SALT LAKE CITY – U.S. players and coaches were effusive in praise for the wonderful atmosphere last week in Seattle, going on and on about the fans’ regard and the enchanting song careening through CenturyLink Field.
The common theme: “We’ve got to come back here!” And rightly so.
But unsaid as the narrative developed was this: It’s like this pretty much wherever the U.S. national team plays now. And isn’t that something!
Rio Tinto Stadium will look and sound just the same tonight. This is a festive and fiery market for the national team, too.
The game sold out in two days. More seats were added and they were gone fast. Attendance for tonight’s match will be 20,250 officially.
Not that it’s a surprise. In 2005 more than 40,000 fans made Rice-Eccles Field a wonderful place. Bruce Arena told a story about walking out of the team hotel for a haircut on the morning of the match, and how everybody recognized him. Same for the players, who enjoyed being big shots around a smaller market, something that might not have happened in larger cities.
In 2009, Rio Tinto was rocking as the United States found a much-needed win over El Salvador in the drive for South Africa 2010.
Fans and media tend to understandably get caught up in the moment. Last fall in Kansas City, U.S. players talked up Sporting Park and how the team really needed to come back there. And rightly so.
They say the same about Columbus every time they cruise in and out of Ohio. And rightly so. Those are fantastic sites. Loud as it was at CenturyLink, the roof in Kansas City makes a difference, keeping much of that noise inside the ground.
The bigger point is, the United States has options in site selection. Great ones.
Major League Soccer has worked hard to create and cultivate bright markets. And there are good markets beyond MLS shores. Part and parcel here is that U.S. Soccer, with the help of those market leaders, can better control ticket sales. That’s important in creating that advantage in the stands that was so frequently forfeited during qualifiers of the last decade.
Iranian woman “sneaks” into Persian League match dressed as a man
Mata, 28, has been a consistent performer for United, but will his reunion with Mourinho be short-lived? It’s easy to imagine both as ready to move on and Barcelona could be an option if that happens.
Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona could make a bid of close to $40 million in order to help the midfield continue to tick. Mata was a key part of United’s possession-based approach under Louis Van Gaal, and as a player really does fit the bill of a Mourinho-minded mid.
We’re just hoping that if Mata moves, he doesn’t switch anywhere that would change his English language blog posts.
PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain defender Serge Aurier has been arrested following an argument with police after a night out in a Paris, a police official told The Associated Press on Monday.
The official said Aurier was arrested at 5:50 a.m. local time after he spent the night at a club with friends near the Champs-Elysees. The official said Aurier was put in a holding cell for “using violence on a police officer.”
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly of the case.
The Copa America Centenario opens in California on Friday, as the stars of North, Central and South America take center stage in the United States.
Well, most of them.
Neymar is out of the tournament thanks to an agreement between Barcelona and Brazil that will allow the superstar to play in August’s Olympics in Rio. And Barca teammate Luis Suarez is expected to miss the group stage for Uruguay while recovering from a hamstring injury.
As usual the focus will be on Lionel Messi and Argentina, whose powerful roster has finished runners-up at the 2014 World Cup and three of the last four Copa America tournaments. Opening with Chile before matches against Bolivia and Panama, Argentina will be expected to make a deep run. Critics know Messi is one of the best players in recent memory, but his failure to land a title outside of the Olympics with a squad that often includes Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain has haunted him, in a sense, at the international level.
Chile won’t be feeling much pressure after winning the 2015 Copa, albeit in controversial fashion that included whispers of home-cooking and a dirty incident from Gonzalo Jara that pained Uruguay physically and competitively. Still, Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) will put on a show on American soil in an attempt to repeat. And keep an eye out for Eduardo Vargas, whose production with Chile far exceeds what he’s done at clubs Hoffenheim, QPR, Valencia and Napoli.
Uruguay may be without Suarez for a while — nothing new given his suspension for biting at the World Cup — but Edinson Cavani will look to make amends for his wrongly-given red card in last year’s tournament. Abel Hernandez was dynamite in lifting Hull City back into the Premier League this season, while Uruguay boasts one of the world’s most complete backs in Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin.
Andres Guardado of Mexico is criminally underrated and one of the best playmakers on the planet. The PSV man is joined on a solid El Tri roster that includes Bayer Leverkusen star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
The USMNT will have to contend with Colombia’s star men, highlighted by James Rodriguez, the Real Madrid forward and star of the 2014 World Cup. Carlos Bacca can also dominate stretches of action for Los Cafeteros.
Neymar is out for Brazil, but holy smoke that roster is terrific. Group B’s favorites will roll out Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Chelsea’s Willian, Zenit’s Hulk and Real Madrid’s Casemiro.
Other Premier League players on Copa America rosters
Major League Soccer players on Copa America rosters
Kaka (Brazil / Orlando City)
Kendall Waston (Costa Rica / Vancouver Whitecaps)
Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica / NYCFC)
Johan Venegas (Costa Rica / Montreal Impact)
Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica / DC United)
Christian Bolanos (Costa Rica / Vancouver Whitecaps) Tim Howard (USMNT / Colorado Rapids)
Matt Besler (USMNT / Sporting KC)
Graham Zusi (USMNT / Sporting KC)
Kyle Beckerman (USMNT / Real Salt Lake)
Michael Bradley (USMNT / Toronto FC) Clint Dempsey (USMNT / Seattle Sounders)
Gyasi Zardes (USMNT / L.A. Galaxy)
Chris Wondolowski (USMNT / San Jose Earthquakes)
Jermaine Jones (USMNT / Colorado Rapids)
Darlington Nagbe (USMNT / Portland Timbers)
Steve Birnbaum (USMNT / DC United)
Nelson Valdez (Paraguay / Seattle Sounders)
Carlos Gruezo (Ecuador / FC Dallas)
Soni Mustivar (Haiti / Sporting KC)
Andre Blake (Jamaica / Philadelphia Union)
Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica / New York Red Bulls)
Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica / Portland Timbers)
Je-Vaughn Waton (Jamaica / New England Revolution)
Giles Barnes (Jamaica / Houston Dynamo)
Simon Dawkins (Jamaica / San Jose Earthquakes)
Anibal Godoy (Panama / San Jose Earthquakes)
Blas Perez (Panama / Vancouver Whitecaps)
Alberto Quintero (Panama / San Jose Earthquakes)
NASL players on Copa America rosters Yasmani Duk (Bolivia / New York Cosmos)
Pascal Millien (Haiti / Jacksonville Armada)
James Marcelin (Haiti / Carolina Railhawks)
Jean Marc Alexandre (Haiti / Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
Jerome Mechack (Haiti / Jacksonville Armada)
USL players on Copa America rosters Ryan Thompson (Jamaica / Saint Louis FC)