Two months ago, midfielder Marky Delgado earned his first U.S. Men’s National Team call-up at the team’s annual January Camp. Though he didn’t earn his first cap against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Delgado made his mark in practice.
He carried that confidence into last week, when he ventured into one of Mexico’s most-intimidating venues as the youngest player on the field. Toronto FC entered Tigres UANL’s Estadio Universatario- also known as the formidable El Volcán- for the crucial second leg of the squads’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup.
The 22-year-old provided the game-tying assist in a 2-1 comeback victory at home. On the road for second leg in Nuevo León, Toronto fell 3-2, but the result sufficed to clinch the Reds a historic trip to the tournament semifinals.
Now, Delgado is back with the MNT for his second camp. He’s one of only six players to receive consecutive call-ups. Just three months into 2018, it’s already been a year of extraordinary experiences for Marky Delgado.
“It was a special moment for me getting the call-up in January,” Delgado said. “I was really excited; it’s what I’ve been working towards. Then the Champions League matches were special. I grew up watching Liga MX, so I was really excited. In the first game at home, I had a lot of energy, running around, really trying to get stuck in, trying to create plays. Going to Tigres was something special, an incredible crowd. It’s an experience I won’t forget.”
This year will have to be extraordinary if Delgado hopes to top 2017. In a record-breaking season for Toronto FC, Delgado broke through as a standout in the midfield. The Reds recorded M.L.S.’ treble as MLS Cup champions, Canadian Cup victors, and Supporters’ Shield winners. Delgado served as a key cog in TFC’s well-oiled machine.
“I just had a mindset of going in and not holding back throughout the whole season,” Delgado said. “It’s still continuing this season. I just really pushed myself past my limits last year and at the end of the day, we came out with the championship.”
As heavy hitters Michael Bradley and Spanish vet Victor Vasquez headline the Toronto midfield, Delgado can sometimes be overlooked. But even under-the-radar, he makes the players around him better. As greater and greater opportunities come his way, Delgado has taken advantage.
“I learn from Michael and Victor and try to read the game really well,” Delgado said. “I like to get stuck in tackles and I like to put in the work. My movement off the ball is really good and my positioning on the field is pretty good as well. It really helps other players out in transition. Whenever we win a ball, I’m running out wide to open up the field. All these little things really add up and help the team.”
Delgado played only two minutes in Toronto’s 2016 run to the MLS Cup and didn’t even make the 18 for the championship match. Last season, he played in every single playoff match and logged 89 minutes in TFC’s triumphant final.
Consistently strong showings as an integral part of the league champs caught the attention of the MNT, and now in his second camp he’s surrounded by several familiar faces. Six of his teammates from the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup have come to Cary for the friendly against Paraguay. The New Zealand alumni and the rest of a young, hungry roster will look to make a National Team impression in North Carolina.
For Delgado, the potential to lock down a regular spot with the MNT could go a long way to make 2018 rival a remarkable 2017.
“I’m trying to solidify my positioning here with the U.S. and I’m trying to improve my game,” Delgado said. “Hopefully I can stay here as we move towards the future.”Read more
As the U.S. Women’s National Team renews its long-time series with Mexico – the teams will meet in a friendly match on April 8 in Houston, Texas – here are five things to know about Mexico, an opponent that the USA has more in common with than just a history of matches.
The USA and Mexico have met on 34 occasions, with the most recent coming on February 13, 2016 during the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament – a 1-0 U.S. win – in Frisco, Texas. The U.S. Women lead the all-time series against Mexico with a 32-1-1 record.
Mexico is a common opponent for the U.S. WNT in CONCACAF competition.
Before the 2016 matchup, the teams played in Carson, California, where the USA earned a 5-1 victory on May 17, 2015, with Sydney Leroux scoring in the 28th minute, Mexico equalizing in the 39th and then USA scoring four second half goals between the 46th and 72nd minutes to put the match away. Mexico’s goal in that match was scored by Ariana Calderon and it was the first against the USA since Nov. 5, 2010, when the USA lost 2-1 in Cancun, Mexico, during 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying. Since then, the USA has won eight straight.
MEXICO AND ITS U.S. TIES
Over the years, Mexico has featured numerous players who have connections to the USA either by having been born and raised in the United States, played college in the USA or played in the NWSL. Current goalkeeper Emily Alvarado plays her college soccer at TCU in Texas. Goalkeeper Bianca Henniger was the USA’s starting ‘keeper in the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup before changing associations while midfielder Teresa Noyola was also on that squad before she too was granted a change by FIFA. Henniger also plays for the Houston Dash. Noyola was the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, awarded to the top collegiate player.
More recently, U.S. WNT defender Sofia Huerta was granted a one-time change in national association on Sept. 14, 2017 from FIFA, making her eligible to represent the United States at the international level. Huerta had previously represented Mexico in official competition at the Under-20 National Team level, playing at the 2012 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Japan, and earned five caps at the senior level, which included one against the U.S. in 2013. After earning her first USA cap against New Zealand on Sept. 15, Huerta became the first player to play for and against the senior U.S. Women’s National Team.
U.S. WNT defender Sofia Huerta earned her frist cap for the USA on Sept. 15, 2017.
LIGA MX FEMENIL
On July 2017, Mexico kicked off the inaugural season of their new women’s professional league, Liga MX Femenil, the highest division of women’s soccer in Mexico. Overseen by the FMF (Federación Mexicana de Fútbol), it is made up by teams from 16 out of the 18 Liga MX teams (only Puebla and Chiapas don’t have a team in the women’s league). The goal behind the creation of the league was to nurture and build on the future of the Mexico women’s soccer and the Mexico Women’s National Team.
The champion of the inaugural season was Guadalajara which defeated Pachuca 3-2 on aggregate in the Apertura 2017 Final in November 2017.The two matches drew record crowds of 28,955 and 32,466 fans, a huge success for the debut season of the league.
NEW HEAD COACH
After coaching Mexico’s U-20 squad to the quarterfinals of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Robert Medina assumed the role of head coach for the senior side in 2017, bringing a new perspective following the departure of longtime head coach Leonardo Cuellar who stepped down in April 5, 2016, after 18 years of leading the women’s team.
“For me, it’s always a great honor to represent my country,” Medina had said. “It’s a big responsibility and every time we step on the field, we’ll do it in the most dignified manner, worthy to represent these colors.”
Born on April 18, 1968 in Mexico City, Medina began his career as a player in Mexico’s First Division playing for various clubs. He also won the Gold Cup playing for Mexico in 1998.
MEXICO IN 2017
During its 2017 campaign, the Mexico’s Women’s National Team played eight international matches.
In February, La Tricolor traveled to Vancouver to face Canada at BC Place in front of more than 20,000 fans. Nancy Antonio and Kaitlyn Johnson scored for Mexico but it wasn’t enough with Canada coming away with a 3-2 win.
In June, Mexico faced Venezuela in Monterrey and defeated the South American side, 3-0 at Estadio Tecnológico. Charlyn Corral, Kenti Robles and Stephany Mayor scored for Mexico. The following month, Mexico fell to Sweden, 1-0 in Falkenberg, Sweden.
Charlyn Corral scored for Mexico against Venezuela in 2017.
Mexico returned to international play with three matches in October at the Yongchuan Four Nations Tournament in China. Despite close score lines, Mexico dropped all three of its matches, against Brazil on Oct. 19 (3-0), against China on Oct. 21 (3-2) and against Korea Republic on Oct. 24 (1-0).
To close out its year, Mexico traveled to Costa Rica for a pair of friendlies on Nov. 25 and Nov. 27. The teams split the results with Mexico losing the first match 3-2 and winning the second one 2-0.Read more
Dutch club Vitesse has played 34 competitive matches this season in the Eredivisie and Europa League combined. Defender Matt Miazga has appeared all but two of them. In his second season on loan in the Netherlands, Miazga has established himself as a stalwart in the starting lineup. Now in his sixth camp with the U.S. Men’s National Team, he hopes to similarly entrench himself on the American back line.
Miazga stands at the forefront of a talented corps of central defenders on a 23-player roster that brims with opportunity for young players. His four caps represent the most of any center back called to Cary.
“Every time there’s an international FIFA date, I want to get called up by the U.S.,” Miazga said. “It’s a huge honor and a huge privilege. Every time I’m here I want to give it my all, impress and wear the crest with a lot of pride. I’ve been getting a lot of significant minutes at Vitesse and I’ve been playing well, always improving and getting that experience. I work really hard to try to consistently get called up.”
- READ MORE: Five Things to Know About Matt Miazga
Shortly after making his MNT debut in 2015, Miazga signed with English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea in January 2016. The following summer he moved on loan to Vitesse in the Netherlands, found his way into a regular role midway through the season and helped the club to its first hardware in 100 years of existence when they lifted the 2016-17 Dutch Cup. The rising center back has continued to be a fixture at the GelreDome, logging the fourth-most minutes for the side this season.
Several other young MNT defenders are overseas attempting to establish themselves professionally. Shaq Moore has earned his first senior call-up in the midst of a breakthrough season at Levante in Spain. Erik Palmer-Brown recently made a loan move to Belgian club Kortrijk, and Antonee Robinson has started to secure a regular starting spot while on loan at Bolton in the English League Championship. Cameron Carter-Vickers, on loan at Ipswich Town, also returns camp after he picked up his first cap last November in Portugal.
“Both Matt and Cameron, each have been logging significant minutes and playing important roles for their clubs,” head coach Dave Sarachan said about their selection for the MNT roster to face Paraguay on March 27. “Each made a good impression on me when we had them in our roster against Portugal last November, and I think this is just a continuation of giving these guys more minutes in a game in an important position for us.”
Though the young defensive brigade in Cary includes some new faces, four of the players represented the USA together at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand: Carter-Vickers, Miazga, Moore and Palmer-Brown. It’s reflective of the roster as a whole, which features 12 players that have worn the crest for the U.S. at a Youth World Cup.
“We’re all excited to be a part of it,” Miazga said. “We’re comfortable with each other from playing in the past. I know them well and they’re very talented players.”
Carter-Vickers and Miazga anchored the U.S. defense in New Zealand as well as at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The pair held down the center back spots in all but one game at both tournaments. Their senior debut as a duo came against Portugal, when Carter-Vickers entered the game as a substitute at the start of the second half. Their chemistry has facilitated their transition to the full National Team as familiar teammates on-the-field and frequent roommates off of it.
“I know him well, he knows me well.” Miazga said. “We’ve played a lot of games together. We know each other’s tendencies. If we get a chance to play together, I know that we’ll be ready and give it our all.
Now vital with Vitesse, Miazga has another chance to prove himself on the international stage. The friendly against Paraguay serves as a prime opportunity for the team’s young core to make a mark. Miazga hopes that the USA’s new young guns can start to go from youth movement to MNT mainstays.
“There’s a lot of young, talented players here,” Miazga said. “We’re all ready to make an impression. Hopefully this generation can be a staple moving forward in the National Team program.”Read more
On Friday, March 16, the United Bid to secure the 2026 FIFA World Cup submitted its Bid Book to FIFA. Here are five things you should know about the comprehensive effort between the national federations of Canada, Mexico and the United States to bring the World Cup back to North America.
Together, Canada, Mexico and the United States have successfully hosted 13 FIFA events, which is the most of any trio of geographically connected nations in the world. That figure includes six different FIFA World Cups (three Men’s and three Women’s) as well as six youth World Cups and the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Along with holding current attendance records for the FIFA Confederations Cup and U-17 World Cup, Mexico also set then record figures when it hosted both the 1970 and 1986 FIFA World Cups. The 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States surpassed those marks and holds still-standing records in both average (68,991) and overall attendance (3,587,538). The overall attendance record is made more impressive considering the 24-team tournament included only 52 matches, compared to the 32 team and 64 games that have made up the five editions since.
Additionally, the memorable 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup still holds the record for highest average attendance for that tournament with 37,319 per match. At 1,194,215, the 16-team tournament also held the overall attendance record until 2015, when the expanded 24-team FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada took the figure to 1,353,506 total spectators – a record for any FIFA tournament outside the men’s World Cup.
Hosting a FIFA World Cup is an extraordinary honor and incredible opportunity. Under the expanded format that will begin with the 2026 edition, the greater number of teams (48) and matches (80) necessitates more stadiums and modern infrastructure, as well as the ability to support larger populations of fans, whether they are attending matches in person, participating in a FIFA Fan Fest, or connecting from across the globe.
One of the huge benefits of the United Bid is that each of the 23 Candidate Host Cities (17 in the U.S. and three each in Canada and Mexico) already exceed the infrastructure requirements outlined by FIFA. Chief among those is that each city has modern, large capacity stadia that are already built and have a confirmed tenant or use for after the tournament, to carry on a sustainable legacy following the competition.
As time goes on, all 23 Candidate Host Cities are continuously upgrading their sports facilities and other existing infrastructure, integrating the latest technology and most advanced capabilities, training, and knowledge. These enhancements go beyond FIFA’s minimum requirements, so what is state-of-the-art today remains state-of-the-art in 2026, providing benefit to the global football community and the operational readiness that these improvements offer.
WORLD CLASS TRAINING SITE OPTIONS
Between Major League Soccer, Liga MX, NFL and NCAA facilities, more than 150 existing world-class Training Sites and Base Camp options have been secured for the 48 participant teams.
With the multi-cultural offerings available across North America, teams will be able to find all the comforts of home -- favorite foods, local culture, places of worship, native language speakers (more than 300 different languages are spoken here) – wherever that home may be.
INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE
Along with a proven wealth of experience in hosting major sporting events, each of the Candidate Host Cities have existing world-class transportation, accommodation, medical, technology, and other infrastructure, meeting or exceeding the requirements outlined by FIFA, and ensuring the largest-ever FIFA World Cup will be delivered with certainty.
EXPECTED COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
With all three nations having already shown huge success in hosting previous FIFA events, their combined efforts provide a reasonable expectation for continued commercial potential in 2026.
Across every metric – ticket sales, television audiences and rights fees, digital engagement, partner involvement, community support, environmental, social and economic impact, and more – the 2026 FIFA World Cup™ in North America has the potential to deliver something extraordinary for FIFA and football. The United Bid’s hosting vision and strategy projects more than 5.8 million tickets will be sold, generating in excess of $2 billion in ticketing revenue and ensuring every stadium for every match will be filled with passionate supporters from around the world.
With a combined population that will approach 550 million, and a billion people in the Americas by 2026, the direct influence of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America is significant. North America is already the largest sports sponsorship market in the world, with companies headquartered in the region contributing over 25% of all worldwide sports sponsorship spending, not including the more than $40 billion spent in Canada, Mexico, and the United States on television, radio, internet, and print advertising for sports programs and other sports-oriented content.
By combining multiple time zones, and including the entire CONCACAF region in planning, the United Bid opens up myriad of options to connect fans, broadcasters, and commercial partners everywhere. North America is the most lucrative region in the world for football, and staging the Competition here provides the opportunity for FIFA to expand into new commercial fronts and increase economic possibilities – by deepening connections to existing football enthusiasts, while also welcoming millions of new fans to the global football community – and establish new business and engagement models that support future organizers.Read more
On March 8, the Official Draw for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup set the stage for this summer’s tournament. The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team was drawn into Group C alongside Japan, Paraguay and Spain.
Prior to the draw, the USA was in France for two friendlies against the host nation, played in two of the four official World Cup venues. The first fixture took place at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, venue for the semifinal and final rounds. As the U-20s move full force into World Cup prep, head coach Jitka Klimkova broke down the team’s outlook for the tournament.
ussoccer.com: You finally know what’s in store for the USA this summer in France. What are your initial thoughts on Group C?
Jitka Klimkova: Now we can really focus on our opposition. The first game against Japan will be very exciting, we can’t wait for that. The second game is against a Paraguay team that played some really good qualifiers in South America against challenging competition. The third game is against Spain, they won the European championship, so they’re clearly a quality team. There’s nothing but opportunities in front of us to play in Group C against such great opposition.
ussoccer.com: Now that you know your Group C foes, how does it impact your preparation for August?
JK: We already had our plan of camps, but we didn’t confirm our opposition for games. Now, knowing who we play, we will try to find teams to play with similar styles to our group stage opponents. We’ll hopefully play Brazil in June, and that should be a similar opponent to Paraguay. We’re looking to schedule teams that play a similar style to Japan and Spain. I think our preparation for the World Cup will be very efficient.
ussoccer.com: What experience do you have with your Group C opposition?
As a coaching staff, we went to Northern Ireland in August for the UEFA Championship, so we saw Spain play a couple of times, including the final and semifinal. We feel like we have a good idea of their style of play. We also sent a scout to the South American qualifiers who had a chance to see Paraguay play against quality competition.
ussoccer.com: What kind of style can we expect to see from your Group C opponents?
JK: Both Japan and Spain are very possession-oriented teams. For us, the preparation for both games will be bit similar, so it’s good that we won’t need to change much in our game plan against those opponents.
Paraguay is more physical and more direct. That’s the style of soccer that our players see more in the NCAA, so we will be prepared for it. Paraguay is more akin to the competition the players have seen in the college game or at the CONCACACAF Championship. It’s a style that we’re familiar with.
ussoccer.com: What else did you experience at the Official Draw?
JK: It’s great to be here. It’s been great to listen to the plan of what the tournament will actually look like. We spent a day in the Team Services Workshop that broke down all of the details for August. We had the chance to be more specific about our preparations - we’ll we went to the stadiums where we’ll play and the hotels, which is all very helpful.
We can’t wait for August: game one against Japan, game two against Paraguay, game three against Spain. Here we go!Read more