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Category: United States

Injuries give Jermaine Jones a shot with U.S. soccer team

Jones3The U.S. will be without forward Juan Agudelo and midfielder Kyle Beckerman for Saturday's friendly with Venezuela, which could create an opportunity for newly arrived midfielder Jermaine Jones.

Jones, a German-American, joined the U.S. team only after being suspended by his Bundesliga club for eight weeks after intentionally stomping on an opponent's injured foot last month. And given his late start -- he arrived in training camp last weekend -- his playing time with the national team figured to be limited.

But Agudelo sprained his right ankle in a recent scrimmage against the U.S. U-23 team, and Beckerman remains sidelined with a groin issue, leaving Coach Jurgen Klinsmann with just 16 healthy field players for two matches over the next five days. And that means Jones could find himself starting either Saturday or against Panama in Panama City on Wednesday.

"He got off the airplane, and the next morning I asked him: 'Are you ready to go right away? Or you want to just have an easy jog, shake off the flight, the nine-hour time difference and all that stuff?' " Klinsmann said. "He said, 'No, no, no. I slept enough. I'm ready.'

"So this helps us. It's great that he's here."


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-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Phoenix

Photo: Jermaine Jones smiles while taking part in a Schalke 04 team practice session in Qatar on Jan. 6. Credit: Alex Grimm / Getty Images

Galaxy's A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez named to U.S. team

Galaxy defenders A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez were named Thursday to the 20-man roster Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has summoned to training camp ahead of the U.S. national team's friendlies against Venezuela and Panama next month.

Gonzalez, a former Major League Soccer rookie of the year, was named the league's top defender this year after helping the Galaxy tie an MLS record with 17 regular-season shutouts. DeLaGarza, a teammate at the University of Maryland, played beside Gonzalez in central defense for the Galaxy, starting 30 of the team's 34 regular-season matches.

Gonzalez has been called up to the national team before, making his debut in August 2010 against Brazil, then playing in January's draw with Chile at the Home Depot Center. However, this invitation to training camp marks his first appearance with the national team since Klinsmann took over as coach.

DeLaGarza, meanwhile, is looking for his first international cap. More than half the players called up Thursday have appeared in two or fewer matches for the U.S.

"This is a very important opportunity for these players," Klinsmann said. "We will spend the next few weeks introducing them to our ideas on how we want to play and what it means to be a part of the national team.

"I'm very curious and excited to see this group."

The U.S. team, a largely domestic-based group, will begin training Jan. 3 in Arizona before relocating to the Home Depot Center for a week beginning Jan. 13. Its match with Venezuela is scheduled for Jan. 21 in Phoenix and the team plays Panama four days later in Panama City.

The full roster (by position):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (7): Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), A.J. DeLaGarza (Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (Galaxy), George John (FC Dallas), Zach Loyd (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)


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— Kevin Baxter

Photo: A.J. DeLaGarza, right, heads the ball away from Angel Guirado of the Philippine national team. Credit: Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

U.S. draws Canada, Cuba, El Salvador in Olympic soccer qualifying

Porter3The U.S. under-23 men's national soccer team was drawn into Group A, alongside Canada, Cuba and El Salvador, for next spring's CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. The teams will play their three group matches at LP Field in Nashville on March 22-26.

The Home Depot Center in Carson will play host to Group B, which consists of Mexico, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Matches in that group will be played March 23-27.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the tournament semifinals at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City on March 31. Winners of both semifinal matches advance to next summer's London Olympic Games.

"The path to reaching our goal of qualifying for the Olympics is a lot clearer," said U.S. Coach Caleb Porter, who will soon announce the roster of players he will invite to training camp in Sarasota, Fla., on Dec. 15-23.

"I'm excited," said midfielder Brek Shea, who plays for Dallas in Major League Soccer and has 40 caps for various U.S. national teams. "The Olympics are one of the coolest events you can be a part of and the chance to qualify is something we are taking very seriously."


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-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: U.S. under-23 men's soccer coach Caleb Porter. Credit: Gerry Broome / Associated Press

Clint Dempsey's goal sends U.S. to Gold Cup final

Ln7z2snc Clint Dempsey's third goal of the tournament proved to be a charm for the U.S. on Wednesday, lifting the Americans to a 1-0 victory over Panama in a Gold Cup semifinal at a sold-out Reliant Stadium in Houston.

The win sends the U.S. into Saturday's final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where it will meet the winner of Wednesday's second semifinal between unbeaten Mexico and Honduras. The U.S. and Mexico have combined to win nine of the previous 10 Gold Cups with the winner of this year's tournament qualifying for the 2013 Confederations Cup, held a year before the next World Cup in Brazil

Panama scored twice in the first half to beat the U.S. in group play, the only time in 10 Gold Cup appearances that the U.S. has lost in the first round. But the U.S. hasn't given up a goal since that match and Wednesday's rematch was another defensive struggle.

The only goal didn't come until the 77th minute and two players who weren't even in the starting lineup figured heavily in setting it up.

Freddy Adu, who came on the 66th minute, started things when his pass from behind the midfield stripe found Landon Donovan streaking up the right side. Donovan, who spent the first half on the bench,  settled the ball before dribbling to the edge of the penalty area. From there he slipped a low pass past three defenders to Dempsey, whose sliding goal slipped just inside the far post.

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Eric Gordon: Team USA can win the tournament, but needs a faster start

Eric Gordon, the Clippers' shooting guard and a reserve on Team USA, will be a guest blogger for the Fabulous Forum during the FIBA World Championship tournament in Turkey. On Monday the USA nipped Brazil, 70-68, in their toughest game so far. Gordon played five minutes, missed both his three-point shots and was scoreless. Here are his impressions of the game as well as some other tidbits from the day:

Brazil, they played played really good [Monday], and their guards played very well. Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski told us before the game if they execute their stuff that they could win. We knew they were going to give us a good run. Brazil is the toughest team we’ve faced, and it came down to the last shot.

Durant The crowd was a bit hostile today. It was that type of game, neck and neck. But it wasn’t as loud a crowd as when we played Slovenia.

We still need to get some better play from our bench, and play a more well-rounded game. We have two more games to work on that. Coach K likes the way I play. The only thing he said to me was, don’t put too much pressure on myself.

After the game, Coach K also said we also need to get off to better starts. (Team USA was down by six points after the first quarter against Brazil.)

Kevin Durant always puts on a good show. That guy can score in multiple ways. If they have somebody shorter on him, he can post up, or he can shoot over them. He’s so tall.

But Chauncey Billups was the guy I was watching the most today. He had the ball in key moments and had to make a tough bucket at the end of the game.

One thing that is different is how the referees call the game in international play. We’ll go to the basket and think, ‘That’s a foul.’ We’re used to getting that call in the NBA. But they’re not going to call it a foul here unless it really affects your shot. Because of that, we might take a couple quick shots on the defensive end and try to get a couple steals.

Today, before the game, we didn’t really change up our routine. We tried to keep everything the same.
We had shoot-around about noon and went over the things Brazil was going to do.

The food here is close to American food, it’s chicken and steak and pork chops, a bit different, but not much.

Tomorrow we might get to do some sightseeing, if I can get up. I’m still trying to get my rest. We got another two games, back to back (Wednesday vs. Iran and Thursday vs. Tunisia). I do see a lot of old, interesting buildings around here though.

We can win the tournament. I’ve been convinced of that before we got here, and after we played Spain and Greece in exhibitions. We expect a lot of ourselves. I’ll be a little disappointed if we don’t win it.

--Eric Gordon

Photo: Kevin Durant goes to the rim for the USA in a win over Brazil on Monday in Istanbul, Turkey. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.

World Cup: U.S. celebrates without its coach

Landon Donovan's goal in the first minute of stoppage time may have won Wednesday's game against Algeria, but it didn't end it. There still was about three minutes to play. But when U.S. Coach Bob Bradley turned to his staff to discuss strategy for the final minutes, he found that they weren't there.

Instead, his assistants had sprinted up the sideline to join the players in a raucous celebration -- ignoring what Bradley had told them earlier.

"As a coach, it's different because you're thinking there's two or three minutes to go," he said. "I got in the direction of the corner, but I didn't actually make it all the way there.

"I think most of the rest of the staff did, by the way, and it just shows that they don't listen to me. But that's fine."

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

World Cup: Former President Clinton to stay for second round

Former President Clinton enjoyed his visit with the U.S. World Cup team so much, he's staying for the next game.

In a meeting with reporters Thursday, Clinton said he changed his schedule so he can attend the Americans' game against Ghana on Saturday in Rustenburg. The honorary chairman of the U.S. bid to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022, Clinton was in the stands for Wednesday's thrilling 1-0 victory against Algeria that sent the United States on to the round of 16. He then spent more than half an hour in the locker room, celebrating with the team.

"I lost my voice yesterday. I had to come home and drink hot tea with honey for an hour," Clinton said. "I was very diplomatic until we scored, and then I was up there screaming and yelling with everybody."

Clinton said he went down to the locker room to congratulate the players in what he expected with be a short visit. But he said that when the players asked him to stay and have a beer with them, he stuck around for about 45 minutes.

"They said, 'Hang around until we finish all this and drink a beer with us. Nobody ever does that.' And so I said, 'OK,"' Clinton said. "... In the locker room, all they talked about is how they played as a team. The team wasn't going to give up. The team. I was really impressed with that. I found them immensely impressive."

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

World Cup: U.S., England right on the money

South Africa figures to cash in on the victories by England and the U.S. on Wednesday. The wins sent both teams on to the second round, meaning more cash-laden visitors could be to the World Cup, and fans already here will likely extend their stays.

One tour company said nearly three-quarters of the English fans it was working with planned to stick around through the second round, and some Americans in Johannesburg were scrambling to change hotel and airline reservations Thursday.

According to figures released by Visa, during the first week of World Cup matches, spending by international visitors using Visa cards exceeded $129 million.

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

World Cup: U.S. vs. Slovenia: U.S. rallies for 2-2 tie

Second-half scores by Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley erased a two-goal deficit and gave the U.S. a 2-2 World Cup draw with Slovenia on Friday, keeping alive the Americans' hopes of advancing to the second round.

With the tie, Slovenia remains atop the group standings and is on pace to advance as well. Depending on the result of England's game with Algeria later Friday, the U.S. would need a win next week over Algeria and some help from Slovenia, which finishes group play against England, to advance.

The U.S. opened the World Cup with a 1-1 draw against England.

Bradley's heads-up goal, which came in the 82nd minute as he was trailing a play, gave the U.S. the tie.

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

World Cup: U.S. vs. Slovenia: Tied in the 86th minute

Michael Bradley's goal with eight minutes left in regular time has lifted the U.S. into a 2-2 tie with Slovenia, keeping alive it hopes of advancing to the second round of the World Cup.

Bradley was trailing a play into the box when Jozy Altidore leaped to head a long pass from midfield. The ball didn't go where Altidore had aimed it, but Bradley, unmarked behind the play, raced in to scoop it up and bat it home for the goal.

Altidore had a chance to tie the score for the U.S. in the 70th minute when he picked up a rebound off a Landon Donovan free kick, spun and fired on the net from about 16 yards. But Slovenian keeper Samir Handanvoic was right there for his second huge save of the day. Ten minutes later, midfielder Bradley had a shot of his own from about 25 yards, but the keeper came up big.

The game started getting physical at about that point as the U.S. became more desperate and the Slovenians, playing defensively for the first time, turned to a little roughhousing to slow the Americans down.

Both of Slovenia's goals came in the first half, in the 13th minute off the boot of Valter Birsa and in the 42nd from Zlatan Ljubijankic. The U.S. score came from Donovan three minutes into the second half.

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa

World Cup: U.S. vs. Slovenia after 65 minutes

This is a David vs. Goliath match-up between the most populous country in the World Cup, the U.S., against the smallest, Slovenia, with just 2 million residents.

But with 25 minutes to go, David is winning 2-1. Goliath ... er, the U.S ... has come to life, though, and is playing with much greater urgency. Aside from Landon Donovan's goal, the U.S. has had a couple of other good chances. But the important thing is they are finally pressing the issue.

A tie would help the U.S. a bit but would still leave Slovenia atop the group standings.

Give Slovenia credit, though. It isn't sitting on the lead, pushing things on its offensive end as well. And that's kept the U.S. defenders back.

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa


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