Five U.S. men who needed to be better Friday vs. Jamaica

5 Comments

If you talk about the U.S. man who “needed to be better” on a ragged and poor Friday night in Jamaica, you darn well need to say which one.

That is a long (and undistinguished) list.

So, let’s get started. Here are my five … in no particular order.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s hands were tied to a point. No Landon Donovan, no Michael Bradley, no Steve Cherundolo. (No Carlos Bocanegra, either, but that was a manager’s decision.)

Still, the arrangement and way forward Friday just wasn’t right.

Clint Dempsey wasn’t up for being the “1” in a 4-3-1-2. Especially not with a trio behind him like Friday’s. Did anybody seriously believe that Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman could pass and interchange with enough fluidity to create the channels into Dempsey? And was Dempsey really expected to be sharp enough to find Jozy Altidore and Herculez Gomez in good spots.

Never mind that even when he’s on top of things, that’s not Dempsey’s game. He’s the guy who slashes and dashes and arrives late in the box, not a pace dictator and creator for others. He requires a passer and possession man around him – someone like Bradley.

There was zero width in the attack. And looking at the lineup, that should have been predictable.

(MORE: Talking points from Friday’s match)

Herculez Gomez keeps demonstrating why he’s ahead of Jozy Altidore in the pecking order. Altidore had a great season of goal scoring at AZ Alkmaar last year, and it looks like he’s off to another stellar campaign in Holland this go-round. But in these scrappy internationals, Gomez just always does more. He finds more avenues into the game, hunting, pecking and digging with gritty determination for a greater number of ways to have an impact.

Michael Parkhurst has played right back before, but it’s not his best position. When he had opportunities to cross Friday, Parkhurst didn’t always look comfortable enough to try. Since it’s not his best spot, and since this was emergency duty anyway, it’s hard to ding the man too much.

On the other hand, if he’s going to be an international caliber player, and if he is sometimes going to be stationed along the right, he’s just got to stash a few more offensive moves into his bag of tricks.

Someday, perhaps, someone will explain to me Jermaine Jones’ role in all this for the United States. He’s foul prone and hot-headed, which is a dangerous combo. He’s not a particularly good passer or shooter and he tends to earn good grades about every fourth time out. So, why not start developing a younger man in his stead? Like, Danny Williams, perhaps. (Williams did come in late Friday, for Kyle Beckerman.)

(MORE: Were there alternatives to Clint Dempsey?)

Maybe Brek Shea was put in a tough spot, one half of a late, double-change along with Terrence Boyd. Still, when the FCD man did get on the ball, very little went right.

Again, he came in just as Jamaica seriously packed it in. But there were times when Shea blindly lumped the ball forward or into the middle willy-nilly. That’s not good enough.

Queiroz: Iran has one “match point” left in World Cup group stage

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
Leave a comment

Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…

Spain gets win after Iran loses equalizer to VAR

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Leave a comment
  • Spain goal: Costa (54′)
  • Iranian goal disallowed
  • Next: Spain-Morocco, Portugal-Iran

Iran had an equalizer taken away via Video Assistant Referee and Spain picked up its first win of the 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 win in Kazan on Wednesday.

Diego Costa scored Spain’s goal, as La Furia Roja joined Portugal atop Group B on four points. Iran has three, while eliminated Morocco has yet to get a result.

Team Melli lost their chance to sit atop the group when Saeid Ezatolahi rebound was ruled to have come after an offside touch from a teammate.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Spain certainly had its chances in the first half hour, capped off by an attempted overhead kick from David Silva.

Man City’s 32-year-old attacker had a great deal of chances in the contest, and would see a deflected rip bound wide of the goal during three minutes of first half stoppag time.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

After Gerard Pique missed an in-tight chance to start the second half, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand made an outstanding punch save on Isco before punching away the rebound bid.

Iran found its first true chance of the match in the 53rd minute, with Karim Ansarifard lashing into a shot from 15 yards that tore into the outside of the goal.

It was moments later that Spain went ahead, Costa getting a goal when a clearance bounding off his shin and into the net.

Mehdi Taremi flicked a header wide of the goal, and Iran thought it had an equalizer through Saeid Ezatolahi only for VAR to step in and call offside on the previous Iranian to touch the ball.

It was off, but only just.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Beiranvand was again on the scene for a 70th minute goal mouth scramble following a drawn-up corner kick by Spain.

Taremi pounded a header over the goal after a Vahid Amiri nutmeg of Pique led to a back post cross.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL duo eyeing Asensio and more

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

The ongoing World Cup hasn’t halted the transfer talk across global soccer, and on Wednesday there are a number of potentially intriguing storylines.


Two Premier League sides are chasing Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, including Chelsea and Manchester United, while they will have to battle Paris Saint-Germain as well.

Although Asensio is prepared to stay in Spain next season, he wants to be assured of playing time under new manager Julen Lopetegui, who recently joined the club.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos.


Juventus continues to have several players at the center of transfer rumors, and Miralem Pjanic is a name that keeps popping up.

The midfielder won’t come cheap though, with Juve reportedly set to ask for $92.6 million in the event that a club wants to acquire Pjanic.

Barcelona is rumored to be seeking a move for Pjanic with Andres Iniesta now heading to Vissel Kobe in the J-League.


New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is reportedly looking to bring several of his former Napoli players to Stamford Bridge, including Belgium star Dries Mertens.

The Blues are seeking more attacking options ahead of the fall, and the veteran Mertens has become a proven commodity in front of goal over the course of his Serie A career.

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

Dan Mullan/Getty Images
1 Comment

The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.