USMNT World Cup camp roundup: Bradley, Mix, Edu and… Alonso?

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Get ready for weeks worth of USMNT news now that reporters are hanging around Jurgen Klinsmann’s training camp (let alone the news that comes away from camp).

This morning is no exception, as two United States hopefuls, one lock and one frustrated non-USMNT participant talked World Cup.

We begin with Michael Bradley, the seemingly natural-born leader who has embraced his guts as the engine of the United States.

It’s easy to forget the changes that occur between a player’s World Cup appearances, and SFGate’s Tom FitzGerald gets his lead just right:

Since making his World Cup debut four years ago,Michael Bradley has gotten married, become a father, joined Aston Villa of the English Premier League on loan from his German club, played for two clubs in Italy’s Serie A league and was sold toToronto FC of Major League Soccer.

He is the man coach Jurgen Klinsmann is building his midfield around. A great deal is expected not just of Bradley’s playmaking but also of his leadership in the run-up to the tournament in Brazil.

“I embrace it, absolutely,” he said Friday between workouts at Stanford. “To be a player that is counted on by his coaches and his teammates to make a difference, to make plays, to be a leader – the challenge of all that excites me.”

That moves us on to a pair of midfielders who are perceived to be on the bubble for 2014 in Brazil: Mix Diskerud and Maurice Edu. The former is a 23-year-old hoping to cement his role as a Yank after choosing the USMNT over Norway in 2010.

And he’s thriving off the confidence he received in helping the States to the 2013 Gold Cup winners title.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Every time we played a game, we were kind of certain, not cocky, but we knew we were going to win because we had good players,” Diskerud said. “And that’s a great mentality. It’s kind of the American mentality, I would say. You feel like you can beat any team, [whether] it’s Germany or Panama or whatever.”

The brashness of “Germany or Panama or whatever” is a brilliant bit from the middle man as he battles with elder statesman Maurice Edu for a place on the squad (though not exactly directly, there are only so many spots to be had).

Edu’s a curious case, having had a volatile time in his club career. He’s seen a historically-strong club go through a brutal shift (Rangers), watched as a high-profile move to the Premier League fizzled to find even fits and starts (Stoke City) and returned home to become an integral part of the 2014 Philadelphia Union.

And it’s almost all a continuation to the consternation felt by Edu when his status as a clear-cut American legend was stripped from him after Malian referee Koman Coulibaly took away his potentially-decisive goal against Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup.

From the Associated Press:

“When it first happened, I watched it a few times and didn’t know the call on the pitch, didn’t know the call afterward,” Edu said Friday. “To have been that close and have it taken away did kind of suck, but now the focus is try to do it again and have it count.”

While Edu admits that he still harbors regrets and “What ifs?” about his last World Cup, there’s an in-form MLS midfielder who may never get to ask those questions about his experience. Seattle Sounders maestro Osvaldo Alonso, 28, is now an American citizen but cannot get a release from the Cuban federation.

As MLSSoccer.com points out, Alonso received public plaudits from Klinsmann and could’ve easily made a dent in his World Cup plans over the past year:

“It’s been two years waiting for FIFA, Cuba and waiting for the paper,” said Alonso, who now says he’s 100-percent fit after battling various injuries early in the season. “I’m frustrated, talking with some people here, talking with some people there, nothing happens. I’m very upset. But I need to be ready to be (in Seattle).”

Thanks for nothing, Cuba.

That’ll do it for this morning’s wrap (in theory). Sixteen days ’til Klinsmann has to have his roster set at 23, and surely there’s plenty to come.

Stampede at stadium in Honduras kills multiple people

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) Officials in Honduras say thousands of soccer fans trying to force their way into a stadium for a championship match stampeded in panic when police fired tear gas, and at least four people and an unborn fetus were killed in the crush and 25 others were injured.

A spokesman for University Teaching Hospital says the victims died from suffocation and multiple broken bones from being trampled Sunday. Spokesman Miguel Osorio says a fetus died when its mother suffered severe injuries.

The stampede happened at the National Stadium as fans tried to push their way into the jammed venue to see the game between Motagua and Honduras Progreso.

About 600 police officers were guarding the stadium and used water cannon and tear gas trying to push back the crowds.

LIVE, at the half: Huddersfield miss glorious chances v. Reading

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It is tough to explain how Huddersfield Town aren’t ahead at half time of the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium on Monday.

[ LIVE: Follow the action from Wembley

The Terriers had two glorious chances early on but Michael Hefele headed wide and then Izzy Brown — on loan from Chelsea — somehow put his effort wide from a yard out.

Reading only had a few forays forward but Jaap Stam’s men held firm with the score locked at 0-0 at the break.

Will David Wagner’s Huddersfield live to rue those missed chances?

Follow the second half live from Wembley by clicking on the link above.


 

LIVE: Playoff final – Huddersfield v. Reading for PL spot

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The richest game in world soccer is here.

[ LIVE: Follow the action from Wembley ]

Huddersfield Town and Reading clash at Wembley Stadium in the Championship playoff final, one win away from the Premier League with the final promotion spot up for grabs after Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion clinched automatic promotion.

Whoever wins this match will alter the path of their club for the foreseeable future.

The winner will not only receive a place in the PL but also a huge sum of $218 million for next season and if they stay up for just one season in the Premier League it is estimated to be worth $372 million.

Below is the team news…

Click on the link above to follow live updates from Wembley, while we will have analysis, reaction and more during and after the game.

VIDEO: Watch Francesco Totti’s emotional Roma farewell

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After a 25-year career at AS Roma, Francesco Totti was handed a fitting farewell on Sunday.

The hometown hero, now 40 years of age, called time on his incredible Roma career and looked overwhelmed.

[ MORE: Totti’s incredible career

Coming on for the 786th and final appearance of his stunning career, the all-time leading scorer for Roma (307 goals in all competitions) helped his team secured a dramatic last-gasp 3-2 win over Genoa to seal second place in the Serie A table and an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Totti spurned big money moves to Real Madrid and Barcelona where he could have won the biggest trophies and individual titles in the game to stay at Roma. He won just one Scudetto with Roma but famously said that was worth 10 league titles had he played for another team.

[ MORE: Serie A final day roundup ]

Following the game it was all about Totti as his teammates and manager broke down in tears, and so too did Totti as he went on a lap of honor with his wife and children at a sold-out Stadio Olimpico.

Rome’s favorite son said goodbye and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Watch the emotional farewell in the videos below.

I know. I have something in my eye too…