One nation under Jurgen Klinsmann with dreams of goals for all

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The More Germans The Better On U.S. Men's National Team Roster

With the end of August almost upon us, it was time for U.S. men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to announce the rosters for exhibitions against Costa Rica and Belgium in the beginning of September.

Without question, the most intriguing name on the list is Fabian Johnson. He started for Germany in the U-21 European championship just two years ago but he's followed Klinsmann to the U.S. I can't say that I've ever heard of him but his credentials seem pretty legit: he's a midfielder for Hoffenheim, a German club.

Another former German Timmy Chandler will also get to make his debut for the new U.S. head coach after he got pulled off the roster at the last minute before the Mexico match. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey get their first CAPs under Klinsmann while Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Clark were left out of (supposedly to deal with transfer issues with their clubs) this group.

"All three of these players are trying to sort out their club situations, and the deadline for transfers is a week away," Klinsmann said. "They have also not been playing matches, so for these reasons we decided to select different players for this roster."

Freddy Adu wasn't selected, either. The former phenom recently returned to Major League Soccer, and is still adjusting to his new Philadelphia Union team.

The U.S. and Costa Rica meet frequently in CONCACAF play, but this is their first exhibition since 1995. The Americans have an 11-11-6 record overall against the Ticos, including a 2-2 draw on Oct. 14, 2009, that cost Costa Rica a spot in last year's World Cup. The tie dropped Costa Rica to fourth in North and Central American and Caribbean region qualifying, and the Ticos then lost to Uruguay in a playoff for the spot shared by CONCACAF and South America.

This will be the fourth game against Belgium, and first since 1998. Belgium has won the last two meetings.

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton, England), Bill Hamid (DC United).
Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Edgar Castillo (Club America, Mexico), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg, Germany), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Clarence Goodson (Brondby, Denmark), Zach Loyd (Dallas), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis, Mexico), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim, Germany), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, Belgium), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado), Robbie Rogers (Columbus), Brek Shea (Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca, Mexico)
Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New York), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Teal Bunbury (Kansas City), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles).

Other new players in the mix include Hamid, Larentowicz (a former Revs player) and Bunbury.

With more time to train and get prepared, expect some better chemistry between Klinsmann and his team. Likewise, Costa Rica and Belgium represent a step down from the level of Mexico so the U.S. should be more ready to handle teams of that caliber.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does This Look Like The World's Soon To Be Highest Paid Soccer Player?

I'm not a hater, never have been and never will be. Therefore, when I see a guy making an absurd amount of money to play a sport, I can only tip my hat towards him and say well done sir.

Samuel Eto'o is a fine soccer player. Is he the world's best? Haha not even close but that doesn't matter since some Russian club that I've never heard of-Anzhi Makhachkala-has agreed to a transfer with Inter Milan which will make the Cameroon star the world's highest paid player ($28.8 million per season).

After several days of negotiations, Italian media report Sunday that the two clubs have agreed on a transfer fee of $38.9 million and that the deal will be formalized Monday.

Anzhi is expected to give Eto'o a three-year contract worth $28.8 million per season, surpassing the estimated $17.3 million that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Real Madrid and the $15.1 million that Lionel Messi is paid by Barcelona.

Anzhi, from the southern Russian province of Dagestan, is owned by billionaire oil tycoon Suleiman Kerimov.

The 30-year-old Eto is considered still in his prime. He has already won three Champions League titles -- two with Barcelona and one with Inter -- and is apparently excited about playing in the developing Russian league.

In Forbes magazine's latest list of the world's richest people, Kerimov's net worth was estimated at $7.8 billion, tying him for 118th place with Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and family.

Anzhi's captain is 38-year-old Roberto Carlos, once the standout left back for Brazil.

The transfer fee for Eto'o also makes it one of the most expensive deals this season, close to the $42 million Barcelona paid Arsenal on Monday to bring Cesc Fabregas back to his childhood club.

The biggest deal during the current transfer window was the $62 million Manchester City paid Atletico Madrid for Sergio Aguero last month. Also, Paris Saint-Germain paid $60 million to Palermo for Javier Pastore.

Eto'o led Inter with 37 goals in all competitions last season, having replaced Milito as the club's biggest scoring threat. He was a key member of the Inter side that won the Champions League in 2010, often accepting an attacking midfield or defensive role for then-Inter coach Jose Mourinho.

Before joining Inter in 2009, Eto'o played five seasons with Barcelona.

Makhachkala is plagued by violence from insurgency that has spread across the North Caucasus after two separatist wars in Dagestan's neighboring region of Chechnya.

Anzhi players live and train at a training camp outside Moscow and travel to Makhachkala for home games, flying about 1,250 miles 15 times a season.

People will laugh at this deal (and rightfully so), it is absurd. However, someone has to be the world's highest paid player and if Eto'o wants to figuratively pay the price by playing in some backwater, dangerous area well good for him I guess.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Robbie Keane Goes To The Land Of Frauds

I am already on record as calling Robbie Keane "heavy-drinking, mercurial and possibly over-the-hill striker" so it's with a touch of doubt that I pass along the news that Keane has transferred from Tottenham to join the Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS).

With my thoughts on Keane and MLS (still unwatchable) well established, I don't have much to add to this latest development other than to say that it will help sell a few jerseys to the Irish in California and assorted pseudo-celebrities that go to there games (does that still happen?).

"I have already discussed football with (Galaxy coach) Bruce Arena, and I know exactly what he wants from me,'' Keane said. "I am fit, fresh and ready to go. I've come here to score goals and help this team achieve their goals. This is a massive opportunity for me in my career. I aim to grab it with both hands and hopefully help give the Galaxy fans what they want.''

Keane is moving from Tottenham Hotspur, where the 31-year-old striker has fallen behind Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe after scoring just one goal in 10 matches last season. Keane initially hoped to stay in the Premier League during its transfer window, but became interested in the Galaxy after training with Beckham at Tottenham earlier this year.

"I have always wanted to come and play in MLS, so it's the perfect combination for me and a dream come true,'' said Keane, the 10th-leading goal-scorer in Premier League history with 123 goals. "When David Beckham came and trained at Spurs recently, he couldn't speak highly enough about the Galaxy, their fans and the league in general, so I can't wait to get over and get started.''

Although Keane has struggled with Tottenham, he has been outstanding for the Irish national team, scoring a record 51 goals in his career -- including five goals in six recent matches during group qualifying play for Euro 2012. He played for Ireland against Croatia last Wednesday, and the Irish have key qualifying matches against Slovakia and Russia in the next few weeks.

The Galaxy lead the MLS standings with 48 points on the strength of 11 goals from Landon Donovan -- the league's second-leading goal-scorer behind Thierry Henry -- and a resurgent season from Beckham, who's second in the league with 10 assists in the final year of his MLS contract. Los Angeles' next MLS match is Saturday night against San Jose.

"Robbie Keane will be a great addition to our club,'' said Arena, also the Galaxy's general manager. "I have followed his career and have always respected his ability as a competitor and a goal-scorer. I believe that he brings qualities in and around the penalty area that we have been lacking. Hopefully he will be another piece of the puzzle in our quest for the Supporters' Shield and an MLS Cup championship, as well as to advance to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League.''

The Galaxy must make a roster move when Keane receives his visa, since Los Angeles already has three "designated players'' who can be paid above the MLS salary cap: Beckham, Donovan and Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel.

Beckham and Donovan are crucial to the Galaxy's success, which means Angel almost certainly will be moved when Keane gets his visa. Although Angel was the MLS' leading scorer over the previous four seasons, he has just three goals and one assist in 22 games for Los Angeles.

Angel is thought to be headed across the hallway at Home Depot Center to Chivas USA, which shares a stadium with the Galaxy in Carson, Calif., and is fighting to stay in the playoff race.

Starting his pro career at 17, Keane played for three English clubs and Inter Milan before joining Tottenham in August 2002. He moved to Liverpool in 2008, but returned to Tottenham in early 2009 before spending parts of the past two seasons on loan to Celtic of the Scottish Premier League and West Ham.

Stop me if you've heard this story before: former European star transfers from an EPL club to the Galaxy. There's an initial buzz but that quickly subsides as people actually start to view MLS games and realize that it's terribly boring. The main difference in this case is that Keane isn't married to a crazed former pop star as far as I know. You could also argue that he's got a little more left in the tank than Beckham but I guess we'll figure that out shortly. Let me know what you think because I surely won't be paying attention.

The Revolving Door Out Of Arsenal Keeps Spinning

It has got to be agonizing to be an Arsenal fan right now living in England. Sure, I enjoy the Gunners but I'm far removed from the club here in the States so I can only observe all the moves that have left the team a shell of what it's been the last few seasons.

Defender Emmanuel Eboue is the latest player to transfer from Arsenal to greener (get it? MONEY!) pastures.

Turkish club Galastaray signed him to a four-year deal.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed earlier this summer that Eboue, 28, was likely to leave the club during the current transfer window.

The Ivory Coast international arrived at the Gunners from Beveren in 2005 and went on to make 132 Premier League appearances, scoring four times.

Eboue joins Gael Clichy, Denilson and Cesc Fabregas in leaving Emirates Stadium this summer, while Samir Nasri, Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia's futures are the subject of conjecture.

Routinely the top club in Turkey's Super Lig, Eboue will join familiar EPL names of yore like Milan Baros and Harry Kewell.

Arsenal hosts Udinese in a few hours in a Champions League playoff match before Liverpool visits Emirates Stadium on Saturday morning (7:45 am EST) in a pivotal early season EPL match. If the Gunners don't win both matches and more importantly, don't start to replace all these solid players that are leaving London, they'll be in big trouble with the fans and media that cover this beloved team.

The post-Fabregas era begins with Robin Van Persie assuming the captaincy role for Arsenal starting today.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Worst Kept Secret In European Soccer Has Come True

In the last year, if you had Internet access and or a Twitter account, you've no doubt seen the constant rumors of Cesc Fabregas moving on from Arsenal to Barcelona.

Well it looks like you won't have to waste anymore of your life waiting for this foregone move to happen, because it went down today.

Coming a day after Arsenal's mostly lifeless 1-1 tie with Newcastle and the same day as Barcelona's scintillating 2-2 tie with Real Madrid in the Super Cup (Spain's version of the Community Shield), this big transfer will make the Gunners worse while also increasing the incredible talent level on Fabregas' hometown team.

On Twitter yesterday, English writers reported that Arsenal fans were left to chant "spend some fucking money," while they watched their mostly starless team struggle. Haha I wish American fans were smart or unified enough to come up with something like that.

Despite Arsenal insisting throughout the summer that they would not sell Fabregas for less than £40 million, it is thought that a £35 million fee has finally been agreed.

Manager Arsene Wenger said: "We have been clear that we didn't want Cesc to leave and that remains the case. However, we understand Cesc's desire to move to his home town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona. We thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and wish him future success."

Fabregas, who joined the Gunners from Barca as a 16-year-old in 2003, will now agree personal terms and undergo a medical on Monday before sealing his return to the Nou Camp.

The midfielder's move will bring an end to a saga that sparked into life last summer when Fabregas told Wenger that he wanted to return to his boyhood club. Wenger stubbornly refused to let the Spain international leave at that time, but just over 12 months later he has given up on the battle to keep the wantaway star.

It has been suggested that Fabregas is willing to take a pay cut in order to force through the move, underlining his desperation to join the Champions League winners.

He played no part in Arsenal's pre-season campaign or their Premier League opener at Newcastle, with Wenger citing a lack of focus and a niggling injury.

Fabregas, who has won 58 caps for Spain, winning Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, made 303 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 57 goals in all competitions and claimed the record for youngest first-team player and goalscorer.

His departure will increase the pressure from fans on Wenger to use some of the transfer fee to bring in a big-name signing before the end of the transfer window. Shakhtar Donetsk claim that Arsenal have shown an interest in Brazil international midfielder Jadson, while Wenger is known to be keen to add a central defender.

It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will be able to hold on to France international Samir Nasri, a target for Manchester City and a player who the Londoners could lose on a free transfer next summer when his contract expires.

Ordinarily Nasri would have been earmarked as the natural successor to Fabregas in a central role but, with his future up the air, Wenger may be forced into the transfer market.

As ESPNsoccernet's story says, Nasri is the other Arsenal player that has been the subject of constant rumors. It'll be interesting to monitor what the Gunners do in the next few weeks (the transfer window closes on August 30). If they want to get back into the top four in the EPL (and clinch a Champions League spot), the club needs to open their checkbooks and start spending some money. If not to appease their dedicated fans, but also to keep up with the Man U's, Man City's, Chelsea's and Liverpool's of the EPL.

Fabregas will take some time to adjust to the more skillful La Liga style of play but since he's played with many of Barce's players on Spain, he should be better suited than most to make an impact sooner rather than later. You can never have too much talent in sports and Barcelona is living proof of that in club soccer.

Manchester United Injuries Start To Pile Up After One EPL Game in 2011-12 Season

Sunday was an up and down day for Manchester United, the defending English Premier League champions.

The Red Devils managed to salvage a 2-1 win on the road at West Bromwich in their 2011-12 EPL opener.

More importantly, defender Rio Ferdinand picked up a hamstring injury (forcing him to get subbed out after 76 minutes) and it has already been announced that he's expected to miss six weeks. If he's out for that projected time period, he'll miss club matches against Arsenal and Chelsea along with England national team Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales.

Fullback Rafael da Silva was out 10 weeks after injuring his shoulder in training before the season had even started and center back Nemanja Vidic also exited today's game with an injury (to his calf) and he'll likely miss two weeks.

These three injuries to their defense means that Manchester United could be shaky in the back heading into a tough early stretch in the EPL (vs. Tottenham and vs. Arsenal in the next two weeks).

"Rio has a hamstring injury. He will be out for six weeks,'' said Ferguson. "With Nemanja, we hope it is a nerve in his calf. He felt it prior to the game but he wanted to play. That may be a couple of weeks.''

The bright spot for Ferguson is the anticipated return of Patrice Evra from a knee injury against Spurs next Monday.

"We can always put Fabio on the right if we need to. We also have Chris Smalling, so we will get through,'' said Ferguson.

While I don't like Man U at all, I never root for injuries to good players (or anyone for that regard) so hopefully these guys all get back to the field in due time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

U.S. vs. Mexico 2nd half live blog

No substitutions for either team at halftime.

Bradley gets out in space but he's 1 on 4 and he can't dribble through that many people (nobody can that's not named Messi or Ronaldo).

Guardado tries to cross it but he hit it a little too far and Howard gobbles it up.

Salcido called offsides during a run forward.

Damn, De La Torre is 9-0-2 so far in his stint as Mexican coach.

Marquez almost scores on a header following a corner. It hit the side netting, thrilling all the drunk and or stupid fans in the crowd.

Haha apparently Castillo had three caps for Mexico in friendlies. Is it possible to give him back? Can't imagine why they'd let a guy of his incredible ability walk away.

dos Santos is in, Mexico can relax now. That storyline is over. De La Torre didn't start him in this pointless friendly! Oh the horror!

Donovan hits a great corner to Bocanegra, his header is powerful but right at Ochoa. That was the U.S.' first shot of the game, yikes.

No surprise, the old Mexican man doing commentary thinks Torres should have a bigger role.

First U.S. sub: Agudelo in for Buddle, Brek Shea in for Jones in the 60th mionute.

Hold the phone, Shea has the third-most goals in MLS. Look out world.

With Agudelo's first touch, he at least attacks Mexico before shooting way over the Mexican goal.

2nd Mexico sub: Arellano for Peralta.

Shots are 5-2 in favor of Mexico.

Good passing sequence by Mexico but Arellano shoots wide and over.

Shea looked to win a corner but he didn't get the seemingly easy call.

Marquez is the sub for Mexico, Javier Rodriguez is in.

Never heard one before but I think John Harkes just made a joke: regarding airline travel. Not bad John, keep it up.

Bermudez in for ; Robbie Rogers in for Michael Bradley.

Agudelo got loose in the box but he couldn't hang onto the ball before going down.

Haha, Rogers ties it up in the 73rd minute as Shea feeds him a great ball across the goalmouth. All he had to do was tap it in. (1-1)

Second international goal for Rogers, first assist for Shea.

Donovan and Torres combine for another near goal. The ball was played behind Torres.

After a good run into the area, Donovan gets taken down. That was a close one, could have been given a penalty.

Haha Darke drops a Elton John "Philadelphia Freedom" reference. Well done sir.

Rogers shoots over, Agudelo started another good rush.

I honestly didn't know a thing about Shea before this match but he's impressing me. His hair is awful but to look that silly you have to be a baller. Nice move forces a good save by Ochoa.

Hey Ricardo Clark is back! Torres out, Clark in. Ok performance by Torres, he clearly had few options tonight of guys that could play with his type of skill.

Wow. Agudelo plays a great through ball to Rogers, he gets pulled down by Torrado but he only gets a yellow card. Unbelievable, fouls don't get much more dirty and intentional than that.

Three minutes of added time. Clark bungles play and shoots well wide after some nice work by Donovan. One last time, Clark plays a pass a little behind Agudelo in the box.

That's it, 1-1. Fair result; Mexico dominated for most of the match but the U.S. finally woke up with about 20 minutes left in the second half. Shea, Rogers and Agudelo provided nice sparks off the bench and showed why they deserve more time (over Buddle).

All in all a positive debut for Klinsmann and his new squad. The next match is Sept. 2 vs. Costa Rica in Carson, CA.

Jurgen Klinsmann's Debut: U.S. vs. Mexico 1st half live blog

The U.S. lineup is Howard in goal, Cherundolo, Orazco Fiscal, Bocanegra and Castillo in the back. Jones, Beckerman, Donovan and Bradley in midfield. Torres and Buddle up front.

No Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey, they're in Europe playing with their clubs.

Mexico's lineup is Ochoa in goal, Juarez, Marquez, Moreno and Salcido in the back. Berrera, Torrado, Castro and Guardado in the midfield. Naelson and Peralta up front.

Chicarito is hurt for Mexico so he's not here and dos Santos is starting out on the Mexican bench.

Mexico has won the last three meetings with the U.S., including the Gold Cup final (4-2) six weeks ago in Pasadena, CA.

Mexico wins the first free kick, outside of the U.S. box. Salcido tries to cross it but loses his balance and it goes out for a U.S. goal kick.

Haha, Ian Darke says "Edison Buddle, who hasn't been seen since the World Cup." That's about right.

First U.S. chance, Donovan crosses to Jones but it's just out of his reach. Bradley started it with a good ball, nice run by Jones.

Mexico gives the ball away from the back but the U.S. kicks out. Ugly start.

Bob Bradley's record from 2010-11: 9-9-6. Thank you ESPN for that gross stat.

Some nice individual work by Donovan, dribbling through multiple Mexican defenders.

Castillo shoots wide but that one had no chance of going in. Howard gave it a customary dive but he didn't need to do that.

ESPN's Rob Stone reports that Bob Bradley is currently in Egypt and he'll likely be offered the Egyptian national team job. Happy times people.

Nothing is more overrated than talking formations in soccer. It really doesn't matter in almost every case.

First Mexican corner, they're starting to get some pressure now. Anti-climatic weird goal as a cross leads to a one-timer by Peralta (1-0 Mexico in the 17th minute). Michael Bradley was right on Peralta, unlucky play against the U.S.

Perrera with a nice cross cleared out by Cherundolo. The U.S. is on the ropes a bit here, they can't seem to sustain any possession (miss you Clint!).

Landycakes wins a free kick outside the Mexico box, good spot to hit a shot from. Torres' shot is blocked and doesn't get through, ugh.

It appears that Morgan Freeman is the referee tonight, guess he hasn't read a good script in a while.

First flop by Mexico draws a decent boo from Lincoln Financial Field.

Sept. 2 vs. Costa Rica and Sept. 6 vs. Belgium. The U.S. starts 2014 World Cup qualifying next June.

Announcers start talking about Stuart Holden, remember him? He's good, hope he gets well soon and starts playing soon for Bolton.

Cherundolo trips Guardado and both teams proceed to freak out over a pretty harmless foul. This is why people hate soccer fellas. The free kick is driven right into the side netting.

Haha I think John Harkes is a terrible commentator but when you're right you're right: he says Mexico is just better than the U.S. You got it Johnny.

Donovan needs four more goals to become the first U.S. player with 50 career goals. He has five career goals against Mexico in 13 appearances.

Cherundolo with one cross that's a bit too far then he gets another chance and it's too short.

Offsides Mexico in the box, pretty obvious as they received the ball without anyone around them.

In the 40th minute, Darke and Harkes start making excuses for the U.S. and saying they'll be better soon.

Juarez gets a yellow (unjustly) for a strong challenge with Beckerman. I think the ref just felt bad that Mr. MLS dreadlocks got shaken up on the play.

Castillo is terrible, just another awful U.S. fullback. 1 minute of stoppage time. Haha and the first half ends as Castillo passes it right to Mexico. Get him off the field Jurgen!

Well that was a steaming pile of dog poo. Win or lose, I'm putting no stock whatsoever into this result. The team has only been with Klinsmann for a few days, they're missing some of their best players and Mexico is very good. It's just the thrill factor of seeing Klinsmann on the sidelines and the hope for a brighter day with U.S. men's soccer.

U.S. Men's Soccer & MLS To Be Shown On NBC In 2012 Thanks To New 3-Year Deal

Since I don't work for a television network, I'm not one to usually get excited about broadcast deals but the U.S. men's national team along with MLS scored a big one today as NBC and NBC Sports network will show 49 MLS games and four U.S. men's game per year starting in 2012. It's all part of a wonderful three-year deal.

Today was already a big day for U.S. soccer with Jurgen Klinsmann set to coach his first game for the Americans against Mexico tonight at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Eagles). This lucrative television deal means that sputtering MLS will gain more exposure (which can only help it start to turn more of a profit and get better players) while the U.S. men's team will likewise gain more viewers across the country.

NEW YORK - Major League Soccer (MLS) and the NBC Sports Group today announced a three-year media rights agreement, which commences at the start of the 2012 MLS season. The partnership calls for 45 MLS games and four U.S. Men’s National Team contests to be televised live across both NBC and NBC Sports Network each season. This marks the first rights deal for the newly-named cable channel that will be re-branded from VERSUS on Jan. 2, 2012. The announcement was made today by MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber and Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.

“Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer,” said Lazarus. “MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms. Additionally, this agreement complements the partnerships that five of our regional sports networks have with their local MLS teams.”

Each season, NBC will broadcast two regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two appearances by the U.S. Men’s National Team, marking the first time four MLS matches will be broadcast on English-language network television since 2002. The NBC Sports Network will televise 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two U.S. Men’s National Team matches. All telecasts on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage. According to the agreement, the NBC Sports Group obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises.

“Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. “The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”

Featuring an exciting mix of players, including world-class stars such as Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Thierry Henry, MLS is one of the nation’s fastest growing sports properties. It has seen considerable growth across many metrics, including number of teams (10 clubs in 2004 to 19 in 2012) and new stadiums (two soccer stadiums in 2004 to having 15 of 19 clubs playing in venues built with soccer in mind, including new soccer stadiums in Houston and Montreal next year). This season, the League is enjoying the highest average attendance and largest number of corporate sponsors in its 16-year history.

Along with already-established MLS partnerships with five Comcast SportsNets (California, Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia), this agreement provides the league with coverage across the NBC Sports Group’s unique four-tier portfolio of assets: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks and digital platforms.

With the 2012 Olympics next summer, which is always covered on NBC, this seems like a logical move for the NBC executives to make as they'll build up some excitement for the product and then deliver the Olympics in London. Soccer in the Olympics is always one of the better competitions since along with a mostly U-23 roster, teams can send a few older superstar players to help the younger studs. The timing appears to be perfect for NBC and with any luck, MLS (which really needs it) and the U.S. men's national team will flourish under this new partnership.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hey Bob Bradley, How Do You Feel About Camels (The Mode Of Transportation, Not The Cigarettes)?

I guess the fact that Bob Bradley is a top candidate for Egypt's national team is a sign that the U.S. is held in a high regard not just in CONCACAF but around the world and that's a good thing of course.

Bob Bradley’s agent says the former U.S. coach is a candidate to lead Egypt’s national team.

Ron Waxman confirmed Egypt’s interest in Bradley in an email Tuesday, but did not give any further details. Bradley reportedly is among three candidates to replace longtime Egypt coach Hassan Shehata, who stepped down in June with the Pharaohs in danger of failing to qualify for the African Cup of Nations for the first time in 33 years.

Bradley was dismissed last month after going 43-25-12 in four-plus years as U.S. coach. He took the Americans to the Confederations Cup final—after beating Egypt 3-0 in group play—and the knockout round at last year’s World Cup in South Africa.

As I wrote when he was let go, Bradley seems like a good man and he's a decent coach. His time with the U.S. men had run its course though and the team, not to mention the entire system, needed a big jolt of energy which they hopefully received by hiring Jurgen Klinsmann.

Bradley will land on his feet and if he gets the Egypt job so quickly, he should consider himself lucky. Granted, who knows about the language barriers and culture shock but Egypt has built itself into one of the better African nations over the last few years (this latest African Cup of Nations notwithstanding).

Good luck Bob and wherever you end up, please don't try to nationalize Michael (Bradley). His work with the U.S. team is far from done.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Catching Up With The U.S. Men's National Team Before It Takes On Mexico

Just found a bunch of interesting tidbits about on the U.S. soccer men's national team's official blog ( ahead of its friendly with Mexico on Wednesday in Philadelphia. Rather than put up a bunch of short posts, I figured I would save our precious time and put them in the same place.

-Jonathan Spector signed a two-year deal last week with Birmingham City (which dropped down to the English League Championship.

Spector, 25, spent the last five seasons at West Ham and joins Birmingham on a free transfer after his contract expired this summer. A member of the 2010 FIFA World Cup team, he has 31 caps for the United States.

"I'm delighted to be here and to be part of this club," Spector told Birmingham City's official website. "It's a big club and I've heard a lot of great things about the manager Chris Hughton."
"I'm looking forward to start training and getting with the team as soon as possible. The first game is less than a week away now. So I'm trying to get myself fit and in contention."

The move makes him neighbors with U.S. teammates Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj, who play for Birmingham-based Aston Villa.

Much like the team, this is a move in the wrong direction for Spector but it makes sense because he has struggled the last few years with both his club and country. Maybe this will be the boost he needs to find his game again.

-Klinsmann's first coaching staff
As head coach Jurgen Klinsmann mentioned in his opening press conference, he is planning on bringing in a variety of different coaches for the next few months before settling on his future staff. Here's a brief intro to the first crew:

Martin Vasquez - Vasquez re-unites with Klinsmann after serving as an assistant coach at Bayern Munich. Currently he is the head coach and Director of Soccer Operations for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-16 and U-18 teams of the Real Salt Lake AZ Academy. One of only two players to represent both the United States and Mexico at the international level, he was the head coach of Chivas USA in 2010.

Thomas Dooley - A former U.S. captain and National Soccer Hall of Fame member who played in two World Cups and competed against Klinsmann in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, the German-American had a long professional career that included a Bundesliga and German Cup title with Kaiserslautern and a UEFA Cup title with Schalke 04. A member of the MLS Best XI as part of the Columbus Crew in 1997 and 1998, he went on to coach FC Saarbrucken in Germany before returning to the United States where he was part of the coaching staff for Pateadores that just captured the 2011 Development Academy U-17/18 championship.

Tab Ramos - Born in Uruguay, the legendary midfielder for the U.S. National Team played in three World Cups en route to earning 81 caps for the United States. Known for his flair and creativity on the ball, the Hall of Famer played professionally in Spain and Mexico before becoming the first ever signing for Major League Soccer, where he spent six seasons with the MetroStars in New York. Ramos founded NJSA 04, a club which is a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

Mike Curry - A goalkeeper coach with more than 37 years experience, Curry has trained goalkeepers at the club, state and college levels since 1974. A member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Goalkeeper Institute staff, he teaches courses at the regional and national levels and spent eight years with U.S. Soccer Development Academy club FC DELCO. Prior to his coaching career, he played collegiately at then Division II powerhouse University of Baltimore.

Mark Verstegen - One of the foremost leaders and innovators in athletic training, Mark Verstegen is owner and president of Athletes' Performance, which provides athletes with cutting-edge training based on the latest sports science. Vestergen handled the fitness preparations for the German National Team prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in which Klinsmann led the team to a third-place finish. Named the Director of Performance for the NFLPA in 2002, he is the author of Core Performance, which reached the top 25 on Amazon within six weeks of its release and has sold more than 100,000 copies.

That looks like a good mix of former star players and experienced coaches for Klinsmann's first U.S. match.

-Mexico's 20-man roster for Wednesday night
GOALKEEPERS (2): Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
DEFENDERS (7): Paul Aguilar (Club America), Efrain Juarez (Celtic), Rafael Marquez (New York Red Bulls), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres UANL), Francisco Javier Rodriguez (Stuttgart), Carlos Salcido (Fulham)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Javier Aquino (Cruz Azul), Israel Castro (Pumas UNAM), Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur), Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruña), Antonio Naelson Sinha (Toluca), Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul), Jesus Zavala (Monterrey)
FORWARDS (4): Omar Arellano (Chivas de Guadalajara), Pablo Barrera (West Ham United), Christian Bermudez (Atlante), Oribe Peralta (Santos)

You'll notice that Javier Hernandez aka Chicarito is missing from that list. The Manchester United star is out with an injury but other than him, Mexico will field the exact same roster that beat the U.S. 4-2 in the Gold Cup final in June. Barrera, Guardado and dos Santos had the goals for Mexico in that win.

-Chandler and Edu out, Rogers in
Timmy Chandler will stay with his German club (FC Nurnberg) rather than make the long trek to Philly. Maurice Edu picked up a left calf strain in a match for his club (Rangers) against Chelsea on Saturday so Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers will take his place.

Jozy Altidore Scores His First Goal For His New Club-AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)

I am a big Jozy Altidore fan but I'm also one of his harshest critics. He has all the physical tools to be one of the greatest strikers in U.S. men's soccer history. Still, after bouncing from club to club, it's time for him to A) get consistent minutes and B) produce goals if his career is ever going to take off and he doesn't become the latest Freddy Adu (pre-2011 Gold Cup)/Eddie Johnson cautionary tale.

So it's with a dose of cynicism that I present Jozy's first goal with his newest club, AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands). It came yesterday against PSV, routinely one of the top Dutch clubs.

The cross is perfect so Altidore doesn't have to do a whole lot except muscle the defender aside and head the ball in. Regardless, it's nice to see our guy get on the scoresheet. Fingers crossed that it's the start of something big this season with AZ Alkmaar.

PS Altidore won't be appearing Wednesday when the U.S. takes on Mexico in Philadelphia (Klinsmann's debut) but that's fine with us as long as he keeps doing this overseas.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Klinsmann Assembles His First U.S. Roster For The Mexico Match Next Week

We are less than a week away (August 10) from Juergen Klinsmann's head coaching debut with the U.S. men's soccer team next Wednesday in Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field against Mexico.

Today, Klinsmann named his 22-man roster for the friendly between the two blood rivals.

The most notable names that were left off were Jozy Altidore (who's still recovering from his hamstring injury from the Gold Cup) and Clint Dempsey (who's playing with Fulham in Europe and getting ready for another EPL season). Also, Alejandro Bedoya was curiously left off. Maybe they're just letting him get his feet under him with his new club, Rangers (Scotland).

“One of the goals of the roster for this game and moving forward is to create competition at each position,” said Klinsmann. “There are many players who are established as well as many players who will get opportunities, and we want there to be a healthy contest for spots on the roster. We will get a good look at where each player is as quickly as we can during the short time in camp, and we will finish with an exciting game against Mexico.”

The roster delivers a combination of experience and youth at virtually every position. In goal, Tim Howard enters with 65 caps to his credit and is joined by 20-year-old Bill Hamid, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy product who was the first D.C. United Academy player to sign with the first team. Two-time World Cup veteran Carlos Bocanegra is just seven games shy of reaching 100 caps. He will patrol the center of the park along with 2010 FIFA World Cup teammate Clarence Goodson, the newly named captain of Brondby in Denmark, and two young players in Tim Ream and Michael Orozco Fiscal. Hannover 96 captain Steve Cherundolo returns after an injury forced him out of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, while fellow Bundesliga-based right back Timmy Chandler is making his second appearance in a national team camp after debuting against Argentina in March. Chivas USA defender Heath Pearce and Edgar Castillo make up the options for the left side of the backline.

Central midfield is packed with experience, including four players from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Michael Bradley has nine goals in 59 appearances for the full team, with eight of his goals coming in official competitions. Maurice Edu comes from three-time defending Scottish Premier League champion Rangers, and Ricardo Clark and Jose Torres make their first appearance in the squad since the World Cup in South Africa. Jermaine Jones has reached double digits in caps for the U.S. after competing in his first official competition earlier this summer, and has rejoined Schalke 04 after a loan spell with Blackburn Rovers. Real Salt Lake contributes captain Kyle Beckerman and FC Dallas sends Brek Shea, who is currently in third place in scoring in MLS this season behind Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry as the 21-year-old has netted nine goals in 22 games.

The USA’s all-time leading scorer, Donovan leads the attacking corps with 46 goals in 146 international appearances. Donovan is the only player on the roster who has experience with the new coach, having played for Klinsmann in 2009 at Bayern Munich during a loan spell. Both Freddy Adu and 18-year-old Juan Agudelo are coming off significant contributions in the 2011 Gold Cup, Adu having started in the final against Mexico while Agudelo appeared in five of six matches. DaMarcus Beasley returns to the squad with 93 caps to his credit that include stints in the last three World Cups, and Edson Buddle travels from FC Ingolstadt after his great run of form in 2010 led to a spot in the team in South Africa.

A total of nine professional leagues in eight different countries are represented on the roster. MLS contributes seven players, while German-based players number six total from the top two divisions and the Mexico first division sends four. New York Bulls contribute two players to the roster, the most from any single club.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION - Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), José Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (5): Freddy Adu (Benfica), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy

I'm interested to see what Hamid, Castillo and Fiscal do (assuming they play) since I've never seen them before. Chandler definitely deserved a spot, hopefully he can build off his promising debut with the U.S. I can't get too excited about any other young guys that play in the MLS since my thinking is that if they were any good, they would already be out of the U.S by now.

It's nice to see Clark back in the fold, no idea why he fell out of favor with Bob Bradley after a nice World Cup 2010 performance. Ditto for Jose Torres. Finally, DaMarcus Beasley is back on the map after being MIA for the last few years (for the most part). Good luck trying to figure out who should start up front beside Donovan, I say it should be Freddy Adu.