For your patriotic planning purposes, mark down Tuesday, Sept. 10 as the most likely date for the United States to officially book passage to next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s team faces Mexico that night in Columbus, on the very same field, against the very same bitter rival and quite close to the very date when the United States qualified officially for World Cup 2006. (Steve Ralston with the game-winner! I mean, who saw that coming?)
Qualifying against Mexico is the cherry on this sundae of World Cup delight; just getting there is always the primary target, obviously. But booking official passage against reeling Mexico would be a memorable bonus – like when you order your favorite milkshake, and they bring you the extra milky goodness leftover from the metal mixer.
(MORE: U.S. notes as the team departs for Costa Rica)
Still, there is a scenario that could see the United States qualify against Costa Rica on Friday at the Estadio Nacional in La Sabana, just outside of San Jose. Here’s what must happen:
- The United States must beat Costa Rica. (The U.S. team is 0-7-1 in World Cup qualifiers in Costa Rica. That clearly bothers manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who is putting a lot of effort, emotional and otherwise, into this one.)
- Mexico and Honduras must draw when they meet that night at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Everyone draws these days at Azteca against offensively challenged Mexico, so that one is hardly far-fetched.
- Panama must either tie lose to Jamaica down in Central America – not impossible but not very likely, either, as Jamaica has been the final-round qualifying doormat so far.
The United States is going to Brazil next summer; official qualification at this point is mere formality, even if not mathematically so. Still, they aren’t booked until they are booked, and it will be a moment to celebrate, without a doubt.
The United States has been to every World Cup since 1986. This will mark the program’s seventh consecutive World Cup appearance.
Here are the CONCACAF final-round standings; the top three teams qualify automatically for Brazil 2014. The fourth-place finisher faces a home-and-away play-in series against New Zealand.
Fabian Delph means no offense to Martin O’Neill, Paul Lambert, and Manuel Pellegrini, but he’s never seen anything like the management of Man City boss Pep Guardiola.
“The first three weeks have been amazing. I’ve learned more than I have throughout my whole career,” he said to the BBC. “It is a big statement but it is the truth.”
[ MORE: Wenger open to big spending ]
He’s not alone in his praise for Guardiola, as defender Gael Clichy is thrilled at what’s transpiring in front of him at training.
“That’s something new as before we were quite open and if you look at our games from last year we were conceding a lot of goals on the counter-attack because we were an offensive team and open. I guess he’s trying to make us as offensive as previous years but just as solid at the back.”
Later in the article, Clichy talked about his friendship with Delph (which really ties our post together). City’s site even used the term “bromance”. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
While Manchester United and Liverpool have been the clubs grabbing headlines with transfers this summer, Arsene Wenger would like to remind you that:
A) There’s plenty of time left in the window.
B) Arsenal has a lot of money.
C) They did sign Granit Xhaka for big dollars.
[ RUMOR ROUNDUP: Mahrez to Arsenal ]
The Premier League’s longest-tenured manager opened up about the Gunners’ plans to keep looking for the right targets, and said the club is still “very active” and working with a month-and-a-half to go in the window.
“We are very active and if we find the right candidates, we will spend the big money. We have already spent big and, until now, nobody has made a bigger transfer than we have in the country.
He was also asked about Mauro Icardi, Arda Turan, and Alexandre Lacazette:
“I wouldn’t like to come out on names because if you don’t get them afterwards, people ask why. We are active, very active every day and it’s not over. Today we are on July 22 and the transfer market finishes on August 31. You know that a lot happens in the last week, so it’s a long time to go, but we are active and we are working.”
Arsenal could use a star striker, or at least depth behind Olivier Giroud, and have added young English back Rob Holding to go with scooping up Xhaka.
Do you think Wenger will dig into the bank again this summer for a big signing? If so, who?
FC Dallas’ hopes of winning MLS Cup are about to take a major hit.
Colombian attacker Fabian Castillo is ready to further his career beyond Major League Soccer, according to Goal.com, and is on the verge of a $3-4 million switch to Turkish side Trabzonspor.
Thrice capped for his national team, Castillo has been dynamite for Dallas. He has five goals and five assists in 22 appearances this season, and scored a combined 19 goals in the previous two seasons.
[ RUMOR ROUNDUP: Mahrez to Arsenal ]
Trabzonspor finished 12th in last year’s Turkish Super Lig. But they represented the league as its UEFA Champions League contender as recently as 2011-12, after finishing second in the league (Fenerbahce was banned from the UCL for corruption). Karadeniz Fırtınası is the 59th ranked team in UEFA.
FC Dallas manager Oscar Pareja is a strong manager, but it will take everything he has to keep the club atop the Western Conference. With stingy Colorado on the docket today, let’s see if Castillo is in the lineup.
The transfer mill has been churning out big names moves a-plenty this week as teams gear up for their seasons.
Rumors are coming fast and furious still, and Saturday is no exception.
[ MORE: Kolo to Celtic ]
Iceland’s run to the EURO quarterfinals may’ve opened a lot of eyes, but many already knew about Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Swansea man left for and returned from Spurs, but now could be on the move again.
The Express says Everton are willing to spend close to $33 million to lure Sigurdsson to Goodison Park. How wild have transfer fees gone in recent years? Brexit deflation aside, Sigurdsson’s moves to Swansea and Spurs cost between $9-12 million.
Eurosport reports that Arsenal is ready to go big in pursuit of Leicester City maestro Riyad Mahrez.
The Algerian international is said to have been “seduced” by the Gunners and wants to make a move to North London. The fee would be approximately $55 million, and take another instrumental part of the Foxes’ PL title run from the East Midlands.
The Sun claims that four omissions from Tottenham’s recent travel list mean all are destined to be sold by Mauricio Pochettino. Clinton N'Jie, Alex Pritchard, Nabil Bentaleb and Federico Fazio are ready for your club’s bid.
Zenit Saint Petersburg coach Mircea Lucescu told Calciomercato that there are three offers in for Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, one in the Premier League and two in Serie A. Witsel has been linked with Everton, Liverpool and Roma this summer.