Category Archives: International Friendly

US national team set for historic friendly visit to Cuba

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The US national team is set for a historic visit to Cuba for an international friendly that will take place in Havana on October 7 at Estadio Pedro Marrero.

This was the first time since 1947 that the U.S. team visit Cuba, making it their second friendly visit to the island nation in 69 years.

Both teams previously met competitively in Havana in 2008 during the 2010 South Africa World Cup qualifiers, with the US team winning 1-0. Clint Dempsey scored the winning goal for USA to qualify for the finals while Cuba was eliminated in the third round.

They met again in Baltimore in last year’s Gold Cup; Dempsey netted four as his team cruised to 6-0 victory.

US Soccer confirmed the match, a result of US President Barack Obama’s effort to pursue improved Cuban-American relations after more than 50 years of hostility between both countries.

“We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba,” said US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity.”

The US team recently finished fourth at Copa America Centenario, and will play two more qualifiers for the 2018 Russian World Cup before visiting Cuba.

Currently second in their four-team World Cup qualifying group, the US team is up against St Vincent and the Grenadines on 2 September, and take on Trinidad & Tobago four days later.

The final qualifying round of six teams, also known as the Hex, begins in November, with three teams advancing directly to the final tournament in Russia.




England leaves it late to defeat 10-men Portugal

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England leaves it late to defeat 10-men Portugal

England finished their warm-up ahead of Euro 2016 in a lackluster international friendly against Portugal, leaving it late to score the winning goal to end the match 1-0.

Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for the tournament, packed with a strong forward ensemble, did not look threatening for much of 90 minutes. Wayne Rooney was plonked down at the middle as Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy – visibly uncomfortable – were played wide.

In fact, it was as unfortunate as it was awkward that two of the Premier League’s top scorers – both central strikers – were being played as part-time wingers. Additionally, with Kane pulling to the right most of the time and his Tottenham teammate Dele Alli playing left on the midfield, there was none of those magical link-up play often saw during their time together with the club.

But the team can revel in relief as Portugal simply lack the pedigree to move up or seriously threaten Joe Hart. They looked uninspired without talismanic forward Cristiano Ronaldo, and their situation worsened early.

In the 35th minute, Bruno Alves was sent-off immediately for his flying, studs up challenge that caught the side of Harry Kane’s head. It did not even faze Kane; he stumbled, but quickly went back on his feet in pursuit of the ball. There was little argument that it was the right call for referee Marco Guida to stop play and pull out a straight red.

Still, then it was only with minutes left that England got the job done. Raheem Sterling, coming on for Vardy, showed how a winger does his job. He swung a cross into the box, where Chris Smalling glancing header puts it into the back Portugal’s net.

But as the fourth favourite in Euro 2016, anyone could tell that if England has any desire to claim the trophy in France, the team needs to perform a lot better than this.

Other Friendly Results

Mexico 1 – 0 Chile

Spain 6 – 1 South Korea

Russia 1 – 2 Czech Republic

Marcus Rashford makes instant impact in England debut

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Marcus Rashford makes instant impact in England debut

Marcus Rahsford made an instant impact in his debut for England, scoring at 138 seconds after kick-off for a 2-1 friendly victory against Australia.

His Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney scored his 52nd England goal in the 55th minute. Australia received their consolation in the form of Eric Dier’s own goal with 15 minutes left, heading into his net at the near post from Alex Wilkinson’s cross.

Rashford’s goal was also a history maker as he became the youngest ever English player who makes the mark in their international debut. The record was first set by Tommy Lawton at October 1938 – who was 19 years and 16 days old then, while Rashford was 18 years and 208 days.

He has also scored with his first shot in the Europa League, the Premier League and at international level, all within a prodigious 92-day period. In training and the match, the teenager demonstrated pace, control and a nerveless approach.

There was also that familiar sense of maturity the youngster had shown when playing for United. Even when he fumbled on a chance in the second half, he recovered his poise quickly to send a cross flashing into the six-yard box with his England colleagues just unable to get a touch.

Such a performance would ease any manager’s worries, and would certainly be bore in the mind of Roy Hodgson, as he ponders who in his provisional 26-man squad has to be removed in order to cut the squad down to 23-man for the Euro 2016.

Meanwhile, clearly wary about poachers of the rare young prodigy, Marcus Rashford is rewarded a £20,000-a-week contract with Manchester United. The striker has one year left on his current deal but the Red Devils are clearly not taking any chances, moving swiftly to offer him a long-term contract.