At the half: Gyau, Diskerud impress, Bedoya scores; US leads on NBCSN

Leave a comment

Jurgen Klinsmann’s first team since the US lost to Belgium to end its World Cup was young and adventurous, and used that vigor to take a 1-0 halftime lead against the Czech Republic in a Wednesday friendly on NBCSN.

Ale Bedoya put home a rebound after Petr Cech saved a shot from Mix Diskerud in the 38th minute for the goal. Diskerud created the chance with a big interception that lead a 3v2 break.

WATCH ON NBCSN AND LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA HERE

Both teams had chances over the course of the half. The States had more consistent pressure and possession, but the Czechs showed plenty of danger on the counterattack.

The Czechs had the first opportunity of the match. Arsenal star Tomas Rosicky’s free kick curled over the wall but was easily cleared out.

The States made their plan to play physically very clear, forcing the Czechs to respond. Jozy Altidore and Michael Orozco were among players to get stuck in, and get whistled for fouls, inside of the first 10 minutes.

Joe Gyau of Borussia Dortmund recorded the first shot of the match when he picked up an almost-picked off pass from Altidore and hit a low-powered shot that Cech collected. Overall, he was perhaps the most impressive player of the opening moments.

John Anthony Brooks proved why he’s such a headache for Jos Luhukay at Hertha Berlin. On one hand, he made a crunching tackle early and then saved a goal by sliding to clear a cross in the 20th minute. On the other, he took some careless chances and aloof touches of the ball. Will he be a ‘work in progress’ in perpetuity?

Part of the plan was also to open up Fabian Johnson for crosses from the right side, though the first two met less-than-ideal fates. One was gobbled up by Cech, another frittered away inside the box.

Brad Guzan, wearing the No. 1, could’ve been tested in the 26th minute, when Vaclav Pilar was allowed to dribble in from the right wing to the middle of the pitch. The Czech man couldn’t muster much of a shot with his left foot, and it was easily caught by Guzan.

But there were three prime opportunities for the Czechs, the best being a counterattack off a Julian Green giveaway. Rosicky dribbled a good distance before being forced to pass across to a sliding Vladimir Darida, who could not connect in the 33rd minute.

Good work from Green and Timmy Chandler earned the States a trio of corners beginning in the 37th minute, though Green struggled with his service.

The States snagged their goal when Diskerud darted in to pick off a sloppy pass in Czech territory. His shot was pushed aside by Cech, but Bedoya followed the play and coolly slotted a left-footed pass inside the post. It was 1-0 in the 29th minute.

LINEUPS

Czech Republic: Cech; Kaderabek, Prochazka, Kadlec, Limbersky; Darida, Jiracek; Rosicky, Pilar, Krejci; Vydra.

United States: Guzan, F. Johnson, Orozco, Brooks, Chandler; Bedoya, Corona, Diskerud; Green, Altidore, Gyau

Goal: Bedoya (38)

Netherlands manager Danny Blind fired after Bulgaria loss

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Netherlands are in real trouble, and the manager has paid the price.

The Dutch national team has parted ways with Danny Blind the day after a 2-0 loss to Bulgaria left the Dutch fourth in their World Cup qualification group halfway through.

The move garnering all the headlines from Saturday’s loss was Blind’s decision to start 17-year-old defender Matthijs de Ligt. The Ajax youth product, who has just two Eredivisie starts to his credit, made two crucial errors and yanked at halftime, but the damage had been done. Spas Delev scored twice in the opening 20 minutes for Bulgaria, and that was all the home side needed as the Dutch offered little in front of goal.

Blind was also criticized for not getting Memphis Depay on the field as they chased the game. The Netherlands held 74% possession, but could only manage 3 shots on target. Depay has been in good form since his January move to Lyon, with five goals in his 10 Ligue 1 appearances.

This decision was something Blind saw coming. He told national broadcaster NOS immediately after the Bulgaria loss, “I blame myself. It can’t go on like this. Things have to change.”

“I need to think about [my future]. I do not throw the towel in here. I’m incredibly disappointed, especially since I had a good feeling about this match. It makes sense that I put myself in front of the mirror.”

However, the problems for the Dutch go far deeper than Danny Blind. They missed out on Euro 2016 largely thanks to the failed 2nd tenure for Guus Hiddink. His assistant Blind took over, but the results have been equally as poor. The Netherlands sit fourth in UEFA World Cup qualification Group A, with losses to Bulgaria and France plus a draw with Sweden. It’s not over for them though, as they sit three points back of a second place spot with five matches to go, and three of those five at home.

With the Netherlands still yet to play their friendly against Italy this coming week, former goalkeeper Fred Grim takes over on an interim basis. Grim collected 101 caps for the Netherlands, and has served as the Netherlands U-21 manager for the last two years. Before that, he took charge of his first full managerial job as head man of Dutch 2nd-tier club Almere City.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
Leave a comment

Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).