Monday, May 31, 2010
We're still a little more than a week away from our official predictions for the 2010 World Cup but I'll tip my hand a little bit here for Group F: I like Paraguay.
Other than Italy and Paraguay, Group F is rounded out by New Zealand and Slovakia, two of the weaker teams in the whole 32-team field.
As Paraguay unveiled their final 23-man roster today, they are headlined by the Premier League quartet of Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan), Cristian Riveros (Sunderland) and Paulo Da Silva (Sunderland).
Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino announced that the four players are part of the squad after reducing the 30-man initial party to the official 23 which will travel to South Africa. Martino told reporters that it was not an easy choice to make.
He said: "Building the list is always hard, because you feel you are taking out a very important part of each player. Some of the players already knew in their heart that they were going to be excluded. Some others didn't.''
Argentina-based quartet Eduardo Ledesma (Lanus), Marcos Caceres (Racing Club), Marcelo Estigarribia and Jorge Achucarro (both Newell's Old Boys) have been cut from the squad, as have Libertad midfielder Sergio Aquino, Osvaldo Martinez of Mexican club Monterrey and Olimpia defender Julio Manzur.
Manzur, who played in the 2006 World Cup for Paraguay, was an expected exclusion as he has been struggling with a thigh injury, even though Martino had named him in the preliminary squad.
Full Paraguay squad: Justo Villar (Real Valladolid, Spain), Aldo Bobadilla Independiente Medellin, Colombia), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteno); Denis Caniza (Leon, Mexico), Dario Veron (Pumas, Mexico), Julio Caceres (Atletico Mineiro, Brazil), Paulo Da Silva (Sunderland, England), Claudio Morel Rodriguez (Boca Juniors, Argentina), Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan, Eng), Carlos Bonet (Olimpia), Aureliano Torres (San Lorenzo, Argentina); Cristian Riveros (Sunderland, England), Enrique Vera (LDU Quito, Ecuador), Edgar Barreto (Atalanta, Italy), Jonathan Santana (Wolfsburg, Germany), Victor Caceres (Libertad), Nestor Ortigoza (Argentinos Juniors, Argentina); Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City, England), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Oscar Cardozo (Benfica, Portugal), Edgar Benitez (Pachuca, Mexico), Lucas Barrios (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Rodolfo Gamarra (Libertad).
If you're going to be in Las Vegas the next few weeks, put some money down on Paraguay to make it out of Group F. I was just in Vegas for a bachelor party last weekend and while I put money down on Argentina, Portugal and the US to win it all at the MGM Grand sportsbook, I'm kicking myself for not becoming a complete degenerate and making about 20 more bets. Oh well, hopefully you'll learn from my gambling mistakes.
Good luck finding a more badass or stereotypical name than Lars Lagerback, the Swede in charge of Nigeria.
Lars picked his final 23 today for Nigeria and there were a couple big name cuts.
Strikers Ike Uche and Victor Anichebe were the most notable names to miss out on Nigeria's final 23-man squad for the World Cup finals.
Nigeria boss Lars Lagerback dropped seven players in his final cut with Peter Utaka, Onyekachi Apam, Brown Ideye, Bassey Akpan and Terna Suswan also missing out.
Real Zaragoza striker Uche had been struggling with a knee injury while Everton's Anichebe was overlooked in favour of fellow England-based strikers Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka. Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi was included despite missing the end of the season with a knee injury.
Squad: Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Dele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Petach Tikvah); Taye Taiwo (Marseille), Elderson Echiejile (Rennes), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow), Joseph Yobo (Everton), Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam), Rabiu Afolabi (Salzburg), Danny Shittu (Bolton); Kalu Uche (Almeria), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Sani Kaita (Alaniya), Haruna Lukman (Monaco), Yusuf Ayila (Dynamo Kiev); Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton), Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg), John Utaka (Portsmouth), Victor Obinna Nsofor (Malaga), Osaze Odemwingie (Lokomotiv Moscow), Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi (Hoffenheim).
Like the US, Nigeria has their toughest Group (B) match to start off the 2010 World Cup: against Argentina on June 12. Things should get easier as they play Greece and South Korea, two defensive teams without much scoring punch. And when you look at the clubs some of the Nigerians play for, you realize why they're always a good bet to make some noise in any competition.
There is no question about who is the U.S. men's team's most bitter rival: it's gotta be Mexico.
I hate everything about them (and I don't throw that word around loosely): their fans, their disgusting stadium, their players, etc. Still, they are always a quality opponent and some of the United States' best matches have historically been against the Mexicans.
Of course, you need to keep tabs on your enemies and that's why I'd like to pass along Mexico's final 23 which they named today.
Barcelona midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos is one of three players to miss out on Mexico's final 23-man squad for the World Cup finals.
Jonathan was overlooked by coach Javier Aguirre despite playing the full 90 minutes of Mexico's 5-1 friendly win over Gambia on Sunday. Defensive duo Juan Carlos Valenzuela (America) and Adrian Aldrete (Morelia) were the other two players to miss out.
"The Mexican Football Federation is grateful to Jonathan Dos Santos Ramirez for his dedication, discipline, professionalism and commitment shown during the preparations with the national team,'' a statement on the governing body's official website read.
While Jonathan missed out there was better news for his brother, Giovani, who was included after spending last season on loan at Galatasaray under his former Barca boss Frank Rijkaard. Manchester United-bound striker Javier Hernandez was included following his double in the friendly against Gambia in Germany.
Squad: Oscar Perez (Chiapas), Guillermo Ochoa (America), Luis Ernesto Michel (Guadalajara); Rafael Marquez (Barcelona), Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart), Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido (both PSV Eindhoven), Hector Moreno (AZ Alkmaar), Paul Aguilar (Pachuca), Efrain Juarez (Pumas UNAM), Jonny Magallon (Guadalajara), Jorge Torres Nilo (Atlas); Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna), Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul), Israel Castro (Pumas UNAM), Giovani dos Santos (Galatasaray, on loan from Tottenham); Pablo Barrera (Pumas UNAM), Adolfo Bautista, Alberto Medina (both Guadalajara), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz), Carlos Vela (Arsenal), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Guillermo Franco (West Ham).
Mexico is in Group A with host South Africa, France and Uruguay. The Mexicans also have the honor of playing in the opening game against South Africa (next Friday, 10 a.m. EST).
Step right up if you'd like to make a prediction about Group A. I think it's the toughest to figure out. France is the frontrunner but they're young and inexperienced for the most part, not to mention the French have a tendancy to shit the bed on a big stage from time to time. South Africa is not very good but as the host that gives them a big advantage. It almost guarantees they'll get out of the group stage. As for Uruguay, they're the longshot but honestly do you know anything about them cause I sure don't.
Alan e-mailed us last night with a post that he wrote for Slate magazine. Don't bother asking me why I don't run that magazine yet, I seem like a shoe in no?
Anyhow, he was at the US-Turkey friendly in Philly on Saturday which neither Shimer or I could go to. So without further ado, Alan's recap of the 2-1 American win.
Hope you caught at least the highlights of the game or maybe like me, you watched the whole thing last night at 1am like the hopeless soccer junkie I've become once again. The US came out really slow in the first half and Turkey struck first although they should have been up 3-0 at the half.
It was a completely different story in the second half as the field tilted towards the Turks. As Alan pointed out, Landon Donovan was all over the field and he had pretty assists on both goals: by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey.
Jonathan Bornstein did his best to blow it by getting absolutely abused on a crossing attempt by Turkey but the US was able to hold on for the nail-biting (well at least as friendlies go) 2-1 victory.
As I write this, the US has arrived in South Africa. They have one more exhibition: on Saturday (8:30 a.m. EST) against Australia before the 2010 World Cup begins on June 11. US-England is June 12 at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Even though I'm a sportswriter in real life, I'm not naturally one to panic or jump to conclusions. Crazy, I know!
I bring this up today because another name was added to Germany's lengthy injury list: Schalke defender Heiko Westermann will not be able to play in South Africa because of a broken bone in his left foot.
Of the five German players that have already been ruled out, only Michael Ballack is a real "star" or household name. However, as Shimer rightly pointed out, it's Bastian Schweinsteiger's team anyway not Ballack's.
Take it from me, a Chelsea fan, Ballack isn't nearly the player that you think he is anymore. He's slow and often commits lazy fouls because he can't keep pace with the EPL's top midfielders and also his scoring touch has almost completely deserted him. He's tough and he usually shows up in big games but the 2010 Ballack is most certainly not the same dynamic force that he was four or five years ago.
Westermann broke the bone on Saturday in Germany's 3-0 win over Hungary in Budapest.
My second favorite team-since it's part of my heritage-Portugal, received some good news today as Real Madrid defender Pepe has been cleared to play in the 2010 World Cup.
The center back, whose full name is Kleper Laveran Lima Ferreira, was cleared by Madrid medical staff following a lengthy recovery from knee surgery. Pepe hasn't played since December after coming down awkwardly and twisting his right knee during a Spanish league game.
The 27-year-old Pepe is a naturalized Brazilian who has been a regular for Portugal since joining Madrid from FC Porto in 2007.
Portugal opens Group G play against Ivory Coast on June 15.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Tomorrow the U.S. will take off for South Africa, today at 2 p.m. on ESPN 2 the world will get the chance to see what will likely be most of the starting 11 in Philadelphia against Turkey.
The anticipated starting 11: Altidore and Dempsey up front - Donovan, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, and Stuart Holden in the midfield - Cherundolo, Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, and Bornstein in the back.
But with injuries to Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra, the back-line will likely be an area of change. Bornstein simply put cannot start in the World Cup, he is too much of a trouble point and a weakness that would be exposed brutally by any winger with pace or superior skill. Goodson has shown to be a strong central defender, especially in the air, but if DeMerit is healthy the position is his after a stellar showing in the Confederations Cup last summer where he may have been the U.S.'s best player.
I think one thing to look at today is how many minutes Bradley plays his starters because I think he still has to figure who some of his top players will be off the bench. Winning this match would be nice as Turkey are a terrific country having beaten the Czech Republic last week 2-1 - a team that beat the U.S. Wednesday 4-2 - despite neither team making it to the World Cup.
I think we will see Herculez Gomez in there at some point as well as Edson Buddle. I think DaMarcus Beasley will see action and hopefully DeMerit will see the pitch for the first time since returning to the MNT for training camp following the end of the English Championship league season.
Friday, May 28, 2010
It only took four days after winning the Champions League final with Inter Milan for Jose Mourinho to pick up his stuff and say: peace out suckers.
It's all going to be finalized on Monday with the Special One signing on with Real Madrid.
Pairing him with Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the World's top 3 players, should make for fascinating stuff.
Madrid sacked Manuel Pellegrini on Wednesday and outlined their intention to replace him with Mourinho once both they and the Portuguese had negotiated his release from Inter.
The two clubs had been struggling to reach a compromise as Inter were insisting they must be paid the full €16 million due to them under the terms of Mourinho's contract.
However, an agreement, reported to be worth €8 million, has been reached after a meeting between Real president Florentino Perez and his Inter counterpart Massimo Moratti in Milan.
A statement from the Italian club read: "The president Massimo Moratti and Florentino Perez met this afternoon.
"In light of the excellent and constructive relations of friendship that exist between the two clubs, an agreement was reached on the contractual clause that binds Jose Mourinho to FC Internazionale. The time and the manner by which the agreement will be honoured has been defined.
"Massimo Moratti thanks Florentino Perez for his willingness to join him in Milan and for his courtesy, which confirms, once again, the strong link between the two prestigious club.''
Real director general Jorge Valdano said earlier on Friday that the reason for Pellegrini's sacking was that the board believed the Chilean's record in Real's key games was not good enough.
"Pellegrini created a very good working environment, avoiding dressing room conflicts and he had an impeccable record in the league," Valdano said. "But in the most important games of the season he was not able to succeed and so we decided to dismiss him.''
Valdano was also adamant striker Gonzalo Higuain would not be leaving the Bernabeu despite speculation in England linking him with big-spending Manchester City.
Higuain was Madrid's leading scorer in the Primera Division with 27 goals in 32 appearances in the recently-completed season and his fellow Argentinian insists he is not for sale.
Valdano said: "Higuain is under contract for three more years. He has been a benchmark for others and is not available for transfer.''
And as Shimer said on Sunday when we saw the first reports of this, Italian football is not for Mourinho. Their boring, defensive style is not what he favors and putting him in Spain should allow him to continue to flourish playing an exciting, attacking brand of football.
England's final 23 hasn't come out yet but sources say that Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher will be making the trip.
His appearance against Mexico in the friendly the other day was his first national team appearance since 2007.
Soccernet understands Jamie Carragher is certain to be named in England's final 23-man World Cup squad and it is now accepted that he is first choice cover at right back.
Although Carragher came on in the centre of defence for the second half against Mexico, he will be included in Fabio Capello's final squad for South Africa because he is the best choice to be understudy to Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson.
"Jamie Carragher was called back into the 30 with the intention of taking him in the 23 and nothing much has changed," a source close to the England camp told Soccernet.
"The reason is simple: we need two right backs and I don't see another right back other than Glen Johnson in the squad.
"It is true that James Milner or even Shaun Wright-Phillips would play there in an emergency, but the idea is for Jamie Carragher to deputise as right back."
Carragher can, obviously, also cover the centre-back position, and for that reason Capello is more inclined to take the risk of selecting Ledley King despite his persistent knee injuries.
The FA insider told Soccernet: "It looks increasingly like Ledley King will make it to South Africa. He has to have his usual routines and rest after matches without training, but yes he has the qualities and has proved himself with his club playing in successive games at the end of the season."
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
First of all, props to Shimer for correctly predicting five of the seven cuts that Bob Bradley and his coaching staff would make as their team shrunk from 30 to 23 players.
He was on the money about defenders Chad Marshall and Heath Pearce; midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers.
The two selections that he got wrong are ones that I think we can both totally agree on still deserved a spot: Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez will each travel to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
Instead of Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching-two of Bradley's boys, he went out on a limb with two lesser known talents that nevertheless are playing much better at the moment than Johnson or Ching.
Midfielders Donovan and Beasley, and defender Steve Cherundolo earned their third World Cup trips. Beasley's selection capped a comeback from nine months of national team exile that ended in March.
Seventeen of the 23 players are based in Europe, with just four from Major League Soccer and two from Mexican clubs. Of the European group, eight play in England, three in Germany, two in Scotland, and one each in Denmark, France, Italy and Norway.
Both Buddle and Gomez are forwards, and Bradley said they "both have been in great form, scored a lot of goals this year."
Buddle was a nonenity for the U.S. during World Cup qualifying. But he's scored nine times this season for the Los Angeles Galaxy to lead the MLS, and he made his first start for the national team in Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic.
The 29-year-old Buddle didn't quite believe it when Bradley congratulated him at 2 a.m. Wednesday.
"I thought he was messing around. I didn't know. It was too late," he said.
Gomez might have faced even longer odds to make the squad after his contract was not renewed last year by Kansas City in MLS. But he went to Puebla of the Mexican league and tied for the scoring lead with 10 goals in 14 appearances.
"I wasn't good enough for the Wizards last year, so to be where I am today is amazing," Gomez said.
Bradley praised Buddle, Gomez and Beasley for taking advantage of their opportunities.
"One player that I felt fits into that category is Herculez Gomez," Bradley said. "He's worked hard to get to this point.
"DaMarcus obviously had fallen out of it a bit and he needed to make a renewed commitment to the team and doing things as a player that makes his team better. And we've seen that.
"When you make tough decision you try to factor in everything," Bradley added. "You take into account where they are in their season and certainly to this point Edson is one of the best players in MLS. That type of form needed to really count."
A total of 92 players made at least one appearance under Bradley during the four-year World Cup cycle as the team went 35-19-6. He used 43 players during qualifying; 19 of them made the final roster. Those players accounted for 29 of 42 goals scored in qualifying, including Altidore's team-leading six goals.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa, England), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton, England), Tim Howard (Everton, England).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, France), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Jay DeMerit (Watford, England), Clarence Goodson (IK Start, Norway), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan, Italy), Jonathan Spector (West Ham, England).
Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt, Germany), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, Denmark), Stuart Holden (Bolton, England), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico).
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Hull, England), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla, Mexico).
All in all, I think Bradley did a fine job of constructing a team based on what he had and who was healthy and in form.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Shimer and I have taken plenty of shots at Eddie Johnson since we got this blog but the guy earned a lot of my respect tonight as he stood and answered questions for eight plus minutes while many of his teammates rushed off to their bus.
End of training camp
"Worked really hard at Princeton, we knew we'd be tired. Get the hardwork and jitters out of us before we go to South Africa."
Bouncing around Europe
"Good experience to play in Europe. Sometimes it takes players a long time, for me it's taken some time. I'm enjoying it, still loving my football. I like Europe and Greece has a good league."
What makes this World Cup different?
"Since we were young, we always heard 2010 was going to be our year."
Being back in the US national team mix
"I feel very fortunate to be part of the camp, whatever decision coach makes, I'm enjoying my soccer and happy to be a part of the US team again."
Getting back out there after a recent injury
"It was good to get a run for 45 minutes. Nursing strained calf, good to get out and get another CAP under my belt. It's not a one man sport, it's a team sport. Hopefully everything falls into place."
Playing with new teammates
"We've all played with each other at some point. We were able to get two goals, learning process."
Buddle and him
"I thought at times, Buddle and I were making the same runs and I think that was because we hadn't played together too much."
After tonight's US-Czech Republic game, we went to US head coach Bob Bradley's press conference. The man went to Princeton so he's got a few things to say. Here's most of his 14 plus minutes.
Last game before cutting 30 players to 23
"It's a night when they come off the field, the emotion. We're at a point where some tough decisions have to be made. Still a respect we have for what they put into the camp, the game. As a player, coming into camp to make a team and go into the World Cup is a special thing. As it gets closer, those emotions come out.
On a night when the result doesn't go our way, pay tribute to these guys and all the hard work they've put in."
How do you make the final cuts?
"I have so many things flying through my head right now. We'll talk as a staff, pull out the DVD and look at certain things. Lot of energy, a little bit crazy. Collective effort, didn't always do well enough on final side. At times we left ourselves wide open."
"Tonight was about looking at guys, sizing up different possibilities. The subs that we used tonight were all geared towards looking at people. Guys at camps before, played through this cycle. Thoughts about what they bring to the team in terms of chemistry and mentality."
Beasley and Gomez
"It's been a good camp for DeMarcus. He's showed his teammates again that there's a renewed committment there and that's what showed. Herculez played his way into camp. He scored a goal tonight that's very important in this whole thing. Here's a guy that was totally out of the picture. He'll certainly be discussed."
"We've seen improvement in camp. Overall reactions to the game were good, on the ball passing was solid. All those things move up a few more notches. The ability to size things up. Get good position on players."
Will they decide the 23 tonight or tomorrow morning?
"Team meeting while we're eating as a coaching staff, we'll see how far we are. Tell the players either late tonight or early tomorrow morning, depends where we are on some things. Typically what we do is look at DVD to remember plays that we saw and have it exactly right."
"When you go to the World Cup, the challenges, demands, speed of the game, athleticism is incredibly high. YOu want to make sure that players that are going in the 23 are where they need to be as well as everything else. In the midst of everything else tonight, reactions and movements and seeing where guys are. There's time to keep working on that but you can only make up so much."
What do you say to the guys you cut?
"We'll have a discussion with each person we're letting go, thank them, tell them how much we appereciate them putting into it. It's usually not a long discussion, usually when you're on the receiving end of bad news you don't want to have a long conversation. We try with the way we go about things to be clear and upfront. The kind of mutual respect in terms of what we do together."
"Across the board with the forwards, how they'll adjust to international game which goes faster. One thing I've said, when you get into a international game or top club match, the window for plays is small and it shuts quickly. If you're used to it being bigger, staying open longer it doesn't work that way. You wait to see if there's too many times where a play comes in their direction and a defender is able to step in front and take it away the attacking player isn't thinking fast enough."
Here's the story that will appear in the Newburyport Daily News tomorrow: Who is Charlie Davies replacement?
EAST HARTFORD | United States fans have shorter attention spans perhaps more than any other country – they want to see goals.
A day before the U.S. coach Bob Bradley announces his final 23-man World Cup roster when the U.S. lost to the Czech Republic, 4-2, one of the biggest question marks the second winningiest coach in U.S. history will have to answer remains, who will partner Jozy Altidore – the leading Men’s National Team (MNT) goal-scorer with six during World Cup qualifying – up front?
The list is a lengthy one – Houston Dynamo’s Brian Ching, Los Angels Galaxy’s Edson Buddle, Pachuca’s (Mexican league) Herculez Gomez, Real Salt Lake’s Robbie Findley, and Aris Thessaloniki’s (Greek league) Eddie Johnson. Even outside winger Clint Dempsey, who plays at Fulham in the English Premier League, has been mentioned as possible option.
Before the horrific and tragic, fatal car accident in October (killed the driver Ashley Roberta) that left Boston College product Charlie Davies badly injured (broken femur, broken tibia, dislocated elbow, lacerated bladder, bleeding from the brain) to the extent that he has not even seen the pitch in game action since – Davies was the obvious choice.
Davies, who was born in Manchester, NH and played high school soccer at Brooks School in North Andover, burst onto the national team scene at the Confederations Cup last summer where he scored a goal in the team’s 3-0 win over 2010 African Cup of Nations champions Egypt.
In his absence in 2010, the U.S. has struggled to find a reliable second option as the MNT have been mostly unconvincing going forward in a 3-1 loss to Honduras in January, a poor 2-1 win against El Salvador in February, and another lackadaisical 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in early March.
In fact only one forward has scored a goal for the U.S. in 2010 – Ching.
Clearly there is a debate; does Bradley go with experience or with whose hot?
Johnson (12 goals in 40 appearances) and Ching (11 goals in 44 appearances) are without a doubt the two most experienced guys. Johnson has not scored since 2008 for the U.S. and has really fizzled since scoring five goals in his opening year with the team in 2004. Ching has probably been the U.S.’s most reliable forward this year with much of the roster away in Europe earlier in the year, but he seems to disappear in big games.
Buddle meanwhile only has one career cap for the U.S. back in 2003 and after recently turning 29 the time is now or never because he currently leads Major League Soccer in scoring with nine goals, and it is no small component that he plays well with Landon Donovan one of the key U.S. players.
Gomez was the first U.S. forward to lead another country’s top domestic league in scoring enjoying a resurgent season with Puebla in Mexico by scoring 10 goals. The 28-year-old is finally recovering after missing nearly a year after an ACL tear in September in 2007. He too is virtually uncapped with just two in 2007, two years after his breakout season in 2005 with the Galaxy where he scored 18 goals.
But after scoring one of the MNT’s two goals on the evening a beautifully executed corner, Gomez has to be considered a front-runner now with the form he has been in to make this squad.
“It was fun, it was hard, it was a great feeling to be out there with those guys,” said Gomez, who came on as a substitute in the second half. “You build those friendships during camp, you kind of get throw in some turmoil with all the fitness and it brings the guys together – they really area a great group of guys and being out there was a lot of fun.
“I haven’t spoken to (coach Bradley), but I’m a big boy, I know what I have to do, I knew coming into this I was going to have to show more than just being able to put the ball in the back of the net,” Gomez followed up. “I felt I gave (the Czechs) a few headaches, got them on their toes, but they are a great team. Peter Cech (the Czech Republic goalie) is a great goalkeeper, he’s not just anybody, so it was a good test. I’m just glad I survived the 45 minutes. It’s out of my hands now.”
Ching, who also came on as a second half sub, felt like all the forwards showed quality in defeat to the Czechs, who have beaten the U.S. all three times they have played each other.
“You just try to go out and score goals,” Ching said. “Good for Herculez, he scored a good goal. I thought we had some good combination play. I though the forwards all played well in my eyes, so hopefully it’s a tough decision for the coach.”
Catch them in Philly on Saturday as they take on Turkey in their last friendly before they head to South Africa. They'll play Australia on June 5 in South Africa before it gets real with England (June 12).
Coming on as a second half sub, Herculez Gomez was certainly a bright spot for the U.S. tonight scoring a goal in the final 4-2 result. he was not flashy, but certainly on a stage like this to score a goal is impressive because he was in the right place and delivered. Here are some of his thoughts:
"It was fun it was hard, it was a great feeling to be out there witht hose guys. You build those friendships during camp, you kind of get thrown in some turmoil with all the fitness and it brings the guys together. They really are a great group of guys and being out there was a lot of fun.
"I haven’t spoken to (Bob Bradley), but I'm a big boy I know what I have to do. I knew coming into this I was going to have to show more than just being able to put the ball into the back of the net. It's been a tough camp, we’ve all worked very hard. It’s out of my hands now, we’ll see what happens. Regardless its been a good experience.
"I felt I gave them a few headaches got them on their toes a bit, but they are a great team. Peter Cech is a great goal keeper, he’s just not anybody, so it was a good test. I'm just glad I survived the 45 minutes."
Heath Pearce once again was the goat as Libor Sionko blew by him around the corner and crossed to Martin Fenin. There were multiple US defenders in the right spots but Goodson and co. couldn't do anything to stop a roofed snipe by Fenin.
The Czech press' reaction "yoooooooooooooooooo!"
Gotta feel good for US striker Herculez Gomez.
He just tied it up in the 66th minute with a header off a corner kick and another header by teammate Clarence Goodson.
For a guy just trying to get a roster spot (with the final 23 announced tomorrow), Gomez can't do much more than that. The timing was ironic too since he had another chance just moments earlier: Ching backheeled it to him and he was wide open but hit it right to Cech's chest.
Gomez just fired in a nice low shot that Cech was able to handle after a beaut of a flick by Ching. So far I have to say Ching has been the most active and intriguing forward I have seen tonight, and that's saying something because I dislike Ching quite a bit in case you haven't read this blog much.
The US subs have not acquitted themselves well thus far.
Brian Ching whiffed on a deflection out front and on the next possession downfield, David Lafata served a through ball to Jan Polak, who raced past defender Heath Pearce and put it by a helpless Brad Guzan.
2-1 Czech Republic in the 58th minute.
Sacha is the first sub to do something as he sends in a good cross that Cech deflects into traffic in front of the goal.
Well I might be sitting next to the only people that were happy by the latest developments. A large contingent of the Czech press is right up in my grill piece so needless to say, they're long trip to Connecticut was worth it.
The Czechs tied it in the 44th minute with a goal off a free kick from the side of the box, just like the US. Defender Tomas Sivok outleaped Gooch and finished off midfielder Jaroslav Plasil's perfect free kick. The header curled around Guzan and just inside the far post.
1-1 and we're headed to halftime. The last minute was exciting as a fan ran out onto the field and almost made it back into the stands (with a leap that would make Spider Man proud) before a group of CT state troopers and security did their best UConn linebacker impression.
Jaroslav Plasil tested US goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a tough cross off a free kick but the Aston Villa man did well to deflect it out for the corner.
With starter Tim Howard, Guzan and third goalie Marcus Hahnemann, can I submit that the US has the best goalkeeping trio in the World Cup?
The Czechs just had their best rush forward as defender Ondrej Kusnir turned the corner and laid off a perfect back pass to an onrushing Martin Fenin in the 27th minute.
The forward barely missed putting it in the far post, past US goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Is it too easy to say that Milan Baros would have buried it?
As soon as I published the last post, the US made me look like a fool as Maurice Edu scored in the 17th minute.
Stuart Holden had a free kick to the side of the box and he served it into the box where Czech goalkeeper Peter Cech whiffed on it. Edson Buddle stuck his nose in traffic and hit it along while Edu was able to throw himself at the ball and put it in the vacated net.
Both teams appear to be feeling each other out and about the only interesting parts thus far have been the abundance of orange cleats for the Americans and seeing Gooch take a hard challenge.
After earning a free kick on the left side, Stuart Holden just whipped in a great cross that Peter Cech came out to try to parry away, however, he could only get as far as his defender, which allowed Maurice Edu to head it home. A well-deserved 1-0 start. Love how they are playing right now they look strong.
We're here in East Hartford and the U.S. team just unveiled their home white kits for the first time. Enjoy folks as both Slate and myself post updates all night...
In terms of relevance, it's not on the same planet as Michael Ballack's ankle injury or Rene Alder but it's still worth noting that Germany has lost backup defender Christian Traesch for the 2010 World Cup after injuring his ankle against a local Italian club.
"Christian Traesch won't be available for the World Cup and we regret this very much," assistant coach Hans-Dieter Flick told a news conference Tuesday at Germany's training camp in northern Italy.
Traesch twisted his ankle without contact with another player and will need at least a four-week rest.
Germany won 4-0 against a local selection from South Tirol, a German-speaking area in northern Italy. The game was played in two 30-minute halves on Monday.
Germany coach Joachim Loew has two extra players on his squad who will have to be cut before the June 1 deadline. He also has to select his captain for the World Cup after Ballack's injury.
The seven players from Bayern Munich, which lost the Champions League final 2-0 against Inter Milan on Saturday, were scheduled to join the squad Tuesday and Wednesday.
Germany plays in Hungary on Saturday, then hosts Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 3 in its last two warm-up games before traveling to the World Cup.
Other than LeBron James' impending free agency (oh you didn't hear?) the biggest story in sports the last few weeks has been Algeria's World Cup roster.
Wait, what? That might be a slight exaggeration but I wouldn't be doing my self-appointed job if I didn't tell you that your boy Algerian midfielder Mourad Meghni won't be playing in South Africa in a few weeks.
The 26-year-old hadn't recovered enough from a left knee injury so the Algerian soccer federation decided that he needed surgery.
Meghni was one of several players in coach Rabah Saadane's preliminary squad with dual nationality who played youth internationals for France but switched allegiance after FIFA removed the age restriction last year.
Algeria is in Group C with England, Slovenia and the United States. Algeria faces the U.S. on June 23.
Australia trimmed its roster from 31 to 28 today and Middlesbrough striker Scott McDonald was the biggest name on the fateful list.
McDonald scored tons of goals in Scotland before moving to England but he has yet to score in 16 games for Australia.
In Group D with Germany, Ghana and Serbia, the Australians are a decent play to advance out of the group stage (in second obviously). I like Ghana but who knows how healthy Essien is and Serbia is a solid but unspectacular European team.
Crystal Palace midfielder Nick Carle and Norway-based defender Jade North also were cut on Tuesday.
Belgian-based Nikita Rukavytsya and Josh Kennedy will be the backups to Galatasaray forward Harry Kewell.
Australia coach Pim Verbeek said McDonald struggled in the Socceroos' preferred lone striker system.
"Scotty is a typical two-striker player, and that's where he feels happy also," Verbeek said. "But we don't play with two strikers. We play with one striker up top and wingers, so Scotty doesn't fit in this system. He knows it, and he tried everything."
The core of Australia's squad is made up of veterans of the 2006 World Cup, headed by Kewell, clubmate Lucas Neill, Everton's Tim Cahill, Palermo's Mark Bresciano and Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Verbeek said players who did not make his final 23-man roster, which must be submitted to FIFA on June 1, will be kept on in South Africa for the duration of the World Cup. Youngsters Tommy Oar and James Holland are unlikely to make the final 23 but have been chosen to gain experience.
Australia leaves on Wednesday for a pre-World Cup training camp in Johannesburg. The team will play exhibitions against Denmark on June 1 and the United States on June 5 ahead of its World Cup opener against Germany on June 13.
Goalkeepers: Adam Federici (Reading, England), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United). Brad Jones (Middlesbrough, England), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, England)
Defenders: Michael Beauchamp (Melbourne Heart), David Carney (Twente, Netherlands), Scott Chipperfield (Basel, Switzerland), Shane Lowry (Aston Villam England), Mark Milligan (JEF United, Japan), Craig Moore (no club), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray, Turkey), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow, Russia), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough, England)
Midfielders: Mark Bresciano (Palermo, Italy), Tim Cahill (Everton, England), Jason Culina (Gold Coast), Brett Emerton (Blackburn, England), Richard Garcia (Hull, England), Vince Grella (Blackburn, England), James Holland (Alkmaar, Netherlands), Brett Holman (Alkmaar, Netherlands), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor, Turkey), Tommy Oar (Utrecht, Netherlands), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo, Italy), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg, Germany)
Forwards: Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus, Japan), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray, Turkey), Nikita Rukavytsya (Twente, Netherlands)
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
"I get a lot of feelings, leaving many friends, but knowing that it is good for the club,'' Villa said. "At Valencia I have grown as a player and as a person. At Valencia I have felt at home from day one and nobody will doubt it to be that way forever.
"I want everyone to know that it has been a great source of pride for me to wear this shirt. It has given me so much and I will always carry it in my heart.''
Villa helped Valencia win the 2008 Copa del Rey and will move on having fired the club to a third-place finish in La Liga in 2009-10 to return the club to the Champions League.
"I leave with the satisfaction that the club has returned to where it deserves to be every year - fighting among the best in Europe in the Champions League.
"I would like to send a big hug to all the fans who have always given so much love, from the day of my presentation until the last match at the Mestalla.
"Also to all my colleagues who have helped me to improve, to all the technical staff I have worked with and to the leaders, especially (Valencia president) Manuel Llorente, and employees, with whom I have worked side by side."
The other interesting side-note is that David Silva - not to be confused with David Villa and who had made up the other half of Valencia's fabulous one-two punch - may now also be on his way out the door. Silva, who to is a Spain international, is being highly sought after by Real Madrid.
Silva nearly left last summer for Manchester United, but it appears now that the Royal Whites have their man and Valencia after selling Villa are also willing to sell their second most prized asset.
Following the completion of the £34.2 million deal that took Villa to Barcelona, Valencia president Manuel Llorente said on Wednesday: "I do not discount further exits."