us soccer

The United States national team’s important week ahead


A dozen days from now, we’ll know whether the United States is safely through to final round World Cup qualifying, or …

Well let’s not even entertain such unpleasant thoughts if we do not absolutely have to.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side travels to Antiqua and Barbuda for an Oct. 12 match, then meets Guatemala on Oct. 16 in Kansas City. The Americans are one of three-teams tied atop CONCACAF Group A (along with Jamaica and Guatemala), so there’s no margin for error. The top two teams advance.

Here’s the basic outline of how the next week and a half looks:

U.S. Soccer will release its latest roster at 3 p.m. (ET) Monday. Klinsmann, possibly the most accessible national team coach in the history of the world, as well as perhaps the most candid, will join a 3:30 p.m. conference call to talk about his choices.

(By the way, I have a feeling there will be at least one fairly significant surprise on the roster, perhaps a new man wading out of the shallow end of the player pool and into a more prominent spot.)

Most of the players will arrive Monday into Miami, where the team will train on Tuesday and Wednesday. The plane pulls out of Miami on Thursday bound for Antigua, where Klinsmann will guide his team through an evening workout.

(MORE: Klinsmann asks for more focus from his team)

The match is set for 7 p.m. ET at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

The team travels Saturday to Kansas City, has a public training on Sunday and then a Monday evening workout before Tuesday’s big match. The contest Tuesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park closes out semifinal-round qualifying.

By the way, CONCACAF officials will closely coordinate the kickoff times in Kansas City and in Jamaica, site of the night’s other semi-final round closer (Jamaica vs. Antigua). Officials want simultaneous kickoffs to prevent any side from having an unfair tactical advantage in advance knowledge of the other group result.

The group standings at the moment:


Ferguson still being asked about Moyes: “We chose a good football man”

David Moyes Alex Ferguson
AP Photo/Martin Rickett/PA
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In some ways absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it seems Sir Alex Ferguson‘s life after Manchester United has been filled with second guessing.

Whether the sales of Paul Pogba and Gerard Pique or the appointment of David Moyes, “Fergie” apparently can’t rest on his title-winning laurels.

[ MORE: Tax evasion charges dropped against Messi, but not his father ]

One thing that seems to bug him more than anything, though, is the idea that he hand-picked David Moyes to be his successor, and should be responsible for his failings.

In a new documentary, Ferguson both defends the appointment of Moyes and explains the process behind his choice.

From the BBC:

“I don’t think we made a mistake at all. I think we chose a good football man,” Ferguson says. “Unfortunately it didn’t work for David.

“Jose Mourinho was going back to Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti was going to Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp had signed a contract with Dortmund, Louis Van Gaal was staying with Holland for the World Cup.”

The article also makes another key point, according to Ferguson: the manager claims he only gave United a few months notice that he’d be stepping down. That certainly didn’t provide a lot of lead time to secure a big boss.

What do you make it of it? If your answer is, “When can we stop talking about Moyes and United?” I tend to be with you, but it’s a talking point.

Tax evasion charges against Messi dropped; Case vs father continues

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, Barcelona F.C. star Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court to answer questions in a tax fraud case in Gava, near Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona prosecutors are calling for the arrest of Messi's father in a tax fraud case. Prosecutors have cleared Messi of wrongdoing but are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, for allegedly defrauding Spain's tax office of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
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Lionel Messi will not face charges that he and his father defrauded the government in millions of unpaid taxes, though his father is not so lucky.

Messi’s father, Jorge, could face 18 months in jail and an approximate $2.25 million fine despite a voluntary payment of $5.5 million in 2013 to “correct” the missed taxes.

[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]

The Barcleona star had plead ignorance to the charges, something that failed to impress prosecutors. But, it apparently worked out in his favor on Tuesday.

From the BBC:

Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoiding paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009.

Messi’s lawyers argued that the player had “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts, El Pais newspaper reported.