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Slate on soccer: Remembering Johan Cruyff and a look at the state of the USMNT

The fans stand up in the 14th minute to pay their respects to Johan Cruyff during Getty Images

The soccer world lost a true icon last week as legendary Dutch striker Johan Cruyff passed away on Thursday at age 68 due to lung cancer. He was a star player at Ajax (190 goals), Barcelona (48 goals) and with Holland (33 goals). He also coached Ajax, Barcelona and Catalonia and is credited with creating the “tiki-taka” style of play (short passes and movement, working the ball through various channels and maintaining possession) which influenced many successful clubs and national teams such as Spain which won Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 by using it.

Summertime Fun

In the U.S., the summer sports scene is always associated with baseball but I feel like soccer is also making its mark stateside with all the tours that the big European clubs have over here seemingly every year. Last week, it was announced that German giant Bayern Munich will play three matches: July 27 at Chicago’s Soldier Field vs. AC Milan, July 30 at Charlotte against Inter Milan and August 3 at New York’s Met Life Stadium vs. Real Madrid. Liverpool faces Chelsea on July 27 in Pasadena, CA, they take on AC Milan July 30 in Santa Clara, CA and the location for their August 3 match with Barcelona is TBA.

Disastrous Loss for the USMNT in Guatemala

You might have missed it since it was buried on Friday night on something called beIN Sport but the U.S. men’s national team lost 2-0 at Guatemala in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match. The way the stunning loss unfolded was the most disheartening part of it all: Rafael Morales scored on a header off a corner kick in the seventh minute and Carlos Ruiz slipped behind the shaky American defense for the second Guatemalan goal just eight minutes later. The U.S. will need to forget that terrible result quickly as they host Guatemala on Tuesday (7, ESPN2) in Columbus, Ohio (where they are 6-0-2 all-time in World Cup qualifying matches).

Can’t Wait for Copa America

Euro 2016 and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil should be great but another thing that American soccer fans can look forward to in a few months is Copa America 2016 which will be in our own backyards. Along with the host U.S., some of the best national teams in the world including Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile are all part of the 16-team field. U.S. vs. Colombia on June 3 in Santa Clara is the opening match of the tournament with Costa Rica and Paraguay also residing in their very difficult Group A.

Follow Metro soccer writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate

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