USA Soccer Gaining Popularity

One Player Has Close Ties to MU

In America, the four big sports have always been baseball, football, hockey and basketball. As of recent, another sport has come into the picture. Led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, the United States Men’s Soccer team has seen unprecedented success in international play over the last six months.

“American players are continuing to compete with the best competition in the world. I think it’s pretty awesome how the U.S. team just qualified for the World Cup and are ranked 13th in the world. It shows that Soccer is on the rise in the United States,” Derek Luke, a defender for Monmouth University’s men’s soccer team said.

On August 14, the U.S. Men’s Soccer team won arguably their most impressive game when they defeated the 18th best team in world rankings, Bosnia and Herzegovina by a score of 4-3. The United States fell behind early in the game trailing 2-0 entering halftime.

In the second half, the United States overcame both the early deficit and a hostile environment in Sarajevo to score four straight goals while stifling Bosnia and Herzegovina’s potent attack.

Forward Jozy Alitdore led the U.S., scoring three goals and adding an assist to continue his rising status in the     soccer world. Altidore’s goal increased his goal-scoring streak to five games, which is a new United States Men’s Soccer record.

The win over Bosnia and Herzegovina extended the U.S. team’s winning streak to 12 games, which is a team record.

Also starring in the game was New Jersey native Michael Bradley who has become an integral piece of the United States’ roster. Bradley, who controls the pace of play from his center mid-field position, got the assist on Altidore’s game winning goal.

Bradley has close ties to Monmouth University as his uncle, Jeff Bradley, is a contributing professor at the University and has witnessed Michael’s steady growth into a star athlete.

“He has certainly improved because of his dedication and work ethic,” said Professor Bradley. “I think one thing that’s often understated with Michael is that he is very talented. Sure he works hard, but he’s got a lot of gifts that have made it possible for him to climb the ranks.”

Two weeks prior to their win against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S. was able to navigate their way to a Gold Cup title.  The U.S. dominated the competition outscoring their opponents 19 to 4 in route to the Gold Cup Final against Panama.

Panama proved to be a formidable challenge but the U.S. was able to hold off the Panamanians and win the Gold Cup 1-0 on a goal from young forward Brek Shea.

The Gold Cup marked the return of star midfielder Landon Donovan. After a self-imposed hiatus from the men’s national team, Donovan decided that the Gold Cup was the right time to rejoin the national team.  The former U.S. captain had a great tournament scoring five goals to go along with seven assists.

Following the win against Panama, Donovan expressed his thoughts on his comeback and the Gold Cup. Donovan said, “I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. As far as just having fun, it’s up there. I’m really proud to be a part of what we’ve been through. As I get older the things that matter to me are winning and when you look around and see kids holding the trophy and experiencing something for the first time it makes me really happy.”

The win over the rising Bosnia and Herzegovina team and the domination at the Gold Cup were positive steps towards the U.S. team’s ultimate goal; competing at the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil. The United States achieved that goal on Tuesday when they defeated Mexico 2-0 in a World Cup Qualifying match.

Inspired by a ruckus crowd at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio the U.S. overwhelmed the struggling Mexican team. Led by goals from forward Eddie Johnson and Donovan, the U.S. secured a spot at the 2014 World Cup despite having two more qualifying games.

Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann was pleased by his team’s effort against Mexico. ‘’Obviously this is a huge, huge evening for all of us,’’ Klinsmann said. ‘’It’s a huge milestone whenever you make it to a World Cup.’’

Unfortunately, the team’s record 12-game winning streak was snapped in the previous qualifying match against Costa Rica. In spite of the loss the U.S. still leads the North, Central America and Caribbean qualifying group with a 5-2-1 record.

The United States will conclude their World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica on Friday, October 11 and Panama on Tuesday, October 15 before contending for the World Cup in the summer of 2014.