Archive for October, 2008

Happy Birthday Diego!

October 30, 2008

Perhaps it is fitting that on Diego Maradona’s 48th birthday, his old club Napoli (which he led to two Serie A titles) is currently second in the Italian top flight, only behind Udinese on goal differential. At the same time the Argentina legend, who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title, has also been named the new national team coach.

He remains beloved in this city by the sea where the locals will tell you that he, not Pele’, is the greatest player of all. Whether the once great player is up to the task of guiding his team to glory at the 2010 World Cup remains to be seen, given his colorful and turbulent past off the pitch.

Franz Beckenbauer, who has been succesful as both player and coach seems skeptical, telling “Maybe this comes in time for Maradona so he can find a break from his turbulent lifestyle. Managing the team is completely different to playing in it. You have to be more responsible. The lifestyle is also important but Maradona’s life hasn’t really been tranquil by any means over the years. In any case I am happy for him and I am looking forward to meeting him when he comes here to see Di Michelis.”

Perhaps Fiorentina’s Alberto Gilardino was just giving a salute to Maradona last weekend when he did his best “Hand of God” imitation against Palermo. The goal counted but later led to a two-game suspension. Watch it here:

Of course Maradona’s original version to beat England’s Peter Shilton in Mexico City at the 1986 World Cup counted and led not to a suspension, but to a championship:

Still, one thing Maradona will command from the players immediately is respect, given his long list of accomplishments and his enduring touch on the ball (even at 48). The question is whether he can manage the side through qualification and to take Argentina to where they feel they rightfully belong (given their quality and pedigree); the World Cup final match.

Disney/ESPN To Buy Bundesliga Broadcast Rights?

October 26, 2008

An interesting development

While it could be tricky to work out within Germany, a succesful bid by Disney could make Bundesliga matches much more accesible to American audiences on ESPN.

Beckham Loan To Milan: Find A Comfy Spot On The Bench

October 24, 2008

OK, so the LA Galaxy will loan David Beckham to AC Milan so he can stay fit for duty with England’s team as they aim for World Cup qualification. After watching him spend so much time wither injured or back in England, I’ll be the Galaxy management are glad that Silvio Berlusconi will be picking up his salary tab for a few months.

Still, its hard to see where Becks would fit into a Milan scheme except on the bench. They prefer to play in a 4-3-2-1 formation, letting Kaka and Ronaldinho run off a lone striker such as Andrei Shevchenko. The only way Becks breaks into this lineup would if he bumped Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo or Massimo Ambrosini – I’m just not seeing it.

Look for Beckham to play the role of super-sub while helping the club to sell millions of new AC Milan jerseys, all the while trying to keep himself in England manager Fabio Capello’s good graces. Let’s just hope that when he returns to LA next spring, he shows up ready to play.

FIFA: Subotic Can’t Play For Germany

October 24, 2008

Borussia Dortmund’s 19 year-old Yugoslavian-born American defender Neven Subotic has been ruled ineligible to play for Germany by FIFA. German coach Joachim Loew took interest in Subotic after his explosion onto the Bundesliga scene this fall in a series of outstanding performances for BVB. So, instead of trying to grab another player through naturalization, Germany will need to look elsewhere for a new central defender.

The basis of the decision is that in 2005, Subotic had played in a U-17 match for the USA. So, after first participating in an international competition, he is ineligible to play only for countries of which he was already a citizen; Serbia or the USA (or possibly Bosnia). Once he plays in a full international match for one of these three countries, he is only eligible to play for them for the rest of his career.

So, will Subotic decide to line up alongside Oguchi Onyewu in central defense for the Stars and Stripes who appear to be cruising toward World Cup Qualification? Will Bob Bradley call him in for the USA’s next World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on November 19th?

Or, will he decide to cast his lot with the White Eagles, currently in a 4-way tie for second in a tough qualifying group which includes France, Romania, Austria, and current group leader Lithuania? We may find out soon if coach Radomir Antic calls him in for the November 19th friendly against Bulgaria.

Or, will he spurn both and suit up for Bosnia-Herzegovina, currently third in their qualifying group behind Turkey and Belgium? Whichever team he plays for, Subotic has proven that he can be an impact player right away.

Standard Wants To Keep Gooch Beyond 2009

October 24, 2008

Standard Liege’s American defender Oguchi Onyewu is out of contract in June 2009 and he has already expressed a desire to move to a bigger challenge. After the summer 2008 transfer season passed without an expected transfer, Onyewu ended up staying on at Liege.

While most observers figure Gooch will be sold during the January 2009 transfer window, word out of the Standard camp is that they still want to extend his contract beyond 2009. While its not clear which clubs (most likely in France) are interested in a mid-season transfer, its doubtful Liege will be able to offer a competitive pay package unless they pick up a new sponsor. Only time will tell.

Bradley Goes Distance As Gladbach Draws Bochum 2-2

October 18, 2008

Borussia Moenchengladbach are still searching for their winning ways but at least managed to get a point this week against VFL Bochum in a 2-2 draw. Gladbach’s American midfielder Michael Bradley played the full 90 minutes in a 4-4-2 system, providing the pass which led to his team’s first goal.

Szetela Scores Winner For Brescia

October 18, 2008

American midfielder Danny Szetela scored his first goal of the Serie B season in a 3-2 Brescia win over Triestina. Szetela’s scored the winner in the 82nd minute when Triestina’s keeper Michael Aggazzi’s poor clearance fell to an onrushing Szetela, enabling him to blast a shot home to make it 3-2.

The much needed win, only Brescia’s third of the season, moved Szetela’s club into 9th place with 13 points. Next week Szetela and Brescia will be looking to collect three points as they travel to lowly Modena which is hovering just above the relegation zone with five points after nine matches.

Elsewhere, Freddy Adu played 11 substitute minutes for Monaco after the team was already down 2-1, a score which stood until the final whistle. Carlos Bocanegra and Stade Rennais take on Auxerre in a Sunday afternoon match.

*The goal was also Szetela’s first ever goal for Brescia since joining the club last year.

Analysis: US Loss to Soca Warriors

October 17, 2008

Your faithful vagabond is under the weather this week so we’ll turn it over (one more time) to our friend Bob Wagman. See his analysis of the USA-Trinidad and Tobago match here.

USA Over Cuba 6-1

October 13, 2008

My internet has been down for a few days so I’ll send you over to my friend Bob Wagman’s excellent wrapup of Saturday’s US match against Cuba. Check it out here.

Bradley’s ‘Gladbach Coach Fired After Slow Start

October 5, 2008

Newly signed American midfielder Michael Bradley, who is still adjusting to a new team situation will soon need to adjust to a new coach. Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Jos Luhukay was fired today after a lackluster start to the Bundesliga season, topped by a 2-1 loss to 1FC Cologne yesterday, a match which featured numerous brawls beteeen opposing fans. Bradley was on the bench but did not play.

The Dutchman Luhukay was sent packing with the Foals dead last in the Bundesliga with three points and a minus nine goal differential after only seven matches. He was of course the coach that brought them back to the Bundesliga this year but he did not appear of to the task of coaching successfully at the next level.

Many saw it coming as Luhukay tinkered with the system each week, trying 23 different players in the lineup and leaving the team confused and unorganized. You’ve also got to wonder if leaving the new signing Bradley (who scored 15 in the Eredivisie last year) on the bench made the decision that much easier for the club’s management.

Sports director Christian Ziege will take over the reins until a new coach can be found. Luckily for Bradley, Ziege was sold on him from the start so his place should be secure. The big question at ‘Gladbach is whether they can turn it around and stay up in the Bundesliga. It seems to me that they would do well to pry loose American Oguchi Onyewu from nearby Liege at mid season to help them solidify a shaky defense. We’ll see.