solo, who with 98 shutouts is only two away from becoming the first goalkeeper in U.S. history to reach the century mark, put it best:

“On our workout sheets today said 67 days to Rio. The countdown has started. Before you know it, it’s going to be here.” 

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WNT May 28, 2016

Experienced Besler Eager to Seize Historic Copa America Opportunity

The scene played out in a fashion he knew all too well, but Matt Besler took a few moments to process how it caught up to him. All of the carefully devised plans crumbled. He expected to spend last summer in the heat of a CONCACAF Gold Cup defense. Instead, he coped with the fallout of missing out on the squad entirely.

Besler felt all of the natural emotions when United States Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann left him out of his 23-man squad for the continental championship. He cycled through them as quickly as he could. His mind drifted from the frustration of the opportunity lost to the possibility of using the setback to push his way back into the frame for World Cup Qualifying and the upcoming Copa América Centenario. He pinpointed his approach as a key component in the recovery.

“I’ve seen guys miss out on teams,” Besler explained to ussoccer.com. “It happens every single year. The ones who get through it the best are the ones who handle it the right way. It was a difficult time. It was tough to do interviews like these and try to explain why you weren’t on the roster and how the team was doing and all of that stuff. But it’s part of the process. And it’s made me a stronger person.”

Most of the resolve emerged from his tried and tested qualities. His consistency with Sporting Kansas City is the reason why he assumed the club captaincy with Sporting Kansas City, claimed a MLS Cup title and pried his way into the U.S. National Team picture in the first place. It is why he emerged as a key figure during the buildup to the 2014 World Cup and started all four games in Brazil.

Those tenets formed the bedrock of his response. Besler leaned on his teammates for support and streamlined his thoughts. He quickly located the steady ground required to navigate a busy summer with Sporting KC and state his claims for a recall.

“I think I really learned a lot about how to focus,” Besler said. “A lot of times, I feel like we can get caught up in all of these different things going on around us in the big picture, but I think the best way to get through things and get through situations like that is to narrow your focus and control the things you can control. That’s the attitude I had.”

Whatever Besler did, it worked. His performances reflected his desire to prove a point and underpin his international case. Sporting KC racked up three straight wins and tromped through two rounds of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as the Gold Cup unfolded.

Those displays prompted Besler’s recall to the international fold in September and spurred his return to the starting XI for the CONCACAF Cup and the opening two matches in FIFA World Cup Qualifying. His performances justified his continued inclusion and ensured his tumultuous year ended with the proper footing.


Once Matt Besler reurned to the U.S. fold, he helped the MNT secure a clean sheet and important road point
to begin World Cup Qualifying for Russia 2018.

All of the trials and tribulations provided Besler with context as he plowed onward toward Copa América. There are few silver linings after missing out on a major tournament, but Besler frames those unfamiliar setbacks in a different light now.

“I think I’m just more experienced,” Besler said. “I think experience goes a very long way in this game. I had a lot of positive experiences, but I also had some negative ones last year as well. When you put everything together, I really felt like I grew as a player. I felt like I grew as a person as well. I think that’s just going to help me out going forward.”

It is now the foundation as Besler plans for another major tournament. The sting of last summer fades with each passing day, though it is still there in some form or another. But the opportunity ahead now – a chance to play in this one-off tournament against the top teams from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL – provides a chance to compensate for the disappointment of last summer.

As Besler ponders the challenges ahead, he recalls one of those searing memories from the trip to Brazil. It is the sort of recollection capable of informing why he cherishes the opportunity ahead.

Besler left the field in Salvador and spent time in the recesses of Arena Fonte Nova wrestling with the fallout from the round of 16 defeat to Belgium.  He said he remembered being devastated as he worked through it all in the locker room. He turned to Michael Bradley and proceeded through the twists and turns of that dramatic affair in real time. Bradley soaked it all in as Besler worked through the previous 120 minutes and wondered what might have been.

When Besler reached a stopping point, Bradley offered some insight Besler carries with him to this day. Bradley said those emotions made the tournament and tournaments like this one so special. He said they only come around every so often, they draw so much from you and then they just end.

Those words stuck with Besler even as he emerged from that haze and moved onwards in his career. They ring true now as he stands on the precipice of another major tournament after missing out on the last one. And they reveal how he plans to grasp the occasion with both hands.    

“I think the Copa America is an example of one of those once-in-a-lifetime tournaments,” Besler said. “We want to take advantage of it.”

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MNT May 28, 2016

Match Preview: MNT vs. Bolivia

The U.S. Men's National Team completes its series of friendlies in preparation for Copa America Centenario when they host Bolivia in Kansas City, Kan. on May 28 at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on FS1, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network.

Following tonight’s match, the MNT will travel to San Jose to train leading up to the opening match of the Copa America Centenario against Colombia on Friday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on FS1, Univision, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network. 

Here are some storylines to follow tonight:

MNT COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO ROSTER: In total, 21 of 23 players on the U.S. roster for Copa America Centenario are available for this match, with the exception of Ethan Horvath and Edgar Castillo, who will join the team in San Jose, Calif. next week. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who joined the team in Frisco, is with the team in Horvath’s place, but unavailable for the tournament. Castillo will replace Timmy Chandler on the roster due to a right hamstring strain. Castillo is expected to join the team after the second leg of Sunday’s Liga MX final featuring Monterrey and Pachuca.

RECENT FORM: The U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday night thanks to Darlington Nagbe’s 90th minute volley, marking his first international goal in his sixth cap. Nagbe’s strike denotes the fourth time the U.S. has scored in the 89th minute or later through six matches this year. Brad Guzan recorded his 14th career shutout and second of 2016. The MNT kicked off a trio of friendlies last Sunday with a 3-1 road win against Puerto Rico. 

USA vs. BOLIVIA: The MNT is 0-4-2 in six all-time meetings with Bolivia. The two sides last met in 1999, a 0-0 draw at Stadio de Tahuichi in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Cobi Jones became the first American to score against Bolivia in a 1-1 draw at the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Robbie Cup in February 1994. Barely more than two months later, Hugo Perez scored twice against Bolivia in Dallas for a 2-2 draw.

GUZAN NABS NO. 1: Klinsmann has revealed that Brad Guzan will be the first-choice goalkeeper for the Copa America Centenario. Guzan boasts a 10-4-4 record in official competition for the United States, which includes matches in World Cup Qualifying, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the Gold Cup and Copa America.

WINGMEN: Last week, Klinsmann announced DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson will be the starting right and left backs, respectively, for the Copa America Centenario. 

ON USSOCCER.COM

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

DEFENDERS (7): Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moencengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)

MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (12): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

BOLIVIA COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Carlos Lampe (Sport Boys, BOL), Rómel Quiñónez (Bolívar, BOL), Guillermo Viscarra (Oriente Petrolero, BOL) 

DEFENDERS (7): Diego Bejarano (The Strongest, BOL), Marvin Bejarano (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Nelson Cabrera (Bolívar, BOL), Ronald Eguino (Bolívar, BOL), Luis Gutiérrez (Ironi Kiryat Shmona, ISR), Mario Saavedra (Bolívar, BOL), Edward Zenteno (Wilstermann, BOL) 

MIDFIELDERS (9): Pedro Azogue (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Jhasmani Campos (Kazma, KUW), Raúl Castro (The Strongest, BOL), Samuel Galindo (Petrolero, BOL), Cristhian Machado (Wilstermann, BOL), Alejandro Meleán (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Fernando Saucedo (Wilstermann, BOL), Martín Smedberg-Dalence (Goteborg, SWE), Wálter Veizaga (The Strongest, BOL) 

FORWARDS (4): Juan Carlos Arce (Bolívar, BOL), Yasmani Duk (New York Cosmos, USA), Bruno Miranda (Universidad de Chile, CHI), Rodrigo Ramallo (The Strongest, BOL)

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MNT May 28, 2016

Gallery: MNT Trains in Kansas City Ahead Match Against Bolivia

The U.S. MNT held a training session yesterday to prepare for its last international friendly before Copa America Centenario against Bolivia at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. on Saturday, May 28 (7 p.m. CT; FS1, UniMas, UDN) [TICKETS]. 

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MNT May 28, 2016
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