031813_isi_dempseyclint_bpi_totthotsvpana.fr59 Ben Queenborough/isiphotos.com
ASN 100 Update

Dempsey Returns; Gomez and Altidore Score Again

The final weekend ahead of the March World Cup qualifiers saw thrills (Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez) and spills (Jonathan Spector) to spare. Did anybody play their way onto, or off of, the U.S. roster?
BY Josh Deaver Posted
March 18, 2013
9:24 AM
Clint Dempsey—ASN rank #2
Deuce’s return to Tottenham Hotspur could not have come any sooner for the fans of the U.S men’s national team. After missing three weeks with a calf strain, Dempsey entered at the half, playing 45 minutes in a 1-0 loss to his former club, Fulham. Dempsey was clearly rusty but will quickly need to find his form as he will be likely be called upon by Jurgen Klinsmann against Costa Rica and Mexico in the coming week.

Jozy Altidore—ASN rank #3
Altidore continued his historic season Sunday, netting his 25th strike of the year while AZ continued its losing ways in a 3-2 defeat against Ajax. After getting on the end of a long outlet ball in the 74th minute, Altidore dribbled into the box before calmly slotting it past the keeper with his left foot. The goal brought AZ within one for the final 15 minutes, but the beleaguered team couldn’t complete the comeback against the league leaders. AZ has now gone winless in seven league matches and currently sit one point clear of the relegation zone.

Herculez Gomez—ASN rank #12
In CONCACAF Champions League action on Wednesday, Gomez played 90 minutes and picked up a goal in Santos Laguna’s 3-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Taking advantage of a defensive miscommunication, Gomez out-hustled the Houston defender and was able to poke the ball home from the edge of the 18-yard box before it could be collected by an onrushing Tally Hall. With the goal, his 10th in all competitions, Gomez has already equaled his season-high scoring mark in Liga MX, set in 2009 with Puebla. With six league matches, as well as Champions League fixtures remaining, Gomez is on pace for the best scoring output of his 10-year career. Gomez also started and played 90 minutes in Santos’ 3-1 victory over Atlas on Saturday.

Omar Gonzalez—ASN rank #15
With so many questions swirling around the defensive corps of the U.S. men’s national team, Gonzalez has kicked off his 2013 campaign with an impressive set of performances. On Wednesday during the Galaxy’s 4-1 CONCACAF Champions League win against Herediano, Gonzalez opened the scoring in the 18th minute with an excellent downward header off a Juninho corner kick. That win puts the Galaxy in the semifinals, where they will take on defending champions Monterrey in early April. Gonzalez has also looked solid in his MLS outings this year, playing 90 minutes again on Sunday in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA.

Eddie Johnson—ASN rank #20
In Saturday’s first Seattle-Portland derby of the 2013 season, Johnson netted his first goal of the year for the Sounders in a 1-1 draw. Johnson converted a picture perfect cross by Steven Zakuani for an easy tap in to open the scoring in the 13th minute. The two also combined four days earlier in the Sounders’ historic 3-1 win over Tigres U.A.N.L in the CONCACAF Champions League. That strike capped a furious second-half comeback which will see Seattle square off with Santos Laguna in the semifinals of the tournament. The fixture will be a rematch of last year’s competition, in which the Sounders were thoroughly embarrassed in a 6-1 loss to the Torreon club.

Jonathan Spector—ASN rank #43
Spector started for Birmingham City in its 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday, but he didn’t see much of the pitch. The versatile defender hobbled off in the fifth minute after suffering an ankle injury. Speaking post-game, manager Lee Clark confirmed Spector was scheduled to fly to the U.S. after the match, but will now likely not be involved in the trip. “I’m not too sure but I don’t think he’ll play any part,” Clark said. “He’s done his ankle ligaments. We just need to keep an eye on that one.”

DaMarcus Beasley—ASN rank #51
The 30-year old winger picked up his third goal of the season in Puebla’s 1-1 shootout victory against Pachuca in Copa MX action on Wednesday. After some skillful close-quarter dribbling, Beasley had his initial shot blocked by the keeper before pouncing on the rebound for the game’s opening goal. Both Beasley and Michael Orozco Fiscal (ASN #68) played 90 minutes in the win. Three days later, Pachuca got its revenge in league play by scoring two goals in the final minutes to pull out a 2-1 victory. The American duo again started and played 90 minutes in the loss.

Tim Ream—ASN rank #52
The 25-year-old hasn’t made a gameday roster for Bolton Wanderers since February, but manager Dougie Freedman insists it is not based on poor performance. Since arriving a little over a year ago, Ream has gone through multiple managers and has seen his playing time cut dramatically as of late. According to his manager, he has failed to break through solely because of the current form of his top defenders. Freedman complimented Ream’s versatility and work ethic, saying, ““The key to him is that he’s training very hard and I know if I called on him this weekend that he’d be ready to step straight into the team, just as he did six or eight games ago.”

Kenny Cooper—ASN rank #60
On Sunday Cooper scored his first goal since returning to FC Dallas in the club’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Houston Dynamo. After Houston clawed back from a two-goal deficit, Cooper knocked down a lofted pass inside the box before finishing past keeper Tally Hall for a the 90th minute winner. Replays showed Cooper may have knocked the ball down with his upper arm prior to the finish. FC Dallas defender George John (ASN #55) scored the opening goal for FC Dallas in the win, while Houston forward Will Bruin (ASN #41) left the match early with a hamstring injury.

John Anthony Brooks—ASN rank #70
The “will-he, wont-he” saga on John Anthony Brooks looked to be nearing its end this summer, when the 19-year old Hertha Berlin defender will likely have to choose between a future with the German national team or to compete for the U.S. at the Under-20 World Cup. With the U-21 Euros fast approaching, Brooks was rumored to be in contention for a spot on Die Mannschaft, but the six-foot-seven center back did not make the German roster. Some big decisions lie ahead for the big center back.

Andrew Wooten—ASN rank #87
The 23-year-old forward is on a great run of form. On Sunday Wooten picked up his fifth goal of the year in Sandhausen’s 2-2 draw against Aalen. Usually deployed at right wing, Wooten has become a steady presence in the club’s lineup. He has played in more than half of the fixtures this year and is currently second on the team in scoring. If Wooten can keep up this form, he could very well receive a call for the Gold Cup this summer.

Edgar Castillo (ASN #29) is reportedly back training with Tijuana. This comes only days after undergoing surgery for multiple fractures in his right cheek.

Jack McInerney (ASN #57) scored his second goal of the season in the Philadelphia Union’s 1-0 victory over New England on Saturday.

One positive of the Edgar Castillo injury: Greg Garza (ASN #85) has seen increased minutes for Club Tijuana. Garza started and played 71 minutes before being replaced by Joe Corona in a 2-2 draw with Monterrey on Saturday.

According to recent reports, Freddy Adu (ASN #69) is close to signing with Brazilian club Bahia. If true, it would be Adu’s ninth club in seven years.

Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on Twitter.

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