Archive for February, 2009

23
Feb
09

’09 MLS team previews

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A new MLS season kicks off in less than a month when newly minted Seattle Sounders FC take on the Red Bulls from New York.

To help get the blood flowing early, the experts at ESPNsoccernet have begun previewing the league’s 15 teams.  To this point, 5 teams have been evaluated.  We’ll add two more MLS Preview posts  — 5 teams each — as the crew at ESPN continue to reach their preseason verdicts.

Here is the latest…

19
Feb
09

AC Milan Ups the Ante For Becks

Recent reports indicate officials from AC Milan have flown to LA to discuss the permanent transfer of David Beckham.
The Italian club has expressed their interest with an apparent offer of 5 million quid, but LA has requested upwards of 12 million.  A deal, if any, may be struck by as next week.

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Beckham’s current loan to Milan will come to an end on March 9th.  A permanent transfer must be reached before that deadline. For slightly more indepth information on this development check out this article from ESPN soccernet.

16
Feb
09

A “Difficult” Moment For Becks

With his loan to AC Milan coming to a close, David Beckham commented that his return to the Los Angeles Galaxy will be a “difficult” one.

It is increasingly apparent the England star would prefer to play closer to home.  Rumors have been kicked around regarding the possibility of Becks staying with Milan permanently, but no deal has been reached by the two clubs.

This blogger, for one, cannot argue with Mr. Beckham’s desire.  In the times I’ve watched him play here in the U.S. he often appeared frustrated, in my opinion, by the level of play.  Some may say David Beckham is a falling star, but he is still a force to be reckoned with on the national stage.

As much as I believe MLS can grow, and as excited I am over the league’s expansion to Philadelphia, nobody can convincingly argue the U.S. league matches the level of play currently seen in the English, Spanish or Italian leagues —  at least not at this point in time.

The Galaxy have gotten as far with Beckham as they could have possibly hoped.  They boosted ticket sales, cornered the MLS merchandise market, and with a big dollar transfer, LA can cash in one last time.  It’s time to let David do what he does best; play top-flight soccer.

Please don't send me back!

Please don't send me back!

11
Feb
09

Red, White and Blue take first round against Mexico

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The first game in a 10-game, round-robin, CONCACAF tournament to decide who gets the bids for the 2010 World Cup showcased Team USA and Team Mexico. This match featured two talented teams who flat out don’t like each other.

The first half started a little slow, with play taking place on both halves of the saturated field. Mexico had a big chance early after a missed clear by the U.S. but Dos Santos Ramirez Giovanni couldn’t get enough on it and the States’ Tim Howard made a big save. Just as the 20th minute began, the U.S. squad started to take control. Landon Donovan took a free-kick from about 23′ and just barely missed wide left. Then in the 31st minute, Mexican goaltender Oswaldo Javier Ibarra Sanchez made a big save after DeMarcus Beasley centered a ball into the box that was headed by Donovan back to Clint Dempsey, who fired a rocket from just inside the 18′.

Mexico would suffer a major loss in the 32nd minute when forward Nery Castillo would go down with a hamstring injury, causing him to come off for the match. Howard, who had been the key cog for the Red, White and Blue during the first half, made another big save in the 36th minute when Mexican forward Alberto Medina had a shot in the box.

The U.S. finally broke into the scoring column during the 43rd minute. Beasley took a corner and sent it through the box to the back post. Donovan wisely headed the ball back into the box. After a header attempt by Oguchi Onyewu was saved by Sanchez, Michael Bradley slammed the rebound into the back of the net, giving the lead, and first half to the North American squad.

bradley-goalThe second half started much the same as the first, with play going between the two ends. It was another good start of the half for Howard. He made a big save on a Mexican free-kick in the 47th minute and stopped a number of outlet passes that Mexico continued to miss. Dempsey stole a free ball in the 53rd minute and ran to the 18′, but a lack in support coupled with a good Mexico recovery, and the U.S. could not capitalize.

The 65th through 67th minute had the most action early on in the second half. A Dempsey foul gave Mexico a free-kick just outside the 40′ which was taken by Pavel Segura Pardo. Pardo centered the ball which was attempted on by Ricardo Mendoza Osorio. The ball traveled across the goal mouth to Israel Martinez, who had subbed-in earlier in the match for Castillo. As Martinez sent the ball back to the opposite side of the net, Osorio, who had fallen down, was laying on the ground and kicked at the ball, just grazing it, making it ricochet off the post and out the the 18′. Giovanni would fire a shot back towards the net, however it was blocked into the air and Howard made a play for the ball. While in the air, Howard was taken out by Mexican midfielder/defender Rafael Marquez, who received a Red Card for jumping and leading with the spikes of his boots, before knocking Howard hard to the ground. After this, things got a little more chippy. Frankie Hejduk made a hard slide tackle in the 68th minute, before Brian Ching was wacked in the face while being tackled in the 69th minute.

red-cardThough Mexico was down a man for the remainder of the match, you would have never known by ball control. The Mexican team played even harder as the minutes ticked down, putting plenty of pressure on Team USA and goaltender Tim Howard. Howard continued his stellar play, making a key save in the 80th minute to releive steady Mexican pressure.

howardBoth 19-year-old striker Jozy Altidore and midfielder Ricardo Clark would check into the game at the 83rd and 86th minute respectively. Altidore would make his presence known in stoppage time. During the 2nd minute of stoppage time, Altidore would find Donovan on the outside. With four green jerseys between him and the net, Donovan would find an old friend, Bradley, streaking down the center of the pitch. Bradley fired a blast right at Sanchez. Bradley’s cannon, coupled with some fairly strong english on the ball, caused the shot to drop at the last second, sneak under Sanchez and find the back of the net to put the match on ice. For Bradley, it was his 2nd goal of the match and his 4th in seven career qualifiers.

bradley-goal-2The U.S. moves to 41-0-10 against CONCACAF teams since 2001. For Mexico, a 2-0 shutout may put coach Sven-Goran Eriksson’s stint with the team in danger. Though he has a contract through January 2010, his 4-5-1 record has put him in hot water with both team officials and fans.

Despite not having young midfielder Freddy Adu, Team USA gained it’s first victory in the 10-game, round-robin tournament. It is yet to be seen if Bob Bradley will add the 19-year-old to future games, but what is known is that Team USA is playing hard and will look to get on a roll heading into the 2010 World Cup.

11
Feb
09

USA/Mexico battle in WC Qualifier

Bored Fans

It’s that time of year again friends. The time of year when everyone is in a sports slump. Football has just ended. Baseball is still some time away. Hockey and basketball still have half a season until the real excitement of the playoffs begin and March Madness isn’t until, well, March.

But for those of us who are, shall I say, well-rounded, this time this year means one thing, World Cup Qualifiers! Yes, it is time to start the 10-match journey to see who will be represented in the 2010 World Cup. Tonight is the first battle for team USA.

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Tonight showcases a match-up between two tough  squads that have played fairly well in the last two WC Qualifiers: Team USA and Team Mexico.

The big question about the U.S. squad —  at least by those who do more than casually follow soccer — is, why no Fredua Koranteng Adu? (Also known as Freddy)

Freddy Adu

The 19-year-old midfielder is currently on loan to AS Monaco from S.L. Benfica, but more importantly, is NOT on coach Bob Bradley’s national squad. Adu, along with Jozy Altidore, were starting to showcase their talent for Bradley’s team during exhibitions late 2008. Yet Bradley left Adu off the 20-man squad for tonight’s contest, though Altidore was awarded a spot.

Landon Donovan is still the star attraction of the national team and will be competing in the match tonight, but Adu’s pure talent continues to beg the question as to why he is not featured right away. Perhaps Adu’s presence will be felt during the other WC Qualifiers, but for now, he will remain off the team.

Check back in tonight for a game recap. The game begins at 7:30 pm EST on ESPN 2.

09
Feb
09

A Becks Follow-up!

In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”

Beckham Unsure of LA

It looks like our fellow midfielder, David Beckham, may have to come back to the States at the end of his three month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy to AC Milan. The Galaxy realize that it has a desirable contract on its hands and they are not going to simply give it away. Galaxy to Milan: You want him, you gotta pay for him!

As of now, Milan’s offer is “a long distance” from what the Galaxy is asking, according to AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani. However, Galliani and the rest of the Italian club are confident that a deal can be worked out before the March 8th deadline. The Galaxy is standing pat on the current deal though and if a transfer is not worked out by the end of the current loan, there will be no loan extension.

To see what brought this all on, read this.

To read more on this deal, go here.

06
Feb
09

Becks/LA Union Lasts as Long as Hollywood Marriage

David_Beckham_AC_Milan

David Beckham, once deemed “The man charged with revitalizing soccer in the United States” (by yours truly), now seems destined to leave  the Los Angeles Galaxy after only two years.

Beckham, who is currently on loan to Italian powerhouse AC Milan, is seeking to make that two month loan a prolonged stay. Allow me to be the first to say “Arrivederci!”

His time in Hollywood was not as productive as most would have hoped. In Becks short MLS career he amassed a measely five goals and 12 assists, not the numbers expected by those who foresaw him as soccer’s savior. Despite a slight feeling of resentment towards the international soccer star, this is definitely the best move for my fellow midfielder. The man wants to represent England in the upcoming 2010 World Cup and he needs to perform at a Champions League level to do so. AC Milan boasts a strong team that will help raise Becks’ game back to the level it was before he became complacent in the States.

Despite my undeniable urge to beg and plead with him to stay for the full five years on his contract, this is like a break up that needs to happen. Things just aren’t working out and I’m fairly certain that it’s not you David, it’s U.S.!