For some reason, this particular summer break felt longer than those in the past. Maybe it was the never-ending Neymar gossip, or the fact that the Gold Cup was mostly tedious and underwhelming, but in any case, the PREMIER LEAGUE IS BACK (as well as all your other favorite European Leagues). To get you even more ready for the kickoffs this weekend, we ran through some of top stories.
Bruce Arena announced a 27 (!) man roster for three upcoming games over the next couple weeks and it’s one that should make most fans happy. It is a very deep and strong list of players for this June camp that will culminate in a second crack at Mexico at the Azteca in Mexico City on June 11. After the disastrous first match against El Tri in Columbus, it will be something of a revenge game for team and a great early bellwether for how the team plays under Arena. We’ll have more on the site closer to that match, but first a look at the roster.
After what seems like just a couple weeks off, the Premier League starts again this coming weekend with 2015-2016 Champions Leicester City taking the pitch against Hull City bright and early 7:30 AM EST Saturday morning. The offseason was, as usual, full of interesting developments and changes for every club from new acquisitions to new management, including the Big Four (Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea) making moves to try to restore order after Leicester’s shocking run to the top. With so much to catch up on before kickoff on Saturday, our local fútbol experts have run through a few of the biggest stories and things to watch for this season.
Full disclosure: I only caught the back 45 minutes of the USMNT game against Paraguay, in which they survived going down to 10 men, won 1-0 and sealed their place in the knockout rounds of the Copa America. However, I saw enough to know two things: (a) DeAndre Yedlin still has some learning to do and (b) this team wants to go the distance. There might be some disagreement on what, exactly, “the distance” should be for this team, but more on that later. First, we need to celebrate the U.S. overcoming their 2-0 loss to Colombia by throttling Costa Rica 4-0 and surviving Paraguay 1-0.
Do you remember when I said it was a roller coaster ride to watch the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team? Well, this is the part of the ride where you PANIC because we just plummeted hard. After a very positive three game warm up, the team ended up losing 2-0 to Colombia on Friday in the opening game of the Copa America. Now, the U.S. will face off against Costa Rica tonight at 8:00 PM with everything on the line. This game is now a must win to get out of the group stage of the tournament.
Jurgen Klinsmann released his final 23-man roster for the Copa America on Saturday. Looking back on my prediction from two weeks ago, what seems to stand out the most is Jordan Morris’s exclusion. This will be endlessly debated for the next week, but suffice to say I am firmly in the camp that believes Morris should have been in and Chris Wondolowski should be out after Jozy Altidore’s injury opened a spot up front.
I have some not-breaking news: if you want to root for a winning national soccer team, start watching the U.S. Women. They hold all kinds of records, are the reigning World Cup Champions, and have dominated the international competition for such a sustained period, it is hard to remember when they were not the best. They deserve more recognition and, if you aren’t aware, payment for their services. The USWNT is the real deal and a very stable team to support. They are like a ride at Disney World – extremely well-engineered, fun, and a winning brand. I recommend them.
If, however, you are like me and also enjoy the unstable, uncertain roller coaster at your local carnival, you should focus your eyes on the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. In 2015, the USMNT went from beating traditional powerhouses Germany and the Netherlands in Europe, to losing at home to Jamaica and Mexico in the span of five months. The team was positioned to qualify for the Confederations Cup (a World Cup warmup against some of the best from around the world) but instead couldn’t hold serve against the 55th best team in the world, against whom they had only previously lost one time. Highest highs, lowest lows, and all that. As it has been for some time, this is a team that will make you proud to be an American one minute, and so very sad the next.