HerculezGomezTigresUANL3-2014 (Mexsport)

Gomez returns to Puebla

Herculez Gomez has moved to Puebla, where he broke into Liga MX in style with ten goals in the 2010 Clausura season.

USMNTStartingXI2-RepublicofIreland2014 (Getty)

USMNT finish 2014 ranked No. 27 in latest FIFA Rankings

The U.S. Men’s National Team rounded out 2014 by moving up one spot to No. 27 in FIFA’s December World Rankings.

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Gomez returns to Puebla

HerculezGomezTigresUANL3-2014 (Mexsport)

By DAN KARELL

With his career at somewhat of an impasse, Herculez Gomez has decided to return to the place where his career highlights began.

Puebla FC announced late Wednesday that they’ve signed Gomez ahead of the Clausura season this spring, which kicks off on Jan. 10. Gomez comes from Tigres UANL, where he only spent half a season.

Nearly five years ago, an out-of-contract Gomez took a risk and left MLS for Liga MX, signing with Puebla. The decision turned into gold as Gomez scored ten league goals, finishing tied for the goal-scoring lead in Mexico and breaking into the U.S. Men’s National Team for the 2014 World Cup.

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USMNT finish 2014 ranked No. 27 in latest FIFA Rankings

USMNTStartingXI2-RepublicofIreland2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The U.S. Men’s National Team finished 2014 on a slight high note, though it was mostly thanks to the demise of the Ivory Coast.

The USMNT were one of four teams in the top 30 to move up in FIFA’s December World Rankings, finishing 2014 as the No. 27 team in the world. Following a 2-0 defeat to South Africa, Ivory Coast dropped four places, allowing Greece, Ukraine, Ecuador, and the USA to move up the rankings.

It’s a precipitous fall for the USA, who finished 2013 ranked No. 14 and rose as high as No. 13, only to fall to a low of No. 28 last month on the back of a run of one win in their last eight games.

There was little movement elsewhere, though Serbia did jump eight spots and Zambia moved up 16 places within the top 50.

In CONCACAF, Costa Rica remains the highest-ranked team at No. 16, followed by Mexico at No. 20, the USA, Trinidad and Tobago at No. 55, and Panama at No. 57.

The top ten remains the same as well: World Cup winners Germany lead, followed by Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, and Uruguay.

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What do you think of these rankings? Did you expect the USMNT to finish 2014 higher? Like their chances in 2015 to rebound and get back in the top 20?

Share your thoughts below.

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Kljestan on the mark in Anderlecht’s Belgian Cup victory

Sacha Kljestan Anderlecht

By FRANCO PANIZO

It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, but it counted all the same.

Sacha Kljestan found the back of the net on Wednesday to cap the scoring in Anderlecht’s 3-0 win over Zulte-Waregem in the first leg of their Coupe de Belgique quarterfinals series. Kljestan struck two minutes after entering the game, bundling a cross over the goal line with his knee in the 86th minute before celebrating it modestly.

The goal was the 29-year-old midfielder’s first since scoring in a Pro League tilt back on Oct. 29, and his second across all competitions in a season that has seen him struggle for consistent playing time. It came on the same day that fellow American John Brooks scored in a German Bundesliga affair.

Kljestan and Anderlecht will attempt to close out the series and move onto the tournament semifinals when they host Zulte-Waregem in the decisive leg on Jan. 21.

You can see the goal here:

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Report: Gyau suffers setback as knee struggles with increased workload

Joe Gyau Borussia Dortmund 0

By FRANCO PANIZO

What was looking to be an incredibly quick comeback now appears to be a test of patience and mental fortitude for Joe Gyau.

Gyau was seemingly on his way to making a lightning-fast recovery from the left knee injury he sustained back in October, returning to full training for Borussia Dortmund in mid-November. But the 22-year-old winger suffered a setback during the past week, as his knee struggled to cope with an increased workload.

Gyau had recently been playing games for Dortmund’s second team, making three appearances since Nov. 21. He was left off this past weekend’s roster, however, due to the knee issues.

While it is not clear how much of a setback this is for Gyau, it seems unlikely that he will crack back into the relegation-threatened club’s first team until after the Bundesliga’s winter break. Borussia Dortmund play their final game before the new year this Saturday, and don’t return to action until Jan. 31.

Gyau made one substitute appearance for Dortmund this season before suffering his knee injury in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-1 draw vs. Ecuador on Oct. 10. He had surgery to repair the damage, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann stated just before then that the speedy winger would be out of action until at least January.

What do you make of this development? Worried that Gyau might be trying to rush back too soon? What do you think are his chances of making the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2015 Gold Cup roster?

Share your thoughts below.

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U.S. U-18 tops Germany U-18 in first of two friendlies

JavierPerezUSMNT2-WorldCup2014 (USATodaySports)

Photo by USA TODAY Sports

By DAN KARELL

Goals from Mauricio Pineda and Brooks Lennon gave the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team a memorable win midway through their winter training camp in Marbella, Spain.

The U.S. U-18s defeated Germany U-18s, 2-1, in the first of two friendly matches between the two nations. Pineda, the brother of Indy Eleven midfielder and former Chicago Fire Homegrown signing Victor Pineda, volleyed home a goal in the 19th minute to put the Americans ahead.

In the 76th minute, Lennon gave the U.S. a two-goal lead by smashing home a rebound after a shot by Real Salt Lake-AZ teammate Sebastian Saucedo was saved. Germany’s Prince Osei Owusu scored a penalty kick in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time to cut the deficit in half but the German squad ran out of time to tie the score.

The USA and Germany play each other again on Friday.

Here’s the U.S. U-18 MNT’s starting lineup:

USA: Klinsmann; Duncan, Redding, Pineda, Peleaz; Lindley, Swanson, Yueill; Saucedo, Elney, Mansaray

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What do you think of this result?

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Posted in U.S. Soccer, U.S. Under-18 National Team, U.S. Youth National Teams | 15 Comments

Williams wary of host Honduras after CONCACAF U-17 Championship draw

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By DAN KARELL

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team avoided being grouped with Mexico in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship draw late last week, but U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams doesn’t believe that makes his squad favorites to win their group.

“The toughest team will be Honduras, being the host country,” Williams told SBI in a phone interview from Honduras.

Williams certainly won’t have fond memories of Los Catrachos, after the Honduras U-17s knocked the U.S.  U-17s out of World Cup qualification in the quarterfinals of the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 tournament. It was an embarrassing moment for both Williams and U.S. Soccer, as it was the first time since the U-17 World Cup’s conception in 1985 that the U.S. would not be a participant.

Luckily for the USA, this time around, it should be a bit easier to qualify thanks to a new format. Under the new format, the winners of the groups automatically earn two of the four places earmarked for the U-17 World Cup next fall in Chile, while the second and third-place finishers in each group are re-seeded and battle it out for the final two spots available.

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