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Altidore Double Highlights MNT Contributions to Club Success

Now just over two months out, the U.S. MNT players have their eyes set on making an impact for the USA in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. For now, their work is with their club teams, where last weekend a number of U.S. players made a difference.

Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC

Altidore collected his third and fourth goals of the season after notching a double in Toronto FC’s 2-0 win over Orlando City SC. In the 50th minute, Altidore quickly played a free kick from inside of the center circle to teammate Sebastain Giovinco, who in-turn touched it right back to Altidore. From there Altidore did the rest, zipping past the defense and ripping a shot that just tipped off Orlando City GK Donovan Ricketts’ hands and bounced in off the far post. In the 83rd minute, he got around the defense again. His second score came when he took down a long pass and fooled both a defender and the goalkeeper with a cut in the box that he followed with a left-footed finish.

Watch: Altidore goals

Fabian Johnson, D, Borussia Mönchengladbach

Fabian Johnson played a key part in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 1-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg. Johnson completed 29 of 34 passes one of which set up the game-winning goal. The win was huge for ‘Gladbach as it clinched at least a qualifying spot in the next edition of the UEFA Champions League.

Watch: Match Highlights

Clint Dempsey, F, Seattle Sounders FC

Clint Dempsey led the Seattle Sounders to a victory over rival Portland Timbers by scoring the game-winning goal in the 77th minute of the match. In front of a crowd of 41,541 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Dempsey tapped in a rebound from close range after Andy Rose’s initial shot was saved by the Portland GK Adam Kwarasey. The goal was Dempsey’s second through Kwarasey in the last year. He put one past him in just 30 seconds into the USA’s 2014 FIFA World Cup opener against Ghana last June.

Watch: Dempsey Goal

Alejandro Bedoya, M, Nantes

Alejandro Bedoya headed home the game-tying goal for Nantes in its Ligue 1 road match versus Toulouse. With two minutes left in regulation, Nantes trailed by a goal and was given a corner kick. Bedoya made his move to the back post and buried a header to save a point for Nantes.

Watch: Bedoya goal

Aron Johannsson, F, AZ Alkmaar

Aron Johannsson tallied his sixth goal of the season for AZ, flicking in a cross with the outside of his left foot for a goal in the game’s 35th minute. AZ would go on to win 2-0 over FC Twente. The win was important for AZ as the team continues to work for a Europa League spot. Johannsson’s team now trails the third-place position by three points with two more matches to play this season.

Watch: Johannsson goal

MNT Beats Mexico 2-0 in Front of Packed Alamodome

The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated archrival Mexico by a score line of 2-0 behind goals from Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo in front of a sell-out crowd of 64,369. The match was presented by AT&T. The win extended the USA’s unbeaten streak against Mexico to a record six games (3-0-3), pushed the U.S. MNT’s current unbeaten streak on home soil to 21 games (18-0-3) and marked the ninth USA victory against Mexico by that familiar score line and eighth since 2000.

Q&A: Klinsmann Discusses Takeaways from Mexico Game, Looks to Build for Gold Cup

ussoccer.com: What were your overall thoughts on the performance?

Jurgen Klinsmann: “I think the overall performance was really positive. I think it was a great team effort. We showed a lot of spirit and we showed a lot of character in that game. They were working hard for each other. Everybody tried to follow our tactical principles, playing in a 4-4-2 diamond means there’s a lot of shifting. Obviously you need to have the fullbacks come out and attack the wingers, which we did really well, and we stayed really compact in midfield. We kept the distance between our center backs and our forwards in a good way in order to always be compact and work everybody together in a defensive mode, then once we had the ball we spread it out and went into attack. I think therefore, it was a very good performance with great energy, good spirit and a lot of positives to take from the game.”

ussoccer.com: What did you think the keys were to getting this result?

JK:
“I think keys for winning against a squad as good as Mexico are that you need to be prepared for their way of going at you. They usually come in a 3-5-2 and with the wingers going forward, you need to be prepared to deal with them. They have individually very good technical players so they need to get pressured; they need to get their toes stepped on. We did this; we kept their back three very busy with Jordan Morris and Gyasi Zardes in the first half, and also with the guys coming in in the second half. Overall, everybody tried to implement his personal job in this game and those 90 minutes, and I think we deserved the result.”

ussoccer.com: Clearly the conditions were difficult. Are you able to learn things about players in terms of how they deal with a challenging pitch, an intense atmosphere ant the pressure of a USA-Mexico match?

JK: “I think those games are really crucial and very important to us even if you don’t maybe have your top roster at your disposal, because playing with difficult field conditions is something that we’ll always face in CONCACAF when we go away from home. We always have different environments, and in a game like that where the expectations are very high because you’re playing your main rival Mexico, you have an opportunity to prove to the coaches that you’re able to deal with that. I think after the initial hectic 10-15 minutes, the players started to settle into the game and they started to combine here and there with good passing sequences on a very difficult surface, and they felt more and more comfortable. I think the crowd was exciting. There was a lot of energy in the stadium and the players kind of started to take that energy in a positive way.”

ussoccer.com: You gave a college player the first start for the Senior Team in more than 20 years. How did Jordan Morris fare, and what message does that send to other players who may not be obvious choices?

JK: “When you develop players coming through the youth system going into the U-18’s and the U-20’s, then in the Olympic team at under-23 years of age, you always kind of see the talent and the potential of a player. If he’s playing in that moment with an MLS club, in Mexico, in Europe or for a college team, that’s not the key; the key is that he really gets ‘what is the demand for me going forward,’ and I think that Jordan Morris has the talent and the potential. I think what he needs to learn now is to pick up a higher rhythm to go to the highest level possible and become consistent. He has the talent to break through, but it’s easier to do that in one game than it is to do in 40, 50, 60 games in one year. So when we talk about the development of players, we always talk about the consistency that they need to continue to have to become really good players. I think it’s a great signal to everyone out there that no matter where he plays, that it’s one thing having the talent, which Jordan Morris has, and the other thing is to prove that talent on a consistent basis in whatever environment you are in. The national team program has a little more freedom to do that and to give you a chance, and also calculate the minutes that you’re on the field. Then in your club team, you have to provide week-in and week-out at your highest level.”

JK: I think what everyone felt for Jordan Morris the moment he scored that goal was, ‘Yes!’ He proved a point because it’s always difficult to imagine being on the stage for a game like USA-Mexico, with 65,000 people and a very loud crowd, and how to handle something like that psychologically. So he then ended up scoring that goal and you just kind of go, ‘Yes!’ He showed and proved that he can do it. Now for him going forward, it’s about staying consistent at Stanford and calculating his path and his jump into the professional world sooner or later to become a consistent element in our Olympic team that strives toward Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Obviously, when you don’t know all the answers before a game on how a player like him deals with all those things and then all of a sudden he scores a goal that is very special. I think everybody on the bench felt for him, all the players, all the coaches, and certainly his coaches at Stanford.

ussoccer.com: Also getting his first start was Ventura Alvarado, who has now said he is fully committed to the United States. How did you assess his performance?

JK: “We are very lucky that we have a lot of very center backs on our roster. Ventura Alvarado is now making that step to us and he’s another very strong player into our center back player pool. The way he came into Denmark and Switzerland was very impressive, and the way he played for Club America all season now being in the CONCACAF Champions League Final is very impressive, so we are really happy to have Ventura. We’re really happy because he’s the type of player that a coach looks at that’s almost complete. He’s technically very gifted and he’s obviously physically strong because you need to be that in that center back role. He’s strong in the air and he stays very precise and he’s very grounded, so having him in our pool means a lot to us and we’re thrilled.”

ussoccer.com: A lot of people expected the crowd to be almost exclusively pro-Mexico, but there was a significant number of people supporting the U.S. Do you see us making progress in converting fans with our performances?

JK: I think definitely that our crowd is getting unbelievably exciting no matter where we play. You saw that in Brazil. We had the biggest following of all of the nations that were a part of the World Cup, and now also in all of our home games, the following of the American Outlaws and all the fans streaming to our games. With Mexico, it will always be a mixture because of their fan base here in the United States, but for us it’s huge and it means a lot to us. We feel like no matter what stadium we go into, we have our fans and they’re giving us so much support and it’s adding so much fun to it and adding so much energy to everything we do. We know there are a big amount of fans behind us and they want us to do well.”

ussoccer.com: Did you get any answers from this game that will help you in the building of the roster for the Gold Cup?

JK: “Definitely we got a lot of answers to many, many little questions that we always have. This game gave us a lot of good stuff towards individual performances, players that knock at the door and are pushing to get in. It’s going to be a very, very difficult situation at the Gold Cup because European-based players are already done with their seasons at the end of May, so how do we bridge them into the Gold Cup which is in July and is not following up their season right away? We have MLS in full swing and Mexican-based players have a different schedule as well, so it was important for us to see how eager everybody is to get into that Gold Cup roster, and they are all hungry. It will start with the weeks before the Gold Cup with our 35-man preliminary roster, which we are very comfortable with already, and then obviously to bring in a group of 23 players. We also have a chance to switch six players after the group stage, which is a lot of work for us coaches but exciting work because we can kind of schedule things maybe a bit differently and we can bring players in at a later stage, or we can also bring the European-based players from the beginning of the tournament right away into it. It gives us more options, and with that performance for many players against Mexico, it’s going to be exciting for us to calculate everything in hopefully the right way.”

ussoccer.com: What are the messages to the players in the pool between now and the summer?

JK: We had a transition phase from the World Cup into 2015 and a lot of friendly games where we tried different stuff within our player pool and we found new players that we’re excited about, but now it goes into to the real deal and the real deal is winning the Gold Cup. The message to the players has become consistent: prove your point week-in and week-out within your club environment. For the European players, finish the season on the highest note possible and you might have a shorter vacation because we need you to be a part of that Gold Cup team as well, so we’re asking now from them that they be spot on, that they be sharp, that they be leaders in their club environments and that they stand out and not take things easy and make sure that they keep their performance going into July and show it most excitingly in the Gold Cup itself.”

ussoccer.com: You’ve said there are significant challenges in putting together the roster for the games in June as well as the Gold Cup, and we also have the FIFA U-20 World Cup and Olympic Qualifying. How do you now go about piecing that puzzle together?

JK: “It’s a very, very busy year for all of us. We had the U-17’s qualify for the World Cup and the U-20’s qualified for the World Cup and they are right now in Austria playing friendly games. We are building a U-23 pool to go ahead to the Olympic Qualifiers later on this year. It is very, very important that these players, especially the U-20’s right now in camp, know that we’re watching them and we talk to each other. All the coaches are connected. We talk about every talent coming through the ranks and we try to find even more talent. They need to understand that in this very early stage of their career that they are the drivers and that they are the decision makers. They have to make the right decisions on the field, but also especially off the field. This is something that we tell our youth teams more and more, that they become personalities and that they take things into their own hands and they become accountable for what they’re doing. So it’s a huge year for U.S. Soccer with all the teams in their different tournaments and their goals. It’s always important that as coaches we send the same messages over and over again.”

ussoccer.com: How helpful is it to have the U-23’s also face of with Mexico this week?

JK: “It’s very helpful that the U-23s have that game against Mexico coming up at StubHub Center on Wednesday because we urgently need to try and build this pool and try to build a team that is getting together on every possible occasion; trying to find a chemistry, trying to find a spirit within the group and hooking them up with each other. So you try that with the opportunity against Mexico with the U-23s, and it’s a clear message to take that opportunity because there are not many before we have to play the qualifiers, and if you want to go to Rio De Janeiro in 2016, you’ve got to show that to us right away.”

On the Lookout

On April 1, the 18 players that were a part of the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team March camp in Europe headed home after a week of intense training and friendlies with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Denmark. For head coach Andi Herzog and assistant coach Matthias Hamann that camp may have been over, but the process of continuing preparation for the Olympic qualifications with the U-23 squad, and the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup with the U.S. MNT, was just beginning. The ensuing scouting phase would see them travel more than 7,000 miles in the course of the three weeks that followed.

In addition to being coaches for the U-23s, Herzog and Hamann are also the European-based eyes of the senior National Team, constantly tracking players and evaluating talent for MNT head coach and U.S. Soccer Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann. However, the pair crossed the pond for this round of scouting, traveling across North America to see games and players in the United States and Mexico.

“We came straight to Texas on April 10 from our March camp in Europe to watch FC Dallas play Colorado Rapids and to see our players,” Herzog said. “Dillon Serna came in 15 minutes from the end and scored a great goal. The next day we went to see the Houston Dynamo against the Montreal Impact. Then after that we came back to Dallas and drove our cars from Dallas to Houston and then from Houston to San Antonio to join the Senior Team for the match against Mexico.”

And that wasn’t all. Next the duo flew to Los Angeles and drove 150 miles to the border before parking and walking through the world’s busiest border crossing.  “We went to Los Angeles and then from LA to Tijuana to watch the U-20’s from Club Tijuana, and Greg Garza and Joe Corona for their first team. We also saw a few of the Mexican players that we will face in the Gold Cup or in World Cup qualifications, so it was an interesting game,” Herzog said.

From Tijuana it was back to Los Angeles to view the LA Galaxy and U.S. MNT players Omar Gonzalez and Gyasi Zardes, as well as U-23 MNT members Jose Villareal and Oscar Sorto.

And that wasn’t all.

“It was nice. It was a lot of games, and in the meantime because of the time difference we were watching the European games on TV,” Herzog said.

Dillon Serna, Shane O'Neill, Wil Trapp, Luis Gil
U-23 MNT members Dillon Serna (No. 21), Shane O'Neill (No. 16) and Luis Gil (No. 14) have all spent time with the spent time with the Senior MNT as well.

Herzog and Matthias take in game after game from Europe to the U.S. to Mexico. Really anywhere there is a game going on that has ties to U.S. Soccer – be that U.S. players or players that the USA will face down the line – there’s a good chance Herzog or Hamann are watching.

“Most of the time because we live in Europe we are scouting all the European-based players for the U.S. MNT and the youth teams, and for our Olympic team as well.” Herzog said. “It’s also critical that we see as many of the players based here as possible. When there’s a game in the U.S., we always try to come a little bit early to watch as many games as we can.”

That is precisely what they did again this time around, going from city-to-city and match-to-match. Seeing the games up close lets the coaches keep tabs on current players, while at the same time giving them the opportunity to scout for new talent.

“The most important thing is to scout our players,” Herzog said. “Even when the U-23 guys aren’t playing, because of my job as an assistant coach for Jurgen Klinsmann, I have to look at all of the players. It’s always good to get a lot of new impressions. You may have already had an opinion and you think, okay this guy is good, and then you get to confirm the level of play.”

It’s safe to say that when this camp is over Herzog and Hamann will be back on the grind. 

“It’s always fun to watch. It’s our profession and our passion. We’re both crazy and every weekend we’re in a different soccer stadium.”

GOAL: Juan Agudelo Rings Up another #DosACero for USA

Juan Agudelo scored to make the U.S. lead #dosacero as the U.S. MNT took on Mexico presented by AT&T. Watch live on Fox Sports 1 and Univision.

Highlights: Morris, Agudelo and Co. Rack Up another #DosACero vs. Mexico

The USA beat Mexico 2-0 in front of a sold-out crowd of 64,369 in the Alamodome in San Antonio. Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo scored for the U.S.

USA Beats Mexico 2-0 in Front of Sold-Out Crowd of 64,369 Inside Alamodome

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (April 15, 2015) – The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated archrival Mexico by a score line of 2-0 behind goals from Jordan Morris and Juan Agudelo in front of a sell-out crowd of 64,369. The match was presented by AT&T. The win extended the USA’s unbeaten streak against Mexico to a record six games (3-0-3), pushed the U.S. MNT’s current unbeaten streak on home soil to 21 games (18-0-3) and marked the ninth USA victory against Mexico by that familiar score line and eighth since 2000.

Twenty-year-old Morris, a sophomore at Stanford University, put the U.S. ahead after running onto a deflected ball and finishing under a sliding goalkeeper in the 49th minute.

In the 65th minute, Juan Agudelo replaced Morris, and on a Michael Bradley assist doubled the American lead. It was Agudelo’s first appearance since he last came on as a sub in the U.S.’s game against Ukraine on March 5, 2014 and his first goal since he scored against Argentina on March 26, 2011.

The result pushed the USA’s all time record against Mexico to 18-32-14. The U.S. MNT will be in Europe next time it convenes, facing off with the world’s No. 6-ranked team, Netherlands, in Amsterdam on June 5. The match kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Jordan Morris, 49th Minute:
Michael Bradley played the ball into the middle of the Mexico defense to Gyasi Zardes whose return pass deflected off a Mexico defender into the stride of Morris. On his first MNT start, Morris took a touch and slotted a shot under sliding Mexico goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo for his first international goal. USA 1, MEX 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Juan Agudelo (Michael Bradley), 72nd minute: Minutes after entering for previous goal scorer Jordan Morris, Agudelo expertly brought down a long ball from Michael Bradley at the top of the box. He cut to his right, got past his defender and blasted a shot that squeezed between Saucedo and the left post to double the USA lead. USA 2, MEX 0 (FINAL) (SEE GOAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
MEX – Cirilo Saucedo, 26th minute:
Michael Bradley played a dangerous free kick into the box where Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris were converging. Saucedo jumped into traffic and was able to deflect the ball out of danger.

USA - Rimando (Save), 42nd minute: Mexico captain Luis Montes quickly brought the ball down from the right side. Near the top of the box Montes made a quick cut toward the center and hooked a left-footed shot towards the goal. The ball took one spinning hop before Rimando secured it.

USA - Yarbrough (Save), 58th minute: Erick Torres took a pass off of a Mexican counter and found himself in a spot with an opportunity to score, but he was unable to put a clean hit on the ball and Yarbrough simply scooped up the shot.

Milestone Watch:

  • Michael Bradley inched closer to the century cap mark with his 96th appearance tonight. The appearance pushed his him past Brian McBride and into a tie with Alexi Lalas for the 16th on the U.S. MNT’s all-time list.
  • Bradley’s assist was the 13th of his USA career and ties him for eighth all-time alongside DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey.
  • Ventura Alvarado and 20-year-old Jordan Morris made their first starts for the USA.
  • In his first start, Morris scored his first international goal.

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT faces Netherlands, on June 5 at 2:30 p.m. ET at the Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Broadcast information: ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer@ussoccer_esp); FacebookInstagram )

Additional Notes:

  • The U.S. MNT began the game in a diamond 4-4-2 formation
  • In his first action with the U.S. MNT of 2015, Kyle Beckerman made the start at midfield. It was his first appearance since he started for the U.S. against Ireland on November 18, 2014.
  • It was the first time since the World Cup game against Germany on June 26, 2014 that Michael Bradley and Beckerman have started together.
  • Bradley has played every minute of the USA's five matches so far in 2015. In addition to Bradley, goalkeeper Nick Rimando is the only other player to start all five games. Two other MNT players have appeared in all five games in 2015: Gyassi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin
  • In his first appearance since he was subbed on in the second half of the game against Ukraine on March 5, 2014, Juan Agudelo came on for the game’s first goal scorer Jordan Morris and netted his third career goal for the U.S. MNT. It was his first goal with the National Team since scoring against Argentina on March 26, 2011.
  • Texas native Greg Garza started the game at left back. He played in the last five games of 2014 starting three following the World Cup and also started in the match against Denmark on March 31, 2015
  • Joe Corona made his first start for the U.S. since the Sept. 3, 2014 match in Prague vs. the Czech Republic. It was his first appearance since the game against Honduras on Oct.14, 2014.
  • Corona and Garza both started on the left side for the U.S. The pair are teammates in Liga MX, with Club Tijuana.
  • Omar Gonzalez made his first start since the 2014 FIFA World Cup match against Belgium and his first appearance since coming on in the 62nd minute of the USA’s October 10, 2014 match against Ecuador.
  • Michael Bradley recorded his third-straight start as captain. He also wore the armband for the MNT on March 25 against Denmark and March 31 versus Switzerland.
  • Kyle Beckerman left the game in the 63rd minute with a left thigh contusion.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico, Presented by AT&T
Date: April 15, 2015
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Alamodome; San Antonio, Texas
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 64,369 (sellout)
Weather: 73 degrees; Indoor 

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

USA – Jordan Morris                                      49th minute
USA – Juan Agudelo (Michael Bradley)        72

Lineups:
USA: 1-Nick Rimando (22-William Yarbrough, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 19-Ventura Alvarado, 14-Greg Garza (11-Brek Shea, 46); 15-Kyle Beckerman (21-Perry Kitchen, 63), 10-Mix Diskerud (6-Brad Evans, 80), 7-Joe Corona (9-Miguel Ibarra, 46), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 20-Gyasi Zardes, 8-Jordan Morris (17-Juan Agudelo, 65)
Subs Not Used: 5-Matt Besler, 13-Lee Nguyen, 16-Julian Green, 18-Chris Wondolowski
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

MEX: 12-Cirilo Saucedo; 21-Hiram Mier (3-Oswaldo Alanis, 46), 2-Francisco Rodriguez (8-Luis Rodriguez, 60), 13-Carlos Salcedo (4-Julio Cesar Dominguez, 46); 7-Efrain Velarde, 17-Mario Osuna, 18-Carlos Esquivel, 15-Gerardo Flores (6-George Corral, 67); 10-Luis Montes (capt.) (5-Antonio Rios, 79), 9-Erick Torres, 20-Eduardo Herrera (19-Marco Bueno, 83)
Subs Not Used: 1-Jonathan Orozco, 16-Adrian Aldrete
Head coach: Miguel Herrera

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 6 / 13
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 4
Fouls: 13 / 13
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials: 
Referee: Ricardo Montero (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Leonel Leal (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Octavio Jara (CRC)
4th Official: Walter Quesada (CRC)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Ventura Alvarado

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