2016 started off on a winning note for both the U.S Women and Men National Soccer Teams who ended there annual January training camp by winning their respective friendly matches. For the U.S Women‘s Soccer Team it was back to business as the World Cup Champions defeated the Republic of Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California by a score of five goals to zero. Carli Lloyd delivered her sixth career hat trick and it only took her six minutes to get her name on the score sheet. Her second and third goal came in a time lapse of seven minutes for she scored in the 21th and 28th minute which gave the U.S Women’s Soccer Team a three to zero lead. That was only the beginning, for Alex Morgan who celebrated her 100th cap with the U.S Women’s Soccer Team got her name on the score sheet as well making it a four to zero U.S Women’s Soccer Team lead right before going into halftime. Goal number five was a headline in regards to who scored it, that being 17 year old forward Mallory Pugh who scored her first goal in her first cap making it a five to zero U.S.A victory. Hours later the World Coach of The Year Jill Ellis announced the Olympic Qualifiers roster consisting of 20 players who will look to make a mission accomplished towards qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro in August. The roster is a mixture of experience players and new players such as Stephanie McCaffrey, Lindsey Horan, Jaelene Hinkle, and Mallory Pugh. Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, and Tobin Heath along with other members from the World Cup Squad bring experience for what the U.S Women’s Soccer team hopes to accomplish which is to qualify for their sixth consecutive Olympic games. In order to do so they must go through their group stage where they will take on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas, specifically stating in Toyota Stadium on February 10, then facing off against Mexico in the same venue on the 13th of February, and last but not least facing off against Puerto Rico to close their group stage play. Should the U.S win all of their group stage games they would book a spot in the semifinals where the winner will book their ticket to the Summer Olympic Games.
The U.S Men’s Soccer Team on the other hand did not get things started as they hoped for since they were down a goal twice in their first match against Iceland on a rainy Sunday at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Off a defensive miss-clearance from Matt Besler, that led Kristinn Steindorsson to take a shot at goal which took a deflection from U.S defender Michael Orozco, giving Iceland the lead in the 13th minute of the first half. The U.S would then respond seven minutes later in the 20th minute to be exact of a good possessive buildup between Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes ending in U.S Men’s Captain Michael Bradley to deliver the assist to Jozy Altidore, who shot the ball low, powerful, and with poise giving the United States the equalizing goal. Later on in the second half a communication breakdown from the U.S.A led Iceland to gain momentum off a counter attack resulting in Iceland’s second goal of the day in the 48th minute of the second half from Aron Sigurdarson, who shot the ball to the left corner passing through Luis Robles who was the starting goalkeeper for the U.S.A. Eleven minutes later the U.S would equalize of a header from Michael Orozco assisted by Steve Birnbaum who scored the game winning goal for the U.S in the 90th minute giving the U.S a 3-2 victory. Five days later in the same venue, the U.S.A faced off against Canada who defended well and strongly against the U.S who had better possession of the ball, and the better chances towards scoring. It came down to the 89th minute of the second half where Ethan Finlay who was a second half substitute delivered a long ball service from the left side of the field to Jozy Altidore who scored off his head giving the U.S a one to zero victory against Canada. As of now it is a great start for the U.S Women and Men soccer teams, but there is always room for improvement which can be beneficial due to what is upcoming. From Olympic Qualifying to World Cup Qualifying, the U.S looks onward in fulfilling their objectives towards qualifying to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as to advancing to the next phase of World Cup Qualifying which is the hexagonal. For now if there is something to cheer about, it is simply the fact that U.S Soccer started off 2016 on a winning note.