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US Soccer

MNT Earns First Win of 2015, Shuts Out Panama 2-0 at StubHub Center

CARSON, California (Feb. 8, 2015) – Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey scored first-half goals and the U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Panama 2-0 in the USA’s 2015 home opener in front of 20,271 spectators at StubHub Center. 

Dempsey joins Landon Donovan as the only MNT players to score 40 international goals. Nick Rimando and Sean Johnson split time in net for the clean sheet. 

It was the MNT’s first victory of the year, as well as the first win since a 1-0 decision against the Czech Republic on Sept. 3, 2014, in Prague. 

Perry Kitchen and Matt Hedges made their MNT debuts as second-half subs, and 10 players have now earned their first caps under Jurgen Klinsmann in the seven matches following the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

Miguel Ibarra and Gyasi Zardes each earned their first starts. Zardes assisted the Dempsey goal. 

The USA had other goal scoring chances throughout the match to add to its lead. The best second-half opportunity came in the 60th minute when Bradley’s free kick found an unmarked Jermaine Jones in the middle of the box. Jones whipped a header toward the goal, but directly to Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. 

Five of the USA’s six shots were placed on goal, while two of Panama’s five shots were put on frame. 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Michael Bradley, 27th minute: Just four minutes after a corner kick threatened the Panama net, Bradley delivered another one that found its way into the net. Bradley drove the corner from the left side toward the far right of the goal frame. Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo leapt to try and get a glove on it, but instead the ball went directly into the far right side of the frame, where Jozy Altidore also was close by. USA 1, PAN 0 (SEE GOAL) 

USA – Clint Dempsey (Gyasi Zardes), 37th minute: Zardes did the setup work, intercepting Panama’s Luis Ovalle in midfield and dribbling centrally before sending a well-placed through ball that split two Panama defenders. Dempsey timed his run perfectly, took a touch and a leap to elude Jaime Penedo and shot right-footed before Harold Cummings could converge. USA 2, PAN 0 (SEE GOAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Nick Rimando, 14th minute: Panama threatened with a cross from the right side to the left of the box, and without a USA defender in the vicinity of Panama midfielder Eric Davis, Rimando was forced to rush off of his line and block the shot. 

PAN – Anibal Godoy, 23rd minute: Michael Bradley took the corner kick from the left side, a bending ball into the six-yard box that likely was headed for goal. Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo had a difficult time getting to the ball, but Godoy headed it out of harm’s way at the near post. 

Milestone Watch:

  • Michael Bradley scored his 13th-career goal. He is now tied for 13th on the all-time MNT goal scoring list with Marcelo Balboa and Hugo Perez. Next up on the list is 12th-place Carlos Bocanegra, who scored 14 goals from 2001-12.
  • Clint Dempsey joins Landon Donovan as the only U.S. MNT players to score 40 international goals. Donovan scored 57 times in 157 games and Dempsey has 40 goals in 112 matches.
  • Dempsey is now tied for sixth all-time in career appearances with Claudio Reyna, who earned 112 caps from 1994-2006. 

Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT faces Denmark at 3 p.m. ET on March 25 in Arhus.
Broadcast information: ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • Before the match, a moment of remembrance was held for former 1950 FIFA World Cup goalkeeper Frank Borghi, who passed away last week. The National Soccer Hall of Famer manned the net in the USA’s famous 1-0 victory against England in Brazil.
  • The USA is now 12-1-2 all-time against Panama and has won the past six meetings.
  • Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s lineup included Nick Rimando returning to goal and a defensive back four with Brek Shea on the left, DeAndre Yedlin on the right and Jermaine Jones and Matt Besler at center back. Jones earned his 50th-career cap.
  • In the midfield of the USA’s 4-2-3-1, Mix Diskerud and Michael Bradley played in the holding role, with Miguel Ibarra, captain Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes above them, left to right. Ibarra and Zardes each earned their first MNT starts in just their second appearances. It was a familiar setting for Zardes who plies his professional trade with Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy at StubHub Center.
  • Striker Jozy Altidore played up front.
  • Goalkeeper Sean Johnson replaced Rimando to open the second half. It was Johnson’s first appearance since a 1-0 shutout victory against Costa Rica on July 16, 2013, at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
  • Also to open the second half, Chris Wondolowski entered for Altidore who was held out for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons (right hamstring soreness).
  • Two players made their MNT debuts in the 72nd minute. Perry Kitchen replaced Diskerud and Matt Hedges replaced Yedlin, who had to leave the match with a right knee sprain in the 68th minute
  • Lee Nguyen took the place of Ibarra in the 79th minute.
  • Luis Gil joined the action in the 81st minute for Dempsey. 

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Panama
Date: Feb. 8, 2015
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: StubHub Center; Carson, California
Kickoff: 1 p.m. PT
Attendance: 20,271
Weather: 72 degrees, partly cloudy 

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

USA – Michael Bradley                                  27th minute
USA – Clint Dempsey (Gyasi Zardes)           37 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Nick Rimando (12-Sean Johnson, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin (3-Matt Hedges, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 5-Matt Besler, 11-Brek Shea; 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Mix Diskerud (15-Perry Kitchen, 72); 20-Gyasi Zardes, 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (14-Luis Gil, 81), 19-Miguel Ibarra (7-Lee Nguyen, 79); 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Chris Wondolowski, 46)
Subs Not Used: 6-Wil Trapp, 16-Shane O'Neill, 21-Dillon Serna
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann 

PAN: 1-Jaime Penedo (capt.); 2-Leonel Parris, 5-Fidel Escobar (23-Chin Hormechea, 46), 3-Harold Cummings, 17-Luis Ovalle (11-Hécgar Murillo, 46); 8-Marcos Sánchez (16-Yairo Glaize Yau, 46), 13-Alfredo Stephens (22-Ismael Díaz, 55), 20-Aníbal Godoy, 15-Éric Davis; 7-Blas Pérez (21-Ricardo Buitrago, 56), 9-Rolando Blackburn (4-Luis Pereira, 63)
Subs Not Used: 6-Michael Amir Murillo, 10-Gabriel Torres, 12-José Calderón, 19-Jhamal Rodríguez
Head Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez 

Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 6 / 5
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 23 / 15
Offside: 0 / 3 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Michael Bradley (caution)       38th minute
PAN – Luis Ovalle (caution)               40
PAN – Anibal Godoy (caution)           59
USA – Chris Wondolowski (caution)  65

Officials:
Referee: Henry Bejarano (CRC)                                          
Assistant Referee 1: Warner Castro (CRC)                                      
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Ramirez (HON)                                            
Fourth Official: Oscar Moncada (HON) 

Budweiser Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

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MNT Feb 8, 2015

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Panama
Date: Feb. 8, 2015
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: StubHub Center; Carson, California
Kickoff: 1 p.m. PT
Attendance: 20,271
Weather: 72 degrees, partly cloudy 

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

USA – Michael Bradley                                  27th minute
USA – Clint Dempsey (Gyasi Zardes)           37 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Nick Rimando (12-Sean Johnson, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin (3-Matt Hedges, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 5-Matt Besler, 11-Brek Shea; 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Mix Diskerud (15-Perry Kitchen, 72); 20-Gyasi Zardes, 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (14-Luis Gil, 81), 19-Miguel Ibarra (7-Lee Nguyen, 79); 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Chris Wondolowski, 46)
Subs Not Used: 6-Wil Trapp, 16-Shane O'Neill, 21-Dillon Serna
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann 

PAN: 1-Jaime Penedo (capt.); 2-Leonel Parris, 5-Fidel Escobar (23-Chin Hormechea, 46), 3-Harold Cummings, 17-Luis Ovalle (11-Hécgar Murillo, 46); 8-Marcos Sánchez (16-Yairo Glaize Yau, 46), 13-Alfredo Stephens (22-Ismael Díaz, 55), 20-Aníbal Godoy, 15-Éric Davis; 7-Blas Pérez (21-Ricardo Buitrago, 56), 9-Rolando Blackburn (4-Luis Pereira, 63)
Subs Not Used: 6-Michael Amir Murillo, 10-Gabriel Torres, 12-José Calderón, 19-Jhamal Rodríguez
Head Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez 

Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 6 / 5
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 23 / 15
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Michael Bradley (caution)       38th minute
PAN – Luis Ovalle (caution)               40
PAN – Anibal Godoy (caution)           59
USA – Chris Wondolowski (caution)  65 

Officials:
Referee: Henry Bejarano (CRC)                                          
Assistant Referee 1: Warner Castro (CRC)                                      
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Ramirez (HON)                                            
Fourth Official: Oscar Moncada (HON) 

Budweiser Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

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US Soccer

Leo Sosa’s Long Road Home…to Kansas

It was grass and farmland as far as Leo Sosa’s eyes could see. The flat landscape and country roads stretched out in every direction. He was in a new country, a long way from home, on his way to a new school and a new life in the middle of nowhere. “I looked out the window,” said Sosa with a warm smile, “and asked myself, ‘what am I doing here?’”

He was heading to Concordia, Kansas – population 4,200 – and about a million miles from where he started. “If you’ve been to São Paulo then you know: it’s like New York City – so picture that, but with many, many more people!” the FC Wichita midfielder told ussoccer.com, his English smooth and still accented with his native Portuguese. He considers life’s twists and turns and how they can catch you off guard and drop you right where you’re meant to be. “I came from a place where I’m taking trains, subways – everything’s packed all the time and there’s a crunch of people everywhere and traffic and noise….and then here I am, all of a sudden, in Kansas.”


(Since 2015, FC Wichita has gone from strength to strength in the NPSL)

Sosa never heard the word Kansas before. He didn’t know anything about it – where it was, what it meant. “I looked out the window and I thought, ‘what am I going to do? How will I make myself busy here?’” he laughed, on the eve of his team’s 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round game against NTX Rayados in Dallas.  

Sosa & Kansas: A Love Affair
But Sosa fell in love with Kansas. “I guess I just realized I didn’t want all that other stuff anymore. The craziness,” said Sosa, the son of former Uruguay international and professional player Charles Sosa. The 25-year-old was reared in the academies of some of Brazil’s top clubs. Juventus first and then Corinthians, where he spent his formative years between 8 and 16 playing with and against the likes of future global superstars Neymar Jr. and Marquinhos. He learned his trade as a deep-lying midfielder with vision and smarts. He was called into camp for Brazil’s youth national teams and he had a future spreading out in front of him with a ball at his feet.

“At my first school in Kansas, at Cloud Community College (in Concordia), they took me in and they treated me like family,” said Sosa, who remembers his father’s lessons – the way he always stressed the importance of education. Charles reminded his talented son that soccer careers end early and you need to have a plan. “I was thousands of miles from everyone I loved, from my family and all of my friends, but they took care of me there in this little town in the middle of a new country. The people were so humble and they taught me the language. They treated me like their own family and I never forgot that.”


(Leo Sosa is among the top midfielders playing the NPSL - Photo courtesy of KWCH 12)

Sosa wasn’t the lone foreigner at Cloud – not by a long shot. The team, in his first year, was comprised of players from all over – Brazil, France, Spain and a handful of kids from Kansas too. “Can you believe that?” asked Sosa, who's developed a deep affinity for country music that his friends back in Brazil find puzzling. “All of us there in the middle of Kansas. We all learned so much every day. We learned so much from each other.” 

One thing Sosa didn’t need to learn was his way around the field. He brought with him from Brazil a technical ability and tactical awareness that was above and beyond that of his teammates and opponents. He stood out in the Western Division of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. He won everything on offer before transferring to Friends University in Wichita, where he still has one semester in his business administration degree before graduating in December. In 2015, he was called in for preseason with United Soccer League (USL) pro team St Louis FC, but his international status complicated matters and he was passed over. Reading United and Ocean City Nor’easters, Premier Development League (PDL) sides always on the hunt for top talent, came calling too – but Sosa couldn’t afford a plane ticket to Pennsylvania or the Jersey Shore.

“That was the year FC Wichita started up and so I decided I’d stay the summer in Kansas and play with them,” said Sosa, who likes to talk about being in the right place at the right time – on the field, in the Open Cup and in his new home in the geographical middle of a vast country. And just like he was in his first steps in Concordia, Sosa was folded up into the community at his new club, competing and making big waves in the amateur National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). “The people just made me feel at home right away – they treated me so well. The love was just crazy. I got offers to go to different teams, but I just didn’t want to leave Wichita. I’ve been here ever since.”

FC Wichita, a Club on the Up
With players like Sosa and the Tayou Brothers (Frank and Uzi) and all-time top-scorer Matt Clare, FC Wichita has grown into an NPSL power. They won their region two out of the club’s three years in action and they’re now just one game away from meeting a Major League Soccer (MLS) team in the Fourth Round of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup. The win in the last round, a 4-3 scorcher over USL pros Tulsa Roughnecks, was considered a shock result to those outside the club. But Sosa and Co. don’t think so. “We expected to win, so for us it was no upset,” said Sosa, who was in the side that was unlucky to lose out to Saint Louis FC 3-4 at this same stage in the 2017 Open Cup. “We let something slip away last year. We’re ready to do it this year for real – we know we have the quality to win.”


(FC Wichita are now one win away from playing an MLS team in the 2018 Open Cup)

The next round is a tricky test against NTX Rayados, wild card amateurs from Dallas, Texas who also beat pro opponents in the Second Round. Both teams know the winner gets a dream date with a top-tier pro team and, as a result, Sosa expects fireworks, “It will be a battle,” said the midfielder, a sudden steel in his voice. “Two amateur teams fighting to play a first division [MLS] team. It’s all or nothing and a chance to put yourself out there to show how good you are. There should be lots of contact – lots of physicality. We’re not gonna’ give up and neither will they. Everything’s on the line.”

Regardless of what happens, Sosa’s found a home. And that’s no small thing. If, as he expects, FC Wichita put down stakes as a pro club in the next few years, he’ll remain there and play the game he loves. If he has to travel to realize his dreams on farther fields, he won’t turn his back on the state of Kansas and the city of Wichita, where he’s been welcomed so warmly. “It’s a peaceful way to live life here,” he said, thinking about the long road from there to here and then to now. “Wichita is a pretty big city, but in 15 minutes you’re out there on those country roads again. You’re watching the sunset. They say there’s no place like home and you know it when you find it.”

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