Sporting Kansas City makes a statement, Rafa Marquez grabs headlines for the wrong reasons again and more snap judgments from Saturday's MLS action:
Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 22:
The U.S.' targets for Wednesday's friendly against Mexico (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Univisión) seem clear enough: continue acquainting players and coaches; set a baseline of expectations on each side, and; make progress on a blueprint that adds some German craftsmanship to that quintessential American determination.
The curious timing of Bob Bradley's abrupt, stunning dismissal won't seem so curious if we discover that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati already has identified a successor.
Breathless, frenetic, utterly absorbing: Mexico was a 4-2 winner in the Gold Cup final, a score line that didn't seem quite to reflect its superiority, yet so open was the game that the U.S. had enough chances to have itself won the game by a two-goal margin. This was thrillingly end-to-end, a game in which midfields barely existed, settled by the porousness of the USA's back four. In the end, it simply presented too many chances to Mexico.
U.S. player ratings vs. Mexico (scale of 1-10).
HOUSTON -- They are the three most famous players in U.S. men's soccer -- Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Freddy Adu -- and on a night when their team needed them most, they combined on a goal that helped each player overcome a personal challenge in addition to the one from a pesky Panama team in a hard-fought Gold Cup semifinal.
HOUSTON -- Three thoughts after the U.S.' 1-0 victory against Panama put the Yanks into Saturday's Gold Cup final:
HOUSTON -- U.S. player ratings in its 1-0 win over Panama (scale of 1-10).
One more win should seal the deal as the U.S. seeks a Gold Cup second round spot, but it may not come easily Saturday in Florida against a stubborn, experienced and defensively strong Panamanian team.
This is a big June for Bob Bradley's United States national team, and there's no easing into it. Far from it, in fact, for a U.S. side that cannot be accused of shrinking from quality opposition.
Bob Bradley isn't known for throwing curve balls. The U.S. national team coach is pretty much a fire 'em down the middle type guy. Too much so for some supporters.
Alejandro Bedoya might not have been included on Bob Bradley's CONCACAF Gold Cup roster, but there's not a whole lot more he could be doing for his club team in Sweden right now.
With most soccer leagues in Europe either finished or within a few games of finishing, the future is becoming even more clear for the contingent of Americans playing overseas.
For five Americans, the wait is over.
Tim Howard's penchant for stopping penalty kicks and Nicolas Anelka's penchant for missing crucial ones converged Saturday on one fateful FA Cup moment.
The youth club soccer system in the United States far too often manifests itself as a dastardly collection of money-grubbing coaches concerned only in convincing affluent parents that they are worthy of their ridiculous salaries.
NEW YORK -- By the time Rafael Benitez's six-year tenure as manager at Liverpool drew to a close this summer, it was clear to longtime observers that he was a changed man from the once quietly confident Spaniard who had first walked through the doors at Anfield. Appearing visibly stressed at times, the constant political infighting with the club's board and the continuous criticism from sections of the English media seemed to have finally taken its toll. When he succeeded Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan in June, one wondered if he would have been best served taking a year off and recharging instead.
This story appeared in the April 19, 2010, issue of Sports Illustrated.
This week, the European continental competitions -- the Champions League and the newly re-christened Europa League -- kick off, and I keep thinking of Allen Iverson.
In 2005, Jozy Altidore was the youngest player on the U.S. Under-17 World Cup roster. That feat drew little attention, however, given that only two years before, at only 13, Freddy Adu had captured the world's attention by performing as a standout player in the '03 tournament.
For the once-heralded future star of CONCACAF, the 2009 Gold Cup is yet another opportunity to display his talents. On his third club now and just barely after his 20th birthday, the sensation who once had his fans salivating at the prospect of a dazzling, skilled player pulling the strings of the national team is now trying to fulfill his promise despite playing in relative obscurity.
Last week, when the resignation of AS Monaco president Jérôme de Bontin was announced, soccer fans in the U.S. pricked up their ears. Normally, the departure of a club president merits about as much attention here as a reserve match in the Bulgarian second division. But this was different. This front office shake-up has repercussions.
Watching Sacha Kljestan take apart Sweden on Saturday at the Home Depot Center could convince anyone he's primed and ready for a move overseas. Yet success isn't preordained for young Americans going to top-flight teams.
In the next few days, names of players summoned by U.S. coach Bob Bradley for the next two CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers will begin to leak out, with the inclusion or lack thereof of Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson and Kenny Cooper drawing the most interest.
Whether it's Benfica or AS Monaco, Freddy Adu is finding that it isn't easy to get playing time in Europe.
When the U.S. takes on Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Galavision), all eyes will be on Eddie Johnson -- whether he takes the field or not.
The U.S. national team's quest for a berth in the 2010 World Cup begins on Wednesday with a match against Guatemala, and I, for one, can't wait. Finally -- finally! -- we all get to see where this team really is, learn how far it's come since beating Mexico in last summer's Gold Cup final.
BEIJING -- The U.S. men's soccer team is out of the Olympics after its 2-1 loss to Nigeria on Wednesday. And while the Americans did plenty of commendable things in this tournament -- gutting out a 1-0 win over Japan, controlling the second half against the Netherlands in a 2-2 tie, refusing to accept a 2-0 deficit with 10 men against Nigeria -- the cold-truth headline has to be this:
There are 596 names on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and names, like eyes, are windows into the soul.
TIANJIN, China -- Nine thoughts after the U.S.'s pulsating 2-2 tie against the Netherlands left the Americans (4 points) tied atop Group B with Nigeria (4) and ahead of the Dutch (2) and Japan (0):
AS Monaco finalized the loan deal that brings American Freddy Adu from Benfica to the French league. Jerome de Bontin, Monaco's French-American president, said Thursday that the club has an option to buy Adu for 5 million euros ($8 million) at the end of the season, and he was on the lookout to sign another American before the end of the French transfer window in August.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the end, it was just a little flick of the hand that said the most. After the final whistle had blown at Sunday's U.S.-Argentina match, Freddy Adu fed off the energy of 78,000 fans at Giants Stadium and dismissed Argentina's Fernando Gago with the simplest of gestures. For me, it was the most vivid moment on a night that had hundreds of them.
Over the five years we've tracked the money game, the Sports Illustrated Fortunate 50 has featured hundreds of athletes worth billions of dollars. As we present our fifth annual rundown of the 50 top-earning American athletes (taking into account salary, winnings, endorsement and appearance-fee income), we drew a number of conclusions:
Five things we learned from Spain's 1-0 win over the U.S. on Wednesday in Santander, Spain:
U.S. national-team coach Bob Bradley, in the wake of his team's 2-0 loss to England, has named a 24-man roster for the June 4 friendly in Spain that includes all 17 European-based players who were on the roster for the England game.
When Major League Soccer debuted with a baker's dozen of teams 13 years ago, the notion of "developing young players" was paid lip service, but in reality, was considered a luxury.
Canada isn't Mexico, and probably never the twain shall meet. Yet overconfidence in the American camp won't be brimming prior to the U.S.' semifinal showdown Thursday to determine who goes to the Beijing Olympics this summer (Fox Soccer Channel, 9 p.m. ET).
I was recently scanning the rosters of the teams still involved in the Champions League. Did you know there are 53 countries represented on those rosters? There are players from all over the world -- Honduras, Congo, Belarus, South Korea even Angola.
Ten players who have played for the full national team, including Freddy Adu and Benny Feilhaber, are in the 24-man roster Coach Peter Nowak has named to enter the U-23 national team training camp to prepare for Olympic qualifying play.
You've got questions, I've got answers. Let's dig in ....
Psst, hey you! Yeah, you, the soccer fan who's distracted by the baseball playoffs! You might have missed it, but it's been a pretty good week for American success stories on the world stage.
American starlet Freddy Adu was at his best during this summer's Under-20 World Cup as he captained the United States to the quarterfinals. In the group stage, he hit a hat trick against Poland in the 6-1 victory and set up both goals in the 2-1 defeat of Brazil.
Trying to explain the Champions League to your typical cheesesteak-loving, MGD-swilling American sports fan is like trying to explain the infield fly rule to a Prussian aristocrat. Something gets lost in translation.
Remember the first time you walked into a multiplex? After a lifetime of subsisting on one screen and butter-sogged popcorn, you were suddenly bathed in the reddish hue of a massive digital marquee offering 20 movies.
On Wednesday night SI.com snagged the first interview with Freddy Adu since the 18-year-old U.S. attacking midfielder signed a five-year contract with the Portuguese powerhouse Benfica.
Also in this column: •SuperLiga shows serious promise •Explaining the Freddy Adu Transfer Situation
DENVER -- Now that the summer national-team games are basically over, the attention in U.S. soccer circles shifts almost entirely to Major League Soccer, which is basking in the hype around David Beckham, who is set to attend (but not play in) tonight's All-Star Game here against Scottish power Celtic FC (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2). And while I'm still recovering from Wednesday night's excellent "Pablo Party" -- as it said on the tickets to get into Pablo Mastroeni's fiesta at the club Rise -- I thought I'd throw some news and notes your way.
It must be tough being Freddy Adu. It's only been two days since he turned in the performance of the tournament in the U.S.' 2-1 win over Brazil at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, and the question about whether or not he should jump to Europe has been asked countless times.
We're still unpacking at our new digs in Baltimore, where the big news is that Kima and Bunk from The Wire live in our building (separately, of course). Oh, and we're also putting the finishing touches on Sports Illustrated's David Beckham story for next week. (Beckham recently gave me an exclusive hour-long interview for the article.) But there's never a bad time for a Mailbag, so let's dig in ...
He's only 17.
Here we go again. Major League Soccer starts up another season this weekend. Somebody get a hold of Hank Williams Jr., play him a clip of a South American goal call, and let's get ready for some fútbol. The real kind.
They are the dream team, or rather dream teens, for advertisers.
THE END OF CANCER. FREEDOM from the tyranny of oil. A World Series for the Cubs. None of that is impossible. In preparing this survey, FORTUNE canvassed numerous scientists and other respect- ed th...