Los Angeles Soccer: U.S. national team

U.S. aims to close gap on Mexico, the world

August, 16, 2012

Kyle BeckermanMarcos Delgado/Clasos.com/LatinContent/Getty ImagesKyle Beckerman of the U.S. team celebrates a goal during a friendly soccer match between Mexico and USA on Tuesday. The U.S. won 1-0.

MEXICO CITY -- The United States hopes its historic victory at Estadio Azteca is a precursor of sorts, but nobody is mistaking it as a shift in the balance within the region's primary rivalry. The gap separating the Americans from Mexico remains intact, and the only questions concern how great is the chasm and what must be done to bridge it.

Mexico's focus on youth development has created a golden generation of players and could signal El Tri's arrival among the truly elite in international soccer. Last weekend's gold-medal triumph at the London Olympics, with their under-23 team, follows successes by the U-17s (World Cup titles in 2005 and 2011) and the U-20s (third place at last year's World Cup), and the impact on the full national team -- the one that could, for real, be competing for the spoils in Brazil in two years -- has been profound.

Mexico's destruction of the U.S. at last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl, built on the sublime talent of Giovani Dos Santos, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Andres Guardado, was product of Mexico's reaction to the Americans' dominance in the series for nearly a decade from 2000.

Now the U.S. must respond in kind.

“I think Mexico deserves a big compliment,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said in advance of the Yanks' 1-0 victory in Wednesday's friendly. “What they've done the last three or four years is tremendous. They’ve identified a way they want to play, and everybody dedicates themselves to that style of play. ...

“There is a gap. It would be foolish not to recognize that.”

The U.S. went 10-2-2, with both losses at Azteca and one of the victories from the 2002 World Cup, over a span of about 8½ years. That dominance, star forward/midfielder Landon Donovan notes, was while “we had a group of us together for five, six, seven, eight years, and they were kind of in flux.” The roles shifted: The U.S. team is now in transition under Klinsmann.

He took charge a year ago after that Gold Cup defeat and is working toward creating a system and a style that will emphasize attacking soccer, a necessity for success in a landscape that has been altered by Spain's success the past five years. He's also altering the makeup of an aging squad, especially at the back. The Americans' great youngsters aren't so young anymore; Donovan is 30.

Mexico's most important figures aren't yet in their primes. Chicharito is 24, Giovani 23. Defender Hector Moreno is 24. Guardado, a relative veteran, is 25. More than a dozen more first-team pool players are younger than 25.

The U.S. also has a promising young contingent -- Jozy Altidore and Brek Shea are 22, Terrence Boyd 21, Danny Williams 23 and Fabian Johnson 24 -- and several others under 25 who might or might not pan out as international players.

“It's hard to quantify a gap,” Donovan said. “We're kind of a little more in flux now, but the hope is that in two years we've closed that gap and we're [like Mexico] a well-oiled machine.”

The 2014 World Cup is the Americans' chief focus, but the real view is longer. Whatever success the U.S. has enjoyed has been about belief and power, not technical and tactical acumen, although there have been great improvement in both areas since the 1994 World Cup changed everything. Klinsmann, a legendary German striker who has called Orange County home for more than a decade, is looking to alter the foundation of how the U.S. plays, and that requires a philosophical shift.

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U.S. will feature players with Mexican experience

August, 15, 2012
MEXICO CITY -- The United States will face a crowd expected to approach 110,000, perhaps more, when it takes on Mexico in Wednesday night's friendly at iconic Estadio Azteca, as daunting a task as exists in international soccer.

It's a huge showdown for the Americans, as is every game against their archrival, and they've brought in six players with advanced knowledge of the Mexican game and the men who will suit up for El Tri.

That could be advantageous, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann says the call-ups of the half-dozen from Liga MX -- Santos Laguna forward Herculez Gomez, Pachuca midfielder Jose Torres, Puebla winger DaMarcus Beasley, Club Tijuana midfielder Joe Corona and defender Edgar Castillo, and San Luis defender Michael Orozco Fiscal -- has less to do with where they play than with what they can provide for the U.S.

“We bring them in because we believe how good they are,” Klinsmann said in advance of the match (ESPN2 and Univision, 5 p.m. PT; coverage starting at 4:30). “We bring them in because they are a big part of our program going forward. It's all about the quality that they provide for us . . . You come in here in this group because you proved you're good.

“These players worked their way through the Mexican league, a very difficult league, a very tough league for them. And they proved their point. They are here because they are quality.”

That they know the inner workings of the Mexican game is an added bonus.

“It's important. I think that's why Jurgen brought a lot of the guys from Mexico in,” said Beasley, a three-World Cup veteran who joined Puebla after seven years in Holland, England, Scotland and Germany. “We know the style, the guys [on El Tri], how they play, what they can do, what they can't do. Hopefully, that will work to our advantage.”

This game is something special for the other five -- Gomez and Torres, who were Beasley's teammates on the 2010 World Cup team, plus Corona, Castillo and Orozco Fiscal -- all of whom are Mexican-American. Torres, who has been at Pachuca for seven years, since he was 17, delayed his commitment to the U.S. while awaiting a potential Mexico call-up. Corona, who is from San Diego, featured in a Mexican under-22 camp before pledging his future to the U.S.

“When I was 17, I was at Pachuca watching the U.S.-Mexico game, and I would always think I will be there one day. And I'm here now,” Torres said. “I have the chance to face Mexico at Azteca, and that's something special.”

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Odds against U.S., but Azteca win is the aim

August, 14, 2012

MEXICO CITY -- El Tri has never lost to the United States in 20 meetings at Estadio Azteca, they're soaring following their under-23 team's gold-medal triumph at the London Olympics, the last competitive meeting between CONCACAF's powers was a full-on rout, and they've got a strong, representative side ready to take on a young, incomplete American team in what could be a full house at North America's most iconic soccer venue.

What hope could the U.S. possibly have in Wednesday night's friendly?

“Expectation, I would say, is relatively low, all things considered ... ,” Landon Donovan said. “But it's still a good opportunity. We want to try to make the most of it.”

Actually, the Yanks want to do more than that. They might be missing more than half their first-choice lineup, and Mexico surely has taken the lead in the region's more rabid rivalry, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann insists this is more than just a tuneup to prepare for the next steps in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

“This test means a lot to us,” the German legend said at a news conference in advance of the match (ESPN and Univision, 5 p.m. PT; coverage begins at 4:30). “We have a lot of respect for the Mexican side. We have a lot of admiration for what Mexico has achieved the last couple of years. ... But we're not coming here to defend or looking good, we're coming here to win this game. And we're going to give Mexico a tough one.”

Victory might appear impossible. The best the U.S. has done at Azteca, at an elevation higher than 7,300 feet, is a scoreless draw in a World Cup qualifier 15 years ago. But all four meetings since have been tight -- Mexico claiming four one-goal wins -- and Klinsmann's edict, central to his culture-changing approach since taking charge in July 2011, is that the Americans do not back down.

“I think we can compete with the best in the world,” he said. “Maybe not with Spain right away, because I think Spain still is at a different level. But the next level underneath Spain. We gave France a game [last November], only lost, 1-nil, and we could have tied the game. We won in Italy in February and surprised some people. We challenged Brazil in June -- the result maybe looked a little different, 4-1, you'd think they outplayed us. I thought we actually gave them a very good game.

“Now we want to match ourselves with Mexico. And we respect what they did and we have admiration, but we're coming here to win.”

There's plenty against the U.S., starting with the venue -- 110,000-seat Azteca, where the mix of altitude, air quality and atmosphere provides El Tri probably the best home-field advantage in international soccer. “Everybody told me it's going to be crazy,” said German-born defender Fabian Johnson.

“I've played there a couple times with [Club Tijuana],” said midfielder Joe Corona, one of six Mexico-based players on the U.S. roster. “What I tell the guys is that altitude plays a very big role here. I mean, they have to get a good sweat in before the warm-up. And the ball travels way more in the air than it does in regular altitude. I know [Azteca] will be impacting at first, but once we start playing, it will go away.”

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Donovan: Mexico is a 'well-oiled machine'

August, 14, 2012
MEXICO CITY -- Landon Donovan is a veteran of the soccer clashes with Mexico, one of the chief figures behind the United States' dominance in the rivalry from 2000 through early 2009 -- and one of the most hated U.S. players, at least on this side of the border.

So he possesses a keen sense of what's what with the region's twin powers, and his take on El Tri's resurgence the past few years, behind a golden generation of young talent, is simple: Mexico is something else, indeed.

“Very good. They're very good,” the Galaxy's captain said on the eve of Wednesday night's friendly at Estadio Azteca (ESPN2 and Univision, 5 p.m. PT; coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m.). “They're a well-oiled machine. They know exactly what they're doing, they have a style that they like to play, and when they play at home, they're relentless.

“So, in my opinion, especially when they play here, they're one of the best teams in the world, no question.”

That makes this match, the first Azteca friendly between the sides since 1984, a tough proposition for a young U.S. team that is missing a number of key players, including three-quarters of its first-choice backline, midfield anchor Michael Bradley, attacking stars Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, and much of its depth.

Mexico has gone from strength to strength with its national teams, including last year's emphatic triumph over the U.S. in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final -- a result that led to Jurgen Klinsmann's appointment as the Yanks' head coach -- and, just last weekend, a stunning victory over Brazil in the gold-medal match at the London Olympics.

None of the Olympians are on Mexico's roster for Wednesday, but several play key roles for El Tri's full national team, and their success marks another step forward. Donovan wasn't surprised.

“I thought they would win. I really did,” he said. “We played that Brazil team [in May], almost the exact same team, and the scoreline was 4-1 [for Brazil], but I wasn't overly impressed with them. I thought Mexico would give them a really hard game.”

The full national team is even better, of course -- the roster for this one includes Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Andres Guardado, Hector Moreno and Pablo Barrera -- and they've dominated the rivalry since a 5-0 romp over a third-tier U.S. side in the 2009 Gold Cup title game. The last meeting, in Klinsmann's debut a year ago in Philadelphia, was a 1-1 draw.

“The reason Mexico is so good,” Donovan said, “is they can play in those games [against great teams], and they do a good enough job to really stifle teams. But what makes them successful is that when they get the ball, they can actually do something with the ball. A lot of times you play a team like Brazil, and you're defending for long stretches of the game. You get the ball and you're tired, you don't make the right pass, and you're under pressure again.

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WORLD CUP: U.S. makes its point

June, 12, 2012
The U.S. settled for a point in its second World Cup qualifier after watching a late lead disappear in a 1-1 draw in Guatemala.

Chicago Fire star Marco Pappa's free kick toward the upper-right corner in the 83rd minute left goalkeeper Tim Howard rooted to his spot, enabling the Chapines (0-1-1) to claim a point in their Group A home opener.

Clint Dempsey scored near the end of the first half for the Americans (1-0-1), who are atop their semifinal group on goal difference over Jamaica (1-0-1), which played a scoreless draw at Antigua & Barbuda (0-1-1).

ELSEWHERE: Hector Moreno nodded home a misplay by Salvadoran goalkeeper Benji Villalobos in the 82nd minute to lift Mexico to a 2-1 triumph in San Salvador. In the other Group B game, Real Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio scored a hat trick to lead Costa Rica past Guyana, 4-0. ... Canada gained a point in Toronto, playing Honduras to a scoreless draw in Group C. Panama is atop the group after beating Cuba, 1-0, on Nelson Barahona's second-half strike.
Third round
Tuesday's results

Guatemala 1 (Pappa 83), United States 1 (Dempsey 40)
Antigua & Barbuda 0, Jamaica 0

1. United States 1-0-1 (4-2 GF-GA) 4 points
2. Jamaica 1-0-1 (2-1) 4
3. Guatemala 0-1-1 (2-3) 1
4. Antigua & Barbuda 0-1-1 (1-3) 1

El Salvador 1 (Pacheco 65), Mexico 2 (Zavala 60, Moreno 82)
Guyana 0, Costa Rica 4 (Saborio 20, 26, 52, Campbell 77)

1. Mexico 2-0-0 (5-2) 6
2. Costa Rica 1-0-1 (6-2) 4
3. El Salvador 0-1-1 (3-4) 1
4. Guyana 0-2-0 (1-7) 0

Canada 0, Honduras 0
Panama 1 (Barahona 58), Cuba 0

1. Panama 2-0-0 (3-0) 6
2. Canada 1-0-1 (1-0) 4
3. Honduras 0-1-1 (0-2) 1
4. Cuba 0-2-0 (0-2) 0

WCQ: Bocanegra equals Balboa in win

June, 8, 2012

Carlos BocanegraAndy Mead/Icon SMIAlta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra scored the first goal for the U.S. on Friday night.

The U.S. opened its World Cup campaign with a tighter-than-desired 3-1 victory over rising Caribbean minnow Antigua & Barbuda, and Carlos Bocanegra made one of the deepest impressions.

The American captain, 33, scored the first goal and gave a solid performance at left back, his former position -- and a problem spot for the U.S., at least on this occasion.

Bocanegra, circling to the far post, knocked home the remains of a Landon Donovan corner kick to give the U.S. and eighth-minute lead. It was the 13th international goal for the former UCLA star from Alta Loma, equaling Hall of Famer Marcelo Balboa's U.S. mark for defenders.

Balboa, from Cerritos, starred for the U.S. at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, was part of the 1998 team and made 128 appearances in a 12-year national team career. Bocanegra, who plays for Rangers in Scotland, has played 105 internationals since debuting for the U.S. in 2001.

Bocanegra is a center back who started his career as a left back, and he moved to the flank Friday when Jose Francisco Torres -- employed on the left with Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo unavailable because of injury -- went down with an ankle injury in the 54th minute.

If Johnson can't return from a calf injury in the next few days, Bocanegra is likely to start on the left in Tuesday's qualifier at Guatemala.

Donovan, the Galaxy captain from Redlands, set up two goals -- he also drew the foul for Clint Dempsey's penalty just before halftime -- in an otherwise quiet performance, and former Galaxy star Herculez Gomez netted the third goal for the U.S.

U.S. grades can be found here.

Third round
Group A
United States 3 (Bocanegra 8, Dempsey 44, Gomez 72), Antigua & Barbuda 1 (Byers 65)
Jamaica 2 (Phillips 40, Johnson 46), Guatemala 1 (Pezzarossi 92+)

Group B
Mexico 3 (Salcido 11, G. Dos Santos 15, og Rodrigues 51), Guyana 1 (og Moreno 62)
Costa Rica 2 (Saborio 10, Campbell 15), El Salvador 2 (Gutierrez 23, Romero 54)

Group C
Cuba 0, Canada 1 (Occean 54)
Honduras 0, Panama 2 (Perez 64, 80)

Donovan's actions: louder than his words?

May, 27, 2012

Landon Donovan's phenomenal performance in the U.S. national team's rout of Scotland on Saturday night rang loud and true, each of his three goals providing context to his remarks last week that intimated he no longer has the hunger, the commitment, to succeed at the highest levels of his sport.

Landon Donovan
Gary Bogdon/Getty ImagesLandon Donovan gets a congratulatory hug from teammate Terrence Boyd after Donovan scored the first goal for Team USA against Team Scotland at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

It's been a challenging 12 months for Donovan, who battled injuries as he never has while leading the Galaxy to the greatest season in Major League Soccer annals, enjoyed another superb spell in England with Everton, celebrated his 30th birthday and struggled to find his best form as L.A. followed up last year's titles with a horrid start to the current season.

He'd been away from the national team since last September, declining call-ups because he was hurt or ill or exhausted, and, having crossed into his fourth decade, has been forced to consider how much time he has left on the field.

His showing Saturday night in Jacksonville, Fla., with a hat trick priming the Americans' 5-1 romp over the Scots, suggests he remains the most potent force for the national team, no matter Clint Dempsey's stature. As U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann noted afterward: “Now we have Landon back, and he gives us the goals. We can't complain tonight.”

Donovan set another U.S. record with his 125th international start, and he extended his record goal total to 49 -- and his record assist total to 48 by setting up Jermaine Jones' goal -- while proclaiming he doesn't “want to be mistaken for not caring. I care, and I like being a part of this team. I'm a professional, and I know how to do my job. I've been doing this a long time.”

Donovan is fiercely intelligent, sharply introspective and uncommonly honest, if not quite as open as he was before Grant Wahl's book on David Beckham appeared a few years ago. Detractors have long questioned his commitment, largely because he hasn't made playing in Europe a priority, even as he has set standards for Americans with the quality of his play, ability to see the game and drive for success, in MLS and with the U.S. team.

His commitment and hunger faced heavy scrutiny after he spoke candidly Wednesday in a roundtable interview with journalists in Florida about the challenges in maintaining the focus necessary to prosper at the top levels of the game.

“That's a part that's always a challenge for athletes: trying to keep the passion alive while knowing it's still your job,” Donovan said. “There's no question that at some point, probably sooner rather than later, I'll be pretty burned out. And when that time comes, then I'll take a step back and take a look at it and see if I want to keep going.”

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CHIVAS: Agudelo dropped by U.S.

May, 25, 2012

Chivas USA's young new star has returned the club after he was dropped from the U.S. national team roster for the “five-game tournament” that begins with Saturday's friendly against Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla., and wraps up with next month's World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala.

Juan Agudelo, a 19-year-old, Colombian-born striker acquired eight days ago in a trade from the New York Red Bulls, has been a regular for the U.S. under Jurgen Klinsmann, but his failure to make the cut from 27 to 23 players was not all that surprising. He has just returned from a knee injury and is still seeking his best form, having made only his second start of the season in his Chivas debut in last weekend's SuperClasico victory over the Galaxy.

Agudelo returned to the Goats on Thursday, is scheduled to train Friday morning and be available for Saturday's night's Major League Soccer game against the Seattle Sounders at Home Depot Center.

Also trimmed from the camp roster were Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi and two German-born players, Hertha Berlin defender Alfredo Morales and 1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Danny Williams.

Agudelo was the only one of seven forwards in the Orlando, Fla., camp who did not make the roster for three friendlies -- the U.S. plays Brazil on Wednesday in Landover, Md., and Canada next Saturday in Toronto -- and for the qualifiers June 8 against Antigua in Tampa, Fla., and June 12 at Guatemala. The forwards on the list: Galaxy captain Landon Donovan, San Jose's Chris Wondolowski, Herculez Gomez from Mexican champion Santos Laguna, and European-employed Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd and Clint Dempsey.

Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS) is five local players on the roster. The others are Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA), Rangers defender Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA), Chievo Verona midfielder Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach), and Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS). Two San Diegans -- veteran Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo and Club Tijuana midfielder Joe Corona -- also made the cut.

Here's the full U.S. roster for the five games:

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Donovan: 'I have to go and prove myself'

May, 21, 2012

CARSON -- Landon Donovan trained with the U.S. national team Monday for the first time in nearly nine months after joining preparations in Orlando, Fla., for three friendlies -- the first Saturday against Scotland -- in advance of next month's World Cup qualifying openers.

The Galaxy's captain and, with Clint Dempsey, the Americans' biggest star (he's played in three World Cups, has 138 caps and is the all-time U.S. leader for goals (46) and assists (47)) has played just twice under Jurgen Klinsmann, in the German legend's debut with the national team last August against Mexico and in the Home Depot Center loss to Costa Rica last September. He has since pulled out of three camps or trips because of injury or illness, most recently missing February's victory over Italy in Genoa.

Donovan, at 30, remains pivotal for the U.S. even as Dempsey's star ascends -- the Texan scored 23 goals in 46 games for English Premier League side Fulham this season -- and a new generation of talent, including Chivas USA newcomer Juan Agudelo and several German-born sons of servicemen, begin to assert themselves.

He's one of 27 players on Klinsmann's initial list for games against the Scots in Jacksonville, Fla., Brazil on May 30 in Landover, Md., Canada on June 3 in Toronto and qualifiers for 2014 against Antigua & Barbuda on June 8 in Tampa, Fla., and at Guatemala on June 12. That list will be trimmed Friday to 23, and Donovan is certain to be on that list.

Donovan spoke to media about his return to the national team following the Galaxy's SuperClasico defeat Saturday night to Chivas USA:

You haven't spent much time in camp with Klinsmann.

Yeah, it’s been a long time for me and I’m excited. I’m excited to see the guys, and excited to be a part of what they’re doing there. It’s hard when you’re looking from the outside in for so long, so I’m excited to get there. As always when you do this, you’ve got to refocus quickly and be ready, because no one cares what’s happening here [with the Galaxy's struggles], they care what’s happening there.

You've been away so long. Will it require some reintegration?

I know Jurgen well, and I know the guys well, so it’s not -- there’s maybe a few new players but I think it’ll be pretty seamless, and it’s not my first camp, so I’ll be fine. But it’ll take a little bit of time to understand ideas and philosophy and those kind of things, but I think Jurgen and I see the game the same way, so it’ll be pretty easy.

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GALAXY: No Donovan for U.S.? Well ...

May, 15, 2012

Jurgen Klinsmann has started unveiling the names of those with whom he's ready to head into his first World Cup qualifying campaign, and Landon Donovan's name is nowhere to be found.

Has the Galaxy captain, who has played in just two of 10 U.S. national team games under Klinsmann after pulling out of three call-ups because of injury, fallen out of favor with the German legend? Ha!

No, Klinsmann has a reputation for doing things differently, and he's living up to it in announcing the most important roster of his 9½-month tenure as U.S. coach. It's coming in waves, with the names of the first 16 of “as many as” 29 players for a camp that begins Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., released by U.S. Soccer.

More names -- Donovan's included, to be sure -- are scheduled to be announced Sunday, and the 23-man roster for three friendlies (against Scotland, Brazil and Canada), the June 8 qualifying opener against Antigua & Barbuda and the June 12 qualifier at Guatemala will be selected May 25.

Only two Major League Soccer players were among the first 16: Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA) and midfielder Kyle Beckerman. RSL is the only MLS club with a bye this weekend.

Donovan's last game before departing for camp figures to be Saturday's SuperClasico against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. While with the national team, he will miss only three games: May 23 against San Jose, May 26 at Houston and the May 29 U.S. Open Cup third-rounder. MLS is virtually taking off the first two weekends in June, with just one game each week.

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U.S. wins old fight among friends

April, 16, 2012
CARSON -- The scoreline in Sunday's U.S.-Mexico “legends” reunion at Home Depot Center might have been inevitable, given how everything else seemed to fall right into line.

Big crowd? Check. Rooting for El Tri? Of course. Early Mexican domination? Just like in series history. Lights-out goalkeeping? Shades of Tony Meola, Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel. An American triumph on home ground? Bingo.

“Same old same old, right?” Eric Wynalda chirped afterward. “2-0. That's the way these games finish.”

This one did, lending a red, white and blueish glow to a surprisingly delightful evening at the Clasico de Leyendas match between great U.S. and Mexican players of yesteryear, primarily the 1990s and early 2000s, when the rise of American soccer created the region's greatest national teams rivalry.

These games do finish 2-0, as most everyone on the field noted.

“Reminds me of the [2002] World Cup,” said Cobi Jones, who like former Westlake High School teammate Wynalda played in three World Cups for the U.S. “Same score, always fabulous.”

2002 is the apex of the rivalry, the only World Cup encounter in 59 meetings, but it was 2-0 U.S. in the home qualifier for the last three World Cups, in the 1991 Gold Cup -- the first of 13 U.S. victories in the past 21 years -- and in 2000 and 2007 friendlies.

The goals came from Roy Lassiter (Major League Soccer's first scoring champion) and Brian McBride (a legend in the U.S. and parts of England), and both arrived in the second half, after Galaxy goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer (capped just once, in 1992) had made the best of eight fantastic saves -- on Francisco Palencia, Ramon Morales, Jared Borgetti twice, Alberto Garcia Aspe, Ramon Ramirez and Luis Hernandez twice -- that kept the Yanks in what had been a very one-sided game.

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Historic day for U.S. national teams

February, 29, 2012

Rarely, if ever, has there been a day quite so golden for U.S. Soccer -- involving multiple teams -- as was Wednesday.

  • The full men's national team beat Italy for the first time -- and in Italy, in Genoa -- as Clint Dempsey finished from Jozy Altidore's finish up top. Also splendid: midfielder Michael Bradley and German-born left back Fabian Johnson.
  • The U.S. women's national team won its Algarve Cup opener in Portugal, dominating Denmark, 5-0, as Diamond Bar's Alex Morgan scored two more goals -- her 17th and 18th in 34 international games -- and assisted another by Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach. UCLA products Sydney Leroux (goal) and Lauren Cheney (assist) also contributed in the scoring.
  • The U.S. under-23 national team, preparing for the Olympic qualifiers in March, outclassed Mexico's U-23s, 2-0, in Frisco, Texas, on goals two minutes apart by Juan Agudelo and Freddy Adu.

One more international event to report, from Tuesday night. UCLA looked good in holding Mexico's under-20 national team to a scoreless draw at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.

GALAXY: Ill Donovan stays in U.S.

February, 26, 2012

This bout with illness that has sidelined Landon Donovan for more than a week will keep him out of the U.S. national team's friendly Wednesday against Italy.

The Galaxy captain did not travel Sunday to Genoa as planned, the club confirmed, and U.S. Soccer announced that Donovan, along with midfielder Jose Francisco Torres and defender Timmy Chandler, both injured, have withdrawn from the team. Replacing them are midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Brek Shea.

Donovan missed last weekend's final game of his loan stint at Everton with what was reported as the flu, and he hasn't yet trained with the Galaxy after joining them Thursday in Tucson, Ariz. Donovan remained at the team hotel, a club spokesman said, during L.A.'s game Friday against Real Salt Lake in the Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament.

He is suffering from bronchitis, the Galaxy and U.S. Soccer reported.

This is the third successive national team event from which Donovan has withdrawn after Jurgen Klinsmann included him on the U.S. roster, and he and Clint Dempsey -- the Americans' most important figures -- have not played together since the German legend was hired at the end of July.

Donovan pulled out of the national team's October and November friendlies last year to preserve himself for the Galaxy's title run while he dealt with a quadriceps injury -- the extent of which L.A. kept hidden -- and fatigue. His loan to Everton prevented Klinsmann from including Donovan in the January camp, which is usually meant for top domestic players outside the primary U.S. pool.

Donovan, the U.S.'s all-time leader in goals (46) and assists (47), has made just two appearances under Klinsmann, going the full 90 in friendlies last August against Mexico and last September against Costa Rica.

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Donovan, Buddle off for Italy

February, 23, 2012

Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and returning forward Edson Buddle are heading to Genoa for next week's U.S. national team friendly against Italy.

The L.A. attackers are among four Major League Soccer players in Jurgen Klinsmann's 21-man roster for Wednesday's friendly, a prep for the start in June of the Americans' World Cup qualifying campaign. The match will be telecast on ESPN2 and Galavision (11:45 a.m. PT kickoff). Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando (Montclair/Montclair HS and UCLA) and Houston Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron also are on the list.

Donovan and Buddle are fresh off European experience. Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS), who has been sidelined most of the past week with the flu, is coming off a successful seven-week loan to Everton. Buddle spent a year in the German second division before re-signing with the Galaxy at the start of the month.

Four local “regulars” also are on the roster: U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA) and his Rangers FC teammate Maurice Edu (Fontana/Etiwanda HS) and Chievo Verona midfielder Michael Bradley, whose family lives in Manhattan Beach. Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo is from San Diego.

Former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan returns to the U.S. team for the first time since November 2010.

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GALAXY: Snubbed Dunivant looks ahead

January, 25, 2012

DunivantKelvin Kuo/US PresswireTodd Dunivant had hoped to be trying to impress Jurgen Klinsmann at U.S. national team camp this month.

CARSON -- Todd Dunivant should have been in Panama on Wednesday, getting a look at left back with the U.S. national team. Instead he was at Home Depot Center, taking part in the first stages of the Galaxy's preparations for the coming season.

The veteran defender is coming off an MLS Best XI campaign that figured to vault him into U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's first January camp -- especially considering the Americans' slim pickings on the left -- but the call never came.

Dunivant, who has been passed over so many times, took the news with a sense of resignation and sharpened his focus for the task at hand: helping the Galaxy build on its phenomenal success last season while bolstering a backline that has lost its leader.

The Galaxy is what really matters, Dunivant knows, but it still would have been nice to spend the past couple of weeks showing off for Klinsmann and his staff.

“That stuff's always a head-scratcher sometimes, but it's out of my control,” Dunivant, 31, said as the Galaxy opened their preseason camp this week. “And I've got to just to what I can do with the Galaxy, and if it's enough to get me a look, then it is. This time around it wasn't, but I'm gonna keep doing my thing here.

Bruce [Arena] demands a lot out of us, and if we're doing well for him, he demands a national-team level out of us. And I think you saw last year, you saw a lot of guys step up their games and play at that kind of a level. And that's what Bruce demands. I mean, he was the national team coach for eight years.”

Dunivant certainly met the demands last year. An elegant attacking left back who has sharpened his defensive skills remarkably over the years, he was L.A.'s most consistent performer -- and he went the distance in a team-best 32 league games, all four playoff matches, all six CONCACAF Champions League games and one of the U.S. Open Cup matches. He also appeared in all six friendlies.

“Todd has been very good ... for the most part rock solid,” Arena said during the playoffs last year. “This is possibly Todd's best year in the league. [It's about] experience, just understanding the areas he's had to be a little bit better in and being more consistent. I think he's accomplished that.”

Klinsmann's snub has provided some benefits, allowing Dunivant more offseason time to rest before what could be the longest season the Galaxy has ever played. The first game that counts is March 7, a Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Toronto FC. They hope to play, preferably at home again, in the MLS Cup final on Dec. 1. And if in April they win the Champions League title, they'll be in Morocco for he Dec. 11-21 FIFA Club World Cup.

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