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Is Sam Allardyce a good choice for USMNT boss?

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Sam Allardyce isn’t so much throwing his hat into the ring to become the next U.S. national team manager.

He’s launched it in there with extreme velocity on multiple occasions, just like he has done whenever the vacant Everton job has come up in discussion.

The latest such occasion came on Thursday as a guest of Alan Brazil on talkSPORT’s breakfast show. Just take a listen to this from Big Sam when he was asked if he’d take charge of the USA.

For a man who “retired” after leading Crystal Palace to safety last season, Big Sam is quite keen to get a new job.

“Yes I would go, I think. I think there’s a presidential election in January which has stalled the process. If I got the opportunity to speak to the U.S. then I would look forward to it,” Allardyce said. “International football is totally different to Premier League football. It’s 10 games a year. There’s a huge amount of down time, to go and watch the players and all that. It’s not the same day-to-day pressures as you get in the Premier League. I’ve always loved the States. I’ve been going for many, many years. I played there for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and had a terrific time by the way.”

Pro Soccer Talk understands that some current U.S. national team players would not be opposed to Allardyce taking charge of the USA as he would likely go back to basics, give experienced players a final chance to prove themselves and would be a good fit for the defensive style of play most of the USMNT players are comfortable playing with.

Yet Allardyce having an interest in the USMNT job appears to be dividing opinion among U.S. fans. Take a look at any mention of him taking charge of the U.S. on social media.

Responses range from “please God, no” to “this is exactly what the USA needs” and quite a lot of “we could do a lot worse than him” comments.

Well, would the 63-year-old fit the bill for the Stars and Stripes? It’s a difficult one to unravel, especially given the current messy situation with the U.S. Soccer Federation and their leadership.

His managerial experience in England is unquestioned and his ability to overachieve with unfashionable teams is undoubted. But isn’t that what the U.S. are on the international stage?

Worldwide the USMNT are seen as an unfancied squad who can upset the odds by having a simple, team first approach. Look at the USA’s most successful periods in recent tournaments — the quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup, the 2009 Confederations Cup final and to some extent the 2016 Copa American Centenario last four berth — and try to tell me that individual talent wasn’t secondary when it came to those successes.

There were some incredible individual displays during those runs but the team came first and the U.S. were incredibly tough to beat. We talk about creating a new identity for the U.S. national team but a defensive, efficient team saw many nations not wanting to play the U.S. at the last two World Cups. What’s wrong with that?

If Allardyce was handed the reins I think the actual U.S. national team squad, to a man, would know exactly what was expected of them and his tactics may actually get the best out of the type of players the USMNT has. I can already hear you yelling “what about Christian Pulisic’s development?” and I get that. But Big Sam got the best out of mercurial players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff during the twilight of their careers and there are countless other examples of mavericks performing for him. There is room for a little style among his multitude of substance. Honest.

Yet, in a broader sense, would Allardyce help the U.S. kick on across all levels of the national team program?

He only had a brief few months in charge of the English national team — the issues surrounding that are worrying enough and perhaps reason enough for him not to be interviewed for the USMNT job at all — and that is his only previous experience at the international level. Plus, his comments on talkSPORT could come across as someone who fancies a paid vacation in the USA for a few years rather than helping the country fulfill its vast potential as a soccer nation. So the jury is out as to how invested he is when it comes to how young U.S. players are developed.

But, hang on, does he need to worry about that?

Simply put the USMNT head coach should worry about one thing: coaching the U.S. national team players. Don’t let Jurgen Klinsmann’s position as both the head coach and technical director of U.S. Soccer at the same time cloud your judgement. That was a bizarre situation and one which shouldn’t be replicated. Let a coach, coach. There are plenty of other top-class candidates who can work behind-the-scenes to solve the pay-to-play issues and the myriad of problems involving youth development in U.S. Soccer.

I’m not saying U.S. Soccer should hire Sam Allardyce. Far from it. There will be dozens of viable and talented candidates for the job and, in truth, nobody should be appointed until February 2018 at the earliest when we know who the next president of U.S. Soccer is and what their vision is for the future.

Allardyce being in charge of the USMNT wouldn’t be the worst appointment in the world but I’m sure that many U.S. fans would rather see a younger manager with vast MLS and USMNT experience (from a playing and coaching experience) appointed. Those same fans would also want to see a “big name” a la Klinsmann take charge and believe the U.S. is above appointing a manager whose expertise is leading struggling Premier League clubs to safety from relegation.

When you think about it, a failure to reach the 2018 World Cup is a relegation of sorts and the U.S. has reached rock bottom.

It is in those kind of situations where Allardyce usually does his best work. At least in the short-term. The only problem is the U.S. is two years away from actual competitive games.

I can see it now. Fans in the American Outlaws section dressed up in an Uncle Sam costume with an Allardyce mask over their face…

UEFA wants to “wage war on racists”

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has reacted strongly to the racist abuse of England’s players in Bulgaria on Monday.

[ MORE: England’s players react ]

During the EURO 2020 qualifier monkey chants were heard from sections of the home crowds at Sofia’s Vasil Levski stadium, while Nazi salutes were also made and the officials stopped the game twice in the first half and then followed step one of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol as a message was broadcast over the speakers that the game was in danger of being abandoned.

A section of home supporters were seen leaving their seats just before half time, covering their faces with hoods and some had shirts which said “UEFA No Respect” written on them.

UEFA will investigate the incidents in Sofia after England made a formal complaint, and this comes after section of the stadium in Sofia was shut on Monday due to the racist abuse of players from both Kosovo and the Czech Republic during previous EURO 2020 qualifiers.

Ceferin called on governments and other organizations to work with them to “wage war” on racists as incidents continue to crop up across Europe.

“There were times, not long ago, when the football family thought that the scourge of racism was a distant memory. The last couple of years have taught us that such thinking was, at best, complacent. The rise of nationalism across the continent has fuelled some unacceptable behaviour and some have taken it upon themselves to think that a football crowd is the right place to give voice to their appalling views.

“As a governing body, I know we are not going to win any popularity contests. But some of the views expressed about UEFA’s approach to fighting racism have been a long way off the mark. UEFA, in close cooperation with the FARE network (Football Against Racism Europe), instituted the three-stage protocol for identifying and tackling racist behaviour during games.

“UEFA’s sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches. The minimum sanction is a partial closure of the stadium – a move which costs the hosts at least hundreds of thousands in lost revenue and attaches a stigma to their supporters.

“UEFA is the only football body to ban a player for ten matches for racist behaviour – the most severe punishment level in the game. Believe me, UEFA is committed to doing everything it can to eliminate this disease from football. We cannot afford to be content with this; we must always strive to strengthen our resolve.

“More broadly, the football family – everyone from administrators to players, coaches and fans – needs to work with governments and NGOs to wage war on the racists and to marginalise their abhorrent views to the fringes of society. Football associations themselves cannot solve this problem. Governments too need to do more in this area. Only by working together in the name of decency and honour will we make progress.”

Turkish players defy UEFA with another military salute

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PARIS (AP) Turkish players defied UEFA with another military salute in Turkey’s 1-1 draw with France in their European Championship qualifier on Monday.

UEFA was already looking into Turkish players’ salutes from during and after Friday’s 1-0 win over Albania. The European soccer federation prohibits political statements in stadiums.

But Turkish players lined up again to show a military salute after Kaan Ayhan’s late equalizer in Paris. Captain Burak Yilmaz was joined by goalkeeper Mert Gunok and several other outfield players in giving the salute toward the crowd – in apparent support of the Turkish forces involved in the country’s invasion of Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria.

Defender Merih Demiral urged Ayhan to salute, too, leading to what looked like a heated discussion between the two, but the goal-scorer desisted and made his way back to the pitch.

Ayhan and Turkey striker Kenan Karaman both play for German side Fortuna Dusseldorf, which had issued a statement after Friday’s game to distance itself from “politically motivated acts.”

“Both players stand for values that the club lives by,” Dusseldorf sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel said.

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

Bulgarian prime minister intervenes, Bulgaria FA chief resigns

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Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked for the president of their football association, Borislav Mihaylov, to resign following the racist abuse of England’s players in Sofia’s Vasil Levski stadium on Monday.

And on Tuesday Mihaylov stepped down and handed in his resignation.

During the EURO 2020 qualifier monkey chants were heard from sections of the home crowds, while Nazi salutes were also made and the officials stopped the game twice in the first half and then followed step one of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol as a message was broadcast over the speakers that the game was in danger of being abandoned.

The Bulgarian sport minister, Krasen Kralev, released a statement on the incident and said that Mihaylov, who had previously complained to UEFA about Gareth Southgate‘s concerns over potential racist abuse in Bulgaria, should resign.

“The prime minister called me urgently a short time ago,”  said. “You know that the government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years. But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night’s incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov.”

UEFA is opening a full investigation into the disgusting scenes inside the stadium, as England’s players and staff have been applauded for the way they handled themselves in their 6-0 win.

Southgate, Tyrone Mings and other England players have reacted to the abuse and say they have made a statement on and off the pitch for UEFA having to use their anti-racism protocol.

“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,” Southgate said. “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.”

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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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.