No, the headline isn’t serious, but building on the theme established when Colorado confirmed Paolo Mastroeni as their permanent head coach, Seattle delivered a second piece of ‘we saw this coming’ news. Shortly before the team kicked off their 2014 season against Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders announced veteran midfielder Shalrie Joseph’s contract had been bought out, making the four-time Best XI midfielder a free agent.
Joseph was acquired in early 2013 from Chivas USA, with the Grenadian international’s second MLS club throwing in various sundries to send him and his Designated Player contract on the Sounders. Injured through much of the 2013 campaign and eventually renegotiating his contract so that he no longer a DP, Joseph was a non-factor for Seattle last year, his most memorable moment coming when he was a surprise starter at forward in the second leg of the team’s conference semifinal.
Joseph spent much of the preseason training with New England, raising the possibility a deal that would send him his original team, but given the place the 35-year-old is at in his career, a trade was always unlikely. Seattle was always destined to buy-out his deal.
Now, having be let go by the Sounders, Joseph is free to sign on the cheap with New England, or whichever team wants to see if one of MLS’s great has anything left in the tank.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Christian Pulisic, whose name was known to only the most ardent of U.S. national team supporters six short months ago, is the fastest rising star in American soccer these days, but you’d never know it just listening to him talk.
Speaking after the USMNT’s 4-0 victory over Bolivia here at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday — having made a big bit of history of his own in the process — Pulisic seemed to have just walked off the field following just another ordinary game — something you’d be easily tricked into thinking he’d done 500 times thus far in his career.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has something of a theory to explain Pulisic’s meteoric rise, from making his Borussia Dortmund debut three months ago, to scoring his first international goal on Saturday: the youngster is fearless — perhaps because he’s not been around the block enough to know any better, but without fear of conscience in the face of any challenge nonetheless.
“I think he is a wonderful kid. He’s grounded, he knows that he has a long way to go, but he has no fear, and this is very important — not having fear, especially when you play in our region (CONCACAF), where it becomes really physical. What you’re going to see next Friday will be very, very physical.”
On that lack of fear, Pulisic says it’s something that was instilled in him at a very young age, playing soccer and living an ordinary childhood in his hometown of Hershey, Penn., before it became clear that his future was to be anything but ordinary. Fear does seem a foreign concept to the now-three-times-capped USMNT starlet when asked how he’s made the transition from Dortmund Under-19s, to Dortmund first team, to USMNT impact-maker, so seamlessly.
“It’s just what I learned since I was a little kid. My dad taught me no matter what — I would play against these bigger players — to just be myself. I knew that I was good enough, that I had the ability, so I never shy away from any moment and I don’t think anyone should.”
The challenges for a 17-year-old earning his stripes on a team chock-full of established stars such as Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and on and on, are innumerable. From trying to impress Klinsmann and earn a share of first-team minutes, to “making friends” with the senior members of the squad, Pulisic is just doing his best to fit in and prove he can contribute at next week’s 2016 Copa America Centenario — the USMNT’s last major tournament before the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“The guys have taken me in, they’re all really nice, and it’s helped me a lot that I’ve been with them a few weeks now. It’s getting more and more comfortable. I’m making more friends. Normally, you’d hang out with some of the younger guys — kind of work your way up. You really have to earn your respects on the field. Off the field, they’re all nice guys.”
And yet, with all of that said, an air of naiveté hangs over Pulisic as he talks of becoming the youngest goalscorer in USMNT history, the 17-year-old that he is. Does the magnitude of such an accomplishment register an hour after that record-breaking strike?
“Honestly, no. I’m just living life, living in the moment. It’s cool — stats and stuff are cool — but I want to win this tournament coming up. That’s the overall goal, so I don’t really care too much about being the [youngest] goalscorer.”
Yes, the United States should beat Bolivia at home, and soundly, but that doesn’t make Saturday’s 4-0 win in Kansas City any less fun.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men throttled Bolivia, picking up the biggest win over a South American foe in national team history while writing in the U.S. men’s record book from an individual standpoint as well.
Christian Pulisic became the youngest goal scorer in USMNT history, and the Americans will be feeling pretty good after improving to 7-1-1 in their last nine games before the start of the Copa America Centenario on Friday in California.
So who showed well? See below:
Brad Guzan — 7 — Called on only once or twice, but made the saves. Always hard to know what to score a goalkeeper who doesn’t have much to do. We’ll go with 7.
Matt Besler (off HT) — 7 — Filling in at left back wasn’t a problem for Sporting KC’s center back, and he even pulled off a nifty attacking trick or two.
John Brooks — 6 — Made up for a horrible giveaway by charging into the play to score the Yanks’ second goal. Out of position on a late chance that Guzan handled well.
Geoff Cameron — 7 — This team is so much better when he is healthy. Have to wonder if the Confederations Cup berth would’ve been assured with him last summer.
Michael Orozco (off HT) — 6 — Wasn’t noticed much, and that’s good for him.
Bobby Wood —7 — Lively and active, even if his finish was off.
Gyasi Zardes (Off, 64′) —7 — If he wasn’t fighting his first touch, might’ve scored 3 or 4. Two is pretty good, though, right? He’d be a center forward, but Klinsmann needs to know the man up top can handle his first touch better.
Clint Dempsey (Off, 73′) — 6 — By no means bad. Is it too far off to say he’s doing the American version of the waning years of Cuauthemoc Blanco’s Mexican prime?
Fabian Johnson (On, HT) — 6 — Slow to get back on Bolivia’s only scoring chance.
DeAndre Yedlin (On, HT) — 6 — Like Orozco, had very little to do on the right side.
Christian Pulisic (On, 64′) — 7 — He’s a mouth-watering prospect, and became the youngest goal scorer in USMNT history.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For the most part, the U.S. national team systematically dismantled Bolivia, to the tune of a 4-0 victory (as it should have done), in its final pre-2016 Copa America Centenario tune-up Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park. We learned a few things about Jurgen Klinsmann’s side ahead of Friday’s tournament opener…
Michael Bradley is the USMNT’s no. 6. End of story. His ability to play himself (and teammates) out of trouble at all times and hit (quick) long balls out to the wings changes the point of attack in an instant. The USMNT actually resembles a dangerous attacking side in these brief moments. (He’s also the quickest thinker in the player pool, doing things like this to set up goals.) Not to mention, he’s got the wheels to recover tons of space when a quick counter is inevitably launched the other way — something that Kyle Beckerman, for everything he’s been to the USMNT the last few years, simply doesn’t have anymore.
Alejandro Bedoya was easily the standout performer Saturday night, though, bagging a pair of first-half assists as the USMNT took a 2-0 lead into halftime. Speaking of circulating the ball quickly, Bedoya’s first-time chipped helper was the only ball that puts Gyasi Zardes into space with enough time to compose himself and beat the goalkeeper the way he did for the opener. With Bradley and Jermaine Jones capably waging the possession battle a bit deeper, Bedoya has the license — and ability — to flair out wide when a pocket of space presents itself (reference: USMNT goals scored in above links).
Matt Besler and Michael Orozco, who are center backs by nature, started the game at left and right back respectively. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world defensively, but tasked with overlapping a pair of narrow-sitting wide players ahead of them, Zardes and Bobby Wood, much was left to be desired.
Klinsmann brought Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin, full back-winger hybrids by nature, on at halftime, and things opened up all over the field. Bolivia’s full backs had to stay wide, given their speed and (actual) ability to pick out a cross. Remember those long diagonals from Bradley that we talked about above? It was open season for “The General,” who played the decisive ball over the top to free Wood down the left, at which point his cross for Zardes was the final piece for a 3-0 lead.
USMNT (finally) has impact subs … if they’re not going to start
Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic are the future — feel free to debate amongst yourselves whether or not they should instead be the present; I won’t stop you — but for now, they’re the impact substitutes the USMNT has been missing for so long. The dynamic duo came on after 63 minutes on Saturday, and immediately they looked to link up and run at opposition defenders every time they got on the ball.
Whether on the halfway line or the edge of the opposition penalty area, it’s quick one and two-touch passing and moving from these two, as was the case in the 69th minute, when Nagbe turned one defender inside the box before sliding a simple square ball to Pulisic. The 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund prodigy made no mistake on the finish and bagged his first senior international goal.
At this point, perhaps they’re best suited for 30 minutes of running at tired defenders with heavy legs. At some point, though — in the not-so-distant future — they need to be given the opportunity to prove themselves as 90-minute players.
Pulisic became the youngest USMNT goal scorer in history with his second half goal, set up by Darlington Nagbe. Alejandro Bedoya had a hand in two goals as well for Jurgen Klinsmann’s Yanks, who open up Copa America play on Friday against Colombia.
Bolivia is no power, but the Yanks gave them little room to maneuver after 20 minutes of play.
Bolivia had moments early, specifically on a 15th minute set piece that saw New York Cosmos striker Yasmani Duk a split second offside in heading wide of goal.
Zardes put the Yanks ahead in the 26th minute on a cool bit of passing. Geoff Cameron found Clint Dempsey, who clipped the ball over to Alejandro Bedoya. The Nantes midfielder played a pretty ball through to Zardes, who calmly fired past a charging Guillermo Viscarra. 1-0.
This game was very chippy, with Bolivia doing the little nasty things to go with big, card-worthy fouls. The Yanks kept their composure, though, and made it 2-0 when Bedoya slid to knock the ball outside the six for Brooks to pass home with his left foot.
Bobby Wood made a lightning quick cut while running onto a Clint Dempsey pass, only to see his shot saved Viscarra on the edge of stoppage time.
The Yanks made a pair of changes at halftime, introducing DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson for Orozco and Besler.
There was a terrific build-up for the Yanks on goal No. 3, as Bradley played a gorgeous diagonal ball into the box for Wood. The Bundesliga striker worked his man and then fed Zardes for a left-footed, close-range goal. 3-0.
It took 67 minutes for Bolivia to really trouble Guzan, but the Aston Villa keeper rose to the challenge when Brooks and Fabian Johnson were a bit lax in returning to the back line.