The United States U-23 team was relatively lucky to make the third place game in the Toulon Tournament, and they made the most of it.
A pair of penalties converted by Alonso Hernandez and Benji Joya – one in each half – gave the United States a 2-1 win over England to win their best-ever finish at the French youth tournament.
The U.S. took the lead in just the 7th minute when Jerome Kiesewetter was fouled in the box by Kortney Hause, and Hernandez came through from the spot. Hause atoned just three minutes later to even things up as a quick free-kick caught the U.S. napping.
The winner came in the 65th minute – just minutes after England was let off a solid penalty shout for handball – a Kiesewetter shot pinged off the arm of England defender Billy Cargill and the referee pointed to the spot. Joya converted, and goalkeeper Cody Cropper strongly blanked England the rest of the way.
A 3rd place finish is a solid finish for the United States after looking shaky most of the way through the tournament, and finished things on a high note with three wins in five matches.
A strong U.S. U-23 squad had high expectations given they were taking on a host of countries that sent young, inexperienced squads to the tournament. The team showed flashes of brilliance, but often looked sluggish and non-responsive. The team was relatively lucky to even make the third place game after the Netherlands were torched by France 4-0 to give the U.S. a one-goal differential advantage. A number of players who have in the past been mentioned as fringe candidates for the senior team failed to consistently impress, which is arguably the overriding goal. But it’s hard to knock Andi Herzog’s group for earning such a milestone finish.
Borussia Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels will miss both of Germany’s upcoming matches with a hip injury, the German federation (DFB) announced today.
Hummels has apparently been suffering for a few weeks from the injury, and despite his hopes, was unable to prove ready to play for either Wednesday’s friendly against the United States or Saturday’s matchup with Gibraltar in Euro qualification.
Hummels struggled with injuries all year – mostly in the first half of the season – missing time with knee, leg, and now hip problems. The 26-year-old made 24 Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund, plus eight more in cup and European competitions. He has a history of missing friendlies, appearing in nine of Germany’s last twelve competitive matches back through the beginning of the World Cup, but has not appeared in each of their last three friendlies (two via injury and one as an unused substitute).
In his place, Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng was called in by manager Joachim Löw. Boateng will only be arriving with the team on Wednesday, so he will not be available for the U.S. friendly, just the Gibraltar match the DFB announced.
Löw left off a number of German stars who he believes needed rest after their club seasons, including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, midfielder Toni Kroos, and forward Marco Reus.
“They have deserved this break. I have made this decision in view of the season we have ahead of us, which should culminate in the European Championship in France next summer,” Löw said. “Manu[el Neuer] has also been a role model and everybody knows he is one of the players who always wants to play, but our doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt has told me that Manu is currently feeling a bit of pain when training and playing. The long season has left its mark. He’s had a few injuries which he is going to have to treat in the coming weeks.”
The BBC is reporting it has seen documents that implicate former FIFA executive Jack Warner in money laundering and bribery schemes where he used FIFA funds for personal use.
According to the report, Warner accepted $10 million from the South African federation across three wire transfers in early 2008 – publicly claimed to be money for soccer development in the Caribbean – and laundered it, the majority through payments to a Trinidad supermarket chain JTA Supermarkets. The payments then come back to Warner, when he uses them to pay off personal loans and debts.
The BBC claims it handed over the evidence it received to Trinidad & Tobago’s sports minister, who said, “He [Mr Warner] must face justice, he must answer all of these questions. Justice has to be served. He will have to account, with this investigation, he will have to answer for his actions.”
Warner is currently under house arrest in Trinidad & Tobago while he awaits extradition to the United States, where he is one of nine former or current FIFA employees set to face money laundering, fraud, and racketeering charges. The alleged bribe from South Africa has been in the spotlight, as it roped in numerous top executives, including secretary general Jerome Valcke, whom reports claim had to approve the transfer of funds.
Reports today have also claimed that an unearthed email connects resigning president Sepp Blatter to the transfer as well. The email, reportedly sent by Valcke, claims that Blatter discussed the funds transfer with then-South African president Thabo Mbeki. Blatter has not been personally indicted by in the United States, but reports indicate he is being investigated.
Reports across Spain have indicated that Barcelona has completed the signing of Sevilla winger Aleix Vidal on a five-year contract.
There is a vast discrepancy in the fee to be paid, with Sport reporting a fee of about $11.1 million, while David Cartlidge of beIN Sport is reporting the fee is as high as $25.5 million.
The speedy winger brings a right-sided mindset to a squad that could use it. Luis Enrique’s formation in the Champions League final seemed impenetrable, but when Juventus did produce a solid attack, it seemed to often come down the Barcelona right with only the outgoing Dani Alves there to protect.
Vidal is a versatile option, someone who can run for days and can play both right-back and get forward in an attacking role. The 25-year-old was a vital piece of Sevilla’s Europa League title team, coming just 15 minutes shy of playing every tick of the knockout stages, with a brace against Fiorentina in the semifinals. He also made 31 appearances during the La Liga season, scoring four goals.
Because of Barcelona’s FIFA sanctions, Vidal won’t be allowed to play until the transfer ban runs out in January. However, what is often referred to as a “transfer ban” is actuallya registration ban, so while the club can deal for players, they cannot register them onto the roster until the sanctions expire. That means Vidal will have to sit for half a season with just training to keep his skills sharp, a heavy risk for a player to take. However, it also could be argued it might work in his favor, giving him time to acclimate to the new squad in a low-stress environment.
It’s the end of the club season in Europe, and that was never more evident than at the Aviva Stadium as England and Republic of Ireland played a friendly match, or so we’re told.
With the two sides looking to warm up for Euro 2016 qualifiers coming up in the next few days, things looked bleak as a sleep-inducing 0-0 draw saw little action, with supporters resorting to randomly booing Raheem Sterling and trading barbs via song to keep themselves busy.
Without a shot on target in the first 45 minutes from either team, the eventual ending was wildly evident by halftime as the jokes rang through Twitter with those looking to stay awake:
England actually had some efforts on goal early in the second half but it didn’t come to anything as Wayne Rooney struck a weak free-kick and a Phil Jones header went over the bar on separate chances before the hour mark. Ireland’s Jonathan Walters had a great chance as well on 62 minutes but with just Joe Hart to beat, he struck right at the Manchester City goalkeeper and Aiden McGeady bundled the rebound.
The most intriguing moment was watching Martin O’Neill ring the changes in the second half, as most notably Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given came on for his 123rd cap and immediately proceeded to scuff a clearing boot, lucky not to gift England a goal. Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson refused to give 18-goal scorer Charlie Austin a chance to break the deadlock.
The poor ESPN commentating team tried their best to make things interesting, but even they succumbed to the terrible atmosphere, saying things like, “I don’t think there will be a DVD of this one anytime soon.”
Anyways, this game happened, and now it is over, which is probably best for us all.