Four years ago, it was EASY – as in England, Algeria, Slovenia and the Yanks.
According The Sun, which was responsible for that notorious acrostic, Group C at the World Cup in South Africa was going to be the “Best English group since the Beatles.”
To the Three Lions’ credit, they did advance, finishing second behind the U.S. with a win and two draws. But as that record suggests, it was far from EASY.
The Sun certainly doesn’t represent all media, not by a long shot, and that infamous cover was as much a slight against Algeria and Slovenia as the U.S. But EASY resonated here because it taps into the worry that the sport’s traditional powers don’t really take American soccer seriously – that the Yanks are a World Cup walkover.
As Friday’s 2014 World Cup draw in Bahia looms, a quick survey of the press from some of those powers reveals a far different tone. No one is looking forward to playing coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, and in fact, some regard a first-round quartet that includes the U.S. as the worst-case scenario. Continue Reading
Jozy Altidore’s Premier League drought is over.
Altidore netted his first league goal with Sunderland against Chelsea on Wednesday, ending a season-long quest to get on the board and quiet his critics. The U.S. national team forward set up the goal-scoring play by winning a free kick outside Chelsea’s penalty area at the Stadium of Light. The ensuing set piece was blocked by Chelsea’s wall and then played into the box, where Altidore, while bodying up John Terry, settled the ball and quickly turned and fired with his left to beat Petr Cech and give Sunderland a 1-0 lead at the time. Sunderland went on to lose a thriller 4-3, though, to remain in last place.
The goal was Altidore’s second since joining the Black Cats, with his first coming in a League Cup encounter against Milton Keynes Dons back on Aug. 27. He entered the season coming off a 31-goal campaign (across all competitions) with AZ Alkmaar and netted eight times during 2013 for the U.S. national team, earning U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year and Futbol de Primera Player of the Year honors in the process.
Video of Altidore’s goal is below: Continue Reading
Words won’t do it justice, so we’ll let Luis Suarez’s play talk for itself. Enjoy: Continue Reading
COSTA DO SAUÍPE, Brazil — “Here is your wristband, sir,” said Mateus at the front desk at my Bahia beach hotel. “Everything is all-inclusive: the restaurants, the drinks, everything.”
I thought I came to work as a journalist at the World Cup draw. Turns out the FIFA media hotel (which SI paid for) is part of the most audacious boondoggle I’ve ever covered. We’re located about an hour’s drive up the coast from Salvador in the Northeastern part of Brazil. I’ve had friends who came here on their honeymoon, and now I think I know why.
But we’ll soldier on here ahead of Friday’s draw (ESPN2, 11:30 a.m. ET). And today’s blog post gives me the opportunity to talk a little bit about what I’ve seen in Brazil this week. Continue Reading
If you want to put fans in seats to watch the World Cup, you’re going to need actual seats to do it. Less than a month away from the Dec. 31 FIFA-imposed deadline for Brazil to deliver all 12 of its tournament venues, half are still unfinished, with three of those having no realistic shot of wrapping up before February.
This wasn’t what FIFA wanted, pushing against opportunities for test events and starting to make the world wonder if FIFA will need to reroute the tournament’s opening match. But with all expectations still set that all 12 stadiums will be fully ready by June, FIFA is saying there’s no cause for great concern. Not yet, anyway.
But there is still plenty of delay and with delay comes long-term concern and immediate logistical headaches. Continue Reading
MLS commissioner Don Garber touched on expansion, the league calendar, TV ratings, player development and other intriguing topics during Tuesday’s comprehensive “State of the League” address and news conference in New York City. Here are a few highlights:
Garber reiterated MLS’ goal to field 24 clubs by 2020 and said the league’s commitment to the Southeast U.S., which began this month with the announcement that Orlando City would join in 2015, could continue with David Beckham in Miami and Falcons owner Arthur Blank in Atlanta.
“We need to expand strategically. We’ve got a big chunk of the country where we’re not covered. That’s the Southeast. And we hope to be able to achieve that with Atlanta and Miami … We have a lot of work to do.” Continue Reading
In many ways, 2013 was the Year of the Striker for MLS.
Three players cracked the 20-goal barrier (none did between 2009-2011), and a horde of other strikers and attacking players exploded onto the scene to make 2013 one of the more entertaining MLS campaigns from a neutral spectator standpoint.
That much is reflected in MLS’ Best XI, which was revealed after commissioner Don Garber’s State of the League address on Tuesday. Of all the prolific goal-scoring forwards, Golden Boot winner Camilo (22 goals) did not crack the Team of the Season (though his flying scissor kick may very well win Goal of the Year), as he was edged out by MVP finalists Mike Magee, Marco Di Vaio and Robbie Keane. The MVP award will be doled out on Thursday.
MLS Cup finalist Sporting Kansas City had its two U.S. national team regulars selected, with center back Matt Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi getting the nods. Fellow MLS Cup finalist Real Salt Lake was shut out.
Here is the complete Best XI: Continue Reading
MLS commissioner Don Garber gave his State of the League address Tuesday in New York, where he touched on continued MLS expansion, transparency, academy investment, the 2013 MLS campaign and MLS Cup, among the other hot-button topics in his annual speech.
Catch the replay of it all here: Continue Reading
SÃO PAULO — When the World Cup draw happens on Friday in Bahia, the talk will focus mainly on the composition of the eight four-team groups. But while the U.S. will hope to rekindle the luck it had in the last World Cup draw—when it was grouped with the relatively easy England, Slovenia and Algeria—the Americans will also be hoping to have some good fortune again on the travel aspect of the draw.
At World Cup 2010 in South Africa, the U.S. was always able to travel by bus: Or, to be more exact, only 192 miles round-trip from the team base in Pretoria to opening-round games in Rustenburg, Johannesburg and Pretoria itself.
Brazil is a huge country, however, and from its home base here in São Paulo the U.S. will have to travel by plane to its first-round games. Depending on Friday’s draw (ESPN2, 11:30 a.m. ET), the U.S. will have to cover anywhere from 1,946 miles to 8,866 miles round-trip during the opening round alone. Continue Reading
As expected, the USA and its fellow CONCACAF World Cup participants were paired with Asia’s four competitors ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw, which means all of the doom and gloom group scenarios that many have been speculating about for weeks are fully in play.
FIFA released the pots and its draw procedure Tuesday after its organizing committee meeting, with the results being: Continue Reading