Both Alfredo Morales and Anthony Brooks have been receiving playing time with Hertha Berlin’s first team this preseason. Morales played in eight league games with the first team last season, but Brooks was actually demoted from the U-23 team to the U-19 team at the end of last season. Both should hopefully get a chance at first team playing time with Hertha Berlin in the 2. Bundesliga this year.
Timothy Chandler had an assist in Nurnberg’s latest preseason friendly against Eintracht Bamberg.
Parker Walsh is training with German 2. Bundesliga club Energie Cottbus this week.
A good day for a couple Americans on Finnish side Kemi Kings yesterday. Christian Eissele recorded a hat trick, while Daniel Stevens scored a brace in Kemi Kings’ 5-0 victory over HauPa.
Former US U-17/U-20 winger Brendan King has signed with League of Ireland Premier Division club Bray Wanderers. King was taken in the second round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by Portland.
Central defender Mike Jones has signed with Danish First Division side FC Hjørring. Jones was drafted in the 2011 Supplemental Draft by Sporting Kansas City before landing on New York and appearing in two games last season.
With the major European leagues wrapping up (some in legendary fashion), it’s time to revisit a SoccerOverThere.com favorite: the OT XI. Before discussing this year’s OT XI, let’s review the honorees from 2010-11:
Unlike the 2009-10 OT XI that saw three guys return to the States, all of last year’s honorees were in theory eligible for this year’s team, although extended injuries (Holden, Lichaj) and less than ideal club moves (Yelldell, Bedoya) played a factor. Before unveiling this year’s team, we must recognize the gentlemen who were gunning for a three-peat, having earned spots on both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 squads:
- Clarence Goodson
- Clint Dempsey
Will Clay and Deuce three-peat? The answer lies below:
Breaking down the team:
Tim Howard, Everton (England)
Did you realize that Everton finished joint-third in the goals allowed column in the Premier League this season? After a somewhat forgettable Gold Cup, Howard had one of his better club seasons, allowing his fewest goals since 2008-09 despite a record-setting offensive season in the Premier League. For just the second time in 25 years and the seventh time in the last 50 seasons, the Toffees finished ahead of rivals Liverpool (alone in 7th) despite having a transfer budget so meager they were forced to rent a winger from Major League Soccer. Howard becomes the third keeper in as many years to earn this honor.
Defenders Jonathan Spector, Birmingham City (England) Michael Parkhurst, FC Nordsjælland (Denmark) Oguchi Onyewu, Sporting CP (Portugal) Fabian Johnson, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Germany)
It’s a story of renewed careers at the backline. Jonathan Spector, largely a reserve as West Ham United sank to relegation a year before, helped Birmingham City to the promotion playoffs despite missing several weeks with an injury. Meanwhile, Oguchi Onyewu, seemingly bound to never recover from his 2009 knee injury, landed at a surprisingly big club and surprisingly became a regular starter in Portugal’s second-best defense and a Europa League semifinalist. Michael Parkhurst’s consistency blosomed into a great year as poor little Nordsjælland are surprise title and Champions League contenders, allowing just 22 goals in 30 matches. Meanwhile, in Germany, hybrid wingback Fabian Johnson provided some quality minutes at leftback, sparking debate about whether he could in fact be the First Great American Leftback.
Midfielders Bryan Gerzicich, Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona (Israel)
Josh Gatt, Molde (Norway)
Michael Bradley, Chievo Verona (Italy)
Sacha Kljestan, Anderlecht (Belgium)
Clint Dempsey, Fulham (England)
Bryan Gerzichich and Kiryat Shmona were surprise champions of Israel. The plucky bunch from the tiny border city, 4th in 2010-11, ran away with the Israeli Premier League by an astonishing 17 points in the regular season and holding on in the playoffs to advance to Champions League qualifying in part because of Gerzicich’s play in the midfield. Meanwhile, another Yank starred for a surprise champion in Norway, as Josh Gatt played pretty much everywhere on the right in helping Molde FK celebrate its centennial with its first top-flight title and making the would-be college sophomore a favorite of coach and Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Michael Bradley rebounded from a nightmare loan spell with Aston Villa last year to put together one of his finest seasons of his career, with the now-minted “General Bradley” helping Chievo to a top-half finish despite having the league’s second-worst offense. Elsewhere, Sacha Kljestan was yet another champion in the midfield, turning in consistently strong performances as Anderlecht won its 31st title and move into the Champions League group stages. Finally, Clint Dempsey is pretty much awesome.
Forward Jozy Altidore, AZ (Netherlands)
After a forgettable three years in Europe (six goals in 77 appearances with four different clubs), Jozy Altidore moved to the Netherlands and finally found his touch. Despite a few benchings, Altidore consistently returned to the lineup because he scored goals. He scored 15th in the Eredivisie (good for 7th in the league) and 19 in all competitions, nearly matching his career total. Additionally, playing as the center forward in AZ’s 4-3-3, he finally embraced the finer parts of the #9 role, making nice near post runs and showing the best holdup play of his career. Despite a late slump, AZ and Altidore will be in the Europa League next year, and the team’s leading scorer will be looked upon to build on a strong debut year.
2011-12 MVP Clint Dempsey, M/F, Fulham
Whenever Dempsey retires or moves back to MLS, we might have to rename this award the Clint Dempsey Trophy. After winning deserving MVP awards the past two seasons, Deuce had his best season yet, moving from “nice/quality player” to “elite”. Dempsey finished 4th in the Premier League in goals with 17 and finished with 23 goals across the board, surpassing his total combined from the last two seasons. He blitzed past former teammate Brian McBride to become the leading scorer by an American in England, went over 50 goals for his career, and may have earned his way to a Champions League transfer. He’s a great American, my friends.
Goal of the Year
Perhaps no goal was more symbolic of Gatt’s performance than his flying, slaloming run against Start that put a defender on the ground and solidified his spot as perhaps the most exciting American youngster.
Performance of the Year
We were all impressed when Dempsey scored a hat trick in a 4-0 FA Cup win over League One’s Charlton, but we were really impressed when he went and had a hat trick two weeks later against a Premier League side. Dempsey destroyed a Champions League-contending Newcastle on January 21, even passing on a penalty kick when sitting on two goals to earn the hat trick the real way. (Indeed, had Dempsey taken Fulham’s penalty kicks that day, he could have earned himself a Golden Helmet of Mambrino five goals. Yeah, he can ball.
First off, congrats to Bryan Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona for winning the Israeli Premier League title today with a 0-0 draw to Hapoel Tel Aviv. With the win, they earned a spot in next year’s Champions League qualifiers. This was also Kiryat Shmona’s first time winning the Israeli Premier League, and as the SI.com article mentions, only the second time in more than two decades that someone outside Israel’s “Big Four” (Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem) won the title.
Conor O’Brien and SønderjyskE also played today in some Danish Superliga action. O’Brien got the start and played 86 minutes in a 3-1 victory over AGF Aarhus.
Tab Ramos has called in 24 players for April’s U-20 camp, which will be held in Portland. The bigger names include Luis Gil, Will Packwood and Juan Pablo Ocegueda.
One U-20 player not called into the camp, likely since he is just returning from injury, is goalkeeper Cody Cropper. Cropper played in only his second game back from injury this past weekend with Ipswich Town’s U-18 team.
The US U-17 team is also playing this month in the 40th Mondial Minimes Tournament in France. You can check out the roster for that here.
Finally, Jordan Seabrook was bouncing around Finland on various trials over the last couple months, but it looks like he has found a home with Enköpings SK in Sweden’s third tier.
I was busy tonight, so I didn’t get to follow along to the various people live tweeting from the second USMNT/U-23 scrimmage, but it sounds like this one ended in a 1-1 draw. The goal scorers were Graham Zusi and Jack McInerney. I am sure US Soccer will have some kind of post-game write up and highlights tomorrow or on Thursday. Here were the starting lineups:
Coming back from a hip injury, Eric Lichaj was able to log 45 minutes today in a reserve squad game for Aston Villa. I guess there have been some rumors that Lichaj might go out on loan to Leeds United once he was fully fit again, but this report out of England says he is staying at Villa Park.