Typically in this space every two weeks, I try to give a brief snapshot of what I think are the most interesting soccer stories from around the globe. I can’t recall ever focusing solely on the United States but with the international break upon us in addition to some really relevant topics stateside (USMNT, USWNT and MLS playoffs), this felt like the rare occasion to do just that. With apologies to all my European soccer fans, I’m sure that I’ll have some stuff more up your alley next time around.
USMNT Lost to Mexico, Howard’s Hurt and Now they go to Costa Rica
It was a busy week for the U.S. men’s national team and unfortunately, most of the news surrounding them was quite negative. First, they lost to their most bitter rival Mexico 2-1 on Friday in Columbus, Ohio (where the Americans had beaten the Mexicans four times in a row by the same exact 2-0 final score) and in the process, starting goalkeeper Tim Howard hurt his hip forcing him to leave that match in the 40th minute (backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan came in and he’ll start for the US on Tuesday). Jurgen Klinsmann’s team will need to bounce back on Tuesday night (9, beIN SPORTS) at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica, a country where they have never won before in World Cup qualifying (0-8-2).
USWNT Closes Out 2016 Unbeaten and With Ease Against Romania
As usual, things were much simpler and more successful for the U.S. women’s national team as they ended 2016 with a pair of blowouts against woefully overmatched Romania: 8-1 on Thursday in San Jose, CA and Sunday in Carson, CA. The USWNT finished 2016 22-0-3, only the third time in its decorated history that they’ve been undefeated in a calendar year featuring 10+ games. Of course, all that anyone will remember from this campaign will be their surprising 4-3 loss in penalty kicks to Sweden in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
For the 1st Time, a Canadian Team is Assured a Spot in the MLS Cup
The MLS playoffs are down to four worthy teams: Toronto vs. Montreal in the Eastern Conference championship and Colorado vs. Seattle in the Western Conference championship. Neither of the Canadian clubs plus Seattle has ever reached the MLS Cup let alone won a title, so Colorado is the only past champion (in 2010) of the quartet. The first legs start next Tuesday with Montreal and Seattle hosting followed by Colorado hosting on the following Sunday and Toronto wrapping things up on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Follow Metro soccer writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate