United States lands in Jamaica: morning national team news roundup

3 Comments

The United States chartered into Jamaica on Tuesday, well ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier.

The early arrival, a day or two ahead of the more typical schedule, was about two things. First, it allowed the entire coaching staff to personally scout last night’s match at the National Stadium, where Mexico left Jamaica’s qualifying effort on the skids.

Truly, Jurgen Klinsmann’s team could deliver the knockout punch on Friday; that would effectively leave five teams (rather than six) competing for the three automatic bids into Brazil 2014 (plus the fourth-place spot that goes into a play-in series).

The other reason, as Klinsmann explains here, is about the lesson learned in a February loss to Honduras. Then, Klinsmann believed his team suffered from not getting settled into the environment.

We really felt it was important to get the guys here early, get settled, and get used to environment. We learned back in February that when you only come in two days before to place where it is 90 degrees and really high humidity, it is simply not possible to adjust. So we will get in a few training sessions and experience what the field will be like, and we will be well prepared for Friday.”

Speaking of Tuesday’s match from the ground known colloquially as The Office, ESPN FC’s Tom Marshall says Mexico may have won, but El Tri certainly remains a work in progress. Perhaps. But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 500 times. A win on the road in World Cup qualifying is a win. Period. Ask for the stylish stuff at home, if you like, but take the three points away from home by hook, crook or crazy German-style goalkeeper own goal.

From Kingston, on the morning after, the locals report on U.S. arrival and the initial practice, held at Arnett Gardens. (Oh … the U.S. loss last week was to Belgium, not Belarus. Just a heads up in case you see that in the report.)

Temperature in Jamaica around practice time: 88 degrees, according to U.S. Soccer. Yeah, it’s hot, mon!

Before departure yesterday, Klinsmann told several outlets that the removal of Fabian Johnson (pictured) Sunday for a hamstring strain was precautionary and that the U.S. left-sided man should be OK for Friday’s visit to The Office.

And for some lovely local flavor, and some insider stuff on what these trips are about from the Fourth Estate side, check out Steven Goff’s “postcard” from Jamaica

Report: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Griezmann backtracks over ‘insensitive’ blackface tweet

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Soccer star Antoine Griezmann has apologized for any offense caused after posting an image of himself on social media in blackface as part of an NBA party costume on Sunday.

Griezmann, who is white, was also wearing a wig and holding a basketball in the photo which had “NBA 69 ALLSTARS” on the jersey.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

The photo on his official Twitter account was accompanied by the message “80’s Party” followed by basketball and laughing emojis.

One response called the photo a “bad idea” with others urging the France forward to delete the tweet.

Griezmann at first reacted to the criticism by tweeting: “Calm down friends, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of this great era… It’s a tribute.”

He later tweeted an apology to those he had offended.

“I recognize that’s it’s insensitive on my part. If I offended some people I’m sorry,” he wrote.

The 26-year-old Griezmann plays for Spanish team Atletico Madrid but has been linked to a move to Barcelona.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

Twitter/@alexmorgan13
1 Comment

CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

[ MORE: Making sense of table in Man City’s world ]

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.