Friday, November 24, 2017
Sports

Tampa native Julian Green scores as U.S. men's soccer team wins exhibition in Cuba

RECOMMENDED READING


When the U.S. men's soccer team arrived in Cuba for its first exhibition game in 69 years in the Caribbean island nation, the Americans were surprised by the conditions at Havana's Estadio Pedro Marrero. The surface was bumpy and filled with brown patches.

"The field was a field that was not playable," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "On that field, it's impossible to get a higher rhythm, a higher tempo, higher pace."

Chris Wondolowski and Tampa native Julian Green scored second-half goals, Ethan Horvath got a shutout in his international debut and the United States won 2-0 on Friday in a prep match for next month's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Mexico.

The United States started nine players who likely will be on the field against El Tri. The Americans, ranked 22nd in the world, struggled to mount attacks in the first half against No. 139 Cuba, hampered by the field and forced to play long balls in the air.

Still, they extended their winning streak to three.

Regular goalkeepers Tim Howard and Brad Guzan were given the game off. At 21 years, 120 days, Horvath became the youngest goalkeeper to debut for the United States since Zach Thornton was a 69th-minute substitute in a 3-0 win at Jamaica on Nov. 22, 1994.

"To be honest, I didn't think I was going to have to do too much (Friday), but in the end I did," said Horvath, who had three saves and watched second-half shots by Maykel Reyes and Roberney Caballero hit posts.

Green, 21 and making his first start in more than two years, created the first goal when he dribbled down the left side, cut toward the center and took a 19-yard curling shot that was parried by goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez. The rebound went to Wondolowski, who scored with a right-footed shot from 8 yards in the 62nd minute. Wondolowski's 11th international goal was his first since July 2015 against Guatemala.

"Not easy conditions with travel, field and weather," Wondolowski said. "At halftime, we had a little bit more adjustments, a little bit more direct, didn't want to make silly passes in the middle where you could lose it and get counterattacked on."

Nine minutes later, second-half sub Timmy Chandler played a long ball over the defense to Wondolowski, who also entered at the start of the second half. He ran onto the ball and at the end line crossed to Green, who beat defender Josel Piedra and redirected the ball into the net.

Green, who has struggled to gain playing time at Bayern Munich, scored his only other international goal against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup.

"Tried to go one against one and take some shots," Green said.

Though Klinsmann is trying to break in younger players, he keeps selecting the 33-year-old Wondolowski.

" 'Wondo' is a huge part of our group because he's a giver and every time you ask him something to do, he does it 1,000 percent, so he drives the chemistry of a team, the energy of a team," Klinsmann said.

The United States improved to 10-1-1 against Cuba, but this was just its third match in Cuba following a 1947 exhibition and a 2008 World Cup qualifier.

The Americans play New Zealand on Tuesday at Washington, D.C., in another exhibition to prepare for the final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean. They open the hexagonal Nov. 11 against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, then play four days later at Costa Rica.

Horvath plays for Molde in Norway and was part of the U.S. under-23 team that failed to qualify for this year's Olympics. He is competing with Bill Hamid, David Bingham and William Yarbrough to become the team's third goalkeeper.

Klinsmann inserted three other players who didn't start in last month's qualifying win over Trinidad. Green filled an opening created by Alejandro Bedoya's strained rib muscle. Right back DeAndre Yedlin returned from a one-game suspension. And central defender John Brooks recovered from a back injury.

Geoff Cameron was paired with Brooks in central defense, and Fabian Johnson was at left back. Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan and 18-year-old Christian Pulisic were in the midfield, and Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood headed the attack.

"We knew that is was going to be difficult on this field," Klinsmann said.

Comments
Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — You don’t often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkos’ voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there haven’t been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 17 minutes ago

Region football: Venice 48, Tampa Bay Tech 17

VENICE — Tampa Bay Tech not only had to stop a hot receiver in Friday night’s Class 7A region final against Venice, but a hot running back as well. That proved to be too much.Indians receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught 14 passes for 193 yards and three to...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Hogs boot Bielema out after five seasons

Hogs boot Bielema out after five seasons

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas fired football coach Bret Bielema after five disappointing seasons, moments after a season-ending 48-45 loss to Missouri on Friday. Arkansas finished 4-8, capping the second losing season of Bielema’s 12-year career. He ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

TODAYAutosF1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying8 a.m.NBCSNCollege basketballSavannah State at Texas Tech3 p.m.FSFNorth Florida at Miami4 p.m.Fox SunEmerald Coast Classic, final: TCU vs. St. Bonaventure-Maryland winner7 p.m.CBSSNBoston College at Provid...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bruins hold last lead vs. Penguins

Bruins hold last lead vs. Penguins

BOSTON — After letting a pair of two-goal leads slip away in the second period, the Bruins got the break they needed early in the third and put an end to the Penguins’ rallies. David Pastrnak scored on a breakaway 5:06 into the third, snapping a 3-al...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH — Miami spent the better part of 13 months cultivating the nation’s longest winning streak behind a series of comebacks that returned the swagger to "The U" in all of its "Turnover Chain" glory. Sluggish through the first half against Pitt...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rose leaves Cavaliers for ‘personal matter’

Rose leaves Cavaliers for ‘personal matter’

CLEVELAND — Derrick Rose’s injuries may have pushed him to a breaking point. The former league MVP, who has been trying to revive his career with the Cavaliers, left the team Wednesday to handle a personal matter. A team spokesman said Friday that Ro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

GAINESVILLE — If misery loves company, at least the Gators and Seminoles have each other.That’s about the only positive in the least-appealing Florida-Florida State showdown in decades. Both enter Ben Hill Griffin Stadium today 4-6 — only the second ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs journal: DE Will Gholston likely to return from neck injury

Bucs journal: DE Will Gholston likely to return from neck injury

TAMPA — Bucs DE Will Gholston is expected to make a healthy return Sunday in Atlanta after missing two games with a neck injury, and he’s thankful and relieved not to have to deal with anything more severe."It was knee-buckling," said Gholston, offic...
Updated: 1 hour ago