Soccer

In desperation mode, U.S. Soccer calls on teen phenom

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In desperation mode, U.S. Soccer calls on teen phenom

Seventeen-year-old Christian Pulisic may not be the answer to U.S. Soccer’s current World Cup qualifying woes, but the teen star has been called into Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp ahead of a critical match against Guatemala on Tuesday.

Pulisic, who recently made his first-team debut for German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund, was added to the U.S. roster on Sunday - along with former University of Maryland star Graham Zusi. 

The duo replace Matt Besler and Fabian Johnson in the U.S. camp. Bessemer (concussion) and Johnson (groin) were sent back to their respective clubs due to injury.

Pulisic has enjoyed a meteoric rise since signing with Borussia Dortmund early last year. The Pennsylvania native has appeared for the United States at various youth levels, and captained the U.S. Under-17’s at last summer’s U-17 World Cup.

This winter, Pulisic made multiple appearances for Dortmund’s first team - including his first Bundesliga start in a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen on February 21. Dortmund are currently second place in Germany’s Bundesliga, five points back of Bayern Munich.

Dortmund’s positive standing is a far cry from where U.S. Soccer finds itself these days. After a shocking 2-0 loss to Guatemala on Friday, the United States are in some danger of being from eliminated from World Cup qualifying.

With three of six matches played, the U.S. sit third in CONCACAF’s Group C. Only the top two teams from the group will advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying.

The United States has qualified for every World Cup since 1990 - with the exception of 1994, when the U.S. played host to international soccer’s marquee event and was granted an automatic berth.

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FC Dallas withdraws from MLS is Back tournament after 10 positive COVID-19 tests

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FC Dallas withdraws from MLS is Back tournament after 10 positive COVID-19 tests

FC Dallas has withdrawn from the MLS is Back tournament in Florida after 10 players tested positive for coronavirus.

The league said Monday that of the 557 players sequestered at a pair of Walt Disney World hotels, 13 have tested positive: 10 from Dallas, two from Nashville and one from Columbus. Additionally, a Dallas coach also tested positive.

“The decision to have them not participate in the tournament is in the best interests of everyone, of the Dallas players and the other 25 teams, and allows us to continue to manage the health and safety of our players while continuing to go forward with our plan,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday.

Apart from the health and safety aspect, the number of positive cases also meant that Dallas could not play competitive games.

“As we continue to focus on the well-being of our players, coaches and staff who are in isolation in Orlando, we understand it is not in their best interests to compete at this time,” coach Luchi Gonzalez said in a statement. “While we’re disappointed, the health and safety of our traveling delegation as well as our league partners is our highest priority.”

FC Dallas announced last week that six players had tested positive upon arrival in Florida for the tournament, and the entire team was quarantined. As a result, the team’s opening match on Thursday against the Vancouver Whitecaps was postponed.

RELATED: WHEN ARE SPORTS RETURNING FROM CORONAVIRUS

With Dallas' withdrawal, Major League Soccer was devising a new schedule for the monthlong tournament, to be played without fans at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

The tournament is still set to open Wednesday with a nationally televised match between Orlando City and expansion Inter Miami.

Also on Monday, LAFC forward Carlos Vela opted out of the tournament out of concerns for his wife, who is expecting their second child.

“I always want to give everything I have to my club, our fans and supporters and the city of L.A.,” Vela said in a statement. “However, it is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy."

MLS shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 after teams had each played two games.

Garber vowed to stop the tournament if warranted.

“If there is a situation at any time that I believe that the protocols aren't working, and the health and safety of our players is at risk, then I will make the decision to shut down the tournament," Garber said. "That is something I committed to the players and to our entire league early on. But this is proving that our protocols worked and our plan so far has been sound.”

FC Dallas previously revealed that all players and staff tested negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the tournament on June 27. Upon arrival, two players tested positive. Subsequent tests found four more players infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We absolutely agree with the league’s decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament out of safety concerns for our players and staff,” FC Dallas President Dan Hunt said. “We’re looking forward to resuming the 2020 season once the entire club is healthy and in position to play competitive matches at the highest level.”

The league said no other team was in contact with the FC Dallas delegation. League protocol requires players and staff to be tested every two days upon arrival in Florida.

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Washington DC launches bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

Washington DC launches bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

It’s still six years out, but Washington, D.C. is making a push to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the nation’s capital.

With North America selected as the location of choice for the 2026 World Cup rather than one country in particular, D.C. officials announced Tuesday their intention to make Washington one of the 16 host cities for the 80-match tournament.

“Right now, as countries around the world continue to respond to this pandemic, the 2026 FIFA World Cup is something we can all look forward to,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. “And when the tournament comes to North America, it only makes sense for DC — the Sports Capital and District of Champions — to host. We are already a city united by the game, and in 2026, we look forward to uniting the world.”

According to The Washington Post, 10 cities from the U.S. are expected to land matches for the tournament with Canada and Mexico splitting the other six. It will be the first time in World Cup history that the tournament will be shared by more than two countries.

The District established a group called DC2026, which announced a 40-member advisory board that includes D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, three-time MLS champion Eddie Pope, Washington Spirit stars Joanna Lohman and Andi Sullivan, two-time gold medalist Brianna Scurry, EventsDC chairman Max Brown, chef José Andrés and D.C. United general partner Gregory O’Dell.

“As a native Washingtonian, I am proud to be a Co-Chair of DC’s official bid committee to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Hamid said in a statement. “I could not think of a more vibrant, inclusive or passionate soccer city to host FIFA World Cup matches in 2026. With our deep soccer roots and diversity, the culture of our city gives us our foundation to successfully highlight the matches and leave a lasting impact on the future of the game.”

DC2026 plans to tout D.C.’s “unparalleled roots to the sport of soccer and world-class hosting capabilities” as part of its pitch. In a three-page press release, the group laid out advantages such as the metro system and three local airports that would allow it to host the increased number of tourists.

The city last hosted the World Cup in 1994, when it made RFK Stadium one of nine U.S. venues for the tournament. It’s also held Olympic soccer games (1996) as well as the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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