U.S. Soccer will announce this week where the national team’s first home game in final round World Cup qualifying will be played, according to Grant Wahl.
The veteran soccer writer from Sports Illustrated, also working these days as part of the Fox Soccer Channel staff, said a “high-ranking U.S. Soccer source” revealed to him the venue for a March 22 contest against Costa Rica is down to three finalists.
The high-stakes match will be played in either Salt Lake City, Denver or Kansas City, according to Wahl.
That will be the United States’ first home match in final round qualifying, which begins Feb. 6 at Honduras. The contest against Costa Rica will be Match Day No. 2 in final stage CONCACAF qualifying.
The United States has enjoyed its time in Salt Lake City before, defeating Costa Rica (same country they face here in March) en route to World Cup 2006 in Germany. That was before a nice crowd of 40,586 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Four years later Bob Bradley’s team won an important match over El Salvador at a packed Rio Tinto Stadium (pictured).
In both cases, national team players and staff talked up their regard for Salt Lake City as a venue.
The team has not been to Colorado since a 2008 win over Guatemala in semifinal round World Cup qualifying. Attendance was hardly great that day at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9,303), but the United States had already booked passage into final round qualifying by that point, so that’s not exactly surprising.
Kansas City is a shoe-in to get at least one match, based on the big support there and the U.S. team success at Livestrong Sporting Park since it opened in suburban Kansas City about 20 months ago.
We’d ask Luke Mulholland to take a bow, but we’re unsure how that would turn out.
The Englishman celebrated his 16th Real Salt Lake goal with a knee slide turned face plant on Sunday, and it was immediately clear he shared in the laughter it caused at Rio Tinto and on screens around the world.
[ RECAP: RSL 2-0 Seattle ]
Mulholland helped RSL continued it’s improbable red-hot run into the playoff picture with his third goal of the season on Saturday night against Seattle with a run in front of a defender to punch home a cross.
On his way to the corner flag for a nice slide, the pitch decided to rebel against his knees and sent him face-first into the Earth.
Newcastle United looks to continue its rich vein of form when it visits some old friends at Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
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Brighton manager Chris Hughton has led both clubs to Premier League promotion during his managerial career.
He’ll keep ex-Newcastle keeper Tim Krul on the bench in favor of Australian backstop Mathew Ryan.
As for Newcastle, the Magpies are unchanged from last week’s win over Stoke City.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross; Hemed. Subs: Krul, Rosenior, Huenemeier, Schelotto, Izquierdo, Murphy, Brown.
Newcastle United: Elliot; Mbemba, Clark, Lascelles, Yedlin; Ritchie, Hayden, Merino, Atsu; Perez, Joselu. Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Manquillo, Diame, Murphy, Shelvey, Gayle.
Steven Gerrard has issued some fairly hilarious comments regarding former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho.
The Premier League legend admits there were days in training that the sight of the Brazilian wizard on the other side of the pitch made him lash out.
[ MORE: Palace fans must be patient ]
It seems Gerrard wanted nothing to do with marking Coutinho in small-sided games, and the idea of “Stevie G” spouting off in frustration when Brendan Rodgers posted Coutinho across from him is a wonderful mental picture.
From The Liverpool Echo:
“He’s impossible to defend against,” Gerrard told BT Sport after Saturday’s game.
“I mean when I used to train against him, I’d hate it if I was on the opposite five-a-side team. I wouldn’t go near him. And sometimes I’d say to him: ‘Keep away from me! He can embarrass you [as a defender]. He can stand you up, he can both ways, he’s got such a low centre of gravity. He’s sharp, he’s quick and he’s two or three steps ahead of defenders. He’s so, so clever.”
Again, the vision of Gerrard throwing his hands up with a “Nope, not having this today” is amazing. Even if exaggerated, we love it. We picture that old meme with the office worked tossing papers through the air.
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is 0-2 in his new gig and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t exactly within touching distance.
The latest defeat is a 5-0 blowout at Manchester City, and the immediate road ahead is sobering: at Manchester United and home to Chelsea. Following a trip to Newcastle, who is in form, the Eagles have matches vs. West Ham, at Spurs, and versus Everton.
[ MORE: Premier League Sat. roundup ]
Palace is 0-6 overall and the first team in the history of the Premier League to go goalless through its first six matches.
Palace fired Frank De Boer after four league matches and a summer in which the club failed to add much to its squad.
And Hodgson is feeling his way through the dark. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this is the timing of Palace’s change.
From the BBC:
“I am learning about the team all the time and they are learning,” said Hodgson.
“Our focus has to be in May. By the latter part of the season the players must know what we are looking for. They should feel stronger by then.”
To be shooting for May has to be overwhelming for the Selhurst Park faithful but may indicate their most reasonable promise of life in the Premier League.
Palace fans cannot afford to get caught up in how Sam Allardyce saved them a year ago, because his turnaround coincided with the Eagles’ purchases of Luka Milivojevic, Mamadou Sakho, and Patrick Van Aanholt. An influx of talent does not save a season alone, but we’re fairly sure Alan Pardew would’ve relished the chance to work with two new backs and a stabilizing center midfielder.
Remember that Allardyce then retired, which says something given his willingness to bask in any light in which he can claim a modicum of credit.
So Hodgson, known for his relentless training methods, needs to be given his time. Palace will likely have at-most one point after the next two PL matches, and they may have not scored yet. History can be daunting, but supporters need to exhale and realize the road ahead is long.