If there is one venue the U.S. Men’s National Team could call home outside United States, it would undoubtedly be Fulham’s Craven Cottage. Plenty of current and former players can find the stadium on the river Thames without a GPS.
The list of U.S. internationals that pulled on the Fulham jersey is long and distinguished, including goalkeepers, goal scorers, FIFA World Cup veterans and aspiring leaders.
Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (1999-2002) was the first to don the Cottager’s kit in the modern era and former U.S. MNT midfielder and defender Eddie Lewis arrived a year later (2000-2002). Despite not playing a game the whole season, his coach Jean Tigana insisted on keeping Lewis until season’s end, making him the last to arrive at the USA’s pre-World Cup training camp in 2002. Lewis went on to deliver one of the most famous crosses in U.S. history.
Later in the decade, three-time World Cup veteran Kasey Keller spent a season at Craven Cottage (2007), while striker Eddie Johnson had a three-year spell there (2008-11) spent mostly on loan.
The most accomplished and celebrated U.S. players at Craven Cottage are strikers Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey. McBride (2004-08) scored 33 goals during his tenure and became such a fan favorite that the stadium pub now bears his name. He was a two-time Fulham Player of the Year, and was named captain for the 2007-08 season. Most recently, McBride was named to a special committee to help select the club’s next manager.
“I think it’s the perfect fit. The Fulham supporters are incredibly loyal and have a great appreciation for what the American players bring to the table,” McBride said of Craven Cottage. “For the U.S. players and fans who will be there for the first time, they will experience a very special place. There is a heart and soul to Craven Cottage that goes beyond just a stadium; it’s like playing in front of your family.”
Not to be outdone, Dempsey picked up McBride’s scoring reins at Fulham. In addition to famous goals – the game-winner against Liverpool that saved Fulham from relegation in 2007 and the wonder strike against Juventus in the Europa League Round of 16, among others – the Texan set the team record for the most career tallies in the Premier League (50) by an American, surpassing his 2006 World Cup teammate, McBride.
Former U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra also made a big impression with the Fulham faithful (2004-08), becoming one of the few MNT players in history playing outside the United States to wear the captain’s armband for both club and country. He was the second leading scorer in the 2006-07 campaign with five goals – behind McBride – and finished his career there with eight total in 116 appearances.
“I’m thrilled that the U.S. Men’s National Team will play at a stadium that has meant so much to the American players who got their chance at Fulham,” Bocanegra said. “The fans there were incredibly supportive of us, and we have so many great memories there. Craven Cottage has one of the most intimate atmospheres I’ve ever played in. Sitting in the Cottage is like having a rooftop seat it Wrigley Field – it’s an experience every fan should have in their lifetime.”
The American line of succession at Fulham has now been passed to 18-year-old Emerson Hyndman, who played extensively in Fulham’s Youth Academy and scored a goal in the U-18 FA Cup Final. Now earning regular minutes for the first time, Hyndman debuted for the senior MNT in the 1-0 win against the Czech Republic in Prague this past September.
ussoccer.com: Having reviewed the win against the Czech Republic, what are your lasting impressions of the performance?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “There are a lot of positives we can take out of this game. We asked this younger generation - the group that here and there was not a big part of the World Cup in Brazil - to step it up and make statements. I think that young group made a very, very strong statement. We asked players such as Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Jozy Altidore and others to take the responsibilities into their hands and guide that young team in Prague, and that’s what they did. Winning in Prague against a Czech team that barely missed out on qualifying for the World Cup is a strong statement. So overall, it was a very positive trip. We learned a lot, and this group deserves to come along.”
ussoccer.com: There seemed to be an increased aggressiveness in the midfield. What were your instructions to those guys?
JK: “With every young group that comes through the system, you want them to step it up physically year by year. You want them to take over responsibilities, you want them to grow, to be louder on the field, but also to send out signals physically. It’s a physical sport, and in many cases it’s about one-on-one battles on the field and winning those battles. That’s what Mix, Michael Orozco, Joe Corona, John Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Ale Bedoya did. They stepped up and showed they can compete physically. That’s what we wanted to see, so for that reason they deserve a compliment.”
ussoccer.com: The team also seemed to show a commitment to playing out of the bac, particularly with the distribution by Brad Guzan. Did you ask them to stick with that plan and not be afraid to take risks? Is that something you plan to preach moving forward?
JK: “It’s definitely a huge step for us to play out of the back, to find defenders and open up the game right away and not to play long balls all the time. Pretty much every long ball is a turn over. In the first half with Brad Guzan delivering those balls into Diskerud, into the fullbacks, into the centerbacks, that looked really nice. Obviously for Nick Rimando, he’s used to doing that. He’s almost like a field player and he’s very comfortable playing out of the back. We told them not to worry about making mistakes. Here and there it might happen, but we want this game to be developed from the back into the midfield and then into the forwards and not to be forced always to play long balls. This is something we are going to encourage more and more going forward. We want to keep the ball. We want to build out of the back. We want them to have the confidence to do that and not worry about mistakes. I think it was a big step forward, and we will emphasize that going into the October games as well.”
ussoccer.com: While Jozy didn’t have many scoring chances, he seemed to show improved hold up play. What were your impressions?
JK: “It was huge for us to have Jozy Altidore back in our lineup. This was the biggest bummer for us in the World Cup, to lose Jozy in the first game. I think we could have made a huge step in the World Cup, especially facing a team like Belgium in the Round of 16, if Jozy had been on the field. I asked him to guide this young group. He’s still a young guy himself - he’s 24 years old but he already has 70 caps. We made him the captain and told him to guide these guys and he enjoyed that. He battled the whole game. He won most of his one-on-one battles, he provided great assists. He connected with Joe Gyau to the right and Julian green to the left, and connected to the midfield. It was a very strong performance by Jozy, even if he didn’t score. This is what we want to see from him. Sooner or later, I told him you are going to score your goals in the Premier League and continue to score goals for the National Team.”
U.S. Men’s National Team head coach JURGEN KLINSMANN
“It was a tremendous experience for a young group of players. I think they did very well. They experienced that a game goes 90 minutes or a few minutes more. Overall it looked very good until the last 20 minutes where you could tell their legs were getting heavy. This is just an experience they have to learn to continue to play the same rhythm and flow until the last minute.”
On the manner of the win:
“It was not a simple win. The Czech team had a lot of chances in the last 20 minutes. If one of these chances go in then we can’t complain. For us it was important to see what is coming through in our talent pool. It was wonderful to see we have young players coming through that have come a long way now. Having the opportunity to play a game here in Prague is big. When you have a young player who faces Tomáš Rosický or Petr Cech that’s huge and therefore they’re going away with a lot of good stuff.”
On the performance of the team’s midfield players:
“They did really well. They are technically very gifted, they are one-, two-touch players and they always have eyes for the wingers or the forwards to play balls into their spaces – to find Jozy that was our goal. Still they have to learn and that’s what they’re doing. That’s why we play them in this way to go into those one-vs.-one challenges, to be more aggressive, to learn how to fight those fights in midfield because eventually you will get into those fights. I think that they raised the bar for themselves. Mix and Joe [Corona] you’re wonderful players but you have to go and raise the bar now in terms of aggressiveness. If here and there a foul [because of] going into a challenge being aggressive that’s their learning curve and that’s what they did today they stepped it up.
“Obviously, once they are in possession of the ball they can play. They can keep the ball, they can play it around quickly and they can create things going forward. It’s the same when you see Alfredo Morales and the process he went through the last two years. It’s wonderful to see, he’s breaking through. He’s showing that now in the [German] second division and trying to guide his team up to the first division. There was definitely a huge step for him the last one-and-a-half years.
“Then you give an opportunity for 25 minutes to Emerson Hyndman. He comes in and plays his game, is calm, does a mistake and corrects it right away. This is how we want them to grow in those games. We want them to leave from here with a lot in their back pack, saying, ‘O.K. I learned this, this, and this.’”
On the positives from the team:
“ For 65-70 minutes it went really well. The transition that we talked about with the players to move the whole thing forward, to keep the ball, to play out of the back, to find ways through midfield and not bang long balls to Jozy and hope for the best. No, it’s getting there and it took a huge step with the younger generation of players on the field. They didn’t get nervous. They got high-pressured by the check team, but they moved the ball around and found solutions when it got critical. Here and there, they stepped up the aggressiveness too and won those battles. Those games are huge from a learning curve perspective. So we will remind them all of this when we get together and you will see a lot of these kids again in October.”
On the young generation of players coming through:
“They can only win, they can only gain in these games. I told all of them that whatever mistakes you make, it’s no problem, we’ll fix it. Gyau is coming to the Dortmund second team, the edge of the first team and now wants to break into the first team roster. Jurgen Klopp is looking at him and you can see what Joe has in his pocket; he has speed, he has technique, he has improvising. He’s taking people on and if he loses the ball, he chases it back. All these things that we want to see, he’s trying to prove them. He was with us two years ago, so I’ve watched him since then and it’s nice to see that coming along.”
On Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando:
“Perfect from a goalkeeper point of view. They kept it clean, they lead the defense, they were loud, they played out of the back, the kept things calm. And when you get more shots on goal, like what happened to Nick, you can shine a bit more. Both go into the future fighting for the number one spot. It’s a bit easier with friendly games. We can rotate them no big deal. Both have a tremendous amount of respect for one another and Tim Howard and whoever comes through the ranks as well. It just nice to have this group even if it’s only four days here in Prague, it’s wonderful chemistry. There’s so much positive energy in these players, as a coach you want them to get the next step and the next step and I think they’re doing pretty well.”
U.S. Men’s National Team forward JOZY ALTIDORE
On the match:
“It was great. We put in a lot of hard work throughout the week. We added a lot of new young faces and at times the soccer was very good. Naturally we tired towards the end and were a bit exposed, but I thought the game went really well and is something to build on.”
On being named captain:
“It’s my second time now receiving this honor and it’s an amazing opportunity. It’s amazing the feeling you get walking out of the tunnel first, everyone behind you, looking to you to be the first one to dictate how we’re going to play. It’s a great feeling and one I take very serious. I’m very proud of that honor and hopefully it won’t be the last time.”
On bringing in the next generation of players:
“Jurgen has always said he’s going to start looking at younger guys. To be honest, I’m really excited for them. There’s some really good players there. They’ve done some really good things this camp. Not all of them got on the field but I think there are really talented young guys, they have great attitudes and they made this game special and will keep improving.”
On Joe Gyau’s performance:
“He’s got speed to burn. It’s something we can use. Hopefully these guys continue to develop. Joe’s a guy who’s been around the program for a while and I was happy to see him get the cap. Also, Emerson was a great, tidy player. There’s a lot of talent there, so it’s all about harnessing that and making sure they keep their head down, keep working hard and keep developing.”
U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder ALEJANDRO BEDOYA
On facing the Czech Republic:
“We know they’re a good team. They’re getting ready to start their Euro qualifiers. We knew it was going to be a battle, but we showed some good stuff, some positive stuff. It was a good mixture of some really young players and a totally new team. It’s a working process but there’s definitely some positives to take out of this game which is what we came here for.”
On the team’s positive play:
“It was good. We had Joe and Julian on the wings as well as Mix coming in and playing. John Brooks in the back… it was a mix of some younger guys who came in and did well. You only learn by experience and that’s what this kind of game gives them.”
On how the goal transpired:
“We talked about being aggressive and high pressing. We came out and did that in the first half. Mix pushed up and the guy lost the ball and Mix just took it away. Of course I’m right there to follow the play, finishing it off and was able to get on the end of the rebound.”
On the team’s offensive style:
“We played a 4-3-3 kind of system and Jurgen gave us freedom to mix it around and move off the ball, not really set positions and three in the middle. Just keep moving and if there’s two guys pressing there’s one staying behind. We have to work on that as well and everything’s a working process. There’s some good interchanges, some movement and the goal came off of us pressing up so definitely some positive things.”
U.S. Men’s National Team forward JOE GYAU
On his first game with the senior Men’s National Team:
“It was a great opportunity to get my first cap, first win. Ninety minutes is a real honor to go the full stretch for my country. It was just a great experience. Coach Klinsmann gave me a lot of freedom today. I think in the first half we played very well, we utilized our variability. In the second half our legs were a little tired, they got a few chances but we were able to hold onto the win.”
What he takes away from the experience:
“I’ve been playing in Europe for a little bit now and the thing you take away from games like these, sometimes you get nervous but you just have to believe in yourself and your abilities, know what you do well and try to bring that into the squad.
“Some games aren’t always going to be pretty. You saw that in the second half. You just got to work hard and work together as a team, but overall I think this is a good starting point for the team with a strong squad coming in.”
On being reunited with some guys he played with previously:
“It was great playing with Mix again, Joe Corona, my ex-teammate Fabian Johnson, Brek – all those guys, I’ve known them for a long time. It was also good to see some new faces in there and we came together pretty well in this game.”
U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder EMERSON HYNDMAN
On getting the opportunity to play his first senior international:
“It’s been an honor to work with people like Jurgen Klinsmann all his staff and people that have played in the World Cup that I was watching on TV and learning under them. To come on tonight and play with them was a proud moment for me. Being so young it’s a privilege being brought into a camp like this. I’ll take experience, I’ll take anything that I’ve ever been tough by Klinsmann, by any of the guys the next time I come.”
On his emotions ahead of subbing into the game:
“The heart beats faster that’s for sure. When the name gets called, it was like, ‘Whoa, it’s actually me.’ It happened real quick. As soon as I got in the game I just forgot about it and tried to play. I just remember Klinsmann saying, ‘You’ll do great, don’t worry. That was pretty much it. It was all positive and I tried to carry that on into the game.”
On the reaction of his friends and family:
“They’re all saying how proud they are or look at my friend playing in his first cap, all this stuff, but it’s unbelievable to see how many people wrote to me and I’d like to thank all them for that.”
U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper NICK RIMANDO
On the camp overall:
“Coming into this we wanted to set the tone and make some impressions. We did that with a good team win. All the guys that came in performed well and to pull out a win here in Czech Republic felt great.”
On competition for the No. 1 goalkeeper position:
“There’s a spot open. [Klinsmann] wants to create competition at every position and tonight was an opportunity for both [Brad Guzan and I] to go in and show what we can bring to the team. I think he knows what we’re capable of and for Brad going out tonight and having a great first half then for me to contribute to the team in a win felt good.”
Thoughts on the second half:
“I think being up, away they were going to throw guys forward. At times it felt like they had four, five guys up front and dumping balls. We need to have a little bit more of a mature effort at the end. Keep the ball, possess it and not invite the pressure as much. But, we dealt with it and got the shutout.”
Former Dallas Texans and FC Dallas Academy star Emerson Hyndman played a crucial role in helping Fulham seize a come-from-behind victory over Chelsea in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final on Monday.
Hyndman ignited the 3-2 comeback win in the 69th minute when his corner kick was turned home by junior Cottagers forward Moussa Dembélé to knot the score at 1-1. The U.S. U-18 international then took matters into his own hands, firing home a low drive two minutes later from the top of the Chelsea area.
Hyndman has been in top form lately, and was able to show off some of his skill during a short homecoming when Fulham recently participated in the 35th edition of the Dallas Cup earlier this month.
Serna Opens his MLS Goal Account: Dillon Serna, a Colorado Rapids Homegrown product who started with the club’s Academy in 2009, scored his first MLS goal for the Rapids’ first team over the weekend in Colorado’s 4-1 loss at Seattle. The young midfielder did well to corral a killer final pass from teammate Nick LaBrocca and lift a deft chip over onrushing Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
After appearing in only one league game for the Rapids in 2013, Serna has garnered four MLS outings this season, including two starts, one of which was in the match against Seattle. He has seen time in the Rapids’ past three matches, during which time he also logged his first MLS assist on Colorado’s game-winning goal in a 1-0 defeat of Toronto FC on April 12.
Fagundez Finding his Form: Another Homegrown Academy product to have an impact last weekend was New England Revolution attacker Diego Fagundez, who assisted on Teal Bunbury’s 92nd-minute game-winner in the Revolution’s 2-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City. Fagundez, who set the record for most goals by a teenager in an MLS season last year with 13, also nearly scored himself three minutes later. After his initial shot was blocked into the air by SKC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, Fagundez forced Kansas City midfielder Oriol Rosell into a handball inside the penalty area, and Lee Nguyen scored the resultant penalty kick to cement the final score line.
Additional Alumni Notes:
- St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri product Will Bruin bagged his fourth goal of 2014 when he tucked home the opening goal of the Houston Dynamo’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers.
- New York Red Bulls Academy graduate Juan Agudelo supplied the assist on FC Utrecht’s consolation goal in a 4-1 defeat to ADO Den Haag.
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