By position: Looking at the forwards who made the U.S.’s final 2014 World Cup squad


Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Others who cross over: Julian Green (Bayern Munich)

Last cuts: Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vien), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)

Quick thoughts …

(… that don’t involve Landon Donovan, who we’ll cover elsewhere.)

1. We should have known all along – Terrence Boyd was the big cut, though we’re still getting our minds around the absences of Eddie Johnson and Juan Agudelo. Yet in hindsight, we should have seen this coming. Altidore and Dempsey were never going to miss the team, Johannsson had proven enough between club and country, and Wondolowski finished winning over Klinsmann this winter. On a 23-man team that usually plays a 4-4-2 variant, four forwards are enough.

2. There’s a clear top two – Not exactly breaking news, but when Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have been to the midfield, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will be to the forward spots. Klinsmann could roll out a 4-2-3-1 formation at some point in Brazil, dropping Dempsey into more of an attacking midfielders role, but given how the roster shakes out, we’re looking more at the 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 (get as band-y as you want) that’s become the U.S.’s go-to. No matter how much people who focus on Altidore’s Sunderland performance object, the Black Cats striker is the squad’s first choice No. 9.

3. Eddie Johnson would have been a good complement – Johnson’s lackluster play for D.C. United cost him a spot in the team. He’s justifiably not going to Brazil. Had he maintained the form that got him back in the national team, however, “E.J.” would have been a great addition to this group. As we saw in qualifying, Johnson’s versatility allowed him to target opposing fullbacks and become an option on crosses from players like Graham Zusi. It would have been a valuable trick for Klinsmann to have in the squad. Unfortunately, we’ll never see Eddie Johnson vs. Joao Periera.


Two starters, two reserves speaks to few options Klinsmann needed after Dempsey and Altidore. Dempsey could play every minute of the tournament, while Altidore should only be a late match sub. Perhaps a player like Johnson would have offered other options, but if Klinsmann has no intention of using those, better to bring one of the The Three Kids (John Brooks, Julian Green, DeAndre Yedlin) than waste those spots.

Griezmann sets pre-World Cup deadline for transfer future

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Leave a comment

French striker Antoine Griezmann is no stranger to seeing his name in the transfer rumor mill, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any more enjoyable for the Atletico Madrid attacker (who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday).

Long-tipped for a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United, Griezmann knows one thing: He wants his future sorted before the World Cup.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“I want to travel to Russia without this concern,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s not about knowing where I’ll play, but about having the peace of mind if I’m still in one place or another.

“It may be boring, but I have told my sister that, whether I stay or not, this will have to be resolved beforehand. What bothers me the most is that everyone asks me about this issue.”

That’s both honest and reasonable, and we can imagine it’s not a blast to answer questions on your future every day. He also has a contract through 2021-22, which won’t make any transfer a simple one.

Griezmann has 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Atleti this season, as La Liga’s second place side remains alive in the UEFA Europa League. He’s scored 106 goals for Atleti since arriving from Real Sociedad.

NYCFC signs second Homegrown Player in history

Leave a comment

Four years, two Homegrowns.

That’s the decent track record for New York City FC, which has spotted a second youngster from amongst its ranks in 15-year-old Joe Scally.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Scally joins United States youth international James Sands as Homegrown Players from NYCFC. Here’s USMNT legend and NYCFC technical director Claudio Reyna:

“Joe has been one of the top performers in the Academy for the past few seasons and represented US Soccer at U-15 and U-17 level.”

“He has all of the attributes we look for in a right-back: he’s strong in defense and can support in attack to help create chances from wide areas.”

Sands was signed last summer, and played 23 minutes for NYCFC against Colorado in his lone senior appearance.

Allow England defender Alfie Mawson to charm you

Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson is at England national team camp, and the young man is conducting himself in downright adorable fashion.

It seems the 24-year-old London defender cannot quite believe Gareth Southgate called his name for the Three Lions.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“A lot of people wouldn’t have even heard my name until this call up,” Mawson told the BBC. “You know it’s down to performing well at certain times, it’s down to doing the right things and sometimes it’s down to being a nice person.”

Mawson has played every minute for Swans this season, picking up two goals and an assist. More importantly, he’s won 3.3 aerial battles per game and 6.3 clearances.

While this won’t necessarily serve him well against the Netherlands and Italy in this week’s friendlies — they don’t put a lot of hopeful balls into aerial or clearing positions — it’s kept Mawson on the England radar for this summer’s World Cup.

Mawson is two seasons removed from playing in the Championship, and was loaned to lower league clubs like Maidenhead United and Welling United. At the time, he was going to “car boot sales with my girlfriend” which from my limited Googling seems the English equivalent of a yard sale and flea market combined.

“We are in a good position now where we don’t really have to do the car boots unless she wants a bit of excitement on a Sunday morning.”

Pretty good position, yeah.

FIFA urges Russia to hasten work on delayed World Cup arena

AP Photo/Oleksandr Stashevskyi
Leave a comment

SAMARA, Russia (AP) FIFA has urged Russia to speed up World Cup preparations at a stadium which needs “a huge amount of work” to be ready on time.

With less than three months to go until the World Cup, the 45,000-seat Samara Arena is the only one of 12 stadiums which doesn’t yet have a pitch installed.

The stadium in the Volga River city of Samara was already badly delayed due to a complex roof design, but now cold weather in the Russian spring is causing further problems. The pitch can’t be installed until the weather warms up.

“Obviously we would expect further progress than this,” FIFA’s chief competitions official Colin Smith said on a visit to the arena Wednesday. “We don’t yet have a pitch, and obviously we need to wait for some warmer weather conditions in order to get this pitch installed.”

As of Tuesday, instead of a field, there was an area covered with tarpaulins and snow. Temperatures are forecast to stay slightly below freezing for the rest of the week.

“There’s a huge amount of work still to be done,” Smith added. “From the information we’ve received there’s nothing stopping all these areas being completed on time. It just requires commitment and more manpower to get it done on time, and when we talk about on time, we’re talking about the commissioning date of the end of April.”

If that date passes, it could restrict FIFA’s ability to test the stadium with Russian league games and install World Cup equipment. Outside the arena, deep snowdrifts cover much of an area that is due to be landscaped for the tournament and will host some facilities for fans.

Alexander Fetisov, deputy governor of the Samara region, said the stadium will be ready.

“I’d like to avoid unnecessary dramatization of the situation,” he said. “Everything is being done so that the stadium is commissioned in the time required.”

Samara isn’t the only World Cup field which has drawn attention in recent weeks. The stadium in Kazan has been widely criticized by Russian fans after a brown, muddy surface was used for league games after the winter break.

Smith said FIFA was offering Russia help to get its fields ready, adding, “We’re doing everything possible and we’re convinced that we’re going to have a very, very high standard of pitches at this tournament.”