U.S. Soccer
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MNT Routs Bolivia 4-0 in Final Copa America Warm-up

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (May 28, 2016) –The U.S. Men’s National Team added a line to record books as it swept past Bolivia 4-0 at Children’s Mercy Park in its final tune-up match before this summer’s historic 2016 Copa America Centenario.

The 4-0 score line, which is the largest margin of victory in U.S. MNT history against a South American country, was highlighted by Christian Pulisic’s strike that made him the youngest goal scorer in the USA’s modern era (since 1990) at 17 years, 253 days old. Forward Gyasi Zardes notched a pair of tallies – one on either side of the break – to earn the first multi-goal game of his international career. Defender John Brooks also added to his burgeoning tally with his third goal in a U.S. shirt while also helping U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan pitch the team’s second consecutive shutout.

The MNT begins the 2016 Copa America Centenario on June 3 vs. Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1, Univision, UniMAS, UDN). The U.S. will then continue group play on June 7 vs. Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago (7 p.m. CT; FS1, UniMAS, UDN), before facing Paraguay at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMAS, UDN).

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya), 26th minute:
A flowing team passing sequence allowed Alejandro Bedoya to chip a perfect pass over the Bolivia defense to the streaking Zardes. Bolivia goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra rushed out of the goalmouth and to the top of the penalty area in an attempt to cut down the angle and clear the ball away, but Zardes beat him to the ball and calmly rolled a one-touch shot into the vacated net. USA 1, BOL 0 [ WATCH]

USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya), 37th minute: U.S. captain Michael Bradley alertly picked out Bedoya from a quickly-taken U.S. set piece and the Nantes midfielder slipped past the Bolivia defense to cut a low cross through the penalty box from the right side. With the Bolivia defense caught scrambling, Brooks lost his marker and easily side-footed the ball into the left side of the goal from the top of the six-yard box. USA 2, BOL 0 [ WATCH]

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood), 52nd minute: Zardes began the goal sequence by recycling a U.S. possession through Bradley who switched the point of attack with a long, pinpoint pass to Bobby Wood out wide on the left. Wood beat his defender to the end line with a speedy move and just before the ball went out of bounds, sent a low cross through the six-yard box. Zardes did well to get inside position on his defender and slid to one-time a left-footed shot into the Bolivia goal. USA 3, BOL 0 [WATCH]

USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe), 69th minute: Nagbe seized on a loose ball on the left side and darted through the Bolivia defense with the aid of a slick one-two with Jermaine Jones before drawing the last defender to him. Pulisic was making a run on Nagbe’s right and Nagbe slid a short pass into his path. Pulisic made no mistake and pushed a hard shot past Viscarra into the lower right corner to cap the scoring. USA 4, BOL 0 [ WATCH] FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The USA commences group play at the 2016 Copa America Centenario against Colombia in the tournament’s opening match on Friday, June 3 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. PT and the game will be broadcast on FS1, Univision, UniMAS and UDN.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer)

Milestone Watch:

  • Clint Dempsey made his 124th international appearance, moving him ahead of DaMarcus Beasley into fifth on the MNT’s all-time caps list. He sits three back of Marcelo Balboa (127) for fourth place.
  • Christian Pulisic scored his first international goal at 17 years, 253 days, becoming the youngest goal scorer in modern era of the U.S. MNT history. Juan Agudelo previously held MNT record for youngest scorer (17 years, 359 days) when he tallied against South Africa on Nov. 17, 2010.
  • Gyasi Zardes’ two goals mark the LA Galaxy forward’s first multi-goal game for his country. He now has five career goals for the USA.

Additional Notes:

  • The win marks the USA’s first victory vs. Bolivia, improving the MNT’s all-time record against La Verde to 1-4-2.
  • The four-goal margin marks the largest margin of victory for the MNT against a South American nation.
  • The MNT won all three of its Copa America warm-up matches defeating Puerto Rico 3-1, Ecuador 1-0 and Bolivia 4-0.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Bolivia
Date: May 28, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Attendance: 8,894
Weather: 73 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             2          2          4
BOL                              0          0          0

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya)                        26th minute
USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya)             37
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood)                   52
USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe)         69

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan, 14-Michael Orozco (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 46), 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 5-Matt Besler (23-Fabian Johnson, 46), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (19-Graham Zusi, 73), 13-Jermaine Jones, 9-Gyasi Zardes (17-Christian Pulisic, 63), 8-Clint Dempsey (18-Chris Wondolowski, 72), 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used:
12-Tim Howard, 22-William Yarbrough, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

BOL: 23-Guillermo Viscarra, 4-Diego Bejarano, 21-Ronald Eguino, 5-Nelson Cabrera, 3-Luis Gutiérrez (17-Marvin Bejarano, 68), 13-Alejandro Meleán (18-Rodrigo Ramallo, 54), 8-Martín Smedberg-Dalence (22-Edward Zenteno, 74), 20-Fernando Saucedo (15-Pedro Azogue, 46), 10-Jhasmani Campos (11-Bruno Miranda, 46), 9-Yasmani Duk (capt.); 19-Carmelo Algarañaz (14-Raúl Castro, 46)
Subs not used:
1-Carlos Lampe, 12-Rómel Quiñónez, 2-Mario Saavedra, 6-Wálter Veizaga, 7-Juan Carlos Arce, 16-Cristhian Machado
Head
Coach: Julio César Baldivieso

Stats Summary: USA / BOL
Shots: 9 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 18
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
BOLJhasmani Campos (caution)              30th minute
BOL – Yasmani Duk (caution)                      76

Officials:
Referee: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Mangandi (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Leonardo Sanchez (CUB)
4th Official: Marlon Mejia (SLV)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes

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MNT May 28, 2016

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Bolivia
Date: May 28, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Attendance: 8,894
Weather: 73 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             2          2          4
BOL                              0          0          0

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya)                        26th minute
USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya)             37
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood)                   52
USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe)         69

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan, 14-Michael Orozco (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 46), 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 5-Matt Besler (23-Fabian Johnson, 46), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (19-Graham Zusi, 73), 13-Jermaine Jones, 9-Gyasi Zardes (17-Christian Pulisic, 63), 8-Clint Dempsey (18-Chris Wondolowski, 72), 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used:
12-Tim Howard, 22-William Yarbrough, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

BOL: 23-Guillermo Viscarra, 4-Diego Bejarano, 21-Ronald Eguino, 5-Nelson Cabrera, 3-Luis Gutiérrez (17-Marvin Bejarano, 68), 13-Alejandro Meleán (18-Rodrigo Ramallo, 54), 8-Martín Smedberg-Dalence (22-Edward Zenteno, 74), 20-Fernando Saucedo (15-Pedro Azogue, 46), 10-Jhasmani Campos (11-Bruno Miranda, 46), 9-Yasmani Duk (capt.); 19-Carmelo Algarañaz (14-Raúl Castro, 46)
Subs not used:
1-Carlos Lampe, 12-Rómel Quiñónez, 2-Mario Saavedra, 6-Wálter Veizaga, 7-Juan Carlos Arce, 16-Cristhian Machado
Head
Coach: Julio César Baldivieso

Stats Summary: USA / BOL
Shots: 9 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 18
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
BOLJhasmani Campos (caution)              30th minute
BOL – Yasmani Duk (caution)                      76

Officials:
Referee: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Mangandi (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Leonardo Sanchez (CUB)
4th Official: Marlon Mejia (SLV)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes

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MNT Routs Bolivia 4-0 in Final Copa America Warm-up

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (May 28, 2016) –The U.S. Men’s National Team added a line to record books as it swept past Bolivia 4-0 at Children’s Mercy Park in its final tune-up match before this summer’s historic 2016 Copa America Centenario.

The 4-0 score line, which is the largest margin of victory in U.S. MNT history against a South American country, was highlighted by Christian Pulisic’s strike that made him the youngest goal scorer in the USA’s modern era (since 1990) at 17 years, 253 days old. Forward Gyasi Zardes notched a pair of tallies – one on either side of the break – to earn the first multi-goal game of his international career. Defender John Brooks also added to his burgeoning tally with his third goal in a U.S. shirt while also helping U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan pitch the team’s second consecutive shutout.

The MNT begins the 2016 Copa America Centenario on June 3 vs. Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1, Univision, UniMAS, UDN). The U.S. will then continue group play on June 7 vs. Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago (7 p.m. CT; FS1, UniMAS, UDN), before facing Paraguay at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMAS, UDN).

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya), 26th minute:
A flowing team passing sequence allowed Alejandro Bedoya to chip a perfect pass over the Bolivia defense to the streaking Zardes. Bolivia goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra rushed out of the goalmouth and to the top of the penalty area in an attempt to cut down the angle and clear the ball away, but Zardes beat him to the ball and calmly rolled a one-touch shot into the vacated net. USA 1, BOL 0 [ WATCH]

USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya), 37th minute: U.S. captain Michael Bradley alertly picked out Bedoya from a quickly-taken U.S. set piece and the Nantes midfielder slipped past the Bolivia defense to cut a low cross through the penalty box from the right side. With the Bolivia defense caught scrambling, Brooks lost his marker and easily side-footed the ball into the left side of the goal from the top of the six-yard box. USA 2, BOL 0 [ WATCH]

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood), 52nd minute: Zardes began the goal sequence by recycling a U.S. possession through Bradley who switched the point of attack with a long, pinpoint pass to Bobby Wood out wide on the left. Wood beat his defender to the end line with a speedy move and just before the ball went out of bounds, sent a low cross through the six-yard box. Zardes did well to get inside position on his defender and slid to one-time a left-footed shot into the Bolivia goal. USA 3, BOL 0 [WATCH]

USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe), 69th minute: Nagbe seized on a loose ball on the left side and darted through the Bolivia defense with the aid of a slick one-two with Jermaine Jones before drawing the last defender to him. Pulisic was making a run on Nagbe’s right and Nagbe slid a short pass into his path. Pulisic made no mistake and pushed a hard shot past Viscarra into the lower right corner to cap the scoring. USA 4, BOL 0 [ WATCH] FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The USA commences group play at the 2016 Copa America Centenario against Colombia in the tournament’s opening match on Friday, June 3 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. PT and the game will be broadcast on FS1, Univision, UniMAS and UDN.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer)

Milestone Watch:

  • Clint Dempsey made his 124th international appearance, moving him ahead of DaMarcus Beasley into fifth on the MNT’s all-time caps list. He sits three back of Marcelo Balboa (127) for fourth place.
  • Christian Pulisic scored his first international goal at 17 years, 253 days, becoming the youngest goal scorer in modern era of the U.S. MNT history. Juan Agudelo previously held MNT record for youngest scorer (17 years, 359 days) when he tallied against South Africa on Nov. 17, 2010.
  • Gyasi Zardes’ two goals mark the LA Galaxy forward’s first multi-goal game for his country. He now has five career goals for the USA.

Additional Notes:

  • The win marks the USA’s first victory vs. Bolivia, improving the MNT’s all-time record against La Verde to 1-4-2.
  • The four-goal margin marks the largest margin of victory for the MNT against a South American nation.
  • The MNT won all three of its Copa America warm-up matches defeating Puerto Rico 3-1, Ecuador 1-0 and Bolivia 4-0.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Bolivia
Date: May 28, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Attendance: 8,894
Weather: 73 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             2          2          4
BOL                              0          0          0

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Alejandro Bedoya)                        26th minute
USA – John Brooks (Alejandro Bedoya)             37
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood)                   52
USA – Christian Pulisic (Darlington Nagbe)         69

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan, 14-Michael Orozco (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 46), 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 5-Matt Besler (23-Fabian Johnson, 46), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (10-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.) (19-Graham Zusi, 73), 13-Jermaine Jones, 9-Gyasi Zardes (17-Christian Pulisic, 63), 8-Clint Dempsey (18-Chris Wondolowski, 72), 7-Bobby Wood
Subs not used:
12-Tim Howard, 22-William Yarbrough, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 16-Perry Kitchen
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

BOL: 23-Guillermo Viscarra, 4-Diego Bejarano, 21-Ronald Eguino, 5-Nelson Cabrera, 3-Luis Gutiérrez (17-Marvin Bejarano, 68), 13-Alejandro Meleán (18-Rodrigo Ramallo, 54), 8-Martín Smedberg-Dalence (22-Edward Zenteno, 74), 20-Fernando Saucedo (15-Pedro Azogue, 46), 10-Jhasmani Campos (11-Bruno Miranda, 46), 9-Yasmani Duk (capt.); 19-Carmelo Algarañaz (14-Raúl Castro, 46)
Subs not used:
1-Carlos Lampe, 12-Rómel Quiñónez, 2-Mario Saavedra, 6-Wálter Veizaga, 7-Juan Carlos Arce, 16-Cristhian Machado
Head
Coach: Julio César Baldivieso

Stats Summary: USA / BOL
Shots: 9 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 18
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
BOLJhasmani Campos (caution)              30th minute
BOL – Yasmani Duk (caution)                      76

Officials:
Referee: Elmer Bonilla (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Mangandi (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Leonardo Sanchez (CUB)
4th Official: Marlon Mejia (SLV)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes

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MNT May 28, 2016

Experienced Besler Eager to Seize Historic Copa America Opportunity

The scene played out in a fashion he knew all too well, but Matt Besler took a few moments to process how it caught up to him. All of the carefully devised plans crumbled. He expected to spend last summer in the heat of a CONCACAF Gold Cup defense. Instead, he coped with the fallout of missing out on the squad entirely.

Besler felt all of the natural emotions when United States Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann left him out of his 23-man squad for the continental championship. He cycled through them as quickly as he could. His mind drifted from the frustration of the opportunity lost to the possibility of using the setback to push his way back into the frame for World Cup Qualifying and the upcoming Copa América Centenario. He pinpointed his approach as a key component in the recovery.

“I’ve seen guys miss out on teams,” Besler explained to ussoccer.com. “It happens every single year. The ones who get through it the best are the ones who handle it the right way. It was a difficult time. It was tough to do interviews like these and try to explain why you weren’t on the roster and how the team was doing and all of that stuff. But it’s part of the process. And it’s made me a stronger person.”

Most of the resolve emerged from his tried and tested qualities. His consistency with Sporting Kansas City is the reason why he assumed the club captaincy with Sporting Kansas City, claimed a MLS Cup title and pried his way into the U.S. National Team picture in the first place. It is why he emerged as a key figure during the buildup to the 2014 World Cup and started all four games in Brazil.

Those tenets formed the bedrock of his response. Besler leaned on his teammates for support and streamlined his thoughts. He quickly located the steady ground required to navigate a busy summer with Sporting KC and state his claims for a recall.

“I think I really learned a lot about how to focus,” Besler said. “A lot of times, I feel like we can get caught up in all of these different things going on around us in the big picture, but I think the best way to get through things and get through situations like that is to narrow your focus and control the things you can control. That’s the attitude I had.”

Whatever Besler did, it worked. His performances reflected his desire to prove a point and underpin his international case. Sporting KC racked up three straight wins and tromped through two rounds of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as the Gold Cup unfolded.

Those displays prompted Besler’s recall to the international fold in September and spurred his return to the starting XI for the CONCACAF Cup and the opening two matches in FIFA World Cup Qualifying. His performances justified his continued inclusion and ensured his tumultuous year ended with the proper footing.


Once Matt Besler reurned to the U.S. fold, he helped the MNT secure a clean sheet and important road point
to begin World Cup Qualifying for Russia 2018.

All of the trials and tribulations provided Besler with context as he plowed onward toward Copa América. There are few silver linings after missing out on a major tournament, but Besler frames those unfamiliar setbacks in a different light now.

“I think I’m just more experienced,” Besler said. “I think experience goes a very long way in this game. I had a lot of positive experiences, but I also had some negative ones last year as well. When you put everything together, I really felt like I grew as a player. I felt like I grew as a person as well. I think that’s just going to help me out going forward.”

It is now the foundation as Besler plans for another major tournament. The sting of last summer fades with each passing day, though it is still there in some form or another. But the opportunity ahead now – a chance to play in this one-off tournament against the top teams from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL – provides a chance to compensate for the disappointment of last summer.

As Besler ponders the challenges ahead, he recalls one of those searing memories from the trip to Brazil. It is the sort of recollection capable of informing why he cherishes the opportunity ahead.

Besler left the field in Salvador and spent time in the recesses of Arena Fonte Nova wrestling with the fallout from the round of 16 defeat to Belgium.  He said he remembered being devastated as he worked through it all in the locker room. He turned to Michael Bradley and proceeded through the twists and turns of that dramatic affair in real time. Bradley soaked it all in as Besler worked through the previous 120 minutes and wondered what might have been.

When Besler reached a stopping point, Bradley offered some insight Besler carries with him to this day. Bradley said those emotions made the tournament and tournaments like this one so special. He said they only come around every so often, they draw so much from you and then they just end.

Those words stuck with Besler even as he emerged from that haze and moved onwards in his career. They ring true now as he stands on the precipice of another major tournament after missing out on the last one. And they reveal how he plans to grasp the occasion with both hands.    

“I think the Copa America is an example of one of those once-in-a-lifetime tournaments,” Besler said. “We want to take advantage of it.”

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MNT May 28, 2016

Match Preview: MNT vs. Bolivia

The U.S. Men's National Team completes its series of friendlies in preparation for Copa America Centenario when they host Bolivia in Kansas City, Kan. on May 28 at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on FS1, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network.

Following tonight’s match, the MNT will travel to San Jose to train leading up to the opening match of the Copa America Centenario against Colombia on Friday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on FS1, Univision, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network. 

Here are some storylines to follow tonight:

MNT COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO ROSTER: In total, 21 of 23 players on the U.S. roster for Copa America Centenario are available for this match, with the exception of Ethan Horvath and Edgar Castillo, who will join the team in San Jose, Calif. next week. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who joined the team in Frisco, is with the team in Horvath’s place, but unavailable for the tournament. Castillo will replace Timmy Chandler on the roster due to a right hamstring strain. Castillo is expected to join the team after the second leg of Sunday’s Liga MX final featuring Monterrey and Pachuca.

RECENT FORM: The U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday night thanks to Darlington Nagbe’s 90th minute volley, marking his first international goal in his sixth cap. Nagbe’s strike denotes the fourth time the U.S. has scored in the 89th minute or later through six matches this year. Brad Guzan recorded his 14th career shutout and second of 2016. The MNT kicked off a trio of friendlies last Sunday with a 3-1 road win against Puerto Rico. 

USA vs. BOLIVIA: The MNT is 0-4-2 in six all-time meetings with Bolivia. The two sides last met in 1999, a 0-0 draw at Stadio de Tahuichi in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Cobi Jones became the first American to score against Bolivia in a 1-1 draw at the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Robbie Cup in February 1994. Barely more than two months later, Hugo Perez scored twice against Bolivia in Dallas for a 2-2 draw.

GUZAN NABS NO. 1: Klinsmann has revealed that Brad Guzan will be the first-choice goalkeeper for the Copa America Centenario. 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.

WINGMEN: Last week, Klinsmann announced DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson will be the starting right and left backs, respectively, for the Copa America Centenario. 

ON USSOCCER.COM

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

DEFENDERS (7): Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moencengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)

MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (12): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

BOLIVIA COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Carlos Lampe (Sport Boys, BOL), Rómel Quiñónez (Bolívar, BOL), Guillermo Viscarra (Oriente Petrolero, BOL) 

DEFENDERS (7): Diego Bejarano (The Strongest, BOL), Marvin Bejarano (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Nelson Cabrera (Bolívar, BOL), Ronald Eguino (Bolívar, BOL), Luis Gutiérrez (Ironi Kiryat Shmona, ISR), Mario Saavedra (Bolívar, BOL), Edward Zenteno (Wilstermann, BOL) 

MIDFIELDERS (9): Pedro Azogue (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Jhasmani Campos (Kazma, KUW), Raúl Castro (The Strongest, BOL), Samuel Galindo (Petrolero, BOL), Cristhian Machado (Wilstermann, BOL), Alejandro Meleán (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Fernando Saucedo (Wilstermann, BOL), Martín Smedberg-Dalence (Goteborg, SWE), Wálter Veizaga (The Strongest, BOL) 

FORWARDS (4): Juan Carlos Arce (Bolívar, BOL), Yasmani Duk (New York Cosmos, USA), Bruno Miranda (Universidad de Chile, CHI), Rodrigo Ramallo (The Strongest, BOL)

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MNT May 28, 2016

Gallery: MNT Trains in Kansas City Ahead Match Against Bolivia

The U.S. MNT held a training session yesterday to prepare for its last international friendly before Copa America Centenario against Bolivia at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. on Saturday, May 28 (7 p.m. CT; FS1, UniMas, UDN) [TICKETS]. 

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MNT May 28, 2016

On Location: Soccer Takes Root in the Heartland

Matt Besler doesn’t think of himself as simply a soccer player.

Regardless of how many professional seasons he plays or how many U.S. Men’s National Team appearances he makes, he’ll always still consider himself a Kansas soccer player first and foremost.

“I still do,” Besler said leading up to the 2016 Copa America Centenario. “I think it’s tried to go away, but it’ll never go away. I haven’t let it. Like I said, I embrace it and I enjoy representing Kansas and Kansas City.”

That pride of being from Kansas has stretched from Besler’s early days of playing soccer to his current professional career with Sporting Kansas City in MLS. He was born in Kansas City and was introduced to the game like a lot of kids in the Kansas City area at an early age. His father was even his first coach.

As Besler developed as a player and became a standout, he began to notice that respect for himself and his club teammates wasn’t coming easy. Other club teams seemed to act as if Kansas players were inferior.

“I think growing up as I got older I would go to out of town tournaments with my club team and people wouldn’t know who we are or who we were,” Besler said. “People would overlook us because we’re a team from Kansas or a team from Kansas City and then we’d end up beating them. That was always a great feeling when teams overlooked you.

“I actually experienced the same thing on a personal level once I started playing ODP. I would go to regional camps with kids from all around the Midwest, and I’d truly felt overlooked because I was from Kansas. And I carried a big chip on my shoulder and I felt like I was representing my state and my city even then, even when I was 13, 14 years old, because I was going up against kids from St. Louis and from Chicago and from Michigan. … For me, I just felt like I had a tougher road and I had to do more to get noticed because of the fact I was from Kansas.”

It’s those past experiences that make Besler especially proud to see how far Kansas has come. He has witnessed Kanas go from being an overlooked part of the country in the soccer landscape to where it is now as one that consistently produces talented players, is home to an MLS team and its U.S. National Team fandom has been well documented.

“Now I think it’s changed,” Besler said. “Now I think everybody from a national level respects Kansas City and knows there’s a ton of good players and a ton of passion for the game. I think we’ve always had loyal fans. I think Kansas City has always been a huge sports town to its own people. We haven’t been in the national spotlight. Now people from around the country are finally seeing it, and I think soccer is a big reason why.”

Soccer has always been a major sport in Kansas since Besler’s childhood days. He can remember nearly all of his friends growing up playing it. What has changed is the level of coaching the Kansas kids receive now. It’s sparked the development of the area.

“I think that’s one of the biggest differences is just the knowledge that people have for the game,” Besler said. “Nothing against coaches that I had because I had some really, really good coaches. My first coach was my dad, never played soccer in his life. He was the example of the guy who just wanted to be around his kids and he probably read the idiots guide to soccer coach book. Nothing against him, he was doing what he knew. He just didn’t know about the game.

“Now I feel like because there’s a full generation of people who have grown up with the game, like I said I feel like my generation was the first generation where it was normal to play soccer. Every kid that I grew up with, 90 percent of them probably played soccer at one point of their life, so they all know the rules, they all know the positions, the strategies. So now as we get older and we are starting families, we are passing the game down to our kids. There’s just so many more options and avenues, opportunities for kids these days, which is great.”

 

Those same kids can now dream to play professional soccer in Kansas, too. Besler fantasized of his own pro soccer days. He just never imagined it could be in his hometown.

“I’ve told this to a couple different people, but I always did dream of playing professional soccer, but I never really got far enough to envision what it would be like to play in Kansas City and to play in front of 20,000 people every week,” Besler said. “But now I think that’s different. Now I think that kids come to Children’s Mercy Park where we play, and they can actually see what it’s like. They’re creating memories in that stadium, and the can picture themselves growing up and playing for their hometown team. I think that’s really, really big for the growth of the game.

“I think it’s a big honor to represent my hometown each week. It’s something I take a lot of responsibility and pride in doing. But I also put a lot of pressure on myself because of that to succeed. So sometimes I have to take a step back from everything, take a deep breath and realize that I’m lucky to be in this position, I am. I’m one of the few players that gets to play professionally in his hometown.”

Playing for his hometown means he gets to be around his hometown. In 2010, that allowed him to experience something in Kansas City that he’ll ever forget.

Besler and some of his teammates went to the Power and Light District in Kansas City to watch the U.S. play Ghana in the World Cup. Besler wasn’t sure what sort of crowd to expect. When he arrived, he was surprised he could barely find a parking spot. Shortly later, he was even more surprised when an estimated 12,000 people had also shown up to watch the game.

“I think that was a big turning point as well because of a lot of talk is about Sporting Kansas City, but I think Kansas City has been one of the best cities that supports the U.S. National Team,” Besler said. “I think 2010 was a big turning point.

“The atmosphere was just crazy. I was there that day along with a lot of my other teammates. I know Graham Zusi was there as well. But you could just feel a buzz as soon as you walked into the place. Obviously it helped how dramatic the game was, but when Landon [Donovan] scored that goal the place went nuts. I still get chills thinking about it.

“It was just a unique feeling that day. It was in the public area, but it was like we were all watching it together like in our living room like one big family. I think everyone that was there that day we all felt a connection to each other and to soccer and to our country and to our city. On the national broadcast, they kept zooming in, they kept going to those feeds and showing Kansas City live. So, I don’t know, that just pumps people up. We were on the national spotlight or the national stage that day and that felt good to people. Because of that, I think that’s kind of where some of it started as well – the support.”
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MNT May 28, 2016
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