Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New USMNT Home Jersey....

Ok, so I understand that the sponsorship deals stipulate that the different jersey suppliers will change a teams jersey every two years. I got that. What I don't really get is how they can let some jersey designs through. I am wondering if this jersey design is one of those that someone should have stopped before it was released.

Don't get me wrong, I actually like this one more than the current home jersey with the blue/red stripes down the left side, but in the past when the USSF releases the new jersey, I am not that shocked with its look. This is the second straight one that I have had to think for a moment about. I guess that as it is much better than the previous one, I am shocked that they made a better looking jersey.

According to US Soccer, this jersey will make it's debut on February 6th against Mexico. You can order it here.

Ives had some funny things to say about this one.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DC United Designated Player Madness

With the 2008 training camp kicking off yesterday, DC United introduced four of their five new South American signings. Their fifth signing evidently will be introduced today, Marcelo Gallardo. Gallardo seems to be the replacement for Christian Gomez, the transmission of the club for the last three and a half years. We all knew that Gallardo was joining the Black & Red for a few days now, but the biggest question was if he was going to be the club's first Designated Player Allocation (DPA).

Well, he is.

So now let us all take a step back and look at this entire picture here for a moment, shall we?

We had a guy who was our #10, a guy who over the last three and a half seasons, was either the best player on the pitch, or was only the second best because the 2007 MLS MVP was wearing the same jersey as he was. Gomez had already proven that he had the chemistry with Moreno, Fred, Emillio and Olsen. He was the 2006 MLS MVP to boot. Yet when it came to contract time, DC United was adamant that Gomez was not DPA material, but was willing to offer him the highest non-DPA salary possible for two years. When Gomez balked on the contract offer, United walked away and landed Gallardo, whom they do feel is DPA material.

Now, I am honestly going to reserve judgment here. Gallardo might be a true step up from Gomez and if we see United bust open the 2008 MLS season with 6 straight victories and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions Cup final, then spending DPA money on Gallardo will be fine with me. Hell, if United are hoisting up the MLS Cup in November, I am not going to be one bit unhappy that Gomez isn't on the pitch or on the bench.

What troubles me is that a guy gives you 3 and a half years, puts in an MVP season, saves the entire club from being embarrassed by our biggest rival at home (RBNY 2006) in the playoffs and still looks to have at least one to two years left in the tank, but he isn't worthy of a DPA spot? I guess being MVP in this league isn't what it should be. I feel that both sides, United and Gomez, appear to have handled this contract and break up very badly. This isn't the first time that United has not been the best at communicating with players, ask Alecko about his trade to Toronto.

I hope that the front office are right about Gallardo. I am looking forward to this upcoming season, but it looks like I have to buy a new road jersey, as the one I have with C. Gomez doesn't quite fit the roster anymore.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

US Soccer making the headlines lately.

With the USMNT coming off of an important 2-0 victory over a domestic heavy Sweden side, focus has primarily changed over to the February 6th match up in Houston with Mexico.

I say that the 2-0 win was important because not only was important for Bob Bradley and his charges to start the season off on the right foot, but it gave those who were the rookies in camp a very good taste of the international level, without suffocating them with an intensive, emotional type of match... just like the Mexico matches. Bob has started 2008 just as he did with the 2007 campaign, so hopefully we will see the same type of success as we saw last season.

One difference from last year to this year is that the USMNT seem to be getting ready to break out the passports earlier this year. The confirmation of the match up against Poland on March 26th in Europe is a very welcome sign for the build up for the start of World Cup Qualifying. Yes it seems that we are always playing against Poland in some way shape or form, but as Bradley has already shown that only a few of the guys who made the trip to Kaiserslautern in 2006 will be on this trip in March. Giving Freddy, Josy, Feilhaber, Little Bradley, Edu all a taste of international matches in Europe, especially against a side that will be in full gear for the Euro Championships is as good a learning experience as anyone can ask for.

Following up that trip to Poland, it seems that the Yanks will be heading over to the Iberian Peninsula for a match up against Spain, this scheduled for June 4th. This is one match up that I am really stoked for. Playing Spain over in Europe is one of possibly the top five best types of matches that the USMNT can schedule. This is a definite gold mine of a match.

This still leaves the March 21st FIFA date open, one that I hope is utilized as an away match as well, maybe against Belgium, or Denmark as they both have that match date open (according to Hell, England seems to be without a match scheduled that date and as they seem to have an open summer schedule, they might want to try and get a match penciled into their schedule quick. Why not try and have the USMNT take on Capello's boys at Wembly in March?

Having the first of the two March matches in England would make it easy for most of the European based players, as most play in England. Hell, Eddie Johnson just joined up with Fulham with a new three and a half year contract. EJ joins Deuce & Bocanegra as current USMNT players. Depending on his health and if he gets a call up, Kasey Keller might make the list of Fulham Yanks as well.

I think that this is a good move for EJ. He is going to get a very different view of how soccer is played and how you get a spot on the roster. He is going to have to be tough on the training pitch and fight against guys who have been doing the training pitch scramble for years, while he was assured of a spot in Dallas and in Kansas City. Just like how having to fight for a starting job seemed to have lifted Freddy's play in Benfica, EJ should get a lift in his play. Hopefully that carries over to the USMNT. Hopefully Fulham avoid getting relegated and remain in the Premier League, but it isn't looking good.

2007 was great season for the USMNT. The team was able to move younger players into spots that were getting vacated by the old guard and they were still able to pick up wins and impress on the pitch. They were able to retain the CONCACAF Gold Cup and book a trip to South Africa for the World Cup preview tournament in 2009, coming back from a goal down to Mexico in their greatest match in recent history. Bradley took a very raw and inexperienced side down to the Copa America and was able to see who would sink and who could swim, and regardless of the match results, I am certain that the travel and tournament experience that the players and coaching staff got out of the Copa America will help us out in World Cup Qualifying and in the finals.

The year was also a great one for the fans. The supporters were able to finally get the sour taste of 2006 Germany out of our mouths and we could celebrate again as Donovan hit a hat trick against Ecuador and as Feilhaber hit his Goalazo against Mexico to win the Gold Cup. We were able to embrace the younger players who stepped up to fill the voids left by Renya, Pope & McBride.

Following the 2-0 victory over Sweden last weekend, the 2008 season seems to have picked up right where the 2007 season left off.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weekend Update - Las Vegas

Sorry for skipping out over the weekend, I made a quick trip out to Las Vegas for a friend's 30th Birthday. I had a great time, won some money, drank less than I should have and enjoyed the whole weekend.

One thing that I did manage to miss was the USMNT match. As I was there for a birthday, I was sorta stuck with birthday related things, compounded to that was the fact that I couldn't find a Sports Book in either the Venitian or Ceasars Palace that would show the match. Not only that, but the following day I couldn't find a local paper that had any type of update on the score. I ended up calling my brother here in DC to find out who won.

In anycase, if you are going to Vegas, good luck finding a score or report if your match isn't on ESPN.

BTW - I was going to head over to McMullan's Irish Pub in Vegas to watch the Manchester United vs. Reading clash... that was untill I staggered back to my room around 5am and the match kicked off at 7am Vegas time. Next time I need to pace myself and just stay up.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

LA Galaxy: The Enron of MLS?

Ok, so how can one club with the same salary cap as the rest of the league, afford to be paying for who they have?

It is being reported that the LA Galaxy have traded for forward Carlos Ruiz from FC Dallas. Ruiz is one of the "grandfathered" DPA that aren't really DPA's. Which really means that there is no real way of knowing how much of his or Donovan's salaries count against the LA Galaxy salary cap. I am assuming that this is why Joe Cannon was shipped off to San Jose.

So where does this leave FC Dallas? They give up their main forward, but they have at least one guy who is possibly capable with filling this role in Abe Thompson. Is this also a way of making room for a higher contract for Kenny Cooper, as there seems to be some friction between FC Dallas management and Cooper?

One thing that is pretty certain, the Galaxy have some potential here. They either have the potential to have some really good offensive targets for Beckham to launch balls at, or they have just traded for one of the worst possible locker room cancers that they could afford. Probably the only way to top Ruiz off as a locker room cancer would be to sign Amado Guevara. It will be interesting to see what happens. Will we see Lalas stick his foot in his mouth yet again?


Monday, January 14, 2008

Manchester United 6 - 0 Newcastle United

Here is video of the 6 that Man Utd. dropped on Newcastle United.


News & Notes: 1/14/2007

InterLiga 2008
Club America and Atlas secured their place in the 2008 CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores tournament with wins this last Saturday in the finale of the 2008 InterLiga tournament. Atlas knocked of San Luis 3-0 with Club America winning 4-3 over Cruz Azul in penalty kicks. Club America were crowned the 2008 InterLiga Champions.

Eddie Johnson heading to Fulham?
Steve Goff at the Washington Post is reporting that Eddie Johnson has left the USMNT camp in Carson, California in order to conduct serious negotiations with Fulham. Assuming that EJ hooks up with Fulham, Fulham should have some type of contract stipulation with the US Soccer Federation, as Eddie would make the number of US internationals on their roster at 5. Fulham currently has Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey on their first team roster.

With Fulham laying second to last in 19th place, I am not so sure how much better a move to Fulham might be for EJ, as opposed to the rumored move to Derby over the summer.

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Tevez the key to United Success.

Manchester United used a 6-0 drubbing of Newcastle United to carry them to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday. With a dour first half, Sir Alex’s men turned on the style and dropped 6 goals on a hapless Newcastle that failed to find any type of response. Yes, there were some horrid calls in the first half, namely the Giggs penalty that was never given and the off-sides call that canceled out the possible Michael Owen goal. Despite these officiating gaffs, United was able to put on a wonderful performance that displayed the essential parts of the side that looks to be staying atop the table.

Cristiano Ronaldo picked up his first United hat trick with three second half goals, increasing his season tally to 22 goals. He was a terror on the wings for the entire match. Despite his heroics and highlight reel goals, I would argue that the player who was most responsible for United’s victory wasn’t Ronaldo, but Carlos Tevez.

Tevez showed true grit and a bottomless amount of energy and hustle that few other United players exhibited on the pitch for an entire match Saturday. His prowess as a striker was evident when he was in the perfect position to get on the end of a Ryan Giggs pass that made the score line 2-0. Despite picking up a brace, Tevez’ best attributes on the day was that he continually tracked back into defense, snuffing out several Newcastle build ups. Whenever Patrice Evra move up into the attack, Tevez was there in the midfield providing cover for Evra’s side to ensure that Newcastle couldn’t exploit the absence on that side.

The addition of Carlos Tevez and his style of play has opened up the United offense in ways that a striker like Louis Saha and Ruud van Nistelrooy never really could. Tevez’ play has been able to open up better and more scoring chances for Ronaldo, Rooney and the rest or United’s potent attack. I would argue that Ronaldo’s success this season might be a direct result of Tevez being in the line up. Having that trio on the pitch brings such a problem for opposing players and coaches to attempt to solve, one that they are failing to do.

Having Tevez in the line up allows United to compensate for matches when despite doing damn near everything right, Rooney fails to get on the score sheet, just as he did Saturday. When other clubs have their main striker fail to find the score sheet, they usually fail to get the full three points and a draw is usually their best bet. With Manchester United, with Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo, Rooney can have an off night and still see United pick up the three points. Before Tevez joined the club, if Rooney wasn’t on target, there had been matches where the result was in doubt. The Red Devils have a very different look to themselves with Tevez on the pitch, on that looks more confident and secure.

The summer transfer window saw Sir Alex bring in Nani, Andersen, Hargreaves and Tevez. All four have made huge contributions to the club, but Tevez seems to be the one player who is staking his claim to best new player for the club.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Klinsmann the new Boss for Bayern?

Ok, now this is some really great news.

Jurgen Klinsmann will be introduced later today as the new head coach of Bayern Munich. Klinsmann will replace Ottmar Hitzfeld at the end of the 2007/08 season.

Damn, this has got me giddy all over.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

USMNT Roster set for Winter Camp

Happy New Year everyone, 2008 is now upon us. Hopefully for the USMNT, we will see 2008 as a year were the side builds on the success that they had in 2007 and continue to march towards 2010 and a third trip to South Africa in four years.

Bob Bradley released his 26 man roster for the winter USMNT camp in preparation for the January 19th match against Sweden and the February 6th match against Mexico. His roster is -

GOALKEEPERS(4) – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Will Hesmer (Columbus Crew), Matt Pickens (Chicago Fire), Zach Wells (D.C. United)

DEFENDERS (9) –Dan Califf (Aalborg BK), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Ramiro Corrales (SK Brann), Todd Dunivant (Toronto FC), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Eddie Robinson (Houston Dynamo), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7) –Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)

FORWARDS (6) –Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution), Jeremiah White (AGF Aarhus)

I am surprised to see that Altidore was called into the senior camp, as the U-23 squad will be assembling in Bradenton for training camp in preparations for the Olympic Qualifying that will take place in March. If Bradley believes that Altidore's development will best be served with time in the senior team training camp, rather than the U-23 camp, I agree with him. i would have been a little upset had he not been called into this camp.

On the other hand, I am a little shocked to see that Taylor Twellman was called in. Twellman had another pretty good season with New England in MLS, but his performance on the field for the USMNT over 2007 wasn't exactly the greatest. I used to be a big fan of him being brought into these camps. However, I am getting to the point where Twellman (IMHO) has used up all of his chances to show that his play in MLS can translate to the USMNT level.

One guy who I am a little torn about not seeing on this roster in Kenny Cooper. I understand that Copper is currently or will be in the next few days, going over to England to train for two weeks with Manchester United, his former club. On one hand I think that getting two weeks of training with United will be very good for Cooper, especially after coming off his broken leg that he suffered in 2007. On the other hand, I would have liked to have seen him in the USMNT camp to see if he can try and get move of a look from Bradley. Who knows, maybe he spends two weeks with United, then flies back to Texas and gets a roster spot on the side that takes on Mexico in Houston?

Over all, this roster is pretty much what was expected for this training camp. We might see about four or five of these guys not actually dress for the Sweden match, but their time in the camp will be good for them none the less.


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