Tag Archives: Gold Cup

The Polarizing Play of Darlington Nagbe



In a recent outing, Darlington Nagbe banged home an absolute beauty of a goal to help elevate the Columbus Crew over the Chicago Fire. Immediately social media sang his praise and searched for reasons why Nagbe never starred for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) or made it big in Europe. The common refrain is he was played out of position, especially given his 2017 Gold Cup performance! Not too long after, the Nagbe detractors added their comments, which came down to the fact he just was not good enough.

While our regular listeners know I tend to fall in the second of those categories, I thought I owed it to the player and the fans to dive a little deeper than just my eye test and personal feelings. Let’s start with his Major League Soccer (MLS) career:

Nagbe is in his tenth season in the MLS. He is currently with the Columbus Crew after spending the last two seasons with Atlanta United, and the prior seven with the Portland Timbers. Per MLSsoccer.com, Nagbe’s career totals include 276 games played, 264 games started, 30 goals, and 38 assists. He’s never reached double digits in goals or assists in a single season, so from a points perspective, he hasn’t done much. For the USMNT, his point totals are even less appealing: 25 appearances, 1 goal, 2 assists.

In that 2017 Gold Cup, Nagbe did not play in the group stage, but was brought in for the knockout rounds. He played nearly every minute in the three knockout games. His stat lines were unimpressive, but he did draw the most fouls in the tournament (15). You can’t draw fouls if you don’t have the ball!

So what is the appeal for Darlington Nagbe?

The USMNT website describes him as a “confident and pacey midfielder,” and his fans point to his passion on the pitch, confidence on the ball, and ability to run at defenders. He is excellent with the ball at his feet and has a knack for getting his teammates involved in the attack. Critics point to the absence of these in international play and the lack of his stats. However, I haven’t been able to find measurable data in the areas in which Nagbe excels – passes and dribbles completed, progressive play, and other possession related categories.

So what can we conclude about Darlington Nagbe? Is anybody “right”?

Nagbe never lit up the score sheet, but no one ever quantitively measured how good he was on the ball. If you rely on “the eye test,” you can find great games and sub-par performances. Nagbe may be one of the best to ever play for Portland and was a solid USMNT call up. He seems pretty content with his career, and we as fans of the game in America should continue to enjoy him for as long as he laces up in MLS. Just don’t try to convince me he’s an American soccer legend that just never got his shot.

Nick Poteres
Host, Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast
@SOPSoccer


Soccer Memories, MLS is Back Group Previews, and American Soccer Headlines



Hey, soccer fans! It’s July and the temperature is almost as hot as our takes. In tonight’s episode of The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast, tune in for our takes on:

Soccer Memories

  • From a listener question, our hosts share their favorite soccer memories – from Gold Cups to World Cups and all the MLS games in between.
  • Coincidentally, both Nick and Mike have a great memory of Dwayne DeRosario

MLS is Back Tournament Group Previews

  • Nick and Mike predict Toronto FC to take the group, but who comes in 2nd? New England is on the up, but look out for dark horse DC United
  • Group D is a toss up! Nick likes Sporting KC to finally fulfill their potential, while Mike is buying into what MNUFC is selling. Don’t count our resurgent Colorado or an RSL club that can outplay expectations.

American Soccer Headlines

  • Is Christian Pulisic injury prone? Or is it growing pains? He’s only 21, folks.
  • Do you like “Fighting” Matt Miazga?
  • Where will Cannon and Busio end up?

Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode of The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast!

Be sure to subscribe on YouTube to join the next live broadcast and get in on the conversation.

 

 


S2Ep22 – World Cup Triumph, Gold Cup Heartbreak, and MLS Roundup



The United States is World Cup Champions!
How nice that sounds!

One day we’ll say it about the men, but for now, enjoy the USWNT once again asserting their dominance over the rest of the world of women’s soccer. After taking a comfortable 2-0 lead, the US Women were content to play more defensively and see the game out. Congrats to Jill Ellis on her game plan, the players for their performances, and to the fans who traveled to France.

Meanwhile on home soil, the USMNT advanced to the Gold Cup Final after defeating Jamaica in a solid performance. Sadly, they were plagued by an inability to score and atrocious 2nd half coaching, which included three terrible substitutions. The US is improving, but is nowhere near Mexico or the rest of the top soccer nations around the world.

Major League Soccer also had a slate of games between the international competitions, which featured a number of Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference match-ups. The West dominated in those games, and is dominating the East in most statistical categories.

Thanks for listening and be sure to follow along on twitter @SOPSoccer or in the comments below!


Break’s Over: MLS is Back! Gold Cup Knockouts, and WWC Recap



Greetings, soccer fans! And welcome to The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. Thanks for joining us as we get back to Major League Soccer coverage, review the Gold Cup knockout rounds, and recap the Women’s World Cup semi-finals. We also thank you for helping us in our mission of growing the sport, and thanks to Luke Murray for sending us these links on how to start up soccer in your neighborhood:

Please share your tips and advice for Luke and all those getting their kids involved in the world’s game!

Turning to soccer talk, Nick and Mike highlight a few MLS games, now that the league is back from international break. Tune in for analysis of

  • Red Bulls New York vs. Chicago Fire
  • Toronto FC’s games vs. DC United and Atlanta United
  • New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union
  • And a shout out to the Colorado Rapids for their upset over league leader LAFC!

Next, our hosts turn to the Gold Cup. While the USMNT has survived and advanced against Panama and Curacao, they need to find their game – especially their offense – for their semi-final match-up against Jamaica. The hosts predict Mexico to defeat the US in the final, but the games leading up to that will definitely be exciting.

Finally, Nick and Mike take a quick look back at the USWNT’s run to the Women’s World Cup Final, where they will most likely meet the Netherlands (though don’t count Sweden out for an upset). The US Women have defeated Thailand, Chile, and Sweden in the group stages, then advanced through the knockout rounds past Spain, France, and England. They’ve got a target on their back, have taken the best shot of every team they’ve faced, and have risen to the challenge. USA! USA! USA!


Gold Cup Victories, WWC Near Miss, and USOC-MLS Roundup



Welcome back, soccer fans, to your source for all things American soccer. In this episode our hosts break down the Gold Cup group stages and what to expect from the knockout rounds. Mike is still confident in his pick of Mexico over the United States in the final, while Nick believes this is Costa Rica’s year. With Haiti upsetting Costa Rica, Canada could be the dark horse team to make the finals. The USMNT will still need to get past Canada and Jamaica, but their path looks promising after convincing wins over Guyana and Trinidad & tobago.

Meanwhile, the USWNT defeated Spain in less than convincing fashion. But for two Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks, the #1 ranked team and tournament favorites nearly missed their worst ever finish in the Women’s World Cup. Mike believes this will act as motivation for the team to roll to victories in their upcoming matches. Still the favorite, the US will face tough tests in France, Norway, Germany, or whichever team they may meet in the final.

Back on US soil, the US Open Cup delivered additional Cupsets! with New Mexico defeating Colorado and Saint Louis defeating FC Cincinnati. LAFC, Portland, and Atlanta are still the favorites, but Mike believes NYCFC will surprise everyone and take the trophy. Meanwhile in MLS action, the Chicago Fire once again underwhelm in a 1-1 draw to Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy beat up on a floundering FCC, and Sporting KC somehow come out on top in the Battle of the Bad against Columbus. Someone has to win, right?

Enjoy all the soccer action, and be sure to follow us on twitter @SOPSoccer and leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Going International: Women’s World Cup-France 2019, US Open Cup (Cupsets!), and Gold Cup



There’s soccer around the world, and we’ve got your American perspective.

The Women’s World Cup is taking place in France, and favorite United States continues to dominate. After a convincing 3-0 victory over Chile, the USWNT have locked up a spot in the knock-out round. They’ll have their work cut out for them with possible opponents of Spain, France, Norway, and Australia … and that’s even before the finals! Still the favorite, this is the US Women’s tournament to lose. Also, Marta (Brazil) sets the all-time World Cup goal-scoring record, with her 17th career WC goal.

Meanwhile in the US Open Cup … CUPSETS! Mike’s new favorite word (though annoying when overused, and the MLS is sure trying to overuse it) is appropriate to describe the victories of New Mexico United over Colorado Rapids and Saint Louis FC over Chicago Fire. And the Cupsets could continue with Saint Louis facing FC Cincinnati. Nick and Mike still think this is LAFC’s tournament to lose, but they’ll have to get through Portland and the Galaxy to do it. Meanwhile, Atlanta has found their rhythm, despite going down early to Chattanooga, and the Five Stripes are the favorite on the other side of the bracket.

Finally, Gold Cup 2019 is underway. Favorites Mexico and Costa Rica started with convincing wins vs. Cuba and Nicaragua, and Canada impressed vs. Martinique. Panama topped Trinidad and Tobago, and the USMNT defeated debutante Guyana. Mike is picking Mexico over the USA in the final, while Nick thinks that Costa Rica is destined to win.

Stay tuned every week to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast for all your tournament recaps. Join the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer or in the comments below, subscribe to the podcast in the links in the banner, and please share the word of our show!


USA! USA! USA! – National Team Recaps, US Open Cup Features, and MLS Roundup



Hello soccer fans! Welcome back to The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. And our show starts with American soccer at it’s highest levels. The USYNT was knocked out of the U-20 World Cup in Poland after a tough game vs. South American champion Ecuador. While they didn’t advance further, Tab Ramos’ team once again proved the United States is developing talent on an international level. The USMNT also had a disappointing week, with losses to Jamaica and Venezuela in international friendlies. These Gold Cup tune-up games are certainly disappointments, but Berhalter wasn’t playing his “A” team, and his tactics needs time to implement. That being said, Nick and Mike have picked against the US in the tournament, choosing Costa Rica and Mexico, respectively.

The bright spot for US Soccer has always been the USWNT, and they did not disappoint in their Women’s World Cup opener vs. Thailand. A thorough 13-0 drubbing of the Asian squad set a record for largest margin of victory and most goals in a WWC game. Alex Morgan also tied the WWC single game scoring record by netting 5 goals in a superb performance. This team has reminded the world that they are the favorites.

Meanwhile at home, the US Open Cup saw Major League Soccer teams enter the tournament. The Chicago Fire embarrassed themselves against St. Louis FC, losing the game 2-1 and losing their cool. Other MLS sides fared much better with Columbus, New England, LAFC, and Houston advancing. Chattanooga and Atlanta were postponed due to bad field conditions, and San Jose vs. Sacramento is ongoing as of time of posting.

Finally in MLS action, we saw the Union assert their dominance over the Eastern Conference with a thrilling come-back win over RBNY. The other games went as expected and all the results are up at www.mlssoccer.com. Thanks for listening, and be sure to comment below and follow us @SOPSoccer.

 


U-20 World Cup, Zack Steffen, and MLS League Roundup



USA! USA! USA!

Hello soccer fans! The USYNT/U-20 team has advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Poland. This is a record-tying, third straight trip to the round of eight for the U-20s. After finishing 2nd in their group (Loss to Ukraine, Wins over Qatar, Nigeria), the US stunned France 3-2. Their next opponent is South American champion Ecuador. Despite the great run, the favorites in the tournament still are on the opposite side of the bracket, with Italy and Colombia. We’ll see how far the US can go. Their next match is June 8.

As we move to the senior team, it’s been announced that GK Zack Steffen will be loaned to Bundesliga team Fortuna Dusseldorf. A loan was expected, and Steffen is sure to get minutes with a Dusseldorf side that finished 10th in the league. This is a great loan for Steffen who will be exposed to a new and faster style of play.

Finally, Nick and Mike round up all the games from around Major League Soccer. Notably, Atlanta United continues their ascent in the Eastern Conference while LAFC maintain dominance out West. Here are our trending teams:

Teams on the Rise

  • Atlanta United: They figured out how to play deBoer’s style and are thriving. The Five Stripes are now sitting 3rd in the East with games in hand.
  • San Jose Earthquakes: Almeyda keeps riding the hot hand …er, foot … and Chris Wondolowski has 7 goals in 3 games. The Quakes are 1 point below the playoff line, but have a game in hand.
  • Colorado Rapids: Despite the 2nd worst record in the league, worst in the West, the Rapids have 3 wins, 1 draw in their last four.

Teams on the Fall

  • Columbus Crew: 1-3-1 in their last 5, Higuain tears and ACL, Steffen played his last game – management is blowing this up with loans and trades. Time for manager Caleb Porter to institute his culture and style.
  • Minnesota United: Giving up 6 goals in their last 2 games, the Loons need to shore up the defense quickly as games vs. hot Colorado and desperate SKC are looming.

Teams who can’t get up

  • Sporting Kansas City and FC Cincinnati: Let’s be honest. Watching these two teams has been rough.

Thanks for listening, and be sure to join the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer, on facebook, or in the comments below. See you next week!

 


Gold Cup Preview, MLS Week 7 Roundup, and the Legal Case vs. Kaku



Hello once again, soccer fans! Thanks for returning to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. In this episode, the hosts explore the draw for the Gold Cup, recap all the Week 7 MLS action, and even make a case for a fan’s possible lawsuit vs. RBNY and Kaku.

As for the Gold Cup, the four groups are drawn, and the United States Men’s National Team will face Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and Panama. If you like story lines, this is the group for you! As you know T&T knocked the USMNT out of World Cup qualifying in 2018, and the USMNT has already faced Panama in a January friendly. How will these teams come out during the Gold Cup tournament? The US needs to be prepared for anything.

In Week 7 of Major League Soccer, we saw some movement in the Eastern Conference while the top teams in the Western Conference continued their domination. Here’s how things stack up at the top of the table:

Eastern Conference

  1. DC United – Regaining its form, DC is once again top of the conference. Can anyone knock it down?
  2. Columbus Crew – Despite the loss, the Crew remain a contender. Their margin for error is very slim, but so far have been able to overcome it.
  3. Montreal Impact – Montreal in 3rd place!? Enjoy it while it lasts, as this team has the tendency to yo-yo up and down the standings.
  4. Toronto FC – Even after their loss to Seattle, TFC have the best points per game in the conference, suggesting last year was a fluke. Watch out for the men in red.

Western Conference

  1. LAFC – Best team, best player, best coach. LAFC have a goal differential of +16 over 7 games, and they still are improving.
  2. Seattle Sounders – Finally, a strong start. Can they sustain it throughout the entire season? They way Jordan Morris is playing, Seattle just might.
  3. LA Galaxy – Zlatan keeps scoring, the Galaxy keep winning. Just imagine how good they could be when their role players start thriving.
  4. Houston Dynamo – As Nick put it, Houston is “The other contender in the West.” They haven’t lost, have a talented attack, and have a coach who has been around the league. Houston could surprise come playoff time.

 

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