International

06 September 10:23 am

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.

MLSsoccer.com has their new ¡Golazo! matchcenter all set with innovative stats and coverage. Get set for the game here.

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.

16 August 2:33 pm

Portland soccer fans often have the opportunity for double features--sometimes even concurrent features--on the weekends when the Timbers and Thorns both have games. This weekend is no different, with the Timbers and Thorns both playing at 8pm on Saturday night.

In addition to two Portland matches, soccer fans are looking forward to the beginning of the Barclays Premier League season. It’s been a long three months since Manchester United took last season’s title and fans of the other 19 teams have been chomping at the bit for their shot at redemption. On the eve of a massive soccer weekend, we look ahead to the 2013-14 Barclays Premier League season.

First thing is first. No team looks the same at the beginning of a new season. The Guardian has compiled a quick infographic to illustrate which clubs have made the most moves during the transfer window. Check it out here.

NBC Sports Network debuts their coverage of the EPL this weekend. They recently did an interesting "documentary" on the difference between football and . . . football with friends from Tottenham Hotspur.

On this side of the pond, our friends at KICKTV have debuted the first episode of KICKTV Live with Jimmy Conrad in which they addressed several headlines surrounding the BPL season. You can watch the full episode here:

Finally, NBC Sports’ Pro Soccer Talk can get you all caught up on everything you need to know heading into this season. Check out their preview here.

And, if you happen to be one of the few who doesn't yet have a favorite EPL club, Joe Posnanski from NBC Sports has you covered

04 August 1:48 pm

NBC Sports Network debuts English Premier League soccer in just a few weeks.

18 June 10:16 am

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 Healeyyou 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.

18 June 10:16 am

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. 

Don't forget to get tickets to this summer's Gold Cup tournament at JELD-WEN Field when the USMNT take on Belize on July 9.

05 June 10:13 am

Courtesy of Roger Bennett.A colorized image of the American
Soccer League All-Stars team.
Olaff is at center in the baseball cap.

""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.

23 May 3:15 pm

The U.S. Soccer Federation is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and has often highlighted various important moments through out its history.

Yesterday, fourteen years ago, Portland Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone - then just Cindy Parlow -helped make history providing the key assist to fellow U.S. Women's National Team legend Mia Hamm on her 108th career international goal in a friendly against Brazil. That strike put Hamm atop the list for most international goals scored by any male or female player in history.

Hamm went on to score 158 goals in 275 total caps. Cone, no slouch herself, bagged 75 goals in 175 career caps. 

Current Western New York Flash forward Abby Wambach is closing in on Hamm's record though. She sits at 155. Portland's Alex Morgan, still only 23, has 42, and Christine Sinclair is third on the all-time list with 145 goals.

15 May 8:33 am

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.
 


(Getty Images)

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.

03 May 9:57 am

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.

25 April 2:01 pm

Special thanks to www.theoriginalwinger.com for image

In a summer packed with Portland Timbers matches, Portland Thorns FC matches and the CONCACAF Gold Cup coming to town, there’s no shortage of the beautiful game to be found in Soccer City, USA.

Grant Wahl knows this as well as anybody, which is why he came to town to see the Portland's 2-1 home opener win against Seattle Reign FC as part of a larger story for Sports Illustrated on the Thorns' Alex Morgan.

Wahl, a longtime college basketball and soccer writer for SI, really made his mark in 2009 with his excellent book, The Beckham Experiment: How the World's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America. Written in near real-time during the MLS season, it was an in-depth look not only into Beckham’s arrival with the LA Galaxy but also an inside look into Major League Soccer as a whole entity.

Since the book, Wahl has covered World Cups and international soccer along with a bid for for the FIFA presidency on a platform of more transparency. Through it all, he has continued to tell insightful stories across the soccer universe.

I sat down with him to talk about his impressions of the Thorns home opener, where MLS is at now near four years past his book and the importance of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup to the U.S. Men’s National Team.

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.