A few conclusions, notes from Monday’s U.S. national team roster announcement

2 Comments

The most important take-away is that Jurgen Klinsmann’s mind is far from made up as the hour nears for those most-critical of World Cup roster decisions – real career maker and breakers, they always are.

We know his mind is not made up because of Tim Ream.

There are several relatively new faces on the U.S. roster announced this morning, just 48 hours ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Aug. 14 in Sarajevo – meaningless beyond the impact they have on these important individual choices. But a few of them are new to the full national team, based mostly on Klinsmann getting a better look under the hood.

But what about Ream, mostly a forgotten man on the national team, having apparently drifted far, far down the central defense depth pool? We know so because the Bolton FC man was not part of the U.S. Gold Cup squad, and Klinsmann used a fairly long ladle to get deep into the pool on that one.

So Ream, having last made an appearance in October of 2011, remains in play, perhaps able to leapfrog Oguchi Onyewu, who wasn’t exactly impressive in his brief Gold Cup appearance before injury took him out of the equation.

What else we can glean from Klinsmann’s choices:

Most MLS men left behind: So don’t read a single thing into the fact that guys like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler – quite important to their MLS clubs – aren’t on the roster. They are fine, and all can feel free to begin perusing the Brazilian tourist guides, barring injury going forward, obviously. Eddie Johnson will make the trip overseas (along with Sounders teammate Brad Evans) but he was suspended for this week’s MLS match anyway.

(We’ll have just a little more on this later.)

The curious case of Timothy Chandler remains as mysterious as ever: As this is a roster of mostly European-based types, and as Chandler was absent from the summer national team goings-on, you would certainly think the outside back would be part of this roster. But history has taught us that Chandler always seems to have a reason for backing out – unless this is a case of the Klinsmann striking first, doing the “backing out” instead.

I checked with the U.S. Soccer spokesman in Sarajevo; Chandler is not injured. He was on the bench for Nurnberg over the weekend in Germany.

Danny Williams is also still in the picture – but he’s got a lot of catching up to do: His recent move from Hoffenheim to has yet to pay dividends, as the German-American midfielder has one appearance (off the bench) in his new club’s first two league matches. He was not fit enough for Gold Cup duty, which allowed Kyle Beckerman to re-establish himself as an important role player in the pool. Williams is in the 23 for Wednesday.

Newbies getting their looks: Four players are into a U.S. national team camp for the first time: John Brooks, Cody Cropper, Aron Johannsson and Bobby Wood. All but Johannsson were part of the U.S. under-20 program previously. Johannsson has applied to FIFA for a change of association after having previously appearing for Iceland’s under-21 team. As his paperwork remains incomplete, it seems unlikely that we’ll see him Wednesday. Best chance for one of the new fellows: Brooks is a center back, and this United States roster is a little light on the central defenders.

The book on Brooks’ name: His full name is Jonathan Anthony Brooks Jr. … but he’ll be going by John Brooks, according to U.S. Soccer staff.

Chris Wondolowski thankful for call-up to national team

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Chris Wondolowski didn’t have to travel far when he got the call to join the U.S. national team ahead of two key World Cup qualifiers.

The U.S. will be playing Honduras on the home field of Wondolowski’s San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night as the Americans look to bounce back from an 0-2 start in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

“To represent your country is the ultimate pinnacle, especially as a soccer player in a World Cup qualifier in your hometown,” Wondolowski said. “I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. I’m very excited. I’m very honored to be a part of such a big game. It’s not necessarily the place we want to be, but it is an exciting place for U.S. Soccer right now. We have meaningful games in meaningful places.”

And Wondolowski might need to play a meaningful role with the U.S. short-handed at forward headed into the games against Honduras and then at Panama next Tuesday. Bobby Wood is out with a back injury, Jordan Morris has not practiced this week because of an ankle injury and Clint Dempsey said he might not be able to play 90 minutes after missing the final four months of the 2016 MLS season due to an irregular heartbeat.

That leaves just Jozy Altidore and Wondolowski as the only healthy forwards. The 34-year-old Wondolowski didn’t know whether he would get another chance at World Cup qualifying.

He didn’t get his first call-up to the national team until six years ago despite a prolific MLS career. He has played 35 international games, including two at the 2014 World Cup.

Wondolowski has scored 11 goals for the national team, but is most remembered for one he missed in the round of 16 against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup. With the game scoreless late in regulation, he had a chance at a game-winner but shot over the crossbar from inside the 6-yard box.

The U.S. lost 2-1 in overtime and Wondolowski has not played in any 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

“If you play well at the club level, you figure you can get a chance,” he said. “You never know if that will keep happening. You always have to cherish the times that you have.”

Wondolowski has done that by scoring 28 goals the past two seasons for the Earthquakes and one so far this season in three games. He doesn’t know if he will get a chance to play but has already been a valuable resource for his familiarity with the home stadium.

“They’ve been asking me about the field, the atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t have enough adjectives to tell them how great it is. The atmosphere you feel, the presence that the crowd provides throughout the game will lift you. It’s an amazing pitch, amazing fans, and hopefully we can get three points.”

After the losses to Mexico and Costa Rica last November that led to coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s firing and the return of Bruce Arena as coach, the U.S. has little margin for error.

The Americans are in last place in the six-team group that will send the top three teams to Russia in 2018 and the fourth into a playoff with the fifth-place nation from Asia.

“Some games you go in and you’re trying to implement things and work on your style,” Wondolowski said. “We’re worried about three points. Pretty, ugly, it doesn’t matter. Just grind it out any way possible.”

Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson dreams of “big club”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This will unnerve Swansea fans.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Gyfli Sigurdsson, 27, has scored eight goals and assisted 11 times in the Premier League as the Swans have dragged themselves out of the relegation zone.

Swansea boss Paul Clement recently stated that Sigurdsson has the same ability of players he’s coached at Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid and with his quality from set pieces, finishing in and around the box and dictating play, it’s hard to argue with that.

Speaking to Goal.com, Sigurdsson revealed that Clement’s kind words were appreciated and he feels he can play for a bigger club.

“Of course that’s very flattering. Maybe he was just trying to give me confidence,” Sigurdsson said. “Of course, it would be a dream to play for one of these big clubs. Hopefully if I continue doing well for Swansea and Iceland then in the near future, I can play in a big club. I am enjoying being one of the senior players, though.

“We may be in a tough spot, but I am kind of enjoying the pressure of that. I am trying to make the most of that and help the team to get three points every week.”

Late in the January transfer window it was reported that some top teams in the PL came in with bids for Sigurdsson and the former Hoffenheim and Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder is definitely entering his prime.

He’s scored 33 goals in 115 appearances for the Swans over the past three seasons since joining from Tottenham and perhaps the main criticism some people have of Sigurdsson is that he prefers to be a big fish in a small pond. During his time at Spurs he scored just eight times in 58 appearances in the Premier League but now it seems like he is ready to go to the next level.

Swansea will ask for over $35 million for Sigurdsson but with clubs like Everton and Arsenal rumored to be interested in his services, a nervous summer could be ahead for the South Wales side. Swansea’s Icelandic playmaker will be a man in demand, irrelevant of whether or not the Swans survive relegation.

Everton agree deal to buy land for new stadium

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton have moved a step closer to a new home on Liverpool’s waterfront.

[ MORE: PL clubs on preseason tours

The Guardian is reporting that the Premier League have “agreed a deal to purchase land at Bramley Moore dock” which is where a new $375 million stadium is proposed for the Toffees.

Per the report, a deal has been agreed in principle with the landowners Peel Holdings and now Everton, led by new billionaire majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, will try to kick their new stadium project on. It is widely expected that the club will announce more details later on Thursday, with Liverpool City Council set to be heavily involved in the huge regeneration project.

Moshiri now has to acquire funding for the stadium and also get planning permissions from the council but things appear to be moving in the right direction.

Back in November 2016, Moshiri said having a stadium which “rewards the fans” was his “key aim” at Everton.

Everton’s search to find a new home after 125 years at Goodison Park has been exhaustive and frustrating. They’ve had three separate sites turned down since 2000 but with Moshiri’s arrival last February there is renewed optimism that building a new luxurious home in Liverpool’s docks is possible.

With Manchester City expanding the Etihad Stadium in recent seasons, Liverpool drastically improving Anfield, West Ham moving into the London Stadium, Chelsea closing in on securing a deal for a $600 million revamp of Stamford Bridge, plus Tottenham Hotspur moving into a new 61,000 home for the 2018-19 season, the rest of the Premier League is kicking on in terms of stadium expansion.

Moshiri has lofty heights for Everton and with Ronald Koeman as manager and plenty of funds promised to improve their exciting squad, the final major hurdle to overcome is the construction of a new home.

VOTE: Select Premier League Goal of the Month – March

Leave a comment

The 2 Robbies have selected their contenders for the Premier League Goal of the Month for March.

[ VOTE: Select your GOTM here ]

Now it’s your job to select the winner by clicking on the link above.

Watch the contenders in the video above and then vote for your favorite.

Enjoy.