DENVER – The cold and the nasty may be on the way, but the weather was absolutely brilliant for the United States’ final practice this afternoon, held at the University of Denver near downtown.
With just a little luck maybe the really bad stuff headed this way will hold off until later in the night. Maybe.
Other news and notes ahead of tomorrow’s pressure-packed contest at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
- The contest is sold out; has been for weeks.
- During an afternoon news conference, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said he had no problem with Brian Straus’ provocative article from the Sporting News. “Obviously I prefer that if you have a problem with me, come to me and talk to me about it. The so-called ‘anonymous quotes’ where we don’t know who said it; is it a player? Is it an agent? Is it a fan or whoever? But it doesn’t distract us from what we’re here for or. Our focus is strictly Costa Rica.”
- Klinsmann also responded to recent statements from former U.S. coach Bruce Arena about the use of so-called passport players. Mostly, the LA Galaxy manager was referring to Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams, Jermaine Jones, Terrence Boyd and others in the pool who were born overseas but dual citizenship holders due to their parents.
- Klinsmann: “I believe Americans are Americans no matter if they grow up in Japan, South Africa or Buenos Aires. Our job is identify the best talents with American passports and see if they are good enough to come into that elite group. By finding those answers, the only way to do that is actually inviting them in and see how they do in our environment and give them their opportunity.”
- By all accounts, DaMarcus Beasley (pictured) is fitting right into the group despite his length absence. Presumably, he’ll get on the field at some point tomorrow, and it will be a significant appearance. Beasley would join an elite fraternity of players who have worn the U.S. shirt in at least one match for 13 consecutive years. The others are Frankie Hejduk (14 years), Marcelo Balboa, Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones, Kasey Keller, Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart.
- This would also be Beasley’s 98th cap.
- What Beasley said about the pressure attached to this one: “We’ve always come through when there’s pressure on. It’s always been that way when I’ve been there, it won’t be any differ come tomorrow. We embrace the pressure. We know we are at home, we know we need three points. It’s a very important match, even though it’s very early in the tournament. Everyone knows that. In qualifying you need to win your home matches, for sure. Tomorrow will be no different.”
- Mucho game notes are here from U.S. Soccer.
Watch ProSoccerTalk tomorrow; we’ll have lots of pre-game coverage, and then ample match coverage as well.
The United States takes on Canada for the second of two friendlies that test those involved in January camp. With Iceland already dispatched 3-2, Canada is next up, at 10:30 p.m. ET from the StubHub center in California.
Jurgen Klinsmann has chosen his lineup, and it’s not easily discernible.
The back line is the biggest head-scratcher, with three central defenders starting, and at least one of them out of position. Jermaine Jones, who performed well in a midfield distribution role against Iceland, has been moved back to the defensive line, partnering with Matt Besler. Steve Birnbaum, also a central defender who had ups and down against Iceland, is back in the lineup. There’s nowhere to fit a third central defender, so he will play out wide. Kellyn Acosta, a natural full-back, rounds out the back four.
In midfield, the personnel lends itself to a flat four, if only because there’s really no other way it can go. Again, a multitude of central defenders are deployed, with Michael Bradley, Lee Nguyen, and Mix Diskerud forming some kind of CM/CM/Winger combination (Nguyen is likely the odd man out wide), with Gyasi Zardes out wide on the other end.
Jozy Altidore returns up front, this time to partner with Jordan Morris, who makes his first USMNT appearance as a professional player.
Jurgen Klopp has made his frustrations with Daniel Sturridge‘s injury history very clear, but he still knows the England international is a crucial part of his squad, and he will be patient, no matter how frustrating it is.
Sturridge has been out since early December, and has made just five appearances all season due to a number of recurring injuries that have sapped him of his consistency for the last two years.
But with the 26-year-old back in training the last two days, the English media has speculated that Sturridge is looking to leave Liverpool, and that the club is trying to rid themselves of him as well. Klopp does not see it that way.
[ RELATED: Daniel Sturridge says he’s “good to go” ]
“I have no feeling that Daniel is thinking like this so stop thinking about it,” Klopp said in his pre-match press conference, speaking ahead of the match Saturday against Sunderland. “I spoke to him but not about this. I didn’t ask: ‘do you want to leave?’ “Why should I? He’s been back in training for two days. I don’t go over and say: ‘Daniel, I hear you want to leave? Is there truth in it?’ I don’t believe that it is like this.”
Klopp called the rumors a “non-story” and believes as soon as Sturridge is out on the field, the rumors will stop. He just has to get out on the field first.
“Since I was here I’ve had a normal relationship with Daniel Sturridge,” Klopp said. “The only problem is I have only had him 10 or 12 times on the training pitch – that is the truth. Now he is back we hope he can stay in team training and everything will be good. If everything is normal from now on then he is in the race.”
The German said that just having returned to training, Sturridge won’t be ready for Saturday’s game, but he could potentially be back to action for the FA Cup match against West Ham on Tuesday.
BERLIN (AP) — The German football federation has opened legal proceedings against Franz Beckenbauer, former members, and FIFA in a bid to limit potential damages arising from the 2006 World Cup corruption affair.
The DFB tells The Associated Press in a statement that it has “taken the necessary measures to prevent a possible limitation of claims” against former head of the German World Cup organizing committee Beckenbauer and his then vice-president Fedor Radmann, former DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach, former DFB general secretary Horst R. Schmidt, the executors of Robert Louis-Dreyfus’ estate, together with FIFA.
Central to the affair is a suspect 6.7 million euro payment made to FIFA by the DFB before the 2006 World Cup was awarded. The money was loaned to the German federation by Dreyfus.
Shakhtar Donetsk striker Fred, a regular for the Brazilian national team, has seen his CONMEBOL doping ban extended worldwide to all competitions.
A FIFA disciplinary committee announced that Fred’s suspension now covers “all types of matches, including domestic, international, friendly and official fixtures.”
The 22-year-old tested positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide during last summer’s Copa America, and has not played for the Brazilian national team since, having been banned for a year by CONMEBOL. He had been playing for his Ukranian club while FIFA was reviewing the case, making 12 appearances in league play and scoring two goals. He also played six times in the Champions League without scoring a goal.
The one-year ban is back-dated to Fred’s last international squad appearance, when he was on the bench for the Copa America quarterfinals on June 27 of last summer. That date will allow Fred to be eligible for the Rio Olympics, which start August 5.