The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

June 16, 2014

U.S. ushers in new era of soccer

BECKLEY — Legend has it that the first soccer ball showed up in the United States in the 1850’s, in the gulf coastal region of Louisiana where Scottish, Irish and German immigrants settled.

Tonight, a century and a half later, the Americans, carrying on a tradition that extends from Bethlehem Steel, the New York Cosmos all the way to current day Major League Soccer, take to the pitch in arguably the most soccer crazed country in the world, for its biggest game in four years.

The United States and Ghana meet in the Yanks first match of the 2014 World Cup tonight at 6 p.m., in a must win match for the U.S. if it hopes to move out of the group of death.

When Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and the rest of the United States Men’s National Team stand tonight and sing The Star Spangled Banner, they'll do so with the voices of 300 million people in a choir behind them — from sea to shining sea.

The United States was eliminated in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups by Ghana, sending shock waves through the landscape of American soccer, leaving many to wonder if American soccer had reached its peak.

With stars like Landon Donovan, Carlos Bocanegra, Kasey Keller and Brian McBride aging or retiring from international soccer, the future was uncertain.

After Jurgen Klinsmann was appointed the new manager following the dismissal of longtime coach Bob Bradley, it ushered in a new era for the stars and stripes, one built on the future instead of relying on the promise of the past.

Here are three things to watch for tonight:

----- Can Jozy Altidore continue what he started against Nigeria?

Altidore's long goal scoring drought came to an end in the final send-off match for the United States, where the New York Red Bulls Academy creation and Sunderland striker scored two goals in the victory. In the absence of Donovan and his now famous heroics, Altidore will be looked to for a big game performance. How better to secure his name in the American history books than by defeating a team that has been a thorn in the side for the United States for eight years?

---- The next generation of stars and stripes.

The 24 year-old Altidore leads a new generation of American players that have grown from the roots planted by the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup. Now is a chance for these younger players to help build a soccer culture in the United States like it has never had. Klinsmann is signed through the 2018 World Cup, and it's evident he has plans for the future, telling the New York Times that it is unrealistic for the United States to win the 2014 games. But with players like Altidore, 19 year-old Julian Green, 21 year-old John Brooks, 23 year-old Aron Johannsson and 23 year-old Mix Diskerud, the 2018 World Cup may be when dreams become realities.

---- The MLS effect.

With so much emphasis put on the European game, Major League Soccer has seen tremendous growth over the last four years. The young U.S. domestic league makes up ten of the 23 men on the U.S. roster, with two of the Yanks most dynamic players -- Dempsey and Bradley -- returning home to MLS in the last year. When the 11 man roster is released before tonight's match it will be interesting to see just how many MLS players are in the starting grid.

— E-mail: and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 072414 WV Open.jpg Familiarity with Cobb helps Hess take lead

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Kenny Hess is comfortable playing the Cobb Course at Glade Springs Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Golf and motocross are Jude’s passions

    Motocross and golf have very little in common.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • How to discover and love Major League Soccer

    When I began my soccer fandom following a missions trip to Brazil in 2000, I didn’t know what my next step was. I knew I loved watching the game, but there weren’t a lot of options for seeing it in the U.S. I knew of Major League Soccer — mostly from my friend and current FC Dallas beat writer Drew Epperley — but it was hard to find.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holgorsen to appear on ESPN special

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen will appear Wednesday on ESPN’s annual mid-summer college football coaches’ “car wash” — in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 brand Bradshaw or the field?

    If a betting window were set up on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for the 81st West Virginia Open Championship, which begins at 8 a.m. this morning, the most popular wager would probably be David Bradshaw against the field.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 justice Home sweet home away from home

    When Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was handed a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Sunday, his eyes lit up like a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on a cold December night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp