2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Defenders


With the 2015 Gold Cup kicking off, it’s time to look at every single player on the USA’s 23-man roster.

[ MORE: Full 2015 Gold Cup coverage ]

Can Jurgen Klinsmann’s side defend the Gold Cup crown they won in 2013 to seal a spot at the 2017 Confederations Cup?

Here are the defenders who are tasked with making the U.S. national team champions of the CONCACAF region this summer.

Full name: Ventura Alvarado
Age: 22
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Position: Central defender
Caps/goals: 6/0
Club: Club America

Best moment in a U.S. shirt: Probably his display against Germany in the recent 2-1 friendly win in Cologne. Alvarado looks rough around the edges but against Germany he looked more composed than he had in other USMNT matches. After a shaky start, he and the rest of the U.S. defense improved in that one.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? Many believe Alvarado is still a bit too “green” to start consistently for the U.S. but with neither Brooks or Gonzalez putting in dominant displays, don’t be surprised to see him start at least one group game at the Gold Cup.

Full name: John Anthony Brooks
Age: 22
Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Position: Central defender
Caps/goals: 13/2
Club: Hertha Berlin

Best moment in a U.S. shirt: Does anybody remember Brooks’ late winner against Ghana in the 2014 World Cup group stages? Ah, I thought so. That is by far Brooks’ best moment in a U.S. jersey as he headed home Graham Zusi’s corner late on for the USA’s only victory of the tournament.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? He seems destined to start the tournament at center back with Omar Gonzalez as Klinsmann continues to persist with the hulking German-born defender. Yes, he wins everything in the air but his distribution and positional sense still needs a lot of work.

Full name: Timothy Chandler
Age: 25
Hometown: Frankfurt, Germany
Position: Right back, left back
Caps/goals: 22/1 
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt

Best moment in a U.S. shirt: Scoring a left-footed screamer against Guatemala in the final tune-up for the USA’s 2015 Gold Cup campaign. Chandler has improved steadily after playing in both the USA’s big wins over Holland and Germany.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? Looks like Timmy will be the starting right back with DeAndre Yedlin ahead of him. Many question his defense ability and carelessness with the ball, but he offers plenty going forward and his speed helps him make up for any mental lapses.

Full name: Brad Evans
Age: 30
Hometown: Phoenix Arizona
Position: Defense/midfield
Caps/goals: 19/1
Club: Seattle Sounders

Best moment in a U.S. shirt: Without doubt, his late game-winner from right back in a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica in Kingston. To date that is Evans’ only goal for the U.S. and it silenced the raucous crowd at “The Office” after Jamaica had the U.S. on the ropes late on. Huge moment.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? A utility player who is extremely useful to have in this squad, Evans will slot in where needed if injuries or suspensions crop up.

Full name: Greg Garza
Age: 23
Hometown: Grapevine, Texas
Position: Right back/left back
Caps/goals: 8/0
Club: Atlas

Best moment in a U.S. shirt: Garza looked the real deal for the U.S. in their friendly against Colombia in London back in November, 2014. Since then, after a few shaky displays and injury, he has fallen down the pecking order at full back.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? He was a late call-up to this squad due to Brad Davis’ injury, but he could get some minutes to help close out tight games late on.

source: AP
Gonzalez looks set to start at CB this summer.

Full name: Omar Gonzalez
Age: 26
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Position: Central defender
Caps/goals: 26/0
Club: LA Galaxy

Best moment in a US shirt: Like many of the defensive players, a performance that stands out is the 0-0 draw with Mexico at Azteca in August, 2014. Gonzalez was one of the best U.S. player on the pitch. The dual citizen of the USA and Mexico has stepped up time and time again versus El Tri.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup: He will likely start at center back with John Brooks. However, his U.S. career can be described as somewhat of a rollercoaster. After blowing hot-and-cold for the USMNT, this tournament is huge for Gonzalez.

Full name: Fabian Marco Johnson
Age: 27
Hometown: Munich, Germany
Position:  Full back/winger
Caps/goals: 33/1
Club: Borussia Monchengladbach

Best moment in a US shirt: Johnson’s only goal for the U.S. so far was a belter. He played a great one-two with Michael Bradley before drilling home to put the U.S. ahead against Turkey during their sendoff series win before the 2014 World Cup. Majestic goal and his tireless running from deep-lying areas has continued ever-since.

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? Looks to be the nailed on start at left back, but could be moved further forward if Klinsmann decides to give Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler or Brad Evans a go in that position.

Full name: Timothy Michael Ream
Age: 27
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Position: Central defender
Caps/goals: 13/0
Club: Bolton Wanderers

Best moment in a US shirt: 

Starter or squad player at Gold Cup? Looks like Ream won’t be given a starting role at the Gold Cup but his versatility is huge for Klinsmann as he’s played at center back, left back and in the holding midfield role during his time in MLS and with Bolton in England. Expect Ream to get some minutes somewhere along the line.

Barcelona sign Neto in goalkeeper swap with Valencia

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Brazilian goalkeeper Neto will sign a four-year contract with the Spanish champions.

The transfer completes a swap a day after Barcelona sold Jasper Cillessen to Valencia.

Barcelona says it is paying 26 million euros ($29.5 million) plus possibly another 9 million euros ($10.2 million) in variables for Neto. Valencia paid Barcelona 35 million euros ($40 million) for Cillessen.

Neto will replace Cillessen, who played as a backup for Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Champions League and the Spanish league and only regularly started in the Copa del Rey.

The 29-year-old Neto helped Valencia qualify for the Champions League with a fourth-place finish for the past two seasons in Spain. He also played in Italy at Juventus as a backup to Gianluigi Buffon and at Fiorentina after starting at Brazilian club Paranaense.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

USMNT v. Panama: Three things we learned

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It wasn’t always pretty, but the U.S. Men’s National Team eked out a 1-0 win over Panama in Kansas City, Kan. on Wednesday night to win its group. Jozy Altidore scored the game’s only goal in stunning fashion, finishing an overhead kick to put Panama away and set up a quarterfinal bout with Curacao on Sunday evening.

Here are three of the biggest takeaways from Wednesday’s win:

[READ: All the latest USMNT news here]

Jozy Altidore is still the best we’ve got

Many U.S. Men’s National Team fans have called for the forced retirements of Altidore and Michael Bradley, among many others, after the debacle that was the last World Cup cycle.

Until tonight, Altidore wasn’t in the USMNT picture, in part due to Dave Sarachan using younger players and Altidore continuing to suffer a series of muscle injuries since October 2017. And yet, if tonight’s game showed anything in Altidore’s 83 minutes on the pitch, it’s that he’s still the best option for the USMNT up top. While Gregg Berhalter clearly prefers Gyasi Zardes right now based on their previous work history together in Columbus, Zardes doesn’t have the strength or skill that Altidore does. It’s hard to imagine Zardes executing an overhead kick and it going in as sweetly as Altidore did.

What does this mean going forward? Regardless of if Zardes starts the rest of the way, Berhalter knows that he has Altidore always around who can give the U.S. a goal, especially on home soil and when fit. But it also lays the marker down for Zardes, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent and the other up and coming strikers that this is the level they need to meet, and beat, if they want to break into the starting lineup under Berhalter.

There’s speed to burn on the wings

It may not have had a huge impact on Wednesday, but in bringing Tyler Boyd and Christian Pulisic off the bench, Berhalter showed exactly why he’s brought so many speedy skill players along the wings.

While Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis couldn’t figure out the final pass or final touch in the box to score a goal, just their presence for 65-70 minutes tired out the backline, and the introductions of Pulisic and Boyd could have really unlocked the Panama defense. While it didn’t totally work on Wednesday, it could in the later stages of the tournament, especially in a potential rematch with either Panama or Jamaica in the semifinals and Mexico in the finals.

With Lewis and Morris likely available off the bench, that adds a new piece opponents have to worry about, both in terms of speed and dribbling ability.

Few impressed in a chance to earn a starting spot

It’s been nearly two years since the debacle in Trinidad and Tobago, and yet aside from maybe Matt Miazga or Nick Lima, there have been very few players who have done much to impress and prove they’re better than the previous cycle’s players. That continued on Wednesday with an MLS-heavy lineup. Wil Trapp, a midfielder with so much promise a few years ago, appears to have stalled. He had multiple turnovers and certainly didn’t look as sharp as Michael Bradley.

While Lewis and Morris have plenty of pace, their final pass was woeful and they didn’t do themselves any favors. Djordje Mihailovic was never going to push Pulisic out of the starting lineup, but Mihailovic didn’t exactly do enough to say that he should be the first man off the bench either, or to push Pulisic into a wing role with Mihailovic in the middle.

Aside from Matt Miazga and Omar Gonzalez in the middle, along with Altidore up top, no one in the lineup really did enough through the first 65 minutes to warrant another start in the tournament. It’s yet another disappointment as young players get chance after chance to prove they belong as starters, only to waste the opportunity, enabling the veterans to keep their role. More players need to keep pushing for those spots, whether through club form or national team performances. Otherwise, we’ll end up in the same situation as before.


USMNT remains perfect, tops Panama to win group (video)

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In his first start since the U.S. Men’s National Team’s infamous defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, Jozy Altidore showcased his strength, speed and technical ability to help lead the U.S. to victory.

Altidore’s outstanding bicycle kick goal proved to be the difference in a sometimes dour game as the USMNT topped Panama, 1-0, Wednesday evening at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. The win kept the U.S. perfect through the Gold Cup group stage with no goals allowed, and it has somewhat erased the memory of the USMNT’s horrible run-up to the tournament, with defeats to Jamaica and Venezuela now firmly in the rear-view mirror.

[MUST-SEE GOAL: Jozy Altidore]

With the win, both teams head to Philadelphia for the quarterfinals this Sunday. Panama plays the undercard matchup against Jamaica while the USMNT faces Curacao.

Coming off two wins to open the Gold Cup, Berhalter decided to use a completely changed starting lineup, featuring ten players from MLS teams along with Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga. Although there was some familiarity of the players on the field, it was at times a very poor match, with the USMNT struggling badly in the final third and even turning the ball over at midfield or leading the attack.

Despite winning the possession battle, 62-38, the USMNT didn’t do much with it. Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis, both of whom were subbed out, struggled on their crosses after beating a defender. The pair provided energy and hard running defensively but it didn’t lead to many chances. Altidore had the best of the first half when he was played into the box, but his strike from the right just went wide of the net.

In the 65th minute, Berhalter tried to inject some life in the game with the introduction of Christian Pulisic. It turned out a goal could come just after, but without the intervention of Pulisic.

Djordje Mihailovic drilled the corner kick to the far post where it was met by the head of Matt Miazga who sent it back towards goal. A missed clearance from Panama popped the ball up in the air above the back post, allowing Altidore the time he needed to lift off the ground and bicycle kick it in for the game’s only goal.

Berhalter later brought on both Tyler Boyd and Gyasi Zardes off the bench to try and score an insurance goal, but Panama’s defense held strong and the U.S. failed to threaten the rest of the way. However, the U.S. backline kept a third-consecutive clean sheet and key players such as Michael Bradley got the entire game off to rest before likely returning to the lineup this weekend.



Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore puts USMNT in front with Bicycle Kick

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Jozy Altidore put his stamp on the game and gave U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter more to speak about with one fell swing.

Altidore finished off a corner kick in spectacular fashion, executing a perfect bicycle kick to put the USMNT up 1-0 in the 66th minute. The goal came one minute after the entrance of Christian Pulisic, which perhaps was on the mind of the Panama defense.

It was Altidore’s second-straight game vs. Panama with a goal. His last two were in October 2017, when the U.S. pummeled Panama, 4-0. Of course, a few days later, a tired USMNT failed to win at Trinidad and Tobago.