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The FBM Blog

The After Bar: USMNT 1 - Honduras 0

It wasn't pretty and a couple of times it seemed as though the United States men's national team would leave a sold out Rio Tinto Stadium with a sole point, but the on fire Jozy Altidore came up huge again to lead the Nats to a 1-0 win over a stubborn Honduras.

It was Altidore's four in four matches and it was all the U.S. would need to get past a theatrical and, often times, frustrating Honduran side. Sporting KC midfield Graham Zusi carried the ball up field and found Fabian Johnson cutting through the box on the left. A heads-up Johnson found Altidore unmarked in front of the goal, and as it has been frequently lately, Jozy buried the ball in the back of the net in the 73rd minute.

With 13 points the Nats stay atop atop the "Hex" and look to be a lock for next summer's World Cup in Brazil. Qualifying takes a break until early September (at Costa Rica on the 6th), but the U.S. will prepare for this summer's Gold Cup with an international friendly against Guatemala in San Diego before beginning the 2013 edition of the tournament in Portland, Oregon against Belize on July 9th.

Highlights:

 

Post-Game Reaction:

 

Recap and analysis from some of American soccer's best writers:

Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) - "Lethal Altidore-Johnson combo lead U.S. to 1-0 win over Honduras"

Matthew Doyle (MLSSoccer.com) - "Armchair Analyst: 3 things we learned as USMNT gutted out a win ... and inched closer to Brazil"

Steve Davis (NBC Pro Soccer Talk) - "What we learned from the U.S. World Cup qualifier win over Honduras"

Liviu Bird (American Soccer Now) - "How the U.S. beat the bunker to defeat Honduras"

Mike Cardillo (Big Lead Sports) - "Jozy Altidore is Hot, Jurgen Klinsmann is Making All the Right Moves, and US Soccer is on Fire"

Player Ratings:

Avi Creditor (Sports Illustrated)

Jeff Carlisle (ESPN)

Greg Seltzer (MLSSoccer.com)

Brian Sciaretta (New York Times)

Steve Davis (NBC Pro Soccer Talk)

Tags: The After Bar, USMNT

A Brew For You… And You… And You…. (USMNT vs. Honduras)

The American Outlaws' call of #WeWant9 is looking more and more likely as the United States national team faces a depleted Honduran side at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Securing three points from this revenge match will pretty much book the Nats to Brazil as the rest of the "Hex" qualifying group slips into disarray.

Honduras is not the same side that the U.S. went up early on and then fell to the heat of San Pedro Sula. Through injury, suspension, and out-right abandonment of the team Los Catrachos may be without the services of six of their starters.

What are we recommending for this match? We stepped away from our local recommendation last time to play a little "six degrees of beer" game, but we're back to honor SLC's contribution to the craft beer world.

Before you making any snarky remarks about Utah and their beer.... check yourself. While the labyrinth of laws would make David Bowie's head spin getting a good brew in the "U" isn't impossible... it just means you just have to work a little bit harder for it.

Meet Epic Brewing Co. First off, this is Real Salt Lake and U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando's favorite brewery. And you trust him, right? Epic Brewing makes some of the state's finest craft beers (Unita Brewing Co. should also be on your "to-drink" list) and their "Elevation" series is impressive.

And why not? This USMNT on the last stop on their "elevation" part of the tour (Denver, Seattle, SLC) and what makes this series so interesting is that "tweeks" that the brewers work in every time they brew a new batch of one of the styles (which includes an IPA, stout, golden, and a pale ale) from this series.

Photo Credit: "Pops On Hops"

"Tweeks" is the name of the game for coach Jurgen Klinsmann who's constant meddling of the USMNT lineup has re-vitalized some careers (DMB) and re-invented others (Evans, Cameron, etc) and put the team on course for qualification.

Of all the "elevation" series to choose from we're picking the "825 State" Stout which Epic describes the range of it "from dry to sweet, creamy or bitter". The "flavors Epic explores within this stout are roast chocolate, toffee, mocha, coffee, burnt marshmallow and roasted nuts or combinations there-of."

If that's not a tinker's beer for JK we don't what is. And just like this stout (and here's to hoping for another "stout" defense") the tinkering has finally paid off.

What you drinking for tonight's match?

Tags: A Brew For You, American Outlaws, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

Today’s The Day…. (USMNT vs. Honduras)

Photo Credit: MLSSoccer.com

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US game. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in a qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Today's the day they face Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Dempsey will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on the home team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Tags: USMNT

The After Bar: USWNT 4 - South Korea 1

Photo Credit: Zimbio

Abby Wambach crept closer to Mia Hamm's all-time international scoring record as the United States women's national team cruised to a 4-1 win over South Korea in front of 13,000 in Foxborough, Mass.

A 93rd minute penality kick pushed Wambach to within two of Hamm's 158 career goals. FC Kansas City defender Kristie Mewis scored her first international goal while Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney pilled on as well for the USWNT.

The match was game one of two against South Korea. The second to be played at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on Thursday, June 20th at 6:30pm CT on NBC Sports Network.

Highlights:

 

Reaction:

 

Recap and analysis from women's soccer's best writers/sites:

Equalizer Soccer - "US women roll over Korea Republic; Wambach scores"

Jeff Kassouf (NBC Pro Soccer Talk) - "Wambach inches closer, US women upend Korea Republic"

ESPNW - "Abby Wambach, U.S. Top South Korea"

Tags: The After Bar, USMNT, Video

“The Hex” - Yanks Pummel Panama in Seattle

If you haven't been following along with Kick TV's "The Hex" series (filmed and produced by One Goal) then you're missing out on an incredible set of videos documenting the United States men's national team.
 
And we're not just saying that because Free Beer Movement's Dan has made several appearances...
 
Their episode from Seattle is about as close as one can come to capturing the "epic" atmosphere of last Tuesday's match.
 

 

Tags: American Outlaws, USMNT, Video

Free Beer Match Day - USMNT vs. Panama in Seattle

The calm before the storm. CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening.

Coverage of U.S. Soccer from "The Seattle Times".

Our hotel was right across the street from the USMNT hotel and I was able to snag pics with a few of the guys.

Jermaine Jones. Concussed or stunned to meet FBM?

Two members of the "big ear club". Me and Brad Davis.

Sacha Kljestan. Thanks for taking the picture former Victoria's Secret model Jamie Lee Darley!

Like an opponent's shot, safely in the arms of Brad Guzan.

Fabian Johnson and Nick Rimando. 

We took in a few beers at Elysian Brewing Company in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and, of course, left our mark.

The American Outlaws "Night Before Party" was hosted by AO: Seattle at Golazo Energy's Headquarters. Several former national team players including Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, and Taylor Twellman stopped by. A packed house all night with FIFA tournaments, fooseball (we dominated), and a uber-patrotic photo booth, plus sweet gear giveaways from Nike Soccer.

USMNT legend Cobi Jones supporting the FBM cause.

Signing a big card for the USMNT.

Sno-Fro made an appearance!

Then it was gameday. Off to the American Outlaws bar-tailgate and, of course, the match itself.

We took in a little bit of the "local flavor" for better or worse.

March to the Match.

Free scarves! America!

Under the giant flag after the National Anthem. One guy looks concerned.

The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible.

You know the drill.... #CheersToSoccer

 

American Outlaws VP Justin Brunken and I in silly surprise of such a great result.

We were walking out of the stadium when I elbowed Brunken. "Is that f*cking Jay DeMerit?" "Hey Jay!" I yelled.

Yup... Jay F*cking DeMerit.

Look ma! I was on the TeeVee!

Having survived the "snow-pocolypse" in Denver and been a part of this massively awesome crowd in Seattle.... don't know how much more "epic" U.S. events we can take! There's no doubt that this city knows how to bring it for American soccer, Sounders or their national team.

See you all in Salt Lake City!

Tags: Beer, Free Beer Match Days, photography, USMNT

The After Bar: USMNT 2 - Panama 0

The United States men's national team took pole position in CONCACAF's "Hex" and is nearly a lock for going to Brazil in 2014 after a decisve 2-0 win over Panama in front of nearly 41,000 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA. Jozy Altidore provided the opening goal in the 36th minute, giving him three goals in the last three games. It wasn't necessary, but Seattle Sounders' Eddie Johnson delighted the home crowd with the Nats second goal of the evening in the 53rd minute.

Combined with Mexico's dour 0-0 draw with Costa Rica at Estadio Azteca the USMNT now tops their World Cup qualifying group with 10 points and a 3-1-1 record.

They'll face Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium next Tuesday at 9pm ET.

Highlights:

 
Epic tifo from "The American Outlaws" and their Seattle chapter:
 
Analysis from some of American soccer's best writers:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Player Ratings:
 
 
 
 

Tags: The After Bar, USMNT

A Brew for You…. And You…. And You… (USMNT vs. Panama)

Seattle. Washington. United States.

The Nats are back home and in one of America's biggest soccer cities. Panama... we hope you're ready for this. With three, dramatic points in the bag from their Jamaican vacation the USMNT will have to avoid overconfidence against this weakened opponent (FC Dallas man Blas Perez is out with gastroenteritis) and playing in front of, arguably, one of the largest pro-U.S. crowds they've ever had.

A win tonight makes the tougher, revenge match against Honduras in Sandy, Utah look less daunting. Bottom line: do work, get a result.

For today's game day beer recommendation we're going to play a little six degrees of separation. Although this one doesn't involve bacon; Kevin or Rogue's Voodoo Maple.

Long time readers of this piece (wait... what? I've only been doing for about six months) knows that FBM is a big history nerd so let's dive in. In the early 1900s the United States and President Theodore Roosevelt "assisted" in the Panamanian Revolution that would see the isthmus win their independence from Colombia in 1903. Lo and behold, the next year the U.S. was given the rights to build a canal through Panama, and it was completed in 1914. The United States would control the canal until 1999. Teddy also was found of the suds, once, allegedly, bringing 500 gallons of beer on an African expedition in 1909.

Theodore Roosevelt was cousins with another U.S. president, Franklin D. Roosevelt the 32nd to hold the office. FDR, during the Great Depression and World War Two was found of giving "Fireside Chats" to reassure a nation nervous with economic troubles and the global conflict. "Fireside Chat" is the name of an awesome "winter warmer" by 21st Amendment. 21st Amendment is an awesome San Francisco brewery and some other similarly named patriotic brews.

Today, enjoy 21st Amendment's "Hell or High Watermelon" wheat beer. Their webpage introduces the beer as such: "Like Lady Liberty, we stand for independence and perseverance. In the pursuit of innovative beer, there is no obstacle too great."

Sounds a lot like our USMNT. Let's do this boys... for Lady Liberty.

What are you drinking tonight?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

Today’s The Day… USMNT vs. Panama

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US game. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in in a qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Today's the day they face Panama at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Dempsey will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on the home team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Tags: USMNT

National Beer Outreach Day - The Night in Pictures

Friday's night wina against Jamaica wasn't just a massive step toward the United States men's national team's qualification for the World Cup. It was also a massive step forward for us at the Free Beer Movement.

In partnership with the U.S. soccer supporters group, the American Outlaws, we hosted the "National Beer Outreach Day". In more than 55 AO chapter bars, all across America, the FBM philosophy was in full-effect. Huge paid tabs, two-for-one deals, steep drink discounts, and, of course, straight-up free beer was flowing like....errrr.... wine... for these supporters of the USMNT.

The goal, as always, is to use the power of a free beer to lure newbies to the sport, and in this case, help build support for not only the Nats, but the American Outlaws organization. Already the national team's largest supporters group NBOD was also a membership drive for AO as current members brought unaffliated fans or newbies to get them to join in the excitment of the journey to Brazil in 2014.

The American Outlaws and FBM promoted the event via social media and asked members and guest to Tweet using the hashtag #PourItForward

 

 

Here are some of the best pictures and Tweets of the night: (check out the entire #PourItForward timelines as well)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: American Outlaws, Beer, Event, FBM In Action, Free Beer Match Days, USMNT

The After Bar: USMNT 2 - Jamaica 1

Just another day at "The Office", right?

The United States men's national team beat Jamaica in dramatic fashion last night with Brad Evans smashing a stoppage-time shot into the back of the net to win 2-1. Jozy Altidore stayed hot scoring his second goal in two matches (his first in a competitive U.S. game since 2011).

Both sides exchanged chances off the post, but it was the U.S. who drew first blood. Graham Zusi found free space to cross the ball and Altidore headed it home. The second half devolved into a series of half-chances and close shaves for the Nats' defense until 89th minute when the wheels came off. Just like the USMNT's last visit to Kingston, a free-kick in a dangerous position and poor man-marking (plus a little help from being offsides), and Jamaica had their equalizer on a Jermaine Beckford header.

With four minutes of stoppage-time a Michael Bradley received a pass back from his short corner, snuck the ball under the foot of a Jamaican defender to find Evans. Evans pivoted towards the goal and fired a shot past the defense and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. 

Three points. Get on the plane.

The Nats continue their World Cup qualifying journey at home against Panama from Seattle at 6:30pm PT on ESPN.

Highlights:

 

Analysis from some of American soccer's best writers:

Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) - "Three thoughts on the U.S.' stunning win in Jamaica"

Matthew Doyle (MLSSoccer.com) - "Armchair Analyst: Three things we learned from a reassuring USMNT win in Jamaica"

Steve Davis (Pro Soccer Talk) - "U.S. now in great shape for World Cup  qualifying"

Doug McIntyre (ESPN) - "U.S. finally has more width in attack"

Livio Bird (American Soccer Now) - "Office Schematics: How the U.S. Defeated Jamaica"

Will Parchman (The Shin Guardian) - "The USA v. Jamaica Retro Diary: 2-1 USA WHAAAAAT!"

Player Ratings:

Brian Sciaretta (New York Times/ Yanks Abroad)

Avi Creditor (Sports Illustrated)

Jeff Carlisle (ESPN)

Greg Seltzer (MLSSoccer.com)

Tags: The After Bar, USMNT

A Beer for You… And You… And You… (USMNT vs. Jamaica)

Tonight is the night.

That sounds like some gondola singer's line in Venice, but it's appropriate for what's on the line for the United States men's national team in Kingston, Jamaica.

For Jamaica it's win or their World Cup qualifying odyssey is in "beyond serious" trouble. For the Nats the need to play for the "W" while keeping a close eye on not blowing the draw. Dropping points at "The Office" like during the last round is not an option. It's no nail in the qualifying coffin, but it a blow to the momentum-generating win against Germany last Sunday and what we need to get in gear for home matches against Panama and Honduras in the next two weeks.

Without wasting your time let's get right to today's beer of the match.

Meet Sierra Nevada "Torpedo" Extra India Pale Ale. The Chico, California brewery is one of the "greats" and "originals". Their pioneering work on the hoppy side of beers has made their brand a staple even at bars that are allergic to craft beer.  If you can't get "Torpedo" fill up your pint with the less, hoppy, flagship "Pale Ale". Draft, bottles, or even in a can Sierra Nevada's got you covered.

We chose "Torpedo" because we're hoping that tonight's match is the one that sinks Jamaica's World Cup hopes. The worse off the Reggae Boyz sit in the table the more distance we can put between us and them and securing our own qualification to Brazil.

Who's the lead Torpedo in the USMNT arsenal? It's none other than captain, my captain Clint Dempsey. He'd got the biggest balls of them all and he's putting them out there to secure passage to Brazil. Jozy is in tube two getting ready to follow up his banner performance against Germany.

Bottom line? Jamaica's got a mountain to climb in this match (the Sierra Nevada mountains?) and a loss for them means they're basically done-zo.

The U.S. needs to come out torpedoes a-blazin' and get the job done in Kingston. Their backline, set-piece defending, and attack need that "extra" something tonight or otherwise USMNT fans will be looking "pale".

What are you drinking for tonight's U.S. game?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

Today’s The Day… USMNT vs. Jamaica

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US game. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in in a qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Today's the day they face Jamaica at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Dempsey will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on the home team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Tags: USMNT

The Big Pitcher: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Clint Dempsey?

Editor's Note: Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice”. Sometimes we American soccer fans get wrapped up in the day-to-day, Monday morning quarterbacking (or centerbacking), knee-jerk reactions and miss out on the big picture. This weekly column will focus on picking out the larger themes and issues of Major League Soccer and the American game.

By Eric Betts / Senior Crystal Ball Correspondent

Pop culture figures I personally have compared Clint Dempsey to in writing:

- Han Solo
- Yoda
- Dean Moriarty
- Arthur Fonzarelli
- Batman
- Indiana Jones
- Charles Bronson’s claustrophobic “Tunnel King”
- MacGyver

And now, kind of, sort of, Maria von Trapp

Basically, Clint Dempsey is the Patton Oswalt Episode VII pitch of American soccer. (This would make a fantastic web video, except Dempsey isn’t a convincing actor even when he plays himself in TV commercials.)

Through one and a quarter rounds of qualifying, Dempsey has scored seven of the USMNT’s 13 total goals, largely from a central attacking midfield/shadow striker role in Klinsmann’s 4-Pentagon-That-Rotates-from-Game-to-Game-So-That-A-Different-Player-Is-Always-Highest-1 formation. He is the only effective component in an offense that has been sputtering for more than a year now, the one player the team can depend on to put the ball in the back of the net, the best player on the team playing in his preferred position.

He has to go.

Not go-away-forever go. But go-somewhere-else go. Despite the impressive goal haul, despite his standing as the captain, despite the fact that he is often our only hope, building around Dempsey in the central attacking midfielder role is not a good thing.

This isn’t news to most U.S. fans; it’s something that’s been mentioned in passing for months across the soccer media spectrum, but has seemed the least of all possible worries about the team as long as he’s still scoring goals. Whether it’s a symptom of the team’s growing pains or a cause is something idly wondered about while fans and pundits continue their search for Dutch Jozy Altidore and play Elimidate with center back pairings. Who would even play there? (The answer is U.S. Soccer’s own Len Bias, 2010 Stu Holden.) Given the lack of other options, maybe it’s okay. It’s better than playing three defensive midfielders, right?

Well, yes, but not enough so. Best case scenario: With the offense running smoothly, (Q1: Is Michael Bradley playing? Q2: Is everyone saying nasty things on Twitter about the team and coach because of their last performance? If Y to Q1 and Q2, then yes, the offense is probably running smoothly.) Dempsey is able to play higher up and with the confidence that his teammates will get him the ball in the final third.

All other scenarios: The offense grinds its gears trying to get from second to third and Dempsey starts dropping deeper in search of the ball. This is a problem, because he all-too-often gets it.

Teammates know that Deuce is the best chance to make something happen when the offense is sputtering, but when Dempsey gets the ball at the center circle he’s merely a good player, not the leather-jacket wearing, Harrison Ford-channeling, fashion-chances-out-of-duct-tape-and-jumper-cables embodiment of American soccer id that he ought to be.

That’s not to say he’s been bad; he’s actually proved himself adept at keeping possession in Klinsmann’s offense, misplacing a total of six passes against Belgium and Germany combined. The bad news is just two of his 81 completed passes found someone inside the 18-yard box: the headed assist and a right-wing cross. The threat of his passing pales in comparison to the threat of his goal-scoring. He’s a finisher, not a playmaker.

Dempsey can be a creative force; it’s just his skill set is built much more around getting the ball around the last line of defenders and into the net, not through the midfield shield in front of them and to a player in good position. Some zones on the field are more difficult for offensive players to operate in than others. The best playmakers skirt the edges of them, dominating the seams. Dempsey abandons them entirely, searching out spaces deeper in midfield or towards the flanks, or pushing further forward where he can take one touch before getting off a shot. The issue, in other words, isn’t getting him the ball; it’s also getting it to the people in front of him.

Dempsey at his best is a ball-stopper; the qualities that we praise in him, the vaunted willingness to “just try shit,” requires that he take the ball and do something audacious and risky and likely as not to fail with it. We lament the fact that more of our players don’t do this, but we’re asking the one who does to complete 93 percent of his passes and lose the ball just four other times and to try to jumpstart the offense by moving further and further away from the area in which he does his best offensive work. That he’s the one who usually manages to score in these games anyway is a testament to his ability to convert the one chance that falls his way.

To run the offense through him as a central attacking midfielder is to neuter that instinct. Dempsey creates and takes his own chances so well that he gives you plan A production even when he is the plan B, Nearly every new coach Fulham cycled through during his time at the club started by benching Dempsey for the sake of whatever system they envisioned the team playing, then going back to him when it became apparent that they needed another, different kind of threat to ride out of the sunset and save everyone’s asses.  When he gets to play higher up in that role, it works out just fine. When he does take on more of a linking role, the result can be less than ideal.

Klinsmann’s been experimenting for nearly a year playing a goalscorer on the left to balance a more service-oriented player on the right – think how Brazil used Robinho under Dunga, starting high on the flank to take advantage of space left by a marauding fullback but moving into the gap between the right fullback and the centerback in attack. Klinsmann asks for more defensive discipline from this player, but has gotten serviceable performances out of non-wingers Herculez Gomez and Eddie Johnson, who’s so thoroughly converted in Klinsmann’s mind that he’s listed as a midfielder on the Gold Cup provisional roster.

You get the sense this role was at one point, specifically this point, earmarked for Brek Shea to grow into. Now in theory, it’s a way to get a third striker-type on the field while maintaining defensive shape and a semblance of width. In practice, when things are not going well, it’s another withered body to be dug up from under the touchline after being starved of service for 90 minutes. 

Now it’s time to give that spot back to Dempsey, who’s spent much of his career for club and country cutting inside from that area. Starting him out wide won’t keep him out of central goalscoring positions: the two Agents Johnson played their combined 79 total minutes on two different flanks yesterday opposite service men Graham Zusi and Brad Davis (somewhat frustratingly matching Eddie’s speed against the only German who seemed to have any interest in running, Dennis Aogo), but you wouldn’t know it from where they were getting the ball.

It may not be. All the reasons listed above could be used as justification for putting him right in front of goal, as a traditional striker or a false-nine, except the team would still lack for wing options to play around him or midfield runners to move into the space he opens up with his movement. To what lengths should we go in order to build a team around Clint Dempsey? Do we even have the parts to build that kind of a team?

And, most crucially, does Dempsey need a team to be built around him?  Or can he still survive, and even thrive, as the best Plan B in the business?

About Eric

Eric Betts is a freelancer writer who lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and his dog Lando (yup). He is a contributing writer for "The Other 87 Minutes", their brilliance featured every Tuesday on the Free Beer Movement in the form of "the Tuesday 10" or the "Tuesday XI". While attending Emory University he won "College Jeopardy"

Tags: Big Pitcher, Eric Betts, USMNT

The After Bar: USWNT 3 - Canada 0

The women's national team provided the icing on the cake for the United States' soccer Centennial celebration beating Canada 3-0 in Toronto.

The first half wouldn't see any goals from a resolute Canadian defense, but all of that good work was undone as Alex Morgan scored twice in about two minutes midway through the second half and Sydney Leroux tallied a goal in stoppage time.

The Lady Nats will face South Korea in a pair of matches later this month; June 15th in Boston and June 20th in New Jersey.

Alex Morgan's First Goal:

 

Alex Morgan's Second Goal:

 

Sydney Leroux's Goal:

 

Post-Game Quote Sheet

 

Analysis from some of American soccer's best writers:

Richard Farley (Pro Soccer Talk) - "Five takeaways from the United States’ win over Canada"

Jeff Kassouf (Equalizer Soccer) - "Morgan, Leroux lift US women over Canada"

Tags: The After Bar, USWNT

The After Bar: USMNT 4 - Germany 3

If you're going to celebrate your 100th birthday you might as well go big. The United States men's national team jumped out to a surprising 4-1 over Germany and then held on for a 4-3 win in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. A sold-out crowd of over 47,000 packed RFK Stadium and saw Jozy Altidore return to the score sheet for the USMNT and a deuce for captain Clint Dempsey. A comical own-goal in the middle of the first half completed the scoring.

The Nats resume qualifying for the 2014 World Cup this Friday against Jamaica. Kickoff at 9:30 ET on BeIN Sport.

Highlights:

 

Reaction:

 

Post Match Quotes

 

Reaction and analysis from some of American soccer's best writers:

Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) - "Three thoughts on the USA's friendly win over Germany"

The Shin Guardian - "USA 4 – Germany 3: Ten Things We Didn’t Learn On Sunday"

Steve Davis (Pro Soccer Talk) - "Three things that looked great for the United States vs. Germany … and three that didn’t"

 

Player Ratings:

Avi Creditor (Sports Illustrated)

Brian Sciaretta (New York Times)

Greg Seltzer (MLSSoccer.com)

Jeff Carlisle (ESPN)

Tags: The After Bar, USMNT

A Brew For You… And You…. And You…. (US vs. Germany)

One of the pleasures of international soccer and, subsequently beer writing, is that you get to explore the brews of your opponent in preparation for the Shakespearean prose you’ll have to scribe later. In the case of this last week’s United States men’s national team friendlies coach Jurgen Klinsmann couldn’t picked better opposition. On the soccer side of things, for American fans, last Wednesday’s match was a doozy and today’s match against Germany might be equally so, but on the beer fan side we’re talking about two of Europe’s boozy best.

Get it?

Soccer equals doozy. Sad face.

Beer is equals boozy. Happy face.

Today’s match is the perfect example of where we’re at as both a soccer nation and a brewing nation. This USMNT squad is led by a German coach with deep American roots and features a number of German-Americans (“Germericans” as Shawn Francis of “The Offside Rules” puts it) as the Nats struggle to find their identity as soccer team in the shadow of a world footballing power from the European continent. These Germans have left greener pastures to forge a new international career playing (or coaching) for the United States. The verdict is still out, but the future looks bright.

Whereas, in the brewing world, American craft brewers are more than holding their own in the face of hundreds of years of German brewing pedigree. In fact U.S. breweries are now successfully invading Germany and giving the land of the pilsner, bock, and Oktoberfest a run for their money as Germans and other Europeans demand to be liberated by hoppier and more innovative beers or just be challenged on their own turf as American craft brewers take on traditional German styles (Don’t get me wrong Germany still does “traditional” the best).

Invasion. Liberation. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before?

But you all didn’t come here for a history lesson (or did you?…. I do teach for a living). You came here for a beer lesson.

You can have both, though. This match is the Centennial match celebrating 100 years of the United States Soccer Federation.  A time to celebrate how far we’ve come as a soccer nation and look forward to what we still have to (and will) accomplish as a soccer nation. A nod to old traditions while establishing new ones.

Here we go again. USA vs. Germany

Here are a few of our favorite American beers with their own nods to German tradition:

- Victory Brewing Company “Prima Pils” Pilsner (Dowington, Pennsylvania)

- Firestone Walker Brewing Company “Pivo” Pilsner (Paso Robles, California)

- Hops and Grain Craft Brewery “Alteration” German-Style Alt (Austin, Texas)

- DC Brau/ Ska Brewing Company “Taster’s Choice” Coffee Doppelbock (Washington, D.C.)

- Rogue Ales “Dead Guy Ale” Maibock (Newport, Oregon)

- Lakefront Brewing Company “Riverwest Stein” Amber Lager/Oktoberfest (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

What are you all drinking with your USMNT soccer today?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

Today’s The Day…

Graphic Courtesy of "The American Outlaws"

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US game. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in an international friendly in preparation of a summer full of World Cup Qualifiers and the 2013 Gold Cup

Today's the day they face Germany in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Dempsey will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on the home team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Tags: USMNT

The Big Pitcher - Gangs of New York Edition

Editor's Note: Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice”. Sometimes we American soccer fans get wrapped up in the day-to-day, Monday morning quarterbacking (or centerbacking), knee-jerk reactions and miss out on the big picture. This weekly column will focus on picking out the larger themes and issues of Major League Soccer and the American game.

By Eric Betts / Senior Crystal Ball Correspondent

The best case scenario for soccer in America now that MLS has dropped its 20th team into the most-populous metropolitan area of the country won’t be twice-, thrice- or quarce-yearly trans-Hudson-and-Hackensack skirmishes the league has been salivating over since it started adding teams again.

These games will likely feature as high a quotient of recognizable names as any MLS game that didn’t involve David Beckham. They will be broadcast nationally and hyped heavily. They will be, the league hopes, at the tip-top of the list of prime draws in a new age of MLS on television.

That will all be nice. This announcement feels like a pivotal point because the names involved are so big, and because NYC2’s approach has felt a little something like Sir Lancelot storming our castle. Whether they’ll kill everyone now that they’re inside isn’t a completely ridiculous fear, but this is supposed to be a happy occasion, so let’s look on the bright side, shall we?

If the Red Bulls-Other City games break ratings records, that will be a good thing for the league. If they don’t, it will be a disappointing setback, but Don Garber will not commit seppuku in front of the NFL’s Manhattan offices. Casualties will be limited. The league will march on.

But where this rivalry may have the opportunity to break new and interesting ground is in their impending soft war. Judging by the initial reaction to the announcement, New York’s second MLS franchise and its wealthy backers will not be greeted as liberators when they arrive on these shores. The people who will be in charge of the new team know enough about modern sports fans to know that slapping NYCCICCIPPI or whatever on a building and a T-shirt does not make that franchise suddenly of that community; the big bosses in England are already sounding notes to that effect.

The campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people will have to go further than having Joe Hart and James Milner star in a new American Gladiators reboot. (A. Why is it always those two who get featured in the breakout videos? Sergio Aguero took some cuts too. B. Hart has a nice swing; Milner needs to raise his elbow more, but gets surprising power out of just his wrists.)

Instead, you’d imagine the first phase would be to capitalize and expand on the charity and development efforts City’s been putting into the city for the last several years. Nothing reverses public opinion on an obscenely wealthy Scrooge faster than throwing some of that money around for someone else’s benefit.

What efforts like this do is create goodwill, which makes people like your organization more, and when people like your organization more, they tend to wish it well almost despite themselves, even when your franchise is owned by two of the entities that people on two different continents have come to hate more than all the others as totems of everything wrong with the relationship between modern sports and money. That might not be totally fair, but you can see where there might be something of a likability gap that NYCFC is going to have to make up.

No amount of advertising can duplicate the goodwill the Timbers organization and their fans generated when they took it on the chin from the Green Machine earlier this season, or when the Sounders had to be saved by Electron Boy a few years back. (I don’t mean to suggest that either of these organizations did it for the publicity, but with the kind of publicity they got even just within the soccer world, God, why would you not participate in something like this?)

Goodwill doesn’t solve all of a franchise’s problems – it’s not a replacement for exposure – but it does help create new fans, something the New York teams are going to be in the market for. Sky blue turf fields for everyone!

Unless they get darker blue fields instead. It can’t be in the Red Bulls’ best interests to cede the eastern islands to this newcomer, even if their power base remains in New Jersey. They already offer initiatives like the vaguely-named Urban Soccer Program and the usual but important MLS Works stuff.

This is where the escalation could bring about a boon in the soccer community, because if Red Bulls and NYCFC invest in more soccer development it means we’ll see a broader spectrum of programs that can do more to make an impact in the lives of the people they serve.

It isn't outreach in the way we typically think of it, but it's safe to attach a similar motivation to why the NASL Cosmos franchise have attached their brand name to one of the niftier ideas in sports, the city-wide championship of pseudo-national teams formerly known as the Copa NYC. If the Cosmos decide they’re going to try to keep pace with their MLS counterparts, then the possibilities become even more varied.

New York City is already a hub of soccer and social change programs, from Street Soccer USA, which hosts the finals of its annual national tournament for homeless players in Times Square, to America Scores New York, which teaches kids about soccer, social work and poetry in a safe after-school environment.

When the clubs start really putting some effort into the field, the city and the surrounding area will become a laboratory for these programs, exposing new audiences to the game and doing good work through soccer in ways that can be exported to the rest of the country.

The border war will be the big show when NYCFC hits town, but the most important battles may be fought far from the front lines.

About Eric

Eric Betts is a freelancer writer who lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and his dog Lando (yup). He is a contributing writer for "The Other 87 Minutes", their brilliance featured every Tuesday on the Free Beer Movement in the form of "the Tuesday 10" or the "Tuesday XI". While attending Emory University he won "College Jeopardy"

Tags: Big Pitcher, Eric Betts

The After Bar: Belgium 4 - USMNT 2

The United States mens's national team learned some hard lessons in their 4-2 loss to Belgium Wednesday night in Cleveland, Ohio. The Nats fell behind early only to snag one goal back through defender Geoff Cameron. The wheels came off in the second half as the U.S. defense gave up three goals in a fifteen minute period. Clint Dempsey's late penalty was the sole consolation of a poor second half. 

The USMNT faces Germany on Sunday in their Centennial match from Washinton, D.C. before resuming World Cup Qualifying on Friday June 7th against Jamaica.

Geoff Cameron Goal:

Clint Dempsey Goal:

Reaction:

 

Post-Match Quotes

Reaction and analysis from some of American soccer's best writers:

Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated) - "U.S. defense exposed in ugly friendly loss to Belgium"

Matthew Doyle (MLSSoccer.com) -  "Armchair Analyst: Three things we learned from the USMNT loss to Belgium"

Roger Bennett (ESPN) - "What we learned from the U.S. loss to Belgium"

Player Ratings:

Avi Creditor (Sports Illustrated)

Jeff Carlisle (ESPN)

Brian Sciaretta (New York Times)

Ives Galarcep (Soccer By Ives)

Tags: The After Bar, USMNT

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