Landon Donovan on the U.S. youth qualifying failures

4 Comments

We are all thinking it. Some of us are saying it. And now none other than Landon Donovan is broadcasting it.

This ongoing failure to qualify for FIFA youth tournaments is cause for big concern, and something needs to be done about it.

The latest pressure point here is the United States’ under-17 team, which was just eliminated by Honduras in the CONCACAF qualifying for the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup. Canada, Honduras, Mexico and Panama will represent the region this fall.

The United States under-20 team just qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer in Turkey. That was important because the U.S. under-20s had failed to qualify for the 2011 FIFA tournament.

And, of course, the United States flubbed its big chance to represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics, crashing out of a qualifying tournament that was being held on home soil.

Here’s what Donovan said after Thursday’s practice at the Home Depot Center:

It’s sad for those players and for [head coach] Richie Williams, because it’s such an awesome experience and opportunity. I’m sad for those kids, that they don’t get a chance to experience it. For me, it was some of the best memories of my life.

“It’s disappointing. At the same time, there’s no question with Olympic qualifying, 20s and 17s, we need to take a pretty honest look at what’s going on, and we all have to do a better job. That falls on all of us. It’s not one coach or a few coaches or certain players, it’s everybody who’s involved in soccer in this country. We need to take a look at ourselves and do a better job. No question.”

Donovan knows about this stuff. He was part of a bright under-17 group in 1999 that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. That group included Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Oguchi Onyewu and Kyle Beckerman.

Donovan was also part of the 2000 Olympic team that did so well that summer in Sydney.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images
1 Comment

We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

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

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

Leave a comment

In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

Atlanta United on Twitter/@ATLUTD
Leave a comment

It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

Getty Images
1 Comment

Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

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

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.