U.S. Soccer

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Kristick hired to run North American World Cup bid

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CHICAGO (AP) John Kristick, a managing director of the failed U.S. bid to host the 2022 World Cup and a former executive of FIFA marketing partner Infront Sports & Media, has been hired as executive director for the United Bid Committee of the U.S., Mexico and Canada to host the 2026 tournament.

Kristik was executive director at Infront, where he worked from 2001-08, then was managing director of bid planning and operations for the USA Bid Committee from 2009-11. He has worked in recent years for ESP Properties, an advisory company.

Jim Brown was hired as the United Bid Committee’s managing director of technical operations, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Thursday. Canada Soccer General Secretary Peter Montopoli has been appointed Canada bid director and Televisa vice president Yon De Luisa as Mexico bid director.

The UBC’s 10-member board includes CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani, who is from Canada, and Sunil Gulati, Don Garber, Dan Flynn, Carlos Cordeiro and Donna Shalala (U.S.); Peter Montopoli and Steven Reed (Canada); and Decio De Maria and Guillermo Cantu (Mexico). Gulati, the USSF president and a FIFA executive council member, is the chairman.

The formal bid was announced in April and is to be submitted to FIFA by March 16. The bid proposes that the expanded 48-nation tournament have 60 games in the U.S., including all from the quarterfinals on, and 10 each in Mexico and Canada. FIFA is set to make the decision in May 2020.

Nations must indicate an intent to bid to FIFA by Aug. 11.

Pontius replaces injured Saief on USMNT Gold Cup roster

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U.S. Men’s National Team debutant Kenny Saief’s CONCACAF Gold Cup is over before it even began.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that Saief suffered a groin injury in the time since making his debut Saturday in the USMNT’s 2-1 friendly victory over Ghana and has been replaced on the Gold Cup roster by Philadelphia Union midfielder Chris Pontius.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2017 Gold Cup coverage ]

The outside midfielder, who plays a similar position to Saief, has six assists in 17 Major League Soccer games this season and made his first two USMNT appearances this past January and February in friendly matches against Serbia and Jamaica.

The news is a blow to the American-born and Israeli-raised Saief, who recently completed his one-time FIFA switch to play for the USMNT after making a pair of appearances in friendly matches for Israel.

Meanwhile it’s a boost to Pontius, who is enjoying some of his best soccer since overcoming a number of injury-riddled seasons with D.C. United.

Video: Orlando City product scores crazy bicycle kick

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Goals like this one below never grow old.

Orlando City academy product Alejandro Pereira scored a brilliant bicycle kick for his Under-17/18 side in their 2-0 win on Thursday night during the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs.

Orlando will continue its path in the Academy Playoffs on Saturday when they face off against Players Development Academy (PDA) U-17/18, before meeting Indiana Fire U-17/18 on Monday.

WATCH: Pulisic does it again, levels USMNT with Venezuela

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Christian Pulisic bailed out the lackluster United States men’s national team with another solid goal.

Trailing 1-0, the Borussia Dortmund teenager belted a low shot through traffic to level things up with Venezuela at Rio Tinto in Saturday’s international friendly.

Pulisic, 18, now has five goals in 14 caps for the United States.

[ MORE: Arena’s 40-man Gold Cup short list ]

Pulisic scored following Jorge Villafana’s darting run to move the ball to Fabian Johnson. Pulisic worked a pair of defenders before hitting a low shot across the keeper and into the goal in the 62nd minute.

USMNT eyeing the table as it kicks off training camp

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) Goalkeeper Tim Howard‘s uniform was filled with grass stains after the first day of training camp.

And this was considered a light workout.

“Just getting everybody back together, getting a sweat,” Howard said Monday after the U.S. squad went through a roughly 60-minute workout. “Day by day, we’re just trying to add on to the pile, put some concepts in and get some understanding between players.”

What awaits the squad in resumption of the final round of World Cup qualifying is certainly a gantlet. They have a game against Trinidad and Tobago on June 8 in Commerce City and then at Mexico three days later.

[ MORE: Wenger would pay Sanchez, Ozil ]

There’s little margin for error, with the U.S. currently in fourth place in the six-team standings. They have three home and three away matches remaining. The top three teams qualify, with the fourth-place squad going to a playoff against Asia’s No. 5 nation.

“We need to keep climbing that table. We feel like this is a good opportunity to do it,” said Howard, now with the Colorado Rapids and who will feel right at home with the Trinidad game on his turf at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “One game, that’s as far as you can look. You can’t look to next week or the week after or two months from now.”

For now, Howard will be coach Bruce Arena’s goalkeeper over Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath and Nick Rimando, who all were invited to camp. But it’s an ongoing evaluation.

“We have good goalkeepers here. That’s the least of my worries, to be honest,” Arena said.

Given the short amount of time between games, Arena fully plans on using more players than usual. One particular competition to watch will be at right back between Timmy Chandler and DeAndre Yedlin.

“I have a close eye on everything,” Arena said. “We have a bunch of good players here. … We’re watching everybody and thinking about how we can best utilize everyone.”

[ MORE: Kroenke, Wenger meet; Decision looms ]

The roster features a solid blend of youth and experience. Leading the youngsters is Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder who last weekend became the youngest American to win a club medal in Europe.

On the veteran side are players such as Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley and Howard, all of whom have more than 30 World Cup qualifying appearances.

“We’re past the experimentation phase. These are all guys who the manager believes in whole-heartedly,” Howard said. “They’re not here for anything other than to play minutes, play important minutes.”

Arena couldn’t agree more.

“This is a nice group we have here. Hopefully, we can find the right balance in the team, putting them in the right position to complement them both individually and collectively,” Arena said. “If we can accomplish that, there’s no reason to believe we can’t be successful in these two games.”

Joining the camp in Colorado are a few players who weren’t with the squad in March. Guzan, Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood and Yedlin are all on the field. Guzan didn’t participate because his wife was expecting their second child, while the others were dealing with injuries, illnesses and yellow-card suspension.

Now, it’s a matter of getting their timing down – and accustomed to the altitude.

“There’s no reason to make it an excuse,” midfielder Paul Arriola said. “Just doing the best we can to acclimate to it.”

Arena’s squad will get things rolling in a friendly against Venezuela in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday.

“That’s a good game for us,” Arena said. “It gives us a little bit of exercise at lower altitude, which isn’t perfect for what we need to do to get ready here and Mexico City, but it’s a start. Think it will be good to give a chance to 16 players and build from there – get us ready for Trinidad and Mexico.”