AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

Notable USMNT quotes from Bruce Arena, Sunil Gulati press conference

Leave a comment

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati and newly-appointed national team coach Bruce Arena addressed reporters in a 2 p.m. EDT conference call on Tuesday. Here’s what they said.

[ MORE: Klinsmann hurt by own expectations ]

Sunil Gulati

On hiring Arena: “I don’t view it as Bruce 2, but Bruce 2.0. He has far more experience than he had the first go-round. He’s proven and re-proven himself.”

On Arena’s timeline: “We have an agreement through the World Cup with various contingencies as all contracts have.”

On foreign-born players: “If you’re eligible, you are available for selection. We are open to anyone, whether they are born abroad or born here.”

NEW YORK - AUGUST 01: (L-R) Soccer Legend Pele, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President of the United States Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati chat before the announcement of the return of the World Renowned New York Cosmos at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on August 1, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the New York Cosmos)
Sunil Gulati  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the New York Cosmos)

What did Klinsmann do well? “The commentary with seriousness of how players approach the game and their craft… The shorter term issues like new players, whether Christian, Bobby Wood, or Jordan Morris, those are obvious ones. Another important one is off the field, the awareness to the program, the attention to the program. Jurgen, by virtue of who he was elevated the program around the world. He came into a program that had a very solid foundation in my view. … In his own way, he’s built on that and Bruce will continue that process.”

On the technical director position: “We’re not in a rush.”

On the Arena hiring timeline: “Bruce and I talk pretty regularly. We’re friends, we work in the sport, and he’s coached our national team. That’s not just the case with Bruce. The discussions about coaching the team started in the last 48 hours. We met with Bruce yesterday in the afternoon, and concluded an agreement about 2 hours ago.”

Where did you think the USMNT would be by now? “The easiest metric is wins and losses. In an ideal world, 2-0. 0-2 put us in a very difficult position. We’d like to see the team playing at the Confederations Cup next summer. We would’ve liked to see the Olympic team in Brazil. If I could pick three things, those would be things.”

On Arena beyond 2018, and how there’s nothing contractual beyond it: “We both have options to talk to each other after the World Cup.”

Bruce Arena

On his hiring: “I’m thrilled to be back with the national team. It’s the greatest honor for a coach in our country. We have a great challenge ahead but we have a great pool of players to reach out goal of qualifying for Russia in 2018.”

Where has the team gone in last decade (since he was let go in 2006)? “That’s not an easy question to ask. US Soccer has made great progress with the growth of the league and our players playing abroad. Winning World Cups is difficult as we know, but I think the United States is edging closer to that day. I have a lot of confidence in our domestic pool and players playing in Europe and Mexico. Since I left in 2006, the pool of players has certainly expanded.”

Group E Ghana v USA - World Cup 2006On his comments about foreign-born players: “I don’t know how that came about. I guess we did that interview three years ago. If I made those comments, I certainly don’t believe that that’s my attitude… I’m all for any players that are eligible to play for us. I look forward to, using your term, our foreign nationals in addition to our (domestic players).”

On his priorities: “The most important thing right now is I’m very familiar with the pool of players, but to have as many conversations with as many players by January camp, and touch base with our entire pool of players by March. … We’ll develop an identity over the next couple months, and hopefully feel comfortable working with each other.”

On hiring assistants and calling up players: “We’re gonna take a week or two to think this out and select the strongest staff that we can have. I don’t think the roster is going to have radical changes from the last couple of camps but there will obviously be some changes.”

On his plans, and the Costa Rica loss: “I would’ve done this for free. The game in Costa Rica was certainly disappointing. Hopefully it’s one that allows us to step back and evaluate what went wrong for the team, and get us prepared for how to play on the road in CONCACAF. The only thing I’m going to tell you is we’re going to make it better.”

On how he’s grown since he last held the USMNT job: “I’ve had 10 years on the field at the club level. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented players in the world, and understanding how they work. Continue to grow on the tactical side. … Ten years later I’m better prepared for this job than I was in 1998, 2002, and ultimately 2006. … One of the things you learn from experience is you see things a lot clearer, a lot quicker.”

“How would I describe myself as a coach? A hard worker. I like to believe I’m a players coach. What I really know is how to build a team, and I understand all the qualities and circumstances that go into how to make a team.”

On players like Jonathan Bornstein and Benny Feilhaber: “They and others are good players. We’re going to give those kind of players the opportunity to back in the national team program. I’m well aware of the quality of those two and others. It’s highly unlikely we’re going to bring many new players into the program.”

On who he’s spoken to thusfar: “I haven’t spoken to Michael Bradley but I have had communication with a couple of players over the last 10 hours or so. We need to build a chemistry with this team and build a common goal, work on a team concept. We have good players. We just gotta get them working together as a team.”

On his intended style: “A difficult question. Your style is dictated by the qualities of your players. We are who we are. The American quality is teams that have been harder to play against. If you saw the European Championships last summer, the Copa America, the U.S. isn’t far behind. We’re traditionally strong in the goal. We have some young attacking talent, and we have some experienced players in the midfield.”

Follow @NicholasMendola

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

Getty Images
Leave a comment

You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Euro 2020 qualifying: France settles for draw with Turkey

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Euro 2020 qualifying continued on Monday and included a top-of-the-group clash in Group H.

[READ: England rout Bulgaria in game marred by racist chants]

France 1-1 Turkey

France spoiled a chance at home to put one foot in Euro 2020 after conceding late in the match and settling for a draw with Turkey.

Despite playing without a lot of starters – Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Hugo Lloris are all out injured – France still was strong in the first half and peppered Turkey with 12 shots. Goalkeeper Mert Gunok made an outstanding double-save in the first half and Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü did his best to keep Antoine Griezmann in front of him.

In the 72nd minute, Olivier Giroud came on the field as a substitute and four minutes later, he put France in front to the delight of the home crowd at the Stade de France. What else, but a header off a corner. However, the lead didn’t last long. Off a free kick in the 82nd minute, Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery was nodded home by Kaan Ayhan. The 1-1 draw leaves both France and Turkey tied with 19 points from eight qualifying matches. It also means that Turkey hasn’t lost to France over two games in this qualifying cycle.

Here’s a look at the rest of Monday’s scores:

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores

Group A

Bulgaria 0-6 England

Kosovo 2-0 Montenegro

Group B

Lithuania 1-2 Serbia

Ukraine 2-1 Portugal

Group H

Iceland 2-0 Andorra

Moldova 0-4 Albania

Ronaldo scores 700th goal for club and country

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo achieved yet another personal milestone in his star-studded career on Monday evening with a simple penalty kick goal.

With his 72nd minute strike, Ronaldo tallied his 700th goal for club and country in his career. It’s an incredible achievement, and one indicative of his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his long career.

Ronaldo was already leading all active players globally in terms of goals scored, so his 700th is only adding to the list. His former club nemesis, Lionel Messi, still sits a reported 28 goals behind him, according to Soccerway. After them, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest, and he has “only” 542 goals.

The Portuguese icon becomes the sixth male player to score 700 goals in his career. The others include Pele, Romaro, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskás, and Gerd Muller.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-2003 season as a 17-year-old and quickly was snapped up by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson, where he transitioned from a tricky winger to a clinical striker who couldn’t stop scoring.

The 34-year-old has scored 40-or-more goals on three occasions in his career and he scored 25-or-more goals in all nine years he was at Real Madrid. For Portugal, he’s now scored an incredible 95 goals in all competitions. He had 15 goals in World Cup qualifying alone for the 2018 campaign.

Watch the video of Ronaldo’s breaking goal below. Unfortunately for him, Portugal fell, 2-1 to Ukraine.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

Getty Images
Leave a comment

England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.