Brazil 2014: Belgium are a surmountable obstacle as USA ‘dare to dream’

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It used to be said that football could never be popular in the USA because the country had no interest in a sport it couldn’t win. Has Brazil 2014 finally changed that? The fans in the stadiums and on social media are vocal enough but what about the broader picture? With a last 16 tie with Belgium looming, it would fascinating to hear from our Sunderland-supporting American correspondent Grant Tunkel how the team’s impressive progress is being received back home.

For now, he reflects on Jürgen Klinsmann’s success in leading the USA out of tricky group stage – a much tougher task than faced much-praised France – despite a narrow defeat to Germany. Cue a Jozy Altidore goal or two on return from injury to see off the Belgians? …

Read moreBrazil 2014: Belgium are a surmountable obstacle as USA ‘dare to dream’

Voice of America: one way of forgetting Leicester and pre-season wobbles

Jake flies the flag for Robert Simmons

In another pre-season disappointment, Sunderland failed again to score – whatever replays may show about the McClean effort many thought had crossed the line – and went down 1-0 at Leicester. We can but pray managers are right when saying after any pre-season defeat that it’s really only about fitness. So let Robert Simmons whisk us acros the Atlantic again for another look at the game through SAFC-supporting American eyes …

Read moreVoice of America: one way of forgetting Leicester and pre-season wobbles

My USA hero Claudio Reyna, star of Wolfsburg, Rangers, SAFC, Man City

Source: US Soccer

Salut! Sunderland regulars are used to hearing about Blackcats, an e-mail group that acts almost as our parallel universe, inhabited in no small measure by witty, often wise SAFC supporters (most of whom, curiously, seem rarely to visit these shores). It was a message there that inspired the idea that Robert Simmons‘s second Voice of America column should be devoted to Claudio Reyna. The Blackcats subscriber was mentioning the tragic death from cancer of Claudio’s 13-year-old son Jack and was unaware that a small tribute had already appeared here. He had an additional reason for sadness: a friend’s daughter had worked for the Reynas as a childminder, living as part of the family both in UK & USA and playing a big part in Jack’s early years. Now Robert Simmons adds his own personal reminiscence …

Read moreMy USA hero Claudio Reyna, star of Wolfsburg, Rangers, SAFC, Man City

Luke’s World Cup: Group C goalkeeping woes deepen

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Luke Harvey considers an opening weekend in Group C that left Robert Green and Faouzi Chaouchi thankful for each other’s existence, and England drawing consolation from today’s Algeria v Sloveia game producing a result, leaving us joint mid-table instead of joint bottom …

Group C is far from the Group of Death, Group of Goalkeeping Howlers perhaps.

First Rob Green, England’s apparent number one, managed to turn Clint Dempsey’s innocuous looking long range effort into his own net. The gaffe sent the media into a frenzied overdrive as tabloids searched for the wittiest headline to describe the incident.

Read moreLuke’s World Cup: Group C goalkeeping woes deepen

HT: England 1 USA 1: Green-fingered calamity

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Darren Bent’s exclusion meant we weren’t really supposed to be too bothered. But an early goal does wonders for everyone’s moral. Doesn’t it? Well, not if followed by 40 minutes of abysmal football and a comic cuts equaliser. Best out of that lot, Darren! …


It would
not be quite right to say the French commentator could actually be heard salivating when Robert Green, for months linked with a move to a club with an infinitely better keeper (Sunderland), made his pathetic fumble to allow Clint Dempsey’s ordinary, somewhat hopeful long-range strike to spin away from him and over the line. All the same, the man from TF1 did sound a little excited (though Arsene Wenger, by his side, was altogether more level-headed).

Well, fair play to the French. After a dismal warm-up, and an opening game they dominated without ever really looking like winning, they needed something to cheer them up. The USA’s equaliser served that purpose.

Read moreHT: England 1 USA 1: Green-fingered calamity

England v USA: a World Cup “Who Are You?”

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So, they kick off today: South Africa v Mexico with Nelson Mandela, sadly, absent following the death of his 13-year-old great granddaughter in an accident after last night’s concert, and France v Uruguay tonight. And tomorrow Fabio Capello’s finest, minus Darren Bent, open the Group C campaign against the United States of America, the country from which we gratefully accepted Claudio Reyna at Sunderland. From the US fans’ site Sam’s Army, the highly knowledgeable Mark Spacone* looks forward to the game through American eyes, with American spelling and terminology …


Salut! Sunderland
: What are your feelings about the composition of Group C and how do you rate your chances of progressing?

When the first ball came out of the pot and it was England, I threw up and once I cleaned up and regained some composure, I thought the world was against us and the pots were stacked to ensure we Yanks would be in the group of death and eliminated in the first round just to show the world we don’t know the difference between a football and, well, a football! As the draw continued, it became clear the American dollar is still worth something in Sepp’s pocket because he drew us in with Algeria and Slovenia. Wait, I forgot, the draw is random! On this side of the pond, we think the US and England will advance into the second round (any order will do for us). Slovenia, however, may be the wedding crasher! Many are hoping the U.S. comes out of the England game without any injury regardless of the result, but the hopeful are looking for a draw, and the plain down right crazy who want to give others the ultimate “I told you so” are looking for a win. I wonder if Landon Donovan scores the winner if Everton supporters will chant “USA” again should he return there and perform as well as he did on loan this past season!

Read moreEngland v USA: a World Cup “Who Are You?”

1994, moody Balkans and the unbeautiful game: World Cup memories (8)

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And so to America. Land of the Free (as in free of football passion). Pete Sixsmith speaks with genuine affection about a country where he has travelled a lot and even worked, but which hasn’t a clue when it comes to what everyone else in the world calls football and they call soccer, at least as played by males beyond the age of about 11. But hang on, Pete: didn’t Claudio Reyna’s goals once keep us up? …


After
the glories of Italia 90 came the grind of USA 94. The football wasn’t a great deal better or worse, but I thought the tournament was a shocker. Let me explain.

Read more1994, moody Balkans and the unbeautiful game: World Cup memories (8)