Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In for a quick buck? DC United lawsuit

Steve Goff is reporting that DC United, MLS, AEG and Hristo Stoitchkov are all being sued by former American University soccer player Freddy Llerena, of Germantown, Maryland. Llerena is seeking a total of $10 million stemming from having his leg broken by Stoitchkov in a practice match in 2003. Stoitchkov tackled Llerena in the 10th minute of the match, essentially destroying his leg. For the rest of the situation, please check out Goff's article at the Washington Post.

This is something of an interesting situation. Does something that happened on the field in a game have grounds for punishment outside of the scope of the sport? Hockey has shown that events on the rink can be further prosecuted in a criminal court, ask Marty McSorley who was found guilty of assault with a weapon in 2000. Should Stoitchkov have had criminal charges brought against him? I don't know.

I didn't see the offense, but from everything I read about it when the tackle happened, Stoitchkov was nothing but remorseful, after it happened. Before it happened, he seemed to have been piping mad and may have just lost it for a moment and taken his anger out on the freshman AU player. Because a guy who was upset took his anger out on another person, but did it on a soccer field in a soccer match, does that make it any different than if I was mad and walked up to a random guy in DC and smacked him?

I honestly think that Llerena should be compensated for what happened. He seems to have developed a leg problem as a result of the injuries. His playing career appears to have been cut short due to the tackle, so the tackle did seem to change the course of his life. For that, I think he should be compensated. $10 million is a little too much though.

I question the timing of this as well. According to Goff, the lawsuit was filed in February of 2006, three years after the event. I question what took so long.

I feel bad for the kid and I wish him the best. I just don't think he should get $10 million from this. I also hope that this doesn't further the practice of trying to punish people outside of sports, for events that happen in sports. The difference between me smacking a guy on the street and Stoitchkov tackling Llerena is that Llerena (I assume) signed a waiver with American University and was fully qualified to play soccer. Most anyone who plays organized sports has to sign a waiver that absolves the organization from responsibility for any harm that the participants may encounter while partaking in such events. This tragedy, in my opinion, should be covered in this waiver. Funny how AU wasn't named in the lawsuit. Doesn't MLS have an agreement with AU or anyone else they "practice" with?

Claiming that DC United and MLS were negligent in hiring Stoitchkov because he was a known risk (his nickname was "The Mad Bulgarian"), in my opinion doesn't hold water either. Stoitchkov was a professional soccer player and unless some licensed psychologist clinically declared him insane or something, there is no legal basis to show that Stoitchkov was a threat.

I assume that this will get settled out of court and Llerena will be compensated, which I feel he should have (if he wasn't anyways) right after the event happened. $10 million just isn't what he deserves.


Monday, February 26, 2007

USMNT to host China: 6/2/2007

CNNSI.com is reporting that the USMNT will host China in San Jose on June 2nd, which is a FIFA match date, in its final tune up for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

According to the USSF website, tickets go on sale March 2nd.

I am not really to sure about this match up. China isn't exactly a power in Asia and I don't see them doing anything but give our guys 90 minutes to run at. I hate to say it, but this is a real dog of a match that the USSF has scheduled. Guatemala has something to offer the US team, as did Mexico and as Ecuador does. All of those squads play the same type of style as the Gold Cup and Copa America teams do. These opponents will give the USMNT a taste of what to expect in June and July.

China doesn't really do this for them. Honestly, this is the type of match that they should have tried scheduling for August or September. June 2nd should have been Chile or Portugal or Bolivia. Sorry, China just doesn't do it for me.


Quick Word: Screaming Eagles Kick-Off

I went to the Screaming Eagles Kick-Off Event on Saturday, which had DC United Head Coach Tom Soehn and DC United Technical Director Dave Kaspar in attendance.

The event was pretty cool, we found out that Soehn will use the reserves primarily in the USOC, which I agree with considering our schedule this season and we found out that Soehn is infact taller than Peter Nowak.

After Coach Nowak finished his Q&A, we were able to mingle with both him and Dave Kaspar during the Raffle drawing. I asked Dave if United would get a front jersey sponsor for the 2007 season and he said no, that when we have the new adidas jersey in 2008, it will have a front sponsor (he said that the 2008 adidas jersey is very nice and will have some red in the collar areas).

He also mentioned that it is in the works right now to get MLS two guarenteed berths in the Copa Sudamericana, maybe by 2008 (he said top two clubs, not sure if that is MLS Cup teams or Conference or points). When he was asked why not Copa Libertadores, he said that the Copa Libertadores with it's group stage, has way more logistical challenges for MLS clubs, especially due to the travel times and getting the away matches in bewteen the league matches, not to mention that the Copa Libertadores starts well before the MLS regular season. The Copa Sudamericana presents a different format, which does fall during the MLS season and allows the clubs a better ability to get their matches scheduled for their away matches.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Nick Rimando: Goalkeeper without a Home!

According to Steven Goff, Nick Rimando has been traded back to Real Salt Lake from Red Bull New York. Evidently due to Scott Garlick deciding to retire abruptly, RSL is in need of a goalkeeper with at least 1 minute of MLS playing time (they drafted Chris Seitz from Maryland).

Big Apple Soccer is also reporting that Rimando has been traded...but they don't know who RBNY traded him to. Interesting....

I hope Nicky didn't buy a house or anything major in the New York area.


Soccer News & Notes: 2/23/2007

Pachuca Win 2-0 in CONCACAF Champions Cup
Defending Copa Sudamericana champions Pachuca dropped Marquense of Guatamala 2-0 last night at home in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup Quarter final match up. The second leg will be played Feb. 28 in San Marcos, Guatemala.

Carling Cup Final: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
The young guns vs. the millionaires. Chelsea captain John Terry has been ruled out of this match up due to an injury he picked up midweek in Porto. Arsene Wenger has stated that he will primarily use the same younger side that he has used through the entire Carling Cup campaign, which seems to mean that Henry will either not suit up or will be on the bench for this match up.

This could be the last chance for Jose. If he wins this title, he might, might stave off the executioners ax for a couple more weeks, but if Chelsea fails to win this match, especially against a less than full strength Arsenal, despite the defensive injuries, the Special One will (IMHO) become the Fired One. With the tools that he has been given, to have as many problems this season as he has, which in any normal club would be no problems, Mourinho is expected to be first in the league, and to be dominating like they did last year. Is the criticism warranted? Not really in my opinion. He still has Chelsea alive in all competitions and, which is a better situation than Sir Alex, Wenger, or Rafa can say for their clubs. However, if Chelsea fails to win their second Carling Cup in three years, expect the ball to be rolling for Mourinho.

Copa Libertadores: River Plate 2 – 1 Colo Colo
In a match up of former champions, Argentina’s River Plate picked up three important away points last night in their opening Copa Libertadores match at Chile’s Colo Colo, winning 2-1. River went ahead 1-0 with a goal taken from a contested free kick, not unlike Ryan Giggs goal midweek at Lille in the UEFA Champions League.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Olimpia's Coach Quits

Following a 4-1 home loss to MLS side DC United, Nahúm Espinoza quit as head coach of the club today.

I don't speak Spanish, nor can I read it, but from what I have been told of the translation, he blames his players for being slow and not executing.

Last night's match seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Olimpia have been having a sub standard season when compared to previous seasons. As the defending champions, Olimpia currently reside 7th in the league.

Wonder who will be the boss when they play at RFK next week?


Convey out for the rest of the season.

Reading have put Bobby Convey on a plane back to the USA for further surgery on his gimpy knee. Convey injured his knee last summer in Germany while on USMNT duty during the 2006 World Cup. A procedure similar to the one done on his knee in December will be done on his knee again.

This is really starting to make me wonder why he was called in for the Mexico match in February. You also have to think that this rules him out of any US team duty, which gives Beasley a brand new chance to stake claim to the left flank position. You never know Bradley might move Bornstein up to the left wing and drop Pierce or Bocanegra to the left back position.

I feel bad for Bobby; this ends his first season in the EPL and unless this heals properly, could effectively kill his career. Get well young Bobby.

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DC United vs. CD Olimpia Highlights

Here are the highlights from last nights 4-1 victory over CD Olimpia in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

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CONCACAF Champions Cup - DC United vs. Olimpia: My take.

4-1? Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever thought that the score line would be 4-1. I was hoping for a 1-1 result at best. This is a great result considering the situation and conditions.

The score line is really very misleading. The four goals are more of a reflection of how bad Olimpia were last night, rather than how good United was. Olimpia looked like they were the ones who were in preseason form and their defense looked like they hadn’t played together ever. I failed to really see one player on Olimpia’s side that was really that threatening. Their goal was more of a failure of Brian Namoff and Clyde Simms than the Olimpia attack. Namoff gave way too much space to the Olimpia winger and should have stepped up and pressured him more before the cross. Simms, who was marking Carcamo at the other end of the cross, failed to get in between the ball and Carcamo. Had he done that the goal probably wouldn’t have gone in.

We had some very good moments in the match and the fact that we were able to continue to work the ball with our starting 11 so late into the match was a good sign. However, I think that this was also a by product of Olimpia being rather poor in their efforts. Considering that most of our guys now have 90 minutes under their belts and that certain key guys didn’t have to log 90 minutes, I am happy with United’s progress in this tournament. Is a three goal lead insurmountable? No, but with another week of training and the expected weather conditions, I like our chances of pulling off a 2-0 victory at RFK to move on in the tournament.

Assuming that United move on to face either W Connection or Chivas de Guadalajara, they will host the first round of that series, most likely on the 14th or 15th of March. That will give them two matches under their belts, along with two and a half more weeks of training. I like our chances, assuming we can get results like last night.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CONCACAF Champions Cup: CD Olimpia vs. DC United

CD Olimpia vs. DC United
Tiburcio Carias Andino Stadium, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
9:00pm EST
Fox Soccer Channel

About damn time. It feels like this was taking forever to get to. Are you ready fro some football?

DC United has traveled down to Honduras to take on CD Olimpia in the first leg of their Quarter Final match up in the CONCACAF Champions Cup tournament. Amid a few AK-47’s and some stretching, the Black & Red were able to get a quick feel for the pitch conditions yesterday. Considering that United have only been in camp for just about three weeks, match fitness levels are not where the coaching staff would like them to be. Add to that that Olimpia is seven matches into it’s season, this could be a recipe for disaster.

So what is gonna happen? I am not sure. United Head Coach Tom Soehn says that he has the better football team, but the match fitness is in the back of his mind.

Assuming that United do not suffer the same type of meltdown that occurred in Mexico City two years ago against PUMAS (5-0 ass raping obliteration), I think that United have the chance for a 0-0 draw. From what I have been reading, Olimpia have not exactly been lighting up their scoreboard as of late and aren’t faring well in their domestic league run. If we start to fade in the later stages of the match, we could see our defense crumble and a 3-0 loss.

Steven Goff at the Washington Post is saying it will be a 1-0 Olimpia victory. 1-0 isn’t bad, considering that we get them at home the following week.

Well, lets hope for a good showing from our boys.

Also, the Houston Dynamo take on FC Puntarenas in Costa Rica today at 2:30pm on FSC.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tired of talking to a wall: Trecker Article

I think I know why the US soccer program is having its problems. It really has nothing to do with the soccer, it has everything to do with the tunnel vision that those who cover soccer have. The main tunnel vision is about things that are done by the USSF and MLS. One of those main people is Jaime Trecker, lead sports writer for Fox Soccer.

Trecker has posted an article that seems straight out of a Big Soccer posting. Go check it out, I half expected to see a Big Soccer handle instead of his name.

Trecker is basically asserts that in saying that the CONCACAF Gold Cup is their primary focus this summer, the USSF is focused on the wrong tournament. He feels that the Copa America should be where the USMNT sends its better players and that a group of MLS players should be used in the Gold Cup. He says this because he wants us to win the Copa America, a tournament that he himself says we cannot win.

Trecker is using a very, very short sighted view on these two tournaments, the same way most of the posters on Big Soccer have done. “We should go guns blazing into the Copa,” or “Who cares about the Gold Cup, we gotta win the Copa and get our respect back.” Those are two of the more popular types of posts on this topic in Big Soccer and pretty much fall in the same line with Trecker’s article. In my humble opinion, both are wrong.

The USSF and Bob Bradley are not simply focused on the next year, but they are looking towards 2010. The next World Cup is what the focus for the collective minds of those who will be choosing the players for both tournaments and with that in mind, I feel that they have a pretty good and clear plan that is in operation. Sure they should give Bradley the job full time and really begin to schedule more away matches, but those two issues aside, their decision to send a stronger side to the Gold Cup is a better choice.

Look at it from this point of view.

This year’s Gold Cup is the qualifiers for the Confederations Cup in 2009. Considering that the 2010 World Cup is set for South Africa, some place that the USA has never played in and should offer a chance to face teams like France, Italy, Brazil, Nigeria and so on, it is a very good tournament for the USA to get to take part in. So if all we need to do is win our regional tournament, our weak regional tournament, we get a chance to play in a tournament that will take place in the World Cup host stadiums and face some of the better nations in FIFA. Why wouldn’t we want to do everything imaginable to ensure that the USMNT gets the CONCACAF berth in the 2009 Confederations Cup?

The Copa America is an experience unlike many other. It is also a similar type of environment to the one that the USMNT faces when it travels to Central America and Mexico for World Cup Qualification matches. Doesn’t it seem that the 2007 Copa America would be the perfect chance to get guys like Bornstein, Boswell, Cannon, Clark, Rolfe, Mapp, DeMerit, Feilhaber, Wynne, Bradley and others who have never traveled for a national team match outside of the USA, a chance to cut their teeth on what that environment is like? This won’t even really cost the USSF anything because if they perform poorly, then we still get a chance to get new guys in for the World Cup qualifying. If they buckle under pressure in World Cup qualifying, where would we be then?

This is why the Copa America should be used this year, as a chance for the newer guys, those who haven’t had bags of urine or batteries thrown at them, to see how football in the rest of the world is, especially in conditions similar to CONCACAF World Cup qualification situations. How will the new guys, the young guys who should be getting ready to carry the torch, get any proper experience by playing in the Gold Cup? Further more, if you win the Gold Cup, we can send a similar type team to the Confederations Cup, which gives them even more of a crash course in the international game.

If the USSF is going to replace the guys who really carried the National team from the Wynalda’s the Meola’s and the Harkes’; we are going to have to start getting them to grow up faster. Replacing Reyna and Pope and McBride with Bradley, Feilhaber, Bornstein & Cooper will take some time. Sending them into the Gold Cup won’t give them the chance to experience the most unique of environments that the Copa America is. It really won’t give them the chance to “sink or swim.”

Until the soccer media in the USA begin to realize that the years between each World Cup and the start of the next Qualification process are best used to season the new players, the situation in our country with our national team will continue to be one of a lesser sport. We really shouldn’t be that worried with how we do in the Copa America, because just playing against Columbia in South America will be the type of thing that gets us closer to beating Mexico in Azteca during World Cup qualifying. Playing Cuba in Giants Stadium won’t. Playing against Italy in Cape Town in 2009 will give us a better chance at beating Spain in Pretoria in 2010.

Jaime, look at the big picture. See how not sending the USMNT players who are experienced to the Copa America will increase the chances that the performance of our national team in 2006 won’t happen again. How else are we going to truly get to a full pool of players without throwing some of our guys off the deep end? I would rather see the USMNT win the Gold Cup, get three quality matches (or more, I think that we can still take third in our group and advance to the knock out round) in the Copa America for seasoning the newer guys and continue our development.

Using the Copa America as a chance for player development is a perfect opportunity. It allows the USSF to get players excellent international experience and it gives the coaching staff the chance to really work under international conditions. Hopefully the USSF will maintain its stance on what type of team they send to each tournament. Sending a group of newer guys to the 2007 Copa America will be a huge step towards ensuring that we have players who do not crack under pressure in 2010 in some South African stadium.

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UEFA Champions League: Round of 16

Here are my picks for today’s matches:

Celtic vs. AC Milan:
Despite getting a good offensive result over the weekend, I have some doubt that Milan will be able to continue their goal scoring patterns. Celtic is running away with the SPL, but that really doesn’t say a lot for their form. I think that a 1-1 draw might be in the cards here.

PSV Eindhoven vs. Arsenal:
Arsenal played a 120 minute match last week, then played another spirited draw on Saturday. I am beginning to wonder if Arsene Wenger’s boys have anything left in the tank. A friend of mine of has season tickets at Emirates says that Arsenal will make it to the final and finish second in the EPL. I highly doubt either, especially if they have to keep playing replay matches in the FA Cup and have continue playing overtime matches. PSV are running away with the Eredivisie title and are coming off of a 2-0 victory over SC Heracles Almelo. As this is a home match for PSV, I feel that they might pull off a 1-0 or 2-0 victory.

Lille vs. Manchester United:
It has already been said that Lille need to play a perfect match in order to defeat United and I agree with this idea. United did stumble with their quest for the FA Cup over the weekend with a 1-1 draw against Reading, but in all honesty, United fielded a weaker side and didn’t have the best run of play against Reading, so a 1-1 draw isn’t the end of the world. Reading, IMHO is also a better club than Lille is, so with a full strength squad at his disposal, I fully expect Sir Alex Ferguson to get the best out of his boys. United should pick up a 2-0 victory.

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich:
Wow, just a few years ago this would have been a dream match up that would have any football supporter drooling. Now the only thing people will be looking for is if the stadium opens up and swallows both clubs for their mediocrity. Bayern is one of my favorite clubs in Europe; however, I am really not that interested in this match up. UEFA should just call this one off, it could be the snoozer of the round. 0-0 draw.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Sorry, no updates today

I have been pretty much out of town since Friday. I will have my preview for the Champions League matches tomorrow as well as CONCACAF Champions Cup matches in the next few days.

Sorry for the inactivity.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Socceroos coming to take on the Yanks?

According to Australian website The Age, the USMNT will host Australia later this year in either New York or Boston (probably Foxboro). FIFA has the following days set aside for International matches:
August 22nd (Friendly Date)
September 8th & 12th (Official Match Dates)

October 13th & 17th (Official Match Dates)

November 17th & 21st (Official Match Dates)

I seriously doubt that USSF would schedule a USMNT match for November 17th, with the MLS Cup taking place the next day. Along those same lines, I can't see the USSF scheduling a Friendly on August 22nd either, as it is in the middle of the MLS season and not the best weather conditions to bring in a foreign side.

So take your pick for which of the other five dates the USSF and Australian FA are looking at. Hopefully the USSF uses at least one of the Official Match Date pairings for a trip abroad, maybe against Switzerland & Ivory Coast?


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Copa America Draw Finalized

CONMEBOL held the final draw for the 2007 Copa America tonight. The groups for the tournament look like this:

Group A

Group B

Group C
United States

I have to say that Group B has the most right to the label “Group of Death.” Brazil should still send a very talented and solid squad, as should Ecuador. Mexico will most likely send a squad that will be able to throw down with anyone, and Chile isn’t a push over.

Group A is a very, very soft group. If Uruguay doesn’t take all 9 points and win this group, I will be shocked. I expect this to be the group that only gets two teams advancing to the knock out stage.

Group C is another tough one, but not as tough as Group B. Argentina will most likely send a good squad, with a mix of current First team players and a sprinkling of newer younger players. Columbia will essentially be playing home matches for their three group games, so they should have some spirit on their side. Paraguay qualified for Germany 2006 last year, going 1-2, scoring two goals and letting in two goals. They will be tough as well.

I like the USA’s chances of advancing to the knock out round. The top two teams from each group, along with the next two teams to advance are the top two third place teams. With the USA playing Argentina first, I really cannot see getting more than 1 point off of the Argentine’s. However, getting four points from the next two matches is not that difficult, hell six points isn’t that far out of reach.

The draw wasn’t for the USA wasn’t a “Group of Death” nor was it a gift like group A. The USA was put into the moderate group, which is a good situation for Bob Bradley and his squad. Now we will need to see what type of squad Bob (or who ever is the coach at this point) brings in. Will he bring in a group of seasoned veterans or will he use the 2007 Copa America as a sharpening stone for 2010 World Cup qualifying?


SuperLiga: Give it a chance.

As the CONCACAF Champions Cup (CCC) kicked off last night with W Connection upsetting Chivas 2-1, I am getting more and more excited for club soccer again. DC United, my club, will be facing Olimpia of Honduras next Wednesday night in their Quarter Final match up in the CCC. Regardless of how DC United does in this international tournament, United will also be taking part in the inaugural edition of the SuperLiga this July/August. I am excited about this tournament as well. United will host two of Mexican clubs, Morelia & Club America in the first round and hopefully they will advance to the knock out stage of the new tournament.

One of the reasons I am excited about the CCC and the SuperLiga is because these are chances for DC United and MLS to either prove to the rest of the world that US based club teams can compete internationally; or fail at that attempt and show that we all really have a way to go. I for one think that we will be able to show that we can play with clubs from other countries and it will be another validation for US club soccer. These are baby steps that must be taken in order to get to other, loftier levels.

One person who disagrees with my take on this issue is Ken Pendleton over at US Soccer Players.com. He wrote a piece yesterday that basically calls for SuperLiga to not be played and for MLS (along with SUM) to begin lobbying CONMEBOL for MLS slots in the Copa Libertadores tournament. He says that the Mexican clubs that take part in the SuperLiga will never take it seriously as they already have the Copa Libertadores to focus on and to a much lesser extent, the CCC. So his plan is to scrap the SuperLiga entirely, just because, even before SuperLiga’s first whistle is blown, the Mexicans are already mailing in their performances.

I can actually understand where Pendleton is coming from and he might have a point when he claims that the Copa Libertadores is the main focus of the Mexican clubs, I have to disagree with him about his suggestion for scrapping the SuperLiga. I disagree on several levels, namely:

1. I don’t think MLS itself is ready for the tournament.
2. I don’t think that any MLS club is ready for the type of tournament that is the Copa Libertadores.
3. I can’t see any real reason right now for CONMEBOL to even consider allowing MLS into the tournament.
4. Why kill something that hasn’t even happened yet?

One of the primary problems with Pendleton’s argument, and pretty much everyone who is lobbying for a Copa Libertadores spot right now is that I do not think that MLS is ready for the tournament. The Copa Libertadores really operates from mid-January to mid July. MLS doesn’t start its regular season until the beginning of April, so how is MLS supposed to have clubs ready for the group stage, or any pre-group stage matches that they might have to participate in? MLS as a league won’t be ready for the Copa Libertadores until the league changes its season format. The league format won’t even be ready for a change until all clubs have their own stadiums to play in, meaning that they dictate the scheduling of matches. Until MLS has all clubs in Soccer Specific Stadiums (SSS), MLS will not be able to schedule their season around the Copa Libertadores, which they really need to do to ensure that their clubs can truly compete.

The MLS clubs themselves truly aren’t ready for this type of tournament, based simply on the past records of MLS clubs in the CCC. Remember PUMAS surgically attaching their feet to DC United’s collective asses? How did Kansas City doe in the CCC that same year? Remember last year when LA and New England were booted from the tournament first round? Until MLS clubs are able to march through the CCC and routinely make the semi-finals, they won’t be ready for a tournament that is operated over the time frame that is the Copa Libertadores. This in my opinion really won’t be seen year in and year out until MLS moves its schedule to at least a January to September type of schedule. For that to happen, refer to the paragraph above.

Let me ask you this, would you want a kid of 12 years old, who hasn’t proven that he can really match up well with anyone around them, to take part in any type of competitive event? Would you even invite the kid in, knowing that they really aren’t ready yet? I wouldn’t, and neither should CONMEBOL. MLS is still 12 years old and has yet to continually prove themselves in a proper international environment. MLS hasn’t shown CONMEBOL that a club like FC Dallas would be able to handle a tournament where they might have to face Boca Juniors at La Bombonara or Santos at Vila Belmiro. Until we get several MLS clubs to go down to Costa Rica and get a victory against Saprissa or go to Azteca and beat Club America, CONMEBOL wouldn’t have any reason to offer a slot to a MLS club. What use would all of the marketing ideas that Pendleton mentions be if the US market wasn’t able to even follow a US based club? CONMEBOL needs to be able to see MLS clubs perform well in the two international tournaments’ available to them now, before they think of inviting them father south.

Based on this, I feel that MLS needs SuperLiga more than the FMF does. Until MLS moves its regular season schedule forward to allow clubs to have season fitness for the CCC matches, SuperLiga will be the only way to show that an in season MLS club can handle an international opponent. Yes, the current schedule has the SuperLiga taking place in the FMF preseason of the Apertura. Until either this scheduling issue changes or the Mexican clubs change their scheduling, this will remain an issue here. The point I am getting at is that MLS needs to do well in the SuperLiga. Once MLS has clubs winning the SuperLiga, especially this season, Garber & Co. will then finally have some small amount of room to stand on when they decide to get in touch with CONMEBOL.

My suggestion for how MLS should finally make it to start negotiating with CONMEBOL about a possible Copa Libertadores spot or two is this type of time line:

First, MLS has got to expand itself to at least 16 clubs, all with their own SSS. Once they have their own stadiums, then the league can begin to migrate its schedule closer to January. I don’t see 16 clubs or all clubs being in SSS until 2011, so MLS has four seasons to get other ground work finished.

Second, MLS needs to win at least 2 out of the first 3 SuperLiga championships. An MLS club has at least got to make the final every season. This is in order to do two things; increase the ability of SUM to get better marketing and higher priced sponsorship. If the LA Galaxy wins the 2007 SuperLiga, then Chicago reaches the 2008 SuperLiga finals, only to have RBNY win it all in 2009, you have to figure that SUM would be able to push for higher priced marketing, which could increase the winners’ purse from $1 million to maybe $3 million or up. If Toyota and Nissan can sponsor the Libertadores and Sudamericana, then Ford or GM could pony up $1 or $2 million for SuperLiga. If this happened, you have got to believe that the Mexican clubs will start to pay more attention to this tournament.

A $3 million dollar pay day for two weeks work might sound pretty appealing to PUMAS or Cruz Azul. Another thing that this might do is start to bug the hell out of the Mexican club supporters if they see MLS clubs picking up that paycheck. How would the Chivas supporters feel about their club traveling to the USA three straight years and getting beaten by MLS clubs every time they go up there? How would the players feel about seeing DC United pick up a $3 million dollar check right after beating them in the finals? It would probably sting as much as last weeks 2-0 loss Mexico picked up against the USA.

So if SUM were able to increase the payouts for the SuperLiga based on higher priced sponsorship, that might get the Mexican clubs to pay a little more attention to the tournament, maybe move their training schedules up a few weeks, who knows. The biggest thing is that if the winner is gonna get $3 million dollars, those who take part are gonna focus on the tournament.

Once MLS clubs are able to show well in the SuperLiga, and have their own SSS to schedule their seasons in, I believe that success in the CCC will become more routine. We will see DC United get the CONCACAF slot at the FIFA World Club Cup, or RBNY, or LA Galaxy or such. Once these steps are all in place, MLS should consider approaching CONMEBOL about a type of entry into the Copa Libertadores. Honestly, I don’t see that happening until maybe, 2016 when the league is 20 years old.

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CONCACAF Champions Cup Opens With Shock!

11 time Mexican Champion Chivas de Guadalajara were shocked yesterday 2-1 in their opening round match against Trinidadian club W Connection. Chivas took a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute only to have W equalize in the 78th minute and take the lead shortly afterwards.

W Connection now must travel to Guadalajara in two weeks for the second round of their Quarter Finals match up. The winner of this series will face the winner of the DC United/Olimpia series. The rest of the matches kick off next week. DC United will face Olimpia in Honduras on the 21st. The return leg will take place in Washington, D.C. at RFK stadium on Thursday, March 1st.


FIFA Rankings: Italy #1

FIFA released their February rankings today and Italy finally toppled Brazil from the #1 spot after 55 months straight for the Samba kings.

Following the USA’s 2-0 victory over Mexico, the US moved up three spots to #28.

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Copa America Draw Tonight

CONMEBOL will be holding the 2007 Copa America draw tonight to figure out where six of the participating nations will be grouped and who they will face. CONMEBOL has already placed the following clubs into groups:

Group A:
- Venezuela
- Bolivia

Group B:
- Brazil
- Mexico

Group C:
- Argentina
- United States

Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay will find out which groups they will join at tonight’s draw.

Venezuela will open the tournament against Bolivia on June 26th. Brazil will face Mexico on June 27th and the USA will face Argentina on the 28th. The USSF was able to negotiate having the USMNT placed in Group C to ensure as much of a gap between the end of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the opening match in the Copa. The Gold Cup final is Sunday, June 24th in Chicago.

I like the idea of facing Argentina. Assuming that Argentina follows their normal procedure, they should be sending a squad that will rely heavily on U-23 players and fringe players who will need blooding for 2010 World Cup qualification. As I suggest that the USSF sends a squad made up of lesser experienced players to the Copa America, it will still give them a good experience.

I honestly think that the USSF and the USMNT program would get a lot more out of sending a less than veteran squad to the Copa America. In sending a group of guys like Jay DeMerit, Justin Mapp, Benny Feilhaber, Bobby Boswell, Marcus Hahnemann, Eddie Johnson, Jonathan Bornstein and such, we get to have them experience a hostile environment similar to how World Cup qualifying will have. If these guys are going to produce for us in Mexico City or Panama City then they need to be ready for how the fans will act. Remember the Nike commercial last spring? The one showing Santino sitting underneath the ceiling tiles that were bouncing with the fans? Yeah, that is what these guys need to experience, so that when they need to get 3 points from Panama or Costa Rica, in Panama City or San Jose, they will be prepared for the environment.

I am looking forward to both this and the Gold Cup. This should be a good summer of soccer. Anything better than last summer would be fine with me.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Manchester United Video Highlights

Highlights from the Manchester United vs. Charlton match from the last weekend.


Weekend Soccer Wrap Up: 2/12/2007

Manchester United 2 – 0 Charlton
In the end of this match, United walked away with all three points and moved their magic number to 9 for the EPL championship. However, the beginning of the match seemed less likely to have this result. Not to say that United were lucky, but this was a different game for United when compared to their last two outings.

After the first 15 minutes, I was certain that the match would end up a 1-1 draw and the title race would be much tighter. However, despite all of the problems that United were having in the final third of the field, Charlton were having just a little more trouble finishing and getting their defense together. Park’s goal came more from a lack of aggression from the Charlton defense and goalkeeper than Evra’s cross or Park’s head. Ryan Giggs damn near made it 2-0 because he wanted the ball more than the Charlton defense. Fletcher’s goal was made out of the same premise, Charlton’s defenders were a step off their pursuit, which gave Rooney the chance to take his shot and still get his rebound for the cross.

I was pleased in the end of the match. United picked up the points, kept their third consecutive clean sheet and were able to give Saha a start, Carrick a full rest, Giggs only 60 minutes of work as well as Larsson 30 minutes of work. Damn near everyone got some time in or was rested enough.

This Saturday United host Reading in their FA Cup clash at Old Trafford. Van Der Sar is expected back and I hope to see a full line-up sent out for the opening whistle. Even though United have a 6 point lead in the league, bringing home the FA Cup should still be a priority. If keeping Ronaldo out until the last 30 minutes is possible, I would still be ok with that. It would give him some time on the pitch, yet keep him for the mid-week clash with Lille. I would also like to see Saha get his second straight start and have Larsson or Ole start along side him, keeping Rooney out until the Lille match.

Bayern Munich 1 – 0 Arminia Bielefeld
In a match of under achievers, Bayern finally put up a victory for the first time in five matches. Roy Makaay’s 9th minute goal sealed up Ottmar Hitzfeld’s first home match of the season. Bayern remain 4th in the Bundesliga with 37 points.

I sat down and watched the match on Gol TV and as the match unfolded, I was impressed for the first 15 minutes. Bayern were attacking well and actually should have definitely had two goals, maybe a third as well. After the first 15 minutes, the match really slowed down and was stagnate. Bayern’s defense wasn’t the most composed, yet they got the job done against a Bielefeld side that had their own finishing problems. If Bayern were facing any of the top three Bundesliga clubs, they would have surely lost 2-1.

Ottmar Hitzfeld has his work cut out for him. He has got to get Bayern up to at least 2nd place, which means they must overhaul the five point gap between them and Bremen. However, I have got to believe that Hitzfeld is primarily focused on the Champions League match up with Real Madrid. He has two more weeks to get his squad in order and get them playing his brand of football. If that doesn’t happen, Bayern will get dumped out of the Champions League, by a much more confused Real club. Bayern have one more Bundesliga match up this coming weekend against Alemania Aachen, so Hitzfeld has one more shot at getting his squad right.

Hopefully Hitzfeld can get his men to regroup and they can get a good result from the Aachen match and carry it over to their Champions League match up with Real. If not, Bayern look to finally be losing their position as top dog in the Fatherland.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Weekend Soccer Preview: What I’m Watching

I am only planning on watching two matches this weekend, due to family commitments.

Saturday: Manchester United vs. Charlton 10:00am/FSC
Sunday: Bayern Munich vs. Arminia Bielefeld 3:00pm/Gol TV

Manchester United vs. Charlton
United reduced their magic number to 10 wins with their 4-0 romp over Tottenham last Sunday and increased their goal differential to 17 over Chelsea. Having scored 11 goals in their last three matches in all competitions, United are firing on all cylinders. Charlton have gone 1-1-1 in their last three matches, scoring two goals and allowing two goals. Their last match was against Chelsea, losing 1-0.

Considering United’s form of late, I fully expect a victory. Considering that United have a week between this match and their FA Cup clash with Reading, SAF should be sending out his first squad, minus Van De Sar and his broken nose. Charlton’s defense hasn’t been horrid over their last few matches, but they have left in more than three goals twice this season, 5 in a 5-1 loss to Tottenham in December and 4 in a 4-0 loss to Arsenal the beginning of January. Considering this, I can see United at least dropping 2 or 3 goals on them and taking all three points.

Bayern Munich vs. Arminia Bielefeld
Well, how far the mighty have fallen. FC Hollywood looks like a shadow of its former self, having only picked up 1 point out of 9 since the return from the Bundesliga break. They have only scored two goals in this three match stretch, allowing six. Their coach, Felix Mageth was fired and replaced with Ottmar Hitzfeld, who was released two and a half seasons ago to make way for Mageth. This is a club in a serious state of funk. If there is any consolation of sign of hope for Bayern, it is because Bielefeld is going through an even worse stretch of play. They too have only picked up 1 point out of their previous 9, but their last victory was a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on November 11th. So if Bayern are to break out of this funk that they are in, this is the perfect opportunity.

The biggest factor in the match will be if Hitzfeld has been able to apply his form of football on the Bayern players in a way that they can execute his game plan. The match against Nurnberg I think was more a result of the players not having any time with their coach, than an utter domination by Nurnberg. The last time these two clubs met, it was Bielefeld picking up all three points with a 2-1 victory; it will be interesting to see if Bayern can produce a different result with Hittzfeld at the helm. Considering current form, a 1-1 draw doesn’t sound very off.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

USA 2 – 0 Mexico: Recap

Well, in a match that on paper should have been the first loss in 6 years on US soil, the USMNT turned out a tale of two different halves. The first half was a tale of a group of guys dealing with a hostile environment and an opposition that was a collection of players in better shape and more determined to attack the goal. During the first half, that group remained composed and was able to weather the storm that was the Mexican attack.

Halftime came and we not only saw ESPN showing international soccer highlights, but we sat through 30 second of Sunil Gulati say absolutely nothing at all; only to have Bruce Arena use 15 seconds to say plenty, and they were both talking about the same subject.

In previous USA vs. Mexico matches, the second half has always started pretty much the same way; the US comes out firing and Mexico takes time to get back into gear. Same thing happened last night, culminating with the US scoring off of a corner kick in the 53rd minute. With the lead, it was now the group holding steady as the collection kept reloading with new players and new attacks. Anchored by a goalkeeper that at times appeared to come out of nowhere to deny shot after shot from the Mexicans, the defense held strong and kept the clean sheet.

Then in the 90th minute, as the Mexican midfield attempted yet another chance to mount an attack, they lost sight of who was where and sent an errant pass into the legs of the referee, in which a former poster child of the USMNT pounced on and showed us all once more the potential and gift that he has. After a burst of speed and a quick maneuver around the on rushing Mexican goalkeeper, the Golden Boy put the ball in the back of the net, giving the US fans an all too familiar score line to chant over and over again, “2-0.”

I think the biggest difference in this match was that it was a group against a collection. The collection of Mexico’s finest professional players (and one out of shape Blanco) was unable to crack a group of US players who have been in camp together for a month (except the 4 Euro based guys). The group of US players was able to work much better together to counter the individual skills of the Mexican team. All of the credit has to go to Bob Bradley. Bradley was able to get everyone to work together, something we rarely saw in Germany last summer.

My main highlights of the game were the performances by Tim Howard, Pablo Mastroeni, Jimmy Conrad, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein and Landon Donovan. Howard is the US goalkeeper of the future and last night was nothing but a stronger validation of that fact. Even though he was a tad shaky to start the match, once he was able to get into his rhythm, Howard was a brick wall. Everton would be very stupid to not try and sign him away from Manchester United full time.

Pablo “The Destroyer” Mastroeni, wearing the captain’s armband and playing in front of some 60 friends and family, showed a much better use of his abilities and his head. Yes he in the first half he damn hear picked up a red card with a less than smart tackle, but he was able to be the central marshal of the US defense. When needed, especially in the second half, Pablo made the defensive/offensive transition with quick decisions and movement, something some of the other USA players failed to do.

Jimmy Conrad played just about the most complete match I have ever seen him do, in a USA jersey or otherwise. He was a giant in the central defense, he stepped up to help the defensive/offensive transition to bridge the attacks and he was in great position for the first goal. If the stories of Conrad being a target for a Norwegian club are true, I suspect more European clubs will start checking out Kansas City Wizards matches for a chance to sign him away. He was huge.

Carlos Bocanegra was the perfect compliment to Conrad in the central defense. The combined effort of these two guys effectively cut Borgetti down to little more than a spectator in the first half. In the second half, Los continued to marshal the central defense and worked countless times to deny Mexico on its crosses. You can definitely see that the four years at Fulham have molded him into am much better defender.

The one position that was the most unknown was the left back slot, namely MLS youngster Jonathan Bornstein. Bornstein had a good match against Denmark, but how he would do against a team of seasoned first string Mexican players, was unknown. Well, the boy proved that if anyone wants to play left back, they have got to go through him. He played with a reckless abandon that caused problems on the left side for Mexico, much more so than Reading winger Bobby Convey. Bornstein was much more active running up in the attack and was less hesitant when on the ball. This kid will be a star and he showed it last night.

Last but not least, we come to Landon Donovan. Donovan played a much, much better match last night, despite really being played out of position at forward. He made better runs and more of them that had in his last 7 matches for the USA and he looked more dangerous than he has in a very, very, very long time. The defining moment came on his goal. He saw the error and pounced on it and went balls out towards the goal. As he blew past the last remaining defender, he was shouting commands to Eddie Johnson for their attack. He then took care of Sanchez and put the ball in the back of the net. That was the Landon Donovan that we all expected to see in Germany, wanted to see in Germany and god damn it, we needed to see in Germany. When the USA was being pressured by wave after wave of Mexican attacks, he came back into the final third and worked with the defense. When Josh Gros was beaten right after coming on, Donovan was there to cover for him and provide pressure. He played an outstanding match. Let’s please see more of that Landon Donovan in a USA jersey.

I don’t really feel like throwing anyone underneath a bus this time, but some of the guys played less than hoped for. Bobby Convey confused me with his speed and decision making, but I am hoping that those issues are more a result of him just coming back from an injury layoff rather than poor ability. Chris Rolfe, when he actually got into the match, showed that he still has a way to go to move from MLS player to international player. Chris Albright did pretty much the same thing. The Mexican left wingers were abusing Albright all night and not because they were extra special, but because Albright kept giving way too much free ground to the wingers.

Last but not least, I believe that in this match, the “three wise men” of ESPN showed more restraint this match and waited until 59:03 to make their first David Beckham comment. That must have hurt Dave O’Brien to wait that long.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

2-0, anyone?

Damn, am I happy I got this score line wrong.

I will write up a more detailed report tomorrow, but damn, this has been one helluva great match to watch. The first half was lacking, but the second one was up there with the Italy match in the World Cup.

Sure does get the heart pumping!!!!

So what is basically our B Team, knocks off their A Team.

Good job boys!!!


Soccer New & Notes: 2/7/2007

USA vs. Mexico = Sell Out
The USA vs. Mexico match tonight in Glendale, Arizona is now a sell out. That is gonna be a lot of green in the stands. Mexico just switched to adidas as their kit supplier, so they should be sporting their new look jersey’s.

Conor Casey to Toronto FC.
US International Conor Casey has had his contract with Mainz terminated and will be joining MLS expansion club Toronto FC this week. Casey was unsuccessful in finding a new club after Mainz signed several new forwards during the January transfer window. I was hoping that DC United would have been able to use its allocations to acquire Casey, as I think he will do well in MLS, but I guess that didn’t work out.

Italian cabinet approves stadium security bill.
The Italian cabinet made a first step towards strengthening the security of its soccer stadiums today when they passed legislation that required that all stadiums in Serie A and Serie B meet minimum safety standards, or face being banned from allowing spectators from attending matches. The list of stadiums that do not meet the minimum requirements is released tomorrow.

It’s a first step, but something down deep still says that they won’t do a damn thing to help change the problems.

USA vs. Mexico

What: USA vs. Mexico
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
When: 9:00pm EST

Well, here we are. Tonight we have the CONCACAF grudge match, USA vs. Mexico. North vs. South, rising soccer power vs. established soccer power.

Both of these sides are in two different situations. One side, the Mexican side, has a new coach in Sanchez who must prove that all of the venom he shot at former Mexican coach Ricardo La Volpe was warranted and that he is the one who can break the Tri Color’s most recent run of 0-6-1 on US soil, and having a 0-11 goal difference in those matches. He has brought in his first choice team to begin his reign and it looks as if he will start off with a very positive result. Well, even with a victory, will he really have a positive result?

The USA is coming in with their “new” coach, Interim Head Coach Bob Bradley. No one knows if Bob will be at the helm much past May, now he is one of those guys who either is sitting in a hot seat, or has no worries in the job security department. Bob has brought in a less than experienced squad, having only called in four players from overseas. Bob seems to be using this match as another step towards establishing the core unit for 2010 World Cup qualifying.

Based on the two squads that have been called in for this match, one should expect the Mexicans to break their funk and pick up the win. However, as it is going to be the Mexican A Team vs. the USA B team, will the victory be a hollow one for the ones that really care about it the most…the Mexican press? Unless Mexico drops 4 or so goals on the USA, I really have to believe that Sanchez will only get vindication and praise if he leads Mexico to Gold Cup glory, with a victory over the USA in the finals.

I honestly think that the USA players will be the biggest winners in this match tonight. The guys like Bobby Boswell, Jonathan Bornstein, Ricardo Clark and Justin Mapp; guys who haven’t had the experience of playing in a packed stadium full of Tri Color flags waving and whistles and drums pounding. This match is a perfect primer for matches in Mexico, and matches in other Central American countries that will occur in World Cup qualifying. It will also help them to carry this experience over into their club matches. When DC United fly to Honduras for their CONCACAF Champions Cup match, Boswell, Namoff and Gros should at least be a little more familiar with the environment.

I expect Mexico to win, but something tells me that we might do all right. This match is for our future and their present.

USA 1- 2 Mexico


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The current situation in Italian Soccer.

Over last weekend, yet another sad chapter was written into Italian soccer history as a Sicilian police officer was murdered outside Catania's Angelo Massimino Stadium while several groups rioted after Palermo won 2-1 over rivals, Catania. Most are referring to those who rioted as supporters or fans. I won’t because I really don’t feel that those who riot after a loss are fans or supporters of anything. Not in Europe and not in the USA. The students who riot after their basketball team loses, they aren’t fans, they are just idiots who cannot truly make the difference between right and wrong and have no true outlet for their disappointment.

Italian soccer is at probably the lowest it has been for a while. The leagues were rocked by a match fixing scandal last season, a couple of years ago a Champions League Semi-Final between Inter Milan and AC Milan was halted due to flares being thrown on the pitch, some striking the players and costing Inter a chance at the final. These are just two of the most recent negative headlines that Italy has seen in the last couple of years.

A lot of people are asking what is to be done about the current problems. Italy is currently under a “two week hiatus” from all soccer, but nobody thinks it will last. Serie B clubs are already talking about having matches this weekend and everyone is shooting down the thoughts of having matches in empty stadiums.

I think that the problem facing Italian soccer right now is Italian soccer itself. The Italian FA (or whatever they call themselves) have fucked up time after time after time in instances where they should have shown that they had backbones and that they were in charge. After the Champions League match I mention above, was Inter really punished? UEFA granted AC Milan the 3-1 victory and they moved on to meet Liverpool in the final, but did Inter really get any type of punishment?

After the match fixing scandal, Juventus was stripped of it’s two last Serie A championships and was relegated to Serie B, but along with the other clubs that were found guilty, they had most of their points granted back and now lead Serie B and look to be returning to Serie A next year and ready to start bringing in high priced replacements. AC Milan were given point deductions for this season, but they weren’t deducted enough when all of the appeals came through and they still made it to the lucrative Champions League, where they have made it to the round of 16 and stand to at least bringing $20 million from their part in the tournament. How have either of these two clubs been punished, in any way that will set an example for the rest of the league? They haven’t.

The problem here lies at the root of the focus, the Italian soccer. Italian soccer needs to reinvent itself and they need to do it fast. The entire environment is in such a state of chaos that I doubt if anyone over there even really knows who is in charge. Those who think that they are in charge needs to step up and take action, and this time they need to take action that sticks and without any type of appeal or reprieve. The type of action would be so harsh, it would shake everything related to Italian soccer to its core and cause everyone to take a good long hard look at how they behave and how they operate, when it comes to Italian soccer. I think a lot of people need to be punished.

First off, I would deduct 20 points from both Palermo & Catania. Deducting 3 points here, 6 points there will not be any type of concern for either club. 20 points will give them such a drop in the standings that their seasons would be over. Catania would go from 30 points to 10, and would most likely relegate them back to Serie B. Palermo would drop down to 13th, which I still feel would be too high for them. This would be a perfect way for the Italian FA to show the rest of the clubs in all levels, that they need to get their own houses under control. It would also be a great way to show the fans, “Don’t fuck with the soccer.” The match itself was suspended for several minutes because of smoke bombs thrown during the game. If you fuck with our soccer, we will punish the clubs that you claim to support.

Second, I would force all Italian clubs in Serie A & B to play the next 10 matches in empty stadiums and without any television coverage. This would affect the ownerships of the clubs; the people who I really think run Italian soccer. When they can’t get the gate revenues or the TV revenues, something tells me that they will start to make some changes in how they operate their clubs and who they really allow to associate with their clubs. The type of change that is needed must start from the top.

Third, the Italian FA must approve and suggest to the Italian judiciary that they begin to outlaw certain fans from gathering anywhere near the stadiums on match day. England confiscates the Passports of known hooligans which prevents them from traveling during the World Cup, why can’t the Italian police impose a type of house arrest for those fans who are known to be the ones who cause the problems? I can’t imagine it is that hard to do.

Fourth, the Italian FA would withdraw AC Milan, Inter Milan and Roma from the Champions League. The Italian FA should also self impose a 5 year ban on Italian clubs from participating in the Champions League or the UEFA Cup. England was banned for how many years? I think it is time for Italy to get a time out.

Sadly I think that none of these type of suggestions implemented, or really anything “real” will happen in Italy and either this weekend or next weekend, it will be business as usual and we will see something else happen in about 6 or 8 months down the line. Because of this, I think that something needs to be done higher up the food chain. Namely, I think that UEFA needs to step up and show that it the Italian FA won’t take care of its house, UEFA will.

UEFA should, if nothing really happens, ban all Italian clubs from European football tournaments for the next 10 years. No more Champions League and its huge cash royalties. No more UEFA Cup or anything that is not a domestic match. They should also fail to recognize any type of league champions from Italy for the next 10 years.

Once UEFA does that, they should ban any Italian national team from taking part in any UEFA sanctioned match for the next 5 years. That would mean that it would ban Italy from taking part in the EURO 2008 tournament as well as costing them the first year of qualifying for EURO 2012. I also believe that it would cost Italy its chance at making the 2010 World Cup, so it would not be able to defend its championship.

Sadly again, none of this will ever happen and we will most likely see Italy taking part in the European Championships in 2008, like everything is ok.

Harsh situations require harsh reactions. The only way there will ever be any type of change in Italy, is if the environment for the entire country is changed. Once the real supporters and fans are made to suffer, they will then stand up and make sure that the small numbers of assholes who cause the problems don’t have the chance to do anything.

Civilized societies are ones that can stand up and tell themselves, “No, you are not going to do that.” Those people who can police themselves are those who show that they deserve the right to be able to enjoy the things in life that they cherish. Once all Italian citizens show that they are mature and civilized enough to attend a sporting event; a frigging game, and not throw flares at the players, or throw batteries at the referees and just watch the players do what they get paid to do…then they should not be allowed to do that with the rest of the civilized world. Until that day comes, they should be put in the corner and given a time out.


Soccer News & Notes: 2/6/2007

Sorry, but being the only IT guy at the office this week doesn’t lend too much free time for blogging.

Manchester United still 6 points up.
After two straight matches in which United scored four goals and kept two clean sheets, the EPL lead is still six points. Manchester United dropped Watford last Wednesday 4-0 only to follow it up with another 4-0 victory over Tottenham in London. Ronaldo, Scholes, Vidic and Giggs all scored for United. Edwin Van Der Sar left the match late in the second half with a broken nose, thanks to Robbie Keane. Van Der Sar is not playing this week for Holland, and it is unclear when he will return for United.

Manchester United host Charlton this Saturday in EPL action, then follow it up with a weekend home match against Reading in the FA Cup.

DC United schedule online.
DC United have posted their schedule for 2007 on their website. I find it odd that we only play the Red Bulls 3 times, and only once in New Jersey.

Only two more weeks until the first leg of the CCC and three weeks until the home game. I really can’t wait for this to kick off!

USA getting ready for Mexico.
The USMNT face Mexico tomorrow in Phoenix, Arizona. Mexico called in what can only be termed as their main squad for this match. Bob Bradley has called in something else. I will be watching from home, as work commitments ruled out a chance to fly out for this one. I hate it when works gets in the way of life.

Friday, February 02, 2007

USMNT Squad announced: WTF???

Interim Coach must be a title Bob Bradley likes having, because his squad selection for the February 7th match against Mexico isn’t something that will get him the job full time. He has made some of the dumbest choices in this 20 man squad, some dumber than Arena calling in O’Brien to the 2006 World Cup.

Here is the roster –

Goalkeepers: Joe Cannon, Tim Howard

Defense: Chris Albright, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Bobby Boswell, Bryan Namoff, Eddie Robinson, Jimmy Conrad

Midfield: Brian Carroll, Ricardo Clark, Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey, Joshua Gros, Justin Mapp, Pablo Mastroeni

Forward: Taylor Twellman, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Chris Rolfe

The main problem I have with this roster is that it has several players that should not have been selected, and it hasn’t some names that should have been selected. Here are the guys who should have been cut:

Eddie Johnson: Eddie sucks. I can’t say it any plainer or simpler than that. Yes he had 6 goals in his first couple of USMNT games. I was at the match against Panama at RFK where he came on and scored a hat trick in the second half. Panama was so sloppy; Bruce Arena could have scored that hat trick. Ever since MLS refused to sell him to Benfica, EJ has been a horrible player. He has failed to stay fit, failed to score goals for either the USMNT of his club team. Eddie Johnson needs to get his head screwed on correctly, refocus himself, prove himself with his club, then, maybe, get called back into a USMNT camp. The fact that he seems to always get called in and gets starts, just to be horrible with the ball and disappear for entire matches make me wonder if the coaches are even watching him in matches?

Yup, that’s it, EJ is the only one I think should have been cut. He should have been cut for one of the guys who I think should have been on the roster:

Kenny Cooper: Kenny scores. I can’t say it any plainer or simpler than that. He has proven for both his club and during that last USMNT match, that he can score goals. He is a huge beast that the Mexican defense would have fits trying to control. He is probably the best option at forward that the USA has, and he was left off of the roster. Why? Is he hurt? Did he need to leave camp for some emergency? If he was left off of the roster because he has one cap with the USMNT, that is bullshit. This is exactly the type of thing giving someone the title “interim” makes them do. You fail to think of how players will play, you try and think of who is the safest choice.

Oguchi Onyewu: Yeah, Gooch should have been called in. With one choice, Bob Bradley weakened our defense. Who is he going to start? If he was trying to go with experience, he failed to do it in the defense, because Boca and Conrad are the only ones who really have the type of experience that is needed for the match against Mexico. Bobby doesn’t have it, neither does Bornstein or Namoff of Robinson. So who will he start?

DeMarcus Beasley: Beasley is regaining his offensive awareness in Manchester City and would have been a perfect compliment to Deuce or Donovan on the wings. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see that during this match, so who knows?

Jonathan Spector: Spector would have been in Germany last summer had he not picked up an injury and as he is now starting full time for West ham and playing a damn good role for the Hamemrs on the left back spot, he should have been called in for this match. Yes, West Ham are currently in a relegation fit, but clubs know and expect their players to be called up for international matches, so they should be able to handle Spector getting a callin, expecially for a match that is this high profile.

Based on this roster, I have a feeling Bradley will start this line-up:


Boswell - Conrad

Albright ------------- Bocanegra

Clark ------ Mastroeni

Deuce -------------- Convey

Donovan ---- Johnson

If that is the line-up that Interim Coach Bob Bradley uses, Mexico will roll the USA like a joint and smoke them in the desert. Albright isn’t going to be able to content with the up and down movement that Bradley will want from him. Clark and Pablo will both play their defensive midfield roles, which is fine, but that will halt any type of midfield build up for the attack.

Speaking of attack, the USA most likely won’t have any, as Donovan has proven time and time again that he is best when he makes his runs from the midfield and can create chances and pass from the midfield. Honestly, I cannot understand why Donovan is even listed as a forward. He plays his best soccer in the Attacking midfield slot right behind two physically imposing strikers. Johnson…well, go read why I think he should have been cut. Bradley might as well just field a 10 man side, that way there would be more space on the field for the Mexicans.

Convey is returning from a knee injury and will be too busy trying to deal with the right flankers to really send in a cross to Landon, who isn’t the greatest in the air, so the crosses will be useless. Deuce might be able to spark some attack, but if he is the only one, he will get smothered by Mexico’s destroyers and we will watch a massacre.

That said, if I was the coach, and I am not, I would have started this line-up:


Boswell -------- Onyewu

Bocanegra ---------------- Spector


Deuce -------- Beasley


Twellman ----- Cooper

A line-up like this would give us two large bodies in the center defensive line, helping Timmy out with the forwards. Spector and Los would have been able to manage the wings in ways that I doubt Bornstein or Albright will be able to do. Conrad looked shaky in the Demark match, so I would drop him as well.

For the midfield, I would have Clark run the defensive midfield slot, simply because I think he has much better judgment when it comes to defensive tackles than Pablo “The Destroyer” does. In a match this volatile, better judgment is always needed.

For the wings, I would have Beasley and Deuce; two guys who can run at the defenders and can move the counter attack, just as they did against Ghana in Germany.

Donovan would be in the Attacking midfield slot, which he could drop back deeper into the midfield to start the attacks and see the field better. This would also give the chance to get the ball more, in the off chance that Landy still has a few massive runs left in him.

For the forwards, I would have Cooper and Twellman. Both are good with their feet and in the air and are tough to control. The Mexican defense would have a devil of a time trying to handle a beast like Cooper and a terror like Twellman, along with Donovan, Deuce and Beasley moving in for support and rebounds.

I had a bad feeling about this match when it was announced and that feeling just got worse with the squad that was selected. I do not see how this squad, with the line-up I sense Bradley will use, will be able to break down the Mexican defense or contain their attack.

I hope I am wrong, I really do. This is the match of the year, and if we lose, we will not hear the end of it. I hope Timmy is ready to be busy all night and expects to pick the ball out of his net several times.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

DC United re-aquire Rod Dyachenko

Go check Steven Goff's blog for the behind the schene details.

This gives United an instant boost in the backup department, as he was with the club last season and knows the system. He also should figure to see more time as Freddy is gone. This is actually one of the better moves I have seen the United Front Office do this off season.

I wonder if he will get his number back?


Manchester United vs. Watford

Manchester United dropped Watford yesterday, 4-0 to remain six points ahead of Chelsea in the EPL race. Ronaldo, Rooney and Larsson all scored, as well as a Watford own goal.


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