Sunday, August 31, 2008

Come Together

And we're back...

It has been a brief 10 day intermission since you last heard from us but we're glad you've stuck around for what will be the second and third acts of the six-part series that is the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The team has gathered in Miami and as you know, we'll be heading to Cuba later this week to play our first game on the island in over 60 years. Saturday's game in Havana will mark only the second time the U.S. has played in Cuba, so this week is sure to feature plenty of exciting buildup to what will be a very unique experience for everybody involved (Blog included!). As mentioned, the game takes place this Saturday, September 6, with kickoff slated for 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the game live on ESPN Classic and Galavision and you better believe that the MNT Blog's good friend, MatchTracker, will be along for the ride as well.

After Saturday's game the team will be heading stateside for its first home game of the semifinal round against Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 10 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. The midweek contest will also mark the first time that the U.S. MNT has played in Toyota Park, and hopefully the game at home venue of the Chicago Fire will build upon the rich history that the MNT already has in the Windy City. Oh, and tickets are still available for this game. Check out that information here.

Bob Bradley has named a full squad of 20 players for the upcoming games, but the roster will fill out as the week progresses. Many of the guys played in games today, with a few playing tomorrow and Tuesday. While players will be trickling in throughout the week, a core group and the staff are here and ready to dive in to preparations for the game against Cuba...

Michael Bradley Signs for Borussia Monchengladbach

On Sunday, Michael Bradley signed for Bundesliga outfit, Borussia Monchengladach. 'Gladbach, the former club of Kasey Keller, were promoted to the top flight of German football after a victorious promotion campaign last year where they finished first in the 2.Bundesliga.

Bradley's signing in Germany puts an end to his productive career at Heerenveen. After joining the Eredivise side in early 2006, he broke into the side during the 2006-07 season. Last year, he finished with an impressive 20 goals for Heereveen, in all competitions, as his club again qualified for the UEFA Cup.

Borussia Monchengladbach's website reports the signing here.

First Old Firm Derby of the Season

On Sunday, the first Old Firm derby of the year resulted in a Rangers win. Walter Smith's side prevailed, 4-2, over their bitter rivals at Celtic Park. Rangers now sit top of the table, having won three games and drawn one. Mo Edu was an unused substitute in the game, though you can see him practicing in his Rangers uniform here.

Results from England

In the Premier League, it proved to be a tough weekend for Everton and Tim Howard who went down, 3-0, to Portsmouth. The defeat marks the second in a row for Everton. They'll have to wait a few weeks before they have a shot at getting back to winning ways - they next face Stoke on Sept. 14.

Aston Villa tied Liverpool, 0-0, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan appeared on the subs bench for the first time in his Aston Villa career.

In the Championship, Reading resumed their winning ways, beating Crystal Palace, 4-2. Marcus Hahnemann made two saves in the victory while Bobby Convey was an unused sub.

Jay Demerit's Watford grabbed a late victory over Ipswich Town. The 2-1 win sends the Hornets up to 8th in the table. DeMerit started and played the full game on the Watford backline.

Cardiff City and Sheffield Utd finished tied at zero. Eddie Johnson made his second appearance for the Bluebirds, coming on as a late sub in the draw.

Friday, August 29, 2008

UEFA Cup Draw Complete

The UEFA Cup Draw took place in Monaco on Thursday and the 1st round matches are set.

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes will Dutch side FC Twente. Rennes came back from a one goal deficit to beat Norwegian side Stœbek, 3-2, on aggregate after the French side earned a 2-0 win in the second leg.

Michael Bradley and Heerenveen will host Portuguese side Setúbal, while Brad Guzan and Aston Villa face Bulgarian outfit Litex.

The pick of the round has to be Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege taking on Tim Howard and Everton. Liege went out of the Champions League in cruel fashion earlier this week, and they certain haven't been given any favors with their tough draw against a trick Everton team.

The First Round of the UEFA Cup is a two-legged playoff, with the aggregate score from both games determining the winner. If tied, away goals count double. The first leg of the games will be played on Sept. 18, with the crucial second legs being played on Oct. 2.

UEFA Cup Draw Complete

The UEFA Cup Draw took place in Monaco on Thursday and the 1st round matches are set.

Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes will Dutch side FC Twente. Rennes came back from a one goal deficit to beat Norwegian side Stœbek, 3-2, on aggregate after the French side earned a 2-0 win in the second leg.

Michael Bradley and Heerenveen will host Portuguese side Setúbal, while Brad Guzan and Aston Villa face Bulgarian outfit Litex.

The pick of the round has to be Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege taking on Tim Howard and Everton. Liege went out of the Champions League in cruel fashion earlier this week, and they certain haven't been given any favors with their tough draw against a trick Everton team.

The First Round of the UEFA Cup is a two-legged playoff, with the aggregate score from both games determining the winner. If tied, away goals count double. The first leg of the games will be played on Sept. 18, with the crucial second legs being played on Oct. 2.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Standard Liege Falls to Liverpool in CL Qualifying

Standard Liege and Oguchi Onyewu fell to Liverpool, 1-0, last night, going out of the Champions League and into the UEFA Cup.

The Belgian Champions put up quite a fight, but after nearly 120 minutes of scoreless football (210 if you count the 0-0 first leg), Liege's resistance finally cracked and a goal from Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt in the 118th minute proved to be the difference in the tie.

Highlights below:

1st Half:

2nd Half, Part 1:

2nd Half, Part 2:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Johnson Completes Debut

Eddie Johnson made his club debut, starting up front and playing 90 minutes for Cardiff City in his sides 2-1 victory over MK Dons in the Carling Cup.

Up next for the Bluebirds is a trip to Bramall Lane on Saturday to face Sheffield Utd. in league play.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fulham vs. Arsenal: Longer Highlights

As you may have heard, Fulham beat Arsenal this weekend in a rather big upset. Check out extended highlights of the game here:

EJ Set for Debut

Eddie Johnson is in line for his Cardiff City debut tonight in the Carling Cup, as the Welsh club host Milton Keynes Dons in the second round of the knockout tournament. Eddie also spoke to Wales online in an extensive interview that is definitely worth a read.

Random note: MK Dons count American Jemal Johnson among their ranks. The forward was born in NJ before moving to England at a young age with his family.

Check back here later to find out of EJ actually does make his first appearance for Cardiff tonight.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Results around Europe

In Germany, Hannover played their first game at home this season, drawing with Energie Cottbus, 0-0. Steve Cherundolo came on as 2nd half sub for Hannover - with the game played on Friday it made for a short turnaround for last Wednesday's win over Guatemala. With one point from two games, Hannover are off to a bit of a slow start in the Bundesliga, and they'll look to kickstart their campaign against Stuttgart next Sunday.

In Ligue 1, Rennes came from a goal down to beat Lille, 2-1, thanks to two injury time goals. Carlos Bocanegra started in defense for Rennes, who got goals from Bruno Cheyrou and Moussa Sow in the win. On Thursday, Rennes take on Stabaek in the UEFA Cup as the French side will try to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg. You can follow the game live on Thursday from 1:30 p.m. CT on Also in France, Freddy Adu made his debut with Monaco, coming off the bench late in their 1-1 draw with Caen.

Standard Liege continued their strong start to the season in Belgium, beating KVC Westerlo, 3-0. Oguchi Onyewu came on as a 2nd half sub for Liege. Up next for the Belgian side - a massive Champions League qualifying match with Liverpool. After a 0-0 tie in the first leg, the matchup is delicately balanced - you can follow along with the game on Wednesday at

More Results from England...

Tim Howard and Everton traveled to newly promoted West Brom and game away with three hard earned points, winning 2-1. Everton's attack was completely thwarted in the first half, but the Toffees rebounded after the break to score two goals en route to the victory. Howard made 3 saves for Everton in the win. On Saturday, Everton will play host to Portsmouth at Goodison Park in an early-season battle of two teams who will figure to be challenging for Europe come the end of the season.

In the Championship, Reading and Watford both lost. Reading were outscored by Charlton, 4-2. Both Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey started for the Royals. Watford and Jay DeMerit were also losers on the day, going down 3-2 to Notthinham Forest.

Charlton - Reading:

Nottingham Forest - Watford:

Big Win for the Cottagers

Fulham pulled off the shock of the weekend in the Premier League, beating London rivals Arsenal by the score of 1-0. A first half goal from Brede Hangeland (his first for the club) was enough to put Fulham out in front and some competent team defending made sure the Gunners were never really able to stamp their authority on the game. Clint Dempsey came on as a second half sub for Fulham, who next face Leicester City on Wednesday in the Carling Cup.

Johnson Loaned to Cardiff City

Fulham striker Eddie Johnson has been loaned to Cardiff City for the duration of the 2008-09 season. The Welsh club compete in the English League Championship, where they're currently in 10th place, and also advanced all the way to last years FA Cup Final. According to the Cardiff City website, Johnson should be available for tomorrow's Carling Cup game against Milton Keynes Dons.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Permission Granted

Mo Edu has been granted a work permit and, as a result, has completed his move to Rangers. That's great for Mo, who now joins DaMarcus Beasley on the Scottish giants who will be looking to recapture the SPL title this year. We're sure, however, that Mo is most excited about joining the roster of Americans who are part of the U.S. Soccer Global Blog! Wooo! Mo was unavailable for comment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Until We Meet Again...

So that just about puts the finishing touches on our trip to Guatemala, which ended in the best possible way: with a win! The victory marks the first time the U.S. has ever won a World Cup Qualifier in Guatemala and is the first win in the country since 1988.

There's lots of stuff to check out over at, including a supremely awesome quote sheet and some podcasts from Bob Bradley, Eddie, Tim and Landon, and Carlos and Michael.

As for the other results tonight from CONCACAF:
Group A
Cuba 1 - 3 Trinidad & Tobago

Group B
Canada 1 - 1 Jamaica
Mexico 2 - 1 Honduras

Group C
Haiti 2 - 2 Suriname
Costa Rica 1 - 0 El Salvador

Of course there is still a long way to go, both figuratively and literally since our guys are all going their separate ways tomorrow. A few will head back to MLS to meet up directly with their teams for this weekend's full slate of games. Most guys will head abroad but don't worry! You can follow all their progress at U.S. Soccer Global. Holla at you, Global Blog!

It's going to be a short turnaround and we'll be meeting up again in a little over week as we head towards the historic game against Cuba. Until then, thanks for reading! Keep your comments coming and we look forward to hearing from you again next time.

(Photo by Jose Rojas/

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Place is Jumpin'!

We're still more than an hour from kickoff and the stadium is absolutely rocking. The streets were lined with blue-and-white clad fans for about a mile on the road leading into the stadium, and they certainly let us know who they would be supporting! Personally, we think tossing beverages at the bus is a waste of money, but that's us.

Stay tuned as we'll have the starting XI for you shortly...

U.S. Lineup vs. Guatemala

Here's how the U.S. will lineup against Guatemala tonight at Estadio Mateo Flores.

Cherundolo---------Onyewu------Bocanegra (c)------Pearce

  • Two changes from the starting XI that featured in the 8-0 win against Barbados on June 15 in Carson: Tim Howard resumes his place in goal, while Eddie Lewis slots into left midfield

  • All six of the USA’s goalscorers in the Barbados series are in the lineup – Michael Bradley, Brian Ching (2), Clint Dempsey (2), Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and Eddie Lewis

  • The backline of Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra and Heath Pearce having started together against Poland, England, Spain and Barbados in 2008.

  • Four players into tonight's starting lineup have stepped on the field previously in Guatemala for a World Cup qualifier: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Pablo Mastroeni featured in the 0-0 draw on Sept. 7, 2005, here in Guatemala City, while Eddie Lewis was part of the squad that earned a 1-1 draw on July 16, 2000, in Mazatenango in the opening match of the semifinal round of the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

Sot it's a 4-4-2 from Bob Bradley as the U.S. will go for it's first win in Guatemala in 20 years and it's first ever World Cup Qualifying victory in the Central American nation. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. MT and can be seen live on ESPN2. You can also follow along with's matchtracker.

Games Around the World...

It may be quiet on the team floor this afternoon but that doesn't mean that soccer isn't in everybody's thoughts. Games are going on around the globe today and of particular interest are England's game at Wembley against the Czech Republic, and Italy's game against Austria. Both games are on TV here which makes for a nice afternoon of soccer leading up to the pre game meal...

Pre-game Primers

If you're looking for a little tuneup to get yourself prepared for tonight's encounter, we've got a little something for everyone:

  • For all the news, facts, figures, trivia, background and history, read up on the Game Notes
  • To watch the adventures of the U.S. team during the last three days and hear their thoughts on Guatemala, watch the latest all_access video
  • Listen to Brian Ching as he describes his goal in the USA's first match of the semifinal round four years ago, a 1-1 draw against Jamaica that set the tone for the USA's travels through the group. Ching also talks about how that match really launched his international career that led all the way to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Visit from the Embassy

We'll need all the support we can get at the stadium tonight, so the team was happy to welcome the staff of the U.S. Embassy to the hotel for some autographs and photos. It's always nice to see friendly faces on the road. We'll certainly be looking to spot them later on...

Quiet Time

It's pretty quiet on the players' floor with just under seven hours remaining before kickoff. A survey of the rooms indicates a mix of naps, reading and watching some of the international friendlies going on today around the world. The weather has been nice so far today, but predictions are for rain later this afternoon. As usual on game day, it's the quiet before the storm.

Official U.S. Soccer Bars Getting it Done!

Whether it's been opening the shudders at 5 a.m. or keeping the doors open late at 10 p.m., the Official U.S. Soccer Bars have been stepping up to the plate to provide a gathering place for our own version of soccer's fanaticos. Tonight is no different, when U.S. fans will congregate across the country to watch the national team take their next step towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. We'll need all the positive vibes we can get down in here in Guatemala, with the stadium expected to be filled to the brim with supporters of their Chapines. Kickoff is set for 10 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision. So sacrifice a couple hours of sleep - its still summertime! - and go watch the boys step into the cauldron of Estadio Mateo Flores to take on Guatemala! Here's a list of Official U.S. Soccer Bars showing the match LIVE:

The Globe Pub
1934 Irving Park Rd.
Chicago, IL 60613

Fado Irish Pub
100 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 836-0066

Small Bar
2954 N Albany Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 509-9888

Summer's Grill and Sports Bar
1520 B. Court House Rd.
Arlington, VA 22201

Nevada Smith's
74 Third Ave.New York, NY

Mulligan’s on First
159 First St.Hoboken, N.J.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Adventures on the Road in World Cup Qualifying - A Timeline

As is tradition all over the world, training on the day before the game was supposed to take place at 5:30 pm in the Estadio Mateo Flores. Not so fast:

4:58 p.m. - The Guatemalan Federation says we can't train in the stadium because of inclement weather from earlier in the day. Debate ensues. Meanwhile the whole team and staff is waiting on the bus. Our departure time was supposed to be at 5 p.m.

5:05 p.m. - The debate continues. The players have been ordered to retrieve their runners from their rooms. There's now a chance that we can go to the stadium and do some running and a warmup.

5:08 p.m. - No backup location is offered to us for training so now there is a scramble to find a place to play. The MNT Blog decides to take a power nap on the bus.

5:20 p.m. - The MNT Blog is awake again and Bob Bradley is addressing the team. Thanks to the connections of a Guatemalan national who works for the U.S. Embassy and the generosity of a local club, we're going to train at the training ground of CSD Municipal. Off we go!

5:23 p.m. - We haven't made it far. In fact, we're about 200 feet from the hotel. It's gridlock traffic in Guatemala City - Rush Hour. In fact, at this moment the movie Rush Hour is quoted by a member of the staff.

5:33 p.m. - We're moving a bit and we've turned onto the main street that houses the Estadio Mateo Flores. That's where CSD Municipal plays, so their training ground must be around here, right?

5:43 p.m. - Woohoo! We're here. Time to make the most of the what little daylight we have left. Sunset in Guatemala City is 6:24.

5:52 p.m. - Game on. We make a mad dash down the stadium ramp and onto the field. The boots are on and the team is warming up running around the pitch. Photographers have managed to brave the weather conditions and are snapping away on the side of the field.

6:00 p.m. - It's really dark out. The waning daylight is definitely not augmented by the rain clouds all over the place. A man with a red umbrella looks on from the side of the pitch where his house is. He probably didn't expect anybody training here today...

6:05 p.m. - The guys are stretched and the balls are out now. The coaches are leading some short passing drills and ball movement exercises.
6:15 p.m. - Players are splitting up now and doing their own things - The goalkeepers are still working on their drills in one waterlogged part of the pitch, while Sacha and Mo are juggling with Coach Peter Nowak. Michael and Heath knock a few long balls that skid across the ground.

6: 20 p.m. - A finishing drill is starting up. At this point, the only person that the Blog can distinctly point out is Frankie. He skips into the box and taps in a cross from, um...somebody who kicks with their right foot?

6:28 p.m. - That's about all she wrote and the mosquitos agree. They're out having a go at our staff and players, sending a few people scurrying towards the bus.
6:35 p.m. - We manage to stop Eddie Lewis outside the bus before he can get on. Pablo is doing Spanish language interviews with the rest of the press and we ask Eddie and Heath a few questions...

7 p.m. - We're back in the hotel and the guys are showering before dinner. Welcome to World Cup Qualifying ....

Brian Ching on Qualifying Then and Now

We sat down with Brian Ching to get his thoughts on the U.S. beginning the semifinal round of World Cup Qualifying. Four years ago, Brian came of the bench at this same stage to score the equalizer against Jamaica in the U.S.' opening game of the semifinal round in 2004. We asked him about that moment and also about the U.S.' and his own preparations going in to tomorrow's game. Listen to the whole podcast here.

(Photo by John Todd/

Snatching Away Points

Several players have mentioned in interviews the value of denying home teams the full three points during World Cup qualifying. The one point you earn in a draw is almost as valuable as the two points you take away from them, for example. It's particularly advantageous during the semifinal round, with only six games and little margin for error. With that in mind, we looked at the USA's results during the last qualifying cycle beginning in the semifinal phase to see the 'points taken'.

The U.S. posted a 3-2-3 record on the road, earning 12 points, which means 'denying' the home team 15 points. It's particularly advantageous during the semifinal round, with only six games and little margin for error. Scoring 10 goals during that span also proved beneficial, since the U.S. finished one better than Mexico in goal differential to claim the top spot in the final round hexagonal. And where did that one goal come from? Eddie Lewis, who scored against Mexico in Mexico City.

Set Day

As usual, ESPN set up shop in the team hotel this afternoon for a series of pre-game interviews. We normally incorporate these sessions either right before or after team meals to give the players a seamless schedule. Most of what they record will hit the editing room floor - or the recycle bin, as it were - but what they do use can be seen during the broadcasts either pre-game, at halftime, or as one of those fun little picture-in-picture shots during the action. They can also be posted on ESPN's website. So there's your behind-the-scenes tip for the day.

Also on hand is Washington Post reporter Steve Goff, who traveled to Guatemala and was rewarded with a set of one-on-one interviews. We're sure the Soccer Insider will have the goodies posted shortly.

Passport Check

Before every World Cup Qualifier there's a passport check conducted by the Match Commissioner and a FIFA Official, verifying that you are who you say you are (no Abe Froman's on this team!).

It's pretty much what you'd expect. Names are called. You have to smile. The Match Commissioner marks your name off the list. Nonetheless, the MNT Blog is all about hard hitting journalism so it was natural that we made our way down to the Passport Check with camera in hand. Here are some pictures...Eddie demonstrates the perfect form for the passport check. Hands in pockets. Facing forward. Calm but composed...Frankie had to make a face similar to the silly one on his passport so that the match was easier to make...This one required further inspection from the officials...

Front Page Material

Guatemala is gearing up for tomorrow's big game. We already told you about how the match has been sold out, and the press are making sure that everybody is aware of the magnitude of the game. Today we were on the front page (and the inside sheet) of Guatemala's Prensa Libre...
We were also on the cover of sigloXXI and in an article that can be read here.

The Man in the Middle

The referee for Wednesday night's game is Enrico Wijngaarde from Suriname. Mr. Wijngaarde ran the center for the hotly-contested second round qualifying match between El Salvador and Panama, and also served as the referee for the T&T-England friendly on June 2 in Port-of-Spain. Fans of the Superliga would have seen him officiate group games between New England and Santos on July 12, and Houston v. Chivas on July 15.

Sold Out Estadio

Wednesday's match at the Estadio Mateo Flores will be standing room only as tickets for the qualifier against the United States were snapped up in less than 48 hours when they went on sale last week. Capacity for the game is just under 25,000, and will include about 300 U.S. supporters who were set aside a place in the stands in what will surely be a sea of blue-and-white clad fanaticos.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Brief Podcast with DaMarcus Beasley

After training we caught up with DaMarcus Beasley and recorded this quick podcast with the Rangers' winger. We asked him about playing in Guatemala and what a satisfying result would be in Wednesday's game (hint: he said "a win"). Listen to the full podcast here...

Pictures from Today's Post-Travel Training

After landing in Guatemala and taking a few hours off, the team hit the field for the first training session ahead of Wednesday's game. We trained at Estadio La Pedrera which was short bus ride away from our hotel. The guys started off with a lengthy warmup to work off heavy legs from the day's travel. Then they moved into some passing drills and technique work before finishing off with a small sided game. Here are a few pictures from today's session...

A Few More Pictures from our Travel Day...

...are located at!

TT - International Connections

So we're throwing you a little curve ball here for the start of the semifinal round. Gotta keep you on your toes, right?

Instead of a U.S. team trivia question, today's topic focuses on our opponents. The current 20-man roster for Guatemala has six players with current or previous experience in MLS. Who, where and when?

Here's a little hint to start you off: one guy currently plays club ball with a U.S. national team player outside of the United States.

Oh, and you didn't think we were going to GIVE you Guatemala's roster, did you?

A Successful Flight

The pushed up departure time definitely made sense - it was raining pretty hard in Miami this morning. The team left the hotel around 11:30 am for our 12:30 flight and avoided getting wet for the most part (Not so fortunate our Equipment Manager and Trainer who, after standing outside the hangar for 20 minutes, had to load the plane. Unlucky!).

Our trip could not have been better. The 2 hour and 45 minute flight seemed to fly by, at least for the MNT Blog which spent the time working releases. Gross. It seems like the guys had more fun though, as they spread out across the plane for the flight. Some guys - Landon, Frankie, Pablo and Brian - played poker with a few staff members. No report on who won though. Clint and Eddie Johnson played chess on Clint's new chess board. Others watched movies and listened to music. There was a fair bit of sleeping too. With lunch and snacks at the ready, the flight was about as relaxing as it could have been.

When we landed, we exited the plane and walked right onto a bus that took us to our hotel. A short meal later and we're all relaxing in our respective rooms getting ready for the afternoon. That will include a training session as the guys start preparing in earnest for Wednesday's game - It's just 48 hours away, you know? We'll check back later, but for now here are some photos from today's travel.

Frequent Fliers - Guzan and Kljestan

Brad Guzan and Sacha Kljestan, along with the rest of the U.S. Men's National Team, have boarded the bus and are headed to the airport with Guatemala City as their final destination.

Before departing, had a chance to sit down with the duo that just returned from Beijing to talk about their Olympic experience and how the heat and humidity of China will prepare them if called upon on Wednesday night in Guatemala.

Listen Here.

Quick Time with Landon and Frankie

As the team filed out of their first meeting of the camp, we grabbed two of the most experienced players in World Cup qualifying to get a little taste of what the U.S. can expect as the semifinal phase begins. Landon has the most World Cup qualifying caps on the roster (21), while Frankie is participating in his fourth qualifying cycle. We''ll have more from our interviews once we get to Guatemala.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Change of Plans

Well, we were going to try to squeeze one training session in tomorrow, know, there have been a few weather issues. Or threats of weather issues, to say the least.

We've decided to play it safe with Tropical Storm Fay, so the team will jet to Guatemala tomorrow morning instead of in the afternoon. We'll keep you posted on our plans - though we definitely plan on checking in a few more times before we get to the airport tomorrow...

Rennes Lose, 1-0, to Grenoble

Rennes' tough start to the season continued on Sunday, as the Red and Blacks fell, 1-0, to newly promoted Grenoble. Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 minutes in the defeat, though he won't have much time to think about it - he's already on a plane over to North America to meet up with the U.S. team preparing to play Guatemala on Wednesday.

Starting the Semifinal Round

Welcome back everyone. The endless summer of action for U.S. Soccer kicks it up another gear as the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup resumes on Wendesday with the USA's opening match of the semifinal round against Guatemala. Kickoff at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala is set for 7:30 p.m., and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision.

Most of the team has assembled in Miami this afternoon in preparation for tomorrow's departure to Guatemala. Carlos Bocanegra and Mo Edu will join up with the team in Guatemala, since Bocanegra's side Rennes played Sunday afternoon while Edu is in Glasgow working on final details of a potential transfer to Scottish powerhouse Rangers.

There's been a slight twist here in Miami as forecasters track Tropical Storm Fay, but it appears that Southern Florida will avoid the worst and the team's plans will not be disrupted.

Stay with us for a fast and furious four days as the U.S. faces its first road test in Guatemala.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Wrap

Lots of leagues around Europe are underway, and that means lots of Americans were in action on Saturday

Rangers beat Hearts, 2-0, giving the Glasgow club six points from the season's first two games. DaMarcus Beasley made his first league appearance of the season, coming on as a second half sub in the victory. Maurice Edu was also in attendance at Ibrox.

In Belgium, Champions Standard Liege commenced the season where they left off last term, beating Dender, 3-1, to grab three points. Oguchi Onyewu was in his usual blackline position for Liege, going 90 minutes in the win.

Over in Germany the first day of Bundesliga action was not kind to Hannover96. Steve Cherundolo's side was beaten, 3-0, by Schalke 04 to start the season.

Reading made it four points from two games in the Championship, beating Plymouth, 2-0, on Saturday to go 2nd in the table. Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey were both in the starting lineup for the victorious Royals, as they were on Tuesday when Reading beat Dag & Red in the Carling Cup.

Premier League Underway

The 2008-09 edition of the Premier League got underway on Saturday, with seven games taking place across England.

Fulham's league campaign started off with a bit of a stumble. The Cottagers suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of newly promoted Hull. Clint Dempsey was a second half sub for Fulham, but a late goal from Hull's Caleb Folan proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Everton and Tim Howard also opened the season with a defeat, going down 3-2 to visiting Blackburn Rovers in a thrilling five goal game.

Both Everton and Fulham will be sending their Americans to the States this week. Howard, Dempsey and Eddie Johnson will all meet up with the rest of the guys in Florida on Sunday as the U.S. heads towards Wednesday's World Cup Qualifying Showdown with Guatemala.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feilhaber to AGF Aarhus

Benny Feilhaber has signed with AGF Aarhus of the Danish Superliga, joining fellow American Jeremiah White as part of the team which finished 10th in Denmark's top league (just above the relegation zone) last season.

The 2008-09 campaign is already underway in Denmark, and Aarhus currently sits in ninth place with one win out of four. Hopefully they can grab all three points this weekend when they play host to Brøndby on Sunday...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

European Qualfying Results

The European Cup competitions are already underway, with qualifying rounds for both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup being contested this week. The rounds are played over two legs, home and away, over the course of two weeks.

This week, Standard Liege battled Liverpool to a 0-0 draw in Belgium. Oguchi Onyewu was suspended for the game (with cards carrying over from last season's European competition), but Liege gave last season's semifinalists quite a scare. Only goalkeeping heroics from Pepe Reina preserved the draw for Liverpool, as the Spanish goalkeeper made numerous good saves to repel the Liege attack. The 2nd leg of the tie is set for Aug. 27 at Anfield.

In UEFA Cup qualifying Dan Califf and FC Midtjylland defated Manchester City, 1-0, today at the City of Manchester Stadium. A first half goal from Danny Olsen was enough for FCM's defense, which held Man City scoreless on its own ground. On Aug. 28 the tie will conclude in Denmark, with the winner progressing into the First Round proper of the UEFA Cup.

Also in the UEFA Cup, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes were pegged back, 2-1, against Stabaek in Norway. Despite the loss, a late goal from the French side makes the one goal deficit much more palatable - with the away goals rule in effect, Rennes only need a 1-0 win at home to progress in the Cup.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Standard Liege Wins 2008 Belgian Super Cup

The curtain raiser in Belgian soccer is the Belgian Super Cup, which pits the winner of the Belgian Jupiler League (Standard Liege) against the holder of the cup (Anderlecht).

This past Saturday, the Super Cup was contested at Stade Maurice Dufrasne in Liege, with the hosts winning convincingly, 3-1, behind two goals from Oguchi Onyewu. Gooch opened the scoring in the 12th minute and padded the lead with an 18th minute tally as his club won the Super Cup going away.

Next up for the Belgian Champions - a qualifier for the UEFA Champions League in which they will take on last year's CL semifinalists Liverpool in a home and away tie. Gooch has a bit of experience against Rafael Benitez's men, having faced them while playing for Newcastle United in 2007. Of course he also came up against a few of their players in the U.S.' friendly against Spain this past June.

The first leg against Liverpool comes this Wednesday, and it can be followed live on Standard Liege opens up the Belgian League season against Dender two days later on Friday Aug. 15.

English Football Championship Underway

The English Football Championship (the second tier of English soccer behind the Premier League) got underway this weekend, with all 24 teams in action.

Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey of Reading both played a full 90 minutes in the Royals' 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest. Hahnemann made nine saves en route to his first clean sheet of the seaon, while Convey played the game at wide midfield for Reading. Next up comes a match with League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge (Dag & Red) in the Carling Cup.

Also in the Championship, Jay DeMerit and Watford drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. DeMerit played 90 minutes at outside back for Watford, who next face Bristol Rovers in the Carling Cup.

Carlos Bocanegra's Debut with Rennes

Carlos suited up for his new club, Stade Rennais FC, for the first time this weekend, as his club played host to Marseille in a battle of last season's respective 6th and 3rd place finishers. Wearing his customary number 3 shirt, Los played a part in a memorable season opener - a thrilling 4-4 draw that saw Rennes take the lead early before coming back from behind twice to secure a late point.

Oh, and if you check the club's official website. You can see Carlos on the front celebrating the draw. Click here...

Up next for Rennes is a trip to Norway to face Staebek in the 1st leg of the 2nd Qualifying Round of the UEFA Cup. The tie is a home and away series, with the first match taking place this Thursday, Aug. 14th.

Over the weekend Rennes will travel to face newly promoted Grenoble, who opened their Ligue 1 campaign with an away victory over Sochaux.

2008-09 Season Underway

Well, it seems like just yesterday that we were concluding the last season, but here we go again. There have been some big roster moves for our guys abroad - lots of new teams, lots of new leagues and we'll try to keep you up to speed with all the goings on across the pond. Here goes...