The draw for the Women’s World Cup brought an excitement that reassures us the main event is almost here. Despite not kicking off for another 6 months, the draw gave up plenty to talk about from now until then. FIFA put on a show in Ottawa for the Official Draw, while the 24 competing nations waited to see their fate revealed. Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary General, was the main host of the event and announced the nations as they were drawn into their respective groups.
With all of the seeded team placed in groups pre-draw, the interest was where the other 18 teams would land. The draw went great until Colombia was drawn into the same group as Brazil. The organizers moved Colombia to Group F and placed AFC nation South Korea in their Group E place. Other than that small blip, everything went smoothly. The draw created some interesting matchups for each of the groups.
Group A is made up of hosts Canada, China, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. Canada head coach John Herdman was manager of New Zealand from 2006-2011, giving the hosts a link to one of their opponents. As Andrew mentioned on the Center Circle, this group is oozing with potential for any of the teams involved. Canada will need their home field advantage as they hope to progress to the knockout stage.
Group B has two UEFA teams with Germany and Norway, in addition to Ivory Coast and Thailand. This will be Thailand’s first World Cup appearance, while two-time champions Germany will look to complement their men’s squad by adding a second World Cup in as many years. Norway will also be a threat, considering they are one of the four nations (USA, Germany, Japan) to win a World Cup.
Group C has reigning champions Japan, along with Switzerland, Cameroon, and Ecuador. The latter three are making their tournament debut. It seems Japan will have an easy path to the knockout stages, but the games have yet to be played. History is certain to be made, considering at least one of the debut nations will progress to the knockout rounds.
Group D has been dubbed this Cup’s version of the Group of Death. World power and two-time champions USA headline the group. Australia is always a fierce opponent, and Nigeria boast their resume as the reigning African champs. Sweden have former USA coach Pia Sundhage and three top 3 finishes at the World Cup to hang their hat on. Every team in this group had better strap on their goal scoring boots if they are going to progress out of the Group of Death.
Group F has an interesting mix with Brazil, South Korea, Spain, and Costa Rica. Brazil has progressed to the knockout stage in each of the last four World Cups, and they have Marta, the superstar who we had the opportunity to interview for the Instep. This will be the debut for Spain and Costa Rica’s women’s team, and the second tournament for the South Koreans. Similarly to Group C, it seems there is a favorite (Brazil), and three other teams hoping to progress.
That leaves us with Group F. The only team with a top 4 finish is France, who finished 4th in 2011. England, Colombia, and Mexico have all been to the tournament before, but without the success of some of the other groups. Any of these teams can progress as top 2 in the group, but don’t pencil anyone in until all the matches are played.
As usual the top 2 teams out of each group will progress to the knockout stage. However, with the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams, four of the six third place teams in each group will also progress, while the other two will be knocked out. Now managers have the task of preparing for their group games in the quest for the Cup. The first match will feature Canada vs China on June 6th, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Just when we thought that Manchester United and the England national team were descending into an irrecoverable nosedive, their captain Wayne Rooney has almost singlehandedly willed his squads to get back on track. On top of that, Wazza has put up some pretty awesome individual accomplishments as well, winning his 100th cap for England in a Euro Qualifier against Slovenia. He is only 3 goals away from Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record of 49, while Peter Shilton’s 125 caps are also within reach for Rooney. All the while, Rooney has captained these sides to important victories in the last month.
Starting with Manchester United, it was looking like the Red Devils were destined for another season without European competition. It began with early season struggles, hitting its peak with Rooney’s red card against West Ham in September, ruling him out for all the club’s October fixtures. He was notably rusty for the first match back against Manchester City, a 0-1 loss, but bounced back against Crystal Palace and Arsenal. He scored on a breakaway against Arsenal, which would prove to be the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory. The win and three points lifted United to 4th place in the Premier League.
Looking forward, Manchester United has some excellent opportunities to pick up points before the end of 2014. The next three matches are against Hull City, Stoke City, and Southampton, all teams that United can pick up points from. Above all, the club is beginning begin to play well, starting with their captain. With van Persie struggling, and Falcao being injured, Louis van Gaal will need Rooney to continue his inspiring play.
As for the England national team, things were looking pretty grim during the World Cup. Many were calling for Roy Hodgson to be sacked, claiming he was too old and not adapting to the new styles brought by South American players. Then Hodgson named Wayne Rooney captain, and the Three Lions have rattled off 6 straight wins. Rooney got his 100th cap in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia, scoring a goal in the process as well. Three days later he scored a brace against Scotland in a friendly. On top of all of that good news, England are tops in the Group E table with the maximum 12 points. While there are 6 match days to still be played, a six point cushion is pretty substantial at any stage.
Any rumors about sacking Roy Hodgson have been squashed, and Rooney with the captain’s armband seems to be working out pretty well. England are hoping that Wazza can continue his goal scoring streak all the way to next year, as the next time the Three Lions play is at the end of March 2015. If England are going to continue their success and qualify for Euro 2016, Rooney will be a major piece to the puzzle.
Maybe the break from international play will be good for Rooney, as he can concentrate on getting Manchester United some much needed points to ascend on the table. Teetering on the line between Champions League and Europa League is not a place that Red Devils supporters would like to be, but it is a welcome change from 7th place and being left out of European competition entirely. These past couple weeks have really been a pivotal stretch, while it seems United have turned the proverbial corner to success.
We would be remiss if we did not highlight some of the individual accomplishments of Wayne Rooney. He is now one of only 9 Englishmen in history to gain 100 caps for their national team. Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, and Frank Lampard are still playing, but have retired from international football with 107, 114, and 106 caps respectively. He joins Sir Bobby Charlton as the only forwards in the century cap list, while the all-time leader Peter Shilton is the only goalkeeper on the list. Bending legend David Beckham is second on the list with 115 caps over a 14-year span. As of today, he is 24 caps behind Peter Shilton, and 3 goals behind Sir Charlton.
There are questions as to whether Rooney will be able to eclipse both the caps and goalscoring records before his international career is over. We have a few numbers that might clear the picture. Despite 2014 not officially being complete, the English national team does not have any fixtures scheduled for the rest of the year. That means that Rooney will finish 2014 with 8 goals in 13 appearances. He had 6 goals in 10 appearances during 2013. His career average goals per appearance is .4554, roughly meaning he scores in just under half of the matches he plays. His 2013-14 average is .6086, which is considerably better than his career average.
Barring injury, Rooney will likely captain England through Euro 2016, assuming they qualify. England have 9 scheduled fixtures in 2015 between Euro qualifying and friendlies. Even with his career average, it is likely that Rooney will either tie or better Sir Charlton’s goalscoring record in 2015. There is no way he catches Peter Shilton’s cap record in 2015, but 9 more appearances would put Rooney in 4th place with 110 caps. 2016 would have friendlies, Euro 2016 competition, and probably some 2018 World Cup qualification. In 2012, England played 13 fixtures after advancing to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012. Another 13 matches in 2016 would put Rooney within spitting distance of Sir Charlton.
It is no sure thing that Rooney will play in every England match, but it is more likely now that Hodgson has made him captain. At age 29, Wazza still has plenty of good football left in him, injuries and age may slow him down. For now, we will say that the goal scoring record is probable, while the caps record is possible.
For all the debate about Rooney as a captain and a footballer, 100 caps for your country is an amazing achievement. We give two thumbs up and a standing ovation to Wazza, and wish him all the best in the years to come.
Player Escort program gives 25 children in U.S. once-in-a-lifetime trip to Brazil, grants to benefit local youth soccer organizations!
McDonald’s USA is giving young soccer enthusiasts the opportunity to meet their soccer heroes competing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ trophy in Brazil this summer and also secure a $1,000 grant for a local soccer organization of choice.
Having started recently, McDonald’s Player Escort sweepstakes will give 25 super-lucky kids ranging from the ages of 6 to 10 the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to head to Brazil and walk out of the tunnel with some of the biggest names in the sport! Not only will they be attending a 2014 World Cup match, but the kid (along with a parent or guardian) will enjoy a four-night, five-day expedition to Brazil! In order to enter the contest, parents or guardians will need to visit www.McdOneGoal.com before April 6th to enter for the sweepstakes, with the winner going to Rio de Janiero and leading players onto the pitch in either Rio, Natal, Manaus or Recife.
The senior VP, global relationship officer of the McDonald’s Corporation, Dean Barret spoke of soccer’s growth in the U.S. and what his program hoped to acheive by saying, “Our Player Escort program aims to fuel kids’ passion for the game and inspire active play, while also giving twenty-five lucky U.S. winners an unforgettable experience with players.”
McDonald’s is continuing its partnership with U.S. Soccer for this year’s Player Escort program to motivate young athletes and help increase the popularity of soccer in America. In fact, McDonald’s has long been acknowledged by many in the U.S. National soccer set-up as being a huge contributor to the growth of the game at the youth level.
Globally and locally, McDonald’s will select 1,408 children from 70 countries including Brazil to serve as Player Escorts and support their country’s players during the month-long competition, which starts June 12 and culminates with the final match on July 13. During their time in Brazil, Player Escorts and their parent or guardian will experience the thrilling atmosphere of the FIFA World Cup™ and the lively surrounding culture.
McDonald’s Player Escort program began in 2002 at the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™. Since that time, McDonald’s has given more than 6,000 children from around the world the chance to lead a player onto the field. Additionally, McDonald’s has been a supporter of soccer at both the global and grassroots levels for more than 25 years. The Company has served as an Official Sponsor and the Official Restaurant of the FIFA World Cup™ since the United States Tournament in 1994, continuing for each FIFA World Cup™ through to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
One last reminder, here is the website to enter the contest: www.McdOneGoal.com
For more info on McDonald’s, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates on business, promotions and products.
And, for more information on the growth and other sides of soccer in the U.S.A., visit www.ussoccer.com.
McDonald’s and Player Escort are registered trademarks of McDonald’s Corporation and its affiliates.
Brian McBride. Kristine Lilly. Bob Bradley. We all know these names. These names are special – really special. These three soccer-stars are this year’s National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
Brian McBride was the face of US Soccer during the late 90s and early 2000s. As one of the most notorious players to ever grace the USMNT, he is 100% deserving of his Hall of Fame induction. Having scored 30 goals for the USA – third highest all-time – McBride set high standards for American Soccer as we know it today. As a mentor and a leader, McBride’s positive energy on and off the field filtered throughout an entire program.
McBride earned 96 caps as a member of the USMNT. He was the first American player to score at two World Cups, and he has the third most World Cup goals for the USA, with three. McBride also led the program through the 2008 Olympics, serving as Captain – even though he retired two years prior.
It’s that kind of spirit that qualifies McBride for the 2014 Hall of Fame.
The 1999 Women’s World Cup Team paved the way for many young girls playing soccer. It wasn’t until 1999 that the USWNT became a common subject, and players, including Kristine Lilly, became household names.
Among Lilly’s many accomplishments, she has scored 130 goals – third highest of all-time for the women, just behind Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, she was the first woman to compete in five World Cups, she’s a two-time world champion, competed in three Olympics, and has the title for most capped player in the history of the sport. That’s right, with 352 caps, no man or woman has more than Kristine Lilly.
After retiring in 2008, Lilly has stayed very relevant in the soccer community, helping to operate camps with Mia Hamm and Tisha Venturini and serving as the assistant coach for the Boston Breakers since 2012.
Lilly’s success and leadership has not only served to inspire young women like Alex Morgan and progress even her younger peers like Abby Wambach, but it has also earned her a much-deserved spot in the Hall of Fame.
We all know Bob Bradley. After the disappointing 2006 World Cup finish, Bob Bradley took the USMNT to a second place finish in the 2009 Confederations Cup. Shortly thereafter, Bradley took his team to the 2010 World Cup.
The USA team faced a strong group in 2010, with matches against Algeria, England, and Slovenia. Though all games were hard fought, the United States topped the group, going 1-0-2 during the group stage. Unfortunately, the USMNT lost to Ghana in a 2-1 heartbreaking defeat in the second round.
After the World Cup, Bradley led the USMNT to the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Finishing second to Mexico, the team did very well only losing to Panama along the way.
After the Gold Cup, Bradley went on to manage Egypt’s National team. Now he’s coaching Stabæk Fotboll in Norway. He is the first American Manager to coach in a Premier European Division.
Though his reign with the USMNT was but a chapter in his 33-year-long and prosperous coaching career, the infamous coach is the epitome of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
It’s going to be an interesting next few months for United States strikers. With only 4-5 open spots on the roster for forwards, no one envies the decisions that Jurgen Klinsmann has to make. We’ve got three vets that will be top prospects for Klinsmann this year: Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and Jozy Altidore. That leaves two potential spots… and no guarantee on who’s starting… for Team USA.
While Gomez also has years of experience under his belt, the 31 year-old forward was limited by a knee injury this summer. He’s entering 2014 healthy and ready to go, though it seems he’s had a rocky start upon return. With younger, healthier guys coming up as the future of the USMNT, one can’t help but wonder if Gomez is the right choice for the squad.
The 22 year old Icelandic-American is a goal-scoring machine. In the 2013/2014 season thus far, Johannsson has already scored 20 goals for AZ Alkmaar. With a recent minor injury setback, we are interested to see if Johannsson can keep up the scoring power he’s been packing. If not, it could cost him a potential spot on the USMNT roster when they head to Brazil.
Boyd has really come into his own, particularly in club play over the last two seasons, scoring over 40 goals (combined) thus far. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen much international play with the US squad. What’s great about Boyd is that he knows how to finish it himself, but he knows when to set it up for someone else. He’s a tremendous hold-up player, and an equally solid distributor. Could he be the one to get the job done this summer?
While Wondolowski didn’t start the year off as a favorite for Brazil, he’s quickly letting his goal-scoring do the talking. He’s no rookie to the game, but he’s as committed as he’s ever been. He is a hard-worker and he gets the job done. It’s easy to see that Wondo is hungry for a visit to Brazil, and he’s not giving up his spot until that roster is finalized.
While you may think this kid doesn’t have the experience it takes to step up to the Tournament just yet, you may want to reconsider. His recent stints in league play prove that he’s not only ready, but he’s also hungry for the World Cup. While it doesn’t seem likely that he’s going to be Klinsmann’s first pick, if injuries continue to plague US strikers at their current rate, he wouldn’t be a bad Plan B.
Injuries have been huge this season. With Dempsey, Altidore, Gomez, and Johannsson suffering injuries, we can’t help but wonder if that will affect their play come June.
Dempsey. Altidore. Johnson. These guys are strikers. They’re the playmakers. But are they making plays? With the Sounders, Dempsey hasn’t marked near the goals he did with Fulham. Altidore is tough to gauge. Sometimes he’s hot, finishing everything that comes his way. Other times, he’ll go games without one mark. Can Johnson – though proving himself to be a solid choice for Brazil– continue his streak? Who’s going to get the starting position?
This is Klinsmann’s first World Cup with the United States. He knows that the country is looking to him to get this team out of the “Group of Death” and into the second stage. That puts all the more pressure on his decision and why he is going to pick who he’s going to pick.
We’ll pick five. We’re calling Dempsey, Johnson, Altidore, Johannsson, and Wondolowski. How about you?
Shortly after the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers romped to a close last night, the official US Soccer website put out a picture with the hashtag “YoureWelcomeMexico” as the USA rubbed salt into the Mexican wounds.
Make no mistake about it, Mexico got extremely lucky last night. El Tri were as listless and limp as ever as they succumbed to a 2-1 loss in Costa Rica to a Ticos side who had already qualified for the Mundial. Seemingly no one knows what to do to rectify the situation for El Tri…
Even the Mexican federation had little faith in their team, why else would they launch an early release of the new 2014 World Cup Mexico Jerseys? Way ahead of any other World Cup teams? Way ahead of the original set schedule?
What needs to happen? As blase as it sounds, Mexico needs to get Carlos Vela in there somehow…is he Leo Messi? No. But Mexico is an altogether different prospect when he’s in there with Gio and Chicharito. The team needs something to bring back the swagger of ages past and getting mad at the growth of major rivals USA is a great way to inject some anger into the team.
Beyond that…who knows? The two legged playoff versus New Zealand will be no joke, the All-Whites are a dangerous side who Mexico will do well to be wary of, El Tri is in for a fist-fight and that anger needs to be well in place before that playoff starts or NZ will ensure Mexico doesn’t appear at the World Cup in Brazil and that would be sad. Now there is talk of replacing Vucetich with Miguel Herrera as coach of the team…that would make four coaches in one month…not good at all.
The United States Men’s National Team will play Mexico Tuesday at Estadio Azteca. The U.S. national team is currently in second in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The team lost it’s first hexagonal match 2-1 to Honduras, but bounced back and beat Costa Rica 1-0 in snowy conditions. This leaves the U.S. national team with three points from two games. However, Costa Rica is hoping to replay it’s game against the U.S. due to the poor weather conditions.
“We can confirm that FIFA has received a letter from the Costa Rica FA regarding last Friday’s FIFA World Cup qualifier. FIFA will now analyze the content of the letter and next steps will be determined in due course,” according to ESPNFC.
Costa Rican Football Federation Treasurer Rolando Villalobos also showed his anger at the decision to let the game be played.
“What happened…has no precedents, since it not only went against the sporting spectacle, but also against the physical integrity of the officials and players. You couldn’t see the pitch markings and that is not allowed under the FIFA regulations,” Villalobos said according to ESPNFC.
Sidenote: If you were able to see the players through all the snow Friday, what did you think about the new United States centennial jerseys?
Mexico comes into it’s match against the United States in fourth place, drawing both of their games. However, when it comes to USA vs. Mexico at Mexico, the results have not been favorable for the United States. According to American Soccer Now, “Against the U.S., Mexico has tasted much more success than failure over the years, especially in Mexico, where a friendly loss last August was the only defeat El Tri has suffered at home against its northern neighbors. In World Cup qualifying, the U.S. has but one point to show for all its visits to El Azteca.”
Tuesday’s match should be an exciting one. The U.S. vs. Mexico rivalry has always been intense and with a trip to the 2014 World Cup on the line, both teams will come out focused and intense. The United States needs to keep getting positive results, while Mexico will be looking for it’s first win during the final round of World Cup qualifying to come at home in front of it’s fans
Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com
As you may have seen earlier today, Nike has released a brand new jersey to celebrate 100 years of U.S. soccer. In addition to the jersey, Nike has also released some other great looking products as part of its USA Centennial Collection. Since we’ve already taken a look at the jersey, we are now going to take a look at two other great products: the Nike USA authentic N98 jacket and the Nike5 Gato USA 100 leather indoor soccer shoe.
The Nike USA authentic N98 jacket looks spectacular and is comfortable as well. This jacket is perfect to keep you warm while still remaining stylish. It is predominantly navy blue with a single red stripe going down each arm to tie in the country’s colors. Subtle vertical stripes also run up the front of the jacket to provide a little more style instead of plain navy. It’s a minor detail but it looks awesome.
Since this jacket is part of the Centennial Collection, it features the Centennial crest on the left chest. The Centennial crest, unlike the modern USA crest, has thirteen stars and stripes to represent the original 13 colonies. It is a great looking crest and, in my opinion, should become the regular crest on all USA soccer gear. It is simplistic but looks fantastic. Finally, we move to the back of the jacket where we see “USA” pressed on so everyone can see where your support lies.
This jacket is a cotton/polyester mix, which is very comfortable. It is also fairly thick to provide enough protection from the wintery weather to keep you warm. The neck of the jacket goes a little higher than most jackets. It almost provides a turtleneck look, which is nice to keep wind out and provides warmth.
Even though there are currently some cool looking USA jackets, this is my favorite. I like the combination of red and blue and the Centennial crest. The combination of great design and comfort make this jacket the perfect option for any USA fan.
SoccerPro does not normally carry shoes; therefore, Soccerprose does not normally look at too many shoes. However, as part of the Centennial Collection Nike released a pair of great looking shoes.
The Nike5 Gato USA 100 leather indoor shoes are off-white/cream, which should help make them a little easier to keep clean than pure white shoes. These shoes also feature navy blue to tie in the national colors in the design while also maintaining a stylish look. The shoes tongue features the Centennial crest above the laces to show that these are part of the Centennial Collection. However, the coolest part of these shoes is the outsole. The outsole has stars and stripes to, once again, tie in the United States flag. It looks awesome and is a nice touch by Nike.
As the name suggests, the upper is made of leather to make these extremely durable since they are built for indoor soccer. With durability in mind, these shoes also have toe and medial overlay to help keep the toe from tearing up with tough indoor surfaces.
Not only do these look great and provide great durability, they are also very comfortable. These shoes feature soccer specific Cushlon technology that helps with cushioning and stability. Style isn’t the only nice thing about these Gato’s. These shoes have an articulated gum rubber outsole, which is non-marking but also provides great traction on indoor surfaces.
Even though these are called indoor soccer shoes, they don’t have to be. These shoes are stylish and comfortable enough to wear with jeans while you are hanging out with friends or whenever you cheer the United States on in soccer. You can now be dressed from head to toe with great USA soccer gear.
Of course, these two products and the jersey mentioned already are not the only products available with the Centennial Collection. A retro jersey, t-shirts, shorts, socks and soccer ball are all available. These products were just two of my favorites that I wanted to share. The jacket and shoes look amazing and are a stylish way to support the U.S. soccer teams. You can find the other gear at SoccerPro.com.
Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com
Nike and US Soccer have just launched the new US Centennial soccer jersey and its a stylish mix of classic style and modern attitude. The jersey, which is a celebration of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s 100th year, is designed to pay tribute to a century of American soccer by including several classic elements.
The first one of these elements featured on the kit is the original US Soccer crest. It looks like Capetian America’s original shield, from the 1940′s and 50′s, and is a stunning departure from the anemic modern crest that has sullied to surface of recent US soccer jerseys. The majority of the kit is a classic white design, with this sharp crest on the left breast and the Nike logo opposite. It also features navy trim around the collar and end of the sleeves, with room for official numbering and name sets on the center front and across the back shoulders.
Its constructed from the same Nike Dri-Fit material you’ll see in any other current soccer jersey, and should wick away sweat and moisture from your body. This fabric is also stain resistant, and fits true to size. So if you are a large in a t-shirt, then you’ll need a large one of these kits. The short, socks, and shoes in the rest of this collection look stunning as well, and you can get them all now for 10% off at our favorite partner, SoccerPro.com