U.S. Soccer
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Fan Week Kicks Off Today and Runs Through Dec. 15

CHICAGO (Dec. 11, 2017) – This week, U.S. Soccer is proud to celebrate our passionate fans with U.S. Soccer Fan Week. It’s a week dedicated to showcasing and thanking U.S. Soccer fans for their remarkable support.  

On the slate for this year’s Fan Week is a wide-ranging list of giveaways, interaction with National Team players, exclusive content spotlighting some of U.S. Soccer’s biggest fans and a contest to find the Best Fan in the U.S.

Starting today, all U.S. Soccer social media platforms, including the new @ussoccer Federation account, will put fans first for the duration of the week. Each day will highlight a different part of the tremendous U.S. Soccer fan base, including membership, donors and organized supporters.

Every day this week, special giveaways from U.S. Soccer and its partners will be announced on U.S. Soccer social media platforms, in addition to daily offers at the official U.S. Soccer Store. 

One of the week’s highlights is exclusive interaction with U.S. Soccer players as stars from the Men’s and Women’s National Teams will host Facebook Live sessions each day. Fans should also keep an eye on social media for other special messages from some of their favorite National Team players.

National Team players will also vote to determine U.S. Soccer’s Best Fan. Fans are encouraged to submit their nominations throughout the week, share what they love about U.S. Soccer and make their case to be the Best of U.S. Fan 2017; #BestofUS2017. The winner will be announced on Friday and receive a “Golden Ticket” that grants admission to all 2018 U.S. Soccer controlled friendly matches.

To follow all of the Fan Week festivities, be sure to follow the U.S. Soccer Facebook page and @ussoccer on Twitter and Instagram using #FanWeek2017.

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Dec 11, 2017

FAN WEEK: How Traveling to Support the MNT Brought Kelly and Dale Together

Throughout U.S. Soccer's Fan Week, we'll bring you feature stories on those that go above and beyond in their support of our teams, players and the federation itself. To kick things off, we caught up with Kelly Johnson and Dale Houdek, who found each other through their shared passion of traveling to support the U.S. Men's National Team. 

If you’ve stood in the American Outlaws section for a U.S. Men’s National Team game the last three years, chances are you’ve run into Dale Houdek and Kelly Johnson. After first being introduced through a friend during a friendly in 2014, the couple has been loud and proud behind the MNT at the vast majority of its games ever since. 

Already a tried-and-true supporter of the MNT, Dale was headed to his third FIFA World Cup that summer with his buddy Ed Smith, who with his wife Kat thought it would be good to introduce him to Kelly at the U.S. friendly against Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

“The introduction we had was, ‘Hey come to the game, it’ll be a cool event,’ Dale told ussoccer.com.

With 60 caps already under his belt, he was accustomed to the supporter experience of an MNT game. While a sports fan already, Kelly wasn’t quite as well-versed, but the welcoming atmosphere and magnitude of a USA-Mexico clash quickly got her hooked. 

“I was pretty lucky with USA versus Mexico as my first game,” Kelly said. “The atmosphere was amazing, cheering with the American Outlaws and making friends with fans from all over the U.S. I enjoyed it and looked forward to going again.”

Dale Houdek and Kelly Johnson (left) with Ed and Kat Smith in front of the Generali Arena, Prague, Czech Republic on Sept 3, 2014 

Though it was a good first encounter, their professional lives would keep them apart. At the time, Dale worked in human resources for a large financial firm in New York City, while Kelly was stationed in Phoenix working as a flight attendant. They kept up a platonic relationship, staying in contact in the following months and after Dale returned from the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, they both went out on a limb for the beginning of the new cycle when the MNT scheduled a friendly against the Czech Republic in Prague.

“We hadn’t really spent that much time together, but we both decided to just do this road trip,” Dale said as he recalled some of the expected nerves around taking that kind of plunge.

“It was a first date, but it was an international trip. I remember being under some stress because we flew into Germany and I had a rental car and we’re headed to one of the cities. I was trying to read signs in German and was really nervous. It was this nervous energy that you would feel on a first date in your hometown, but it’s amplified because we’re in a foreign country. It was pretty cool.”

Touring parts of Germany on their way to Prague, things went well enough between them. Because of the nature of Dale’s job, he did have to get some work done once they arrived in the Czech capital. So while he was up in the room working, Kelly ran into members of the MNT, including then head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, interacting with the group in the days leading up to the game.

Kelly Johnson meets Nick Rimando and Julian Green at the MNT hotel in Prague on Sept. 2, 2014

“The players took time to say hi and thank us for supporting them all over the world. That really left a great memory about U.S. Soccer and the experience,” Kelly said. “Jurgen asked, ‘You really came all this way for this friendly?’ He couldn’t believe it. I think that experience solidified U.S. Soccer and the energy around it -- you kind of get bitten. It’s addicting.”

Coming away with another positive experience, things became more serious for the couple and Dale was able to move back to his original home of Arizona. Together they’ve attended the vast majority of MNT games (especially those abroad) ever since. Thanks to the fortunate combination of having jobs that give them flexibility with their schedules and the ability to work from anywhere, the pair plans its vacations around U.S. matches, blocking out time based on the FIFA International Match Calendar.

In doing so, they’ve also gained an appreciation of the fact the team’s schedule will take them to places they wouldn’t have otherwise gone.

“We wind up in places that maybe wouldn’t be on our top 10 list of travel destinations,” Dale joked. “We’re huge travel fans. We want to travel the world, and with soccer being such an international game this is a great opportunity. The MNT might be going to countries that are out of the way, or it might be places that we might not have thought of, but we always come away with great experiences.”


Dale and Kelly (pictured left) step off the bus with American Outlaws at Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana Cuba on Oct. 7, 2016

The memories are as vast as the experiences are unique. The couple includes among highlights going down to Havana for the USA’s historic friendly against Cuba in October 2016, and earlier that year witnessing how the majority Catholic nation of Guatemala celebrated Easter.

“The ceremonies and parades they had were amazing,” Dale said. “These are things you don’t get to plan for, but you get to incorporate as part of the adventure of traveling for the team. We’re not always sure where we going to go, but we know we’re going to have great travel destinations and you’re able to build sight-seeing around it. It’s a great way to explore the world, but at the same time you’re there watching the sport you love and cheering for the country you love.”

While they enjoy the travel and supporting the team wherever they play, the relationships they’ve built with other U.S. fans are just as big a part of the experience.

“The camaraderie is huge,” Dale said. “We’ll see some people at games more often than we see friends in our own city. When we’re in Phoenix, we’re working a lot, but we go to games and that’s where we see friends from virtually all over the world. You look forward to seeing them and build relationships with them.’

Dale Houdek earns his "100th cap" during the MNT's friendly vs. New Zealand on Oct. 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Affectionately known in AO circles as “Kelly and Dale”, along their journey they’ve racked up their own personal milestones. Dale earned his 100th cap during the MNT’s friendly against New Zealand on Oct. 11, 2016, in Washington, D.C. His loyal support was even rewarded that night with a custom jersey by MNT Equipment Manager Jesse Bignami. For her part, Kelly just recently hit 50 caps in October.

And while the commitment of traveling far and wide to support the MNT is done for fun, adventure and experience, part of it is also coping with disappointment, something the couple felt first-hand when they were in attendance for October’s World Cup Qualifying defeat at Trinidad & Tobago.

“Dealing with disappointment is a huge part of being a fan,” Dale said. “We love and support our team win, lose or draw, but there’s all these different emotions you process when you think about missing the World Cup. In the end, I hope we’re in a better place for it and that we look to use these years before Qatar to build, get some youth and establish another competitve team.”

Dale Houdek and Kelly Johnson before the USA-Mexico World Cup Qualifier at Estadio Azteca on June 11, 2017

While watching the U.S. in Russia won’t be part of their plans next year, Kelly and Dale have no hesitation about following the MNT as they begin the work towards Qatar. For them, it starts with the USA's upcoming friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, Calif. 

“It’s the love of the game, the country and the team,” Dale said. “We’re already looking at January Camp and starting to watch the new faces that come in. That’s part of the journey as well. In St. Vincent, we got to experience Christian Pulisic take over a game and drop in some goals. That’s part of it - that’s what you get to see. You can’t pick games here and there. You will miss out on some of those experiences and opportunities if you do that. We’ll definitely be there in January and we’re looking forward to it.”

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MNT Dec 11, 2017

Making the Case: Alex Morgan, 2017 Female Player of the Year

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, U.S. Soccer announced the five nominees for 2017 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. This year's nominees include midfielders Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan and Samantha Mewis, and forwards Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Today we continue “Making the Case” for each of the candidates, with WNT forward, Alex Morgan.

Seven goals in seven games is how Alex Morgan closed out 2017 with the U.S. Women’s National Team. After spending the first six months of the year in France playing with Olympique Lyonnais and helping the club achieve a historic treble, winning the League, French Cup and Champions League titles, Morgan returned to the U.S. and began a hot streak for both club and country.

U.S. WNT - Alex Morgan
Morgan takes on four Korea Republic players on Oct. 22, 2017.

In France, Morgan played in 15 matches, seven in the league (five goals), three in the Cup (seven goals) and five in Champions League play. She also started the Champions League Final against rival Paris Saint-Germain but was forced to leave in the 23rd minute when she aggravated a hamstring injury. That injury kept her out of the USA’s June friendlies in Europe, but she returned for the Tournament of Nations in late July.

Her scoring streak began then, against Japan at the Tournament of Nations, and continued through the WNT’s fall friendlies against New Zealand (three goals in two games), Korea Republic (one goal and one assist in two games) and Canada (two goals and one assist in two games). Her seven goals this year were a team-leading mark. At 28-years-old, she now has 80 career goals and sits in sole possession of seventh place on the USA’s all-time goals.

For the Orlando Pride, Morgan also provided a spark that guided the team to its first playoff appearance in franchise history. She ended her season with nine goals in her last 12 games for the Pride and finished tied for fifth in the league in goals. She also had four assists in her 13 regular season games and was named to the NWSL Second XI.

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WNT Dec 11, 2017

Making the Case: Jordan Morris, 2017 Male Player of the Year

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, U.S. Soccer announced the five nominees for 2017 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year. This year’s nominees include forwards Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris and midfielders Michael Bradley and Christian Pulisic. Each day, ussoccer.com will make a case for each of the candidates. Today is first-time nominee Jordan Morris’ turn.  

After claiming Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year award and MLS Cup last year, Jordan Morris turned his attention towards bigger returns with the MNT, where he earned Man of the Match honors on three separate occasions in 2017.

The first came as the young striker bagged the USA’s first goal of the year when he received a nifty pass from Benny Feilhaber to help the MNT earn a 1-0 victory against Jamaica on Feb. 5. Morris also came up big in the summer when he recorded a brace, including the game-winner in a 3-2 victory against Martinique during the Gold Cup Group Stage. The lone MNT player to appear in all six matches of the confederation championship, Morris’ biggest moment in a U.S. shirt came during the Final, when his 88th minute winner lifted the side to a 2-1 victory against Jamaica and its sixth Gold Cup title. The three goals saw Morris finished tied for the most at the tournament and earned him a spot on the Gold Cup Best XI. The young striker then capped his year when he provided a crucial 85th minute assist to Bobby Wood in the MNT’s 1-1 World Cup Qualifying draw at Honduras on Sept. 5.

On the club front, Morris tallied three goals and an assist for Sounders FC, but days after providing Wood with the vital helper in Honduras, his he suffered a hamstring injury in Seattle’s 1-1 draw vs. LA Galaxy on Sept. 10. The young forward returned for Sounders FC late in the MLS Cup Playoffs, coming off the bench in Seattle’s 3-0 victory against Houston Dynamo in the second leg of the Western Conference Finals and in the club’s 2-0 defeat to Toronto FC in Saturday’s MLS Cup.

2017 National Team and Club Statistics

Team

Games

Goals

Assists

U.S. MNT

12

4

1

Seattle Sounders FC (all competitions)

25

3

1

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MNT Dec 11, 2017

Five Things About U.S. U-20 WNT vs. Brazil U-20 WNT

The U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team will conclude the 2017 Nike International Friendlies against Brazil on Monday, Dec. 11 (6:30 p.m. ET) at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Here are five things you should know about the USA’s final opponent and final match of the tournament.

How Can the USA Win the 2017 Nike Friendlies?
With the 10-1 win against Finland on Dec. 9, the USA sits in first place in the tournament with four points and a plus-9 goal difference. England is second with four points and a plus-1 goal difference. Brazil is in third with three points and a plus-3 goal difference while Finland sits in fourth place with zero points and a minus-13 goal difference.

That means the USA will win the tournament with a victory against Brazil if it maintains its edge over England in goal difference. The USA could also win the tournament with a tie, if England ties Finland.

2017 Women’s Nike International Friendlies Standings

Team

GP

W

L

D

Pts.

GF

GA

GD

USA

2

1

0

1

4

13

4

+9

England

2

1

0

1

4

4

3

+1

Brazil

2

1

1

0

3

4

1

+3

Finland

2

0

2

0

0

1

14

-13

How To Watch
The tournament will conclude on Dec. 11 with two games, the first taking place at 3:30 p.m. ET with Finland facing England followed by the USA vs. Brazil at 6:30 p.m. ET. Both matches will be streamed live on ussoccer.com, U.S. Soccer’s Facebook Page and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube Page from the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. with Mike Pepper calling the action.

The matches are not geo-blocked, meaning fans in Brazil, England and Finland, as well as others around the world, can watch the games. Fans can follow all the matches of the U.S. U-20s on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt. For full coverage, visit the Women’s Nike International Friendlies tournament page on ussoccer.com.

Nike Friendlies Continues World Cup Qualifying Prep for USAThe U-20 U.S. WNT has used 37 players in 10 international matches this year in preparation for World Cup qualifying, taking on Norway, Germany, France, Japan, England and Finland while compiling a record of 6-3-2. Outside back Jordan Brewster earned her first U-20 WNT cap against England in the first game of the Friendlies on Dec. 7, playing all 90 minutes in an impressive first outing. Goalkeeper Claudia Dickey earned her first U-20 cap against Finland, playing all 90 minutes.

Sophia Smith of Real Colorado and Stanford freshman Civana Kuhlmann lead the team with eight international goals apiece this year after Smith scored twice against England on Dec. 7 and Kuhlmann added four on Dec. 9 against Finland, while UC Berkeley freshman Abigail Kim has three. Twenty-two of the 24 players on the roster have U-20 caps, led by Savannah DeMelo, a member of the last U-20 WNT cycle, who has 22 caps.

The age cutoff to be eligible for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is players born on or after January 1, 1998. For this roster, Klimkova called up nine players born in 1998, 11 born in 1999 and four born in 2000, making them also age-eligible for the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

U.S. U-20 WNT Roster – 2017 Nike International Friendlies (Club, Hometown)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Claudia Dickey (Charlotte Soccer Academy; Charlotte, NC), Laurel Ivory (Virginia; Surfside,Fla.), Amanda McGlynn (Virginia Tech; Jacksonville, Fla.)
DEFENDERS (9): Nicole Albrecht (Minnesota, Cedarburg, Wisc.), Julia Bingham (USC; Ontario, Calif.), Jordan Brewster (Internationals SC; North Canton, Ohio), Sydney Dawson (Internationals SC; North Canton, Ohio), Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; San Jose, Calif.), Tara McKeown (USC; Newbury Park, Calif.), Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing; Mich.), Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.), Karina Rodriguez (UCLA; Torrance, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Samantha Coffey (Boston College; Sleepy Hollow, NY), Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Taylor Kornieck (Colorado; Henderson, Nev.), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, NC), Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.)
FORWARDS (6): Jordan Harr (Texas Tech; Sachse, Texas), Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.), Civana Kuhlmann (Stanford; Littleton. Colo.), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas), Kelsey Turnbow (Santa Clara, Scottsdale, Ariz.)

Brazil U-20 WNT Prepping for South American World Cup Qualifying
Like the USA, Brazil is preparing for a World Cup qualifying tournament next January. The South American qualification tournament will take place in Ecuador from Jan. 10-28 with ten teams divided into two groups. After round-robin play, the top two teams in each group will qualify for the second round and that quartet will then play another round-robin format and that top two teams will represent South America at the World Cup in France.

Brazil are seven-times champion of the tournament (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 & 2015). No other team has won a South American U-20 women's title. Argentina (three times), Colombia, Paraguay (twice) and Venezuela have all been runners-up.

Brazil has one player currently playing college soccer in defender Reiss who is a freshman at North Florida where she led the team in scoring with six goals and one assist. The rest of the Brazilian roster is spread out over 10 different clubs in Brazil, including two at Santos F.C, the club of the legendary Pele. Brazil U-20 WNT Roster – 2017 Nike International Friendlies (Club)

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Kemelli (3 B Sport), 12-Stefane (Team Chicago Brasil)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Mona (Iranduba F.C.), 3-Thais Regina (3 B Sport), 4-Ingryd (3 B Sport), 6-Reiss (North Florida, USA), 13-Tainara (E.C. Victoria BA), 14-Isa (A.A. Ponte Preta), 16-Andressa (Team Chicago Brasil)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 5-Luana (Ferroviaria F S/A), 7-Angelina (Santos F.C.), 8-Karla Alves (Santos F.C.), 10-Victoria (Minas Brasilia), 15-Juliana (Ferroviaria F S/A), 18-Ana Vitoria (Corinthians/Audax)
FORWARDS (6): 9-Valeria (Tiradentes PI), 11-Brenda Woch (3 B Sport), 17-Kerolin (A.A. Ponte Preta)

USA and Brazil Results So Far
The USA comes into the match after a 3-3 draw against England on Dec. 7 and a 10-1 win against Finland on Dec. 9 that saw Civana Kuhlmann score four goals and four other players add tallies. After a strong 4-0 win against Finland on goals by (list goal scorers) to open the tournament, Brazil fell 1-0 to England in its second game and will look to bounce back with a win against the U.S., which could be enough to take home the tournament title depending on England’s results against Finland.

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U-20 WNT Dec 10, 2017
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