Archive for August, 2008

PSG: Onyewu’s New Home?

August 31, 2008

As the final hours tick away on this summer’s transfer window, the faithful of Paris Saint-German seem to think they’ll see American Oguchi Onyewu suiting up for them very soon. PSG has been searching for a new starting defender after Lilliam Thuram retired due to a heart condition and attempts to find a quality replacement had failed. Monaco and Marseille (the club he almost signed with in 2007) had also previously expressed an interest with Marseille dropping out of the running last Thursday. According to today’s Le Parisien, Monaco is opting for Swiss international Patrick Müller so if Gooch ends up in France, PSG will probably be his new home.

Still, much could change in the coming hours so stay tuned…

In other news, American Danny Szetela went the distance for Serie B side Brescia in yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Empoli.

Subotic: Has The US Lost Him Already?

August 28, 2008

After last night’s excellent showing by Oguchi Onyewu in Standard’s 1-0 Champion’s League loss to Liverpool, his stock is peaking at just three days before the transfer deadline. Another American defender in Europe is also on the rise as young Neven Subotic continues to show he is a force to be reckoned with in the Bundesliga. This weekend, he marked Bayern Munich’s Italian international Luca Toni out of the match in a 1-1 draw at Subotic’s Borussia Dortmund. His play this year indicates Subotic has confidence and tactical competence beyond his years – yet he continues to improve.

While Subotic continues to impress and Onyewu appears poised to make a jump to the next level, this pair could evolve as a high quality central defense for the United States – one which could have a very positive impact on the US team making some noise at the 2010 World Cup. A pairing of the 6’4″ twin towers of Onyewu and Subotic could form the nucleus of a back line opponents would dread. Alas, Onyewu is a national team regular while Subotic has yet to be called up.

A month ago, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle (a friend of LFV) reported that US coach Bob Bradley “refused to take any questions regarding Subotic’s situation.” So, it remains unclear whether US coach Bob Bradley is already considering calling up Subotic or has already tried and been rebuffed. Word on the street in Germany is that Subotic was unhappy with with his US youth team experience and was actually pining to play for Germany (which is looking less likely).

Whispers here in Europe also indicate that one coach who does seem interested in calling up Subotic is new Serbian coach Radomir Antic, who took the reins of the White Eagles last week. The former Real Madrid boss has been charged with guiding Serbia to World Cup qualification from a tough group which includes France and Romania. After Serbia’s disappointing showing at the Olympics, their federation is looking for new blood and Subotic’s work this season has been too hard to ignore. Antic has already gone after Barcelona’s uncapped teenage striker Bojan Krkic (who can play for Serbia or Spain) so don’t expect him to be shy about Subotic.

So, if US Coach Bob Bradley and the USSF cannot soon convince Subotic to play for the Stars and Stripes, it may be too late to bring in this rising young star. After losing Giuseppe Rossi to the Azzurri last year, I’m afraid letting another starlet go could be more that the US faithful could bear.

Last winter Subotic said he would make a decision about which national team to play for; the USA, Serbia, or Bosnia-Herzegivina. While it is not clear yet what he decided, since Serbia plays the Faroe Islands on September 6th, and France four days later – we may find out Subotic’s decision soon enough.

Monaco: Still Interested in Bradley?

August 26, 2008

Yet another twist in the Bradley transfer saga as the deadline approaches in just five days. After there seeming to be much interest from Monaco for Heerenveen’s American midfielder Michael Bradley a few weeks ago, they then focused on Betis Seville’s Marko Babic as a new offensive option. This morning here in Europe, word has come out on that ASM has not agreed terms on Babic and is now taking another look at bringing Bradley on board.

Looking over at the state of play on Standard Liege’s American defender Oguchi Onyewu, PSG looks less likely as an option as word came out last night that the Paris side wants to acquire defender Jean-Alain Boumsong from Olympique Lyon.

Onyewu: I Deal With Reality

August 23, 2008

Standard Liege defender Oguchi Onyewu, seeming to be completely disgusted with the transfer process, told US reporters in Guatemala that “I only want to live in reality, and the reality of the situation is that I play for Standard. I enjoy it and what happens, happens.”

Meanwhile, the buzz coming from cognoscenti back in the States links Onyewu to Serie A side Catania, which is still looking to replace top defender Juan Manuel Vargas after selling him to Fiorentina. In what appears to be a late house cleaning, they also just sold defender Andrea Sottil to Rimini with three more midfielders and defenders on the auction block. The Sicilian club had a pretty porous defense last season and boss Walter Zenga is looking to shore up the back line.

Another coach looking to anchor the back line is Cologne boss Christoph Daum, who at one time was stalking Gooch like a teenager in puppy love. Its not clear now if Daum is still interested, given the club’s transfer focus on bringing in another attacking player.

All that said, I still think Onyewu will either stay at Standard to win another championship or he’ll be playing somewhere in France where there has been sustained interest in him since 2007. Plus, its hard to see tiny Catania outbidding PSG or Lyon, two of the bigger teams which still seem to be in the hunt. PSG was also looking at Dynamo Kiev’s Senegalese defender Pape Diakhaté, who is also being pursued by Monaco and Rennes (where Carlos Bocanegra is in desperate need of a quality partner in central defense). If Diakhaté ends up at PSG, perhaps Rennes will opt for Gooch, provided there is enough time left to make a deal – the clock is ticking. Two Americans at Rennes? Who knows.

Also when asked in Guatemala, Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley seemed mystified by the entire transfer process, telling US reporters: “I have no real idea what is going on but my agent tells me something may happen next week.” Greg Seltzer seems to think its Everton, Celtic, or Middelsbrough (a club which always seems to be linked to an American player but never seems to close the deal). Again, my spidey sense seems to indicate he’ll head be heading to Germany (Bayer Leverkusen?) but probably not Hamburg which found its replacement for Van Der Vaart in Mladen Petric, just purchased from Borussia Dortmund. In about a week, we’ll know the answer for sure.

There have also been whispers here on the boot that a few Serie B teams have taken an interest in Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni but its not clear if any of them are in a position to acquire him now or wait until mid season, when he would be available on a free transfer. Back in July, Serie A side Cagliari had also taken a discreet interest in Mastroeni but given the club’s modest budget, they may also be waiting for midyear.

Elsewhere today, American Jozy Altidore replaced Giuseppe Rossi in the 67th minute of Villarreal’s preseason match against Italy’s Udinese. Altidore’s side lost 1-0.

NOTE: In case you are waiting for the fourth and final installment of The Evolution of American Soccer Players in Europe, I’m waiting for the smoke to clear on this transfer season before finishing it up.

Update: Adu Named To Squad For Match Against Caen

August 23, 2008

It looks like AS Monaco’s American newcomer Freddy Adu may see his first Ligue 1 action tonight against Caen after being named to the 18 man squad. Fellow newcomer Dario “The Pitbull” Simic, a Croatian defender, transfered in from AC Milan, was also named to the Monaco squad in its third week of competition where they are in 4th place at 1-0-1 with 4 points.

The other 16 named to tonight’s squad of Les Monégasques are: Roma, Ruffier – Mongongu, Nkoulou, Modesto, Muratori – Pokrivac, Leko, Perez, Gosso, Meriem, Diaz – Ménez, Pino, Nimani, and Bakar.

At the same time, Toro News is predicting American Danny Szetela will be in the starting lineup for Brescia in tonight’s Coppa Italia match with Torino.

UPDATE: Freddy Adu came on in the 86th minute in a 1-1 draw with Caen before a half-full stadium of 9,000 spectators. Monaco’s Frédéric Nimani was the main man for the home side, scoring a 51st minute goal and constantly causing problems for the Caen defense. Next week Monaco travels up to the Alps for a battle with Ligue 1 newcomer Grenoble, a team which is curently in third place while ASM sits in fifth.

Danny Szetela started and went the distance for Brescia in a 2-1 loss to Torino to end their Coppa Italia campaign.

Szetela: Back At It With Brescia

August 21, 2008

American Danny Szetela, just back from playing in the Olympic soccer tourney in China, is back into the swing with his Serie B club Brescia. Last night he started and played a solid 75 minutes in a 4-1 preseason friendly win over Darfo (…don’t ask). Coach Serse Cosmi substituted five of his starters in the half to look at new talent and rest his players for Saturday’s Coppa Italia match.

Indications are that Szetela has a good chance of starting Saturday against Serie A side Torino to determine who makes it to the fourth round of the hunt for Italy’s second most coveted club trophy.

Also, hats off to the US ladies for their gutsy 120 minute performance to win the gold medal twice in a row, beating a quality Brazil side by playing team ball.

Unlike most of you reading this blog, I’ll be waiting for a DVD in the mail to see the US men’s win over Guatemala 1-0 last night (or this morning Italy time). My friend Bob Wagman, who was at the game, has a nice detailed report on on Soccer Times.

Lazio and PSG Links to Onyewu: Nothing But Rumors?

August 20, 2008

Since the news and rumors linking Oguchi Onyewu came out over the weekend, I’ve had my feelers out (and been scouring the Italian and French papers piling on my desk) to confirm them both -to no avail.

The first report linking Onyewu to Lazio came out at about 1PM (Western Europe time) on Sunday by the Lyon, France branch of Eurosport and we all did our share of speculation. Since then, while Lazio has been very public about the players it is pursuing, Onyewu does not appear to be one of them. There was interest back in 2007 but any talk of current interest from Lazio remains an unconfirmed rumor. While I’d love to see Gooch playing in Serie A, where I think he could help Inter in their time of need, its not looking very likely right now.

On the PSG rumor, Matthieu Margueritte of French football website Footmercato cleared it up when he reported yesterday that Onyewu’s agent, said: “It is only one rumour. Paris did not come into contact with the player, nor with me.” Some have mentioned that another French club may be in the hunt but the other club has never been named. Again, Ligue 1 is a competition where I think Onyewu could do very well and given his agent’s strong connections to French football, I still think a move to France may be in the works – its just not clear where that could be. Lyon anyone?

So, the only confirmed interest in Gooch this summer remains at FC Koeln and Fulham but in the transfer game, for every two clubs you know about, there are usually 3-4 more quietly in the mix. In any case, LFV hopes to see Gooch, who is not only a great player but a very good guy, get into a situation where he can achieve great things.

Speaking of transfer rumors, things seem to be quieting down on Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley but friend of LFV Greg Seltzer breaks the situation down better than anyone.

In other news, Freddy Adu has arrived back in Monaco and is eager to play in Saturday’s match against SM Caen, telling France Football; “I’m ready to play.” Monaco president Jérôme de Bontin also seems excited to finally have his new signing available when he told the Monaco press today; ” I am convinced that his presence will have an significant impact on the level of our offensive sector. He will be able clearly to give a new dimension to our attack.”

All of this chasing transfer rumors has left little time to think about tonight’s (or here in Naples, tomorrow morning’s) US Men’s World Cup qualifier against Guatemala. Luckily, my good friend Bob Wagman, who is in Guatemala for the match, has a great preview here.

Ferrari, Perugia Knocked Out Of Coppa Italia

August 18, 2008

The Coppa Italia tournament already started 10 days ago with first round matches between the clubs at Lega Pro (Serie C) level and below. Two weeks ago, American striker Gabe Ferrari played 47 minutes as Perugia topped Lumezzane 1-0 to earn a berth in the second round. But Perugia’s Coppa Italia campaign came to an end this weekend as Ferrari saw 71 minutes of action as Perugia fell to Serie B side Ascoli 3-1.

Tonight a nine-man Perugia dropped a friendly to Frosinone 2-1 in a match which saw three red cards passed out between both sides. Neither Ferrari nor his primary competition at forward, Sergio Ercolano played in the match.

Playing without Danny Szetela, just returning from Olympic duty for the USA, Brescia won their second round opener (Serie B teams join in the second round) in a 2-1 win over Foligno. They next face Serie A side Torino this weekend in third round action. It remains to be seen whether Brescia coach Serse Cosmi will decide to play Szetela in Saturday’s match.

Edu To Rangers, Subotic and Gibson Score, Pearce On The Move?

August 17, 2008

Various UK news sources, including Sky Sports and the Globe and Mail are reporting that the final details are being worked out in a deal to bring American Maurice Edu (picured to the right) from Toronto to Glasgow Rangers. After returning from Olympic duty in China, Edu was supposed to be in Glasgow yesterday for Rangers’ home opener against Hearts to iron out a deal worth a reported $5 million. Rangers boss Walter Smith confirmed the reports but cautioned that it all “depends on a work permit so it will be a few days before we know about that.”

If the deal goes through, the young central midfielder will become the third American to pull on the distinctive blue and white striped Rangers jersey after former midfielder Claudio Reyna and current left midfielder DaMarcus Beasley.

At the same time my buddy Greg Seltzer tells us that some Bundesliga clubs may be interested in acquiring Hansa Rostock’s American defender Heath Pearce. If this is the case (and Greg is usually right on), then my spidey sense tells me that interest may coming from none other than Borussia Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp (who recently brought American Neven Subotic from FSV Mainz with him). After BVB’s star left back Dede was injured in yesterday’s 3-2 win over Leverkusen (in which Subotic scored the match winner in the 49th), Dortmund is in dire need of an experienced left back. Dede will have knee surgery on Monday and will miss at least half of the season. Thus, a Bundesliga-experienced left back like Pearce could be exactly what BVB needs.

In the Second Bundesliga yesterday, LR Ahlen’s American striker Grover Gibson (pictured to the left) scored a 56th minute goal to put his team to a 1-0 lead in a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

American defender Steve Cherundolo and his Hannover 96 squad had a rough Bundesliga start in a 3-0 loss to Schalke 04, giving up two goals in the first seven minutes. Hannover’s other American, defender Sal Zizzo, did not play.

Still waiting on Freddy Adu’s arrival, AS Monaco tied FC Nantes last night 1-1. After a disappointing midweek 2-1 UEFA Cup loss to Norway’s Stabaek, Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 minutes in central defense as his Stade Rennais side lost to Ligue 1 newcomer Grenoble 1-0. FC Lorient midfielder Andrew Jacobson did not dress as his team held French league juggernaut Olympique Lyon to a 0-0 draw.

Lazio: Renewed Interested In Onyewu?

August 17, 2008

Now the real circus begins as news items slowly leak out about teams interested in American defender Oguchi Onyewu. After interest from PSG came out of Paris a few days ago, this afternoon Eurosport is stating that Lazio has renewed its interest in Gooch. Like a number of Serie A clubs, they are in the market for a central defender but this is the first time Onyewu has been mentioned since January. They recently signed Czech Republic defender David Rozehnal from Newcastle and seem to be looking for new options after loaning out two Romanians; left/central defender Radu Stefan and central defender Cosmin Moti to Dynamo Bucharest.

Gooch’s athletic style is well suited to the Italian game but if he ends up at Lazio, he’ll need to be a bit more clever against Serie A forwards who are experts at selling a foul in the penalty area. Whether or not any renewed interest from Lazio is serious, I’ve got to hand it to Onyewu’s agents, they sure know how to stir up interest in their client.

More on Onyewu’s last transfer saga (January 2007) available here.