The Yanks will go marching into their two September friendlies with two long-time stars in the fold and one eye on October’s Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico.
Tim Howard is back in the fold for the States, albeit as Brad Guzan’s back-up for now, while DaMarcus Beasley’s return from international retirement may not be the one-off “sendoff” match many suspected.
Klinsmann talked about both players and the big Rose Bowl match-up with Mexico with USSoccer.com:
On Howard as his No. 2: “He knew it was not going to be easy to come back because obviously Brad Guzan established himself as the number one and played a very good tournament and the whole year he really did a good job. Tim has accepted for the time being to be the number two, and then down the road there will be a fight for the number one spot like in every position. He accepted that, and we are really happy to have him back on board because of who he is and what he has done for us.”
On Beasley: “He made himself available for the Gold Cup and it didn’t work out the way we all wanted it with his injury after the first training session. So we had that conversation and I asked him to reconsider the National Team and he was all fired up. He was all proud and happy and he said ‘I’m there for the U.S. National Team’.”
On the playing a Brazil with Neymar and Kaka: “We want to do well. We want to excite the fans and play two very good games, and at the same time we want to see the players perform. We want to see the players make statements towards the Mexico game, because that is really the biggest game of the year now after what happened at the Gold Cup. So it will be very interesting.”
How long do you think Guzan’s status as U.S. No. 1 is secure? Will one “off” game put Howard between the sticks? Do you expect Howard back for the Mexico match?
Klinsmann is probably looking to push Fabian Johnson forward with the addition of Beasley, Houston’s dynamic left back who also can play as a winger. Beasley had been retired from international play for less than a year, and will look to build on his 121 caps and 17 goals.
Morales has struggled mightily for the USMNT on several occasions, and Monday’s tie with Panama might’ve been his toughest outing yet. In adding Corona, Klinsmann snares a Gold Cup winner who’s scored twice in the tournament.
Garza leaves after being a last-minute replacement for Brad Davis. Gordon gives Klinsmann cover at forward, and the big 33-year-old striker has only one cap for the U.S. (in 2012 against Antigua & Barbuda, where he picked up an assist).
The Gordon move will confuse some, but the big add is Beasley. His experience and leadership is invaluable, and he can be a marked upgrade in certain situations.
By now we’ve all seen the New York Times‘ (in?)famous — I’m not sure which variation of the word to use here, to be honest — pre-2002 World Cup photoshoot featuring the World Cup-bound U.S. national team.
I’m talking about this one (if you’ve somehow never seen it, click that link). Yes, it’s been 13 years since those brave men partook in perhaps the most memorable — for all the wrong reasons — and seductive photoshoot in American soccer history, but we’re all still a bit scarred by the looks in the eyes of Landon Donovan, Brian McBride, Pablo Mastroeni, Clint Mathis and…well, just about every other member of that legendary team.
DaMarcus Beasley, then-19 years old, was a member of that team. His contribution to that particular series of photos was this photo. While that day will never cease to haunt Beasley and his former teammates, much of the world has since forgotten.
Except, of course, Beasley’s Houston Dynamo teammates. On Thursday, some jokester in the Dynamo locker room decided it was time to celebrate “Throwback Thursday,” a popular trend on Twitter (#TBT), with a trip down memory lane. This was done in the form of t-shirts, worn by every member of the team, with Beasley striking his now-trademark relaxed pose.
I have to say this was the best prank Ive ever seen! Im still dying laughing.. Easily my fav t-shirt now! @trickybeas pic.twitter.com/ymNffjZiTZ
Look, we’ve all kicked back in our favorite comfy chair and done “the DaMarcus” before. If you’re staring at the screen and saying to yourself, “I haven’t,” you’re a liar. It’s more comfortable than should be legal.
The difference: when you, or me, or your friends do it, we’re not wearing a $530 (in 2002) v-neck shirt that nearly touches our navel, or a a diamond-encrusted chain with our jersey number sitting front and center, while staring seductively into a camera lens for a photoshoot at one of the country’s biggest publications.
DaMarcus was young, DaMarcus made a mistake — they all made mistakes — but he must have done something right, because we’re still talking about it 13 years later. Well played, Dynamo prankster, and thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Finished 8th in the Eastern Conference last year with 39 points, 10 back of the playoffs
Splashed for Owen Coyle as new manager
Won 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups
Key Player: Erick Torres
This is a tricky one. “Cubo” is the newest Designated Player at Houston, and has a lot of weight on his shoulders. Houston really struggled to score last year, and they need someone like Torres to repeat last year’s form at Chivas USA. Unfortunately, he’s not currently with the club. On a six-month loan to Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara as part of his deal with MLS, there’s a possibility he doesn’t end up with Houston until the summer. However, according to the club, he could come back as early as May with some contractual triggers. The Dynamo need him to come back ASAP, as a poor start ruined their season from the get-go last year, and they certainly don’t want history to repeat itself.
Other names to watch: Raul Rodriguez, Brad David, Boneik Garcia, DaMarcus Beasley.
Brad Davis is the leader in the clubhouse with Tally Hall and Dominic Kinnear gone, and he will have extra pressure on his shoulders while Torres remains in Mexico (as does Garcia). Rodriguez is a new signing with experience, having spent five years in La Liga with Espanyol but still just 27. As much as Houston struggled to score last year, they also conceded a whopping 58 times, and Rodriguez is the answer to that.
Manager: Owen Coyle
The former Burnley, Bolton, and Wigan manager is looking for his next success story. Since taking Burnley to the Premier League in the 2008/09 season, the Scot has struggled for continued positives, seeing Bolton relegated in 2012 and spending just six months at Wigan. Coyle is embarking on a journey that not many have taken up, moving from a more standard league setup in England to the quirkiness of Major League Soccer. There will no doubt be an adjustment period, although thankfully for Houston they got Coyle to sign on in December to give him a few months of adjustment to the lifestyle before the season began. It will be interesting to see if Coyle can have success at Houston and potentially pave the way for other managers from abroad, or if he will fail and cause those against the way of thinking to raise up louder.
Outlook for 2015
2014 was the worst season on record for the Houston Dynamo. They’re looking to pick up the pieces, and with any new regime, there’s fanfare and hype. However, this team is still largely similar to the one that finished with less than 40 points last year, and Coyle is already using phrases like “we can punch above our weight” before the season even begins, suggesting an inferiority. With the leaky defense of last year still largely in place and an inexperienced goalkeeper behind them, Houston will need to prove they are back in business before people take them seriously. It will be a struggle to make the playoffs, but it’s by no means out of reach if Coyle can navigate MLS successfully and the players unite under the new system.
2014 was a heck of year for Erick “Cubo” Torres. The young striker scored his first senior goal for the Mexican national team, starred for Chivas USA during its final year in Major League Soccer and watched an uncertain club future play out before finding a home with the Houston Dynamo.
Now on loan to Chivas Guadalajara, Torres can focus on his game knowing his national coach likes him and his club isn’t going anywhere. Torres, 22, traded some Q&A with PST during a promotional tour celebrating a relationship between his Mexican club’s relationship with Tecate/Tecate Light in the United States.
Torres isn’t headed back to MLS for a little bit still, but the striker has been encouraged not only by the Houston community but the support of Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera for those El Tri players plying their trade in the U.S.
“It’s very meaningful to hear what my mentor and teacher Miguel Herrera has expressed,” said Torres, who netted his first El Tri goal in October versus Panama.
“He has influenced a big deal in my decision to remain in the MLS, now with the Dynamo in Houston, because just like the national Mexican soccer Team, Miguel’s advice has motivated me a lot. The eyes are on the MLS, and my efforts are being looked (at). It’s important that everybody sees the work that is being done in the MLS.”
Torres mentioned DaMarcus Beasley as a player he’s most interested in getting to know, and playing alongside, noting Beasley’s vast experience and time in Mexico. And he mentioned that Dynamo fans’ welcoming thoughts on social media have been a boon to his confidence, and that Houston’s ethnic diversity is a big part of his comfort.
“The Hispanic community in Houston, it’s very important,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city, where I will feel very comfortable, since its so close to my country and where there is a lot of people who will make me feel at home.”
But Torres wasn’t averse to discussing his wild 2014. The striker and his Chivas USA teammates had to watch as fans speculated about the future of the club, Los Angeles “rebrand” badges were bandied about, and the league eventually decided that the Goats would be no more. I asked Torres whether he was relaxed or anxious about the impending changes.
“Honestly, I was very excited for this new change in my life and career, a new type of soccer and new lifestyle overall change,” said Torres, who exploded for 15 goals in 26 matches last season with the Goats.
“I thank God because I’ve had a lot support from a lot of people who helped in this transition process and quickly adapt to the new city and the MLS. I took this challenge with a lot of enthusiasm because I knew it was going to be a good opportunity to move forward in my career.”
He’s also relishing the loan, even knowing Houston could try to trigger its end before May 13. A lifelong Chivas fan raised in Guadalajara, moving away from his boyhood club hasn’t been easy.
Knowing that Chivas is not entirely safe from Liga MX relegation doesn’t make it less difficult, and finding playing time in a forward corps of Omar Bravo, Aldo de Nigris, and Rafael Marquez Lugo hasn’t been easy work, either. But Torres knows there’s a greater good despite being limited to a pair of substitute appearances for Guadalajara since Jan. 18.
We asked Torres about his goals for the season ahead, with Chivas, Houston and Mexico.
“Now that I’m with Chivas I’d like to close this tournament the best way possible, try to add more goals and minutes as wells as in the near future be able to play with the national soccer team, because there are important events coming such as Copa America and Copa Oro. In either of this two events, there could be an open opportunity for young players, so I¹m definitely working towards that. Also, there is an interesting process with the national team within my category and I am concentrating fully putting my mind in representing my country. After incorporating with my new team in Houston, I hope to adapt as fast as I can to do all the right moves.”
Torres should thrive in Houston, and it’ll be interesting to monitor how Herrera uses “Cubo” this summer. The striker was dynamite to watch in 2014 and should help the Owen Coyle’s Dynamo be a part of the discussion in a loaded Western Conference.
*Many thanks to Tecate’s Gustavo Guerra and Shaun Levy for arranging the discussion with Torres.