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Three’s a Crowd

I want to wish everyone a Happy Veterans Day!

2-nil Dos-a-Cero is pretty perfect, isn’t it?

Admittedly, 2-nil is the worst lead in soccer (there’s a legitimate psychology to this). However, for whatever reason, this scoreline has evolved into a magical anomaly in the beautiful game when the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) and That Team Down South meet in Ohio’s capital city at Crew Stadium. And yes, I’m fully aware that the first soccer-specific stadium is now called MAPFRE Stadium, but it will always be Crew Stadium to true Crew/US fans who’ll never forget the legacy of the late Lamar Hunt who delivered the MLS team and stadium to our city.

Hopefully, every member of the USMNT coaching staff and players walk by the statue of Mr. Hunt at the main entrance of Crew Stadium tonight and pay their respects to the man responsible for bringing professional soccer to Columbus, OH.

Talk about a great photo opportunity and image for US Soccer.

There have been four Dos-a-Cero games in Columbus, OH for World Cup qualifying:

  • February 28, 2001
  • September 3, 2005
  • February 11, 2009
  • September 10, 2013

There have been other notable Dos-a-Cero results between the USMNT and That Team Down South (one of which was during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea), but tonight spotlights Crew Stadium’s unrivaled assembly line of delivering the prized scoreline in Columbus, OH for World Cup qualifying.

As it has been written about many, many times on Jimmy’s Daily Planet, I am not a fan of the roster that’s been continually produced by USMNT Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann, his tactical decisions (or lack thereof) or why he’s still managing the team. That aside, I am above all a fan of the USMNT and will be cheering for the Stars & Stripes to deliver a fifth-consecutive Dos-a-Cero! The pure magic of this game can overcome the aforementioned concerns for one night.

OH, that first night…

It’s amazing to have the USMNT back home in Columbus, OH:

THE Soccer Capital of the United States of America.

GO USA!

That 2nd (Well 2-0) Degree Burn

Dos-a-Cero: Enough said.

Okay, here are a few more words.

THE soccer capital of the United States of America will feature the Stars & Stripes vs. That Team Down South (trademark pending) for the fifth time tomorrow night. The forecast for Columbus, OH is projecting weather in the lower 40s on November 11th. Hopefully, it will be the coldest, most uncomfortable 40-degrees in recorded history. Why? Because the visiting opponent/hated rival Mexico That Team Down South hates the frigid weather of a particular Midwestern capital. For the first Dos-a-Cero match on February 28, 2001, the players from That Team Down South refused to warm-up due to the slightly chilly weather (in the teens).

More will be written about the unrivaled history and significance of Dos-a-Cero in Columbus, OH in tomorrow’s post. For now, let’s all enjoy (in the warm comfort of our homes) a throwback this Thursday to this legendary 2-nil series between the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and, you know…

Again, a Jimmy’s Daily Planet trademark is pending.

Fun Fact: Josh Wolff is currently an Assistant Coach with, yes, Columbus Crew SC.

Hopefully, USMNT Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann asks Mr. Wolff to give the forwards (and, cough cough, the bench players) a pep-talk before the game tomorrow night.

A 2-2 Tie Just Doesn’t Sound Right

(Important Disclosure: Since yesterday was not a FIFA-sanctioned day of friendlies, USMNT head coach Jürgen Klinsmann may not have been able to call-up a couple European-based players from their clubs)

A plain golf shirt. Human bomb pops. An MLS-based American team. An international-based American team.

What do you get when you add all these together?

A trip to Brazil this June without a clear travel itinerary or cool clothes to wear.

Last night’s United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) soccer friendly with arch-rival Mexico in front of a pro-U.S. crowd (in Arizona?) fittingly ended in a clouded 2-2 tie. They were up 2-nil at halftime, but conceded two second half goals to a more energized and fluid Mexican squad.

Quick fact: It’s only Dos-a-Cero in Columbus, Ohio. True story.

It was a prototypical tale of two halves and a mixed result that could have used the energetic and offensively dynamic Mix Diskerud (23) of Norway’s Rosenborg BK managing the middle of the pitch with likely Brazil 2014 partner Michael Bradley. Why wasn’t this the case? Because there are, apparently, two U.S. teams. One consists of players based in Europe and elsewhere around the world and the other team includes the best talent of Major League Soccer (MLS). Yesterday’s American lineup versus Mexico was made up of the best MLS players (except for newly American certified Julian Green).

It’s one thing to experiment with such an open tryout during off-peak years, but two months from the biggest soccer tournament in the world?

At this point, words like continuity and confidence should emanate from Jürgen Klinsmann’s USMNT. Yet, words like scattered and phrases like lack of chemistry and static creativity are defining a team that is producing juxtaposing results month-to-month, half-to-half and position-to-position.

Here is a quote from Jürgen Klinsmann after the 2-2 draw regarding the coveted spots in the starting lineup, as reported by Andrew Wiebe on MLS Soccer online.

“Naturally, it’s open,” Klinsmann said. “How much it’s difficult to say.”

A valid question to ask and ponder in April 2014 is this: why isn’t there one cohesive USMNT (a combination of the best players of MLS and abroad) with a select number of players vying for starting spots instead of an open tryout for seemingly every position? Or, more realistically, competing for a nod on the bench as a super sub?

Julian Green (18) did well last night as a substitute, demonstrating his raw speed, energy and his anxiousness to impress.

But what about Aron Jóhannsson (23), who has a relentless attacking mindset? Why isn’t he, who is a forward that could provide much needed excitement and creativity up front, getting more consistent time and experience?

Teams like Germany may use young players or undefined players at the national team level for a friendly, like they did versus the United States in 2013. However, Germany’s A-squad has been all but set for quite some time with only variable changes here and there. And the best (or right) players get their minutes because they are viewed as valuable assets.

As a glass half-full believer, it’s quite possible that Klinsmann’s strategy will pay-off tremendous dividends in ways that have not yet been revealed or imagined on the pitch.

Still, the World Cup is played on a pitch…in 2 months.

Soccer is About to Get a Dose of ‘March Madness’

Gus Johnson as “The Voice of Soccer in America.” What?

To soccer fans and television viewers, it is common knowledge that announcers from the British Isles are the most elite soccer commentators on the planet. It’s a fact. As opposed to purely stating the action that is occurring on the pitch plus a few strategic suggestions, the gents from across the pond engage with each other and instead tell stories. They are free flowing and make it sound as if you are in a pub watching the game on the television while sitting next to a couple fellow football fans, and smart ones at that.

Now, is there any play-by-play man in the good ol’ United States of America who can send electricity through the veins of his fellow men, women and children, by which leading them to the nearest tele to indulge in a sport before considered foreign? Will the guy heard in the video below provide the spark that creates a fire of intrigue and curiosity for “the beautiful game” to people in the land that stretches from sea to shining sea and across purple mountains majesty?

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s all relive a few of the magical moments spoken by the aforementioned announcer during the chaotic month of March.

According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, Gus Johnson (yes, the one from the clip above), is being groomed by Fox Sports to become their vocal leader of soccer in America. “…Johnson begins the long road to becoming the voice of the 2018 World Cup for Fox.”

While he has been gaining experience by calling games of MLS’s own San Jose Earthquakes on the radio along with other low-key assignments, his tasks are about to send him into the soccer heavens.

As revealed in SI, “The 45-year-old broadcaster will call his first match for Fox Soccer on Feb. 13 (2 p.m. ET) from Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu when Real Madrid faces Manchester United in a mouthwatering Champions League Round of 16 match. The assignment is the first in a series of high-profile soccer matches for Johnson, including a second Champions League match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich in London on Feb. 19 and a Premier League game between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on Feb. 24. Johnson will call additional Premier League and Champions League matches and is scheduled to call the FA Cup final on Fox on May 11 and the Champions League final on Fox on May 25. Johnson will be on site for each of the games.”

Here could be a few common reactions to this news: Wow. Really? The guy who broadcasts college basketball? Do I get the Fox Soccer Channel? If not, how can I get it?

Before these colossal matches begin in one week, let’s hypothesize his potential based on culture. The men who hail from the British Isles speak casually, but with the highest degree of intelligence and humor, and are all around fun to listen to for ninety minutes. The Mexican soccer announcers are very intense with the fastest tongues and stretch the elasticity of the word “goal” longer than anyone else on planet Earth: “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLL!!!!!!”
FYI: This is the shortened version.

For your listening pleasure, the one and only Andrés Cantor:

And now Gus Johnson will try to define himself as the “voice” of American soccer on Fox. Thus far, there is a vacancy so-to-speak that is waiting to be filled. The commentators on ESPN are 90% former American players who may understand the game, but are poor to average at best in analyzing the sport and generating excitement, superior insight or perspective to the viewer. Also, when MLS resumes March 2nd, take notice the accent of the play-by-play broadcaster. Does it sound a bit…British? Just something to listen for on The Worldwide Leader in Sports’ soccer coverage.

One of the pivotal questions we will be asking is whether or not Johnson will more closely align to the American broadcaster or the British broadcaster? You could say the leap from one side of this spectrum to the other is about the size of the Atlantic Ocean.

Gus Johnson has a big voice and can gin up excitement like only a select few can in today’s world. What does he want to tell anxious soccer fans? As stated in the SI article, Johnson had to reflect on his response for more than a few seconds (30 in fact) as this sport has not become second nature to him…yet.

“What would I say to them? I would probably say just give me a minute and I’m going to become a convert, and once I do, I am going to give you the passion and the commitment to your sport that I do for every other sport that I’m part of. I see this as a great opportunity for my life, and I’m down with it and I want to get in there.”

Come February 13th, Gus Johnson will proclaim to the world: “This is The Beautiful Game!!!”