One of our favorite parts of John Brooks’ game-winning goal for the U.S. last night was the celebration.
No, we’re not talking about Brooks’ celebration – though his weird, I don’t know what to do with myself so I’m just gonna go lie down over here thing was pretty good. We’re talking about Jurgen Klinsmann and Nick Rimando’s hug on the bench.
10 out of 10, dudes. Robin van Persie and Louis van Gaal could learn a couple of things from you two.
RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar had our favorite quote about the celebration.
— Heath Waddingham (@RSLTotalMLS) June 17, 2014
Nick had a really nice follow-up tweet, too. Just really well done all around. Bravo.
— Nick Rimando (@NickRimando) June 17, 2014
RSL and USMNT goalkeeper and Southern California native Nick Rimando got a little bit of love from one of the biggest stars in baseball on Friday, as LA Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig donned The Wall of the Wasatch’s U.S. shirt for a TwitPic.
— yasielpuig (@YasielPuig) June 13, 2014
A Cuban defector, Puig is killing it for the Dodgers this year, sitting near the top of MLB in several major statistical categories. We won’t question his judgment too much – he is one of the most electric players in baseball – but he might want to take that Rimando shirt a size up. Smedium’s totally played out.
Rimando, RSL teammate Kyle Beckerman and the rest of the U.S. squad will begin their World Cup on Monday, taking on Ghana in a critical Group G match at 4:00 p.m. MT on ESPN. Check out our #RSLBrazil section for front-to-back coverage of that match as well as the rest of the World Cup.
Think RSL players are feeling the World Cup?
Watch the Claret-and-Cobalt's Colombian forward Olmes Garcia and Colombian-American midfielder Sebastian Velasquez celebrate their country's second goal in today's Group C match against Greece. Video courtesy of RSL Ecuadorian forward Joao Plata's Instagram account.
Garcia, Velasquez, Plata and the rest of the RSL squad will be in action tonight, taking on the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks in U.S. Open Cup play at 6 p.m. MT at Atlanta Silverbacks Park. Watch a live stream of the match right here on RealSaltLake.com.
Bone up on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with the first video in this year's Soccer Smarts with Professor Leo World Cup series.
Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert got in on the World Cup prognosticating this week, providing some insight for The Shin Guardian’s fantastically thorough U.S.-Ghana preview.
Here’s Wingert on how the U.S. should look to start the game against the Black Stars:
“I would say the US has to stay disciplined. Our chances will come if we stay patient and defend well–similar to the game against Nigeria. If we get involved in a track meet early and don’t defend with numbers, I think we’ll get exposed.”
And here’s the RSL left back on what to watch when the U.S. is defending set pieces:
“In the game against Nigeria the US looked to have a few guys playing zone defense on Nigeria’s corner kicks. Personally, I’m not a big fan of playing zone when defending set pieces. It allows the attackers to get a free run at the ball since nobody is responsible for impeding these runs. If you have a great ball-winner in the air (maybe like an Omar Gonzalez) then it might be smart to leave him free and let him hunt the ball. All the other attackers should be accounted for with individual defenders in my opinion.”
Be sure to check out The Shin Guardian’s entire preview here. Read it, you’ll learn something.
Really cool illustration work by Devin Dulany for Howler magazine's online piece on RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman and USMNT teammate Jermaine Jones.
Entitled "Our Dreaded Midfield" and written by Mike McCall, the piece details how - after years of being viewed as fighting for one spot in the starting lineup - Beckerman and Jones just might team up together in Jurgen Klinsmann's XI in Brazil.
It's a really nice read; certainly worth the time for all you Beckerman fans out there. Here's the money quote, given by Klinsmann after he started both Beckerman and Jones in the midfield in the U.S.'s 2-1 win over Nigeria on Saturday:
“I saw a lot of work that they did, tremendous cleaning up all over the place,” Klinsmann said in his post-match press conference. “We know Kyle, and that’s his specialty, to protect his teammates and run endless miles for the team. Jermaine in that half position has more freedom to go forward so he can kind of switch back and forth with Michael Bradley, and he knows that there’s someone behind him there, so ‘If I lose the ball in my run, Kyle is going to clean up for me.’ It worked out really well.”
U.S. Soccer has released another series of videos, this time providing short highlight clips of for every player on the U.S. World Cup roster. With the big event kicking off tomorrow, get even more hyped by checking out some of Beckerman and Rimando’s best plays for the USMNT. You can find all 23 videos here.
RealSaltLake.com is excited to introduce its new World Cup blog contributor, Andy Larsen. Andy will be travelling to Brazil with the American Outlaws, the official supporters group of the United States Men’s National Team, and chronicling his adventures for our Dispatch from Brazil series. All of Andy’s Dispatch from Brazil pieces will be posted on RealSaltLake.com’s The Sovereign and World Cup page.
We look forward to having Andy provide a glimpse into one of the greatest sporting events in the world!
First a little about Andy:
After years with a love for soccer as an RSL season ticket holder, Andy Larsen signed up with the American Outlaws to follow the USMNT around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. As a writer, Andy is best known for his basketball work as the managing editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN Truehoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. In addition to being the only credentialed Utah Jazz blog, Andy and his team of writers at Salt City Hoops also host a podcast and are featured guests each week on ESPN700.
Before Andy jets off to Brazil this week, he tackled U.S. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s controversial decision to exclude American stalwart Landon Donovan. Check out his first contribution below.
Will Landon Donovan’s absence from the World Cup haunt the U.S. in Brazil?
Last weekend, I attended one of Salt Lake’s fine Brazilian barbecue restaurants (or churrascarias). Naturally, having stacks of fine meat brought to me was delicious, and the experience was a treat.
Then, an irony hit me: in just 2 days, I’ll be visiting actual churrascarias, you know, in Brazil. Meanwhile, Landon Donovan won’t be, left off the 23-man roster to Brazil barring injury. How did this happen?
Let’s look at Donovan’s credentials: He’s MLS’s all-time leading goal-scorer (and impressively, primarily from a midfield position) in both regular season and playoffs. He ranks second in assists. He’s been on MLS’ Best XI 6 times, and he’s captured MVP, Golden Boot, Silver Boot, and Goal of the Year; essentially winning nearly every award there is to win. Importantly, he’s got the team hardware, too: In America’s domestic league, he’s won MLS Cup five times, Supporters’ Shield twice (runner up three times), and the US Open Cup.
Oh, imaginary contrarian, so his MLS resume isn’t enough? Let’s look at what he’s done for the USMNT: he’s the US’s all-time leading goalscorer and assistman, coming in second in appearances. He’s won Gold Cup four times, led the Confederations Cup run in 2009, was the 2002’s World Cup Young Player of the Tournament, and probably single-handedly saved the US from a group-stage exit in 2010 with his goals against Slovenia and Algeria.
In short, as Andres Cantor said after the most famous goal in US soccer history, “Landon Donovan es el major jugador en la historia de los Estados Unidos”.
And lest you think he’s over the hill, his 2013 performance proved otherwise: he was CONCACAF’s MVP for the USMNT’s Gold Cup win, scoring 8 goals in 11 appearances in 2013. That’s the very best yearly strike rate of his career (well, save for his 1-for-1 performance in 2000). And days after being snubbed from Klinsmann’s final roster three weeks ago, Donovan went on to break the MLS all-time goal record, scoring twice against the Philadelphia Union to give him 136 goals. Donovan added another one a week later, scoring against Chicago Fire.
Manager Jurgen Klinsmann has his own impressive resume, and the USMNT’s 12-game winning streak through 2012-2013 reveals that his tactical style works just as well in America as it did in Germany. But two weeks ago, Klinsmann decided that his vision for the club didn’t include Donovan; reports have suggested that the two haven’t seen eye-to-eye since Donovan’s call to Bayern Munich in 2009.
As a result, what could have been a synergistic relationship between two great international legends working together for US soccer glory has instead transformed into a referendum on Klinsmann’s managerial talents. Now that he’s made himself the unquestioned lead story, Klinsmann fairly will receive the blame should the US struggle in 2014 without Donovan.
Obviously, despite the decision, the World Cup goes on. The USMNT heads to Brazil for its most challenging test ever, and wherever the USMNT goes, so do the American Outlaws, the official supporter group of the team. I’ll be following along with them.
How did this happen? As a longtime RSL season ticket holder and soccer fan, I’d known for a long time I had to find a way to see soccer’s biggest event at some point in my lifetime. In 2012, I decided to start saving money for a trip to Brazil, and that year I put my name down on the already-full waiting list for the American Outlaws all-inclusive package. In January of this year, I got an email saying that a spot was open! I jumped at the chance, sent in my payment, and locked in to follow the USMNT wherever they ended up in the group stages of Brazil.
And what an itinerary! For most of the two weeks of the group stages, the home base of American Outlaws and therefore myself will be Natal: a relatively small Brazilian city in the northeast, famous for its beaches and sand dunes. Naturally, we’ll be there, loud and proud, for the US’s first game with Ghana. Then under a week later, we’ll take a chartered plane to the Amazon jungle to the city of Manaus, witnessing the USMNT battle Cristiano Ronaldo and his 10 Portuguese teammates. Finally, we’ll take a bus to Recife, and watch the US battle Germany, almost certainly for our nation’s World Cup life.
Along the way, I’ll be experiencing the thrill of the World Cup and Brazil – trying out a new language; visiting beautiful beaches, lakes, rainforests, and jungles; interacting with the citizens of Brazil and every other nation imaginable; and of course, trying out the local cuisine, including those famous churrascarias.
It’s just too bad Landon Donovan won’t be along for the ride.
U.S. Soccer recently released a great series of videos highlighting each American player in the final World Cup squad. Each video gives a glimpse into what each player is like on and off the field. Below are RSL's Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando's stories, but make sure to watch the whole series and get to know something about the entire team. Great job by US Soccer to build a connection between players and fans before Brazil.
Here's Kyle's piece: