Friday, April 30, 2010
As we inch closer and closer to the World Cup more and more information about who may be making the team will become available. This past week Bob Bradley sat down with the media to discuss his upcoming U.S. national team camp, who might be there, what he thinks of certain players situations - like Charlie Davies, Edson Buddle, and Herculez Gomez - who might make his first initial May 11th 30-man roster, and when we might expect the final 23-man roster to be finalized.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, maybe the most renowned U.S. soccer writer, had these revealing quotes from Bradley in his piece.
OK for journalists like myself I really enjoy these documentary shows that go to longer more in depth and detailed oriented. They usually are really good stories with great incite on their topics.
Jeremy Schaap isn't his father yet - Dick Schaap, who used to be one of my favorite people to watch every Sunday on the Sports Reporters - but he usually does quality stuff. Here is one of his pieces on U.S. Men's National Team Player Clint Dempsey:
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I've stated before I love Fernando Torres, the guy doesn't have the greatest one-on-one skill in the ability to break defenders down like a Ronaldo or a Messi or a Ronaldinho, but he scores amazing clutch goals and plays like a bull straight out of the "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona (Spain). He has been Liverpool's best player since he came over from Atletico Madrid for the 2007/08 season.
Now another famous Atletico Madrid forward is set to make a major move to one of England's Big Four. Sergio Aguero, who had been rumored for months to be making a move to Chelsea dating back to the January transfer window, finally completed the switch to the London-based team for a reported £40 million transfer fee.
"Chelsea are a great club,'' Aguero was quoted as saying in an ESPNsoccernet story. ''They have become one of the most feared in Europe over recent years. London would be a really amazing city to live in as well - myself and my wife could be really happy there."
Just 21-years-old the Argentine striker Aguero is two years younger than Torres was when he made his switch. He has had a fine season scoring 17 goals in all competitions for Atletico and Argentina and is currently fighting for a place in his national team's squad.
Compared to all-time Argentine legend Diego Maradona (who currently manages Argentina) for his playing style, it probably won't hurt Aguero's chances of making the 2010 Argentine squad for the simple fact that he is also engaged to the Maradona's daughter Giannina.
Yes in comparison the Europa League is like the little brother to the Champions League like the NIT is to the NCAA Basketball Tournament , but believe me when I say this the Europa League provides great games and far more excitement than anything the mediocre NIT ever brought to the table.
What the Europa League does a lot of the time is expose some of the best teams around Europe that are unheard. Just a couple of years back Zenit St. Petersburg went on an incredible run to win the Cup, which exposed many great players like Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal, Russian National) and Yuri Zhirkov just before those players helped lead Russia to the semifinals of the 2008 Euro Cup semifinals.
Today as the second leg of the semifinals got underway for both games - Liverpool vs. Atletico Madrid and Fulham vs. Hamburg - Rich and I were rooting for an all-England final.
Trailing 1-0 after the first leg Alberto Aquilani's goal in the first half to level the score on aggregate in regulation followed by Yossi Benayoun's strike in the half of over-time looked like it would be good enough to get Liverpool through to the finals. However, old foe (dating back to his Manchester United days) Diego Forlan struck for the second time in the semifinals for Atletico this time at Anfield to give Madrid a crucial away goal even though they were tied on aggregate 2-2. The game ended 2-1 and because of Forlan's away goal, Madrid moved on.
Tied at 0-0 after the first leg in Hamburg, coincidentally where the Europa League final will take place, Fulham defeated Hamburg 2-1 at Craven Cottage in London despite an early goal to open the scoring by Hamburg's Mladen Petric as second half strikes from Simon Davis and Zoltan Gera put Fulham through.
If you are a U.S. fan Fulham has to be one of the teams you keep an eye on year in and year out. They are almost like the European U.S. team, Carlos Bocanegra played there for a while, Brian McBride was the captain there for a while, Eddie Johnson played there until getting loaned out to Greece side Ares this year, and now MNT superstar and former New England Revolution man Clint Dempsey is wreaking havoc there.
Although Dempsey is the only remaining link to the U.S. there at the moment, how could you not root for this Fulham team they sit 12th in the English Premier League standings and needed a miraculous 3-match winning streak over Manchester City, Birmingham and Portsmouth back in the 2007/08 season just to avoid relegation in the EPL. They really have become the darling Cinderella of this competition and this is the team's first ever European final.
Check out the highlights, some insane goals and I love the Europa song.
I've said it many times Jurgen Klinsmann is my all-time favorite athlete, he is the guy that got me excited about soccer when I was seven-years-old when West Germany won the World Cup in 1990 and Klinsmann played a major part scoring three electrifying goals. He later would help Germany win the Euro '96 and scored 11 goals over for West Germany/Germany to rank second amongst the Germans all-time and also ranks 5th all-time.
Most people in the states recognize Klinsmann from one of his two coaching jobs as he coached Germany to third place finish in 2006 in Germany then resigned and later took over Bayern Munich for 2008-09 season (which he was fired near the end of the year). But he has lived in California since he retired from football and also played in England with Tottenham.
I've also said I wished he had taken over for Bruce Arena as the U.S. Men's National Team Coach once Arena was pushed aside, and that could still be in the works down the road, but for now we will get to see why he is such a great footballing mind as ESPN have hired him to be a part of their World Cup studio analysts. He will be one of the pregame, halftime, and postgame analysts and should be extremely interesting to listen to bringing a different perspective than most U.S. fans are used.
Here it is your brand new 2010 U.S. World Cup home kit finally out and available. If you've been paying attention to what Nike might produce for the U.S. you would know this image was leaked months back. Now as a jersey collector - remember I have over 25 - I think Nike did a piss poor, below average, and overall shitty job of replicating the very sharp classic look of the 1950 jersey.
Several years ago, Nike put together a retro 1950 jersey for the U.S. to wear during a friendly match in which they did a much better job in my estimation with this jersey pictured below worn by Landon Donovan. In my opinion they should have just a little touch up job on this jersey and used it as the 2010 U.S. Jersey.
If I buy a U.S. jersey this year it will look more like this one that I found on some random site. Love the red stripe instead of a grey stripe, like the v-neck better than the weird way Nike put together the open neck above. Like the crest below much better than Men's National Team have now. The total package just looks so much nicer.
I think everyone likes the idea in theory of what Nike were going. The 1950 team had the best result of any U.S. team in history and pulled off one of the greatest World Cup upsets of all time as England were favorites to win the Jules Rimet Trophy that season. With the U.S. in the same group as England and playing them in the first game of their tournament, the parallels were obvious.
Interestingly enough if you did not know, the Jules Rimet Troph or now FIFA World Cup Trophy, depicts Nike the Greek goddess of victory. Nike, the U.S. company, will likely sponsor the U.S. team if not forever for a very long time because they are essentially more than partners, Nike is to the U.S. what Adidas is to Germany. How long before the Nike U.S. team lifts the Nike World Cup trophy?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I'm not usually a fan of parody songs (except for the delightful Weird Al) and YouTube tribute videos are usually wretched but for some reason I loved this Wayne Rooney take off on The Beatles' "Let It Be."
Can the World Cup start tomorrow? This gave me goosebumps and I'm not even English.
I don't believe in aliens and I haven't seen Bigfoot but I'd imagine that if you were an American soccer fan in Greece (must be like three of them there, right?), today's events were similar to those otherworldly experiences.
Playing for the Greek club Aris, Eddie Johnson scored twice and Freddy Adu assisted on the first one. Johnson is on loan from Fulham and Adu is on loan from Portugal's Benfica.
All you need to know about both of them is that they're in what should be the prime of their careers but they're playing in such a European backwater.
Johnson's goals were the only ones of the game as Aris beat Olympiakos in the Greek League playoffs for next season's European competition.
Johnson headed home a cross from Adu in the 39th minute and scored the second right before the final whistle.
Will either get a look from Bob Bradley in May, will they both see the Loch Ness monster? Stay tuned for further developments.
It was a big day for MLS teams and European opponents as the Seattle Sounders FC also announced that they'll meet Boca Juniors and Celtic this summer.
They'll play Boca Juniors on May 26 and Celtic on July 18. In their first season in the MLS last year, the Sounders lined up friendlies with Barcelona and Chelsea so there had to be a drop-off from that. Still, you could do worse than one of South America's best and most famous club teams and the other Scottish power.
They'll play Boca Juniors on May 26 and Celtic on July 18. In their first season in the MLS last year, the Sounders lined up friendlies with Barcelona and Chelsea so there had to be a drop-off from that. Still, you could do worse than one of South America's best and most famous club teams and the other Scottish power.
Without a doubt, one of my favorite countries in the world is Scotland and the people are second to none. Loud, obnoxious, hard-drinkers, the Scottish are truly a fun group that always bring the party wherever they go.
I'm not sure how many Scots are living in the DC area but you just know they'll be out in full force drinking McEwans and Scottish whiskey and cheering on Rangers when they play an exhibition at DC United on July 24th.
Rangers just clinched their second straight Scottish Premier League championship on Sunday and they have two Americans that should be seeing some regular minutes in South Africa: Maurice Edu and DeMarcus Beasley.
During the US-Holland game last month, I seem to remember saying something along the lines of how underrated Carlos Bocanegra was for the US.
The US captain and defender for the French club Rennes further earned my respect today when he openly talked about how the Americans should be going into South Africa with plenty of confidence.
"When it hits the knockout stages it's a one-off game, and who knows what can happen? We always take the example we beat Spain in the Confederations Cup," Bocanegra said during an interview with The Associated Press. "Before that we beat Egypt 3-0, the champions of Africa. So on our day we feel like we can beat anybody."
"It's a great chance for us, and we thought we got a fair draw and we have a good chance," said Bocanegra, a defender for French club Rennes. "We feel like we have a good team and we have gained a lot of confidence and experience over the past four years."
This is exactly the type of players that we need on the field. Guys that have confidence but also have the resumes (over 100 matches with Fulham) to back it up. The US still doesn't get any respect around the world and frankly why should they? Every time it seems like they take a step forward (1994, 2002), they take two steps back (1998, 2006). With a very beatable Group C (England, Algeria, Slovenia), Bocanegra is right, we should be thinking big.
It's been a busy couple weeks for Bayern Munich and French star Franck Ribery. He was red carded out of the first leg of Bayern's Champions League semifinal vs. Lyon last week and caught in the middle of a French prostitute scandal (as Shimer reported).
For the red card, he's supposed to be banned for three games. He sat out yesterday's 3-0 win over Lyon and by the letter of the law he'd have to miss the Final against Inter Milan and the first game of next season's European campaign.
Understandably, Bayern is appealing this and they hope to have him back for the Final. It was a bogus red card to begin with so to take away one of the game's biggest draws is silly.
Let the man play, just keep him away from those skanky French whores.
As you've no doubt heard by now, Brazil is number 1 in the latest FIFA rankings. Spain which was in the top spot falls back to two. The top five is rounded out by Portugal, Holland and Italy.
For what it's worth, the US is ranked 14th. The highest they've ever been ranked was fourth in April of 2006 and how'd that World Cup work out for us?
Like AP Polls, Coach's Polls, etc. these rankings don't meaning anything, it's just interesting to see where they shot the real powers.
Inter to the Champions League for the first time in 38 years. It was just one of those games where you could kind of feel it from the start. Barcelona never got going until it was way too late. I can't say it enough I really think Ibrahimovic was the goat, the guy just is not a pure enough finisher and I've never understood why he is so valued.
Former Milan coach Arrigo Sachi said recently of Ibra, "He is strong against the weak, but weak against the strong." I think the point is dead on. He has great skill no doubt but disappears in big matches.
As Eric Wynalda just said it was artistry vs. industry and industry won. Oh well for me this gives Bayern Munich a great shot to win. I think Bayern are far likelier the side to score on the road as they have showed the ability to get results on the road and at home.
With suspicion of off-sides Gerrard Pique just took a nice feed from Xavi and showed why many feel he is the best center back in the world. Taking the ball he made a brilliant pull back spin move around a defender after a faked shot and then easily put the ball in the net. Barca have 5 minute to get another before stoppage time, which I think will be 4 minutes or less.
Eto'o off for Mariga.
Bojan just missed the chance of the game, Messi with a brilliant pass to the far back right post for the on-running Spaniard and he flubbed his chance squirting it off just wide right of the post. It's been that kind of day for Barca, this result feels inevitable. It's really going to take a piece of magic to unseed the Inter defense.
This is why I hate Italian soccer, defend defend defend. I realize Inter are down to 10 men, but it's ugly. It will be disappointing that Barca are not in the final because they play such attractive soccer, but Inter have the best game plan again clearly. The Special One has done his job, his players are more disciplined, and it looks as if Inter and Mourinho can now taste the champaign.
After a nifty little 1-2 between Messi to Ibra back to Messi, Chivu got his ankle rolled up on as Messi went down and then milked the clock for all that it was worth.
Ibrahimovic was subbed out for Bojan Krkic in the meantime then Jeffren Suarez came on for Busquets. Barca have used all their subs and surprisingly Henry is not in the game as Maxwell came on for Gabi Milito at the half.
Finally Barca used the right flank well as Xavi delivered a brilliant chip to Dani Alves, whose cross was then chipped to the back post, but none of the 4 Barca men in the box could latch onto the ball. A goal kick was given, although it came off Maicon.
I have to say I don't like the way Barca look right now. Little movement up top from Ibra, Messi is finding the space tough to come by again, and they aren't using the flanks to their advantage where Inter is giving them space. The crosses are not finding their marks and Barca are not getting enough men in the box. The dream is hanging in the balance but is fading.
Inter may go down to nine men in the second half, Cristian Chivu just got booked for another foul. On the free kick Ibra belted one, a nice shot from 30-plus yards but nothing to trouble the Inter goal.
You have to say at this point, Inter got the better deal to swipe Eto'o and 40-million Euros just for Ibrahimovic, who has really disappointed at Barca this season.
Messi nearly finally opened his account with one of his terrific runs inside from the right flank and great inswining left-footed shot that took the finger tips of Julio Cesar to keep it out of goal and drew a corner.
It seems only a matter of time before Barca strike, we are 12 minutes from the end of half.
Pedro was just booked for a challenge on Samuel Eto'o in the 26th minute.
Then Thiago Motta was just red carded for stiff arming Sergio Busquets, very very dicey call. As the announcers said it was pretty awful call.
Should be interesting to see how long Inter can now hold off the Barca attack down a man
Alves just made a nice cross to Ibrahimovic who laid it off for Xavi, but there were too many defenders in between him and goal and they shut him down fast.
Inter are literally putting nine players in the middle of the defense and letting Barca pass it around.
Pedro then just had another nice shot on a one-time effort that just missed wide right.
Inter are really crowding the middle of the field with their defense packing it in and not allowing Barca space to create...
Meanwhile Maicon just took a foul from Messi and fell awkwardly on his shoulder and is boos and jeers from the Barca fans for time wasting. Remember Maicon had to be substituted last game after he took an elbow to the face from Messi, which apparently required some dental work. Looks like Maicon will be ok this time though.
Austin said it best with his first post serveral weeks back, Jose Mourinho is the best manager in the world. He has proven once again with this special job he's done with this Inter Milan team. The club has brought in the Portuguese man to win the Champions League and now he stands one game within reach of the final after knocking off Barcelona 3-1 in Italy in the first leg, something they have not had a sniff of in ages. Inter has not been in the finals sicne they repeated as champions in 1965.
Standing in front of the Italian champions is only the greatest team in world football today, club or country - Barcelona. The Blaugrana won a mere six trophies last season and are trying to become the first team to repeat in 20 years since AC Milan won in both 1989 and 1990. You have to bet your ass that Pep Guardiola will do anything and everything to get his Argentine playmaker as much space as possible all over the pitch to make up for the two-goal deficit.
The game is at the Nou Camp, if you like drama this is your game. Many of the best players in the world will be on the pitch including to the two Milito brother, I've got goose bumps. We're 5 minutes away.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
It's official, for the eighth time in their history Bayern Munich is headed to the Champions League Final on May 22 against either Inter Milan or Barcelona.
This one was never really in doubt and Olic was clearly the man of the match as he scored all three goals for Bayern.
If they can get Ribery back for the Final, Shimer correctly pointed out that they'll give Inter or Barce a great match.
Bayern has really taken their game to another level as the stakes have gotten higher. With Robben, Schweinsteiger, Olic, Hahm, Van Bommel et. al Bayern is a team full of stars that can match the all-star teams from Inter and Barce.
Lyon was a great story: the underdog from France that outlasted all the English clubs and had a storybook run. They were simply beaten by a better team and their magic ran out. They didn't have the horses to match Bayern and once Olic got his first goal today, you knew it might get away from them quickly.
I already gave props to Altintop, the Turkish international, but he just walked into the Lyon box and had all day before he shot it over.
Doesn't matter and I'm sure he'll forget about it in a few minutes.
What a performance by Olic. He just finished off his hat trick with a header in the 78th minute.
Lahm hit a perfect cross from the right side and Olic just had to push it past Lyon's goalie. Miroslav Klose, who just came on for Robben, was next to Olic and he could have just have easily finished it off.
Olic has a goal with his left foot, his right foot and his head. Not sure when it happened but after the last goal, his head was bleeding. Haha, the guy is an animal. I don't know if nobody on Bayern notices or what.
3-0 Bayern in the 81st minute.
I'd love to be in a beer hall in Munich right about now, shit must be going off.
Olic just gave Bayern a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute with his second goal of the game. Altintop, who's played a whale of game, fed his left foot and then Olic just put it by the Lyon keeper who was caught in no man's land.
That should just about do it, Bayern is going to Spain for the Champions League Final since they're up 3-0 on aggregate and Lyon needs four goals to pull it off.
Lyon captain and defender Cris was just sent off in the 59th minute after getting a fishy yellow card on a tough tackle and then clapping for the referee.
With 10 men, Lyon just had their best chance as they put a good shot on goal but Bayern stopped it. Altintop just got eaten up on a rough challenge but he seems to be ok.
1-0 Bayern in the 63rd minute.
Lyon mishit their one chance so far in the second half while Schweinsteiger almost put a thunderstrike of a volley into the net in the 52nd minute.
A few moments later, Robben cut to his left foot at the top of the box and forced a diving save and corner from Lyon.
58th minute and Bayern is still up 1-0.
Bayern is up 1-0 at halftime and it could be an even bigger lead.
Still with a 2-0 aggregate lead and the fact that Lyon has been pretty lifeless, means that Bayern is in great position to get to the final.
Lyon has been undefeated in Champions League play at home so far but they hardly resemble that defensive minded team that capitalizes on its usually limited opportunites. They've been weak on the ball today and they'll need to become much more aggressive if they want to find three goals in the second half.
Lyon just had their best chance of the match so far as Michel Bastos had a perfect cross fall right to his foot but he hit it wide with his left foot.
It was in the 30th minute and Lyon desperately needs a goal before halftime. Plus, they can't give up another goal to Bayern or this one is over.
Bayern just went ahead 1-0 in the 26th minute after some great counterattacking from Robben, Mueller and finally Olic.
Robben had the ball at the top of the box and found Mueller to the left of the box. He turned and under pressure delivered to his striker partner Olic. He fought off a defender and slotted it past Lyon's goalkeeper, who dove the wrong way.
1-0 Bayern today and 2-0 on aggregate. Lyon is on the brink of elimination as they'll need three goals to take it now.
The 21-year old Frenchman received a yellow for basically not being able to get out of the way of a Bayern player running by.
Gonalons was one of four Lyon players that had a yellow coming into today so he'll miss the final should they advance to it.
A few minutes later Altintop for Bayern also received a yellow as a Lyon player badly dived but got away with it from a sympathetic referee.
We're in the 19th minute in France and Bayern Munich and Lyon are knotted 0-0.
The best chance so far was by Bayern's Thomas Mueller in the third minute, who was wide open in front after a pass by Olic. He pushed it just wide for what would have been a huge away goal.
Bayern is up 1-0 after the first leg so Lyon needs a goal at some point.
By nature, I am a realist. Therefore every time I give a Charlie Davies update I'm not fooling myself; I realize he's unlikely to play in the 2010 World Cup.
However that doesn't mean that this story doesn't get more inspiring by the day. By all accounts, Davies is recovering at a fast pace and he's just lucky to still be walking this Earth.
It's quite easy to cheer for someone like that, throw in the fact that he's from New Hampshire and went to Boston College, and I think it's fair that we root for Davies as much as humanly possible.
Davies trained Monday with French club Sochaux less than seven weeks before the World Cup opener for the Americans against England on June 12.
Davies wrote Monday on his Twitter feed that "it's about time & it feels great! My speed is getting there too! Today was a good day!"
The car accident killed another passenger and the 23-year-old Davies broke two bones in his right leg. He also suffered a broken and dislocated left elbow, a broken nose, forehead and eye socket, a ruptured bladder and had bleeding on the brain.
As Alan and I both wrote about (separately but posted minutes apart), Herculez Gomez deserves an invite to the US training camp in Princeton, NJ in a few weeks.
He finished the regular season (since he's missing the last game after getting two yellow cards last week) tied for the scoring lead in the Mexican League, a first for an American. That alone is worthy of a closer look by American head coach Bob Bradley and his staff.
Gomez didn't do anything in MLS for the Kansas City Wizards but that's the past. He scored 10 goals for Puebla and seemed to find his game South of the border.
The Los Angeles native and son of Mexican-born parents, who grew up in Las Vegas has traveled around North America enough. He deserves a real shot at making the 23-man roster.
Proving that money can't buy everything, David Beckham's recovery from his torn Achilles tendon is taking longer than expected, two months to be exact.
This means that Becks will be out until November, all but ruling out a return to the Los Angeles Galaxy unless they make a deep playoff run. Can we finally cut loose from Beckham in the MLS experiment? It didn't work, I have no problem admitting that.
He's always been a great teammate though to his countrymen and he's planning on traveling with the English national team to the World Cup in South Africa. For a team that's already had so much drama before the pressure has even really started, his presence could be a nice distraction. He was trying to be the first English player to compete at four World Cups for the Three Lions.
"My mentality is to kind of push it and get moving and running and soon as possible. But it's an injury that has to take time to heal," Beckham said in a separate TV interview. "It's frustrating. It's obviously disappointing because I've been working for the last two years to get into the English squad [for the World Cup]."
Despite the injury, Beckham is set to travel with England to the World Cup in South Africa. England opens against the United States on June 12.
"At the moment, it's just getting the motion back into the ankle, the tendon, because it's still repairing," Beckham said on the MLS website. "I'm trying to get mobilization back into the ankle."
Wayne Rooney picked up the EPL player of the year award on Sunday (as voted on by his peers).
The Manchester United striker and English superstar has been ruled out of Man. U's final two games by manager Alex Ferguson but Rooney thinks he might be able to play against Stoke (the last game).
He's also sure that he'll be ready for England's World Cup opener against the US-which you might have heard about-on June 12.
As a Chelsea fan, selfishly I hope he sits out the last two United games to nurse his ankle and now groin injuries. Chelsea is only a point up on Man. U so who knows what'll happen over the last two fixtures.
Pardon my absence for the last few days, I was a groomsman in a wedding so basically I was living on another planet for the weekend.
Catching up with the latest news in the soccer world, there was a lot of injury reports and other assorted incidents.
US striker Jozy Altidore received a red card on Saturday while playing for his club team Hull against Sunderland.
Apparently he headbutted Sunderland defender Alan Hutton, who had thrown the ball at him.
Altidore was suspended for Hull's last two games which probably doesn't even matter since they're a long shot to avoid relegation at this point.
He wrote Sunday on Twitter that he "made a stupid, immature and costly mistake," adding that "I let my emotions get the best of me and lost my composure."
His loan from Villarreal expires at the end of the season.
Altidore says that "playing for Hull was to date the best trip I've ever been on."
Hopefully this was just Altidore blowing off steam during a long and disappointing season. He needs to keep his emotions in check in South Africa if the US hopes to score any goals and pose any threat offensively. Everything will be going through him up front so he has to have his mind right.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The details surrounding Michael Essien's knee injury have been so sketchy and hard to come by that I had a feeling there would me more to the story and the star Ghana player.
When I threw out that there would might be a better than likely chance he might now miss the upcoming World Cup, it was an educated guess, but a statement I felt Essien himself might make.
Well two days down the road, ESPNsoccernet has a story quoting Essien in which he says he admits the World Cup may be a bridge too far to cross.
"It looks unlikely I will play again for Chelsea this season," Essien is quoted as saying in the Sun. "I started running last week but had to stop because of pain in my leg. It is a minor setback but one I could do without.
"If I can make it to the World Cup, I will. If I cannot then I will have to sit at home and support the team. It will be disappointing to miss out but the World Cup is the best tournament in the world and I'd rather be there fully fit."
We'll stay very tuned into for further details, but if I had to guess after having to go through 4 knee operations in two weeks fairly recently and having not played competitively in three months my prediction would be Essien misses South Africa, which would be a huge shame for his country, the sport itself, and to Africa as he would have been a great ambassador.
We all like to believe in fairy tales, who didn't enjoy the Sword in the Stone when they were a little kid or the 2004 Boston Red Sox coming from 3-0 down against the hated Yankees to win 8 straight games and win their first World Series in 86 years.
Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the Charlie Davies fairy tale appears to be turning into reality. Remember that Davies nearly dies in the accident last October that ripped the car he was traveling in half and killed Ashley Roberta. His injuries included a broken leg, dislocated elbow, a broken nose, a lacerated bladder and several other small fractures.
It was announced today that he will not achieve his goal of returning back in action for French Lique 1 side Sochaux this season like Davies had hoped. In fact he has struggled with exhaustion in training, has not taken part in any contact drills, and even had his stomach test after feeling pain - which luckily came back negative.
“He won’t play again this season in Ligue 1,” Sochaux president Alexandre Lacombe told local paperEst-Republicainon Thursday. “He is fine and that is the main thing. Since leaving his wheelchair, he has gone through a lot to get fit again. But it’s a bit early to say when he will play again.”
“It’s been very hard for Charlie, as every time we up the workload, he gets very tired,” added Sochaux coach Francis Gillot toL’Equipe.
I would not be surprised to see Bob Bradley still call Davies into the U.S. training camp as part of the 30-man roster just because of the complete lack of depth in front line forwards even with Edson Buddle (all 7 goals for the Galaxy in their 4 games) and Herculez Gomez (leading scorer in the Mexican League) have been in fine form.
However, Davies return that was viewed as a long shot would now realistically take a minor miracle. I know all U.S. fans will be rooting for him to complete the come back, but the World Cup realistically and unfortunately will probably not be the place.
Switching over to European, U.S. news - after a 17-hour bus ride thanks to the ash cloud being preventing air travel in Europe, Clint Dempsey and Fulham earned an important 0-0 draw with Hamburg in Germany.
Dempsey came on as a sub for forward Bobby Zamora, who went down with an Achilles injury, and supposedly nearly came up with the lone goal of the match had a Hamburg defender not made a last-second intercept.
Fulham now only need to win at home at Craven Cottage to move onto the Europa final, which incidentally is back in Hamburg.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
In some of the best news I've heard related to the U.S. men's national team in months, it was announced today that they'll have their training camp at Princeton University ahead of their exhibitions vs. Czech Republic and Turkey before leaving for South Africa and the World Cup.
I'm probably making a bigger deal about it then it really is but wouldn't you rather have the U.S. men's team hunkered down at an Ivy League school in the Jersey suburbs vs. some monster party school like USC, UCLA, Florida, etc.
Last time I checked, Princeton is known for many things but hot girls and crazy parties are two things the school has never been and never will be associated.
I feel like Bob Bradley's head is in the same place since he went to Princeton and played soccer there, leading them to the Final Four in 1993. He knows that eliminating all possible distractions for his players will give them the best chance to succeed.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I am willing to be Franck Ribery and Sidney Govou - two French star players - are fans big fans of the Red Light District. One look at the guy and I mean you have to know the only way he is getting broads is by paying them boat loads of money.
Apparently Ribery and Govou were both recently called into questioning as witnesses for a sex scandal case involving the Paris nightclub Cafe Zaman and its apparent servicing of under-age prostitutes to Les Bleus players - that's French national team for those that don't know the nick name.
One unnamed player admitted to having sex with an under-age prostitute at the club, although he said at the time he did not know the girl's age, and a pimp that supposedly provided girls at the club was arrested.
Unfortunately France does not have the same open laws to allow its journalists to exploit some of these potentially explosive stories. But where there is smoke there is fire, and I am willing to bet some more juicy details are just lurking around the corner. The player that admitted to having sex with the underage girls may face a 3-year prison sentence, and if more players are found to have participated in these acts, they could be in for some serious trouble as well.
For now the French Footballing Federation is staying behind its players simply stating:
You may have hardly even noticed, but Chelsea and Ghana star Michael Essien has not played for his London club team in five months since he tore his hamstring against APOEL in the Champions League in December, and trust me Chelsea have missed his presence dearly.
Essien has not recovered fully from the knee injury he sustained in the African Nations Cup, supposedly a partially torn MCL and meniscus. But who really knows, the doctors and staff at Chelsea have really kept the details under wraps.
Apparently Essien had some sort of relapse in training, and had to have 4 surgeries in two weeks - remember when people were upset that Tom Brady had to have a couple of surgeries to fix the infections in his surgically repaired knee, that's what it sounds like to me. And with only 4 EPL games left as well as the FA Cup final still left play for the London club, the Ghana star is a serious doubt to return.
"Michael Essien will not be in the squad for the weekend's game against Stoke City at Stamford Bridge,'' said a club spokesman, according to an ESPNsoccernet story. "The Ghanaian's participation in the remainder of the campaign is now in doubt, with only four games to play including the FA Cup Final on May 15.''
I had a discussion with Austin recently about how important Essien is to Chelsea and how big a star he is in the game in general. He argued that Essien is not only the best player on their team, but is a top-5 player in the world.
He may be right, Essien is one of those rare talents that could play any position on the field and be tremendous but at Chelsea he really connects the defense to Frank Lampard and the offense - he is really the engine that makes that team go.
He doesn't score a ton of goals, but when he lines up a shot look out. And when he does score they are usually sensational, take a look at a couple of these majestic strikes.
As one of the real ambassadors of the African game, it would be a true shame if Essien was not there at South Africa to represent his side. He is probably the best African footballer going when he is fully healthy and Ghana is one of the dark horses to make a deep run with him in play. However, without Essien, Ghana will struggle to make it past the group stage.
Since Messi dropped four goals on Arsenal in the quarterfinals, most people expected Inter Milan to roll over for Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals.
Not so much. They protected their home field and won 3-1 behind a great second half push.
Barcelona is not dead by any means but their offense will have to step up at home while their defense can't have the numerous breakdowns they suffered today.
The second leg is next Tuesday in Spain.
And come back tomorrow for our live blog of Bayern Munich at Lyon.
After Alves and Messi nearly connected with some great give and go passing, Alves' cross was headed to Pedro who went for the spectacular and hit a great bicycle shot just unfortunately directly at Cesar.
It looks like this contest will end 3-1 and Inter got the two huge second half goals to take the huge 2-goal lead I had talked about entering the second leg. Barca will now be on their heels a bit for the first time in this competition after giving up 3 goals for the first time this year.
Barcelona is pushing for a second goal and Inter Milan defender just cleared a Pique shot/cross off the line.
In a play that looked offside, Pique waited out Julio Cesar and then put it on goal but Lucio deflected it out for a corner kick.
It's the 88th minute with Inter Milan up 3-1
Barca just had some great intricate passing inside the box but unfortunately Pique and company could only manage a juggling act instead of being able to find the right touch for a shot...
Then Alves was booked just seconds later for an apparent dive in the box, however, Sneijder had clearly made contact with the back of Alves' leg and in my opinion fouled him. The ref did not see it the same way and booked him. It seems as if every Barca player is going to earn a booking in this game.
With a free kick right in the Top Gun danger zone, a perfect spot for a left, Messi sent in a good free kick to the lower right post, but the shot needed to be great as Julio Cesar was up to the challenge to stop the shot. Barca are floundering a bit in desperation mode right now.