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December 30, 2013
The Top Ten national soccer stories of 2013

Soccer News Net Staff

The United States clinched a berth in the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus.
The United States clinched a berth in the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
#1 US Qualifies for 2014 World Cup
“Dos a cero” is becoming a familiar refrain for the U.S. National Team. So is qualifying for the World Cup. The U.S. defeated Mexico 2-0 on September 10 in Columbus to qualify for their seventh straight World Cup.

The United States clinched a berth in the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Top Ten national stories of 2013

Soccer News Net staff
December 30, 2013

The Top Ten national soccer stories of 2013.

#1 US Qualifies for 2014 World Cup
“Dos a cero” is becoming a familiar refrain for the U.S. National Team. So is qualifying for the World Cup. The U.S. defeated Mexico 2-0 on September 10 in Columbus to qualify for their seventh straight World Cup. Before qualifying was over, the U.S. had finished at the top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal group and strung together a 12-game winning streak along the way, cementing their supremacy in the region.

The U.S.'s qualifying campaign got off to an inauspicious start, with a 2-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula, the first time the U.S. had ever suffered a loss in the opening game of the Hex. The result left some wondering whether the U.S. would qualify at all, but after getting back on track with a scoreless draw at Estadio Azteca in Mexico, and 1-0 win over Costa Rica in the snow bowl fiasco in Denver, the U.S. all but sailed through its remaining qualifying games, with the only other blemish coming in a 3-1 loss in Costa Rica in September.

Although they didn’t know it until about an hour later, the U.S. clinched its passage to Brazil with a 2-0 win over Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium. For an incredible fourth consecutive World Cup cycle, the Americans recorded yet another victory by the same score at the same stadium, over their archrivals. Eddie Johnson scored the game-winner in the 49th minute and Landon Donovan added an insurance goal in the 78th minute, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 24,584 that emphatically let the Mexicans know "this is our house."

Although their passage was assured, the U.S. put an emphatic end to the qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Jamaica at Sporting Park to clinch the Hex crown. Then three nights later, Graham Zusi became a hero in Mexico, scoring an equalizer for the U.S. in stoppage time of a 3-2 win over Panama that gave El Tri its place in the World Cup.

#2 U.S. Wins CONCACAF Gold Cup
Brek Shea scored the only goal for the U.S. giving them a 1-0 win over Panama and its fifth Gold Cup title on July 28.

The Gold Cup win is the first for the U.S. since 2007, and was achieved while U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann watched the game from a box upstairs while serving a suspension. The Soldier Field crowd of 57,920 saw the U.S. re-claim the CONCACAF crown after consecutive losses in the final to archrival Mexico in 2009 and 2011.

# 3 U.S. Locks up Klinsmann for four more years
After winning the CONCACAF Gold, Cup, winning 12 straight games and qualifying for the 2014 World Cup at the top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal, U.S. Soccer rewarded head coach Jurgen Klinsmann with a new four-year contract. While it is unusual to lock up a coach before the World Cup, U.S. Soccer wanted to keep Klinsmann in the fold, and gave him the additional duties of Technical Director for U.S. Soccer, giving him wide-ranging authority over player development at all levels.

#4 Wambach breaks Mia Hamm's scoring record
Abby Wambach eclipsed Mia Hamm's scoring record at Red Bull Arena, ramming home four first-half goals against the Korea Republic en route to a 5-0 international friendly victory on June 11.

Wambach broke Hamm's record of 158 goals in her 207th international match. Hamm, who retired in 2004, performed in 275 matches.

#5 The return of Landon Donovan
After taking some time off from soccer to clear his mind and rejuvenate his body, Landon Donovan made a triumphant return to the U.S. National Team, helping the US reclaim supremacy in CONCACAF not only by winning the Gold Cup Championship, but also by finishing at the top of the World Cup Qualifying group. Donovan celebrated his return to the U.S. National Team with a second-half brace, which sparked the Americans to an emphatic 6-0 victory over Guatemala in a tune up for the Gold Cup. He went on to score a total of eight goals and assist on eight others during the 2013 campaign.

#6 MLS expands
Major League's Soccer's long-awaited plan to award its 20th franchise to New York City came to fruition in May, when a partnership between Manchester City and the New York Yankees was award the second New York team for a reported $100 million expansion fee. While Commissioner Don Garber's plan to build a soccer stadium in Queens at the site of the old World's Fair did not come to fruition, the coming together of the partnership for what will now apparently be a Bronx-based team, gave MLS the impetus to change its earlier plan which had been to cap the number of teams in the league at 20. At this year's All-Star game, the league announced it would add up to four more teams by 2017. Orlando became the 21st team when it was awarded a franchise in November, and a Miami group headed by David Beckham appears to be next in line.

#7 U.S. Women go unbeaten under new coach
In what might have been considered a transition year following the departure of popular and successful coach Pia Sundhage, the U.S. Women's National Team went undefeated under new coach Tom Sermanni, posting a 13-0-3 record that culminated with a 4-0 win over archrival Brazil at the Citrus Bowl in Florida. Though an off-year in terms of major international events, Sermanni had an opportunity to see some players from the National Women's Soccer League, as well as some top college players such as Morgan Brian and Crystal Dunn, show their talents for the National Team.

# 8 New women's league kicks off
After a year without a professional women's league, the National Women's Soccer League kicked off with backing from U.S. Soccer, as well as the Canadian and Mexican Soccer federations. Keeping with modest expectations, the federations funded the salaries of national team players, many of whom were stellar performers in the third attempt at a women's pro league. The Portland Thorns were the class of the league on the field and in the stands, defeating the Western New York Flash 2-0 for the championship and drawing an average of 13,320 fans per game, more than 8,600 more per game than the next nearest team. Overall, the league's attendance was considerably lower than either of the previous tries at a women's league, with four teams drawing less than 3,000 per game. Still, with the success of the Portland Timbers-owned Thorns, another MLS franchise, the Houston Dynamo has decided to add a team to the league.

#9 Dempsey returns to MLS
Clint Dempsey’s return to Major League Soccer in August after seven seasons in England’s Premiership didn’t create the international splash that David Beckham’s signing did in 2007, but it was a milestone for MLS in that it marked the first time that a world-class US player in his prime returned to play in the domestic league. As things turned out, Dempsey and his Designated Player contract – which pays him the fourth-largest salary in MLS history -- provided more sizzle than steak for Seattle Sounders FC during the final four months of the season. Injuries and international duty limited him to nine appearances, only six of them starts. He finished with one goal, and his appearance seemed to strike a nerve with US National Team teammate Eddie Johnson, who soon began to gripe publicly about his contract, and was dealt to DC United after Seattle’s 1-2-0 postseason run.

#10 Cosmos return, win NASL Championship
In their first season of competitive soccer since 1984, the New York Cosmos were back where they belonged -- atop the North American Soccer League, defeating the host Atlanta Silverbacks in Soccer Bowl, 1-0.

Despite playing only one season -- the NASL fall season -- the Cosmos completed a comeback for the ages. They decided to sit out the spring season because they did not think the club would be ready for competition on and off the field. They finished the fall season undefeated n their home field at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium, and losing only once all season, a 3-0 road decision at the Carolina RailHawks.

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