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.
Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.
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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”
Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:
“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.
“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.
Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.
[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]
Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]
Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.