The rumored USMNT friendly against Croatia at Craven Cottage for November (that their federation announced) looks to be no mas. That said, US Soccer looks to be talking to Colombia about filling that void and still playing at Craven Cottage. But if you remember, Colombia was the team that US Soccer tried to schedule for September for the second friendly and that fell through. Basically nothing is official until US Soccer announces something.
This was the weekend of players returning to the field. Geoff Cameron came off the bench and played 29 minutes (completing 15-of-15 passes) in Stoke City’s 2-1 win over Swansea City. Stoke City’s website got a couple post-game quotes from Cameron.
Terrence Boyd made his return this weekend, coming off the bench and playing 29 minutes in RB Leipzig’s 1-0 loss to Nurnberg. Here is a photo of Boyd in action.
Aron Johannsson played in his first game since the World Cup. It was with AZ Alkmaar’s reserve team on Monday, but he scored from the penalty spot (highlights).
While he didn’t come back from injury, John Brooks appears to be out of the dog house as he came off the bench for Hertha Berlin in a 2-0 loss to Schalke.
And while we had those players coming back, we did have a couple Americans pick up injuries this weekend.
In the battle of American goalkeepers, Tim Howard (photo) and Everton defeated Brad Guzan (photo) and Aston Villa. It was Howard’s 350th career Premier League appearance, trailing only Brad Friedel (450) for the most all-time by an American.
Quentin Westberg is a French-American goalkeeper who represented the US with the U17, U20 and U23 youth national teams. Last season his club Luzenac earned promotion into Ligue 2 but were awkwardly rejected admittance into the second division. Westberg talks about his ties to both America and France, what was happening behind the scenes at Luzenac, and where he is now in the search for a new club. For more about how Westberg ended up in a city with a population of just 650, read Michael Yokihn’s fantastic piece on Westberg.
Why move to France to play? From a US national team fan’s perspective, there’s the worry that you’ll fall off the radar going overseas. You could have stayed close here in the US, near the National Team coaches, and work your way to MLS.
I was born and raised in France. So France is where I discovered soccer, really. I always played there apart from the US youth national teams, although I always felt more American as an athlete. Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to come to MLS but I chose to stay in Europe, despite being really interested, because I felt Europe was where the best soccer was played at the time. I know from an American standpoint France L1 is a lower league compared to the EPL, for example, but the league is very tough and usually players who stands out there does very well in England or Spain, such as Benzema, Ribery, Drogba, and Hazard.
Can you expand on feeling more “American as an athlete”? I assume you mean you wanted to play for America but still rooted for both them and France in the last World Cup?
I grew up in France with an American dad and a French mom. I am very proud of both my cultures. I have been and still often asked here in France why I chose to play for the U.S. at such a young age, instead of taking a shot at French national youth teams like I could have when I was 16. It was clear to me, even before I had to make a choice, that I wanted to play for the U.S. because playing sports in America is way different than it is here. Or anywhere else I know. I was lucky to experience four promotions with professional clubs here in France but my best soccer memories were with the US national team.
Luzenac’s situation was confusing to say the least. Luzenac earned promotion, then it was denied, it went to hearings and courts but continued to hit a wall again and again. So without beating a dead horse, what’s an aspect about this that isn’t getting out to the public? Surely it wasn’t just that Luzenac didn’t have the financial stability and appropriate stadium to move up, right?
Confusing for sure… A complete joke, if you ask me. The club was denied access to Ligue 2 for a lot of reason but no particular one in the end except being a small and ambitious club that represented a whole region and not one big town. First it was money problems, then a stadium problem but it turned out there were no big enough problems to deny our promotion. It just took until September 10th to prove all of that and that’s when a judge considered it was too late to place us in any league.
It’s a huge disappointment for everybody that followed the club. And it’s a wrong message to send to people that love promotion/relegation, proving it’s not as simple as it seems. From a player’s point of view, it’s kind of hard to accept that even after a great year filled with success, you can still be left out of a League you deserved to play in.
What are Luzenac’s plans moving forward? I saw they released all the first team players but I haven’t seen anything about where, or if, they club will be placed for next season.
The club now only exists at the level its reserve team used to play, in French 7th division. That level, not being professional. All the player’s contracts where annulled in early September, when all the leagues had been playing for at least five weeks. Luzenac went from being a professional club, whose general manager was Fabien Barthez (a former World Cup winner and a couple of times best goalkeeper in the world) to a random club team like one of the hundreds in France.
You’re one of the few players left that hasn’t signed with another club. Are you talking with any clubs at the moment?
I have been in contact with a few clubs since being officially out of contract on September 10th. Even when our promotion got denied, Fabien Barthez asked me to stay with them to fight for promotion all over again, but the club didn’t even stay in that division and its professional side was dissolved. I had an offer from a Portuguese 1st division club early in August, but at the time the club [Luzenac] was really confident everything would fall into place. Since September 10th I’ve had quite a few contacts, mostly with French sides, but since it’s so late into the season, all the clubs had already all of their roster’s need for goalkeepers. We are not like forwards where you can afford having five or six. Most professional clubs have three, and in 95% of cases, all 3 goalkeepers are signed by pre-season.
I have always wanted to play in MLS at some point in my career. Over these past 8-10 years, I have had the opportunity a few times but it never worked out, mostly for calendar reasons. I would love to have this opportunity again sooner or later. Maybe now is the time, maybe I will discover another European league. Regardless, I still practice six times a week with my goalkeeper coach so I am ready for whatever challenge comes up for me next.
Quentin recently posted highlights, covering games over the past four years.
The big news of yesterday was that Geoff Cameron underwent hernia surgery on Wednesday and will be out for an unknown amount of time. This has been a disaster of an opening 2014-15 season for Cameron.
As for his Stoke City teammate, Brek Shea looks to be headed to Birmingham City on a loan and will be available for selection this weekend as the Blues take on Leeds United. Shea will join fellow Americans Will Packwood and Jonathan Spector at the club.
Julian Green’s chances of making his Hamburg debut this weekend are decent as the club is battling a few injuries to some attacking players.
Berti Vogts doesn’t like when Borussia Monchengladbach manager Lucien Favre plays Fabian Johnson at positions that are not named right back.
Greg Seltzer broke out his stat notebook and has a bunch of random numbers for your viewing pleasure. Based on the old MLS scoring system (two points for a goal, one point for an assist), Jozy Altidore’s 2012-13 was the best by any American in a top-flight league in Europe.
The US U-20 team ended their Argentina adventure with a 1-1 draw to Argentina’s U-20 team. Zach Pfeffer scored the lone goal for the US.
Jurgen Klinsmann did a Q&A on US Soccer’s website about the young guns and last week’s game. Remember how we beat the Czech Republic on their home turf? That same team just beat the Netherlands, 2-1, in a Euro qualifier this week.
Brian Sciaretta decided to do a transfer report card on seven key Americans. He likes Johnson’s move to Borussia Monchengladbach the most and I can’t really complain.
Some horrible news for Quentin Westberg and Luzenac as the club has been denied access to Ligue 2. The club is not even allowed to go back to the National (third tier) so it will now play in the the amateur seventh division with all current players released of their contracts.
Christopher McCollum caught up with Brandon Scott to talk about his debut season with Leiknir Reykjavík as they have earned promotion to the Icelandic Úrvalsdeild with two games remaining.
Mike Woitalla introduces us to the latest American teenager being courted by both the US and Mexico.
At the youth level, Gedion Zelalem went 90 minutes for Arsenal’s U-21 team in a 1-1 draw. Also at the U-21 level, Cody Cropper and Southampton defeated Sebastian Lletget and West Ham 2-1. Here are some highlights with Lletget getting an assist at the 3:22 mark. And Marc Pelosi has come back from his broken leg and started to play again with Liverpool’s U-21 team.
I did a few numbers on players in the English League Championship, so go check that out.
Joe Corona scored his first goal for Tijuana since February of 2013 on Tuesday night. Check it out here.
Sources are telling Ives that Sacha Kljestan might be headed on loan to the LA Galaxy. The loan would last through the 2014 MLS season then the Galaxy would hopefully find a way to pay him DP money after that. Some people are wondering if MLS might create a fourth DP slot. But obviously this is all speculation at this point.
While Matt Besler just got that DP money in Kansas City, Besler told Goal.com “never say never” about any potential move to Europe in the future.
Impressed by his play so far this summer, FC Utrecht signed Rubio Rubin to a four-year deal yesterday.
Andrew Jacobson was traded from FC Dallas to NYCFC earlier this week then was sent out on loan to Bob Bradley and Stabæk until they actually have a team.
Brian Sciaretta is hearing that Conor O’Brien is set to transfer from OB in Denmark to Wiener Neustadt in Austria. O’Brien has appeared in only 16 league games for Odense since joining the club last August.
Tim Howard signed a multi-year deal with NBC to work in the booth and in the studio for NBC during its Premier League coverage when it doesn’t conflict with his Everton games.
Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg helped lead Luzenac to a second place finish in the French National (third tier) last season, earning them promotion to Ligue 2, but now their spot in Ligue 2 is in jeopardy since the town/club is so small.
A few guys scored goals today, but I can’t find any highlights as of right now. Chad Barrett had a good game, getting involved in two of the goals. As for the goal scorers, Charles Kazlauskas scored a goal in Helmond Sport’s season-opening 2-1 victory over Telstar. And Jann George (Nurnberg II) and Andrew Wooten (Kaiserslautern II) each scored in their respective Regionalliga games.
Also while looking through the box scores from today, I noticed that Quentin Westberg is no longer with Evian TG. He got the start at goalkeeper for US Luzenac in their 1-0 loss to Boulogne in the French National (third division) today.
Do you like links? Then you will like today’s post.
Still not over Timothy Chandler? Brian Sciaretta and Ives Galarcep each give their thoughts on Chandler-gate. I can’t wait until someone named Gate/Gait gets in trouble so we can have Gate-gate.
US U-20 forward Jerome Kiesewetter has left Hertha Berlin and has signed a new four-year deal with VfB Stuttgart. Kiesewetter is a German-American who played with the US U-18 team at the 2011 Milk Cup and was part of the US U-23/U-20 camp in November. He leaves behind Alfredo Morales and Anthony Brooks at Hertha Berlin, who were just relegated to the 2. Bundesliga.
With Hapoel Tel Aviv winning the State Cup, Leo Krupnik and Maccabi Netanya will be in next year’s Euopra League.
Seltzer also did an interview with Evian TG goalie Quentin Westberg about his first season in Ligue 1 since 2006.
The Guardian released their team of the year based on the game-by-game player ratings given by the readers and even they are shocked that Clint Dempsey did not make it. He wasn’t even rated as the top player for Fulham this season.
Sticking with Dempsey, he will be participating in some All-Star game in Miami in June, which will also feature players like Didier Drogba, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez among others. It also looks like Carlos Bocanegra and Jozy Altidore will be playing in the game. Here is the website for the game.
Brian Sciaretta has an interview up with Sacha Kljestan over at the NY Times soccer blog on Kljestan’s breakout season at Anderlecht. Based on his quotes in this interview and the fact that he is celebrating his bachelor party this week (according to him on twitter), I don’t think he will be named to the USMNT roster this upcoming Sunday unless some midfielders pick up some injuries.
It should be interesting to see what happens this summer to Stuart Holden and Tim Ream as Bolton announced a plan to slash their wage bill by 50 percent before next season.
And finally, here are some more rumored/leaked kits for next season.
Brian Sciaretta talked to German-American Fabian Johnson to find out that the 23-year-old midfielder/defender would at least consider a switch to the US if they came calling. Johnson currently plays at TSG Hoffenheim after stints at 1860 Munich and Wolfsburg. He has been playing at midfield for Hoffenheim this season, but has made appearances at left back and right back for both 1860 Munich and Wolfsburg.
Like most German-American soccer players, he was born in Germany, but is the son of an American serviceman and he holds a US passport. Johnson grew up in the German youth system, but has yet to play with the senior team. If he were to make the swap, he would have to go through FIFA to make the one-time switch to play in an official FIFA game for the USMNT.
While he has not come out and said he would switch, he has at least come out and said he would think it over for the first time.
“I can honestly say that I have not received any phone call [from the USSF],” Johnson added. “So I haven’t really thought it over seriously.”
Jurgen, please call him.
According to this article in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Tony Taylor is on trial at Leeds United.
Youngster Lester Dewee did not play, but he did make the bench in Ängelholm’s 3-1 victory over Degerfors in Swedish Superettan action today.
And finally, Quentin Westberg returned to the bench for Evian TG in their 1-1 draw to Ajaccio today. After starting the first two games of the season, he is now the number two goalkeeper as Evian signed Brøndby’s keeper Stephan Andersen earlier this week. While Westberg has played alright, Andersen has much more experience (100+ league games at Brøndby as well as eight games with Denmark’s national team).
I will also announce the winner of the free t-shirt later tonight/early tomorrow.
Quentin Westberg continued to start in Bertrand Laquait’s absence and picked up a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Nice. While Laquait will likely return to the lineup when healthy, Westberg is quietly making a case to Jürgen Klinsmann for a call-up.
Matt’s Pick – Chris Rolfe (Aalborg – Danish Superliga)
Speaking of potential USMNT call-ups, Chris Rolfe could be on his way if he continues to find the back of the net much like he did in Aalborg’s 2-1 victory over OB.