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The Official 2010 Pre- World Cup Thread


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[quote][size="5"][b]US forward Dempsey to return before end of season[/b][/size]

[size="1"](AP) – 1 day ago[/size]

LONDON — Clint Dempsey is recovering well from a knee injury and is on target to return to action for Fulham before the end of the Premier League season.

Dempsey damaged his right knee in Fulham's 2-0 loss to Blackburn on Jan. 17, but manager Roy Hodgson says the American should be playing again ahead of U.S. World Cup opener against England on June 12.

Hodgson said Wednesday that "his progress is good and he is working very hard to recover. The medical staff are very happy with him."

Dempsey has 17 goals in 60 appearances for the U.S., which also plays Slovenia and Algeria in the first round of the World Cup.

Hodgson says "it's still along way to go until the end of the season."


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I'm amazed how far he has come. If he REALLY makes it back for the WC, and Freddy keeps rockin' it in Greece...that changes things...for the good.

[quote] [size="1"]February 18, 2010[/size]
[b][size="5"][b]Davies hopes to resume training[/b][/size][/b]
[size="1"]Associated Press

[/size] SOCHAUX, France -- American forward Charlie Davies is back in France and says he's a month from resuming training with Sochaux following a car accident.

The 23-year-old had been rehabilitating in Delaware following a one-vehicle accident Oct. 13 in Virginia that left him with two broken bones in his right leg, a broken and dislocated left elbow, a broken nose, forehead and eye socket, a fracture in his face, a ruptured bladder and bleeding on his brain.

"I've come a long way," he said during a video interview posted Thursday on the team's Web site. "I'd say I'm probably a month away from being able to train with the team regularly, and then I need a little more time to be able to get match-fit again. So, you know, I'd say I'm not too far away from being able to play again."

Davies, who was born in Manchester, N.H., and played for Boston College, was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. He had two goals in six appearances with Sochaux before the accident and four goals in 17 appearances with the U.S. national team. The accident has jeopardized his chance to play with the U.S. at this year's World Cup.

Davies said he will undertake strength training and hopes to be playing for Sochaux before the Ligue 1 season ends in May. He will go to the Cap Sport Centre in Capbreton next week for rehabilitation.

"I need to get my body back into shape as far as being fit and being able to run again without being so tired," he said.

He has two titanium rods inserted in his right leg and plates and screws in his left elbow as a result of his injuries.

Davies was a passenger in the car when the accident occurred on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Ashley J. Roberta, 22, of Phoenix, Md. died in the accident.

Federal court records show a U.S. Park Police detective says the unidentified driver told police she drank alcohol before the crash and officers smelled alcohol on her breath.



[size="5"][b]Davies: 'I've come a long way'
[/b][/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"]Paul Kennedy[/url], February 18th, 2010 1:27PM


[AMERICANS ABROAD] Charlie Davies is back in France at Sochaux four months after being seriously injured in a car accident that took the life of another passenger in Northern Virginia on the eve of the USA-Costa Rica World Cup qualifier.

In a lengthy and quite revealing interview for the Sochaux web site, Davies talks about his injuries, his most difficult moments, his rehabilitation and his goal to be able to play for Sochaux again this season.

"I have come a long way," he said. "I'd say I am probably a month away from being able to train with the team regularly and then I need a little more time to be able to get match-fit again. So I'd say I am not too far away from playing again."

He heads next week for strength training to get his body back in shape and be able to run again at full strength.

"I'll do whatever it takes to be able to play for Sochaux this year," he said.

He has come along way from the beginning of rehab when he was just happy to be able to stand for more than five minutes and walk more than two meters.

(The French daily [url="http://www.lepays.fr/fr/article/2722146/Davies-est-de-retour.html"]Le Pays[/url] reported Thursday that Davies told his Sochaux teammates the injury that still bothers him the most is the one to his left elbow. He had screws placed in his left elbow as a result of his injuries.)

Davies will be in the stands Sunday to watch Sochaux at home against French giant Lyon for the first match he has seen live since the accident.

"I will be excited and a little bit nervous." he said.


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[size="5"][b]Tickets sales lag with four months to go

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"]Paul Kennedy[/url], February 18th, 2010 11:40PM [/size]

[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke confirmed what had been reported for weeks. World Cup ticket sales are suffering. Twenty percent of VIP tickets for luxury boxes have been sold. And the number of expected visitors to South Africa for the World Cup has been revised downward by as much as 100,000.

Valcke said 2009 "was the worst period to sell hospitality programs. I'm sure that it impacted at least by 50 percent the potential."

With four months left before the World Cup, 800,000 of the 2.9 million available tickets have not been sold. To compensate for poor sales abroad, FIFA is making more tickets available to South Africans at lower prices.

"This will bring less income to FIFA," said Valcke, "but we have already brought in the income we need to match the organizing committee budget, which is $423 million."

One reason for poor ticket sales abroad is the high cost of getting to and staying in South Africa. FIFA is negotiating with airlines to reduce air fares during the World Cup.

"I think that we are facing a peak time where companies feel that they can put the highest level of pricing," said Valcke. "We want to make sure that fans can afford to travel to South Africa. It is clear that people have decided that because it is the World Cup they ask the highest amount possible to maximize income, but it doesn't work today. They forget that it is a long distance to travel to South Africa, you need to stay for more than a few days, so they have to make offers that the fans can afford."[/quote]

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[quote][size="5"][b]Will the World Cup boost South Africa tourism?

[/b][/size]But this year, Zulu war stomps and hip-swaying Pedi rain incantations are playing second string to the fancy footwork of a "diski" dance (slang for soccer) and a demonstration of the [i]vuvuzela[/i], an ear-piercing trumpet favored by South African soccer buffs.

From Lesedi's expanded lineup to "2010 Bring it on!" billboards in the township of Soweto, South Africa has its eye on the goal for the world's biggest sporting event. For [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Johannesburg,+Gauteng"]Johannesburg[/url], [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Cape+Town"]Cape Town[/url] and seven other cities June 11-July 11, the continent's first [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Events+and+Awards/Sports/World+Cup"]FIFA World Cup[/url] is seen as a collective coming-out party: a chance to showcase spectacular scenery and wildlife and [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Events+and+Awards/Nobel+Peace+Prize"]Nobel Peace Prize[/url] winner [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/People/Politicians,+Government+Officials,+Strategists/Nelson+Mandela"]Nelson Mandela[/url]'s all-inclusive spirit to an anticipated 450,000 foreign fans. They include [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Places,+Geography/Countries/United+States"]Americans[/url], who have bought more game tickets (about 120,000) than any other nationality except the host.

Yet even as a shopping mall countdown clock in the tony suburb of [url="http://content.usatoday.com/topics/topic/Sandton"]Sandton[/url] ticks off the days to Johannesburg's opening ceremony and workers scramble to put the finishing touches on its gourd-shaped stadium, doubts persist about whether the World Cup will lure sports aficionados eager to experience a "bucket list"-worthy destination or keep them home over crime fears and inflated prices.

Despite its dangerous reputation — including an urban fortress mentality marked by high walls and electrified fences, enough opportunistic crime to warrant a "Hijacking Hot Spot" sign on a busy highway offramp near the capital, Pretoria, and a murder rate about 10 times higher than the USA's — South Africa says World Cup visitors will be welcome and safe.

The government has spent more than $170 million to beef up security, from mobile police stations at key venues to a 24-hour ground patrol using including hiring more than 40,000 additional officers. And World Cup officials have denounced a London-based company's plans to peddle stab-proof vests for the matches as "abominable scare tactics."

Rather than protection from bodily harm, "the big issue is greed," says Calvyn Gilfellan, head of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, which markets the country's most popular tourist city and the surrounding Western Cape province.

Western Cape promoters hope the residual glow of global publicity will generate nearly 300,000 extra visitors in the five years after the tournament, and they have been pitching a "Beyond the 90 Minutes" campaign to show off the region's world-class vineyards and rugged coastlines that rival California's Big Sur and Italy's Amalfi Drive. The "Mother City" of Cape Town, whose oceanfront setting has been acclaimed as one of the most winsome on the planet, has enhanced such marquee draws as a cable car ride up cloud-draped Table Mountain and a stroll along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront with an upgraded transportation system and an expanded crop of upscale hotels and restaurants.

In Soweto, site of the 1976 anti-apartheid uprising and close to the expanded 94,700-seat Soccer City stadium, several B&Bs have opened near Mandela's former home-turned-museum on Vilakazi Street, where an $8 million gentrification project has added new streetlights and wider, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks that encourage visitors to get out of their tour buses. Downtown Johannesburg, still considered a "no-go zone" by many, is transforming pockets of derelict buildings into hip projects like Arts on Main, a former warehouse turned gallery and performance space.

In Durban, South Africa's third-largest city, World Cup fans can take a cable car ride above the new stadium for views of the Indian Ocean and a spruced-up beachfront. And Nelspruit, host to four matches, serves as gateway to one of Africa's most celebrated safari destinations, Kruger National Park.

But last month, a government commission launched an inquiry into suspected World Cup price-fixing by several airlines. Many accommodations near match sites are doubling or tripling their peak-season rates (because South Africa's seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere's, the World Cup takes place during what is usually a slow period). Adding to the country's tourism jitters: a lingering global recession and a robust local currency, the rand.

Even as visitor estimates are being lowered and "the private sector is reeling from low bookings, the worst case tourism legacy beyond 2010 would be to see visitors grudgingly pay exorbitant prices for accommodation, only to go home and brand South Africa as a beautiful but prohibitively expensive destination," says South African consultant Nikolaus Eberl, author of [i]BrandOvation: How Germany won the World Cup of Nation Branding.[/i]

Among the World Cup fence sitters is Arlington, Mass.-based soccer fan Evan Whitney. Though he already has scored online tickets to all three U.S. opening-round games in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenberg and had hoped to extend his visit with a drive into the waterfall-studded Drakensburg Mountains, steep prices and difficult logistics could keep him tethered to a TV screen instead.

"I'd still love to go," says Whitney, who attended the World Cup in Germany four years ago. "It's a remarkable country, and it would be a great adventure. But at this point, it's still a big question mark."

Travel marketers such as Gilfellan, meanwhile, are keeping their game faces on — and their fingers crossed that South Africa's 10 temples to the planet's most popular sport won't turn out to be white elephants.

"All of Africa is looking to us, and I want my children to be able to say their father was part of this historic moment," Gilfellan says. "But a party is only a party if the invited guests show up."


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[b][size="5"][b]Onyewu Moves One Step Closer to Full Training [/b][/size][/b]

[size="2"][i]U.S. Men's National Team and A.C. Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu took part in portions of a team training session this morning at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., marking the first time he has stepped on the field with a team since rupturing a patellar tendon in his knee on Oct. 14, 2009.[/i][/size]

CHICAGO (Feb. 18, 2010) - U.S. Men's National Team and A.C. Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu took part in portions of a team training session this morning at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., marking the first time he has stepped on the field with a team since rupturing a patellar tendon in his knee on Oct. 14, 2009. Onyewu trained for about 30 minutes, participating in the warm-up, a 5 versus 2 game and a possession game before stepping out for individual rehabilitation work. He is expected to return to Milan soon, where he will continue to work towards resuming full training.

The U.S. will play El Salvador on Feb. 24 at Raymond James Stadium in the second-to-last match before naming the roster for the World Cup. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic and Galavision beginning at 7 p.m. ET. One week later, the U.S. travels to take on third-ranked Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m .ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision.[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Everton does it again

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"]Paul Kennedy[/url], February 20th, 2010 11:52AM [/size]

[AMERICANS ABROAD] Last week it was Chelsea. On Saturday it was Manchester United. In successive English Premier League matches, Everton has beaten the top two teams, and Landon Donovan again had a hand in the victory. He was involved in sub Dan Gosling's late goal that broke the game open. Everton went on to win, 3-1, and improve its EPL record since Donovan's arrival to 5-1-1.

Donovan missed a sitter late in the first half with the score tied 1-1 but made up for it when he slipped the ball to Steven Pienaar down the left wing, and the South African crossed the ball for Gosling, who scored with a shot to the far post.

Another sub, 18-year-old Jack Rodwell, then put the game away with his first EPL goal on a slick solo run.

Tim Howard was in goal for Everton against his old team, which lacked energy following its 3-2 win at AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Spector victorious in U.S. duel

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]February 20th, 2010 12:34PM [/size]

[AMERICANS ABROAD] U.S. teammates Jonathan Spector, starting again at left back, and Jozy Altidore, a second-half sub, squared off Saturday in the English Premier League. Spector's West Ham romped with a 3-0 victory over Hull City, which is back in relegation danger. Eight Americans played in the top two levels of English soccer on Saturday. For all the Friday and Saturday action ...

ENGLAND, Premier League
Jozy Altidore, sub: 25 minutes (Hull City, 0-3, at West Ham)
Landon Donovan, 90 minutes (Everton, 3-1, vs. Man. United)
Marcus Hahnemann, 90 minutes (Wolves, 0-2, vs. Chelsea)
Tim Howard, 90 minutes (Everton, 3-1, vs. Man. United)
Jonathan Spector, 90 minutes (West Ham, 3-0, vs. Hull City)

ENGLAND, League Championship
Kenny Cooper, sub: 14 minutes (Plymouth, 1-1, vs. Leicester)
Jay DeMerit, 90 minutes (Watford, 2-2, at Scunthorpe)
Frank Simek, 90 minutes (Sheffield Wed., 0-1, vs. Ipswich)

GERMANY, Bundesliga
Michael Bradley, 90 minutes (Borussia M'Gladbach, 2-2, at Hoffenheim)


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[size="5"][b]Bocanegra endures rough night

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"]Paul Kennedy[/url], February 22nd, 2010 1:49AM [/size]

[AMERICANS ABROAD] Carlos Bocanegra's string of solid outings came to an end Sunday night when he was taken off at halftime of Rennes' 2-1 loss to visiting Lille. His "2" rating (out of a possible 10 in the France Football ratings) was the worst of anyone on the field.

Lille has one of the most dangerous attacks in France's Ligue 1 with Ivorian Gervinho, Belgian teenager Eden Hazard and veteran French striker Pierre-Alain Frau, and Bocanegra struggled.

A Bocanegra tackle on Gervinho forced the Ivorian to come out of the game in the 36th minute and Bocanegra followed him to the showers at the half. Romain Danze took over for Bocanegra at left back after the break.

Bocanegra had lost his starting job late last and was rumored to be headed to Saint Etienne during the January transfer market, but the move never took place and he regained his starting spot.[/quote]

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[quote name='JC' date='22 February 2010 - 02:02 PM' timestamp='1266868950' post='864760']
Boca probably shouldn't be starting for us in the WC.

But he probably will be, and probably over Jay DeMerit.

Yeah, I think his time is about over. The entire back 4 is going to be a huge ? going into the WC. [i](But forward will be too, ugh)[/i] Bradley has a thing for playing a guy on rep rather than performance. Boca has trouble with defending speed and isn't the swiftest ball handler as far as defenders go. We need Demerit and Chad Marshall to take charge in the middle. And Marshall, even though I like him playing for the Crew, needs to go to Europe. Boca is past his prime I'm afraid and Gooch is coming off of a major injury and I'm not even sure if he's back playing or even training with AC Milan yet. I've lost track of him.
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[size="5"][b]Rating the Tampa 20's chances

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"]Paul Kennedy[/url], February 22nd, 2010 10:21PM [/size]

[USA-SALVADOR] Wednesday's match against El Salvador in Tampa (TV: ESPN Classic, Galavision, 7 pm ET) will likely be the last time many of the U.S. players will take to the field in a U.S. national team uniform before Coach Bob Bradley names his 23-player squad for the World Cup. As few as two or three MLS players could go to the World Cup -- a record low since its launch in 1996. Soccer America rates the chances of the 20 U.S. players in Tampa to go to the World Cup.

[b]GOALKEEPERS:[/b] Troy Perkins (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).

Outlook: Perkins and Rimando would appear to be fighting for the No. 4 spot on the depth chart.

Their chance of going to South Africa depends on one of the goalies ahead of them -- Tim Howard, Brad Guzan or Marcus Hahnemann -- getting injured.

Percentage chances: Perkins (10%), Rimando (5%).

[b]DEFENDERS:[/b] Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC).

Outlook: Two, maybe three defenders have a shot. Bornstein, who started in the deciding qualifier at Honduras and was one of the few players to have a good game against the Catrachos in January, is a probable for South Africa and a possible starter at left back.

Pearce led the USA in minutes played in 2008 but started only seven games -- five at the Gold Cup -- in 2009 as he fell out of favor at Energie Cottbus. Playing time should no longer be an issue now that he is with MLS's FC Dallas, but there is Bornstein and Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Spector (who both play left back for their European clubs) now ahead of him on the depth chart at left back.

Goodson or Marshall should go to South Africa as the No. 4 center back behind Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and Bocanegra. Goodson's stock rose after coming on to score against Honduras in January. Marshall, on the other, did not look good against the Catrachos.

Percentage chances: Bornstein (95%), Goodson (50%), Marshall (35%), Pearce (15%), Wynne (1%).

[i][b][More like 100% for Bornstein, Bradley has a serious man-crush on him. Which is too bad...but we've already gone over that][/b][/i]

[b]MIDFIELDERS:[/b] Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew).

When he was named to the MLS Best XI at the age of 18, you'd have penciled in Gaven to make the 2010 World Cup team. Six years later, still only 23, he's a long shot.

Kljestan started the first two matches in the 2009 Hexagonal, including the 2-0 win over Mexico, but his stock has fallen since then.

Of the central midfielders, Beckerman has the best shot at sticking. Of the wide players, Rogers -- because of his ability to play on either the right or left -- would have the best shot, though he needs a better game than he had against Honduras last month against El Salvador on Wednesday.

At the moment, an MLS wide player probably has a better chance of going to South Africa than a central midfielder.

Percentage chances: Rogers (60%), Beckerman (30%), Kljestan (10%), Davis (5%), McCarty (5%), Cameron (1%), Gaven (1%), Pontius (1%).

[b]FORWARDS:[/b] Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake).

The big question mark in the U.S. lineup is who will replace Charlie Davies, assuming he doesn't make a miracle recovery.

The likely choice would be Clint Dempsey, but he too is injured at the moment.

One or two of the four forwards in Tampa could go to South Africa. It will depend on how Eddie Johnson does at Greek club Aris. (Freddy Adu is still a long shot to go to South Africa, but he is at least back on the radar screen following back-to-back games in which he scored for Aris.)

Of the four forwards in Tampa, Ching has seniority. He's the only player in Tampa who went to the 2006 World Cup and he started four Hexagonal matches, including both games against Mexico , and made 11 appearances in 2009 -- the most of his career.

Casey had two goals in the deciding qualifier at Honduras, though they are the only two goals of his national team career.

Cunningham led MLS in scoring last season but did not play well in the January game against Honduras. Findley is the youngest forward and most similar in style to Davies, but he needs a breakout game against El Salvador to have any chance.

Percentage chances: [i]Ching (55%)[/i] [i][b][Umm...please no][/b][/i], Casey (45%), Cunningham (5%), Findley (5%).[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Beckerman copes with life on the bubble

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/49/ridge-mahoney/"]Ridge Mahoney[/url], February 23rd, 2010 2AM [/size]

[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] The numbers game, the pecking order, guys on the bubble, how many defenders, how many midfielders …. it all makes for great discussion and rampant speculation about which 23 young men U.S. coach [b]Bob Bradley[/b] will chose for the 2010 World Cup.

Those young men, however, know that getting swept up in the vortex is perhaps the best way to be tossed aside. For the 20 players eligible to face El Salvador Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. (7 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic, Galavision), it is their last competitive platform to step forward to claim a prize they know will elude most of them.

“There’s a little talk here and there, but mainly, nobody really knows,” says midfielder [b]Kyle Beckerman[/b], whose chances as a center mid are clouded by injuries and uncertain club situations for several players. “There’s a little banter, but everybody is just trying to perform well at the next practice or the next game. Hopefully it goes your way.

“We know some guys will get the call and some won’t. Everybody’s working hard and putting it all out there to show the coaching staff that you’re ready and if the call comes you’ll be able to perform.”

Another chance to perform will be greedily snatched up by those players on the field a month ago at Home Depot Center when the USA, tied with Honduras 0-0, went down a man when a second caution was issued to defender [b]Jimmy Conrad[/b] for a foul in the penalty area. [b]Carlos Pavon[/b] drilled home the ensuing penalty kick, and a Honduran team pumped up by a buzzing pro-Catrachos crowd rolled to a 3-1 win.

“It was tough,” says Beckerman of falling behind, 3-0, and getting a late consolation goal from defender [b]Clarence Goodson[/b]. “I felt right before the red card that they were starting to loosen up. I could feel they had used a lot of energy at the start of the game to keep the crowd involved and to keep the ball.

“It wasn’t going anywhere, it was just possession in their half, so as the game went on I thought eventually it would loosen up more and we’d be able to exploit ‘em. Then the red card came and totally changed the game.”

Goodson was recalled to face El Salvador; the rest of the squad is comprised of MLS players, including Beckerman’s Real Salt Lake teammate [b]Robbie Findley[/b], with whom Beckerman trained last month in Phoenix to escape bitter weather and prepare for the January camp.

Findley also has an outside shot at a World Cup place, and didn’t really help his case against Honduras. How much credit Bradley will give to good performances against a weaker, but potentially troublesome, foe in El Salvador is known only by him.

“The practices are so intense you can’t really look ahead to the game,” says Beckerman. “You just try to do your best in practice and get through that, and by the time you get to the game you feel prepared. You can’t think about those things and put your best foot forward.”

Beckerman says watching the 1990 World Cup on television – he was 8 years old – first inspired him to play for his country, but the lone 1994 match he viewed in person really sent him over the top. At RFK Stadium, near his hometown of Crofton, Md., he watched Saudi Arabia beat Belgium, 1-0, with one of the best goals in the tournament’s history: Saeed Al Owairan’s incredible, veering dribble from well into his own half and shot high into the net.

“The Saudis scored a real nice goal, and it was on our side, we were up near the top, in the nosebleeds,” he says. “Just the whole atmosphere was amazing. That was all I needed."

At 27, he might have another chance in another four years. On the other hand, this might be his best opportunity, and it's a slim one at that. So be it.

"If you get picked [for the World Cup], you get picked. If you don’t, well, you did all you could.”[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Norway-based Goodson eyes World Cup spot

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/49/ridge-mahoney/"]Ridge Mahoney[/url], February 24th, 2010 2:21AM [/size]

[USA-EL SALVADOR] Two years ago, defender [b]Clarence Goodson[/b] left the USA after discussions about a new MLS contract broke down and a foreign offer came through unexpectedly.

His departure not only came shortly after he earned first cap in a 2-0 defeat of Sweden at Home Depot Center, but opened up a whole new world: that of European soccer. In the 2008 European season, he helped IK Start earn promotion to Norway’s top league, and last year he played regularly as Start finished ninth among the 16 teams.

In the past two years he’s also inched his way onto the fringes of the potential World Cup player pool, and is giving MLS candidates [b]Chad Marshall[/b] and [b]Jimmy Conrad[/b] some stiff competition for one of the centerback slots. With Conrad suspended, U.S. coach [b]Bob Bradley[/b] recalled Goodson for the match Wednesday against El Salvador (7 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic, Galavision) in Tampa, Fla.

“You have improve every aspect of your game in Europe and this is what I felt I had to do to further my career,” said the University of Maryland product who left MLS after playing his first four pro seasons in Dallas. San Jose had claimed him the expansion draft prior to the 2008 MLS season but negotiations on a new contract never reached fruition.

“I did not ask to leave Dallas, and would have been glad to stay there, but in fact they never offered me a new contract,” says Goodson, taken by Dallas in the 2004 SuperDraft with the seventh overall pick. “Then they told me to tell the league I didn’t want to play in San Jose, which I didn’t really understand.

“I was ready to go to San Jose and we discussed a contract and I thought we had a deal, but for whatever reason it didn’t get done. I don’t know why. I had thought about going to Europe if things didn’t work out with MLS, and had a few trials with German clubs but I was in camp with the national team and didn’t want to leave at that point.”

Goodson scored his second U.S. goal during a 3-1 loss to Honduras Jan. 23 at Home Depot Center when he got his head to a [b]Brad Davis[/b] corner kick. He headed back to join Start for preseason training, and after Start had played a few preseason games in La Manga, Spain, Bradley contacted the club about borrowing him for a week or so.

“Not every club in Europe is the same but most of the time they try to do what’s best for the player and the club,” he says. “Teams from all over Europe are always watching you, so there are opportunities that you probably wouldn’t get playing in MLS, and that’s no disrespect to MLS. I think it’s a tremendous league and it’s getting better all the time, and I hope to play there again someday. But right now I’m very happy to be where I am.”

Where he is, is Kristiansand, a small city – yet it is the sixth-largest in Norway -- with a population of about 80,000 tucked into the very southern tip of the country. The climate, says Goodson is more like that of Seattle, which is where his wife his from, though he met her in Norway. They were married in Tacoma in January of last year.

“It’s colder and of course we get snow, but I’d say during the winter the average temperature is about 35 degrees,” he says. “The summers are very pleasant, around 70 degrees, and it really is a nice place to live, like a resort in that it’s right on the water and there’s a lot to do.”

The club isn’t among Europe’s elite, but it is where Red Bull coach [b]Hans Backe[/b] enjoyed some success. It offered a trial last September to Jamaican international[b] Lovell Palmer,[/b] who joined the Houston Dynamo training camp this month, and as far as tradition – or at least history is concerned -- it’s 105 years old.

“The people are great, very friendly, and they all speak English, which makes it a lot easier, I have to admit,” says Goodson. “But they take their soccer very, very seriously, and that’s one of the best things about playing in Europe; to be in a place where soccer is very important.”

He’ll earn his 10th cap if he plays against El Salvador. This is the final year of his three-year contract, so the timing of the World Cup – should he make the squad – might be ideal to trigger another move. Yet the bigger picture will have to wait.

“I really can’t look that far ahead,” he says. “One thing about playing in Europe and something Bob is always reminding us with the national team is you have to be focused.

“I think we’re approaching this game in the right way. Guys know what’s at stake and any time you pull on the shirt it’s a great feeling."[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Alvarez brothers to face Yanks

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]February 23rd, 2010 8:39PM [/size]

[USA-EL SALVADOR] Following the departure of national team coach Carlos de los Cobos, now at the Chicago Fire, El Salvador will make its debut under interim coach Luis Rugamas when it faces the USA on Wednesday in Tampa. The Salvadoran squad includes seven starters from the team that lost to the USA, 2-1, in World Cup 2010 qualifying in September. Among the players called up are former U.S. U-20 Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes) and his brother, Edgar, who played most recently at JC power San Jacinto College.

The only other MLS player in the Salvadoran squad is Arturo Alvarez's Quakes teammate, Ramon Sanchez.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Miguel Montes (Aguila), Dagoberto Portillo (F.A.S.)
DEFENDERS (7): Dennis Alas (Firpo), Alexander Escobar (Metapan), Marvin Gonzalez (F.A.S.), Mardo Henriquez (F.A.S.), Alfredo Pacheco (F.A.S.), Manuel Salazar (Firpo), Deris Umanzor (Aguila)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Edgar Alvarez (San Jacinto College), Ramon Flores (F.A.S.), Josue Odir Flores (Metapan), Shawn Martin (Aguila), Juan Carlos Moscoso (F.A.S.), Osael Romero (Chivas USA), Ramon Sanchez (San Jose Earthquakes)
FORWARDS (3): Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes), Rudis Corrales (Aguila), Andres Flores (Metapan)[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Valencia gets better of Spector

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]February 23rd, 2010 8:52PM [/size]

[AMERICANS ABROAD] Jonathan Spector again lined up at left back for West Ham, this time against his old club Manchester United, but he was no match for Ecuadoran winger Antonio Valencia, who served up two goals for Wayne Rooney in United's 3-0 at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

On the first goal in the 38th minute, Spector gave Valencia space to volley in a ball Rooney headed home, and 10 minutes after the interval, the Ecuadoran winger slipped between Matthew Upson and Spector to cross the ball for Rooney's second goal on a header and sixth in his last seven games.[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Bafana Bafana's 'embarrassing' change in plans

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/45/paul-kennedy/"]Paul Kennedy[/url], February 24th, 2010 12:33AM [/size]

[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] How chaotic are things in South Africa less than four months before the start of the World Cup? The training facility the host team, South Africa's Bafana Bafana, hoped to use to prepare for the tournament is so badly run down they can't use it. And the headmaster of the school chosen as a replacement venue knew nothing of the South African Football Association's plans when they were announced in the media.

Bafana Bafana were supposed to train at the Esselen Park School of Excellence, but the South African Football Association failed to make the $2 million in renovations necessary to make it ready in time for the opening of the final camp in May -- an oversight South African Football Association CEO Leslie Sedibe [url="http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=19&art_id=vn20100223065912103C297342&set_id="]called[/url] "embarrassing."

Instead, Bafana Bafana will train at Sandown High School. One problem: no one told the school administration.

"The courteous thing for them to do would have been to approach the chairperson or the headmaster to get an idea of whether we were going to say yes," Oupa Keele, the chairman of the school's governing body, said.

School officials would like to host Bafana Bafana, but they admitted their stay may pose conflicts that have to worked out.

The school was chosen because it is near the Sandton Southern Sun Hotel, Bafana Bafana's hotel

The state of training camps was in the news this week since FIFA was hosting a seminar for the coaching staffs of the 32 World Cup teams in Johannesburg. Not all teams have made them final plans.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke went with England coach Fabio Capello to inspect Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg. While facility is not yet finished, Capello said England would be based there.

“If the road to the hotel isn’t perfect, so what?” he said. “What they need is a nice place where they can stay and train.”

Not exactly the precision you'd expect out of a Swiss-based organization like FIFA.[/quote]

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[quote]Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010


[left]Soccer on TV
The U.S. men's national team hosts El Salvador in a friendly on Wednesday. Mexico plays Bolivia on Wednesday. Midweek action also includes the second half of the European Champions League first-leg round-of-16 games and Libertadores Cup group play.

[i](All times Eastern unless noted. TV programming is always subject to change. Check your local listings.)[/i]
[b] [/b]

[b]WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24[/b]

International Friendly[/b] USA-EL SALVADOR (live) 7 pm.

[b]International Friendly[/b] USA-EL SALVADOR (live) 7 pm.


This should be an interesting match:

Oh Jose! is a cocky son of a gun. I hope Drogba and Anelka each get a hat trick.

[quote][b]FOX SOCCER CHANNEL[/b][b]
UEFA [/b][b]Champions League [/b]INTER MILAN-CHELSEA (live) 2:30 pm.[b]
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[b][size="5"][b]Cunningham at last chance saloon[/b][/size][/b]

[b][size="3"][b]33-year-old striker staring down final shot at making U.S. World Cup roster[/b][/size][/b]
[size="1"]02/23/2010 10:51 AM[/size] [size="1"]By Michael Lewis / Special to MLSnet.com[/size]

TAMPA -- Time, in more ways than one, definitely is not on Jeff Cunningham's side. Few forwards on the other side of 30 get an opportunity to play in the World Cup, let alone make their debut in the greatest show on earth.

And, the 33-year-old FC Dallas striker has only one international game remaining to impress U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley and his staff and prove he belongs on a flight to South Africa in late May.

Bradley has less than three months to name a World Cup roster.

When he was told Monday that he would be a World Cup aberration given he is an "old man," Cunningham broke out into a big grin and then laughed.

"I'll tell you what man, I would be lying if I said I did not give up on my World Cup dreams," he said as he walked toward the U.S. team bus after practice at University of South Florida. "I didn't. So God had different plans for me. So wherever he takes me, that's his purpose. I'm here and we'll see. We'll see what happens."

The Jamaican-born Cunningham, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, returned to his alma mater Monday to train with the team for Wednesday's international friendly with El Salvador at Raymond James Stadium (ESPN Classic, 7 p.m. ET). He comes from nearby Crystal River.

So, the setting would be a perfect stage for Cunningham to make his final push for a spot on the team.

"Now I happen to be playing on the world stage," he said. "It's just a whirlwind and a dream. I'm just enjoying it."

Bradley has noticed there has been an urgency in Cunningham's and other veterans' play.

"You could tell in these two camps certain guys, certain veterans that now are given another opportunity took it really seriously," he said. "They know how much is at stake. Jeff has been around the national team at different times in his career, but never really became a permanent part of it. He has taken this quite seriously."

Cunningham is battling for a job because the speedy Charlie Davies is still struggling to get healthy again, let alone become the same force that helped transform the U.S. attack into a much more dangerous one at the FIFA Confederations Cup last June.

Davies' speed helped stretch the opposition's defenses and allowed a little more space to Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey in the midfield. He is a longshot to return by June.

Bradley has several options to replace him, including moving either Donovan or Dempsey into the slot. But while solidifying one position, he could very well open a hole at another.

So, Bradley continues to audition forwards for a running mate next to Jozy Altidore. He doesn't have many options. Like Cunningham, Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley is a fast forward, but lacks experience, particularly at the international level.

Cunningham has plenty of experience in MLS, striking for 121 goals, second best in league history.

"A couple of months ago, I didn't think I had a chance," he said. "Now for me to be in the mix, I am just grateful for that. We'll see where it goes."

He probably is a longshot to make the team, given his subpar performance in the 3-1 loss to Honduras last month. In fact, none of the forwards who are on the roster for the El Salvador match are guaranteed anything.

The two other candidates are target men who play a different game -- the Houston Dynamo's Brian Ching and the Colorado Rapids' Conor Casey.

Ching, who is recuperating from a late-season knee injury, has always been a Bradley favorite because of the little things he does. If he is healthy, it would not be surprising that Ching would wind up on the team.

Casey, who enjoyed a stellar season with a career-high 16 goals in 2009 after an injury-plagued career, is best known for connecting twice in the 3-2 triumph at Honduras that clinched the USA's participation in their sixth consecutive World Cup.

This could be the last chance saloon, for Cunningham and company and many of the players on the bubble to prove themselves to Bradley in an international setting.

"It's a last chance for a lot of us," Cunningham said. "Every opportunity you get you have to show as well as you can and hopefully have a good performance. As the saying goes, you're only as good as your last game. Hopefully I can end on a positive note."

Like it or not, Cunningham had forged a reputation as a malcontent, although FC Dallas assistant coach John Ellinger last year said that wasn't true.

Say what you want about Cunningham, but he knows how to put the ball into the net at an alarmingly consistent rate in MLS. He struck for a league-best 17 goals for FC Dallas last season and has found the back of the net 121 times over 12 seasons for five teams (Columbus, Colorado, Real Salt Lake and Toronto are the others).

Bradley said that the El Salvador match wouldn't be the final word for Cunningham or any his rivals. But a good match -- or even a good half if the four forwards split time -- could go a long way in determining who wears the red, white and blue in June.

"It's important to say it's not just what we would see in one game," Bradley said. "For all these guys it's really going to be important when MLS starts the kind of form they're in and how they're playing as well."

Bradley certainly wouldn't mind any forward who scores goals, but indicated he would like to see more to Cunningham's game.

"I think it's pretty easy to see that Jeff is pretty capable on his own of getting the ball and creating and going by people and getting goals," he said. "But his ability on how to contribute in other ways, to be a guy that finds good spots to hold the ball, brings other people into the game.

"We probably can't afford at the international level for any striker to be somebody who just floats around and every now and then makes a good play. I think there's a little bit more responsibility at international soccer for forwards to stay involved in the game all the time. That part of the challenge is something we've talked about with him and hopefully he can kind of piece together for himself."

If Cunningham works his way onto the team, he will consider himself to be very fortunate.

"I would kneel down and I would thank God," he said.

He then paused for several seconds.

"Man, I'd probably be in tears, man," he said. "For me to have an opportunity to be in the World Cup I don't think anything could top that besides the birth of my child."


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[quote name='MAGICTOUCH' date='25 February 2010 - 12:43 AM' timestamp='1267076624' post='865254']
LOL. Figures Ching would score the equalizer. That was the first time Sacha's done anything since the Olympics. Our "domestic" group needs some serious work on finishing. The El Salv GK made some nice plays but wow...opportunites were knocking allllll night.

Aside from finishing, Rogers looked real dangerous and confident in my opinion. Rogers, Goodson, & Ching are probably going to South Africa in my opinion, and Cunningham & Findley don't have a snowballs chance in hell at making the team. I really hope this performance doesn't put Kljestan on the squad.
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[size="5"][b]Americans rally for late win

[/b][/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/49/ridge-mahoney/"]Ridge Mahoney[/url], February 24th, 2010 7:24PM [/size]

[USA-EL SALVADOR] What can you say about a game in which a goalkeeper makes several outstanding saves, but gifts the other team both of its goals?

And how to evaluate the guy who’s playing out of position, again, commits a howler to hand the opposition a goal, yet does just about everything else well if not brilliantly?

The Americans, as they often do, left it very late to beat El Salvador, 2-1, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Wednesday night. [b]Sasha Kljestan[/b] stole a ball misplayed by a Salvadoran defender to score the winner in the second minute of stoppage time after playing a one-two with[b] Brian Ching[/b], whose strong but hardly overpowering header had glanced off the hands of [b]Miguel Montes[/b] to tie the match.

A team that rolls up an 18-3 edge in shots must have done something right, and for much of the game the U.S. played smartly if not elegantly into the attacking zone, where a shanked shot or ill-advised dribble ([b]Robbie Rogers[/b]) squandered an opportunity, or on-target efforts (Kljestan) were repelled by Montes.

[b]Heath Pearce[/b], given the left-back slot with [b]Jonathan Bornstein[/b] deployed in the middle with [b]Clarence Goodson[/b], powered up the flank repeatedly and dug into enough tackles to secure that flank for most of the game. [b]Kyle Beckerman[/b] took the holding role as Rogers (right), [b]Brad Davis[/b] (left), and Kljestan took turns slicing open the Salvadoran back line.

The Americans won their first corner in the first minute and nearly scored from it, but a Salvadoran defender blocked a glancing near-post header by [b]Brad Evans[/b] from a Davis corner kick. Evans got to his head from a free kick in the second half and powered another header that Montes dove left to parry. Though they couldn't score on a set play, the U.S. did get a few good shots on the frame.

Forwards [b]Conor Casey [/b]and [b]Robbie Findley[/b] didn’t get a lot of cracks at goal themselves yet helped carve open chances for the midfielders. Montes twice stopped good low shots from Kljestan in the first half, with balls from Casey and Davis providing the chances.

At halftime, Ching replaced Casey, and Rogers moved to his more natural left side to give [b]Eddie Gaven[/b] the right flank. Gaven and Ching found time and space immediately; Rogers got to the end line to drive a cross that Ching had to reach back for, and a great feed from Gaven went wasted when Rogers ran into a tackle.

El Salvador rarely threatened through its own volition, but when Evans – deployed at right back though he plays center mid for Seattle – glanced a Salvadoran long ball into the penalty area back toward keeper [b]Nick Rimando[/b] as defensive partner Bornstein came over and overran the ball, [b]Rudis Corrales[/b] seized the moment. He tapped the ball past Rimando as the keeper charged out and with barely more than a half hour to play the Americans trailed, 1-0. Otherwise, Evans had a solid outing.

Midway through the second half, [b]Jeff Cunningham[/b] replaced Findley, who been bothered in training by tendinitis. Cunningham dropped back into midfield, which gave Ching more space to operate and opened up even wider gaps in the Salvadorans’ central defense. When Pearce powered up the left side past [b]Deris Umanzor [/b]and served a bending ball to the near post, Ching stooped to direct a header that caromed off Montes’ gloves into the net.

Ching and Gaven, supported by several teammates, continued to threaten in the final minutes as the tiring Salvadorans defended desperately. Gaven shot wide under pressure after Ching flicked a ball to him over the Salvadoran back line, and Kljestan floated a corner that [b]Manuel Salazar[/b] headed away just as Goodson rose to meet it at the back post.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Montes played a ball outside of his penalty area to defender [b]Marvin Gonzalez[/b], who didn’t see Kljestan closing in. Kljestan took it off him cleanly, tapped a pass to Ching was returned, and touched the ball once before pushing it past Montes with his left foot from close range.

Both Ching and Kljestan, as well as Gaven and Goodson and Pearce, helped their quests to make the World Cup squad, but they – as well as everyone else – will get a better idea of where they stand when Coach[b] Bob Bradley[/b] chooses the players to face the Netherlands next Wednesday in Amsterdam. In a postgame interview Bradley said a few domestic players could be included on what will be a mostly European-based roster.

Feb. 24 in Tampa
USA 2 El Salvador 1. Goals: Ching 75, Kljestan 90; Corrales 59.
USA -- Rimando, Evans, Bornstein, Goodson, Pearce, Rogers (Cameron, 87), Kljestan, Beckerman (McCarty, 79), Davis (Gaven, 46), Findley (Cunningham, 68), Casey (Ching, 46).
El Salvador -- Montes, Escobar, Gonzalez, Flores, Sanchez, Romero (Alas, 71), A.Alvarez, Corrales, Salazar, Umanzor, Moscoso.
Referee: Silviu Peterscu (Canada).
[b]Att.: [/b]21,737.[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]U.S. Player Ratings: Ching heads class

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]by [url="http://www.socceramerica.com/author/49/ridge-mahoney/"]Ridge Mahoney[/url], February 25th, 2010 1:41AM [/size]

[USA REPORT CARD] Soccer America's [b]Ridge Mahoney[/b] rates the U.S. players after their 2-1 win over El Salvador on Wednesday in Tampa.

[b]U.S. Player Ratings
[b]Rating Player (Club) GP/G[/b]

[b]5 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 4/0[/b]
Routine saves handled cleanly, distributed ball well.

[b]4 Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders) 4/0[/b]
Terrible error on goal, otherwise defended well and played good balls up the flank.

[b]6 Clarence Goodson (IK Start/NOR) 10/2[/b]
A real presence in the air, won tackles on the floor, too.

[b]5 Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA) 28/2[/b]
Covered his area well, mix-up on first goal left gap.

[b]6 Heath Pearce (FC Dallas) 30/0[/b]
Strong game even before he set up first goal with burst of speed and good cross.

[b]4 Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew) 11/1[/b]
Flubbed shots and passes, hit some excellent set pieces in second half.

[b]5 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake) 12/1[/b]
Held the middle, found teammates with passes, caught upfield a couple of times.

[b]5 Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo) 5/0[/b]
Caused El Salvador some problems in first half, left at halftime with tight hamstring.

[b]6 Sasha Kljestan (Chivas USA) 23/4[/b]
Good shots were saved in first half, wandered at times, pounced to score winner.

[b]4 Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake) 2/0[/b]
Floated wide to find space, hit a good cross, left when tendinitis flared up.

[b]5 Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids) 19/2[/b]
Used his touches well, set up Kljestan for good chance, didn’t win much in the air.

[b]6 Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew) 7/0[/b]
Livened up attack working the right side and cutting through the middle.

[b]7 Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) 44/11[/b]
Headed equalizer, got off several shots, laid ball to Kljestan for winner.

[b]5 Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) 14/1[/b]
Played deeper than normal, passed effectively.

[b]NR Dax McCarty (FC Dallas) 4/0[/b]
Nice touches, no mistakes in brief appearance, set up chance.

[b]NR Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) 1/0[/b]
Got into the action to hit a shot just wide in stoppage time.

[i](1=bad; 5=average; 10=brilliant.)[/i]


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[size="5"][b]Holden makes EPL debut

[/b] [/size] [size="1"]February 24th, 2010 7:57PM [/size]

[AMERICANS ABROAD] Stuart Holden made his English Premier League debut for Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday in its 4-0 loss at Tottenham. The former Houston Dynamo midfielder played the entire 90 minutes.

Holden started the game in the middle of midfield but later moved to his more familiar position out wide on the right side.

Brad Guzan was in goal for Aston Villa in its 3-1 win over Crystal Palace to advance to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.[/quote]

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[b][size="5"][b]Post-Match Quotes: U.S. MNT 2, El Salvador 1 [/b][/size][/b]

[b]U.S. Men’s National Team head coach BOB BRADLEY[/b]

[i]On the match:[/i]
“We just talked a little bit to the team and certainly congratulated them on a good win, fighting from behind. I thought there were a lot of positives. There were some good efforts, as a whole, things that we’ve been trying to get at in a camp in January and then into February. There were some positive things on the field tonight and again, in these kind of games, showing the qualities on the field, when you get down, trying to push at the end to get a win, obviously a very good play at the end by Sacha [Kljestan] to get us a result.”

[i]On Conor Casey and Brian Ching:[/i]
“Brian has just been in this camp. Brian had a little bit of an injury at the end of the season last year. We talked with him, we talked with Dominic Kinnear, we agreed that January he would work on his own, he would do strengthening, and we would get him into camp in February. I think in this camp, it’s like a preseason. He starts and the first few days, you can see it’s a little bit slow. But Brian has qualities on the field in terms of putting himself in good positions, holding balls, bringing guys into the game. He’s a player that works hard for the team. He puts himself in good positions. I think often he makes players around him better because of the type of honest, dirty work that he does. I thought that was clearly the case in the second half. Had some chances, the goalkeeper made some great saves, but he got himself a goal, and I thought he had a good presence.

“Conor has been in both camps. He came on as a reserve against Honduras and then tonight played the first half. I would say that if you look back to last year, Conor showed that he’s a good finisher. For a big man, still, as a striker, he’s deceptive. He finds a way to go by people. He gets chances. He scores different kinds of goals. He scored two very important goals for us in Honduras. I don’t think that in the early part of this year that we’ve seen the best of Conor, yet. What we just talked about with all these guys as we make some decisions tonight with regards to Holland, and then most importantly as we make decisions that go on and later on factor into the World Cup. We’re going to be watching how they’re playing with their teams. We’re going to be looking for form, fitness, mentality and we hope that they can make the decisions as hard as possible on the coaches by playing real well.”

[i]On selecting players for the match against the Netherlands:[/i]
“It’s important to say that decisions for Holland involve many different factors. In some cases we might have an idea that we want to see another guy play, so not bring in a player isn’t necessarily a statement that he has for some reason dropped down a little bit, just that we have two opportunities, this week and the next game to see some guys and we also recognize that we’ve had a number of these players away from their club teams a good amount in January, in the case of a guy like Clarence Goodson, because his team in Norway had actually started doing stuff. MLS guys, it’s just been this last stretch but we factor all those things in.”

[i]On the pressure as the time approaches to name a roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup:[/i]
“There’s always pressure on the coach. It’s okay. We have a good staff. I think we constantly, we watch games, we have discussions, when we’re in camp, every day we’re reevaluating things and as we go forward, we’re confident that we’re going to get a really strong group, a group that will have a great mentality and a group that’s going to go and give it all a great shot.”

[i]On how wide open the roster selection will be:[/i]
“If you take injuries out and you hope that certain guys can rehab well, I think that there’s probably a strong nucleus of guys that we’ve seen throughout qualifying that hopefully are going to be there. Again, whether that group is 15, 16, 17 or 18 depends on the discussion at any point. Some days it’s high, some days it’s low and then we just need to continue to watch games and check out rehab and see how it goes.”

[i]On how much he takes into account what goes on in training compared to games:[/i]
“All of that gets factored in, but that’s true every time we come in when we have a double fixture date and we have a week of training leading into a game, then we might have an idea as players come in, what we think the lineup might be. But obviously, now, you still need to see when training begins how sharp guys are, are they fit, what’s the mentality, so that’s an on-going thing. You balance opportunities that they get in games with what you see in training. You put it all together and make those kinds of decisions.”

[i]On Jonathan Bornstein: [/i]
“I thought Jonny played very well tonight. He has very good defensive qualities. He reads the game well. He’s quick. He’s a very athletic defender even though he’s not that big. We saw him play a lot last year as a centerback for Chivas and he did quite well. We’ve now tried to make sure that he’s comfortable and that in certain situations we can consider that. We thought he played well tonight.”

[b]U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder SACHA KLJESTAN [/b]

[i]On scoring in added time after missing a few chances earlier in the match:[/i]
“It felt good. It felt like I was doing a lot of the little things right tonight as compared to maybe the game in Honduras where maybe I wasn’t closing down fast enough or making plays in my area or being hard enough to play against. Tonight I think I did those better and that got me in the game more and got me some looks in front of the goal. Obviously, I had two good chances in the first half but I was glad I could make up for it in the end.”

[i]On the goal:[/i]
“They were playing around with the ball in the back a lot tonight and at the very end the guy had his head down and I thought he wouldn’t see me coming from his blind side, and I guess I just picked his pocket and Ching played me a good ball back through.”

[i]On whether he feels like he’s putting himself back into a good position with the U.S. MNT:[/i]
“I hope so. I feel like in the January and February camps I tried my hardest just to get back in the team. And prove to myself, prove to the teammates and prove to the coaching staff that I want to be here and deserve to be here and can be a positive for the team. I think the game against Honduras wasn’t my best but I think tonight I played a little bit better and I hope to continue to get a chance to move on and be a part of the team.”

[i]On Brian Ching: [/i]
“Brian is a guy that makes guys around him better. It’s always easy to play with Ching because he shows up in the tough spots and he puts his body on the line in front of defenders, he holds the ball up well and he brings other guys into the play. When he came on tonight he had a very positive impact. It’s always easy playing with him because he does the tough things in getting a goal and setting off another. I’m just glad we could combine for the last goal.”

[b]U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder EDDIE GAVEN [/b]

[i]On his performance:[/i]
“I felt good. The team worked really, really hard and it was good to be able to come back after we went down 1-0 to come back and win. It definitely felt good for us tonight.”

[i]On Brian Ching:[/i]
“Brian played great. He caused so much havoc for them. He just worked so hard off the ball, created chances and scored a very nice goal. He was very good for us tonight.”

[b]U.S. Men’s National Team Forward JEFF CUNNINGHAM [/b]

[i]On the difficulty of working together as a team while competing with teammates for a place on the team:[/i]
“The coach reminded that us before the match that we’re still a team. We’re all trying to show our abilities but it’s still a team game and we need to play together and get a result as a team. He knows what he’s looking for and I think we did that tonight. We fought and we deserved to win.”

[b]U.S. Men's National Team Forward BRIAN CHING[/b]

[i]Thoughts on tonight's 2-1 victory against El Salvador:[/i]
“I thought we played pretty well. We limited their chances and created a lot of chances ourselves. We could have done a better job finishing and put the game away a little earlier, but give credit to the 'keeper; I think he made some great saves.”

[i]On coming onto the field as a second half sub and how he got into the game: [/i]
“Sometimes when you sit and watch the first half you kind of get to watch the defense and see how they are reacting. What I wanted to do in the second half was put myself in good positions and I think I did that. I tried to get everybody involved and hold the ball and lay it off and I think that went well today.”

[i]On the experience of coming from behind to get the win:[/i]
“It's a young team so to come back from behind is good for us. It's a good learning experience and for a lot of guys, you could see their confidence build as the game went on. There were more and more chances we were getting at the end and everybody believed we could get the win. We went out there and we did it and I think it was a great game for a lot of guys to learn. Sometimes you're going to be in a tough situation and I think we reacted well to it.”

[i]On starting his season off on a positive note:[/i]
"Anytime you play well it gives you a little bit of confidence. I hope I can keep that going for whatever my next game is, into the season and hopefully to the World Cup. It's one game so you can't read too much into it, but it was a good start to the season for me and hopefully I can build on that."

[b]U.S. Men's National Team Defender JONATHAN BORNSTEIN [/b]

[i]On tonight's 2-1 victory against El Salvador:[/i]
"I thought we fought pretty hard to come back. We gave up that goal but I don't think they had many chances other than that. It was a letdown at that moment but the guys showed a lot of character and a lot of heart. We ended up getting two goals in the end and got the W. That makes the game feel a lot better and I thought if we had taken more of our chances we would have been up a lot sooner."

[i]On wearing the captain's armband for the first time:[/i]
"It is a tremendous feeling. It was my first game leading the team out onto the field and to get a win in the same game just topped it off. But I thought a lot of the guys showed heart and leadership out there, not just myself. I just tried to do the best job as captain I could."

[b]U.S. Men’s National Team Midfielder GEOFF CAMERON[/b]

[i]On earning his first cap with the U.S. Men's National Team:[/i]
“It’s what you dreamed of when you were a little kid. It's just one stepping stone, and I want to accomplish a lot more as a player. It was a great experience training with the guys and being with the national team, and it was great to get my first cap.”

[i]On fighting for the victory with teammates who have spent two camps together in January and February:[/i]
"You're representing your country and it's a little different level. We spent almost a month together during the last training camp and then this one. It's almost all the same guys fighting for it every day. You get used to the guys playing next to you and the win makes it all worthwhile."[/quote]

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[size="5"][b]Grant Wahl's Blog

[/b][/size]TAMPA -- Three thoughts after the U.S. B-team's 2-1 victory over El Salvador on Wednesday night:

* [b]Depth is still a big concern.[/b] The U.S.'s MLS-based players have had two big chances this year to show they have what it takes to make the World Cup team, and the results have been decidedly mixed. The 3-1 loss to Honduras last month was marred by an early red card to [b]Jimmy Conrad[/b], but the Yanks played with no such disadvantage in this game and still had to come from behind at home against a mediocre regional foe. Still, fighting back for the victory showed this team does have a competitive spirit. Which players improved their cases to earn one of the 23 golden tickets in June? I'd say forward [b]Brian Ching[/b], whose goal and general danger in the box showed he could provide depth in South Africa; left back [b]Heath Pearce[/b], who sent a nice cross to Ching for the goal and had success down the left side; and perhaps midfielder [b]Sacha Kljestan[/b], whose game-winning goal came after he had missed two scoring chances in the first half. Defenders [b]Clarence Goodson[/b] and [b]Jonathan Bornstein[/b] were pretty solid in the central defense, too. That's about it, though.

* [b]Other players didn't make a good case for World Cup inclusion.[/b] [b]Robbie Rogers[/b] struggled in the first half on the right side of midfield, lacking sharpness and cohesion with his teammates and seeming out of sorts. Things improved slightly for Rogers on the left side in the second half, but he still didn't look like a player who could come on as a late-game sub in South Africa. Right back [b]Brad Evans[/b] was dangerous on a couple of set-piece headers early, but his bad back-pass header led directly to El Salvador's goal. Meanwhile, midfielder [b]Kyle Beckerman[/b] and starting forwards [b]Conor Casey[/b] and [b]Robbie Findley[/b] didn't look bad, but they didn't get the breakout performances that they could have used, either.

* [b]Onward to Amsterdam.[/b] The importance of this game will pale in comparison to the A-squad's game next Wednesday at the Amsterdam Arena against the Netherlands. [b]Landon Donovan[/b], [b]Tim Howard[/b], [b]Carlos Bocanegra[/b] and Co. will be back in action for the U.S. for the first time since last October's final World Cup qualifier in Washington D.C. How will they respond to playing one of the world's top teams in an intimidating atmosphere? Tonight's game was another reminder that MLS players don't figure to make much of an impact on the U.S. World Cup team in South Africa.

Who do you think helped their cause? Which of these U.S. players would you be comfortable with on the field in South Africa? What were your thoughts on the game? Feel free to post them below...


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