Written by Will Parchman

sim

The Copa America is close enough now that we can feel the heat radiating off its haunches. A few short days and we’ll be watching Messi dumptruck Haiti and the U.S. start six defensive midfielders in one game. It’ll be a menagerie of dreams.

In the meantime, we look back, because that’s what you do. The Guardian on Friday ran a piece looking back at the fabled 1995 Copa America match between the USMNT and Argentina. Highly recommend. There are anecdotes piling on top of anecdotes.

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Written by Will Parchman

nags

About a minute after the halftime break of the U.S.’s eventual 1-0 win over Ecuador in sleepy Frisco, Michael Bradley did something he hasn’t done in a long while on the national team level. Removed from the front line by about 25 yards, Bradley casually stepped up from between the dual pillars of his center backs and pulled his 8-iron from the bag.

Bobby Wood, himself a halftime substitution, was bristling for service on the left. Bradley spotted him with his spyglass and carved a perfect diagonal out of the granite from a single touch. The ball fell at Wood’s feet, and the incisive forward was soon spinning into the box.

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Written by Travis Clark

In the dying minutes of Wednesday night’s friendly against Ecuador, the U.S. men’s national team nudged their way forward. A win wouldn’t erase the memories of a dull first half, even if the script flipped at the break thanks in part to a couple of substitutions.

By the time the dust settled on a 1-0 win that will be quickly forgotten by most — save Darlington Nagbe, who scored his first goal in a U.S. jersey — one thing was clear: the 25-year-old midfielder needs to start at the Copa America.

Nagbe is a player whose raw talent and ability were easy to spot dating back to his days at Akron. They’ve remained, grown, flourished and at times appeared to stagnate since he was drafted by the Portland Timbers in 2011.

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Written by Will Parchman

field

Five times he heard the bang and it was not enough.

The light was dim and papers were everywhere. The computer was there, under mounds of tree pulp, but he’d never gotten the point. It was all here in ink and it was easier to mark anyway. The office was full of paper, crossed with red and blue and pink and whatever color he could find. His daughter loved pink.

The lights were dim because the sun was gone and his papers were everywhere and he did not look up much once the work had begun. When the sixth bang came – he counted them because he was himself – it was enough. The chair creaked back and the scotch moved and the papers ruffled in that silent way that comes with wind and he was up and walking and the door was open.

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Written by Will Parchman

brazil

This gem comes to us from the hinterlands of Brazilian U20 soccer, which is a fantastical fairy tale of step-overs and rainbows over young men and one-on-one take-ons and brutally hilarious defensive missteps.

Like this one. Exactly like this one.

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Written by Will Parchman

wood

The goal will not surface on any YouTube compendium displaying The Best Of Jurgen Klinsmann in gaudy ClipArt font with gauzy Europop notes surging over visions of his floppy 90′s hairdo. It was no thunderbastard, nor was it one of those tilting volleys off a garbage clear that made him a king of the Lane.

It was a skilled, brushed tap-in born of positioning, of hard-won knowledge in the trench, of all that is boring to a wider general populace. It was also a goal that helped save Germany the ignominy of crashing out of the 1998 World Cup in the Round of 16. One of those typical Klinsmann confluences of positioning and lethality.

Germany’s 1998 World Cup had gone fine through the group phase. Die Mannschaft was no juggernaut, or so it seemed, but they’d done enough. They’d outclassed a trainwreck of a USMNT side 2-0, took care of Iran by the same scoreline and drew a competent Yugoslavia team 2-2.

It was enough to set Germany up with a Round of 16 battle against Mexico. And it was not going well until Klinsmann did something about it. Luis Hernandez had put Mexico up 1-0 in the 47th, and the match plunged into the final 20 minutes without a German equalizer.

Then Klinsmann did this.

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Written by Will Parchman

jim-ross

Well, this is just about the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

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Written by Will Parchman

160519 U17MNT vs India

The U17s right now are in Goa, India for the 2016 AIFF Youth Cup. It’s going pretty well. The U.S. drew Tanzania in its opener, strafed India 4-0 and then drew South Korea 0-0 to earn a match against Malaysia on Monday for the right to go to the final.

The U.S. sprinted out to a comfortable 2-0 lead that was imperiled when Kevin Negrete was sent off just after halftime. Malaysia cut the lead in half in the 85th minute, but the U.S. ultimately hung on to keep its unbeaten record in tact and book a place in the final.

Without question the U.S.’s best performance to date was a mauling of host India in their second group match. Unsurprisingly, Andrew Carleton provided two of the assists. Looks like John Hackworth’s second tour of duty as the U17 czar is off to a flying start.

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The loudest omission

Written by Will Parchman

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Omar Gonzalez had his terms. They were a sad thing in the end.

Over seven years with the LA Galaxy, Gonzalez’s career arc more closely resembled an erratic heartbeat than a plane’s takeoff pattern. He was the ball-playing center back the USMNT had always coveted. Then he was the highly touted ingenue with 10 years of national team ahead. Then he was the defender who tracked too many runners. Then he was the liability. Then he was in Mexico.

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Written by Will Parchman

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We’ve already established the Copa Libertadores is a haven for insane atmospheres. It is also home to beautiful moments of insanity like these. Good luck replicating this with all of your money and spit-polish, UCL.

There’s beauty everywhere in South America this time of year. River Plate, one of Buenos Aires’ two Big Clubs, featured a sparkling light show put on by its fans moments before being upset by an unheralded club from Ecuador in the Round of 16.

Well. Something happened again. And this time it was Boca Juniors, the city’s other Big Club, doing mad things to snatch our attention by the scruff of its neck.

Boca dropped Cerro Porteño, Paraguay’s megaclub, in the first knockout round before coming to blows with three-time Copa Libertadores champion Nacional, from Uruguay, in the Round of 8. The tie was bitterly fought, and Boca looked to be on the ropes late on in the second leg. Trailing 2-1 on aggregate, Boca got a 70th minute goal from Cristian Pavón – just his second ever for the club – to send the knotted two-legged adventure to extra time.

And then, penalties.

Copa Lib penalty sessions have this fraught sense of madness about them, as though the whole of humanity hangs on each moment and each kick is its own self-contained universe. It’s the biggest club competition on arguably the most frantically supported continent on the planet. What else to expect?

And so Boca and Nacional went down into this boiling cauldron together. And they did not disappoint.

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