Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


BACK IN THEIR HEADS?

Seventy-five years of frustration came to an end as the United States shocked Mexico, 1-0, in a friendly at Estadio Azteca for its first victory in Mexico in 25 tries.  Midfielder Michael Orozco Fiscal, who plays in the Mexican First Division for San Luis, scored the game’s lone goal with an awkward left-footed shot from close range.

The Mexicans’ defeat was only their ninth in 120 international matches at the Azteca, which opened in 1966.  The USA’s modest record against Mexico improved to 1-19-1 at the legendary Mexico City stadium, 1-23-1 in Mexico and 16-32-12 overall.

Mexico dominated for most of the evening, but in the 79th minute a trio of second-half substitutes pushed the U.S. in front.  Brek Shea beat Severo Meza on the left side of the penalty area and slid the ball across to Terrence Boyd, whose back heel found Orozco Fiscal near the far post.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard, who brilliantly denied Mexico scoring ace Javier Hernandez in the 85th and 89th minutes, and a new-look U.S. back line that featured Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu in the middle, helped preserve the shutout.  [August 15]

Comment:  It was only a friendly, and neither side was at full strength.  But the fact remains that the U.S. at long last shattered the notion of El-Tri invincibility against their hated neighbor on home soil.  Fourteen months after Mexico ended a run of failure north of the border with a 4-2 humiliation of the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl, the Americans might just have gotten back into the Mexicans’ heads.



WHO WAS THE USA’S BEST PLAYER IN 2011?

Some 200 journalists from across the nation are submitting ballots to decide which U.S. National Team member will be the 2011 Futbol de Primera Player of the Year.

Sponsored by FDP, the exclusive radio broadcaster of the 2014 World Cup in the United States, the award–the most prestigious annual honor in American soccer–goes to the best player who appeared in at least three matches for the U.S. in the calendar year.  Those who qualified are Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Timmy Chandler, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Tim Howard,  Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Eric Lichaj, Oguchi Onyewu, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Tim Ream, Robbie Rogers, Brek Shea, Jonathan Spector, Jose Torres and Chris Wondolowski.

First place selections receive three points, second place two points and third place one.

Past winners of the award, until recently known as the Honda Player of the Year:  Hugo Perez, 1991; Eric Wynalda, 1992; Thomas Dooley, 1993; Marcelo Balboa, 1994; Alexi Lalas, 1995; Wynalda, 1996; Eddie Pope, 1997; Cobi Jones, 1998; Kasey Keller, 1999; Claudio Reyna, 2000; Earnie Stewart, 2001; Landon Donovan, 2002; Donovan, 2003; Donovan, 2004; Keller, 2005; Clint Dempsey, 2006; Donovan, 2007; Donovan, 2008; Donovan, 2009; Donovan, 2010.  [October 21]

Comment:  Who would you vote for?  Let us know.

Last year’s vote from here got it wrong.  Donovan won, with Bradley the runner-up and Dempsey the third-place finisher.  Our ballot went to Donovan, Bradley and Cherundolo.  So we need your help before our ballot is submitted in the middle of next week.

Give us a post and list your three top choices, in order.  And feel free to do some lobbying if you so choose.  Bear in mind that the award is for a player’s body of work for the year, so take into account a candidate’s performance for his club as well as his contributions to the U.S. team.

Update:  Dempsey won the award for the second time after being named first choice on nearly half of the ballots submitted by the 202 U.S. journalists who took part.  Howard was second and seven-time winner Donovan was third.  [November 2]



U.S. 1, HONDURAS 0

Clint Dempsey scored an impressive first-half goal to lift the U.S. to a 1-0 victory over Honduras on a rainy, breezy night at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, giving new coach Juergen Klinsmann his first win in four tries.

The opportunistic Hondurans out-shot the Americans, 13-11.  U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard took care of the on-target shots with a series of spectacular saves.

Dempsey struck in the 36th minute.  Midfielder Brek Shea sent a sharp grounded cross from the right through traffic for the Fulham standout, who pulled the ball back to his left, then wheeled to beat defender Mauricio Sabillon and curl a left-footed shot high into the Honduran net from 15 yards.

Among Klinsmann’s choices was German-born Danny Williams, a midfielder from Bundesliga upstart Hoffenheim who days earlier obtained his U.S. passport.  [October 8]

Comment:  Amazing but true:  The U.S. did not give up an early goal in the match.  In fact, the U.S. scored first.  Does this mean–four games into the Klinsmann era–that the Bob Bradley curse has been broken?

Comment II:  Three nights later at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, U.S. 0, Ecuador 1, in another friendly.  The goal came 11 minutes from time, as substitute Jaime Ayovi ducked in front of young Red Bulls defender Tim Ream to nod Walter Ayovi’s left-side cross past Howard from close range. 

Apparently the Bradley curse has been replaced by a Bradley-Klinsmann curse, one that has damned the U.S. to 21 goals scored in its last 23 matches.  Klinsmann can’t get out there and score for his American charges–the sticking point is more his German citizenship than his age.  But as the opportunities to experiment wind down and the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers loom, it’s becoming increasingly unsettling to know that the best goal-scorer on the U.S. bench is the old guy in the white dress shirt.  [October 11]