New York Soccer: Honduras

USMNT Recap: Klinsmann can't christen Red Bull Arena with a win over Ecuador

October, 12, 2011
10/12/11
1:36
AM ET
The United States went into Jersey with momentum and out with a whimper.

The Stars and Stripes failed to build on Jurgen Klinsmann's first win as head coach as Ecuador claimed a 1-0 win over the U.S. Men's National Team in an international friendly at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday evening. Poor positioning by the arena's native son, Tim Ream, left Ecuadorian forward Jaime Ayoví clear to head home the match's only goal past a helpless Tim Howard in the 79th minute.

Chances came fast and furious for the US as they created five shots on target from 18 attempts on goal, including a flurry of shots in the first seven minutes that culminated with a Tim Chandler shot from the corner of the penalty box as well as DeMarcus Beasley's strike from distance in the 68th minute that landed perfectly in Ecuador 'keeper Maximo Banguera's midsection.

Another loss for the Yanks leaves Klinsmann with only one win in his five matches since replacing former coach Bob Bradley last summer. The U.S. have only two goals to show for that five-game effort, one of which came from the foot of Clint Dempsey in their win over Honduras at SunLife Stadium in Miami last Saturday.

Hot Hand. Even though he came on as a substitute in the 60th minute, the Yanks knew better than to let Jaime Ayovi run free. Ayovi, cousin of Ecuador team captain Walter Ayovi, opened the scoring for Ecuador in the 14th minute in a 2-0 win over Venezuela during South American World Cup qualifers last Friday.

Play of the Game: Ream's Gaffe. Ream, the young center back for the namesake club of the Yanks' home field on Tuesday, had waited a long time to redeem himself after his sloppy trip on Panama striker Blas Perez during the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June left him in the national doghouse. He's had to endure a coaching change and a public criticism of his form at the club level by Red Bulls teammate Rafael Marquez before finally getting a chance to make amends for his only transgression on the international stage.

Unfortunately for Ream, he'll need to wait a bit longer.

Klinsmann brought Ream on as a substitute in the 72nd minute for Yanks team captain and back line stalwart Carlos Bocanegra, only to see that decision be punished seven minutes later. Ream let Ayovi get a step ahead of him in the box as the Pachuca forward converted a cross from cousin Walter to head home what was far and away Ecuador's best (and some might argue only) scoring chance of the night.

“I was watching the man, and as I looked back I saw the ball coming," said Ream. "He was past me as soon as I took a step.”

To Ream's credit, Klinsmann picked up where Bradley left off by inviting the 24-year-old defender into the international camps even if it hasn't affected the depth charts. If Ream is going to develop his form for the international stages, the U.S. coach admits feeling comfortable with giving his young defender the necessary experience.

"It's a learning moment for Tim Ream, that he has to be in front of that guy and unbalance him," said Klinsmann. "Tim needs these moments and he needs these minutes on this level in order to learn. There's nothing bad about it."

Don't Mess With Texas. Even though the US didn't crack the score sheet, it wasn't for lack of trying on the part of Clint Dempsey. The Fulham midfielder and Texas native provided the spark for the Yanks' attack with prescient passing and a team-leading five shot attempts. His playmaking ability covered up for the absence of Landon Donovan and elevated his performance over his attacking partner in Jozy Altidore as well as second-half substitutes Juan Agudelo and Edson Buddle.

“I always put pressure on myself to perform," said Dempsey. "Whether I am a veteran or not, and I have always been that type of person. I go out and every game I try to make an impact and try to win it. So it doesn’t matter if it is my first cap or my 80th cap, I have the same mentality.”

The Other Red Bull. Ream's name will adorn the headlines for all the wrong reasons on Wednesday, but he wasn't the only Red Bull to make an appearance against Ecuador. Klinsmann sent Juan Agudelo in for a beaten-down Altidore at halftime, though Agudelo didn't quite capture the creativity he displayed against Honduras and in flashes at the international and club level to date. That did not concern the head coach of the Stars and Stripes, who confessed some of his intentions for his teenage phenom following the match.

"We see in Juan a very special talent coming through the ranks," said Klinsmann. "He's 18 years old and has a long way to go, but he's a tremendous talent. We have two plans for him. One is for him to be here and learn from the other players in this squad and get used to a higher intensity training. Number two is he will be part of an Olympic team that tries to get to London next summer, and that could be his first big international tournament. Going forward he can only learn and only improve."

20,707. That's the announced attendance for the US's debut at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. And much like the international friendly held at Citi Field in June, the crowd gave sizable support to the visiting Ecuador side.

Red Bull Arena came under fire for not enticing enough supporters to show support for the national side in their first visit to the soccer-specific arena, though selling out a midweek October friendly against a FIFA mid-carder isn't exactly a recipe for a guaranteed sellout. Even if Ecuador and Greece nearly sold out the much-larger Citi Field in July, the change in seasons and sporting interests remain a battle that soccer continues to fight as it gains prominence in this country.

The question remains how long U.S. Soccer will hold this decent-but-underwhelming crowd against the home of the New York Red Bulls in favor of the much-larger MetLife Stadium in nearby East Rutherford. MLS continues to churn out new stadiums while international sides with bonafide stars demand much larger venues (and the accompanying revenues). It could be a long time before Red Bull Arena welcomes the Stars and Stripes home.

U.S. Men's National Team to face Ecuador at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 11

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
4:43
PM ET
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Monday afternoon that the U.S. Men's National Team would kick off against Ecuador at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday, October 11.

The match marks the first ever appearance by the USMNT at the MLS soccer-specific arena. The national side previously visited the greater New York area earlier this year by battling Argentina to a 1-1 draw at New Meadowlands (now MetLife) Stadium on Saturday, March 26.

“We want to expose the team to as many styles as possible, and we know the quality of Ecuador,” said USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “We are also excited for the opportunity to play in Red Bull Arena. The stadium is one of the best soccer-specific venues in the United States and we are looking forward to playing our first ever national team match in Harrison.”

Ecuador also played in the greater New York City area earlier this year in an international friendly against Greece at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens on June 7. 39,656 supporters turned out for a match that at the time was the second-highest attended event in 2011 at the baseball-specific stadium, with a vast majority of the fans in attendance supporting La Tri in what resulted as a 1-1 draw.

Red Bull Arena has also hosted its share of international clubs this year, which includes Gold Cup appearances by Guatemala, Grenada, Jamaica, and Honduras in addition to an international friendly between Honduras and Columbia earlier this month.

The USMNT will take the pitch just three days after competing against Honduras at Sun-Life Stadium in Miami, Florida on Saturday, October 8.

First kick is scheduled for 7 p.m.

W2W4: Greece vs. Ecuador at Citi Field

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
12:18
PM ET
Citi Field is now on friendly terms with the beautiful game.

The home of the New York Mets will become the home-away-from-home for the Ecuadorian and Greek National Teams on Tuesday evening as the two sides face off in an international friendly. This represents the first professional soccer match held in Flushing since Colombia and Slovakia finished with a 0-0 draw at Shea Stadium in August 2003.

Ranked 64th in the world by FIFA, Ecuador is preparing for their upcoming participation in the Copa America tournament later this summer. Monterrey defender and Ecuador team captain Walter Ayoví leads a largely domestic squad that also features Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia and Toronto FC forward Joao Plata.

Greece will look to follow up a successful effort in a 3-1 win over Malta last Saturday in a Euro 2012 qualifier. The Galanolefki benefitted from a youth movement against Malta, with Olympiacos midfielder Giannis Fetfatzidis -- who is commonly referred to as the Greek Lionel Messi -- and Schalke 04 defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos finishing strikes from an attack that favored the right wing.

First kick is schedule for 8 p.m.

Rectancular Peg in a Diamond Hole. FIFA does not set one standard for pitch size in international competition, but the dimensions typically run at about 110 yards across and 70 yards wide.

In order to accommodate those dimensions in the peculiar layout of Citi Field, the groundskeepers commenced preparations on the pitch at 3 a.m. Monday with one goal placed near third base and the other in deep right field -- presumably in or near the divot carved out of the right field wall in front of the Mo's Zone seating area. To complete the playing area, two-thirds of the infield will be covered in sod.

That layout should lessen the disruption to the baseball diamond, which was a rule of thumb the Mets may have learned the hard way. The Mets dismantled the mound following the 1996 season in order to accommodate an offseason friendly between Colombia and Honduras. When they replaced the mound for the 1997 season, they rebuilt it too high in a gaffe that may have disrupted Mark Clark's performance in the Mets' home opener.

So if Jose Reyes's defense begins to suffer at home when the Mets return on June 17, take a long look at the new dirt under his feet.

Hosts with the Most (to Gain). While Shea Stadium's soccer roots stretch back to a nine-team club tournament in 1965 and once provided a pitch to Pelé and the New York Cosmos, Fred Wilpon picked up the pace in the 1990s as he opened negotiations to either renovate or replace Shea in earnest. Shea Stadium became a potential soccer site as part of the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics as well as a potential new or temporary home for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls).

MLS has made no secret of their discussions about a potential expansion side being awarded to the Wilpons. Meanwhile, Dave Howard, Mets Vice President of Business Operations, told the NY Daily News in May that he expects Citi Field to host another soccer match later this summer.

Ecuador and Greece will cater to a hungry fan base, but the Wilpons' larger designs for the future of soccer in Queens should kick off on Tuesday as well.

Are You Ready For Some Futbol? A Mets press release issued on Monday outlawed the use of fireworks, which are a common sight at Greek soccer matches. However, it said nothing of the drums, banners, noisemakers, streamers, and flags that both Greek and Ecuadorian supporters call up to support their national side.

Queens boasts a large Ecuadorian population and the largest Greek community this side of the Atlantic Ocean. They may attend the match in a venue designed for baseball, but the supporters should create a very different and energetic atmosphere.

Rule 21 is Greek to Them. Last weekend, the Greek FA indefinitely suspended all activities due to allegations of gambling and match-fixing. Greece has struggled with match-fixing bookies and ongoing fan violence that cripples the in-game action if not corrupting it outright. The referees may execute their duties on Tuesday under a bigger spotlight in light of Greece's latest troubles, as the stakes could be much higher than the empanadas and baklava being wagered by local politicians.

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