Kent Horner/Getty Images

USMNT 0-0 Serbia: Nagbe, Lletget shine in Bruce Arena’s return

1 Comment

The Bruce Arena Era is back on with the U.S. Men’s National Team, but the second-term boss has his work cut out for him.

[ MORE: USMNT to face Honduras at Avaya Stadium in March WCQ ]

The USMNT earned a 0-0 draw against Serbia on Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, however, both sides struggled to create opportunities in the final third and the hosts still hold many questions regarding their lineup heading into March’s resumption of World Cup qualifying.

While both sides recorded a combined four shots on target, Arena did get a solid look at several players that impressed on the day. Sunday was a day of firsts for several players in the U.S. ranks making their debuts with the senior team, while Jozy Altidore earned his 100th cap for the Stars and Stripes.

[ MORE: PST talks to David Villa about ’17 MLS season, La Liga and more ]

Second-half substitute Juan Agudelo carried the ball into the penalty area with just minutes remaining before Chris Pontius pulled his effort just wide of net.

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando wasn’t tested often on the afternoon but the Real Salt Lake shot-stopper came up big in the 89th minute with a close-range save on Lazar Jovanovic.

The U.S. nearly took the lead in the 25th minute when the hosts pushed a counterattack deep into the Serbia end but Jermaine Jones’ final pass into the center of the penalty area couldn’t pick out another American player.

Darlington Nagbe, who really shined on the afternoon, had a quality chance of his own four minutes later but the Portland Timbers attacker couldn’t bend his shot enough and his effort missed just wide to the right.

Nagbe had an almost identical chance to pick out the corner seven minutes before halftime, but the Timbers man once again curled his shot wide of Serbia goalkeeper Filip Manojlovic.

Arena made just one change at halftime as LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget came on to replaced his new teammate Jones. Sunday marked Lletget’s first senior cap for the USMNT.

The USMNT boss could potentially use Lletget or another player in a holding midfield role come March when the U.S. takes on Honduras with Jones suspended.

The U.S. was fortunate to avoid a sending off in the 57th minute when Sacha Kljestan lunged in on Marko Gobeljic with two feet. The New York Red Bulls attacker was shown a yellow card, however, it could’ve just as easily been red.

Lletget nearly linked up with Kljestan just minutes later when he picked out the head of the New York Red Bulls attacker, but Kljestan’s nodded effort just missed to the right post.

Arena opted to go to his bench late in the match, with Jorge Villafana and Chris Pontius two more players in the USMNT system to made their first appearance on Sunday.

The U.S. will take the field again on Friday when Arena’s squad faces Jamaica in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
Leave a comment
Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

Leave a comment

Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]