U.S. Soccer

U.S. WNT Routs Mexico 8-0 as Hope Solo Earns Record 72nd Clean Sheet

SANDY, Utah (Sept. 13, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Team rolled over Mexico in the first of a two-game set against its CONCACAF foe, scoring four goals in each half to win 8-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Alex Morgan scored two goals and assisted three others.  Abby Wambach also recorded a brace and goalkeeper Hope Solo earned the clean sheet to break the U.S. WNT record with the 72nd shutout of her career. Solo surpassed the previous shut-out mark of 71 held by Briana Scurry.

The U.S. played a dominant and well-rounded match as second-half subs Whitney Engen, Sydney Leroux and Heather O’Reilly added goals, and the U.S. benefited from an own goal in the opening minutes.

The USA and Mexico meet again on Thursday, Sept. 18, at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Watch ESPN with and a delayed broadcast at 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Univision Deportes Network). These matches serve as the USA’s final preparation heading into CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which starts in mid-October.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Own Goal (Alina Garciamendez), 11th minute: The U.S. WNT earned a gift early on when Alex Morgan’s lead pass toward Abby Wambach was skipped to Garciamendez. Though she was able to intercept, Garciamendez’s attempted clear deflected over Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago who was well off her line, bounced once and crossed the goal line. USA 1, MEX 0 

USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan), 23rd minute: Megan Rapinoe set up the sequence with a dish to Morgan down the left sideline. Morgan brought the ball toward the end line, and despite having her first cross blocked, calmly set up Wambach with a second pass just outside the six-yard box. Wambach’s left-footed shot got through the Mexico defense and past Cecilia Santiago to signal a long night for Mexico. USA 2, MEX 0 

USA – Alex Morgan (unassisted), 36th minute: Mexico defender Bianca Sierra made a shaky decision on a lofted pass toward her own box. The ball bounced off her chest as she retreated toward her own goal and Morgan, who was running alongside her, won the ball and sent a right-footed chip over Santiago into the net. USA 3, MEX 0

USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan), 41st minute: The USA kept its foot on the gas as Morgan had plenty of space on the right side of the box. She crossed, and even though Cecilia Santiago managed to get a fingertip on the ball, it was not enough to push the ball out of the path of Wambach who slotted it home for the 170th tally of her career and the seventh of this year. USA 4, MEX 0 

USA – Alex Morgan (Christen Press), 56th minute: A quick passing sequence found Press in the right side of the box and she sent a smooth-rolling pass to Morgan near the right post. She slotted home with her right foot to open the second-half scoring. USA 5, MEX 0

USA – Whitney Engen (Christen Press), 58th minute: Off of Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick from the right side, Press rose among the pack and headed to the right side of the goal box. Engen delivered her snap header into the upper right corner for her first goal of the year and second of her career. USA 6, MEX 0

USA – Sydney Leroux (Lauren Holiday), 71st minute:  Second-half sub Leroux, the team’s leading goal scorer in 2014, got into the act on a set piece chance. Holiday took the right-footed corner kick from the left side and her driven cross was met by Leroux who powered her header home from the top of the six-yard box. USA 7, MEX 0

USA – Heather O’Reilly (Alex Morgan), 75th minute:  Lauren Holiday played a superb through ball to Morgan on the left side of the box. Though Mexico’s defense deflected Morgan’s first cross attempt, Morgan stuck with it and found O’Reilly for a left-footed shot from six yards out to cap off the scoring. USA 8, MEX 0 (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
MEX – Cecilia Santiago, 45th minute: The scoring damage had already been done, but Mexico’s 19-year-old goalkeeper tried to keep Mexico’s faint hopes alive with a diving save just before halftime. Megan Rapinoe rocketed a right-footed shot from about 17 yards out, and her attempt to the near left post was parried away by Santiago for a USA corner kick. 

MEX – Cecilia Santiago, 52nd minute: From 20 yards out, Alex Morgan launched a left-footed shot headed toward the near right side of the frame, but Santiago smothered it with the diving save to her left. 

Milestone Watch:

  • Hope Solo’s U.S. record 72 clean sheets have been posted over 154 games starting in 2000. Briana Scurry’s previous record of 71 shutouts were accumulated over 173 matches.
  • Solo’s first cap and shutout in April of 2000 was also an 8-0 match, that win over Iceland.
  • Center back Christie Rampone played in her 296th match as she continues to inch closer to 300 caps. Only Kristine Lilly has appeared in more games for the USA (352 games from 1987-2010).
  • Abby Wambach upped her all-time record goal scoring total to 170 with her brace. She is now 12 goals ahead of the legendary Mia Hamm (158 goals from 1987-2004).
  • With her two assists to Wambach, Alex Morgan now has 31 for her career. That moves her ahead of Lauren Holiday for 12th on the all-time list.
  • Carli Lloyd played in her 175th match. With her next appearance, Lloyd will tie Shannon MacMillan for 12th on the USA’s all-time list. MacMillan had 176 caps from 1993-2005.
  • Morgan is currently 10th on the all-time goal scoring list with 48 following Saturday’s brace. Morgan sits three goals behind Lloyd.

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. WNT and Mexico square off in a rematch on Thursday, Sept. 18, at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York (7 p.m. ET).

Broadcast information: ESPN2, WatchESPN

Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt | @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • The USA is now 9-2-3 in 2014.
  • Hope Solo moved to 119-9-18 for her career. She is second only to Briana Scurry for all-time wins (Scurry went 133-12-14 from 1994-2008).
  • The USA improved to 109-2-8 when Abby Wambach scores a goal.
  • The U.S. is now 28-1-1 all-time against Mexico.
  • U.S. head coach Jill Ellis’ starting lineup featured Hope Solo in goal and a defensive group of Meghan Klingenberg at left back, Stephanie Cox at right back and Becky Sauerbrunn and Christine Rampone as the center backs. Rampone wore the captain’s armband.
  • The midfield corps in the 4-3-3 included Megan Rapinoe on the left side, Lauren Holiday on the right and Carli Lloyd in the center.
  • The USA’s front line included Christen Press, Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.
  • To open the second half, Ellis made two defensive substitutions with Crystal Dunn replacing Cox and Whitney Engen in for Sauerbrunn.
  • In the 60th minute, Sydney Leroux, Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly were brought in for Rapinoe, Wambach and Press, respectively.
  • Morgan Brian served as the final substitution for Lloyd in the 71st minute.
  • Sauerbrunn, Press and O’Reilly are the only U.S. WNT players to have seen action in all 14 matches in 2014.

-U.S. Women’s National Team Report-

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: Sept. 13, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MT
Attendance: 8,849
Weather: 79 degrees, mostly sunny

Scoring Summary:   1      2      F
USA                               4      4      8
MEX                               0      0      0                                                       

USA – Own Goal (Alina Garciamendez)                  12th minute
USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan)                    23
USA – Alex Morgan                                                         36
USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan)                    41
USA – Alex Morgan (Christen Press)                       56
USA – Whitney Engen (Christen Press)                  58
USA – Sydney Leroux (Lauren Holiday)                  71
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Alex Morgan)                   75

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 14-Stephanie Cox (19-Crystal Dunn, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (6-Whitney Engen 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 25-Meghan Klingenberg; 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd (7-Morgan Brian, 71), 15-Megan Rapinoe (2-Sydney Leroux, 60); 23-Christen Press (9-Heather O’Reilly, 60), 20-Abby Wambach (17-Tobin Heath, 60), 13-Alex Morgan
Substitutions Not Used: 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

MEX: 1-Cecilia Santiago; 2-Arianna Romero, 4-Alina Garciamendez (capt.), 5-Paulina Solis, 13-Bianca Sierra; 6-Liliana Mercado (3-Monica Alvarado, 57), 7-Nayeli Rangel, 10-Stephany Mayor, 11-Kenti Robles (20-Charlyn Corral, 46), 17-Veronica Perez (21-Lizbeth Angeles, 88); 9-Tanya Samarzich (19-Luz Duarte, 67)
Substitutions Not Used: 8-Teresa Noyola, 12-Brissa Rangel, 14-Christina Murillo, 15-Guadalupe Cruzaley, 16-Jazmine Ponce, 18-Jackie Acevedo
Head coach: Leonardo Cuellar

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots:  25 / 8
Shots on Goal: 10 / 1
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 10 / 10
Offside: 7 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Lauren Holiday (caution)                 64th minute

Officials:
Referee: Vilma Montez (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Elizabeth Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Ivonne Ayala (SLV)
Fourth Official: Melissa Borjas (HON)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Hope Solo

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WNT Sep 13, 2014

-U.S. Women’s National Team Report-

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: Sept. 13, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium; Salt Lake City, Utah
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MT
Attendance: 8,849
Weather: 79 degrees, mostly sunny

Scoring Summary:   1      2      F
USA                            4      4      8
MEX                           0      0      0                                                       

USA – Own Goal (Alina Garciamendez)                  12th minute
USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan)                    23
USA – Alex Morgan                                                  36
USA – Abby Wambach (Alex Morgan)                    41
USA – Alex Morgan (Christen Press)                       56
USA – Whitney Engen (Christen Press)                  58
USA – Sydney Leroux (Lauren Holiday)                  71
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Alex Morgan)                   75

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 14-Stephanie Cox (19-Crystal Dunn, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (6-Whitney Engen 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 25-Meghan Klingenberg; 12-Lauren Holiday, 10-Carli Lloyd (7-Morgan Brian, 71), 15-Megan Rapinoe (2-Sydney Leroux, 60); 23-Christen Press (9-Heather O’Reilly, 60), 20-Abby Wambach (17-Tobin Heath, 60), 13-Alex Morgan
Substitutions Not Used: 24-Ashlyn Harris
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

MEX: 1-Cecilia Santiago; 2-Arianna Romero, 4-Alina Garciamendez (capt.), 5-Paulina Solis, 13-Bianca Sierra; 6-Liliana Mercado (3-Monica Alvarado, 57), 7-Nayeli Rangel, 10-Stephany Mayor, 11-Kenti Robles (20-Charlyn Corral, 46), 17-Veronica Perez (21-Lizbeth Angeles, 88); 9-Tanya Samarzich (19-Luz Duarte, 67)
Substitutions Not Used: 8-Teresa Noyola, 12-Brissa Rangel, 14-Christina Murillo, 15-Guadalupe Cruzaley, 16-Jazmine Ponce, 18-Jackie Acevedo
Head coach: Leonardo Cuellar

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots:  25 / 8
Shots on Goal: 10 / 1
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 10 / 10
Offside: 7 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Lauren Holiday (caution)                 64th minute

Officials:
Referee: Vilma Montez (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Elizabeth Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Ivonne Ayala (SLV)
Fourth Official: Melissa Borjas (HON)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Hope Solo

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 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 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 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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