U.S. Soccer
0

USA Begins Copa America Preparations with 3-1 Win vs. Puerto Rico

BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico (May 22, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team eased to 3-1 win against Puerto Rico thanks to goals from Tim Ream, Bobby Wood and senior team debutant Paul Arriola in its first warm-up match ahead of the upcoming Copa America Centenario [TICKETS].

The USA jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Ream’s first international goal for the USA and Bobby Wood’s fifth strike for his country, a goal that turned out to be the game winner as Puerto Rico’s Luis Betancur hit a stunner just before the break to narrow the lead to 2-1.

After Puerto Rico went close to equalizing to open the second 45 minutes, Arriola added the final goal for the U.S., tapping in a pass from Alejandro Bedoya, who wore the captain’s armband for the first time. As the half wore on, U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann used the full complement of his six substitutions, bringing on forward Fabrice Picault for his international debut. Picault and fellow second- half sub Emerson Hyndman both went close to scoring as the USA finished with a flurry of chances in the comfortable win.

The MNT continues preparations for this summer’s Copa America Centenario on Wed., May 25 when it meets South American foe Ecuador at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 7 p.m. CT with the game broadcast on ESPN2, UniMas and UDN [TICKETS].

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Tim Ream, 20th minute:
After some good hold-up play, Bobby Wood found Alfredo Morales just outside the Puerto Rico area and the Ingolstadt midfielder rifled a long-range effort toward the top right corner of the goal. Puerto Rico goalkeeper Matthew Sanchez did well to make the initial save, but the rebound fell to Ream who snapped a cool, left-footed half volley into the far side netting for his first international goal. USA 1, PUR 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola), 34th minute: After end-to-end action, the USA was able to hit Puerto Rico on the break with Arriola sending Wood through on goal after a nifty run. With defenders converging and Puerto Rico’s ‘keeper rushing out of the net, the newly unveiled Hamburg striker kept his cool to lift a deft chip over Sanchez and into the back of the net to give the USA a two-goal advantage. USA 2, PUR 0 (SEE GOAL)

PUR – Luis Betancur (Joseph Marrero), 42nd minute: As the first half neared its close, Puerto Rico got on the board through a stunning strike by Florida International University attacker Luis Betancur. A U.S. turnover was sent to Joseph Marrero in the central channel and the Puerto Rico midfielder one-timed a pass into the path of Betancur, who was able to get the ball out of his feet and hit a half volley from distance the dipped under the cross bar into the top left corner. USA 2, PUR 1 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Paul Arriola (Alejandro Bedoya), 56th minute: Bedoya latched on to a great pass from near the midfield stripe that sent him into the Puerto Rico box, where he was able to outpace his defender and send a low cross past the onrushing ‘keeper to the back post where Arriola tapped the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal in his first senior team cap. USA 3, PUR 1 (SEE GOAL) FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Tim Howard, 73rd minute: Puerto Rico gained control of the ball in the midfield and moved it to Emanuel Sanchez who sent a long, low drive along the ground from 25 yards out toward the bottom right corner of Tim Howard’s goal, but the veteran U.S. ‘keeper got down to smother the shot.

PUR – Sanchez, 77th minute: Second half  sub Julian Green worked his way free in the Puerto Rico area and sent a point blank shot from close range right at Sanchez, who parried it up in the air then tracked its flight and punched clear.

PUR – Matthew Sanchez, 82nd minute: The Puerto Rico gloveman was repeatedly called into action as a U.S. flurry saw the visitors put three close range shots on target. Sanchez displayed strength to deny a blast from Fabrice Picault, acrobatics to keep out an Emerson Hyndman drive and courage to rush out to meet an on rushing Paul Arriola.

Next on the Schedule: The MNT hosts Ecuador in an international friendly at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday, May 25 (7 p.m. CT; ESPN2, UniMas, UDN) [TICKETS]. The MNT is 2-4-5 all-time vs. Ecuador on home soil, but holds an unbeaten 2-0-1 record at Toyota stadium.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer)

Milestone Watch:

  • Former U.S. youth international Paul Arriola scored his first goal for the senior MNT in his first cap. The Club Tijuana midfielder also logged his first assist, providing the final pass on Bobby Wood’s game winner.
  • In addition to Arriola, 25-year-old forward Fabrice Picault also received his first cap for the U.S., playing 20 minutes in the second half as a sub for Wood.
  • Tim Ream scored his first international goal in his 21st cap for his country.

Additional Notes:

  • Bobby Wood’s goal was his fifth in 17 caps for the USA. After becoming the single-season highest scoring American in either of Germany’s top two divisions with 17 goals for 2. Bundesliga’s Union Berlin, Wood secured a move to German Bundesliga side Hamburg.
  • Alejandro Bedoya wore the captain’s armband for the first time for either club or country. The Nantes midfielder has collected 46 caps and two goals for the Senior Team.
  • Hertha Berlin defender John Brooks made his return to the USA lineup for the first time since Sept. 4, 2015, against Peru. Injuries prevented him from participating in National Team duty while he became a regular starter for Hertha.
  • Danny Williams got the start, his first appearance since the friendly against Costa Rica last October.
  • Having moved to Heart of Midlothian in Scotland this March, Perry Kitchen got his first start for the USA in his fourth cap.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Puerto Rico
Date:
May 22, 2015
Competition:
International Friendly
Venue:
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium; Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Kickoff:
12 p.m. ET
Attendance:
TBA
Weather:
88 degrees; sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             2          1          3
PUR                             1          0          1

USA – Tim Ream                                          20th minute
USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola)             34
PUR – Luis Betancur (Joseph Marrero)    42
USA – Paul Arriola (Alejandro Bedoya)   56

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan (12-Tim Howard, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 14-Michael Orozco, 6-John Brooks (3-Matt Miazga, 46), 5-Tim Ream (16-Julian Green, 63); 15-Perry Kitchen (8-Emerson Hyndman, 46), 10-Danny Williams, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.) (21-Eric Lichaj, 63), 9-Alfredo Morales; 7-Bobby Wood (19-Fabrice Picault, 71), 17-Paul Arriola
Subs Not Used: 4-Caleb Stanko, 13-Amando Moreno
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

PUR: 1-Matthew Sanchez; 22-Patrick Lopez (6-Alexis Rivera, 46), 2-Juan Velez, 8-Emmanuel D’Andrea (capt.), 4-Marcos Martinez; 7-Christopher Clark (5-Michael Fernandez, 58), 19-Jeremy Hall; 10-Joseph Marrero (11-David Caban, 85), 18-Jorge Rivera (21-Samuel Soto, 68), 15-Emanuel Sánchez (3-Darren Rios, 78), 17-Luis Betancur (16-Olvin Ortiz, 67)
Subs Not Used: 2-Elior Velez, 12-Christian Abreu, 13-Jose Arroyo, 20-Bryant Velazquez
Head coach: Jack Stefanowski

Stats Summary: USA / PUR
Shots: 11 / 5
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 0
Fouls: 4 / 2
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee:
Kimball Ward (SKN)                                       
Assistant Referee 1:
Graeme Browne (SKN)
Assistant Referee 2:
Ike Innis (SKN)
Fourth Official:
Javier Santos (PUR)                                                                            

Budweiser Man of the Match: Alfredo Morales

Read more
MNT May 22, 2016

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Puerto Rico
Date:
May 22, 2015
Competition:
International Friendly
Venue:
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium; Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Kickoff:
12 p.m. ET
Attendance:
14,000
Weather:
 88 degrees; sunny

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                            2          1          3
PUR                            1          0          1 

USA – Tim Ream                                                       20th minute
USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola)                           34
PUR – Luis Betancur (Joseph Marrero)                      42
USA – Paul Arriola (Alejandro Bedoya)                    56

Lineups:
USA:
1-Brad Guzan (12-Tim Howard, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 14-Michael Orozco, 6-John Brooks (3-Matt Miazga, 46), 5-Tim Ream (16-Julian Green, 63); 15-Perry Kitchen (8-Emerson Hyndman, 46), 10-Danny Williams, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.) (21-Eric Lichaj, 63), 9-Alfredo Morales; 7-Bobby Wood (19-Fabrice Picault, 71), 17-Paul Arriola
Subs Not Used: 4-Caleb Stanko, 13-Amando Moreno
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

PUR: 1-Matthew Sanchez; 22-Patrick Lopez (6-Alexis Rivera, 46), 2-Juan Velez, 8-Emmanuel D’Andrea (capt.), 4-Marcos Martinez; 7-Christopher Clark (5-Michael Fernandez, 58), 19-Jeremy Hall; 10-Joseph Marrero (11-David Caban, 85), 18-Jorge Rivera (21-Samuel Soto, 68), 15-Emanuel Sánchez (3-Darren Rios, 78), 17-Luis Betancur (16-Olvin Ortiz, 67)
Subs Not Used: 2-Elior Velez, 12-Christian Abreu, 13-Jose Arroyo, 20-Bryant Velazquez
Head coach: Jack Stefanowski
 

Stats Summary: USA / PUR
Shots: 11 / 5
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 0
Fouls: 4 / 2
Offside: 4 / 1 

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Kimball Ward (SKN)                                             
Assistant Referee 1: Graeme Browne (SKN)
Assistant Referee 2: Ike Innis (SKN)
Fourth Official: Javier Santos (PUR)                                                                                   

Budweiser Man of the Match: Alfredo Morales

{75975C33-AA35-4013-A62A-08566A4AC622}

USA Begins Copa America Preparations with 3-1 Win vs. Puerto Rico

BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico (May 22, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team eased to 3-1 win against Puerto Rico thanks to goals from Tim Ream, Bobby Wood and senior team debutant Paul Arriola in its first warm-up match ahead of the upcoming Copa America Centenario [TICKETS].

The USA jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Ream’s first international goal for the USA and Bobby Wood’s fifth strike for his country, a goal that turned out to be the game winner as Puerto Rico’s Luis Betancur hit a stunner just before the break to narrow the lead to 2-1.

After Puerto Rico went close to equalizing to open the second 45 minutes, Arriola added the final goal for the U.S., tapping in a pass from Alejandro Bedoya, who wore the captain’s armband for the first time. As the half wore on, U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann used the full complement of his six substitutions, bringing on forward Fabrice Picault for his international debut. Picault and fellow second- half sub Emerson Hyndman both went close to scoring as the USA finished with a flurry of chances in the comfortable win.

The MNT continues preparations for this summer’s Copa America Centenario on Wed., May 25 when it meets South American foe Ecuador at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 7 p.m. CT with the game broadcast on ESPN2, UniMas and UDN [TICKETS].

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Tim Ream, 20th minute:
After some good hold-up play, Bobby Wood found Alfredo Morales just outside the Puerto Rico area and the Ingolstadt midfielder rifled a long-range effort toward the top right corner of the goal. Puerto Rico goalkeeper Matthew Sanchez did well to make the initial save, but the rebound fell to Ream who snapped a cool, left-footed half volley into the far side netting for his first international goal. USA 1, PUR 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola), 34th minute: After end-to-end action, the USA was able to hit Puerto Rico on the break with Arriola sending Wood through on goal after a nifty run. With defenders converging and Puerto Rico’s ‘keeper rushing out of the net, the newly unveiled Hamburg striker kept his cool to lift a deft chip over Sanchez and into the back of the net to give the USA a two-goal advantage. USA 2, PUR 0 (SEE GOAL)

PUR – Luis Betancur (Joseph Marrero), 42nd minute: As the first half neared its close, Puerto Rico got on the board through a stunning strike by Florida International University attacker Luis Betancur. A U.S. turnover was sent to Joseph Marrero in the central channel and the Puerto Rico midfielder one-timed a pass into the path of Betancur, who was able to get the ball out of his feet and hit a half volley from distance the dipped under the cross bar into the top left corner. USA 2, PUR 1 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Paul Arriola (Alejandro Bedoya), 56th minute: Bedoya latched on to a great pass from near the midfield stripe that sent him into the Puerto Rico box, where he was able to outpace his defender and send a low cross past the onrushing ‘keeper to the back post where Arriola tapped the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal in his first senior team cap. USA 3, PUR 1 (SEE GOAL) FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Tim Howard, 73rd minute: Puerto Rico gained control of the ball in the midfield and moved it to Emanuel Sanchez who sent a long, low drive along the ground from 25 yards out toward the bottom right corner of Tim Howard’s goal, but the veteran U.S. ‘keeper got down to smother the shot.

PUR – Sanchez, 77th minute: Second half  sub Julian Green worked his way free in the Puerto Rico area and sent a point blank shot from close range right at Sanchez, who parried it up in the air then tracked its flight and punched clear.

PUR – Matthew Sanchez, 82nd minute: The Puerto Rico gloveman was repeatedly called into action as a U.S. flurry saw the visitors put three close range shots on target. Sanchez displayed strength to deny a blast from Fabrice Picault, acrobatics to keep out an Emerson Hyndman drive and courage to rush out to meet an on rushing Paul Arriola.

Next on the Schedule: The MNT hosts Ecuador in an international friendly at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday, May 25 (7 p.m. CT; ESPN2, UniMas, UDN) [TICKETS]. The MNT is 2-4-5 all-time vs. Ecuador on home soil, but holds an unbeaten 2-0-1 record at Toyota stadium.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer)

Milestone Watch:

  • Former U.S. youth international Paul Arriola scored his first goal for the senior MNT in his first cap. The Club Tijuana midfielder also logged his first assist, providing the final pass on Bobby Wood’s game winner.
  • In addition to Arriola, 25-year-old forward Fabrice Picault also received his first cap for the U.S., playing 20 minutes in the second half as a sub for Wood.
  • Tim Ream scored his first international goal in his 21st cap for his country.

Additional Notes:

  • Bobby Wood’s goal was his fifth in 17 caps for the USA. After becoming the single-season highest scoring American in either of Germany’s top two divisions with 17 goals for 2. Bundesliga’s Union Berlin, Wood secured a move to German Bundesliga side Hamburg.
  • Alejandro Bedoya wore the captain’s armband for the first time for either club or country. The Nantes midfielder has collected 46 caps and two goals for the Senior Team.
  • Hertha Berlin defender John Brooks made his return to the USA lineup for the first time since Sept. 4, 2015, against Peru. Injuries prevented him from participating in National Team duty while he became a regular starter for Hertha.
  • Danny Williams got the start, his first appearance since the friendly against Costa Rica last October.
  • Having moved to Heart of Midlothian in Scotland this March, Perry Kitchen got his first start for the USA in his fourth cap.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Puerto Rico
Date:
May 22, 2015
Competition:
International Friendly
Venue:
Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium; Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Kickoff:
12 p.m. ET
Attendance:
TBA
Weather:
88 degrees; sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             2          1          3
PUR                             1          0          1

USA – Tim Ream                                          20th minute
USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola)             34
PUR – Luis Betancur (Joseph Marrero)    42
USA – Paul Arriola (Alejandro Bedoya)   56

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan (12-Tim Howard, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 14-Michael Orozco, 6-John Brooks (3-Matt Miazga, 46), 5-Tim Ream (16-Julian Green, 63); 15-Perry Kitchen (8-Emerson Hyndman, 46), 10-Danny Williams, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.) (21-Eric Lichaj, 63), 9-Alfredo Morales; 7-Bobby Wood (19-Fabrice Picault, 71), 17-Paul Arriola
Subs Not Used: 4-Caleb Stanko, 13-Amando Moreno
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

PUR: 1-Matthew Sanchez; 22-Patrick Lopez (6-Alexis Rivera, 46), 2-Juan Velez, 8-Emmanuel D’Andrea (capt.), 4-Marcos Martinez; 7-Christopher Clark (5-Michael Fernandez, 58), 19-Jeremy Hall; 10-Joseph Marrero (11-David Caban, 85), 18-Jorge Rivera (21-Samuel Soto, 68), 15-Emanuel Sánchez (3-Darren Rios, 78), 17-Luis Betancur (16-Olvin Ortiz, 67)
Subs Not Used: 2-Elior Velez, 12-Christian Abreu, 13-Jose Arroyo, 20-Bryant Velazquez
Head coach: Jack Stefanowski

Stats Summary: USA / PUR
Shots: 11 / 5
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 0
Fouls: 4 / 2
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee:
Kimball Ward (SKN)                                       
Assistant Referee 1:
Graeme Browne (SKN)
Assistant Referee 2:
Ike Innis (SKN)
Fourth Official:
Javier Santos (PUR)                                                                            

Budweiser Man of the Match: Alfredo Morales

Read more
MNT May 22, 2016

Line-up Notes: MNT vs. Puerto Rico

#USAvPUR Starting Lineup Notes

  • 4-4-2 (right to left: Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Michael Orozco, John Brooks, Tim Ream; Perry Kitchen, Danny Williams, Alejandro Bedoya (capt.), Alfredo Morales; Bobby Wood, Paul Arriola
  • The MNT deploys in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Danny Williams in front of the center backs and Alejandro Bedoya behind the forwards.
  • A total of six players in today's team sheet are part of the 23-man group for Copa America Centenario: Alejandro Bedoya, John Brooks, Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, Darlington Nagbe and DeAndre Yedlin.
  • Alejandro Bedoya wears the captains armband for the first time for either club or country. The FC Nantes midfielder has collected 45 caps and two goals for the Senior Team.

WATCH: Behind the Crest: MNT’s Wide World of Sports

  • After being named the No. 1 goalkeeper for the 2016 Copa America Centenario, Brad Guzan gets the start and will play the first 45 minutes.
  • Hertha Berlin defender John Brooks makes his return to the USA lineup for the first time since Sept. 4, 2015, against Peru. Injuries prevented him from participating in National Team duty, while he became a regular starter for Hertha.
  • Danny Williams gets the start, his first appearance since the friendly against Costa Rica last October. He had a stellar season for Reading, scoring a beauty that earned a nomination for Goal of the Year.
  • Club Tijuana forward Paul Arriola earns his first cap and start. The former U-20 international scored against hosts New Zealand in the 2015 U-20 FIFA World Cup.
  • Perry Kitchen gets his first start in earning his fourth cap for the United States. Having moved to Hearts in Scotland this March, this will be his third appearance this year.
  • Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson did not travel to Bayamón as they continue to return towards full fitness. They will join the group in Dallas on Monday in advance of the friendly against Ecuador.
Read more
MNT May 22, 2016

Match Preview: MNT vs. Puerto Rico

The U.S. Men's National Team finished out the week of training camp in Miami with a visit to Bayamón for its first meeting in history against Puerto Rico. Kickoff at Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium is set for 12 p.m. ET and the match will be broadcast live on FS1, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network.

This is the first of trio of friendlies which will help the MNT prepare for the upcoming Copa America Centenario. Following the trip to Puerto Rico, the USA will face Ecuador on May 25 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (7 p.m. CT; ESPN2, UniMas, UDN) [TICKETS] and Bolivia on May 28 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas (7 p.m. CT; FS1 and Univision networks) [TICKETS].

On Saturday, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his 23-player squad for the tournament. A total of eight players that traveled to Puerto Rico will compete in the 16-team event that kicks off June 3 against Colombia. Defenders Fabian Johnson and Geoff Cameron remained in the United States to work on fitness and will join the team in Dallas on Monday.

Here are some additional story lines to follow for Friday:

MNT TRANSITIONAL ROSTER: This roster is only being used for the transitional training camp and friendly match against Puerto Rico. MLS players will join the team after their weekend matches. Six players were a part of the team to make the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup: Tim Howard, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Alejandro Bedoya, and Julian Green all played important minutes in Brazil.

ON THE YOUTH FRONT: Those veterans are not the only ones to represent their country well in a World Cup recently. Four of the players were part of the 2015 U-20 World Cup team that made the quarterfinals this past year: Emerson Hyndman scored twice while captaining the side and Paul Arriola found the back of the net against hosts New Zealand. Zack Steffen and Matt Miazga were both part of a defense that kept three clean sheets in five games.

FIVE FOR FIRST: Arriola and Steffen join Amando Moreno, Fabrice Picault and Caleb Stanko in hopes of making their senior debuts in Bayamón.

GUZAN NABS NO. 1: Klinsmann has revealed that Brad Guzan will be the first-choice goalkeeper for the Copa America Centenario, and will play the first 45 minutes against Puerto Rico. Guzan boasts a 10-4-4 record in official competition for the United States, which includes matches in World Cup Qualifying, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the Gold Cup and Copa America.

CLUBMATES: The roster features a trio from Mexican side Club Tijuana, while Fulham and Freiburg both have American duos. Orozco, Arriola and Moreno all play south of the border for Xolos. Tim Ream join Hyndman in the fold at Craven Cottage, and Steffen and Stanko were part of the Freiburg's promotion to the Bundesliga.

ON USSOCCER.COM

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)

DEFENDERS (5): John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg), Danny Williams (Reading)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Fabrice Picault (FC St. Pauli), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)

PUERTO RICO ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): José Arroyo (Penn State Abington), Matthew Sanchez (Loyola Greyhounds), Bryant Velázquez (Western Nebraska Community College)

DEFENDERS (4): Emmanuel D'Andrea (Sevilla C), Alexis Rivera (Bayamón FC), Elliot Vélez (Criollos de Caguas FC), Juan Vélez (Criollos de Caguas FC)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Christian Abreu (Guayanilla Pumas), David Caban (Unattached), Christopher Clark (Albany Great Danes), Juan Coca (Kultsu FC), Michael Fern ández (Bayamon FC), Jeremy Hall (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Marcos Martinez (Club Atletico Fajardo), Darren Rios (Florida International Panthers), Manolo Sanchez (San Antonio FC), Samuel Soto (Bayamón FC)

FORWARDS (4): Luis Betancur (Florida International Panthers), Joseph Marrero (Puerto Rico FC), Olvin Ortiz (Club Atletico Fajardo), Jorge Rivera (Puerto Rico FC)

Read more
MNT May 22, 2016

Coming in Hot: MNT Looks to Translate Peak Club Form into Copa Success

Major tournaments operate in their own time. The preparations and the plans extend for months and months, with each detail carefully sketched out along the way. The tournament itself proceeds with uncertainty and vigor. It essentially acts as a snapshot for a brief moment in time, bound and influenced by form and function in a compressed frame.

Consider the framework of last summer as an informative instance in the pattern. Fortune changed and shifted in a matter of weeks. The highs of victories in the Netherlands and Germany in early June yielded to the lows of a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal defeat to Jamaica by the third week in July. Several factors influenced those peaks and valleys, but they were linked by the impact of time – particularly the significant break during the interim between those friendlies and the start of the Gold Cup – and the challenge of the broken rhythm of several of the USA’s prominent players.

The upcoming Copa America Centenario arrives at an ideal juncture to smooth out some of those foibles. Its placement – situated just after the close of the European and Mexican seasons and right in the middle of the MLS campaign – removes those tricky fallow periods without infringing on most club obligations. It is a chance to align all of the disparate schedules together, funnel all of the energy toward one sole objective and sustain it over the course of a defined interval.

Previous successes point out the potential benefits of this particular placement on the calendar. The magical run to the FIFA Confederations Cup final in 2009 unfolded in June. The 11-match winning run through three important World Cup qualifiers and the CONCACAF Gold Cup kicked off with a celebratory victory against Germany at the start of June and then marched through with only a brief interlude at the end of that month prior to the tournament.

Those instances provide a glimpse at the potential importance of marching straight through without interruption. The recent form of the players included in the Copa America plans underscores the possible benefit of a hasty transition from club to international commitments.

Many of the European-based standouts linked up with U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the friendly against Puerto Rico on Sunday. They jumped straight into their obligations in a bid to translate their club form to the international stage.

“We are doing this week in Miami and finishing off the week with a game in Puerto Rico because it’s really important in terms of transitioning our players coming in from Europe and some who are already done in Mexico to keep them in a flow, to keep them in a rhythm,” Klinsmann said. “One of our lessons from last year’s Gold Cup was because the tournament was pushed into July, we couldn’t transition our European-based players and some of the Mexican players perfectly.”

It is the sort of form worth maintaining during the next month, particularly given the strength of the European-based contingent this season.

Bobby Wood leaned on his record-setting, 17-goal season with Union Berlin to complete a move to Hamburg before his arrival in camp. John Brooks and Fabian Johnson both played significant roles as their clubs secured European places for the upcoming season. Geoff Cameron reinforced his importance week after week as Stoke City finished ninth in the Premier League for the third consecutive season, while DeAndre Yedlin showed his progress as he helped Sunderland engineer yet another escape from the drop. Alejandro Bedoya punctuated his fine second half of the campaign with Nantes by scoring in the penultimate match against Caen.

As those players run through their paces ahead of the landmark friendly, several of their MLS colleagues are carrying out their club duties this weekend before the friendlies against Ecuador on May 25 (7 p.m. CT; ESPN2 and UniMas) [TICKETS] and Bolivia on May 28 (7 p.m. CT, FS1 and Univision networks) [TICKETS].

Michael Bradley controls the proceedings for Toronto FC in the heart of midfield. Jermaine Jones continues to impress with his prominence in the final third with Colorado. Chris Wondolowski has assumed his familiar perch near the top of the league scoring table.

Once the entire squad convenes in Dallas on Monday, the focus quickly shifts toward channeling those club exploits for the big tournament next month.

There is no time to waste. Their task is to grasp the looming opportunity with both hands. The calendar and the timeline fall right into place. It is their task to ensure they seize the moment.

Read more
MNT May 21, 2016
×