Ventura Alvarado

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Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

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After a slow start to the season, Josh Sargent made quite the statement, scoring his first goal of the season in brilliant fashion against Augsburg on Sunday.

 [MORE: Sargent opens season account in Bundesliga]

Over at Stamford Bridge, Christian Pulisic continues to earn valuable minutes, despite Chelsea failing to pick up three points in consecutive matches.

In Mexico, Ventura Alvarado, captain of Liga MX side Necaxa, registered his second goal of the season.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic started and played all 90 minutes in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw against Sheffield United.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a groin injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson started and went all 90 minutes for the Latics in their 0-0 draw with Barnsley.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old was sidelined with a hamstring injury this weekend. There’s no timeline on his return.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain was back on the park and featured all 90 minutes in Hull’s 1-1 draw at Millwall.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender, dealing with an injury, didn’t feature for QPR over the weekend in their 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — The USMNT call-up started and played all 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw at Cardiff City.

Eredivisie

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright reintroduced himself to field after last week’s inactivity. The 21-year-old played the last 39 minutes in VVV-Venlo’s 1-0 loss to Den Haag on Saturday.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — One of the few new faces in Greg Berhalter’s list, Dest played 65 minutes in Ajax’s 4-1 at Sparta Rotterdam.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback dressed but didn’t play in Emmen’s 3-1 loss to Zwolle.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Out with a muscular injury, Weah didn’t feature for Lille over the weekend and will also miss out on the USMNT’s pair of friendlies.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — On Sunday, the Washington D.C. native came featured for 76 minutes in Rennes’ 2-1 defeat to Nice.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke — A staple player for club and country, McKennie registered 90 minutes in Schalke’s 3-0 victory over Hertha Berlin before reporting with the men’s national team.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Steffen and Morales started and went all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. Morales, for a consecutive week, was one of Fortuna’s few bright spots, assisting the team’s only goal.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  The 19-year-old opened his season account in spectacular fashion, getting around defenders and the opposing goalkeeper before tapping it in.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach After not starting the first game of the season, Johnson has made his way into Mönchengladbach’s starting lineup two weeks in a row. On Friday, he started and played 74 minutes in his side’s 3-1 loss to red-hot RP Leipzig.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt The fullback did appear on the 18, but was not called upon in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t feature for Leipzig as he continues to recover from “acute groin issues.”

Honorable Mentions:

Ian Harkes, Dundee United – Harkes had an unusual, yet positive shift with Dundee United over the weekend. In the 25th minute, the midfielder took the field. One minute into the second half, Harkes scored in what turned out to be a 6-2 victory for United over rivals Dundee.

Ventura Alvarado, Necaxa – In Mexico, Alvarado continues to make the case that he might be ready for a USMNT return. The 27-year-old captain, scored his second goal of the season in Necaxa’s 3-2 victory over Tijuana.

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher – Boyd’s move to Germany’s third-tier is paying dividends. For a second straight week, the striker scored for Hallescher – this time in a 4-0 victory over Sonnenhof.

Report says Club America transfer lists USMNT back Alvarado

AFP PHOTO/ Ezequiel BECERRA
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Could Ventura Alvarado be leaving Club America? And where would the young USMNT defender go?

MLSSoccer.com, citing a Mexican web report, says Alvarado has been transfer listed by Club America after making just 7 appearances during the Apertura season.

Alvarado, 23, has earned 13 caps for the U.S. (all in 2015), but his performances have been uneven for country since debuting in late March. A dual national, he was cap-tied during the Gold Cup.

[ MORE: Impact to sign 96-times capped Ivorian defender? ]

Given that status, will he be attractive to other Liga MX clubs? Could he fit the plans of an MLS club? At age 23 and without consistent playing time for club, could a European stop be in the mix?

Transfermarkt estimates his value to about $1.6 million, and he comes with valuable international and CONCACAF Champions League experience. It will be interesting to see his destination, should the reports be true, as we continue to weigh what it means to be a U.S. international on the world stage.

The case for firing Klinsmann if Mexico beats USMNT

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It’s all anyone wanted to talk about regarding the U.S. national team team for months now, and Landon Donovan’s comments on Tuesday only brought the discussion into further focus, so let’s talk about what happens to Jurgen Klinsmann if the USMNT loses to Mexico on Saturday, eh?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The easy answer is, “He gets fired.” Of course, it’s not that simple. Let it be known that I am 100 percent against firing any coach for one result in one game, no matter the coach, the sport, or the situation. Furthermore, Klinsmann is an especially unique case as he holds both head coach and technical director titles. Firing Klinsmann the head coach would mean firing Klinsmann the technical director, as well.

If Klinsmann is to be fired following Saturday’s game against Mexico, it won’t be because he lost a single game against Mexico. It will be because he coached the USMNT to its worst-ever finish at the Gold Cup, showed no signs of learning or accepting responsibility for his mistakes, alienated and repeatedly blamed his players for said coaching errors, and lost to Mexico all in the span of three months.

Back in spring, Klinsmann called the 2015 Gold Cup the most important stretch of games during the calendar year. In fact, he did so on numerous occasions leading up to and even during the early stages of the tournament. As the tournament wore on, however, that rhetoric disappeared and in its place phrases like “experimenting with young players” and “building for the future” were born while more experienced players who had won previous editions of the Gold Cup — Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Benny Feilhaber, to name three examples — sat either at home or on the bench as the Yanks lost to Jamaica in the semifinals and Panama in the third-place game.

[ MORE: Klinsmann calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries ]

Klinsmann made qualifying for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup his no. 1 goal  this year, yet took a largely inexperienced squad to the Gold Cup, and failed. If the USMNT loses to Mexico on Saturday, Klinsmann’s bunch will have exhausted all options to get into the Confederations Cup, and failed again.

As Donovan pointed out on Tuesday, saying what so many have been saying for months now, he should answer to someone for that. It’s far from “sour grapes” from the player infamously cut from last summer’s World Cup team; it’s a veteran of the game, an American soccer legend, and someone who cares about the game going forward, speaking truth about the harsh reality of top-level soccer.

Around the world, if a player plays poorly and a player has a bad string of results, they get dropped from the team.

Jurgen said many times he wants our players to feel pressure — so if they lose a game they can’t go to the grocery store the next day. If they lose a game, they are getting hammered in the press.

The reality is that now, anywhere else in the world, if this coach had those results, and they lose this game against Mexico, they’d be fired.

Unfortunately, the four-year contract extension handed to Klinsmann prior to the 2014 World Cup — an unheard of practice in the international game — means answering for his shortcomings will likely amount to a friendly lecture from U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and a full-tooth, grinning “We’ll get ’em next time” rallying cry.

The standard defense of Klinsmann has long been one of two things: 1) “He’s trying to build a new program for the future and that takes time,” while ignoring that results still matter in the present tense; 2) “He doesn’t have good enough players because MLS isn’t good enough,” while ignoring that 10 players from the USMNT’s 23-man World Cup — a tournament at which the congregation of Klinsmann swears the USMNT did so well to get out of the “group of death” —  including seven key contributors, came from MLS.

[ MORE: How will the USMNT line up vs. Mexico? ]

Klinsmann has held exactly two other managerial job during his post-playing career — Germany and Bayern Munich — neither of which for a period longer than 24 months following a series of substandard results, by their respective measures. Is it really a surprise he’s failed to deliver on his grandiose plans through 50 months on the job?

In the end, the USMNT’s shortcomings under Klinsmann have often been due to self-inflicted handicaps that left the squad and/or lineup ill-prepared to achieve the kind of results he was hired to deliver. Never before has a USMNT head coach been armed with such compensation, such control over the entire system and such depth within the player pool, which also means that never before has — or, should have — a USMNT head coach been held to such a standard.

If Klinsmann merely achieves the same as those who came before him, that’s a clear failure to deliver his stated objectives. He won’t be fired even with an embarrassing defeat on Saturday, which means he has three more years to show us that both he and his USMNT can be better than they have been for the last four.

Preview: USMNT to face Brazil in final tune-up for CONCACAF playoff vs. Mexico

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Who: USA vs. Brazil
When: Tuesday, Sept. 8, 8 pm ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

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

The countdown is on and the days are ticking away quickly — 33 and counting — until the U.S. national team clashes with Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, a one-game playoff for the confederation’s spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup, at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 10.

Following a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Peru on Friday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT squad has one last chance to either state their case for a place in the team to face El Tri next month, or fine-tune and forge partnerships in key areas of the field, when they take on Brazil at Gillette Stadium Tuesday night.

[ MORE: If you’ve ever questioned Jurgen Klinsmann, you don’t understand soccer ]

CAPTAIN BRADLEY RETURNS; DEMPSEY NOT WITH TEAM

Michael Bradley, who remained with his club team, Toronto FC, through the weekend, has joined the USMNT ahead of Tuesday’s game as originally planned. Meanwhile, Klinsmann elected to not bring Clint Dempsey into camp in favor of leaving him with his club team, Seattle Sounders, as he returns from a hamstring injury and regain full fitness.

“I had a good conversation with Clint,” Klinsmann said. “He’s still not 100 percent and we agreed it’s best to let him stay with Seattle to allow him to continue making progress ahead of next month’s match against Mexico.”

Klinsmann made another pair of changes for Tuesday’s game, as defender Matt Besler was released from cap to rejoin Sporting Kansas City ahead of a league game Wednesday night. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough was also released to rejoin his club team, Club Leon. Stanford University forward Jordan Morris and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson were also added to the roster.

[ MORE: USMNT beats Peru, 2-1 | Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

MORE TURNOVER ALONG THE BACKLINE

With the departure of Besler, an assumed and deserved starter at center back, John Brooks looks set to retain the starting job at left-sided center back despite a poor showing at the 2015 Gold Cup and struggling through his 63-minute shift against Peru. Besler’s 27 minutes against Peru showed, yet again, that the 28-year-old is much better suited to start meaningful games at this point than the 22-year-old German-born behemoth.

Starting alongside Brooks against Peru was Omar Gonzalez, who struggle plenty himself before being replace by Ventura Alvarado at halftime. Alvarado, of course, was Brooks’ regular partner during the Gold Cup, a failure of a tournament in which the USMNT finished fourth. Besler and Gonzalez, when played together, have put in stellar shift after stellar shift along the backline.

Tim Ream looks to be the answer at left back, for now at least, with Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley currently injured. Geoff Cameron, who now starts at center back for Stoke City, looks locked in at right back due to Timothy Chandler’s absence (injury). Cameron, of course, was a regular starter at right back in the Premier League before Klinsmann instructed to win a starting center back job in order to be considered for the position with the USMNT.

[ MORE: Cameron relishing homecoming to beloved Boston, as USMNT faces Brazil ]

FULL ROSTERS

USA

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Alfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Andrew Wooten (SV Sandhausen), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

BRAZIL

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Alisson (Internacional)
DEFENDERS (8): David Luiz (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter Milan), Gabriel Paulista (Arsenal), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Filipe Luiz (Atletico Madrid), Danilo (Real Madrid), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Luis Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Elias (Corinthians), Ramirez (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Firmino (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Lucas Lima (Santos)
FORWARDS (4): Neymar (Barcelona), Lucas (PSG), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)

With two friendlies before the Confederations Cup playoff, who should be the USMNT’s center back pair?

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For some folks, Jurgen Klinsmann is the answer to what ails the USMNT. To others, like my clever colleague Andy Edwards, he is the soccer equivalent of someone who walks around randomly punching children.

I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle. Overall, the scheduling works for me as do most of his decisions. I wasn’t in the Landon Outrage crowd nor do I anoint every 18-year-old from somewhere in Germany as the next American Messi.

[ EXCLUSIVE: JPW talks Olympic qualifying with U.S. coach ]

And while the USMNT’s Tinkerman takes a lot of risks with his formation and use of his best players (See: Bradley, Michael), there is at least one area where I just don’t get it: center backs.

Klinsmann has stuck to his guns when it comes to the men in the middle, often omitting Omar Gonzalez and/or Matt Besler in order to use Ventura Alvarado or another young “next big thing.”

Why?

Others are going to claim that the squad is being hurt by the continued use of John Brooks, but I don’t take umbrage with his inclusion. He loses his space in marking a bit too often for my likes, but overall I feel the same way as Klinsmann: experience and a better partner will help him find his strong club form for Hertha Berlin.

Take a peak at these defensive action stats from Squawka (Number at left is their rank in their respective leagues).

source:  source:  source:

Of course more goes into playing defense than simple defensive statistics — and Alvarado has a small sample size due to Mexico’s split season — but Brooks’ numbers from the Bundesliga are impressive. The 17th-most defensive actions of any defender in Germany’s top-flight is a big number.

source: Getty Images

In another half-hearted defense of Alvarado, he could be helped significantly by Jermaine Jones, who returns to the fold this week.

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And given Gonzalez’s skills with the ball and in the opposition box, it makes it pretty easy to like him as a pair with Brooks. While I’d still like to see Geoff Cameron get another crack, we know the Stoke City veteran can just as easily fill a role in the midfield or right back.

So it comes down to who fits best when it comes to winning a game that matters, as we’ll soon see against Mexico in the Confederations Cup playoff. For me, I want to see a mix of MLS and Europe in Gonzalez and Brooks. But will Klinsmann give us another Alvarado/Brooks? I’d rather not, thanks.