The USMNT is back in action tonight as they take on Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifying (7pm PT, beIN Sport). Currently sitting atop the group with 13 points, the Yanks are eager to further distance themselves from the second place Ticos who lay two points behind on 11.
Gamesmanship has run high all week in the lead-up to the match with reports that the Costa Rican authorities wouldn't provide training soccer balls, cow mascots interrupting Jurgen Klinsmann press conferences and much more all as a kind of payback for the memorable snow game qualifier on U.S. soil in Colorado. In near whiteout conditions. The USMNT defeated Costa Rica 1-0 back in March and Costa Rica protested bitterly about the blizzard-like conditions.
KICKTV's excellent series on qualification, aptly named The Hex, has traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica to witness the proceedings. It should be a great match.
The Backcut Podcast: Taylor Twellman on USMNT, Gold Cup, MLS & his organization Think Taylor. Also: Big Heads vs. Red Heads
Taylor Twellman. The very name evokes images of MLS Legend and flair as a 5-time MLS All-Star and 2005 MLS MVP who scored a whopping 101 goals in 174 matches for the New England Revolution.
Since retired, Twellman has become one of the top analysts for ESPN soccer broadcasts alongside Adrian Healey—you heard him this past weekend on the Timbers-FC Dallas match—as well as the equally opinionated Big Head to Alexi Lalas’ Red Head on the aptly named ESPN Big Head Red Head Podcast.
But Twellman has also become a leading spokesperson around increased awareness of and improved care around traumatic brain injuries through his foundation Think Taylor. During the course his time as a player, Twellman suffered a series of concussions that curtailed his soccer career. Think Taylor looks to help tell his story and provide a support system for athletes across all sports and ages who suffer concussions and their after effects.
I sat down with Twellman this past weekend to talk about his thoughts on the recent run of U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup Qualifiers that he has been covering for ESPN, how he thinks Jurgen Klinsmann will utilize this summer’s Gold Cup tournament in furthering development around the U.S. team and how the Think Taylor Foundation is changing people’s perceptions around concussions. We also discuss the three biggest stories in MLS so far (Spoiler: The Timbers are one of them) and renew the age old debate: Big Head vs. Red Head.
Be sure to tune in to tonight’s U.S. – Honduras match at 6pm on ESPN and don’t forget to get tickets for the USMNT when they come to JELD-WEN Field for the Gold Cup on July 9.
The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, Thorns, soccer & culture to explore the unique elements of the beautiful game. You can subscribe to The Backcut on iTunes in the same feed as the Talk Timbers podcast.
Halfway through the Hexagonal, the United States men’s national team is in control of the table, taking 10 points from five games. Tonight, The Yanks face Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. This matchup comes on the heels of the USA’s 2-0 win over Panama at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.
The USMNT win over Panama was not only an exciting, well-played match by the Stars and Stripes; it was a spectacular display by the American Outlaws and Pacific Northwest soccer fans. United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann and his players admired the crowd, and spoke to the level of excellence demonstrated by Northwest fans.
Check out KICKTV’s video recap of the game, and tune in at 6 p.m. PT tonight on ESPN to see the United States vs. Honduras.
The 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup officially kicks off in 30 days when Canada faces Martinique at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. To commemorate the 30-day mark, CONCACAF is offering a special deal on Gold Cup tickets and merchandise.
For the next 30 hours, you can receive 30% off official CONACAF 2013 Gold Cup branded merchandise with the purchase of a 2013 Gold Cup ticket.
This special promotion begins today and runs until Saturday, June 8 at 3pm PT.
How does it work?
When purchasing tickets please use the VIP Club Member code 30DAYSGC in the “Promotional Access Code” field on the ticket purchase page.
Following your purchase, a notification email will be sent to you with a code for 30% off official CONCACAF 2013 Gold Cup branded merchandise.
""It has been so exciting to savor MLS's growth," he exclaimed with enthusiasm. "When I watch television and see that packed stadium in Portland, I cannot believe it is in America. I could never have dreamed of a scene like that when I grew up in the 1920s and soccer was strictly for immigrants," he admitted. "But when you look at my life, you see, it has taken a good long time for it to get to where it is today."
Those are the words of U.S. soccer legend Gene Olaff. Before Landon Donovan or Alexi Lalas, before John Harkes or Paul Caligiuri, Olaff was blazing a new trail for American soccer. Now 92, he is the oldest living former U.S. international and was a goalkeeper in the old semi-professional American Soccer League.
As the U.S. Soccer Federation celebrated their 100th year this past weekend, Roger Bennett of Grantland and ESPNFC.com fame wrote a brilliant piece about this living legend where he describes some of the early rise of soccer in America. It is a must read for soccer history aficionados. Also check out their great look at an all-time most influential U.S. XI for more history.
While Bolton's Stuart Holden looks like a lock to make Jurgen Klinsmann's squad for this summer's Gold Cup, according to Soccer America, Alejandro Bedoya is also making his case to be included in the team--if not for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in June. Currently playing with Helsingborgs in Sweden, the one-time Rangers midfielder put in this great assist against BK Häcken.
Landon Donovan's near term future with the USMNT has also been a topic of late given his long leave of absence during the offseason. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl recently reported that Klinsmann plans to omit the LA Galaxy star from the upcoming World Cup qualifiers as well as friendlies. Klinsmann had hinted earlier this spring that this may be the case saying, "there are players clearly ahead of Landon Donovan right now."
Wahl goes on to say though that the Gold Cup roster could remain a possiblity for the U.S. star. You can also hear more about Wahl's thoughts on the Gold Cup in the last edition of the Backcut Podcast.
For a guy with 144 caps and 49 goals for the national team, it seems like the Gold Cup could be a good stage to work him back into the mix. What do you think? Who should feature for the USMNT in this Gold Cup tournament? Get your tickets now for the July 9 match against Belize.
UPDATE: Donovan addressed the situation on the Galaxy's All-Access Podcast on Tuesday saying, “Jurgen and I have consistently spoken over many months now. I was not aware that that was information that was already made public. Jurgen has not told me that it was definitive that I wouldn't be there – you never know. All I can do, as I've said all along, is do what I do."
World Cup qualifiers. Gold Cup roster. Donovan probably fits in there somewhere. The question is where and when.
A busy summer awaits for Jurgen Klinsmann and his USMNT squad as they'll have key World Cup qualifiers in June followed by the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.
Portland will host two group stage matches in a double header on July 9 with US vs. Belize and Costa Rica against Cuba. Who Klinsmann will bring to Portland has been a big discussion but there's at least one name that has surfaced: Bolton's Stuart Holden.
The ex-Houston Dynamo midfielder became a key player in the EPL before a series of injuries tripped him up. Now on the comeback with a number of appearances on loan with Sheffield Wednesday, Klinsmann said of Holden, "I spoke to his coach at Bolton, and spoke to his coach at Sheffield Wednesday where he played some very important minutes and games while on loan. He’s on his way back. That being said, we want to have him back in our picture. We are going to bring him for the May-June camp, and also for the Gold Cup.”
Read more about the story over at ussoccer.com, watch video on Holden's inspiring comeback below, listen to SI's Grant Wahl talk about what to expect with this summer's Gold Cup and then get tickets for the Gold Cup showdown at JELD-WEN Field.
So you may have heard there was some snow in Denver tonight for the USA vs. Costa Rica Hex World Cup Qualifier. Dempsey gave the U.S. the 1-0 win.
With the U.S. Men's National Team busy preparing for their World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica tomorrow night (7pm PT, ESPN), KICKTV has put together this very nice primer on just what the Hexagonal is. In short, it's the long and difficult pathway for CONCACAF teams to qualify for the World Cup.
Elsewhere in the Hex, Timbers forward Ryan Johnson and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts go to battle for Jamaica as they take on Panama in Kingston on Friday evening at 6:30pm PT. Updates throughout the match can be found via the Jamaican Football Federation's Twitter feed @ItsTheJFF.
Over in Africa, Futty Danso joined the Scorpions of The Gambia National Team for a World Cup qualifier on Saturday against Ivory Coast. In a tune-up friendly this week against Niger, Danso scored the second goal in a 3-1 win.
Also in action tomorrow is Timbers midfielder Will Johnson whose Canadian Men's National Team is in Qatar for a friendly against Japan.
Good afternoon from the Doha Sports City in Qatar. The facilities are immaculate. twitter.com/WillJohnson04/…
— Will Johnson (@WillJohnson04) March 19, 2013
Follow @CanadaSoccerEN for updates tomorrow beginning at 9am PT.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, fresh from his revealing MLS player polls, recently put together a grand list of the 50 most important people in U.S. Soccer. It has many of the names you'd expect. The top 5 are, in order: U.S. Sports TV executives, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, MLS commissioner Don Garber, Nike and adidas.
Of local note though are two rather big names. Coming in at No. 9 is Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan of which Wahl writes:
Let's be honest: the 23-year-old Morgan has everything it takes (on the field and off) to become the next Mia Hamm. Just one example of her appeal: Morgan has in excess of a million Twitter followers, more than any U.S. soccer player, male or female.
Young owners who live and die with their MLS teams, Heineman and Paulson are the faces of MLS 2.0 and the league's answers to Mark Cuban. If only every league owner cared as much.
Head over to SI.com to read the full list. Any names missing you think should be on there? Any names on there you disagree with?