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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brek Shea Hits The Lottery: Signs 4.5 Year Deal With Stoke City Worth $3.96 Million Dollars

I have never really understood the allure of U.S. midfielder Brek Shea; he's a decent enough player that has never scored a goal in 15 appearances for the United States. Today is not the time for hating though since before the January transfer window closed, he went from FC Dallas (MLS) to Stoke City where he signed a 4.5 year deal worth $3.96 million dollars with the English Premier League club.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis told the club's official website: "It's fantastic news that we have been able to push through a deal.
"Brek is a very, very exciting player, and one who we firmly believe could go on to become an outstanding player for this football club.
Shea is the Potters' first signing of the January transfer window.
"He has terrific pace, a very good left foot and is capable of scoring goals," Pulis said. "He has all the tools needed to be a success here."

Shea turns 23 on February 28 so he's still very young with plenty of potential. He had played for Dallas since 2008 but he is recovering from surgery on his right foot in November. He will find a few familiar faces in the dressing room, on the practice field not to mention on the road and at games: fellow American Geoff Cameron, the defender has started 21 games for Stoke (6-12-6) who finds itself in 10th in the EPL. American midfielder Maurice Edu is also on the team but he's only played in one game (as a substitute) this season so I'm not sure what the deal is with him.

It will probably take Shea time to rehab his foot some more, not to mention adjust to the pace and quality of play in England but this is the biggest thing to happen for his young career. As always, we love to see American players test themselves in the best leagues possible (ie. not MLS). Good luck Brek!

Monday, January 7, 2013

U.S. Women Put A Bow On 2012: Abby Wambach Named FIFA Player Of The Year, Sundhage World Coach Of The Year

2012 has been officially over for a week now but the U.S. women's national team still had plenty to celebrate today from last year. Striker and co-captain Abby Wambach was named the 2012 FIFA Women's Player of the Year while former head coach Pia Sundhage took home the 2012 World Coach of the Year for women's soccer.

This all took place this afternoon at the 2013 Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich, Switzerland. Brazil's Marta for some reason came in second place while Wambach's teammate Alex Morgan finished in third. It's hard to believe but this is only the third time a U.S. woman has won her sport's biggest individual award: Mia Hamm captured it in 2001 and 2002-the first two years the award was handed out. Coaches and captains from women's national teams across the globe voted for their top three players, who received five, three and one point respectively.

“I’m very, very surprised,” Wambach said. “Individual honors only happen if you have great teams and great people who have given you the chance to be here. Not only do I think Marta and Alex could have won, but many other players could have been here as well. Thanks to FIFA, thanks to U.S. Soccer and thanks to all the fans and my family for putting me in this position. I don’t think of myself as the best player in the world, just a player who plays on the best team in the world.”

Sundhage is the first U.S. women's head coach to take home the trophy, which began in 2008. She came in third that first year then second in 2011. She beat out Japan's Norio Sasaki (who won in 2011) and France's Bruno Bini. Sundhage is the current head coach of her home country-Sweden.

Some interesting numbers for Wambach, courtesy of
Last year, Wambach was chosen as one of three finalists for the award along with Marta and Homare Sawa of Japan, who won the award. Wambach finished third in the voting in 2011, the first time she was in the final three for the award, although she finished fourth in the voting in 2004 and 2006, fifth in 2007, was one of the final 10 in 2009 and was fifth again in 2010.

Wambach, who is on the cusp of catching Hamm on the world’s all-time scoring list, currently has 152 career international goals with 27 of them coming in 2012.

Her 27 goals in 2012 was the second-most prolific scoring year of her 12-year National Team career.

Wambach scored a goal in the first five matches of the 2012 Olympics, a feat never before achieved, and was the only U.S. player to start all 32 games during the year.
She currently has 198 career caps and could hit 200 in the USA’s second match of 2013 against Scotland on Feb. 13 in Nashville, Tenn.

Wambach tied for the team lead in scoring with six goals during the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament last January and also had five assists over the five games despite only playing 285 of the possible 450 minutes.

She scored in 20 of the USA’s 32 matches this year and had seven games in which she scored twice, including the final two games of the year (4-0 and 4-1 victories against China). The USA is 97-2-7 all-time in matches in which Wambach has scored a goal.

As co-captain of the U.S. team, she helped lead the American women to a 28-1-3 overall record in 2012, with the only loss (avenged twice during 2012 including the Olympic gold medal game) coming to Japan in March at the Algarve Cup. Wambach wasn’t on the field when Japan scored the game-winner in that 1-0 match.

Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has won five U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Awards (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011).

Wambach, Morgan and their team officially kick off 2013 on February 9, when they face Scotland in Jacksonville, Fla for a friendly. It will be new head coach Tom Sermanni's first match with the U.S.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jurgen Klinsmann Calls In The Unofficial MLS All-Stars To Face Canada In Houston

If you've already made plans on January 29, don't worry about not catching the U.S. men's national team's friendly vs. Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Looking at Jurgen Klinsmann's 25-man roster that he called to training camp in California starting tomorrow, it's clear that this is a game best caught on DVR or maybe reading about online.

Of the 25 guys, 21 of them currently play in MLS which is about all you need to know. Basically, this is the JV roster (for the JV game) before the Varsity returns to face Honduras on February 6 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier. The makeshift squad will train together before leaving for Houston on January 27, the Canada match is set for a 9 p.m. ET start on ESPN2.

“There is a tremendous amount of talent in the player pool. We follow these players very carefully, and the group coming in is the next line to challenge the players ahead of them in the National Team,” said Klinsmann. “This is absolutely a huge opportunity, and we’re looking forward to working with them. We are getting ready for the friendly against Canada, and also the big World Cup qualifier in Honduras, so these are going to be an important few weeks of preparation.”

GOALKEEPERS (3): Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (9): Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Connor Lade (New York Red Bulls), Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin), Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes), Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (out of contract), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Joshua Gatt (Molde), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA), Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Edson Buddle (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

I'm not even joking when I tell you that I have never even heard of at least half these players. That's because I'm a soccer snob and I can't be bothered with MLS, sorry. I remember Hamid, Morales, Beckerman, Bedoya, Diskerud, Feilhaber, Gatt, Zusi, Agudelo, Buddle, Johnson and Wondolowski from previous U.S. games.

Johnson leads in goals (14) and caps (44) for this inexperienced bunch. In fact, eight of them are looking for their first cap: Beitashour, Beltran, Besler, Bruin, Hall, Lade, Morales and Morrow. Additionally, eight players on the roster are 23 and under. Agudelo, the first Development Academy alum to play for the senior team, is the youngest at 20.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Clint Dempsey Scores His First Goal At White Hart Lane For Tottenham, In Their 3-1 Win Vs. Reading

Predictably, it's been a big adjustment for American midfielder Clint Dempsey as he went from being Fulham's top star in 2011-12 to a part-time starter, part-time substitute for Tottenham. Through 15 games for his new club, I think that he is starting to figure out his role for the third-place team in the English Premier League.

This afternoon, Dempsey rung in the New Year with his third goal of the season for Spurs in a 3-1 win vs. Reading. It was Dempsey's first goal at White Hart Lane-their home field. In 15 appearances, he has three goals and three assists. He came on as a substitute in the 75th minute and scored the third goal for Spurs (that made it 3-1) in the 79th minute.

The goal is far from a classic by Dempsey since it took a deflection off a Reading defender's foot. However, you have to note that he must still have plenty of confidence to even attempt an audacious shot like that.

Up next for Tottenham, they host Coventry on Saturday (10 a.m. ET) in an FA Cup match. Their next EPL opponent is at Queens Park Rangers on January 14 (3 p.m. ET).