WCQ Round-up: Donovan and Gonzalez's U.S. falls 3-1 to Costa Rica while Penedo and Panama play to scoreless draw with Jamaica
Three LA Galaxy players got the start for their respective nations in World Cup qualifying on Friday and none were able to come away with the victory.
Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez both got the start for the U.S. who went down in the opening minutes to Costa Rica and were unable to recover as the Americans fell 3-1 to Los Ticos. Clint Dempsey got the only goal for the U.S on a penalty kick as Johnny Acosta, Celso Borges and Joel Campbell scored for the Costa Ricans.
The U.S. will take on a desperate Mexico side on Sept. 10 in Columbus without the services of Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron due suspension. That isn't the only loss as they may be without the services of vital midfielder Michael Bradley who was a late scratch due to an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Jaime Penedo's Panama played Jamaica to a scoreless draw in Panama City. They'll take on Honduras in Tegucigalpa on Sept. 10
Robbie Keane’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup were dealt a major blow on Friday as Ireland fell 2-1 to Sweden despite the LA Galaxy captain scoring his 60th international goal.
Keane put Ireland up 1-0 after 22nd minutes after the Irish captain was able to make an industrious run toward goal that ended with a calm finish from close range. However, the lead did not last long as 11 minutes later, Johan Elmander equalized off a header. In the 57th minute, the Swedes pulled ahead for good when A Zlatan Ibrahimović pass found Anders Svensson, who fired a shot past Irish goalkeeper David Forde.
Ireland now sits in fourth place in UEFA’s Group C with 11 points tied with third place Austria, who are head on goal difference. Sweden is in sole possession of second place with 14 points while Germany is head and shoulders above the rest with 19 points.
For the Irish to have any hope of qualifying for Brazil, a win is mandatory in their next qualifier against Austria on Sept. 10. Anything less than three points and the Irish may be in dire straits with matches on the road against Germany and at home to Kazakhstan looming in October.
Ahead of Friday's World Cup Qualifier, check out this excellent video by KickTV on the match and all the goings on in Costa Rica this week.
Remember, the LA Galaxy will be in for their own battle down there later this month when they face C.S. Cartagines in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Check it out...
LA Galaxy players Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez will look to move the U.S. National Team one step closer to the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Friday when they take on Costa Rica at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose.
As the U.S. prepares for that vital match against Los Ticos, they’ll have a dangerous weapon in Donovan, who admits that he is playing as well as he’s ever played. Over the past two months, Donovan has scored a combined of 10 goals and tallied nine assists—five goals and two assists coming with the Galaxy—with LA and the U.S.
It may seem surprising that the veteran of three World Cups, who has been named to MLS’ Best XI six times and has won four U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards, may say such a thing, but Donovan affirmed in Costa Rica on Thursday that he’s feeling as good as he ever has.
“I guess if I had to evaluate, I’d say this is the best I’ve ever played,” he told reporters after the team’s practice on Friday. “The energy I had when I was 20 is pretty close to being matched now, but I have the experience of all the years. Everything has really slowed down for me now. I see everything very clearly on the field. Everything sort of makes sense. “Not every play is perfect, but I feel like every time I get the ball I have a real chance to impact the game. That’s a great feeling. I’m just going to keep enjoying it.”
Robbie Keane has been awarded MLS Player of the Month for August.
The Irishman is the second Galaxy player to win the honor joining former LA midfielder Mike Magee, who earned the honor in March.
Keane was stellar during the month of August as he notched five goals and two assists in four MLS Regular Season matches, but also added two in the Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League victory over C.S. Cartaginés. Add it all up and that’s seven goals in five games over the month of August.
The forward will not take the field this weekend for LA’s match against the Colorado Rapids as he is currently away with Ireland on international duty as they prepare for World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.
In the latest edition of 'View from the Booth" Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones analyze the Colorado Rapids.
Check it out below...
The story discusses McBean’s rise from a kid, who would watch Manchester United with his father Calum to an 18-year-old, who is contending for minutes for the two-time defending MLS Cup Champions.
Galaxy Associate head coach Dave Sarachan admits that when LA first saw Jack, they knew that they had a player with the physical make-up to succeed; it was simply about filling in the rest.
“When we got Jack, we had the physical outline and the physical body type, but the internal, tactical, and the experience factor needed to continue to build upon each other through training and games,” said Sarachan. “Now we’re at this point, we have a much more complete player. Far from fully complete, but better in understanding the pace of MLS, connecting, and now it’s the final pass and the final shot that needs to count. We’ve seen a progression, now he needs 10 more percent to get himself at another level.”
Below is more from my talk with Jack McBean about his time growing up, his father, and a plethora of other topics. Check it out below…
(On growing up and soccer help from his father…)
MCBEAN: “He was always really supportive. He was my coach in AYSO but then once I got to the club level he kind of backed off a little bit from the coaching side. He was always intense but never in a negative way, he’d be yelling at all the guys on my team just encouraging them. They all love him and he still goes back to their games and does the same thing, so that’s pretty funny. “
(On when he knew professional soccer was what he wanted to do…)
MCBEAN: “Probably when I got to high school and had some interest from the national team and knew I was a pretty good player for my age and then the contract came up and it was a no brainer for me.”
(On his first soccer memories…)
MCBEAN: “The first thing I remember was playing AYSO on this all-star team and we made it all the way. But I mean I’ve been playing forever and the games always on at my house, always soccer on the weekends. So yeah, it’s in my blood I guess.”
(On being 18 and playing alongside players who are married with kids…)
MCBEAN: “It’s definitely weird if you really think about it but everyone’s got a different scenario that they’re in and there’s a bunch of young guys out here, a couple guys still live with their family too and there’s old guys who have kids who live with them so it’s kind of weird if you think about it but it’s cool. Everyone can play this game.”
(On his first goal before graduating high school, which he did earlier this year…)
MCBEAN: “Yeah that was a good game. We didn’t get a good result but our team was really good that year and had the supporters shield locked up so all the youngsters kind of got a chance and luckily I put one in the back of the net. It was cool.”
(On playing alongside fellow academy graduates like Jose Villarreal and Oscar Sorto…)
MCBEAN: “It definitely makes it a lot more fun. You know the guys before they’re on the team but this is my third year so I know everyone pretty well. Been with most of the guys for over two years now and comfortable with all of them.”
(On going from AYSO to playing with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane…)
MCBEAN: “It’s pretty crazy to think about. [Back when I was a kid], I would always watch for those guys on the weekend. Especially Robbie, playing for Leeds and Tottenham and all those EPL teams so it’s pretty weird to think about but it’s pretty cool.”
CARSON, Calif. – Back after a knee infection caused him to miss two training sessions and a reserve match, Kofi Opare is eager to fill the starting spot vacated by Omar Gonzalez, who is currently away on international duty.
Opare has become a regular on LA’s game day roster since the start of August and performed well during his first competitive start for the club in their 3-0 victory over C.S. Cartaginés earlier this month. However, Opare was unable to get in the squad in LA’s 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes and the subsequent reserve match due to a knee infection called cellulitis.
Even though the injury cost him a reserve league appearance, Opare believes that it didn’t hurt his sharpness.
“I’m just glad to be back in training,” said Opare. “The good thing was that even with the injury, I was still able to run and even though I wasn’t in training, I was still able to do fitness work and keep my sharpness.”
It’s vitally important that Opare is fit and ready because with Gonzalez away on international duty, the 22-year-old is in the midst of a battle for a starting role with the likes of Tommy Meyer, A.J. DeLaGarza, and possibly even Pablo Mastroeni.
“With Omar gone, the center back is spot and players are competing for that spot. I’m trying to do that same thing so that I can impress the coaches so I get that spot,” said Opare. “To be honest, I still go through the same steps that I do every week. I just want to come in with the attitude to work hard and play well in practice. Nothing changes. Now there is a spot and we’re all competing, I just want to bring the same attitude.”
The highly anticipated World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico will take place in less than a week at Columbus Crew Stadium, but the U.S. women got the party started early a they put a beat down on their Mexican counterparts 7-0 in a friendly at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Sydney Leroux led the way with four goals while Abby Wambach, Rachel Buehler and Morgan Brian also scored.
Highlights of the match are below...
CARSON, Calif. – As soon as the final whistle sounded on Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo was already thinking about meeting up with Panama ahead of their vital World Cup qualifier with Jamaica.
Los Canaleros are currently in fifth in the Hexagonal just a point behind Honduras for a spot in a playoff against Oceania champions New Zealand and two points behind Mexico for CONCACAF’s final automatic qualifying berth. It is very possible that Panama’s next to matches may decide their fate as they host Jamaica on Sept. 6 in Panama City before traveling to Tegucigalpa to take on Honduras five days later.
“First off, we can’t give away points at home. We have to continue to get points at home,” said Penedo of the game against Jamaica. “That’s a big game for us because it’s the dream of our nation [to qualify for the World Cup].”
Although the challenge is a tough one, Penedo is confident that Los Canaleros can get the results needed to put them in contention for the nation’s first ever World Cup berth.
"Right now, for these two games, we should try to get the full six points to put us in position to qualify,” said Penedo. “To be honest, I think that we have the group, the mentality and the confidence to accomplish that goal."