Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Dos a Cero ends as USA falls to Mexico

Yesterday's Scores
World Cup Qualifying- UEFA
France 2-1 Sweden
(Pogba 57', Payet 65')-(Forsberg 54')

A most impressive free kick goal by Emil Forsberg is cancelled out by Paul Pogba and Dmitri Payet. These two sides were tied atop Group A heading into this one and now France is three points clear.

Czech Republic 2-1 Norway
(Krmencik 11', Zmrhal 47')-(King 87')

Northern Ireland 4-0 Azerbaijan
(Lafferty 27', McAuley 40', McLaughlin, 67', Brunt 83')

San Marino 0-8 Germany
(Khedira 7', Gnabry 9', 58', 76', Hector 32', 65', Stefanelli OG 82', Volland 85')

Germany is well on their way to owning Group C as they cruise towards Russia. This was mostly a team of backups facing San Marino and they had no problem at all. They have a perfect record through four matches. The race for second place is more interesting Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan are tied with seven points for that playoff place while the Czech Republic is two back of them.

Armenia 3-2 Montenegro

(Grigoryan 50', Haroyan 74', Ghazaryan 90+3')-(Kojasevic 36', Jovetic 38')

Denmark 4-1 Kazakhstan
(Cornelius 15', Eriksen PK 36', 90+2', Ankersen 78')-(Suyumbayev 17')

Romania 0-3 Poland
(Grosicki 11', Lewandowski 83', PK 90+1')

Poland is three points clear of the top in Group E, which gives them a pretty solid platform for qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 2006. Montenegro holds the playoff spot right now, but Denmark and Romania are hot on their heels.

England 3-0 Scotland
(Sturridge 24', Lallana 50', Cahill 61')

Malta 0-1 Slovenia
(Verbic 47')

Slovakia 4-0 Lithuania
(Nemec 12', Kucka 15', Skrtel 36', Hamsik 86')

As usual, England is cruising through the qualifying stages for a major tournament. They have ten points through four rounds and sit on top of the group. Their closest competition at this point is Slovenia, who sit two points behind them in second.

World Cup Qualifying- CONCACAF
Honduras 0-1 Panama
(Escobar 22')

Trinidad and Tobago 0-2 Costa Rica
(BolaƱos 65', Matarrita 90+2')

United States 1-2 Mexico
(Wood 49')-(Layun 20', Marquez 89')

Jurgen Klinsmann will deservedly take a lot of criticism for his tactics as he chose to start his team out in a 3-5-2 formation, which we have never seen before. Using such experimental tactics in such a huge game was never a great idea. He adjusted after the first goal went in thanks to the USA's midfield looking completely out of whack and the defenders struggling to clean up their mess. It was too little, too late though. Wood's goal was the result of this tactical swap opening up the middle for him and Altidore and it was almost enough to salvage a win. Instead, poor marking on a corner allowed Rafa Marquez to bag the winner at the very end.

Tim Howard was injured late in the first half. He will not travel to Costa Rica for the next match thanks to a right groin strain. It is unknown whether or not he will be healthy when the Colorado Rapids resume their MLS Playoff run on November 22 in Seattle.

World Cup Qualifying- CAF
Libya 0-1 Tunisia
(Khazri PK 50')

We are only in the second round of the final stage of African qualifying, but Tunisia is off to a great start with six points from two matches. Winning their four team group will send them to the World Cup for the first time since 2006. 

World Cup Qualifying- OFC
New Zealand 2-0 New Caledonia
(Rojas 42', 72')

The penultimate round of OFC qualifying has six nations in two groups of three playing a round robin. New Zealand is expected to roll through their trio and they got started well with this win over New Caledonia. Fiji is the other team in their group. On the other side of the bracket, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands will play for the right to lose to New Zealand in the final. The Kiwis will then move on to play a team from South America for a shot to go to the World Cup.

The second award of the MLS season goes to FC Dallas's Matt Hedges for Defender of the Year. He won with just under 25% of the total vote ahead of Jelle Van Damme and Axel Sjoberg. Hedges came in third in the voting last year, when Laurent Ciman won it, but he had a stellar season this year and managed to convince the players, coaches, and media that he deserved it.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati spoke about the possibility of an American bid for the 2026 World Cup yesterday. He said that the election of Donald Trump as president should not affect their decision to construct a bid. He is on record saying that a joint bid with Mexico would be trickier of Hillary Clinton was not elected, although the USSF will work with Trump without issue. That said, the joint bid with either Mexico, Canada, or both is still on the table. Informal discussions have taken place with both nations, but nothing formal has been drawn up. Gulati also reiterated the USA's desire to become a regular competitor in Copa America tournaments, but he said that future participation is still unclear.

Today's Matches
World Cup Qualifying- UEFA
Austria v. Ireland- 12pm- ESPN3
Georgia v. Moldova- 12pm
Croatia v. Iceland- 12pm- FS2
Turkey v, Kosovo- 12pm- ESPN3
Wales v. Serbia- 2:45pm- ESPN3
Albania v. Israel- 2:45pm- ESPN3
Liechtenstein v. Italy- 2:45pm- FS2, UniMas
Spain v. Moldova- 2:45pm- ESPN3
Ukraine v. Finland- 2:45pm

World Cup Qualifying- CAF
South Africa v. Senegal- 8am
Uganda v. Congo- 8am
Cameroon v. Zambia- 10am
Nigeria v. Algeria- 11am
Cape Verde Islands v. Burkina Faso- 12pm
Mali v. Gabon- 1:30pm
Morocco v. Ivory Coast- 4pm

World Cup Qualifying- OFC
Solomon Islands v. Tahiti- 11pm

50,000 Words of Soccer Update
I had a busy day over at Last Word on Soccer. I wrote about Matt Hedges being named MLS Defender of the Year, made my incorrect prediction for USA-Mexico, recapped that fateful match. and reviewed the entire day of Hex action. All that, plus this, takes the word count to 19,462.

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