The U.S. Men’s Natoinal Team begins the final round of World Cup Qualifying Wednesday at 3 p.m. against Honduras in the city of San Pedro Sula. Here’s what to watch for in 2013 as The Yanks try to earn a spot in Brazil in 2014.
If/When Landon Donovan will join the team. The 30-year-old forward has been the face of U.S. soccer since being named “Best Young Player” at the 2002 World Cup. Donovan told the media he needed a break in October 2012, due to physical and mental exhaustion.
I've never been a fan of Donovan's on-the-field attitude. In recent years, he's clearly not been enjoying the game the way he should. USMNT needs him to get his head straight, though, because there's no American who can match his combination of speed, vision, passing efficiency, timing and shot and set-piece accuracy.
He won’t play in Honduras Wednesday. Just when the U.S.’s all-time assists and goals leader will join the team is even more pressing considering the team faces rival Mexico in Mexico City on March 26, where the U.S. won for the first time Aug. 15, 2012.
Subquestion: Can he be the leader the U.S. needs him to be if/when he returns to the pitch?
Will outside backs emerge? Injuries to Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson have left the U.S. team with little international experience at outside back, and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is searching for answers. Outside backs Tony Beltran and Justin Morrow, and center back Matt Besler made their U.S. soccer debuts against Canada Jan. 29, all in starting roles. They played well, allowing Canada just one shot on target in the 0-0 match.
Whoever Klinsmann puts on the back line against Honduras will face a better team with a lot more on the line, though. Goalkeeper Tim Howard may have a heavy shot load to take on Wednesday.
Will Jozy Altidore take the next step? The 23-year-old striker has scored 13 goals in 51 appearances for the U.S. since 2007. His 2010 World Cup performances were riddled with missed chances and squandered opportunities, though.
Altidore has 15 goals in 19 Dutch Eredivisie league appearances for AZ Alkmaar this season, despite facing racist taunts from opposing fans. If he can carry that composure over into international competition, the U.S. could have the star striker it so desperately needs.
How good is Dempsey? After finishing tied for fourth in the English Premier League last season with 17 goals while playing for Fulham, Dempsey has just five goals in 19 league matches for Tottenham Hotspur this season.
With two double-digit goal scorers on the team, Tottenham doesn’t rely on Dempsey to score as much as Fulham did. There is one thing for certain, though. For the U.S. to go very far in next year’s World Cup, or to even qualify this year, Dempsey will have to create chances on goal, and capitalize when he does.
Can The Yanks find ...
When [Jackson State] (7-4)meets Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-2) in the SWAC Football Championship Game this Saturday the Tigers will be looking for their first conference title since 2007 and to add to their 16th conference titles. Only [Southern] with 17 titles and [Grambling State] with 23 titles have more SWAC titles than JSU.
Monday night football, tonight, will end the debate of who has been more underachieving in the NFC this season. New Orleans (2-5) faces Philadelphia (3-4) in a game many would have thought before the season was a playoff preview. That was before the Saints stumbled out of the gate losing their first four games and the Eagles lost four of their last five games. Now both of these teams come into this game knowing that loss could damage their their playoff hopes beyond repair.
The quest for six wins for 70 teams continues this week. Currently there are 42 teams that are bowl eligible and five of those teams are undefeated and still in play for the national championship. Ohio State is also undefeated but unable to play for the title due to NCAA sanctions. Speaking of teams not able to play in a bowl game, there are 25 teams unable to play in a bowl game currently due to seven losses, NCAA sanctions or moving from FCS to FBS transition.
Last week was a tough week for the college football teams in Mississippi. Nearly every team lost but Ole Miss and Belhaven. It was the type of week you just want to forget about but if you missed any of last week's action you can pick up the current issue of the JFP and read the round up or [follow this link]. Things don't get any easier this week for college football teams in Mississippi. Southern Miss is still searching for win one, Mississippi State faces a tough test in Texas A&M and Ole Miss will look to avoid a blowout against Georgia.
Sure it is November but that doesn't mean I won't dole out some late treats to you guys a day after Halloween. Before you settle in to see the Loser Gets Fired Bowl tonight night between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs, I have two great stats I found this week for you.
New Orleans gets a chance to get one game away from .500 tonight on Sunday Night Football against Denver. The Saints need to win this game to keep their slim playoff chances alive and the Broncos (contrary to how the national media portrays them) are a beatable team. Last week the Saints got their second win of the season in a 35-28 victory against Tampa Bay. New Orleans started slowly before quarterback Drew Brees went off in the second quarter against the Buccaneers defense.
This is worth repeating after Tampa Bay proved me wrong on Thursday and beat the Minnesota Vikings. Parity is in full effect in the NFL this season.... There is going to be a team that started slowly and makes the NFL Playoffs. My personal pick is the New Orleans Saints and that pick looks even better if the Saints win against the Broncos on Sunday night.
Currently there are 11 undefeated teams in college football. Louisville stayed undefeated after escaping at home against Cincinnati on Friday night with their 34-31 win. Only 10 of the undefeated teams have any hope of playing in a BCS game. Ohio State is undefeated but ineligible for a bowl game this season because of NCAA sanctions.
College football hasn't been bad to Mississippi for the most part this season. There is hope everywhere, unless you're a USM fan, and you can check out last week's games in the JFP print edition or [follow this link]. The big winner last week was Mississippi State. The Bulldogs took care of everything in front of them to setup a showdown this week against Alabama.
New Orleans got their first win of the season against San Diego right before heading into their bye week. A week off set off a new round of bounty gate but that doesn't matter because all the players appealed their suspensions and will be allowed to play this week and keep playing until their appeal hearing has taken place.
It was Interception Sunday in the NFL last Sunday........ Last week it seemed interceptions were coming as fast as quarterbacks could throw them. I counted all the interceptions from last week and their was 38 thrown from Thursday night to Monday night.
The first BCS poll was released last Sunday and rumblings around the nation are already starting about an all SEC championship Game again. The SEC was the first conference to feature two teams in the title game last year when Alabama and LSU met in a rematch.
Four year schools had a great week with everybody getting a win but Southern Miss and Mississippi College. To read a full recap pick up a copy of this week's Jackson Free Press or [follow this link].
This season in the NFL has lacked week to week constancy by most teams in the NFL. That was most evident on Thursday night as the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Tennessee Titans.
Six a the magic number in college football. Yes, touchdowns count for six points but there a six in college football that is just as important. Every team in college football wants to reach the magical six win mark to become bowl eligible. There are five teams with the necessary six wins already, they are the Ohio Bobcats, Tulsa Golden Hurricane Oregon Ducks, Ohio State Buckeyes and South Carolina Gamecocks.
College football finishes rounding the midway point this weekend. Last week was great for some and painful to watch for others. If you missed anything, check out the recap in this week's JFP or [with this link].
ESPN sent out a press release that Mississippi State will face Oklahoma State in the newly created Texas Football Classic which will be held in Houston at Reliant Stadium. Here is a link to the [full press release].
There has been a ton of talk spent this week on New Orleans Saints' quarterback Drew Brees having a chance to break Johnny Unitas 47 game streak with a touchdown pass. Currently Brees is tied with the late hall of fame quarterback Unitas. I'm sure if you asked Brees, he would give up every record he has ever achieved in the NFL for a couple of wins this season. At 0-4, New Orleans is sitting on the brink of disaster this season.
The Leaves have begun to fall and the weather is changing from the heat of September to the cooler temperatures of October. College football doesn't cool down with the weather it only begins to get hotter. Gone are the September routs of weak scheduling of out of conference opponents. Finally, conference games are in full swing and their will be no where for the pretenders to hide.