U.S. Men’s National Team

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Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Dest

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After missing a chance to meet last month, the KNVB (Netherlands FA) is looking to meet Ajax right back – and current U.S. Men’s National Team member – Sergino Dest, to see if they can sway him to play for the Netherlands in the future.

This is according to a report from Dutch soccer magazine Voetbal International, which states the national federation will meet with Dest in the coming days. Time is of the essence; Dest could be cap-tied by the U.S. as soon as October 11, when the USMNT hosts Cuba in a CONCACAF Nations League match.

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It’s been a whirlwind of a last six to 12 months for Dest. After being ignored by the Netherlands youth national teams growing up, Dest quickly committed to the U.S. youth national team programs. Dest was born and raised in the Netherlands but qualifies for the USMNT due to his Surinamese-American father. He joined the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team in 2016 and ended up starting at right back for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

This past spring, despite being just 18-years old, Dest started up a level for the U.S. U-20s at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and impressed. After a strong summer in Ajax preseason training, Dest was promoted to the Ajax first team and has suddenly become the team’s starting right back.

Dest’s meteoric rise over the past year has put him on the KNVB’s radar, and his club coach, Erik ten Hag, has said his preference is to see Dest play for former Ajax player and coach Ronald Koeman and the Netherlands National Team.

It ultimately means that Dest has a big decision to make, though he could delay it a month if he needs more time. He could tie his future to the U.S., a federation that has valued him from a young age and is giving him senior national team opportunities even at his age. Dest made his USMNT debut in September against Mexico and Uruguay. Even though he was overmatched in both games, it was surely a great learning experience for him and all part of the USMNT’s recruitment to keep him from the Netherlands.

On the other hand, Dest can play for the country of his birth, and potentially have a real chance to win the Euros next year or even a World Cup in the future, with this bright and strong Netherlands generation coming through.

Dest has just another week or two before callups are made, but he could in theory decide to reject any call-up this month, and make his decision in November. If he wants, he could even delay it until the spring, though that could damage his chances with the national teams in question.

3 key battles for USMNT v. Mexico

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The U.S. Men’s National Team has a chance to avenge its defeat to Mexico in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final as CONCACAF’s two giants face off in a friendly match on Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The teams will look slightly different on Friday than on that July evening in Chicago, but it should be a terrific matchup between two squads full of talented youngsters, with some veterans sprinkled in. There will be battles all over the pitch, but here’s three key matchups to keep an eye on during the match.

[READ: Premier League Power Rankings: Week 4]


Christian Pulisic v. Miguel Layun/Luis Rodriguez

All eyes will be on Christian Pulisic – and his Mexican winger counterpart Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. More on that later. Pulisic could certainly play in midfield, as the top of a three, but he seems more likely – having been listed as a forward on the roster, to take up one of the wide positions.

That puts a lot on Mexico’s wide players on the backline, Jesus Gallardo on the left and either Miguel Layun or Luis Rodriguez on the right, to keep Pulisic in front of him. If Pulisic can repeatedly find space down the wings and cross into the box, that could leave to issues. Also, they’ll have to communicate effectively if Pulisic floats around, combining with the center forward to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself too.

In the Gold Cup final, Andres Guardado and Edson Alvarez did enough to stifle Pulisic. If he plays out wide, away from those pair, can he be the difference?

Lozano v. Reggie Cannon/Sergino Dest

Similar to Pulisic, another key matchup will be the USMNT outside backs against Lozano. Assuming he starts on the left, Lozano will likely go up against incumbent right back Reggie Cannon or Sergino Dest. Both are young and inexperienced at this level, but they certainly have the speed to keep up with Lozano in a footrace.

Lozano presents a difficult opponent, as he can certainly play within the channels or play outside along the wing, and he’ll certainly be a key focal point that El Tri will try and utilize during the game. How Cannon or Dest respond to this matchup will certainly also help the pair in future USMNT call-ups.

Aaron Long v. Raul Jimenez

Long, subject to transfer rumors from West Ham, will likely be battling with Wolves star forward Raul Jimenez all evening. Jimenez has taken his game to a new level, turning into a consistent scorer and great striker for Wolves. He’s a rare breed of a physical target forward, who also has excellent technical ability on the ball.

For Long, he’s adept at positioning and reading the game from his time as a central midfielder growing up and his transition to centerback with the New York Red Bulls. He’ll have to be on his toes, anticipating passes into Jimenez’s feet or his head, as well as win long-balls in Jimenez’s direction. If the USMNT can keep Jimenez quiet in front of goal, it bodes well for the final score.

U.S. National Soccer Team players association speaks out against U.S. Soccer

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Even though the U.S. Men’s National Team doesn’t have to play multiple matches per year on artificial turf like the U.S. Women’s National Team, the USMNT players are taking a stand against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

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In a statement, the U.S. National Soccer Team players association said that it opposes playing on both turf or grass laid on top of turf due to player safety concerns. Since Nippert Stadium is an artificial turf surface, it’s expected that U.S. Soccer will pay to fly in and lay down grass on top of the field ahead of the USMNT’s friendly match with Venezuela on June 9.

“In the view of the Players Association, this is just one more example of a serious problem that the United States Soccer Federation is not advancing the interests of the sport of soccer or the interests of the players or the fans, but is solely focused on generating ever-increasing revenues and profits for the Federation, its employees, its sponsors, and private businesses associated with the Federation,” the the players said in its statement, after corresponding with U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro via e-mail.

The players association highlighted a section of the U.S. Soccer press release in announcing the friendly match in Cincinnati, noting the strong FC Cincinnati fan support. This backed the players association’s point that U.S. Soccer is more interested in revenues than player safety.

Even with all of our society’s technological advances, it appears that only old-fashioned planting and allowing grass to gain roots deep in the soil is the best way to ensure a strong, stable field, and not one that will come up with a quick change of direction. Issues at Yankee Stadium recently highlighted this problem.

New York City FC captain Alex Ring, who played in that match, said he slipped on some of that temporary sod and suffered an injured ankle, but soldiered on to play through the pain for the final hour of the game.

“It hurts, unfortunately,” Ring told reporters on April 6, via Front Row Sports. “What can I say? I can’t complain about the pitch, but it happens after 30 minutes and you play the whole game with a sore ankle, it’s not the best.”

While coming to Cincinnati and bringing the USMNT to cities it has never been before – this will be the first USMNT trip to Cincinnati – is an important mission for U.S. Soccer, it’s also surprising because the beautiful pitch at Crew Stadium, the heart and soul of U.S. Soccer, is right up the road. Of course, Crew Stadium’s capacity is much smaller than Nippert Stadium, which I’m sure had something to do with this decision.

The USMNT hasn’t had to play on grass laid on top of turf since the 2017 Gold Cup semifinals against Costa Rica, which was played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which is an indoor facility and thus uses artificial turf.

For U.S. Soccer, that now means all of its senior national team players are against the federation’s current position. The USWNT has made its sentiments known about playing on turf, even before Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL in a match on a turf pitch in bad shape, and they’ve even recently filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging U.S. Soccer is engaging in gender discrimination against the USWNT players.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s a bad look for U.S. Soccer that all of its main players are against the federation in one form or another, and together they could use their media platforms to make an even bigger statement.

Behind the Scenes: USMNT coach Berhalter gives tactical insight on squad

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In a short clip, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter broke down what he liked, and didn’t like, from two moments during the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador last Thursday in Orlando, Fla.

[READ: International Champions Cup schedule announced]

Both plays focused on how the U.S. reacted to having the ball in the attacking third and losing it, and what players could have done better to shut down a counter-attack from Ecuador. Like it or not, it’s great that Berhalter is lifting the curtain and showing fans how he watches film after games to find little mistakes to fix. No previous USMNT coach has allowed this much access to the media, so props to Berhalter for that. While it’s still much too early to judge him based on results on the field, he’s certainly earning approval from fans and media alike for how open he is to answering tactical questions as well as providing this kind of insight to supporters.

Watch the video below:

USMNT Transfer Roundup: Saief joins FC Cincy, Galaxy sign Corona

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Two players in the U.S. Men’s National Team player pool will now be playing in Major League Soccer.

First, FC Cincinnati announced that it had signed winger Kenny Saief on loan from RSC Anderlecht in Belgium. The team didn’t disclose transfer details, but it’s likely there is an option to buy Saief at the end of the loan. It’s also unclear whether Saief’s contract was paid down with allocation money.

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“We are excited to add a player of Kenny’s caliber to our team,” FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch said in a statement. “He is someone who comes to our club with significant top-tier experience. We look forward to welcoming Kenny to Cincinnati and integrating him within our group immediately.”

Later in the day, the LA Galaxy posted that it had signed midfielder Joe Corona, using TAM (targeted allocation money) in the deal. Corona joined on a free transfer from Club Tijuana, where he spent most of the last nine years since turning professional in 2010.

“Joe is an experienced and quality player who can immediately address an area of need for our club,” said LA Galaxy GM Dennis te Kloese said in a statement. “I am familiar with Joe from his time in Liga MX and think he can be an impactful player on our roster. We are excited to welcome Joe to our team and look forward to his contributions.”

In both cases, it was a chance for the players to find some much-needed playing time. After excelling when he first moved to Anderlecht, Saief became a second-choice player this fall. He’s only started twice, playing 12 times in Belgian league matches with 307 minutes clocked. As Saief hopes to be part of this next USMNT cycle, it was important for him to get regular playing time, even if it was outside of Europe. Plus, in the U.S. he can leverage his U.S. passport into a good contract and be a domestic player for a team in search of a star attacker to play with Fanendo Adi.

Part of how Saief joined FC Cincinnati was through its former captain, fellow Israeli Dekel Keinan.

Corona on the other hand has been with the USMNT since 2012, but has never fully become the star many thought or hoped he would become. Corona has amassed 23 caps for the USMNT but outside of Gold Cups, he hasn’t played at a World Cup and was not in the USMNT squad for the last round of World Cup qualifying. Considering he’ll be 32 when the 2022 World Cup takes place, his days with the USMNT may be number. However, with him playing close to home, expect him to once again be considered for a role at this summer’s Gold Cup.