By ADAM TROXTELL
Russia is facing fresh opposition to its role as 2018 World Cup hosts: members of the U.S. government.
A group of 13 U.S. Senators signed a letter sent to FIFA President Sepp Blatter asking that the world’s soccer governing body strip Russia of its right to host the event. The letter cites the Ukraine crisis as the reason for wanting to move the tournament elsewhere.
“With the goal of ending the crisis in Ukraine and ensuring a successful 2018 World Cup, we strongly encourage FIFA to deny the (Russian president Vladimir) Putin regime the privilege of hosting the 2018 World Cup and make preparations for an alternate host country,” the letter states.
Among those to sign the letter was 2008 Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is also chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) also signed the letter.
Here are some more news and notes for your Wednesday evening:
By IVES GALARCEP
The month of March was supposed to be a real turning point in the process to identify which players Jurgen Klinsmann would be taking to the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The tournament is still four months away, but with two friendlies in Europe, March was supposed to help Klinsmann thin out the herd, and potentially find some new options.
A loss and a tie later, the list of players who really pushed themselves into the Gold Cup conversation isn’t a long one. Michael Orozco helped his cause, as did Danny Williams.
Klinsmann also introduced some new faces in Ventura Alvarado and William Yarbrough, who could both definitely push themselves into the Gold Cup conversation after publicly declaring their loyalty to the United States.
As we draw closer to the Gold Cup, it is becoming more and more clear that there are going to be several players left out who may come as a surprise, or may have come as a surprise a year ago.
With that in mind, here is the March edition of the USMNT Gold Cup roster:
Photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
Part of Jurgen Klinsmann wonders what might have been, but the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach is far from disappointed with the results of his team’s efforts in Wednesday’s friendly with Switzerland.
The USMNT was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Zurich as the U.S. conceded an 80th minute equalizer following the second half dismissal of Jozy Altidore.
For some, conceding yet another late equalizer would prove to be worrying, but the USMNT head coach says that Wednesday’s result boils down to a mistake, rather than an overarching issue with the team and its players.
“It might be a theme, but it’s not a problem because we know the reasons why some things happen,” Klinsmann said. “We know maybe why, in some games, we kind of ran out of gas earlier and then made individual mistake and then purely now it was maybe an individual mistake and had nothing to do with the physical condition, which is good. We’re making progress.
“We’re closer to the 90 minutes like we were when we were playing in the World Cup, so this is good to see. The players too, they have the willingness to take the game to the opponents and to go all the way to the end. Even if it happened in the 80th minute today, we’re through with that. We picked up a rhythm now, everybody’s on board.” Continue reading
By FRANCO PANIZO
It may not have ended the way some fans and observers had hoped, but the U.S. Men’s National Team made positive strides in its 1-1 friendly against Switzerland
The Americans conceded another late goal after Jozy Altidore was sent off on Wednesday, but there were plenty of good things for U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to draw from the match. From looking more dangerous in the attack than in the previous game vs. Denmark, to defending better as a unit, the U.S. showed in Zurich that it might just be finding a groove before its CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense this summer.
Not everything was positive, however. Altidore provided the latest example of him losing his temper, and forward partner and up-and-coming prospect Gyasi Zardes had a tough time finding a rhythm against the Swiss. Then, there was the whole conceding late thing again.
Here is what SBI is taking away from the U.S.’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland:
By FRANCO PANIZO
U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos got a look at some new players this month, but how many of them could sneak onto the squad ahead of the World Cup is a lingering question.
The U.S. wrapped up its March camp in England over the weekend with a pair of losses, but the games provided Ramos a chance to see how both old and new players are doing in the run-up to this summer’s World Cup in New Zealand. Some regulars – like Romain Gall and Matt Miazga – were missing from this camp, and their absences opened the door for newcomers like Dutch-American defender Desevio Payne and forward Maki Tall.
The two European-based youngsters both earned starts in the U.S.’s most recent friendly against England’s U-20s, but whether they showed enough to raise their stocks and firmly place themselves in the U.S. picture is unknown. Even as hard as it might be to assess which players have really helped their cause because of their overall lack of playing time at the club level, the recent call-ups do provide a glimpse of where some of them and others on the fringes stand.
So who might reach New Zealand in two months’ time? Here is SBI’s latest projection of the 21 players that could make it to the World Cup. and there are indeed some changes from February’s projected squad:
Photo by Tampa Bay Rowdies
By RYAN TOLMICH
After a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 2014 combined standings, the Tampa Bay Rowdies were in need of a shake up, one that could boost the club out of a rut that has seen them miss the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
Enter Thomas Rongen.
The always-ambitious Dutch-born head coach has taken charge of the Rowdies and brought in a unique mix of players that give the 2015 team a much different look than their predecessors.
Led by the introductions of MLS veterans Marcelo Saragosa, Maicon Santos and Gale Agbossoumunde, Rongen has rebuilt the spine of his team with veteran leadership, improving on a team that absolutely leaked goals defensively in 2014.
With a retooled roster and the experienced head coach at the helm, the Rowdies have set their sights on a postseason birth and living up to the legacy of one of North America’s most historic clubs.
Here’s a closer look at the 2015 Tampa Bay Rowdies: Continue reading
Photo by Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
In a week where many of the league’s teams were hampered by international call-ups, some teams took the opportunity to make a statement while some faltered due to some notable absences.
The league’s hottest team, FC Dallas, continued their unbeaten streak, but were forced to settle for a draw with the Seattle Sounders, while the reigning champion LA Galaxy weren’t so lucky in a late-game 1-0 loss to D.C. United.
Among the teams who marched to victory was the New York Red Bulls, who topped the Columbus Crew, 2-1, for a statement road victory. Meanwhile, the Fire also marched to victory, the team’s first, with a win over the Union.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 4:
Photo by Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
Following Sporting KC’s 1-0 victory over New York City FC last week, head coach Peter Vermes referred to Ike Opara as “a monster”, and the defender’s play in the month of March sure lived up to the billing.
Opara scored a pair of goals in Major League Soccer’s opening month while proving to be an absolute force on the defensive end, earning the centerback recognition as SBI MLS Player of the Month.
While Opara’s pair of finishes, including the winner against NYCFC, are certainly icing on the cake, it has been the centerback’s contributions on the defensive side of things that have been particularly special. Ranking in the top two in interceptions, clearances and duels won, Opara has been an absolute wall at the back anchoring a Sporting KC defense that has been reeling from suspensions, injuries and offseason departures.
Opara’s play on both sides of the ball was enough to earn the defender SBI MLS Player of the Month, beating out Octavio Rivero, Javier Morales, Kaka, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Tyler Deric for March’s honors.
What do you think of Opara’s play in the month of March? Which player stood out to you last month?
Share your thoughts below.