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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the U.S. Men’s National Team, another camp in the books meant another 10 days for a group of players to come together and go to work in both training, and against opponents like Denmark and Switzerland.
Alejandro Bedoya, a veteran of these camps, knows how important they are.
“The last 10 days have been what I think we set out for them to be, which is, we tried to come in and get better and at the same time involve these younger guys and get them more experience and understanding of what it takes to play for the National Team on the international scene,” said Bedoya. “We were able to work on different formations with players in different positions, and that can only be better for our game and continued development.”
The camp allowed some of the veterans, like Bedoya, to gain experience with the newer faces. Two of those were goalkeeper William Yarbrough and center back Ventura Alvarado, who both earned their first cap with the U.S. MNT during this camp.
“I feel like the National Team, at the moment, is a lot younger than it maybe was before,” said Bedoya.
“I think being together for 10 days here in Europe; it allowed us to integrate ourselves more with each other not only on the field, but off the field as well. That translates to our performances. We were able to have different options, different formations, different looks and play alongside different players. For the new guys coming up and getting chances, this is going to give them experience and give them more confidence and motivation moving forward.”
Despite the tough 2-3 loss to Denmark on March 25, holding off No. 12-ranked Switzerland to a 1-1 draw while playing with 10 men in the last 22 minutes on March 31, was a valuable opportunity that gave players the chance for performances they can build on.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating to lose like we did against Denmark where we had the lead twice, but there are many positives to take from that game as we continue to work on our high pressure and different elements. With the result against Switzerland, which is a really good side, I think we put in a great effort all around. I think we outplayed them in the first half, and then in the second half, with the circumstances and playing a man down, it made it a lot tougher, but I think the effort was there and there were definitely some bright spots that we can take forward.”
Ultimately, the time spent on the training pitch and playing two games against quality European teams on the road over the past 10 days will only help the team as it continues preparation for the 2015 Gold Cup.
“[The Gold Cup] is the ultimate goal, and these friendlies allow us to tinker around and play with different things, whether it’s players taking different responsibilities or trying out different formations, to seeing who steps up, and what works and what doesn’t,” said Bedoya. “That what these friendlies are for, and that’s more important than results. The results are going to matter when the Gold Cup comes around, and hopefully all these games that we’ve played, we’ll serve us as the right preparation for the summer.”
A pacey winger with technical ability, positional savvy and the ability to set-up or strike a goal, Bedoya has steadily risen to prominence with both club and country since joining Scottish Premier League side Rangers in 2011. He was part of the USA’s preliminary 30-man roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup but did not make the trip to South Africa. In 2011, Bedoya parlayed an impressive showing during the USA’s run to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final into his career-launching move to Rangers and was again a driving force for the USA’s Gold Cup run in 2013, as he scored his first international goal in a warm-up friendly against Guatemala and supplied the winning assist to Brek Shea in the final against Panama to help the U.S. claim its fifth tournament title. After his move to Nantes in 2013, Bedoya's performance has earned him loud praise which was solidifed when he was named to the 23-man USA roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
- Scored his second career international goal in a 1-0 victory against the Czech Republic on Sept. 3, 2014 in Prague
- Has played in 11 and started 10 games for the U.S. MNT in 2014
- Started at midfield in the Round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1 against Belgium
- Started the U.S. MNT's first two games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Ghana and Portugal, and came on a second-half sub in the final game of the group stage against Germany
- Started nine of 12 matches for the U.S. in 2013, including playing a pivotal role in the team’s capture of the CONCACAF Gold Cup title and finishing atop its World Cup qualifying group for the third consecutive cycle.
- Put himself on the map in 2011 with an eye-catching performance at the Gold Cup, helping the U.S. reach the tournament final
- Debuted for national team in 2010 and made six appearances
- Got his first start on Aug. 10 against Brazil, and again in the 1-0 victory against South Africa
- Helped Örebro qualify for the Europa League after they finished third in Sweden’s Allsvenskan
- Trained with both the U.S. U-20 and U-23 National Teams while still in school at Boston College
2014: Has appeared in 10 games for Nantes, starting seven and playing all 630 minutes to help his club currently sit in fifth in Ligue 1 standings... 2013: Joined newly promoted Nantes in France … Made Ligue 1 debut against PSG … 2012: Finished the 2011-2012 Scottish Premier League season with Rangers … As the Glasgow club entered administration, took short term deal with Helsingborg of Sweden … Scored two goals in the UEFA Europa League action with Swedish club … 2011: Joined Glasgow Rangers from Orebro … Made his league debut on Aug. 28 … 2010-2009: Joined Orebro of Sweden, making his club debut on April 6, 2009
Date of Birth
Apr 29, 1987