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International Break Review: Yanks, Loons, and Afghans

by on 30 March 2017

Last week, we set up this month’s international break for Minnesotan fans. Now that the matches are over, let’s recap some of the crucial events to consider.

U-S-A! Pul-i-sic!

You may have heard: The United States is no longer on the verge of soccer oblivion. A 6-0 win over Honduras was a strong start to their renewed campaign, and elicited a certain amount of American ego. Tuesday night the Men’s national team made a strong start to the match against Panama, before settling into a steady war-of-attrition en route to a 1-1 draw and a solid boost up the table into the middle of the CONCACAF pack.

You may also have heard that  perhaps the most notable figure on the team was not returning striker Clint Dempsey or the rejuvenated Tim Howard. It was young Christian Pulisic, a young man whose performances are already nearing mythical status among American supporters. He seemed to transform the team against Honduras. He positively bedeviled Panamanian defenders in setting up Clint Dempsey’s goal.  Truly, this is a young man whose very existence confirms our belief in god (provided that god is him)

Loons In flight

Costa Rica

Los Ticos continued to struggle in 2017. First, they (like many others) struggled when they visited Mexico City. Mexico’s first goal came in the 7th minute, right around the time Francisco Calvo dropped off of Carlos Vela. And as the children’s book says, if you give El Tri an inch, they’ll lace a through ball to Javier Hernandez, and if you give Javier Hernandez a through ball he’ll score, and if Javier Hernandez scores once, he’ll probably want to give a mouse a cookie. Worse, before half time, Nestor Araujo climbed over Calvo to nod home the second and final goal of the match.


While Calvo had a night to forget, Johan Venegas was more or less forgotten. When Costa Rica made their next appearance in a gritty draw in San Sula, Honduras, Venegas made the choice to return to Minnesota to be with his expectant wife. Meanwhile, Calvo found himself defending nothing more important than the water cooler.

Hopefully Costa Rica just has an issue with prime-numbered years, which means they won’t have another problem until 2027.

Trinidad and Tobago

Kevin Molino made a fine start to new manager Dennis Lawrence’s tenure in the technical area, netting the winning goal over Panama to lift Trinidad and Tobago back into the thick of the Hex. Unfortunately the Soca Warriors couldn’t keep the momentum going when they hosted Mexico, falling to the resurgent El Tri 1-0.

On the plus side, when they are reunited, Molino and Calvo can plot their joint revenge against Javier Hernandez. Molino had some profane choice words for Chicharito after receiving a card on Tuesday night.

Finland

Across the Atlantic, Rasmus Schüller did not feature in either Finland’s 2-0 defeat at Turkey in World Cup Qualifiers nor the 1-1 friendly draw at Austria. Not necessarily a first choice midfielder for the struggling Eagle-Owls, Schüller found himself stuck on the bench during the international window.

Fellow MLS player Alexander Ring and perennial starter Robin Lod started over the Loon. While likely disappointed that he didn’t get to play, Schüller will be rested and available for Minnesota against Real Salt Lake.

Other matches to note

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  • nomadic loon

    “NEE – next eight eliminated” was a thread on NP1. This looks like a good place to post. The first two were eliminated several months ago, but I had to wait for eight before posting:
    – # 93 Haiti out;
    – # 80 Jamaica out;
    Panama (#62) advance
    Costa Rica (#18) advance
    – # 203 San Marino out;
    – # 181 Fiji out;
    – # 167 New Caledonia out;
    New Zealand (#112) advance
    – # 127 Thailand out;
    – # 97 Bolivia out;
    – # 59 Venezuela out….

    As always, there are some wonderful youtube replays available but I can’t post the link in this new NP2 web site. Previous updates and great videos of earlier world cup qualifiers are, sadly, lost on the original NP site.
    There were no “upset” advances in this group, but perhaps New Caledonia’s 0-0 draw with New Zealand deserves mention as Les Cagous held off the Kiwis with 10 men. The highlights have one of the best scissors kick clearances on the goal line by a full back, and the scuffle that led to the red card. If you type in the youtube web site, then add “/watch?v=FfddlQsP9_4” …it might work. Thanks for posting the Afghanistan highlights!