Shane O’Neill

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The strange trip of U.S. U-23 back Shane O’Neill heads to England

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What a weird journey it’s been for former Colorado Rapids youngster Shane O’Neill.

As long as the paperwork goes through, England is about to have another American competitor. The 22-year-old Irish-born defender is leaving Cypriot side Apollon Limassol to join Cambridge United on loan.

[ MORE: Deadline Day Done Deals ]

The U’s are three points out of a promotion playoff spot in League Two, England’s fourth-tier. Cambridge is managed by longtime Crystal Palace, QPR and Leeds midfielder Shaun Derry.

O’Neill has made 22 appearances for the United States’ U-20 and U-23 sides, but can still represent Ireland if he’d like. He left Apollon Limassol on loan last year, but hasn’t played for loan club Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz or his permanent club.

Let’s hope this is a step in the right direction — or at least out of the wilderness — for the promising and versatile O’Neill.

WATCH: All the goals as Morris, Herzog’s U.S. U-23s reap big win over Mexico


A steely group of hopeful Olympians looked ready for prime time, and Jordan Morris scored against a Mexican side for the second time in a week.

Morris, Christian Dean and Mario Rodriguez scored goals for the home side as the United States U-23 side scored a 3-0 win over Mexico on Wednesday night in California.

The trio symbolize just how far the U.S. Olympic team has come, with Rodriguez a member of Borussia Monchengladbach, Morris a Stanford University player and Dean a player for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

[ MORE: USWNT reveals World Cup kit ]

Southampton goalkeeper Cody Cropped made a handful of fine saves for the States, including a diving stab at a first minute shot from the Liga MX-heavy Mexican team.

All the goals came after halftime, beginning with Rodriguez’s finish of a play started by Fatai Alashe (San Jose) and Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake):

Ten minutes later, Dean was in perfect position to head home Colorado Rapids playmaker Dillon Serna’s curling left-footed free kick:

And Morris finished things off with this lunging, classy poke of a Shane O’Neill (Colorado) cross:

In an otherwise even game, the U-23s finished off three of their chances and defended well enough to pick up a clean sheet (thanks in large part to Cropper).

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The U-23 MNT next comes together for the Toulon Tournament, which runs from May 27-June 7 in Toulon, France. The USA will face France (May 27), Netherlands (May 29), Costa Rica (May 31) and Qatar (June 2).

Chile vs. USA preview: Who’s here to stay as USMNT kicks off 2015?

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When Jurgen Klinsmann called in 28 players for the U.S. national team’s annual January training camp and subsequent friendlies, the USMNT head coach did so with eyes and mind looking forward to two different places: this summer’s Gold Cup — established USMNT veterans — and next year’s Olympic qualifying tournament — players under the age of 23.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

Klinsmann was more than open about his intentions to kill two birds with one stone, publicly confirming the roster was a healthy mix of players who will contribute on either front over the next 15 months.

With that in mind, who on the current 23-man roster for friendlies against Chile (Wednesday, 6 pm ET) and Panama (Sunday, Feb. 8, 4 pm ET) is in camp for an extended run with the first team this year, and who’s just hanging around for experience and further evaluation with the Olympics in mind?

Gold Cup locks — Goalkeeper Nick Rimando; defenders Matt Besler, Jermaine Jones and DeAndre Yedlin; midfielders Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud; forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey

Eight players from Klinsmann’s World Cup roster, all of which are too old for the Olympic qualifying team — Yedlin, who is probably seen as “too advanced” for U-23 team, the exception.


source: APGold Cup fringe players — Goalkeeper Sean Johnson; defenders Matt Hedges and Perry Kitchen; midfielders Lee Nguyen and Brek Shea; forward Chris Wondolowski

Johnson has been called into camp on a fairly regular basis as the No. 4 goalkeeper, often times flip-flopping with Bill Hamid, so with Tim Howard taking a year-long break from the national team, one of the two young shot-stoppers could sneak onto the Gold Cup roster as the No. 3 behind Brad Guzan (No. 1) and Rimando.

Hedges’ (right) performances during the 2014 MLS season forced Klinsmann to call up the 24-year-old and, with strong showings during training sessions, could push the FC Dallas defender into a class just below Besler, Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez, who are all pretty regular starters. A possible shift to a 3-5-2 only helps Hedges as it creates another starting spot along the backline. Kitchen, who often plays in the midfield for D.C. United, surpassed the 11,000-minute mark for United in 2014, his fourth year as a pro, and figures to get a look with the full senior team at some point.

Lee Nguyen had an unreal 2014 season for the New England Revolution, and there’s no one in the USMNT player pool who plays the No. 10 position as dynamically as him. Here’s the problem for Nguyen: if Klinsmann switches to a 3-5-2 full time, there’s little room on the field for Nguyen. Shea, on the other hand, gets another lifeline thrown his way as someone who’s fairly experienced in areas both wide-attacking and defensively. Klinsmann obviously rates the 24-year-old because he keeps calling him into camps despite a complete lack of club team minutes, so he’ll get every chance to succeed (or fail).

Wondolowski is 31 the No. 4 forward on any first-team USMNT roster, at best.

[ RELATED: U.S. U-20s defeat El Salvador, qualify for 2015 U-20 World Cup ]


source: APAn eye toward Olympic qualifiers — Goalkeeper Jon Kempin; defender Shane O’Neill; midfielders Dillon Serna and Wil Trapp

Kempin showed flashes of a future MLS No. 1 during spot starts for Sporting Kansas City in 2014. It’ll be interesting to see whether Klinsmann and U-23 head coach Andreas Herzog opt to ride the 21-year-old Kempin, or Southampton prospect and regular U-20/23 starter Cody Cropper.

O’Neill and Trapp (right) figure to make up the spine for the Olympic qualifying team, and a strong one at that. Both 21 years old, each has logged nearly 4,000 minutes (Trapp is just short at 3,875) in their first two full seasons in MLS combined.

[ RELATED: Juan Agudelo close to re-joining New England Revolution ]


Too old for Olympic qualifiers, hoping to make a GC case — Defender Steve Birnbaum; midfielder Miguel Ibarra; forward Bobby Wood

Both Birnbaum and Ibarra seem long shots to earn long-term places in the senior team, but January call-ups are important opportunities to make their case, regardless. Meanwhile, Wood got a number of run-outs with the senior team at the end of 2014, but failed to stake his claim to a place once the full complement of forwards is available to Klinsmann.

US U-23s drop 3-0 decision in Brazil; Rapids pair, Southampton keeper start

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The United States men’s U-23 national team faced a tough task in dealing with Brazil’s U-23 team in Brasilia on Monday night.

And it didn’t go very well right off the bat, as the home squad struck first. Twenty-four-year-old Atletico Mineiro striker Luan netted in the third minute.

[ MORE: Diskerud wants bigger role | Croatia vs USMNT in November? ]

Newly-minted Barcelona back Douglas scored Brazil’s second goal, with 21-year-old Lazio defender Vinicius also tallying for the hosts.

The States started Southampton keeper Cody Cropper between the sticks, and had Colorado pair Shane O’Neill and Dillon Serna in the starting lineup. FC Utrecht mid Rubio Rubin and Stanford sophomore Jordan Morris also started.

US U-23s: Cropper; Sorto, Carter-Vickers (Miazga, 61′), O’Neill, Ocegueda; Rubin, Joya (Hairston, 83′), Hyndman (Flores, 61′), Serna; Rodriguez (Spencer, 71′), Morris (Hernandez, 83′)

Zardes breaks record, but who are the Top Ten MLS Homegrown players?


Gyasi Zardes is having a dynamite season, scoring 14 goals to break the single-season record for an MLS Homegrown player.

We’ve been tooting the Zardes horn for a while now, but his ascension to the apex of Homegrown goal scorers doesn’t make him the clear-cut best Homegrown player.

Since the program was started in 2008, over 100 players have earned Homegrown contracts. So which 10 players have broken through with the most effective careers?

[ VIDEO: US Soccer puts out tribute to Bocanegra ]

[RELATED: Latest MLS standings |  MLS stats]

Conditions: it’s about careers, not just stints with a club. Therefore, Andy Najar’s move from Homegrown to Honduran national team player and Anderlecht player counts, even if his time in DC ended in 2013.

Let’s give it an almost-completely unscientific whirl:


10. Victor Ulloa, FC Dallas

9. Harrison Shipp, Chicago Fire

8. Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew

7. Shane O’Neill, Colorado Rapids

6. Gyasi Zardes, Los Angeles Galaxy

Analysis: Bit of a gulf between 7 and 8 here, with apologies to Trapp. If this were a major sports draft, we’d say that’s where the current drop-off lives. Still, players 8-10 are very early in their careers and capable of leaping. Both O’Neill and Zardes aren’t far from the Top Five, either.

Top 5

5. Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution

4. Juan Agudelo, New York Red Bulls

3. DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders

2. Andy Najar, DC United

1. Bill Hamid, DC United

Analysis: Yedlin and Agudelo drop because it was their national team performances that earned them their renown and transfers, while Najar and Hamid have starred with the clubs that promoted them. Surely we could be mere months away from Yedlin rocketing up this list, while Fagundez, Zardes and O’Neill have top play potential as well.

Ones to watch: Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC), Jordan Hamilton (Toronto FC), Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Karl Ouimette (Montreal Impact)