ASN Morning Read: World Cup Prep in Ukraine?
The United States is scheduled to play in Ukraine on March 5, but political unrest could force a change in plans; Jozy Altidore writes about being "part of something special"; blame Canada.
Soccerwise, the United States' March 5 friendly in Ukraine makes a lot of sense. The Eastern European country is the highest-ranked nation not heading to the 2014 World Cup, having lost to France in dramatic fashion at the tail-end of the European qualifying process. Facing a talented team on foreign soil a few months ahead of Brazil will be a true challenge for Jurgen Klinsmann's men.
Otherwise, the match could turn into a bit a debacle. As you've seen on TV or read in newspapers, this nation of 45 million people is caught up in violent debate about its future. Will Ukraine continue its association with Russia, or will democracy-minded citizens lead the country toward inclusion in Europe? There is not much middle ground in the conversation, and recent pro-Western demonstrations have led to clashes with police, torture, and multiple deaths.
Thinking of attending the match in March? So are we. The good news: The contest is not in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital and ground zero for the protests. The United States are currently scheduled to play at Stadium Metallist in Kharkiv, Ukraine—the country's second-largest city and a pro-Russian stronghold that has remained relatively calm in recent weeks.
Here is U.S. Soccer's statement on the upcoming fixture: "We are aware of the situation in the Ukraine. As we do for all international matches, we will work closely with the State Department in advance of the trip. We will continue to have those discussions in the coming weeks."
Intrepid U.S. soccer supporters thinking about attending the match should, at the very least, keep an eye on the news and bookmark the U.S. Department of State website for travel alerts.
The Canadian Soccer Association announced its intentions to bid for the 2026 World Cup. Our neighbor to the north is hosting next year’s Women’s World Cup and CSA president Victor Montagliani makes a good point point, comparing their bid to the United States’ for 1994. "When they bid for the World Cup, I wouldn't say the game was in a healthy state in the U.S. both professionally and domestically. Their leadership group decided to put a bid together and I think that was a bit of a lightning rod for people to come together."
Canada hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, which come 2026, would equal the 40-year gap between appearances for the U.S. from 1950 to 1990. There aren’t any other confirmed bids, but European and Asian countries will be ineligible due to their continents having hosted the previous two World Cups.
Jozy Altidore blogged about Sunderland’s wild night at Old Trafford, winning on penalties to advance to the Capital One Cup final. Pretty cool stuff. “Every once in a while, you get the opportunity to be part of something special, something that will stay forever with you,” the forward wrote.
Pulitzer-worthy tweeter Taylor Twellman has some news on the Maurice Edu-Philadelphia Union situation:
A Union spokesperson declined comment to MLSsoccer.com.
January 24, 2014
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Grant Wahl reports Sporting Kansas City turned down a $1 million bid for 16-year-old defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who recently trained with the U-20 team. Um, wow? Check out Brian Sciaretta’s scouting report on the youngster.
Is this all you ever wanted to know about the U.S. Soccer budget and much, much more? Why, yes it is. Steve Goff with the deets: "The USSF is projecting a $3.17 million surplus for fiscal year ’14 ending this March 31—'driven by strong MNT & WNT event revenues, hosting a Men’s World Cup Qualifier in a larger than planned stadium (Seattle) and winning the Gold Cup. Other favorable activities projected for the year include stronger than planned Licensing apparel sales, Supporters Club memberships and added Coaching schools to meet the strong demand.'"
A picture of Bob Bradley skiing!!!! Oh, and an excellent piece about him in Norway.