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Last Week in Review: MNT Players Stay Hot as Summer Winds Down

This time next week, the Men’s National Team will be in camp training for friendlies against Peru and Brazil ahead of the critical CONCACAF playoff against Mexico on Oct. 10 at the Rose Bowl. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said of these friendlies that “we want to see the players make statements towards the Mexico game,” so making the roster is a critical step. With those choices looming, several U.S. players made an impact with their club teams last week.

Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore led the way for Toronto FC, which cruised to a 5-0 win against Orlando City SC. The match was an important one because at its onset Toronto and Orlando City were separated by just three points in a close playoff race in the East. The captain was up to the challenge and responded by assisting on two of Toronto’s first three goals. Late in the second half, his long-time MNT teammate Altidore came off the bench and made an impact. While only playing 18 minutes, he made the most of them by scoring from the penalty spot and finishing off a set piece in rapid succession. WATCH: Match Highlights

Two MNT teammates combined for a goal in Saturday night’s matchup between Sporting KC and Columbus Crew. Matt Besler sprung Graham Zusi into the attack, the midfielder then offering a fantastic solo effort capped by a curling shot to the right corner that gave his squad a 2-1 lead. The Crew would rally and end up winning 3-2, but Zusi’s goal earned honors as an MLS Goal of the Week nominee.

In Sunday’s marquee game, the first between LA Galaxy and New York City FC, Gyasi Zardes showed out on the big stage, rising above the NYC FC defense to head home the first goal of the game. The Galaxy would play on to a 5-1 win.

Real Salt Lake held strong at home against the visiting Seattle Sounders FC, with Nick Rimando backstopping his team to a 2-0 win. The shutout was Rimando’s seventh of the season, and the win snapped a three-game losing streak.

While the Earthquakes were far away from home taking on D.C. United, that didn’t stop Chris Wondolowski from adding to his tally. Wondolowski got the action started early, finishing into the lower left corner from six yards out in the game’s fourth minute for his 12th goal of the year. It was a big week for Wondo, who scored a double, including his 100th goal as an Earthquake, in the team’s game on Aug. 19.

Meanwhile, across the pond the MNT was also active. Danny Williams scored Reading FC’s goal in its 1-1 draw on Aug. 19 against Sheffield Wednesday. Tim Ream completed a transfer to Fulham from Bolton Wanderers, joining a long list of U.S. internationals to ply their trade at Craven Cottage. Ream earned honors as Bolton’s Player of the Year in each of the last two seasons and will look to carry that that success over to Fulham.

In Germany, Aron Johannsson made his first start with his new Bundesliga club Werder Bremen and played 80 minutes in the team’s 1-1 draw with Hertha Berlin.

In Mexico, Ventura Alvarado made his second consecutive start for Club America. The defender has been a part of a strong America backline that has only surrendered one goal in its last four games (4-0-0).

MNT on TV: A Baker’s Dozen of Matches Featuring 25 MNT Players this Weekend

Behold the rising action. Another weekend of soccer brings about 13 matches featuring 25 current MNT players. It’s a sure bet that Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. MNT coaching staff will be tuned in with the team just two weeks away from huge friendlies against Peru and Brazil, which prelude the decisive USA-Mexico playoff on Oct. 10 at the Rose Bowl. Here’s a look at the action featuring U.S. Men’s National Team players around the world this weekend.

Bundesliga
Aron Johannsson is settling in nicely with his new club Werder Bremen. A week ago he made his debut, coming on in the 57th minute against Schalke. This week Bremen will look to snare all three points against Hertha Berlin on Friday, where Johannsson will hunt for his first Bundesliga goal. Trying to stop him will be his MNT teammate and Hertha center back John Brooks. Brooks, who is still getting into a club rhythm after missing preseason while on international duty, entered in the 84thminute of Hertha’s 1-0 win against Augsburg a week ago.

Like Brooks, Timmy Chandler is also working hard to get back into form with his club after returning from the Gold Cup. He’ll look to seize the opportunity as Frankfurt tries to rebound from its 2-1 loss to Wolfsburg with a positive result against Augsburg on Saturday.


Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/21

2:30 p.m. ET

FOX Soccer Plus, FOXSoccer2go.com

Hertha Berlin vs. Werder Bremen

Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen)
John Brooks (Hertha Berlin)

8/22

9:30 a.m. ET

FOX Soccer Plus, FOXSoccer2go.com

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Augsburg

Timmy Chandler (Frankfurt)

Premier League
On Saturday morning, a trio of matches features MNT players in Premier League action across the pond. Watch them simultaneously as Tottenham and DeAndre Yedlin seek their first win of the season when they face Leicester City, Brad Guzan marshals Aston Villa’s backline in its road matchup with Crystal Palace and Geoff Cameron and Stoke City meet Norwich City. Guzan has looked sharp early on in the season, posting a clean sheet in Villa’s 1-0 win against Bournemouth in the club’s season opener and limiting Manchester United’s potent offense to a single goal.

On Sunday, Tim Howard will lead the Everton defense when it goes up against the goal-happy Manchester City attack, which has produced a Premier League leading six goals in its first two games. Klinsmann officially revealed that Howard will be back in the mix when the MNT takes the field in September, and after posting a shutout a week ago against Southampton, the ‘keeper will look to maintain his form.


Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/22

10 a.m. ET

NBC Sports Live Extra

Leicester City vs. Tottenham

DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)

8/22

10 a.m. ET

NBC Sports Live Extra

Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

8/22

10 a.m. ET

NBC Sports Extra Time

Norwich  City vs. Stoke City

Geoff Cameron (Stoke City)

8/15

10 a.m. ET

NBC Sports Network

Everton vs. Manchester City

Tim Howard (Everton)

Liga MX
A pair of MNT players will clash in Saturday night Liga MX action as Ventura Alvarado and Club America challenge Joe Corona and Veracruz. Alvarado and the America defense have held opponents scoreless their last three games.

Goalkeeper William Yarbrough and Liga MX debutant Miguel Ibarra have already recorded a win this week. The team defeated Correcaminos on Monday and will look to increase their lead as the top team in Liga MX when they tackle Chivas on Saturday.

Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/22

5 p.m. MT

UniMas, UDN

Club America vs. Veracruz

Joe Corona (Veracruz), Ventura Alvarado (Club America)

8/22

8 p.m. MT

Telemundo

Leon vs. Chivas

William Yarbrough, Miguel Ibarra (Leon)

MLS
On Friday night, DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Davis and the Houston Dynamo enter the cauldron which houses the Portland Timbers. Earlier this week, Klinsmann reviewed the conversation he had with Beasley following the Gold Cup, and it’s now clear that Beas is fully back on board with the MNT.

Saturday kicks off with Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore hosting Orlando City SC, where Brek Shea is nearer to returning from sports hernia surgery. Toronto has stumbled to back-to-back losses, but its last win came against the Lions. While that game is going on, down in the nation’s capital MLS Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United will see Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen host Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes. The ‘Quakes are coming off a 5-0 rout of Sporting KC on Wednesday in which Wondo scored twice, increasing his career total to 100 league goals.

Thirty minutes after that game begins, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi will lead Sporting KC against Columbus Crew SC. Sporting had been riding a four-match unbeaten streak (3-0-1), before the loss to San Jose at Sporting Park. In Utah, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Real Salt Lake square off with MNT teammates Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans of Seattle Sounders FC. The meeting is the first between the two teams this year. The clubs share similar territory in the Western Conference standings, as both have won seven games this season.

On Sunday, LA Galaxy and New York City FC meet for the first and only time this season. The MLS marquee matchup pits Omar Gonzalez and Gyasi Zardes against fellow U.S. international Mix Diskerud. The Galaxy sits atop the Western Conference table, while NYC FC is battling for a playoff spot in the East.

Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/21

8 p.m. PT

UDN, UniMas

Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo

DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Davis (Houston)

8/22

7 p.m. ET

MLS Direct Kick

Toronto FC vs. Orlando City SC

Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Brek Shea (Orlando City)

8/22

7 p.m. ET

MLS Direct Kick

D.C. United v. San Jose Earthquakes

Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)

 8/22

 7:30 p.m. ET

 MLS Direct Kick

Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City

Matt Besler, Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

8/22

8 p.m. MT

MLS Direct Kick

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC

Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders)

8/23

Noon PT

ESPN, ESPN Deportes, MLS Direct Kick

LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC

Omar Gonzalez, Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
Mix Diskerud (NYC FC)

Ready, Set, Watch: 22 Televised Games Feature MNT Players this Week

With the huge friendlies against Peru and Brazil on the horizon next month set against the backdrop of the massive USA-Mexico match on Oct. 10 at the Rose Bowl, you can be sure Jurgen Klinsmann and the coaching staff is keeping a close eye on the player pool. Their job is made a lot easier thanks to the impressive number of games being televised this week involving MNT players. A total of 22 matches featuring more than 30 current MNT players will be broadcast. Here’s a look at what to watch for in the action around the world.

Bundesliga Begins

Let the games begin in Germany. With the highest average attendance of the top leagues in Europe, Bundesliga play for the 2015-16 season begins this weekend, as does the first season of these matches being broadcast on FOX. A number of MNT players will look to get off on the right foot.

Fabian Johnson helped lift Borussia Mönchengladbach to a third-place finish in the league last year, which ultimately earned the club a spot in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League group stage. The German side went 10-0-2 with Johnson in the starting lineup in the first half of 2015, and begins this year’s run on Saturday against rival and traditional powerhouse Borussia Dortmund.

John Brooks is back for his third year at Hertha Berlin. Brooks has earned 71 appearances there since debuting in 2012, becoming a regular starter in the latter stages of the season. Berlin begins its season against Augsburg on Saturday.

Timmy Chandler, who scored his first international goal this summer in the MNT’s match against Guatemala, is back for another year at his hometown club Eintracht Frankfurt. The team begins the year against Wolfsburg on Sunday.

Aron Johannsson makes his debut in the German top flight. He finished the year at AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie, recording four goals in his final three matches as his former club snatched the third spot and a place in the 2016 UEFA Europa League. Now Johannsson takes his talents to Werder Bremen, which opens its campaign on Saturday against Schalke.

Alfredo Morales March 31 Match DenmarkAlfredo Morales

Alfredo Morales led FC Ingolstadt to a first place finish in second Bundesliga a year ago which promoted the team to the premier division. Ingolstadt debuts against Mainz on Saturday.

Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/15

9:15 a.m. ET

FOXSoccer2go.com, FOX Deportes

Augsburg v. Hertha Berlin

John Brooks (Hertha Berlin)

8/15

9:15 a.m. ET

FOXSoccer2go.com

Werder Bremen v. Schalke

Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen)

8/15

9:30 a.m. ET

FOXSoccer2go.com

Mainz v. FC Ingolstadt

Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt)

8/15

12:30 p.m. ET

FOX Sports 2, FOXSoccer2go.com

Dortmund v. Borussia Monchengladbach

Fabian Johnson (‘Gladbach)

8/16

9:30 a.m. ET

FOX Sports 1, FOXSoccer2go.com

Wolfsburg v. Frankfurt

Timmy Chandler (Frankfurt)

Premier League Continues

The English Premier League got started last weekend and play continues across the pond this week.

Brad Guzan, who earned the Golden Glove as the top goalkeeper in the 2015 Gold Cup, posted a clean sheet in the season opener. Now he’ll stand between the posts against perennial Premier League powerhouse Manchester United on Friday. Fellow netminder Tim Howard will also be in action for Everton, as the Toffees take on Southampton.

Brad Guzan

DeAndre Yedlin continues to challenge for a spot at Tottenham Hotspur. The club hosts its home opener against Stoke City, where Geoff Cameron started at centerback in his side’s 1-0 loss to Liverpool.

Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/14

2:45 p.m. ET

NBC Sports Network

Aston Villa vs. Manchester United

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)

8/15 7 a.m. ET NBC Sports Network Southampton vs. Everton Tim Howard (Everton)

8/15

10 a.m. ET

NBC Sports Network

Tottenham vs. Stoke City

DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham), Geoff Cameron (Stoke)

Vamos Vamos

Liga MX is in full swing now and a number of MNT players will be in action south of the border.

Ventura Alvarado scored his first goal of the season last week in Club America win against Motagua in the Champions League. This week the team will look to keep up the momentum when it faces Santos on Friday night.

Joe Corona, coming off a sweet assist that led to the game-winner last week, plays with Veracruz on Tuesday night against his former team Club Tijuana and the current home of defender Michael Orozco.

Greg Garza and Atlas can be seen twice on TV this week. The first game is against Pumas on Wednesday, the second is Saturday night against Puebla.


Greg Garza

Goalkeeper William Yarbrough and Liga MX debutant Miguel Ibarra have a pair of games this week. Leon takes on Tigres on Tuesday night, then can be seen Saturday night when they travel to Morelia.

Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/11

7:50 p.m. PT

Azteca

Club Tijuana v. Veracruz

Joe Corona (Veracruz), Michael Orozco (Tijuana)

8/12

8 p.m. MT

Galavision

Pumas v. Atlas

Greg Garza (Atlas)

8/12

7:30 p.m. CT

NBC Universo

Leon v. Tigres

William Yarbrough, Miguel Ibarra (Leon)

8/14

7:20 p.m. CT

Azteca

Club America v. Santos

Ventura Alvarado (Club America)

8/15

7:20 p.m. CT

Azteca

Atlas v. Puebla

Greg Garza (Atlas),

8/15

11:30 p.m. ET

Azteca

Morelia v. Leon

William Yarbrough, Miguel Ibarra (Leon) 

MLS Heating Up

With the playoff race heating up, the MLS season is getting very interesting.

A quartet of MNT players will be in action Wednesday in the semifinal of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup when Sporting Kansas City hosts Real Salt Lake. Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando will do their best to push RSL through, but their MNT teammates Matt Besler and Graham Zusi from Sporting KC stand in the way.

League MLS matches continue on Thursday, when New York City FC hosts first place D.C. United at Yankee Stadium. Mix Diskerud is in a New York state of mind, while D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen will try to pick up another road win.

On Friday, Chris Wondolowski will try to score his 10th goal of the season when San Jose Earthquakes host Colorado Rapids.

MLS Saturday is MNT Saturday. Captain Michael Bradley, who scored a brilliant MLS Goal of the Week nominee last weekend, and Jozy Altidore travel with Toronto FC to Harrison, N.J., for a match against the Red Bulls. Shortly after that game kicks off, New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo play in a game featuring five MNT players (Juan Agudelo, DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Davis, Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones). Moving westward, the LA Galaxy with Gyasi Zardes and Omar Gonzalez visit FC Dallas, while up in Kansas City, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Sporting KC host Western Conference leaders Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The night concludes with Real Salt Lake taking on Portland Timbers in Sandy, Utah, where Kyle Beckerman will captain RSL with Nick Rimando between the posts.


Brad Evans

On Sunday afternoon, Seattle Sounders FC featuring Clint Dempsey and their team captain Brad Evans will do their best to hold off the visiting Orlando City SC.

Date

Time

Networks

Matchup

MNT Players in Action

8/12

7:30 p.m. CT

youtube.com/ussoccer

Sporting KC v. Real Salt Lake

(Open Cup Semifinal)

Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler, Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

8/13

7 p.m. ET

MLS Direct Kick

New York City FC v. D.C. United

Mix Diskerud (NYC FC), Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen (D.C. United)

 

8/14

 

8 p.m. PT

 

UniMas

 

San Jose Earthquakes v. Colorado Rapids

 

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)

8/15

7 p.m. ET

MLS Direct Kick

New York Red Bulls v. Toronto FC

Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)

8/15

7:30 p.m. ET

MLS Direct Kick

New England Revolution v. Houston Dynamo

Juan Agudelo, Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones (New England), DaMarcus Beasley, Brad Davis (Houston)

8/15

8 p.m. CT

MLS Direct Kick

FC Dallas v. LA Galaxy

Omar Gonzalez, Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

8/15

8 p.m. CT

MLS Direct Kick

Sporting Kansas City v. Vancouver Whitecaps

Matt Besler, Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

8/15

7 p.m. PT

MLS Direct Kick

Real Salt Lake v. Portland

Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

8/16

2 p.m. PT

ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Seattle Sounders FC v. Orlando City SC

Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders)

 

MNT Falls To Panama on PKs in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Third Place Match

CHESTER, Pennsylvania (July 22, 2015) – The U.S. Men’s National Team was defeated by Panama 3-2 in penalty kicks in the Gold Cup Third Place match Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. 

Trailing 1-0 at the tail end of the second half, substitutes DeAndre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey combined to level the match, 1-1. 

As the clock continued ticked away, both sides attacked and generated chances, but none found the back of the net, and after an additional 30 minutes of extra time, the match was off to penalty kicks. 

In PKs, the U.S. converted its two opening penalties, but then saw a miss and two consecutive saves by Panama ‘keeper Luis Mejia, which made Harold Cummings’s conversion in the fourth round the winning kick. With the result, the MNT finished fourth at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. 

Later this year, the MNT will face the winner of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup – either Jamaica or Mexico – in a one-game playoff for a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. The playoff pits the winner of the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups against one another for a spot at the tournament in Russia the year before the World Cup. The USA last featured at the Confederations Cup in 2009 when the team beat then No. 1-ranked Spain and advanced to the Final against Brazil. 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
PAN– Roberto Nurse (Ronaldo Blackburn) 55th minute: Roberto Blackburn slipped a pass up to Nurse, who attacked U.S. defenders Tim Ream and John Brooks and pushed into the box. Nurse sidestepped Brooks, freeing himself to curl a shot around Guzan and into the net for the game’s first goal. USA 0, PAN 1 (SEE GOAL) 

USA – Clint Dempsey (DeAndre Yedlin) 70th minute:  Michael Bradley looped a long ball to Yedlin, who chested it down in the box, took a turn and sent it across to Dempsey on a late run. The defense and goalkeeper had collapsed on Yedlin, which freed Dempsey to bury his seventh goal of the tournament to level the game. USA 1, PAN 1 (SEE GOAL)

Penalty Shootout:
USA-Aron Johansson: Johansson sent the first shot right down Broadway and in for a score. USA 1, PAN 0
PAN-Roman Torres: Torres responded with a well struck goal into the top right corner. USA 1, PAN 1
USA-Clint Dempsey: In what was signature style for the month of July, having already chipped two goalies on PK’s, Dempsey did so again to put the U.S. ahead. USA 2, PAN 1
PAN-Abdiel Arroyo: Arroyo stutter stepped and blasted a shot low and hard by a diving Guzan. USA 2, PAN 2
USA-Fabian Johnson: Johnson came up third for the U.S. and sent his kick over the crossbar. USA 2, PAN 2
PAN-Armando Cooper: Cooper rolled his attempt and Guzan dove to his left and corralled it to keep the shootout level. USA, 2, PAN 2
USA-Michael Bradley: The U.S. captain sent a shot hard to the left, but Mejia guessed right for Panama and deflected it away. USA 2, PAN 2
PAN-Harold Cummings: Cummings sent a shot to the left, Guzan dove and got a hand to it, but the ball powered into the net. USA 2, PAN 3
USA-DaMarcus Beasley: Beasley blasted a shot toward the right side of the goal, but Mejia was headed that way, and he made a diving save to end the game in Panama’s favor. USA 2, PAN 3 (FINAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Time Ream 36th minute: Armando Cooper intercepted an errant MNT pass and countered with pace down the center of the field. He attacked the box, beat a defender and then slid a shot past Brad Guzan towards the back post. Fortunately for the U.S., Tim Ream was there, booting the ball off the goal line and out of bounds for a corner kick.

USA – Fabian Johnson 54 minute: From a corner kick, Panama sent a ball in that forward Ronaldo Blackburn headed sharply at goal. Fabian Johnson was there to clear it off the goal line to safety.

USA – Brad Guzan (save) 81st minute: A Panama cross from the outside on the left found the head of Ronaldo Blackburn, who directed it firmly toward the back post. Brad Guzan fully extended and just reached the ball with his left hand, pawing it down before taking another dive to smother it.

USA– Brad Guzan (save) 108st minute: Roberto Nurse was freed on the left side for an attack at goal. As he wound up and fired off a shot, DeAndre Yedlin slid in and deflected it. The Ball continued to spin at goal, but Guzan was ready for it and knocked it away on a dive.

Coming up Next: #USAvPER
Location: RFK Stadium – Washington D.C.
Date: September 4, 2015
Opponent: Peru 

Milestone Watch:

  • Clint Dempsey’s game-tying goal was his seventh of the competition, which is the most-ever by an American player in a single Gold Cup tournament.
  • Dempsey’s 12 Gold Cup goals tie him with Mexico’s Luis Roberto Alves for second on the tournament’s all-time list behind only Landon Donovan (18).

Additional Notes:

  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made six changes to his starting XI from the team that began Wednesday’s Semifinal against Jamaica: Timmy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Graham Zusi, Joe Corona and Chris Wondolowski all came into the lineup.
  • Corona earned his first start of the tournament. 
  • Brad Guzan and Michael Bradley were the only two U.S. players to start all six matches of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
  • The match was the U.S. MNT’s third in a Gold Cup third place match and marked the first time the team had not won the game (2-1-0)
  • The U.S. MNT record against Panama dropped to 12-1-4 (5-1-3 in Gold Cup games)
  • The MNT is now 3-2-3 all-time in matches in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

#USAvCUB: Five Things to Watch for

Cuban Roster Challenges

As has become relatively common place for Cuban sides when coming to the U.S., the team enters Saturday’s match missing several players. Goalkeeper Aral Arguellez, midfielders Arichel Hernandez and Dario Suarez as well as forward Keiler Garcia have all departed the teams at different times during the tournament. As a result, Cuba has only 18 players available for Saturday’s quarterfinal, the most experienced of which is 36-year-old defender/midfielder Yenier Marquez, Cuba’s all-time appearance leader with 126 caps.

Despite Cuba being shorthanded, they still overcame a favored Guatemala side to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight Gold Cup. With a potential U.S. path to the final being through Cuba and the winner of the Jamaica / Haiti match, Bradley was asked if CONCACAF’s Caribbean nations were on a rise in recent years.

“Things go in cycles,” Bradley said. “Teams go in cycles in some ways. Does the fact that there are a number of teams now that are in good moments now make things more difficult? Yeah, probably. This idea that Caribbean teams are good now and they weren’t four years ago, six years ago, eight years ago -- I don’t buy that. I was on the field in a lot of those games and trust me, they weren’t cake walks.”

Under Klinsmann, the MNT is 7-1-0 against Caribbean sides.

Plan vs. Cuba

Cuba has probably been the most mixed bag of the 2015 Gold Cup. Missing a number of players due to visa issues, the side was blown out 6-0 by Mexico in their tournament opener before losing 2-0 to Trinidad & Tobago in their second match. There was little hope held they’d get a result against Guatemala in the group finale, but the team’s defensive style paid off as they held Los Chapines scoreless before Maikel Reyes’ 72nd minute goal held up to put the team through.

The U.S. has outscored the island nation 19-2 in its last four matches, but has surrendered the first goal in two of those games, including the last meeting in the 2013 Gold Cup. On Friday, Klinsmann said that after a tight group stage and extra days to recover over the past few days, he and his staff have emphasized the team’s need to put its stamp on the game early.

“We need to make sure that from the first second on, we raise the bar and create a high tempo rhythm and creating chances so we can score. Things can happen, two years ago we go a goal down and things suddenly got difficult.

U.S. ‘keeper Brad Guzan agreed.

“First and foremost we need to put them under a bit of pressure,” said the first-choice net minder. “We need to make sure our intensity, our pressure is there. We need to make sure we’re on the front foot. The start to the game will be important, we want to try and make sure we don’t give them any room to breathe, any space to ply to run at us or any of that sort of thing.”

Referring to their team’s absences, Klinsmann continued, “A lot of what they went through is very emotional. When you go through those emotional roller coasters, you never know what the ending will be. The message to our players is to be spot on from the first second and hopefully create chances and get an early goal that will make things a lot easier.”

Bradley on the Difficulty of the Gold Cup            

With only two days between matches in the group stage, the U.S. team has had the chance to get a little more rest the past week in Baltimore as they prepared for Saturday’s quarterfinal against Cuba.  Asked about the difficulty of the tournament as whole on Friday, U.S. captain Michael Bradley was open about the challenges that all 12 teams have faced.

“Between the travel, the short turn around between games, grass being laid over field turf, the weather, it’s a huge challenge. That’s absolutely no excuse, because it’s the same for everybody. It’s not like it’s any different for us than the other teams, again I want to be clear that’s no excuse, that’s not me complaining – that’s just reality.”

The conditions combined with the fact that only three of the 18 group matches were decided by more than a goal has put the entire tournament field on notice that nothing will be easy in the 2015 Gold Cup.

“You see that every game is a dog fight, every game is close and hard and that’s exactly what we expected,” Bradley continued. “We expect that it becomes even more like that. Everything you’ve done up until this point means nothing and everything you’ll do in the next week means everything. We’re very focused and very excited to step on the field tomorrow in a quarterfinal, expect a great crowd and we’ll be ready to do anything in any way to get to a semifinal.”

John Brooks Suspended

The U.S. will be without defender John Brooks after the starting center back picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the Group A finale against Panama on Monday and is suspended for one match. Klinsmann indicated after that match he was happy that the team was able to get minutes out of all of its field players in the group stage, saying he’d be confident in either Omar Gonzalez or Tim Ream as replacements in the quarterfinal.

Predictably though, Klinsmann wouldn’t tip his hand Friday on who would get the nod next to Ventura Alvarado against Cuba, saying, “We’ll see tomorrow night how we put the pieces together on the backline.”

History against Cuba

With their only defeat coming in a 5-2 loss on July 20, 1947, the U.S. is 8-1-1 all-time against Cuba and ride an eight-match winning streak into Saturday night’s game. Five players on the current roster have scored goals against Cuba, with DaMarcus Beasley tallying three, Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski bagging two each and Joe Corona also scoring.

In Gold Cup play, the U.S. is a perfect 5-0-0 against the Caribbean nation.

.

Wondolowski found the scoring touch in his third international campaign with the U.S. MNT, tying for third on the team with six goals in only 365 minutes played in 2013. In Major League Soccer play, Wondolowski scored 11 goals in 29 games for the San Jose Earthquakes, becoming the 11th player in league history to boast double-digit goal totals in four consecutive seasons.

  • Made his World Cup debut against Portugal on June 22, 2014, coming on as a sub in the 87th minute, and played against Belgium on July 1 in the Round of 16
  • Scored the first six goals of his international career in nine appearances in 2013, tying for third on the team
  • Tied Landon Donovan with five goals during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scoring three times in the USA’s 6-1 victory against Belize on July 9 to become the third U.S. player to record a hat trick in a Gold Cup match
  • Called up to the full U.S. National Team in January 2011, his first appearance in a U.S. camp at any level
  • The all-time leading scorer for the San Jose Earthquakes has twice won the MLS Golden Boot (2010, 2012)
  • A three-time member of the MLS Best XI, he won league MVP honors in 2012

2015: Named to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster... Has played in four games for the MNT this year... Recorded a goal in USA's 4-0 win over Guatemala on July 3, reaching double-digit goals in his MNT career... 2014: Made his World Cup debut against Portugal on June 22, 2014, coming on as a sub in the 87th minute, and played against Belgium on July 1 in the Round of 16 ... Has scored three goals in 2014, recording a brace against South Korea on January 2 in a 2-0 victory and contributing a goal in a 2-2 draw with Mexico on February 4 ... Has appeared in seven games for the U.S. in 2014, starting in three ... appeared in two of three Send-Off Series games leading up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup ... 2013: Wondolowski notched his first six international goals in nine games and only 365 minutes to tie for third on the team … Became the third U.S. player to record a hat trick in Gold Cup play with three goals against Belize during a 6-1 victory on July 9 in Portland, Ore. ...2010: Earned his first ever call up to the U.S. MNT 24-player training camp roster in preparation for the international friendly against Chile … First Appearance: Jan. 2, 2011 First Goal: July 5, 2013

2014: Finished the season with 14 goals and three assists in 26 appearances … Became the third player in MLS history to score at least 10 goals in five consecutive seasons with his strike against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Aug. 24 … 2013: Tallied 11 goals and three assists in 29 MLS games, becoming the 11th player in league history to record double-digit goals in four consecutive seasons … Led MLS with eight game-winning goals … In CONCACAF Champions League action, scored the game-winning goal during the San Jose Earthquakes’ 1-0 victory against CD Heredia on Oct. 23 to advance to the tournament quarterfinals … 2012: Became first player in club history to earn the MLS Most Valuable Player award ... Picked up his second career Budweiser Golden Boot after leading the league with 27 goals, tying Roy Lassiter's MLS record ... Received MLS Best XI honors for the third-straight season ... Started and scored a goal in the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game against Chelsea FC ... MLS Player of the Month honors in April, June, September and October ... Named the club's Most Valuable Player ... Finished the season with 27 goals and seven assists in 32 games, 31 of which were starts ... His 11 game-winning goals set an MLS single-season record ... 2011: Named Team MVP … Named to the MLS Best XI … Earned the inaugural MLS Castrol Index Player of the Year award, a system that utilizes data collected during the course of the season to measure player values … 2010: Led Major League Soccer in scoring with 18 goals, capturing the MLS Golden Boot, propelling San Jose into the MLS Playoffs … Named part of MLS Best XI … 2009: Acquired by the ‘Quakes in a trade with the Houston Dynamo … Appeared in seven games with three starts with Dynamo, tallying two goals and one assist … Played in 14 games with three goals and one assist for San Jose … 2008: Made eight MLS appearances …Scored in the Superliga championship-game shootout at New England on Aug. 5 … Started both legs of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Municipal and scored third goal in 3-1 home win on March 19 … Came on as a substitute in both legs of the semifinal against Saprissa … 2007: Appeared in 16 games, making three starts and grabbing a goal and an assist … Made first start of the season on April 29 in 1-0 loss vs. the Chicago Fire … 2006: Scored his first MLS goal on Aug. 21 against Chicago in 2-2 tie …2005: Made Earthquakes MLS debut on Sept. 10 vs. Chivas.

College:

Named to the CCAA first team for four consecutive seasons at Chico State … Scored five goals and registered two assists … In 2003, he was named second team Division II All-America … Helped Chico State to CCAA Championship with a 19-4-1 record … Led Chico to NCAA Division II championship game … Played 23 games, registering 11 goals and eight assists … In 2002,  Wondolowski played 19 games, tallying 12 goals and seven assists … In 2001 he led his team with 10 goals and six assists in 19 games.

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