Category: Archive

Eye on the top Nike U.S. Cup players

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jay Mwamba

Disappointed as many fans may be at the absence of battling Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane from the Irish squad in the Nike U.S. Cup 2000, there won’t be a short of big name stars in the nine-day tournament which kicks off this weekend.

Ironically, the Irish captain’s withdrawal from the four-nation Cup, because of a hamstring injury, leaves the spotlight on another Keane — Coventry City’s talented teenager Robbie, who is not related to Roy.

The following are pen pictures of some players to watch out for in Nike U.S. Cup 2000.

Robbie Keane

Coventry City and Ireland

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

Hailed as one of the most exciting Irish players ever, Keane announced his international arrival with two goals in 5-0 romp over Malta in a Euro 2000 qualifier two years ago, becoming the youngest player ever to score for Ireland at senior level. Keane also hit a brace in his English Premiership debut, after becoming England’s most expensive teenage signing with Coventry City. Quick and gifted with an array of skills, the 19-year-old Keane adds a different dimension to an Irish attack previously centered on Niall Quinn’s ‘rial prowess. Keane had six goals in 14 appearances for the Republic going into the Scotland match yesterday.

Niall Quinn

Sunderland and Ireland

This giant striker seems destined to play forever as long as he can jump and header. Quinn plays his best soccer in the air, where he uses his 6-foot-4 height to full effect. He was voted Sunderland’s Player of the Year last season after netting 21 goals. He made his league debut for Arsenal in 1985 and with 75 caps going into this week’s clash with the Scots, is the most capped player in McCarthy’s squad. Quinn’s forte in the air nicely complements Robbie Keane’s silky skills on the ground. How Ireland fares in the U.S. Cup may hinge on how Quinn and Keane click.

Claudio Reyna

Glasgow Rangers and USA

He is the United States’ best outfield player and the pulse of the team from his midfield lair. Reyna, who’s 26, has added steel to his game since moving to Glasgow Rangers a year ago, from Wolfsburg in Germany, and experiencing firsthand the hot passions of the "Old Firm" clashes between Rangers and Celtic. He holds the ball well, is a good dribbler and passer, and although short on pace, makes up for this deficiency with his vision. For a playmaker, though, Reyna has a low strike rate, with only seven goals to his credit in 71 appearances for the U.S. He has played in every U.S. Cup tournament since 1995.

Kasey Keller

Rayo Vallecano and USA

Probably the best American player in any position, and one who approaches world-class status. Keller’s exploits between the posts have keyed many a U.S. victory, including the famous 1-0 victory over then world champs Brazil in the CONCACAF Gold Cup three years ago in which he repeatedly denied Romario and Edmundo. He comes off his line well, has tremendous reflexes and is very solid in the air when cutting out crosses. For the 6-2 Keller, Quinn will be the ultimate test when the two clash at Foxboro. Keller, who would start in almost any team in the world, has a surprisingly low (by American standards) 40 caps, largely because of a falling out he had with former coach Bora Milutinovic.

Cobi Jones

Los Angeles and USA

Homegrown American version of the out-and-out winger, even though he’s classified as a midfielder. Jones, who turns 30 on June 16, is a speedster who is most dangerous when flying down the wing and sending in crosses. He had a stint with Coventry City after the 1994 World Cup. At 5-7, the smallest player in the U.S. side, Jones has developed a scoring touch of late and had a three-game streak going during the Gold Cup won by Canada last February. His overall tally is 11 goals in 126 appearances.

Quinton Fortune

Manchester United and South Africa

The 24-year-old midfielder was acquired by Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer of 1999 for $2.4 million from Atletico Madrid, and has repaid Ferguson and United’s confidence with several good showings when summoned from the club’s deep roster. He was the one bright spot in United’s World Club Championship debacle in Brazil last January. Fortune is a hard running midfielder who excels on the left. He is dangerous from set-piece situations. Fortune is no stranger to the U.S. He was in the South African Under-23 side that played two friendlies with the American Olympic side prior to the Atlanta Games in 1996, drawing one game (2-2) and losing the second 2-0.

Shaun Bartlett

FC Zurich and South African

Major League Soccer aficionados will remember the tall Bartlett from his days with the Colorado Rapids and the MetroStars a few seasons ago. He left Giants Stadium for FC Zurich in Switzerland in 1997 after a disappointing season but quickly found a new lease on life in Europe. Bartlett, who’s 27, struck eight times in as many UEFA Cup games for Zurich last year and overtook Bari’s Phil Masinga as South Africa’s leading scorer with 19 international goals after winning the Golden Boot at the African Nations Cup last February for his five goals. Bartlett’s latest scoring exploit came last Sunday when his equalizer in extra time put FC Zurich on track to a 3-0 penalty win over Lausanne Sports in the Swiss Cup final.


Mexico were scheduled to announce their roster later this week. Their team is likely to include the brilliantly in-form, albeit abrasive, Cuauhtemoc Blanco from Club America. Luis Hernandez, the powerful blonde-haired forward known as "El Matador" who has just completed a move to MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy is also expected to make the team; as is midfielder Raf’l Marquez who was named one of the top 11 players in France after leading Monaco to the French title.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese