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Cody Cropper

Men's National Team
National Teams

Jurgen Klinsmann Q & A: 'The Countdown is on'

The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with a match against Ukraine – FIFA’s highest-ranked team not to qualify for this summer’s tournament. U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called in a squad of primarily European-based players for a final personal evaluation before the provisional roster is announced in May and the final preparation camp ensues shortly thereafter.

Klinsmann sat down with to address what he and the coaching staff are looking for from the players during and after the match against Ukraine, the core and potential players that make up the current squad, what he expects from a talented Ukraine team and the excitement of feeling the World Cup just around the corner. You haven’t had a chance to call in the European-based players since November. How are you viewing the opportunity this camp presents?

Jurgen Klinsmann: “Having this Ukraine game is a huge opportunity, mainly for our European-based players. You want to give them a chance to show where they are at and what’s going on in their specific situation. It’s great to call in players like Oguchi Onyewu, Will Packwood – his first time to come in – Tim Ream, who is playing consistently well at Bolton, Danny Williams, who has now kind of made his way through at Reading and playing week-in, week-out, and Juan Agudelo, who is now in Holland.

“It’s a huge opportunity for all those guys to prove to us that they are eager and hungry to jump on the train to the World Cup. We will get a good picture of them over those couple of days, and therefore, we left almost all the MLS players back in the United States.” There will be two MLS-based players on the roster, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. What was the thought process behind bringing them?
JK: “This is a huge game. We play Ukraine, which barley missed out on going to Brazil. They had a playoff against France, one of the best teams in the world. So you want to have a very strong team against Ukraine, and as I often mention our team is defined in its spine. The core group of the team is Tim Howard and then Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones in midfield, Clint Dempsey in front of them and then Jozy Altidore up front. These five players build our spine.

“Having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey in for Ukraine is very important to us. Clint has played these two months at Fulham and Michael is coming off preseason camp with Toronto, so for us it’s very important to see both back in the team and putting their stamp on the game.” This is the only game in which you will get to see the European-based players before the provisional roster announcement in May. What messages will be delivering to these players?
JK: “It’s difficult for us coaches to prepare everything for this summer’s World Cup only having this game on March 5 before going into preparation camp. It’s very little time to work with the players. Therefore, for the European-based players, in these three or four days we are together and the game against Ukraine, t’s even more important they have a good showing.”

“The coaching staff is doing a lot of scouting at their club teams. Whether it’s going to visit guys in the Premiership and Championship in England, the Bundesliga, going to France to see Alejandro Bedoya … these opportunities are very crucial to us. You have invited eighteen-year-old Julian Green, who plays at Bayern Munich, to train with the team for two days in Frankfurt. What are you hoping to accomplish with him in his first introduction to the Senior National Team?
JK: “We are thrilled Julian accepted our invitation and comes into these two days in Frankfurt. We want to show him how things work with the United States team and with our environment. We want him to meet the players, to meet the staff, obviously to meet us coaches, and we want him to feel comfortable in our environment. With a lot of players who come through the ranks with dual citizenship, it’s going to be very difficult for those kids to choose which country they want to play for if they have this enormous talent to play at the highest level possible.

“Julian has this talent. Julian is an exceptional talent not only because he’s playing for Bayern Munich, but he’s shown that already over the past two years in the senior team environment there against the “older guys.” We are happy to welcome him for those two days. It’s a big step for him as we try to emotionally connect him to our program, because it’s not only a World Cup coming up this summer. Next year there’s a Gold Cup, then you have an Olympics, then you have Confederations Cup hopefully and soon comes the next World Cup around the corner in Russia. At the same time we have our eyes on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we also have our eyes on developing the next generation of players, and Julian is a very important part of that.” Ukraine narrowly missed out on going to this summer’s World Cup after losing a UEFA playoff to France. What do you expect from FIFA’s highest-ranked team not to make it to the World Cup?
JK: “I expect a very difficult game. If you look at their team, it’s a very high-quality team that they have. Obviously, they are highly disappointed in not going to Brazil, so when they get the opportunity to play against teams that are going to Brazil they want to beat them, so they want to beat us badly. We need to be prepared for that, and to prove again away from home that we can play with the good teams of the world. It’s going to be a great benchmark for us and a difficult game, but those are the environments that we need to go to in order to mature and improve.” This is a chance for players to make their case for a spot on the World Cup roster. What answers can you get from this game as the World Cup approaches?
JK: “We want to see them preform on the field, but also over four days, we have time to sit down with them for a cup of coffee and discuss their individual situations. We just want the players to understand that every week really counts, every week matters. We want them to pick it up with their club teams. Some players like John Brooks – he sits on the bench right now. Because of injuries he lost his starting spot, and has to fight his way back into the team.

“So, the message to all the players is get a starting spot with your club team, to play week-in, week-out. Add to your schedule, on top of your club’s training, maybe one or two sessions a week on your own in order to get yourself a jump start when we go into World Cup preparation camp because it’s going to be very demanding. The message also is that we are on top of them in terms of scouting them, watching them, knowing exactly what’s going on. We talk to their club coaches. It’s a lot of monitoring work that goes on now over the next two-and-a-half months until we start preparation camp for the World Cup.” You haven’t seen a lot of these players since November and a lot of key guys will be at this camp. Does that make you feel like the World Cup is right around the corner?
JK: “It feels already a little bit like that. We had the January camp where we went down for two weeks to Sao Paulo to try out the infrastructure there. I went myself last week again. Now having the European-based players coming in for the Ukraine game, it gives you the feeling that the countdown is on. We really count every day now to our first game against Ghana in Natalon June 16. It’s a long stretch of four years between World Cups, and once we get close to the tournament, it gets more exciting every day.”

U.S. U-20 MNT Draws France 1-1 in Second Group A Match at 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup

  • Daniel Cuevas Tallies in 85th Minute off Luis Gil Free Kick
  • U.S. in Position to Advance to Knockout Round Depending on Result Against Ghana in Final Group Match
  • Match Against Ghana on Thursday, June 27 will be Live on ESPNU, WatchESPN and Univision Deportes

ISTANBUL, Turkey (June 24, 2013) – The U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team got an important point after a well-deserved 1-1 draw with France in the second game of Group A in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Yaya Sanogo gave France a 1-0 lead with a penalty kick early in the second half, but the U-20s answered back when Daniel Cuevas scored off a deflection from a Luis Gil free kick just outside the box.

The U.S. sits in third place with one point. Spain leads the group at 2-0-0 (six points) following a 1-0 victory against last-place Ghana later Tuesday night.

The U-20 MNT now departs Istanbul and will set up base in Kayseri in preparation for its third and final Group A match against Ghana on Thursday, June 27, at Kadir Has Stadium. A win would give the team a great opportunity to advance to the Round of 16.

The match kicks off at 8 p.m. local (1 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast live on ESPNU, WatchESPN and Univision Deportes. Fans can also follow the game via’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.

In the first half, Sanogo had the best chance for France in the 17th minute with a driving shot from just inside the penalty area, but U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper deflected it over the crossbar.

There was a flurry of action in first-half stoppage time as both sides had opportunities. A cross from Alonso Hernandez found Jose Villarreal in front of the box, but France goalkeeper Alphonse Areola corralled his header.

France came right back on the counterattack with a break down the right side of the field, but defender Shane O’Neill did a good job to get back and prevent the threat from coming to fruition.

A minute later, the U.S. was back the other way and Villarreal found a streaking Gil, but the midfielder’s strike from 10 yards out did not have enough pace or placement to get past a diving Areola.

In the second half, both teams came out with a higher level of intensity and France was able to earn a penalty kick just three minutes after the break on a questionable call.

While Javan Torre clearly committed a foul on Dimitri Foulquier, it appeared to be just outside the box. Nonetheless referee Carlos Vera pointed to the spot without hesitation.

On the penalty, Cropper guessed correctly and got a glove to Sanogo’s shot, but he couldn’t keep it from going into the net.

Down a goal, the U.S. did well to continue to press forward in an attempt to look for the equalizer and in the 64th minute earned its own penalty kick when Mario Rodriguez drew a foul in the box. Gil stepped up to take the spot kick, but his low strike to the right side was saved by Areola.

Despite the missed opportunity, the U.S. kept up the intensity and earned a dangerous free kick once again off the effort of Rodriguez who was fouled near the top right corner of the penalty area. Gil took the free kick low into the box where it was deflected, and Cuevas – who was positioned in the wall – turned and jumped on the loose ball, hitting a left-footed strike into the left side of the goal past a helpless Areola.

France attacked the U.S. net in the last 10 minutes of the second half with a barrage of shots and crosses that gave the U-20 MNT a scare, but the defense held strong to earn an important point.

Additional Notes:

  • Benji Joya received his second yellow card of the tournament and will miss the team’s final Group A match against Ghana.
  • The U.S. has now earned a win or draw in its second game following a first-game loss six times in the U-20 FIFA World Cup. The USA’s overall record after losing its first match is 4-1-2.
  • Only once in its previous six first-game tournament losses has the U.S. advanced through to the group stage – the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, when the USA dropped a 1-0 decision to China PR but won and tied its next matches against Chile and Ukraine, respectively, to advance to the Round of 16.
  • U-20 head coach Tab Ramos made two starting lineup changes following the USA’s 4-1 loss to Spain on June 21, bringing on defender Shane O’Neill and midfielder Mario Rodriguez.
  • O’Neill returned from his red card suspension, which he served in the opening match due to receiving a red card in overtime of the championship game against Mexico in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. O’Neill replaced Caleb Stanko and was paired alongside Javan Torre at center back against France.
  • Rodriguez, who was a halftime sub against Spain, got the start against France, while Danny Garcia was unavailable because of a concussion he suffered during the second half of the Spain match.
  • Midfielder Wil Trapp wore the captain’s armband for the first time this year. Trapp is the only U-20 MNT player to make an appearance in every match in 2013.
  • Eight starters in the U-20 MNT lineup against France have ties to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
  • The U-20s moved to 6-6-2 overall in international play this year.
  • The U-20 MNT is now 18-25-7 all-time in FIFA World Youth Championship and FIFA U-20 World Cup competition.

-U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team vs. France
Date: June 24, 2013
Competition: 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup – Group A
Venue: Ali Sami Yen Arena; Istanbul, Turkey
Kickoff: 11 a.m. ET
Attendance: --
Weather: 86 degrees, clear

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

FRA – Yaya Sanogo (penalty kick) 48th minute
USA – Daniel Cuevas                    85

USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 5-Shane O’Neill, 14-Javan Torre, 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 8-Benji Joya (15-Mikey Lopez, 88), 6-Wil Trapp (capt.); 11-Jose Villarreal (20-Daniel Cuevas, 77), 10-Luis Gil, 9-Mario Rodriguez; 19-Alonso Hernandez (18-Oscar Sorto, 46)
Subs Not Used: 4-Caleb Stanko, 7-Victor Pineda, 12-Kendall McIntosh, 13-Eric Miller, 16-Kellyn Acosta, 21-Zack Steffen
Unavailable: 17-Danny Garcia (injury)
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

FRA: 1-Alphonse Areola; 2-Dimitri Foulquier, 5-Samuel Umtiti, 6-Paul Pogba (capt.), 8-Geoffrey Kondogbia, 9-Yaya Sanogo, 11-Jean Christophe Bahebeck (17-Jordan Veretout, 74), 12-Lucas Digne, 13-Mario Lemina, 14-Mouhamadou Sarr, 20-Florian Thauvin (10-Axel Ngando, 46)
Subs Not Used: 3-Pierre Yves Polomat, 4-Kurt Zouma, 7-Thibaut Vion, 15-Alexy Bosetti, 16-Maxime Dupe, 18-Youssouf Sabaly, 19-Christopher Jullien, 21-Paul Charruau
Head Coach: Pierre Mankowski

Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 8 / 12
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 / 5
Corner Kicks: 8 / 4
Fouls: 22 / 20
Offside: 3 / 1

Misconduct Summary:

USA – Oscar Sorto (caution)          62nd minute
FRA – Samuel Umtiti (caution)       79
FRA – Paul Pogba (caution)           83
USA – Benji Joya (caution)            83
FRA – Mouhamadou Sarr (caution) 84 

Referee: Carlos Vera (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Lescano (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Byron Romero (ECU)
Fourth Official: Cuneyt Cakir (TUR) U-20 Man of the Match: Cody Cropper

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Mexico

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Mexico
March 3, 2013

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach TAB RAMOS
On the team’s effort against Mexico for a runner-up finish in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship:
“I’m proud of the effort they made. I’m proud that they were able to grow in a game like this. This is an experience that obviously we couldn’t pay for. There’s no way in the world we could travel to get a game against our rival in their country for a trophy. I think our players proved a lot. They got a lot out of tonight.”

On handling the Mexico-favored crowd:
“I have to give the players a lot of credit. This is their first time playing in a situation like this and they responded incredibly. They played a great game and I’m very proud of that. I see it more as here are some players that are coming up through our system who can do this, and I think that’s really important for us.”

On the team’s response to Mexico’s early goal:
“I think we did very well. This just shows the character of the players that we have coming up through the U.S. We’re not only playing in a difficult environment but we take a goal early and we take a goal when we’re attacking, and the players responded well. We got a goal back and we almost got another one right away. I’m very happy about the response of the players.”

On the team’s tired legs and Daniel Cuevas, who did not play because of an ankle injury:

“There’s no question with about 10 minutes left in the game, in regulation time, that I started to think about the possibility of making some changes to try to either win the game right at the end or start thinking also into overtime. If there was a possibility, I know that Daniel Cuevas really wanted to play. The doctor, we had a discussion during the game, and the doctor didn’t think it was a good idea. Daniel said ‘I really want to play.’ But that was one of those things where maybe we could have put him in for 10 minutes and I didn’t want to put him in the last 10 minutes of the game because then if we didn’t win we’d have to go to overtime and he couldn’t play for that long.”

U.S. Under-20 MNT goalkeeper CODY CROPPER
On the hard fought effort against Mexico:
“We’re disappointed with the loss, but there are a lot of pluses we can take away from this game and how we played. At times we played very well and I’m happy with everybody’s effort today. I’m proud of every single one of these guys.”

On responding to Mexico’s early goal:

“I think we did well to respond so quickly. We got ourselves back in the game, and possibly if we waited any longer we don’t get back in the game. Benji stepped up and took the penalty and put it away. That’s all we could ask from him.”

On the World Cup-like environment:

“It’s massive experience playing Mexico in Mexico. It’s a crazy feeling. You go out there and everybody is screaming at you. There’s nothing better than that to get you pumped up.”

U.S. Under-20 MNT midfielder BENJI JOYA

On Sunday’s effort against Mexico:
“We go home happy and proud. Our team gave it their all. We came to do our job and we did. The score didn’t go our way, but we never gave up.”

On responding from Mexico’s early goal with a game-tying PK:
“We gave up an early goal, and it was the same situation against Canada. The team didn’t put its shoulders down. We went out there and did our job. Scoring the PK was great. Shutting the whole crowd out was just amazing.”

On the environment and how it prepares the team for the World Cup:

“The World Cup is going to be much like this. We’re just going to continue working and we have to get used to this. We’re going to Turkey and it’ll be the same situation. We have a strong group mentally and physically, and we will continue with that and keep putting it to practice.”

On the players trudging through a 120-minute match and a thin bench:

“It was tiring, honestly. We’re humans. We get tired. But the last 30 minutes was just playing with heart rather than our legs and stamina and all that. I’m very satisfied with what the team did and what we accomplished tonight. We showed many people out there the U.S. has talent, and we’re going to keep working. Hopefully the World Cup goes great.”

Under-23s: In 2011, Cropper was invited to a November training camp in Germany and notched a shutout in a scrimmage against Azerbaijan on Nov. 11 … Under-20s: Heading into the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Cropper has posted two shutouts and a 5-3-0 record ... Bothe clean sheets came during the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship - a 1-0 victory against Coasta Rica on Feb. 22 and a 2-0 semifinal win against Cuba on March 1. Cropper also had a noteworthy eight save performace to lead the U.S. to a 3-1 victory against host Portugal on June 14, 2013, in the final primer match heading into the World Cup. In 2012, Cropper played in six matches and posted a shutout. He made his debut with the U-20s in 2010, earning two starts and his first U-20 MNT victory … Under-17s: Cropper is a former member of the U-17 Residency Program.

In August of 2012, Cropper signed with Premier club Southampton after having a successful trial. Cropper signed with Ipswich Town FC in 2010 at the age of 17. Because he was under 18 years old, the first year of his two-year deal was a scholar contract and the second year was a professional contract.