US National Team
It couldn’t have gotten much harder for the U.S. National Team at the FIFA World Cup Draw as they were drawn into a “Group of Death” in Group G against Germany, Ghana and Portugal. However, at a closer glance, the draw is not a mission impossible for Jurgen Klinsmann’s group.
The U.S. opens the World Cup in Brazil on June 16 against Ghana at the Arena das Dunas in Natal. The match is undoubtedly the most important one for the U.S. as they must get past the team that eliminated them from the past two World Cups in order to have a reasonable chance to advance from the group. As the U.S. are well-aware, the Black Stars are a major challenge as they have a mix of physicality and technical skill that should give the Americans a major test. That being said, if the U.S. midfield can control the game and the Americans can capitalize on their opportunities, they may get past the African side.
In their second game, the U.S. will face Portugal in the Amazonian outpost of Manaus on June 22. Not only must the Americans best a side that boasts one of the world’s finest players in Cristiano Ronaldo, they must deal with the crippling heat and humidity of the Amazon. In June, the average temperatures in Manaus are typically in the high-80’s with more than 80 percent humidity, which promises to be a muggy game that could favor an American squad that should be better acclimated to the conditions due to a potentially high presence of North American-based players. However sticking to strictly on the field matters, Portugal may seemlike a stiff test, but the nation struggled during UEFA World Cup qualifying as they finished second in their group to Russia—with two draws against Israel as well as a draw against Northern Ireland—before defeating Sweden in a playoff to advance to Brazil.
Lastly, The U.S, have traditional powerhouse Germany in the final game on June 26 in Recife is the Americans’ best case scenario as they should face a German team that may already have a ticket into the second round. Against a German team that could be loaded with reserves, the U.S. should be able to stay competitive against a side that promises to be organized and immensely talented.
What will make their draw even more difficult is the immense travel that they must undertake for all three matches. With three games in Natal, Manus and Recife, the U.S. could travel nearly 9,000 miles round trip during their Group G campaign. The one benefit for the Americans however is that their MLS players should be accustomed to immense travel as well as heat and humidity, however, the benefit of charter flights should cut down on the exhaustion.
My prediction for a best case—and relatively realistic— scenario for the U.S. is a simple one: a victory against Ghana coupled with a Germany win over Portugal during the first match day. In the second match day, the U.S. must earn a draw—or a close win—against Portugal with a Germany victory over Ghana in the second day setting up a draw or close loss to an already qualified Germany in the final match day. If the Americans can find a way to earn points in their first two games, at the very least, they should negate the impact of Portugal's final match against Ghana.
What are your thoughts? Remember, the U.S. open up the year at StubHub Center against South Korea on Feb. 1.
Share them below.
Immediately following the World Cup draw, I spoke with LA Galaxy head coach -- and former U.S. National team boss -- Bruce Arena on his thoughts on the U.S.' draw for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The U.S. was drawn into Group G against Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Remember, the U.S. will open up the year at StubHub Center against South Korea on Feb. 1.
Check out Arena's thoughts below.
It's been Omar Gonzalez day on LAGalaxy.com with loads of Gonzalez content and up next,Gonzalez discussed the U.S. National Team, dual citizenship, saxophones, football, beer chugging, and more on ESPN's Highly Questionable.
Check it out below...
Omar Gonzalez had a successful 2013 at the club and international level, but 2014 could be something even more substantial.
I look back at Gonzalez’s 2013 season in my latest LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review piece. Gonzalez was undoubtedly successful as he earned the club’s Defender of the Year award, was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and an MLS Best XI selection while also locking down a regular place on the U.S. National Team.
The Galaxy center back is expected to contend for a roster spot –and a place in the starting XI—on the U.S. National Team’s roster at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and while Gonzalez is staying “even keeled” ahead of a big year, he’s hopeful that he’ll be on the plane to South America.
“There’s no really Cinderella story so I feel like every team in the World Cup is a great team and deserves to be there. Whoever we’re matched up against is going to be a tough group,” Gonzalez told reporters in a conference call a week ago. “I've never been to a World Cup, but I’m sure that I’ll be getting at Robbie to ask him questions about how it is. It’s going to be a fun year and hopefully, I can keep my form, stay healthy, and hopefully I’ll be there.”
Will Gonzalez be at the World Cup in 2014?
In honor of Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez's Best XI selections on Tuesday, LAGalaxy.com has created this video highlight reel of their 2013 seasons.
Check it out below.
FIFA announced the 2014 World Cup pots on Tuesday, and the U.S. National Team will be guaranteed some stiff competition during next year’s tournament in Brazil.
The U.S. was placed in Pot 3 with the other CONCACAF nations and four squads from the Asian Football Confederation. As expected, European heavyweights Germany and Spain were placed in Group A alongside host Brazil and Argentina. Group 2 boasts five African representatives as well as Chile and Ecuador while Group 4 includes England, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Portugal among others.
The 2014 World Cup pots are below:
POT 1: Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay
POT 2: Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ghana, Nigeria
POT 3: USA, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Korea Republic, Japan, Australia, Iran
POT 4: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia
Thoughts on the World Cup pots?
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.
The LA Galaxy are going full speed ahead with their plans for a USL team in 2014.
During his interview on Joe Tutino’s LA Galaxy All-Access Podcast, Arena stated that the club is “anticipating” having a USL squad in the coming season that will help them develop existing rostered players, but also add further pieces in the Galaxy Academy.
“We’re going ahead full speed. We anticipate having a USL team. That will serve our academy players who were moving up to the major league roster. It will serve our players who are not playing on a regular basis for the first team as well,” Arena told Tutino. “We’re going to have obviously other players involved in the [USL] roster. Between the first team, which is now 30 to 29 players in MLS, and [the USL] roster we’ll likely have another 15 players who are involved in the USL and complemented by our roster. We should have 45 players here on a daily basis, two teams and a number of opportunities to give players game experience and to continue to move forward.
“We’re hopeful that we can discover a couple of players through the USL team but also develop our academy players that need playing time,” Arena continued. “You’re going to see players like Oscar Sorto, Jack McBean, Raul Mendiola, perhaps, Jose Villarreal; all those young players that if they’re not playing on a regular basis with us, they will be playing with the USL team.”
In addition to the USL team and a myriad of other topics, Arena addressed the topic of LA Galaxy players going on offseason loans stating that “our players aren't going anywhere” noting that Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are expected to join U.S. National Team’s annual January camp. The Galaxy manager also stated that Robbie Keane should be back in comission after four to six weeks following his "procedure" earlier in the week.
Thoughts on the interview?
Share it below.
Three members of the LA Galaxy have been nominated for the first annual CONCACAF year-end awards.
Landon Donovan has been nominated for Player of the Year for his stellar 2013 that saw him take home the Golden Ball (tournament's MVP) and the Golden Boot (tournament's top scorer) at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup in addition to a 10 goal and nine assist performance for the Galaxy. LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo is nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year after a stellar 2013 that saw him lead the Panamanian national team to the final of the Gold Cup while winning the Golden Gloves award for the tournament's best goalkeeper. Penedo also led Panama to within minutes of qualifying for a berth in a World Cup playoff.
Finally, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has been nominated for Coach of the Year.
LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez finished third in MLS Defender of the Year voting as New England Revolution defender Jose Goncalves took home the award.
Gonzalez earned 18.37 percent of the club vote, 7.79 percent of the media vote and 15.07 percent of the player vote for a weighted total of 41.23. Coming in second was Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler with New York Red Bulls center back Jamison Olave coming in fourth.
The award for the league's top defender wasn't the only awards issued on Tuesday as Hilario Grajeda was voted Referee of the Year and Kermit Quisenberry was voted the Assistant Referee of the Year.