On Friday, I told you that the U.S. National Team's draw into Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil isn't an impossible one, and LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena seems to agree.
In his latest article in the Los Angeles Times, Arena states that the U.S. will be competitive and even states that he expects them to advance from the Group.
Arena's choices to advance from the groups are as followed, but remember they are not necessarily the positions that the teams will finish.
Group A: Brazil and Croatia. Group B: Spain and Netherlands. Group C: Colombia and Ivory Coast. Group D: Uruguay and Italy. Group E: Ecuador and France. Group F: Argentina and Nigeria. Group G: Germany and United States. Group H: Belgium and Russia.
Arena's choices several months out led me to make my own decisions which you can see below. Now remember that these could -- and probably will -- change as the months go by.
Group A: Brazil and Mexico. Group B: Spain and Netherlands. Group C: Colombia and Japan. Group D: Uruguay and Italy. Group E: France and Honduras. Group F: Argentina and Nigeria. Group G: Germany and United States. Group H: Belgium and Russia.
The U.S. National Team will be testing themselves against the likes of Ghana, Portugal and Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next summer and are already relishing the opportunity to tackle a “Group of Death.”
During a media scrum at a World Cup draw watch party at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Omar Gonzalez and other U.S. national team members remarked about the Americans’ placement in Group G. One highlight for Gonzalez will be another chance to take on one of the planet’s finest players in Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I faced him for the Galaxy once before and that was fun, but I think he’s going to be even harder playing for his country in this tournament,” Gonzalez told reporters of his bouts with Ronaldo in 2010 and 2012 friendlies. “I think it’s going to be awesome and it should be a fun time.”
Even though Gonzalez will be looking to make his first-ever World Cup roster, the Galaxy defender admitted that he correctly anticipated where the U.S. would fall upon learning the first two participants in Group G.
“Once Germany and Ghana got paired together I figured this is probably going to be us,” Gonzalez admitted. “Fate’s going to align, and it’s all going to happen.”
CARSON, Calif. – Clint Mathis knows a little something about playing – and excelling – at the World Cup and after watching the U.S. National Team’s draw for the 2014 edition in Brazil, he believes the Americans can advance from their “Group of Death.”
Mathis, who appeared in two games during the U.S. National Team’s run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, which included a stunning goal against South Korea helping the Americans to a 1-1 draw. During that tournament, the Americans faced two of their opponents for 2014 as they defeated Portugal 3-2—with Mathis watching from the bench—in their group stage opener while falling 1-0 to eventual tournament runner-up Germany in the quarterfinals.
Mathis’ thoughts on the U.S. National Team’s World Cup draw for Brazil is below…
MATHIS: “Obviously, we’ve definitely seen quite a few of these teams in the last few World Cups. Obviously, Germany is going to be a favorite, but I think in the past, the U.S. has done well against those guys. The one particular team that they haven’t been too successful with is Ghana, but being knocked out of the last two World Cups by the same team, maybe the third time is the charm for the U.S. It’s going to be the first game so I think that a lot will be on the line, but if the U.S. can get a result in that first game that would definitely change the whole outcome of the group. Then there’s Portugal, who we were successful against in 2002 in the first group stage game. It’s two different teams though and Portugal is not a team that you can sit back on. It’s in my opinion, the toughest group if not the toughest then it is the second toughest. If you’re playing in a World Cup, it’s never easy so I don’t think there’s not too much to worry about because every game is going to be tough no matter what group you’re in. The good thing is if the U.S. gets out of this group stages, I think it should be easier when normally it gets harder.”
(On what is running through the players’ minds about facing Ghana once again…)
MATHIS: “I think there’s a lot of excitement. If you look at guys like Landon or other guys who have been put out by the same team, I think there’s a lot of excitement on the revenge side. They’re saying ‘hey, we’ve got them in a group stage not a knockout stage’ so I think there’s some excitement to get some revenge because you can say ‘hey, you know what. Everyone is already going to count us out, we’re the underdogs’ and I think that’s not a bad mindset to go into this World Cup like we’ve got nothing to lose because no one is thinking that the U.S. can get out of his group right now.”
(On whether the U.S. group stage is similar to what he faced during the 2002 World Cup…)
MATHIS: “I think so. Everyone thought that the U.S. had no chance to get out of our group and we did well. I think there is something to say because these other teams are going to be fighting too. Portugal is sitting saying ‘why am I in this group?’ Ghana is saying the same thing and Germany is going ‘are you kidding me?’ Anything can happen in these games and no one is going to want to play against the U.S. per say because of the athleticism and the results that they could turn out. I think that it is going to be a tough group and I don’t think that any of the teams are too excited to be in this group.”
The U.S. National Team received an extremely difficult draw for the 2014 World Cup as they were placed in Group G alongside Germany, Ghana and Portugal.
The U.S. will open the tournament on June 16 in Arena das Dunas against Brazil before facing Portugal in the Amazon city of Manaus on June 22. They'll complete the group stage in Recife against Germany on June 26.
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena a former national team boss, U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez and former U.S. international Clint Mathis each provided an instant analysis of the draw on Instagram.
Check it out below.
The U.S. National Team is returning to Southern California.
U.S. Soccer announced on Monday that the U.S. will face Korea Republic on Feb. 1 at StubHub Center concluding their annual winter training camp. The match will be the first game for the U.S. in a busy 2014 that will see them -- and Korea Republic -- complete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“As a team that has qualified for Brazil, the Korea Republic will be another great benchmark for us,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in a statement. “They bring a different style of play than we have seen in the last two years, and that gives us a chance to grow. With only two or three games left before May, this will be an important opportunity for the players who will be finishing off the January camp. The message will be the same one we start with every time we get together: we are here to win.”
Both LA Galaxy stalwarts Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are likely to be called up for the January training camp. According to Steve Davis at ProSoccerTalk, the U.S. will open up training camp on Jan. 6 at StubHub Center before departing for Brazil on Jan. 12 where they will train in Sao Paulo at their base for the World Cup until Jan. 25 before returning to Southern California.
The match will be first game between the two countries since their 1-1 draw at the 2002 FIFA World Cup when former Galaxy attacker Clint Mathis scored a stunning goal in the tie.
Check it out below.
A touching video is making the rounds this weekend of LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane meeting a young Irish soccer fan named Domhnall on Ireland's annual holiday institution The Late Late Toy Show.
Keane, who was still on crutches after his surgery earlier in the week, met with the child -- who is hoping that the Galaxy captain gets well soon in time to lead Ireland in their 2016 Euro campaign -- and presenter Ryan Tubridy in the video below.
Check it out.
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.”
CARSON, Calif. – Forward Chad Barrett was back at LA Galaxy training on Monday morning, but no decision either way about a potential move to Norway’s Vålerenga.
Barrett, who is currently out of contract at the end of the year, returned from Norway last Saturday after a week-long trial with the Oslo-based club and was in attendance during the Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over Chivas USA.
Following training on Monday, the 27-year-old forward did not speak with the media, but head coach Bruce Arena addressed Barrett’s status.
“Chad Barrett is back from an opportunity in Norway and we’re waiting for the club response this week,” the Galaxy coach told reporters.
Arena also left the door open that Barrett could feature in Tuesday’s friendly against Tottenham Hotspur, a team that the forward supported as a teenager.
“It’s a possibility,” said Arena. “Nothing is definite at this point.”
Following Tottenham Hotspur’s open training session at the Home Depot Center on Sunday, assembled media got a chance to speak with the Rafael van der Vaart about the upcoming friendly against the LA Galaxy.
Van der Vaart’s thoughts below…
(On new head coach André Villas-Boas…)
VAN DER VAART: “There’s a new coach, I think that [former head coach] Harry [Redknapp] did a great job, but the club decided something else. He’s a young manger and a great manager and he wants to prove something after his few months with Chelsea. We want to win something and I think that we have a great squad and that’s why it’s so important to have a good preseason in LA. “
(On AVB’s approach benefiting his game…)
VAN DER VAART: “It’s always difficult to say and I don’t like to say what is better and what is not. Every manager has his own style and I think that Harry did a fantastic job. [Villas-boas] is an honest man and I think that the team will have to work hard and I think it’s a little bit different when you’re manager of a national team as opposed to a club, but he can do it. He’s a great man.”
(On facing Donovan, Beckham and Keane…)
VAN DER VAART: “They’re great men. I’ve played with Keano of course and he’s a great lad. It’s good that those kind of players play [in MLS] because soccer can become bigger and bigger in America so it’s a good sign.”
The Galaxy face Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, July 24 at The Home Depot Center. Tickets for that match are still available, starting at $40, at www.lagalaxy.com/tottenham
In an interview with Fox Soccer’s Mark Rogondino, longtime US International goalkeeper Brad Friedel spoke about playing in the United States and facing the LA Galaxy with Tottenham Hotspur in Tuesday’s friendly. A former UCLA Bruin and native of Ohio, Friedel has spent one season with Tottenham after stints at Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool among others.
Friedel also amassed 82 caps with the US national team and was the goalkeeper for the US during their run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.
Friedel’s quotes from the interview below...
(On coming back to America…)
FRIEDEL: “It’s strange, the only time that we’d come to the States when I was with Blackburn, I’d always seem to miss out so it’s nice to come back especially to LA. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen some of my old friends and I’ll see a couple of them tonight so it’s good.”
(On his preparations for the upcoming season with Tottenham…)
FRIEDEL: “Personally, I just get through preseason and make sure that I don’t have any injuries. I think that mainly what the boys do is that you just want to pick up fitness. Having a league that’s in the middle of the season also helps us because their fitness levels are a lot higher than ours are. Having a new manager, he’s going to want to use this game to see all the players, which is very important for him as well. All in all, coming in on tours like this are a good bonding experience with the new staff and the new players so these are very good.
(On facing the LA Galaxy and the rising standard of MLS…)
FRIEDEL: “For many years, many people were asking about MLS and they were always asking about the [contract] figures that they saw in the paper with Beckham so they’d ask me, ‘can you get me there? can you get me there?’ But the notoriety of MLS has come on incredible amounts especially with Thierry Henry and [Robbie Keane] coming over here and David Beckham of course. Also the likes of Landon Donovan when he comes over and does really well at Everton and that picks it up and Keano did really well with Aston Villa when he came back. All those things help the league. We have take our hat off to all the financial people who have kept in the game with MLS because there were a couple of times where it was on really shaky ground and they’ve stuck with it and put a really good product on the field now.”