When the U.S. Soccer Federation kicked off its 100-year anniversary in 2013, the hope was by year’s end the U.S. Men’s National Team would have booked its ticket to Brazil.
Who knew it would be so much more?
The U.S. accomplished its primary task of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, marking the seventh-consecutive time the team has reached the finals. The USA finished in first place for the third straight CONCACAF cycle, highlighted by yet another “dos a cero” victory against regional rival Mexico. The team captured its fifth Gold Cup title, winning all six matches en route to the championship. A multitude of team and individual records were broken, a Snow Clasico played out in Denver and a dramatic comeback against Panama punctuated the end of the qualifying campaign, and all the while head coach Jurgen Klinsmann continued to challenge his team against top competition across the globe. All in all, one of the USA’s most successful years in history now sets the stage for the ultimate challenge: competing – and succeeding – against the world’s best next summer in Brazil.
Here’s a snapshot of 2013:
Winning More than Ever: The United States ramped up the results 2013, finishing with 16 victories and a .761 winning percentage, both team bests. The previous records were 13 wins (2005 and 2009), and a .750 winning percentage (2005 and 2012).
…and Scoring to Boot: The USA compiled an impressive plus-28 goal differential (out-scoring its opponents 51-23) and an average of 2.22 goals per game. There were 13 multiple-goal games, while at the other end the U.S. defense compiled 11 shutouts.
Consistency the Key to Winning Streak: Klinsmann has been preaching consistency as one of the key areas of improvement for the National Team, and in 2013 he got it. The U.S. collected a team-record 12 consecutive victories during a summer period that began with a 4-3 win against second-ranked Germany in the Centennial Celebration Match on June 2 in Washington, D.C. During the streak, the United States won three World Cup Qualifiers, captured the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and traveled to beat 13th-ranked Bosnia-Herzegovina. There were nine multiple-goal games, two hat tricks (from Chris Wondolowski and Jozy Altidore) and five clean sheets.
Closing Out Qualifying in First: The U.S. finished the Final Round of 2013 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying atop the Hexagonal with a 7-1-2 overall record, including an unblemished 5-0-0 home record that was achieved by recording clean sheet in all five matches. Scoring two goals in second half stoppage time to capture a 3-2 win in Panama in the final match of qualifying, the U.S. MNT equaled its best performance in FIFA World Cup Qualifying with a 7-2-1 record and 22 points, matching its point total from the 2005 Hexagonal.
Spreading the Wealth: A total of 18 players got on the scoresheet this year. U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, Jozy Altidore, had eight goals, including four in World Cup Qualifying. He set a team record by tallying in five straight matches. Landon Donovan made a blazing return this summer, scoring five times in the Gold Cup and adding the insurance goal in the 2-0 win against Mexico allowing him to finish the campaign tied with Altidore. Chris Wondolowski also had five in the confederation championship, sharing the Golden Boot honors with Donovan. U.S. captain Clint Dempsey contributed six goals, while five players (Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Aron Johannsson, Brek Shea) tallied for the first time for the senior team.
Shot Stoppers: Tim Howard, who wore the captain's armband five times in 2013, now has 34 career shutouts for the United States, holding second place all-time ahead of National Soccer Hall of Famer Tony Meola. He is one win away from tying Kasey Keller (53) at the top of the USA’s all-time list for goalkeepers. His eminently capable deputy Brad Guzan posted consecutive shutouts against Costa Rica and Mexico in World Cup Qualifying, giving him five clean sheets in seven career qualifiers.
The U.S. will finish 2013 on a 12-game home winning streak, a record run that began with a 4-3 victory against Germany on June 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The USA’s previous record was 10 straight wins from June 15, 2008, to July 11, 2009.
JURGEN KLINSMANN FACT FILE: Jurgen Klinsmann became the 35th coach in the history of the U.S. Men’s National Team on July 29, 2011. The former World Cup and European Champion has been at the helm for more than two years. Here is a look at the program’s achievements in that time:
- Overall, Klinsmann has a 27-10-7 record.
- Committed to challenging the group against the best, under Klinsmann the United States has a 2-1-1 record against teams ranked in the top 10 in the world.
- With Klinsmann at the helm, the U.S. has collected four historic victories:
- Beating four-time World Cup champion Italy for the first time ever
- Earning the first win against Mexico on Mexican soil
- Defeating Jamaica on the road for the first time in World Cup Qualifying
- Topping second-ranked Germany in U.S. Soccer’s Centennial Celebration Match
- He has won a record-setting 12 straight games at home.
- He led the MNT to a 12-game winning streak, the longest in program history.
- The U.S. finished the final round of 2013 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying atop the Hexagonal with a 7-1-2 overall record, including an unblemished 5-0-0 home record that was achieved by pitching clean sheets in all five matches.
- The U.S. finished 2012 with a 9-2-3 record, good for a .750 winning percentage and equaling the best ever winning percentage to date.
- The team won six straight games en route to capturing the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, during which the squad scored a record 20 goals.
- Klinsmann’s U.S. coaching debut was a 1-1 draw against Mexico on Aug. 10, 2011, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. During Klinsmann’s abbreviated 2011 tenure, opponents outscored the USA by a 7-5 margin. The USA’s two victories during the Klinsmann era in 2011 include a 1-0 win against Honduras (Oct. 8) and a 3-2 victory against Slovenia (Nov. 15).