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United States

USMNT prospects blog: Keys for U.S. to advance at U-20 World Cup

Gideon Zelalem (right) won't be counted on to shoulder a heavy load for the U.S. U-20 team.
Gideon Zelalem (right) won't be counted on to shoulder a heavy load for the U.S. U-20 team.

After months of preparation, the first match of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand is finally here for Tab Ramos' U.S. squad. The Americans open the tournament versus Myanmar on Saturday, just after midnight on the East Coast, and will round out Group A play with matches against Ukraine and the hosts.

It's a much more manageable group than the Yanks were dealt two years ago in Turkey, when they drew France, Ghana and Spain and predictably went three-and-out.

But despite an easier schedule this time around and what many consider to be as deep a U-20 roster as any in program history, reaching the knockout stages of the tournament still isn't a forgone conclusion for Ramos' side.

Here are three keys to advancing for the U-20 squad.

Don't overlook Myanmar

On paper, the Americans' first foe -- more commonly known as Burma -- is its weakest. But anyone who thinks the Southeast Asian nation will be an easy out is mistaken according to Ramos, who has scouted Myanmar extensively. ...

Young U.S. goalkeeping talent is there, but consistency, Europe seasoning key

Brad Guzan, Zack Steffen and Bill Hamid are at various levels of the U.S. goalkeeper pipeline.
Brad Guzan, Zack Steffen and Bill Hamid are at various levels of the U.S. goalkeeper pipeline.

"What's the state of U.S. goalkeeping?"

I've been asked that question many times over the years, and it surfaced again recently when Brad Friedel announced his retirement from Tottenham. Friedel is the latest of several veteran U.S. goalkeepers to retire: Marcus Hahnemann retired at the end of the 2014 MLS season; I did so a few seasons back; and, looking toward the future, Tim Howard, who turned 36 in March, will likely be the next long-tenured American to move on from the game, though probably not anytime soon (sorry Tim, time waits for no one!).

The position has been a consistent strength for the U.S. over the past 15-plus years, with multiple American keepers earning regular playing time in top European leagues. But the one constant in U.S. soccer from a position standpoint is now starting to come into question.

When did the U.S. goalkeeping surge start; where are we at now; and what's the future outlook of the position as we head deeper into the 2018 World Cup cycle? Here's some background on the rise of U.S. goalkeepers and a look at next-up and long-term targets from the pipeline who will determine the strength of American goalkeeping moving forward.

...

Hoffenheim's Jeremy Toljan picks Germany U21 over U.S. team

Hoffenheim defender Jeremy Toljan has rejected Jurgen Klinsmann's approach to turn him into a U.S. national team player, and opted to play for the Germany under-21 at the upcoming European Championships instead.

The 20-year-old defender, who has played on all positions in the Hoffenheim back four last season, was called up into Germany's preliminary squad for the 2015 under-21 European Championships next month.

On the back of a strong run-in, Toljan, who struggled with injuries earlier this season,...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Russia's Vladimir Putin accuses U.S. of meddling with FIFA, 2018 World Cup

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of meddling in FIFA's affairs and hinted that it was part of an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States is meddling in FIFA's affairs in an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.

Putin said in televised comments Thursday that it is "odd" that the probe was launched at the request of U.S. officials for crimes which do not involve its citizens and did not happen in the United States.'

Two of the 14 people charged by U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday have U.S. citizenship.

Football's world governing body was plunged into crisis after...