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USMNT holding camp in Qatar
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USMNT to hold camp in Qatar ahead of first 2020 match

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The United States men’s national team has announced its opponent for its annual January camp friendly.

Gregg Berhalter’s men will kick off 2020 much like they did 2019, tangling with a CONCACAF B-side team. This time it’s Costa Rica on Feb. 1 in Carson, Calif., a year after Berhalter debuted his team with a 3-0 win over Panama.

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The Yanks, of course, will also have a largely second team side for all of January camp, with European clubs in action and no formal international window.

U.S. Soccer also confirmed that the side will hold camp in Qatar, still somehow home of the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks will be there from Jan. 5-25 to get a first taste of where they hope to be a part of their first World Cup in eight years.

“Utilizing similar opportunities prior to the World Cups in South Africa and Brazil proved extremely beneficial in the team’s planning and preparations,” the team said in a release.

It will be interesting to see how experimental Berhalter’s roster is in January. While most years would see the camp as reason for a heavily inexperienced squad, Berhalter has to prepare his side for the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals and World Cup qualifying. There’s also an Olympics in there, though Berhalter has allowed Jason Kreis plenty of exclusivity with the U-23s.

It’s also worth noting that lot of things associated with the 2022 World Cup are going to feel unsavory for many national teams. Plugging loads of U.S. Soccer resources into Qatar in prep is just the tip of the iceberg. It will get the Yanks better prepped for the tournament.

State of play in CONCACAF Nations League

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Well, well, well…

Canada’s controlling 2-0 defeat of the USMNT on Tuesday adding some intrigue to the final two match days of the CONCACAF Nations League next month

[ USMNT-CANADA: Time for change? | Player ratings ]

Mexico nearly provided another shock at Azteca thanks to a relative inability to break down Panama, but young stunner Jose Juan Macias scored for the fourth time in three caps to lead El Tri to a 3-1 win on the night.

Roberto Alvarado saw his 28th minute goal canceled out by pre-halftime own goal, and Mexico had better than 75 percent possession when Macias bagged his winner. Rodolfo Pizarro rounded out the scoring in stoppage time.

Here’s where we sit in the battle for four semifinal spots. The semifinals and finals will be staged in June.

Group A

Canada’s defeat of the USMNT means the Yanks need to make the most of the Canucks visit to the Orlando next month and smash Cuba in the Cayman Islands. Overall goal difference is the second tie breaker, and the Yanks are four behind Canada. A two-goal win in Florida would mean the Yanks would simply need a victory over Cuba to advance to the semifinals. Canada advances with a draw against the U.S., while Cuba has already be relegated to League B.

Group B

Mexico now has six points to Panama’s three and Bermuda’s three. El Tri will visit Panama next and can clinch a spot in the semifinals with a draw or better. Even if Panama beats Mexico, Tata Martino’s men would need to get nothing from Bermuda at Azteca to fail to make the semifinals. Bermuda needs Panama to beat Mexico before getting a blowout win at Azteca. Not looking good.

Group C

Honduras is onto the semifinals. Whether Martinique or Trinidad and Tobago, both on two points, can avoid relegation by getting a superior result against Honduras in November. Honduras heads to Martinique before hosting T&T.

Group D

Curacao had five points compared to its rivals two each and can advance to the semifinals with a home defeat of Costa Rica. If Los Ticos claims the three points, then it will have at least a two-goal advantage on Haiti heading into a home finale.

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.

Nashville adds 11-cap Costa Rican winger for MLS debut

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Nashville SC has purchased another attacking talent ahead of its first season in Major League Soccer.

The player is Costa Rican speedster Randall Leal, a 22-year-old left winger currently with Saprissa in his native country. He’s 11-times capped by Los Ticos, but is yet to score or assist for his country.

[ MORE: USMNT mid Williams signs in Cyprus ]

Leal had been abroad with Belgium’s KV Mechelen, but only managed an assist in 19 matches from 2015-18.

From NashvilleSC.com:

“Randall is an exciting young attacking midfielder with bags of potential,” said Nashville SC general manager Mike Jacobs. “He has the ability to influence matches in a variety of ways and has demonstrated that caliber on both the domestic and international stage.”

He has two goals and two assists in 10 matches this season, and has registered six goals and six assists in 38 matches since coming home from Europe.

Nashville now boasts:

Leal
Hany Mukhtar (Designated Player)
Aníbal Godoy
David Accam
Derrick Jones
Cameron Lancaster
Daniel Ríos

Costa Rica manager quits citing “boredom” of coaching national team

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It takes a particular breed of manager to be successful at the national team level. Gustavo Matosas is not one of those people.

The 52-year-old Uruguayan made that abundantly clear as he stepped down on Wednesday after less than a year on the job, saying during a press conference that he did not anticipate the particular struggles he faced personally as national team coach.

“I didn’t know being a national team manager was so boring,” Matosas said. “I don’t regret it and I don’t leave frustrated because I gave my best. I won’t manage a national team again. I can’t only have the players every two months. It’s not for me.”

That doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Matosas said he was so bored, he felt unfulfilled, preferring a club job where he can coach more and scout less.

“I realized that in the national side I feel unproductive even though I kill myself watching videos,” Matosas said. “It’s not what I like to be doing.

“It’s tough not having players in the day-to-day to train them. I only have the players for a week every two months and it’s killing me. I didn’t know it was so hard. I thought I would be able to somehow endure it.”

Matosas was hired last October to replace Oscar Ramirez who stepped down after the World Cup. He took charge of eight matches, winning three and losing four. Before his appointment with Costa Rica, Matosas managed club teams such as Club America, Queretaro, Atlas, Al Hilal, Danubio, and Estudiantes. He never spent more than two seasons at any position.

After his departure from Costa Rica, there were reports he would be hired at Liga MX side Atletico San Luis, but the club president denied the rumor.