Video Highlights: U.S. shows poise and patience on emotional evening to bounce back in World Cup Qualifying

U.S. 1 Jamaica 0


Celebrate (c’mon): Fabian Johnson and goalkeeper Tim Howard celebrate tonight’s win over Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio (Photo: Getty Images).

Three shots hit the woodwork, another went in. Slim margins, big victories. The U.S. will take it and move on.

Los Angeles native Herculez Gomez, as determined a player as you’ll ever see, clinched the win — from of all things a free kick, which Jamaica employed twice Friday to defeat the U.S. (And didn’t coach Jurgen Klinsmann look relieved when that went in?)

“You talk about hunger, he’s a role model,” Klinsmann said of Gomez. “In every training session, he gives you what he gave tonight. If you tell him at 2 a.m. to go out and bend the ball around, he’s there. We need that. He has that determination that he wants to score so badly. This is something we need to develop even more in our team – that hunger to succeed and that hunger to score, but also that willingness to suffer. We are very happy to have him with us.”

Klinsmann, essentially admitting his mistakes, made five changes from the team that lost in Jamaica. In particular, Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi was a midfield revelation in his first WCQ game, unafraid to take potshots at goal and very nearly scoring.

Here’s the lineup: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 20-Geoff Cameron, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson; 14-Danny Williams; 19-Graham Zusi (7-Maurice Edu, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 16-Jose Torres (11-Brek Shea, 67); 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Herculez Gomez (17-Jozy Altidore, 80)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 5-Kyle Beckerman, 12-Brad Guzan, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 18-Terrence Boyd

It was literally a different team, with a different perspective after the game in Jamaica.

“It was important for them to understand the urgency we have in World Cup qualifying,” Klinsmann said. “I went through qualifiers myself and when we won the World Cup in 1990, we almost didn’t qualify. It was down to the last game which we won 2-1 and the opponent, Wales, missed a 100-percent chance in the 88th minute and Germany almost didn’t go to the World Cup. That’s how close it can get. We try to tell players to not waste time and not waste points. We wasted points in Jamaica. It was really important they understand to get down to business tonight and they responded well.”

*The all important standings.

*Read the game story.

*Watch the highlights:


*Mexico became the first team to clinch a spot in the hexagonal.

*Former Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz played a key role tonight for Guatamala.

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World Cup qualifying gut-check for U.S. in Columbus tonight against Jamaica

Perhaps it’s just as well Friday’s horror show loss to Jamaica was only on beIN Sport, the new soccer channel with limited distribution.

But U.S. World Cup qualifying returns to ESPN tonight so there will be nowhere to hide for the Americans should they choke in Columbus, Ohio., as I point out in today’s column. (And yes, I know the Colorado Rapids are the Galaxy’s opponents Friday despite what I write in the column).

Was Friday’s game merely a bump in the lengthy qualifying road or indicative of a bigger issue? We’ll know more tonight.

In case you didn’t see the last game, check out the highlights here:

Other WCQ games today include:

Austria-Germany, 11:30 a.m. GolTV
England-Ukraine, noon Fox Soccer
Mexico-Costa Rica, 5:30 p.m. Univision

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Chivas USA suffers another heart-wrenching defeat to Seattle

Seattle Sounders 2 Chivas USA 1

You get the feeling the soccer gods are punishing Chivas USA who are it seems watching the life drain out of another MLS season every time they step on the field.

And you’ve got to feel too for coach Robin Fraser who conceded after this soul-crushing loss Saturday — Seattle’s winner came in the 89th minute for their first come from behind victory of the season — that there is “no silver lining” for Chivas USA.

And as much as it is all going right for Seattle comeback kid Eddie Johnson (is it too late to draft him into the U.S. squad for Tuesday’s WCQ?) it’s just another futile season for MLS’ worst basketcase of a club.

It doesn’t get any easier for Chivas USA who on Saturday face the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes, which became the first club to qualify for the playoffs this weekend.

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USMNT WCQ Preview against Jamaica

To me the big question is how the U.S. will perform without the influential Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley. The game is on the new BeIn channel, BTW, which is only available on DirecTV currently. Associated Press Sports Writer Tim Reynolds previews Friday’s Jamaica game:

Beating Italy was a breakthrough moment. Winning at Mexico ended nearly a century of frustration.

And now the U.S. men’s national team will look for another first — one that, on some level, might be more significant than either of those memorable victories from this year.

The Americans play a 2014 World Cup qualifying match at Jamaica on Friday night, with a chance to take complete control of the Group A standings. It’s the start of a home-and-home series with the Jamaicans, the second leg on Sept. 11 at Columbus, Ohio.

But the start of the series at National Stadium in Kingston, at least from the U.S. perspective, is vital.

“You want to have a positive result because you carry that through to the next game,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “Nobody should even think for a second about the home game. Everybody has to focus only on the game in Kingston and once that game is over we can focus on the home game. It’s tricky, but it’s tricky for both sides.”

The U.S. and Jamaica are both 1-0-1 for four points in Group A qualifying so far, the Americans sitting atop the standings because of a better goal differential. A win is worth three points in the group, meaning if there’s a U.S.-Jamaica victor, that team would be assured of outright possession of first place at the midway point of this
qualifying round.

No American team has ever lost to Jamaica, with 10 wins and eight ties in 18 previous meetings. Of those, four have been World Cup qualifiers in Jamaica, all of which have ended as draws.

“It’s going to be difficult,” U.S. forward Clint Dempsey said. “The fans are going to be really up for the game, therefore the players are going to be really up for the game. So it’s going to be a challenge. You have to make sure we go out and take care of business. I’m looking forward to these games and trying to qualify for the World Cup
because that’s the goal. Everybody wants to do something special in their lifetime. World Cup is certainly that.”

The Americans will be without national team regulars Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley for the game, both of whom have injuries that kept Klinsmann from summoning them to camp for these matchups with Jamaica.

The U.S. won at Italy in February on a goal from Dempsey, and is coming off a win last month at Mexico — where the Americans had been 0-23-1 over a 75-year span.

While obviously significant, those results came in exhibitions, matches that mean nothing in the chase to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“It gives us a greater sense of relief,” U.S. forward Herculez Gomez said. “We always believed in ourselves, but once it starts getting a little more tangible for ourselves, you see the fruits of your labor and you can definitely try doing more. That sense of belief goes a long way.”

Guatemala has one point in the Group A standings, as does Antigua and Barbuda. Those teams meet Friday night as well. Should they tie, the Group A leader could be as much as five points clear of the third-place team in the standings by night’s end, and well on their way to the next round of qualifying.

A loss at Jamaica could put the Americans in a slippery position. With only four teams in a group, there’s little room for error.

“We should be confident,” Klinsmann said. “We did well in Mexico. I think the team is growing. The chemistry is really positive. It’s good. They all want to do well. They want to prove that we can get things done the right way. The goal is to beat them in Jamaica.”

Make no mistake, it’s a big match for the Jamaicans as well, evidenced by having Olympic champion sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce featured prominently in advertising efforts for the game.

“Come out in numbers,” she urged Jamaicans.

The Americans know the scene should be electric.

“We need to stay organized and try to put the game on our terms,” U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra said. “We want to get three points out of both of these games and put ourselves in a good position, on top of the group.”

Bocanegra said a win in Jamaica would just serve as more proof of where U.S. soccer is heading, especially as it keeps evolving under Klinsmann.

“We’ve continuously just gotten better and better,” Bocanegra said. “It’s nice. We’re being able to raise our standards and we’re going in the right direction. … National team’s getting better, MLS is getting better, and it’s translating to the bigger picture on the global stage for us. So yeah, we’re definitely confident. But we know it’s going to be a very tough game down there.”

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Galaxy sign Swedish World Cup veteran midfielder Wilhelmsson

In what appears to be a short-term deal given his resume, the Galaxy announced today they had signed 32-year-old Christian Wilhelmsson who had trained with the club since last week on trial after spending time with two clubs in the Middle East.

The much-traveled former Anderlecht star played Tuesday against the San Jose Earthquakes in a reserve league game.

A compilation of highlights is here.

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Weekly Column: SoCal Soccer flick “Gringos at the Gate” gets LA Premiere


Photo courtesy “Gringos at the Gate.”

It seems like “Gringos at the Gate” has been around forever, although the locally-made independent documenatry is only now getting its LA premiere.

I served on a radio panel with filmmaker Pablo Miralles on KPFK during the 2010 World Cup and helped publicize the Kickstarter campaign so additional footage could be shot, so it’s only natural to follow the story through its local release.

But in a sense all Southern California residents have lived with the subject matter of this important film our entire lives although it is more essential to one national identity more than the other.

It helps explain why we don’t get more national team games locally against Mexican (and Latin American) teams.

It’s why (in part) Chivas USA exists (and why it isn’t flourishing).

It is a rivalry that helps shape our soccer culture on the local level more than anywhere else in the nation.

Read the the column here.

Watch the trailer:

Gringos at the Gate trailer from Michael Whalen / Whalen Films on Vimeo.

(And then see the movie).

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