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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).

Klinsmann Talks MNT Players at European Clubs and Potential Deadline Deals

The return of foreign-based U.S. MNT players to their clubs following July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup always had the potential to present challenges for the players trying to win starting spots. Missing the full preseason on international duty puts their club teammates ahead of the curve, and so far results have been a mixed bag, with some players growing into new situations while others have work ahead to earn back their places in the first team.

“What we’ve seen after the Gold Cup is a little similar to what we saw after the World Cup last summer in Brazil,” U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann explained. “Some players struggle to get back into rhythm and get their starting spots right away.”

The time away with the National Team while clubs were going through their preseason paces has left the likes of John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Ventura Alvarado (Club America) – all starters for during last month’s Gold Cup – on the bench to begin their respective league campaigns.

“It’s kind of a consequence of maybe that they came late into the preseason of their club teams and the coaches gave the other players a head start first. They have to fight their way back; it’s as simple as that.”

On the positive side, the former Germany striker has seen forward Aron Johannsson make a summer transfer splash.

Having battled back from injury to help Dutch club AZ Alkmaar qualify for the UEFA Europa League last season, Johannsson secured the biggest summer move among his U.S. teammates, transferring to German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen earlier this month. 

After seeing the 24-year-old striker score 29 goals in 58 appearances for the Dutch side, Klinsmann was pleased to see the budding striker rise to a bigger club challenge.

Gallery: U.S. MNT Announces Return to St. Louis for World Cup Qualifier

Photos from the U.S. Soccer press conference with the St. Louis Cardinals to announce the return of the Men's National Team to St. Louis for its opening World Cup Qualifying match of the 2018 cycle. The match will be played at Busch Stadium on Nov. 13 against the winner of the St. Vincent & the Grenadines-Aruba Third Round qualifying match. 

St. Louis - A History of the USMNT in the Gateway to the West

The U.S. MNT returns to one of the country’s soccer hot beds when it opens 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying against either St. Vincent and the Grenadines or Aruba on Nov. 13 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

The match marks the MNT’s first game in the United States’ historic soccer capital in nearly 20 years, with the side last paying to a 0-0 draw against Paraguay at Busch Conference & Sports Center (now St. Louis Soccer Park) on June 4, 1997.

What made St. Louis such a bastion for soccer in the United States?

Clubs from the city made an early mark on the U.S. Open Cup (then known as the National Challenge Cup), with Ben Millers first lifting the Dewar Trophy in 1920. Scullin Steel followed up two years later before Stix, Baer and Fuller (later known as St. Louis Central Breweries) went to four straight finals from 1932-1935, winning all but the first.

Much of St. Louis’ continuing soccer strength came from the city’s representation on the U.S. team that went to the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Five of the 11 players that appeared in the USA’s historic 1-0 victory against England hailed from St. Louis: goalkeeper Frank Borghi, defenders Charlie Colombo and Harry Keough and midfielders Gino Pariani and Frank Wallace.

In 1948, Borghi, Colombo and Pariani all won National Challenge Cup titles with Simpkins Ford, while Wallace joined them to win the title in 1950. Keough would taste domestic cup glory of his own, winning with St. Louis Kutis in 1957.

Upon retirement as a player, Keough wrote another chapter in the city’s soccer history when he became the head coach of St. Louis University. With five NCAA tournament championships already in the trophy case, Keough guided the Billikens to another championship in his first season in 1967. He’d go on to lead the school to four more tournament titles in five years from 1969-1973.

One of the top players in U.S. MNT history, Brian McBride attended the school from 1990-1993, before going on to play in three World Cups and build a famous club career, most notably with Fulham FC in the English Premier League. Other World Cup participants that hail from St. Louis include Mike Sorber (1994) and Brad Davis (2014).

Current U.S. MNT defender Tim Ream, as well as former U.S. internationals Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston, Chris Klein and Pat Noonan also earned their soccer stripes coming up in the Gateway to the West.

Though it’s been a while since the MNT’s last appearance in St. Louis, the team has been successful in the Mound City, going 5-1-2 all-time with the only defeat being a World Cup qualifying loss to Canada on July 6, 1957. Six of the eight matches played in St. Louis have been World Cup qualifiers, with the MNT earning two wins (against Jamaica and Costa Rica) and a draw (against El Salvador) in the team’s successful campaign to qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. 

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.

A cultured centerback who displays good instincts and skill passing out of the back, Ream has steadily built his resume in the last few years in England. After a career-high six caps in 2011, Ream made his comeback onto the senior team in 2014 after a three-year stint away from the National Team. His performances at Bolton have earned him back-to-back Player of the Year honors for the club, adding leadership and versatility to a growing list of qualities. One of the most consistent performers in MLS in 2010 amongst rookies and veterans alike, he started all 30 games for New York Red Bulls and helped the team to a regular season Eastern Conference title. Ream capped off his stellar rookie campaign with a starting appearance for the USA in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town in November 2010.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Collected a career-high six caps for the U.S. in 2011, including two starts in the CONCACAF Gold Cup
  • Made his first U.S. appearance when he paired with Clarence Goodson in central defense in the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Voted Bolton Player of the Year by the supporters for two consecutive seasons
  • Started 33 games in all competitions for the New York Red Bulls in 2010, the most on the team, and was a finalist for the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Awar
2015: Named to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster... Has played in two games for the MNT this year...2014: Played in four games for the U.S. in 2014 ... Made comeback appearance with the MNT after three years away during the second half of the USA's 1-0 win against the Czech Republic on Sept. 3 in Prague ... That was his first game since the U.S. MNT’s 1-0 loss to Ecuador on Oct. 11, 2011 ... 2011: Reached career highs for both games played (6) and games started (5) … Played the full 90 minutes in each game he started, including the U.S.’s first two matches in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, against Canada and Panama … 2010: Started in his first ever call up to the national team, helping the U.S. to a 1-0 win against South Africa on Nov. 17 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Cape Town … First Appearance: Nov. 17, 2010 vs. South Africa … First Goal: None.
2014/15: Voted Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season … Played in 42 league matches, recording four assists … 2013/14:Bolton Wanderers fans voted him fans player of the year ... Signed a new three-year contract with Bolton on July.6 ...  2012/2012: Signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Bolton Wanderers on Jan. 26 ... Made his debut during Bolton's 2-0 FA Cup win at Millwall on Feb. 18 ... Made Premiere League debut a week later in Bolton's 3-0 loss at Chelsea ... 2011:Started all 31 games in which he featured for the Red Bulls in the regular season and playoffs … Added an assist in the 2-2 tie against the New England Revolution on Aug. 20 … 2010: A finalist for the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Award … Ended his first professional season starting all 30 league matches and helped New York capture its second regular season Eastern Conference title … Made his professional debut on March 27, 2010, vs. the Chicago Fire … On Sept. 11, 2010, Ream scored his first professional goal against the Colorado Rapids … Drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft… 2010: A finalist for the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Award… Ended his first professional season starting all 30 league matches for New York and helped New York capture its second regular season Eastern Conference title … Made his professional debut on March 27, 2010 vs. the Chicago Fire … On Sept. 11, 2010 Ream scored his first professional goal against the Colorado Rapids … Drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by New York Red Bulls.

College: 

Played four seasons at Saint Louis University … Earned the 2009 Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award after contributing a career-high six goals and five assists while helping the team to post seven shutouts … Was a NSCAA Third Team All-American selection as a senior …. Featured in 82 games during his career, missing just one match … Was a three-time NSCAA First Team All-Mid Atlantic Region selection.

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