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MNT Closes Out January Camp with Win Over Panama

Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey scored first-half goals and the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Panama 2-0 in the USA’s 2015 home opener.

MNT's January Camp Checklist

The 2015 January camp had a much different feel than previous editions of the annual winter get together of MLS-based players, and for good reason. The main priorities for the Men’s National Teams this year – winning the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games – took center stage, and U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff built a roster tailored to kick-start the process of gearing up for these two critical events. In addition, the prospect of discovering future candidates for regular action with the MNT remained one of the carrots of the first gathering of the season.

“Overall we saw a lot of good things on this camp,” Klinsmann said. “We combined it as an Olympic team and Senior Team camp. We wanted to see a lot of individual players, as many as we could, and then we always have to hope that one, two, three will emerge from that group and give you more cards to put on the table going forward. It was a very positive camp. It gave us a lot of insight on a couple guys and hopefully they take this jumpstart into preseason for their MLS clubs.”

All told, five players earned their first cap (upping the total number of new players brought into the MNT since the World Cup to 10); four got their first starts; three different formations were tested; there were four different goal scorers; two ‘keepers shared in a shutout; and a total of 20 players saw action. 

With the last chapter written from Carson following the USA’s 2-0 win against Panama on Feb. 8, here’s a look back at what was accomplished:

GOING TOWARDS GOLD CUP

Michael Bradley came off a six-week recovery from a procedure on his toe looking as fit as ever, turning in two solid performances against Chile and Panama, highlighted by a nifty game-winner straight from a corner kick. Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea got back on the scoresheet with fantastic finishes against Panama, a boost of confidence for both players who are looking at new chapters in their club careers following a return from England. Clint Dempsey showed the trademark flair that makes him unique among U.S. talents, while Jermaine Jones got two more runs at centerback under his belt, and Mix Diskerud made it seven straight starts since the World Cup.

“We have another goal on the horizon now: winning the Gold Cup; qualifying for the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017, this is huge,” Klinsmann said of what is next in 2015 and beyond. “With every new kind of cycle you start a couple of new players to get introduced so that means there’s more competition because they want to show what they have. Then the fact we’re going to host Copa America in 2016, you can give them more things to look at and bigger goals to have, which obviously drives the players; they want to have their goals in mind constantly. We have a full agenda looking into the near future and it will help getting everyone up to speed.”

“Now, the exciting side of things is that going into the March fixture dates in Europe with a game in Denmark and a game in Switzerland, it’s that you can pull your best team. We can pull the European-based players, the Mexican-based players and combined them with the MLS-based players and have your best team together. That’s what all the other nations in the world always do. When the national team meets, it’s only the best of the best that come in. That’s really the positive side now, looking forward and having the best guys come in into Denmark and Switzerland.”

ID CAMP

With nine World Cup veterans available from the MLS mix, there were fewer spots for young domestic-based players to have a crack at an audition. Those that did get a sniff, however, made the most of their opportunity. D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum looked solid and composed in his run-out during the debut of the 3-5-2 formation, looking fit and prepared from the get-go.

Miguel Ibarra grew in stature as he displayed increasing confidence and comfort in training sessions and on the day of the match. Along with Gyasi Zardes, he earned his first start in the 2-0 win against Panama. For his part, Zardes turned in an outstanding performance in front of his hometown of Los Angeles and in front of Galaxy fans at StubHub Center, displaying speed, skill and touch. “He's shown that without a doubt, he's a guy that has to be in this group going forward,” Bradley said.

“Definitely Steven Birnbaum was one of the winners,” Klinsmann said of the result of January camp. “I think Gyasi Zardes with both games, his introduction into the senior group; we see a lot of talent.”

GROOMING THE U-23s

During the camp, U.S. Soccer announced that MNT assistant coach Andi Herzog would lead the U-23 group as they look forward to the qualifying tournament this fall and the ultimate prize of competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With more than a dozen Olympic-age players in Carson, Herzog got an up-close look at a pool of the candidates, who in turn got an important introduction into the culture of the program. Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp made his debut for the Senior Team, showing poise and the soccer IQ which got him 28 starts in his second season. DeAndre Yedlin – who is still only 21 years old – returned from his new gig at Tottenham Hotspur FC to make two starts and continue his development on the right side of the U.S. flank.

Andi Herzog

“All players benefitted a lot from the camp, especially the players coming through the ranks,” Klinsmann said. “Players that are trying to make their name for the Olympic Team, which is under the supervision of Andi Herzog; so he saw a lot of the youngsters already. They all deserve a compliment at the end of the camp. They all understood how intense the Senior Team environment is, and that there is a lot of work behind it. I think they will all benefit for hopefully our entire 2015 year with a lot of success. Personally, they showed a great attitude in the way we were working throughout camp, which is always expected.”

Feliz Cumpleaños a Ti, Dos a Cero

Ed. Note: This article was originally posted in 2010. Tickets for the USA's April 15 meeting with Mexico in San Antonio, presented by AT&T are still available. 

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Where were you on Feb. 11, 2009? Chances are you were either posted up in front of your TV, getting ready to watch the USA open the final round of World Cup qualifying, or if you were lucky enough to score a ticket (and determined to brave some intense conditions) then you were making your way to Columbus Crew Stadium to watch the MNT take on Mexico.

Six years ago today, the USA beat Mexico 2-0 in Columbus, setting Bob Bradley's team on the path to an eventual first-place finish in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying final round group. An excellent team performance was punctuated by goals in each half from Michael Bradley as the USA earned a deserved victory against their regional rivals.



In addition to the familiar scoreline, the game was memorable for many other reasons: the eerie thunderstorm before the game, the incredible support from U.S. fans, and the sense of accomplishment at foiling Mexico yet again in the fortress of Crew Stadium.

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We asked a few players who were involved that night to reminisce about that memorable night. The first thing Brian Ching mentioned was the weather, not surprising for the native Hawaiian. "I remember it was freezing," said Ching, who put in a workman-like shift up top alongside Landon Donovan.  "We had been preparing for a long time, and we came out extremely determined.  There is always a lot of hype around a Mexico game. We knew what we needed to do, and we got it done.”

"It was an important win for us, starting us off on the right foot in the final round of qualifying."


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Fresh off a hat trick against Sweden, midfielder Sacha Kljestan started in the center of the park for the USA, and he too recalled the special atmosphere that night.

"I was glad to be a part of the team that day. I remember coming out for warm-ups and seeing all our fans behind the goal in red," said Kljestan. "It was great to have so much support. It was a pretty exciting match to play in Columbus, which is kind of like a home stadium for us and a place where we've played some pretty important games."

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Kljestan's midfielder partner Michael Bradley put in two goals on the night, the second coming in second-half stoppage time. The shot from distance that squirmed past the hapless Oswaldo Sanchez sealed the win for the USA.

"Both goals that Michael scored that day were great, but the second one was the icing on the cake," said Kljestan.  "I remember when that second goal went in celebrating with the rest of the team, realizing we had started off on the right foot and earned all three points."


Heath Pearce talked about the mood surrounding the game. A player with 29 international caps to his credit, Pearce described the game as a unique experience.

"Every international is important, but the whole buildup to USA-Mexico is so much more intense. it just feels different," said Pearce, who played 90 minutes in the victory. "You can feel the aura around the game and in the people you're with who have experienced it before. There are no games that prepare you for the intensity and tradition of a USA-Mexico game."

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Pearce also remembered celebrating with teammates and fans after the hard-fought victory.

"The win was something we really earned and we worked hard as a team in sticking to our game plan that day. It was a great feeling to be able to do it in front of that many U.S. fans who were there supporting us and were so positive throughout the game. Sharing the win with them was amazing."

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Though the U.S. had played one game before the match against Mexico, the 2-0 win in qualifying really set the tone for a successful year. Beating your biggest rival with the spotlight of the region shining brightly on Columbus, keeping yet another clean sheet at home, and enjoying the moment with the U.S. faithful provided the perfect foundation for a memorable 2009 for the national team. Three hundred and sixty-five days later, we can look back on the first place finish in qualifying and say that the win against Mexico was the catalyst.

Photo Gallery: A Retrospective of the MNT's 2015 January Camp

A retrospective look back through the photos of the MNT's month-long January Camp that began when head coach Jurgen Klinsmann summoned 23 players to U.S. Soccer's National Training Center in Carson, California, on Jan. 12. After a few departures and replacements the squad headed to Chile for its opening international friendly of 2015 before returning home to play Panama at StubHub Center. Along the way, the squad veterans were tasked with integrating a group of younger players who are learning what it means to compete at the full international level, while also preparing for the task of reassembling as the U-23 MNT throughout the year until qualifying begins for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Photo Gallery: MNT Cruises to Win against Panama

Photos from the MNT's 2-0 win against Panama at StubHub Center in Carson, California, to close out its first training camp of 2015. Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey notched the goals for the USA, while Gyasi Zardes and Miguel Ibarra both made their first career starts. 

The MNT next heads to Europe in March for a pair of games against Denmark on March 25 and Switzerland on March 31.

A tactician as well as a dogged competitor, Bradley patrols the center of the field with energy, savvy and skill, and is one of the USA’s most consistent performers. He has continued to elevate his game with precision passing skills and a wicked shot. One of five U.S. players to play every minute at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he has represented the United States at the World Cup level for both the full team and the U-20s, as well as at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He enjoyed an impressive professional career in Europe that began at Heerenveen in Holland and continued its ascension, with more than two seasons at Borussia Mönchengladbach in the German Bundesliga that included a loan spell with Aston Villa of the English Premier League. After becoming the second modern-era American to play in Italy’s Serie A, he earned the nickname “General Bradley” for his stellar season with Chievo Verona before making the jump to storied club AS Roma where he earned an important role as a game-day regular. Just reaching his peak as a player, Bradley returned to Major League Soccer in 2013 with Canadian club Toronto FC after beginning his professional career in MLS in 2004 with the then-named New York/New Jersey MetroStars.

 

  • Started all four U.S. games in group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup
  • A finalist for 2012 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year
  • Started every game in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and added a goal and two assists
  • Game-tying goal against Slovenia in the World Cup kept the USA’s chances of advancing alive, helping him earn both ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors and a nomination for Best Goal of 2010
  • A finalist for the 2010 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, he is the fourth youngest U.S. player in history to reach 50 caps
  • Started in 15 of 18 qualifiers in the 2010 cycle, finishing tied for second in goals scored with five, including two game-winners
  • Featured as a starter in the first two group games of the 2008 Olympics, going 90 minutes against Japan and the Netherlands
  • Named U.S. Soccer’s 2007 Young Male Athlete of the Year for his efforts for both club and country, including a part in the USA’s Gold Cup winning run as well as a run through the FIFA U-20 World Cup
  • His final year at Heerenveen was a career year by any count as he scored 21 goals in all competitions

2014: Has started and played in nine games for the U.S., netting a goal in a 2-2 draw against Mexico on April 2 and recording his fifth assist of the year in a 1-1 draw against Honduras on Oct. 14 ... Started all four U.S. games in the 2014 FIFA World Cup ... 2013: Started all 10 matches in which he played for the USA, including six FIFA World Cup Qualifiers … Claimed sole possession of 15th-place on the U.S. MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifiers appearance list with 24 …Helped the U.S. to a dramatic 4-3 win over Germany, then ranked No. 2 in the world by FIFA, only the third time the MNT has beat a team ranked first or second in FIFA’s world rankings … 2012: His 30-yard rocket against Scotland on May 26 earned him a nomination for 2012 Best Goal of the Year … Hit a cracker against Russia on Nov. 14 in Krasnodar that leveled the game at 1-1 … Collected Budweiser Man of the Match honors that day … Started in four of six Semifinal Round qualifiers, missing two through injury … …  Finished with 810 minutes played, third most amongst field players … 2011: Helped the U.S. to its 3-2 win against Slovenia, tallying an assist on Clint Dempsey’s strike … Started every game for the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, adding a goal and two assists … Set up Clarence Goodson’s goal in the 2-1 defeat against Panama and registered an assist on Jozy Altidore’s strike from distance that won the U.S. its game against Guadeloupe … Scored the opening goal in the 4-2 loss against Mexico in the final with a perfect header from a Freddy Adu corner … 2010: Led the team in 2010 in both games played (10) and minutes played (930) … Scored the game-tying goal in the 82nd minute of the 2-2 draw with Slovenia on June 18 in Johannesburg, earning ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors … Covered more than 22 miles during group play per FIFA’s player tracking, the third most of any player in the tournament … Played every minute of every game in the 2010 FIFA World Cup … Named ussoccer.com Man of the Match in the 2-1 loss to eventual World Cup runners up the Netherlands on March 3 in Amsterdam … Reached the 50 cap plateau when he started in the 0-0 draw on Oct. 12 against Colombia … 2009: Tied for the team lead in starts (15) with Landon Donovan, finishing second in minutes played (1,315) … Started nine of 10 final round qualifiers, missing the June 6 match against Honduras for yellow card accumulation … Netted both goals in the USA’s 2-0 victory against Mexico on Feb. 11 in Columbus to kick off the final round of World Cup qualifying … Started four of five matches in the FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring the second goal in the 3-0 win against Egypt on June 21 that lifted the U.S. into the semifinals against Spain … Awareness and positioning led to his goal on Oct. 14 against Costa Rica, as he knocked home a rebound that cut the Costa Rica lead in half … Earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors in that game, as well as in the 1-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 10 in Port of Spain … 2008: Tied for the team lead with 11 starts in 2008 and finished second on the team in minutes played (893) … His performance earned him a nomination for U.S. Soccer's Male Athlete of the Year … Scored his first World Cup qualifying goal against Barbados at The Home Depot Center in June … Tallied the game-winner with a deft outside of the foot flick against Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 10 in Washington, D.C. … Earned Man of the Match honors for that performance and received a nomination for U.S. Soccer’s Best Goal of 2008 … 2007: Scored his first goal for the U.S. in the final moments of a 1-0 U.S. win against Switzerland on Oct. 17 in Basel … Appeared as a halftime sub in a 3-1 victory against Ecuador in March before getting his first start for the senior team against Guatemala three days later … Was a member of the 2007 Gold Cup squad and featured as center midfielder in five games leading up to the semifinals … Was red carded against Canada in the semifinals of the Gold Cup and suspended for the final against Mexico … 2006: Earned his first two caps in the buildup to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he was a member of the pre-tournament training camp and friendlies … Made his debut as a sub in the 89th minute against Venezuela on May 26, 2006 … Under-23s: Featured in two games during the Olympics in Beijing … Started against Japan and the Netherlands but earned two yellow cards and was suspended for the final group game against Nigeria ... Under-20s: A member of the 2007 U-20 World Cup team which advanced to the quarterfinals in Canada … Added experience and professionalism to the promising U-20 side that was eliminated in the end by Austria … Appeared in all five matches in Canada, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Uruguay in the second round … Under-17s: Part of the Residency Program from the fall of 2002 to the spring of 2004 … First Appearance: May 26, 2006, vs. Venezuela … First Goal: Oct. 17, 2007, vs. Switzerland

2013: Transferred to Toronto FC after making 35 starts for AS Roma in all competitions after one and a half seasons with the Serie A club … Scored his second goal for the Giallorossi on Oct. 27 to help the club claim its ninth win out of nine matches and maintain its remarkable season-opening run …2012: Moved to Italian giants AS Roma ... Made his debut in the opening match of the season, a 2-2 draw on Aug. 26 against Catania ... After recovering from a muscle injury, he started 11 of the next 12 matches ... Opened his scoring account with the insurance goal in the 2-0 win against Atalanta on Oct. 7 ... 2011: Joined Chievo Verona on a two year contract on Aug. 30, 2011 … Went the distance in each of his 12 starts for Chievo, recording 13 total appearances in the first half of the season … Made his debut as a substitute in the 2-1 loss against Parma in the Serie A … Provided an assist in the 2-1 win against Genoa on Sept. 25 when his corner kick led to the equalizer … 2010-11: Moved to Aston Villa of the English Premier League on loan for the second half of the 2010-11 season … Made three appearances for Aston Villa in the regular season and played one game in the FA Cup … Finished the first half of the Bundesliga campaign with three goals in 19 appearances … 2009-10: After an uneven early start, Bradley earned his place in the starting XI and didn’t let go, starting the final 10 matches of the first half of the campaign … Had two goals in 13 matches, including a laser in the 5-3 win on Dec. 12 against Hannover … Finished with five goals in 28 appearances in his first season at ‘Gladbach, the club narrowly avoiding relegation with a hearty effort to close out the campaign that included a draw against Dortmund on the final matchday … 2008-09: Signed a four-year deal with Borussia Mönchengladbach at the end of the transfer window in August … Debuted for the club on Sept. 20 against Hertha Berlin in a Bundesliga match … Scored his first goal for 'Gladbach when he grabbed a late equalizer for his club in a 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich on Nov. 15 ... 2007-08: Finished the season with 21 goals in all competitions … Ended his Heerenveen career with more than 50 league appearances for the Dutch club ... Helped Heereveen to a fifth place finish in the Eredivisie and qualification for the UEFA Cup ... Tallied a hat trick in the 4-2 win against FC Groningen on Dec. 9 in Heerenveen … Scored his first goal for Heerenveen in a 5-2 rout of Excelsior on September 15, 2007 … Spent the month of September in sparkling form for Heerenveen, scoring four goals in all competitions for his club, including two against Helsingborg in the UEFA Cup … 2006-07: In his first full season at Heerenveen, he established himself as an important part of the first team, making 21 Eredivisie appearances for the club as they finished fifth … Also featured in the UEFA Cup for Heerenveen, making three appearances for the side in the first round and group stage … Ended the season with 25 appearances in all competitions … Helped Heerenveen clinch a UEFA Cup berth for the 2006-07 campaign by starting all four playoff games … 2005-06: Moved to Heerenveen in January 2006 and became the youngest player in league history to be sold by MLS … Made his first appearance for his new club, and only appearance of the season, in April 2006 … 2005: Flourished in his second year in MLS, making 30 starts for the MetroStars …Played under his father, Bob Bradley, who was at the time the head coach of the MetroStars … Scored his first professional goal with the MetroStars in a playoff-clinching win against Chivas USA in 2005, finishing with one goal and four assists ... 2004: Drafted 36th overall by the MetroStars … Made no appearances in his first year with the team, his season severely limited by a foot injury.
Born in Princeton, N.J. … Lists Ireland’s Roy Keane as the player he most admires … Married Amanda Barletta in the summer of 2011 … They now have a son, Luca ... Played for U.S. Soccer Development Academy club Chicago Magic in his teenage years.
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