Archive for November, 2008

Uruguay Suspends League After Weekend Fan Violence

November 19, 2008

While Uruguay’s national team takes on France tonight in an international friendly at the Stade Denis in Paris, their league’s first division matches have been suspended by the Uruguayan Football Association due to fan violence over the weekend. An official statement from the federation stated that “The Executive Committee has decided to suspend, as a preventative measure, the activity in the professional first division until further notice.”

The weekend the violence happened at the Jardines del Hipodromo stadium, in Montevideo, after home side Danubio topped Nacional 1-0. The win vaulted Danubio over Nacional for first place in the league and once the match was complete, enragged Nacional fans invaded the pitch and a melee ensued.

As you can see in the video below, fans from both sides were seen beating each other with iron bars and even the corner flags. Over 100 policemen were required to stop the violence, but no injuries or arrests were reported.

The last time such violence occurred in the Uruguayan top flight was in 2006, also in Montevideo, when a Cerro fan was stabbed to death in front of his family by rival Penarol supporters. It lead to a league suspension lasting several weeks.

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Bundesliga: Pearce Suspended For Two Matches

November 18, 2008

Hansa Rostock’s American defender Heath Pearce has been suspended for two matches for a vicious 64th minute foul he committed against Sidney Sam during his team’s 6:0 debacle against 1FC Kaiserslautern on Monday night.

Rostock came into the season with big plans to climb back to the First Bundesliga but now they’ll be fighting to prevent relegation to the third division. The club fired coach Frank Pagelsdorf after a slow start and has not fared much better under caretaker Juri Schlünz. There was talk of Thomas Doll or Lothar Matthäus being hired but now it seems no one wants the job. Meanwhile, the Hansa board announced last week that they “have a clear profile of what type of coach we want.”

Let’s hope for Pearce’s sake that they don’t take too long in their profiling efforts, otherwise, they’ll have a hard time living up to the club’s current motto: “Unsinkable since 1965.”

Pearce will miss the match against Greg Berhalter’s 1860 Munich and the following week against FC Augusburg. His next chance to play in Second Bundesliga action will be December 8th against 1FC Nuernberg, the former team of Joe-Max Moore and Tony Sanneh.

During the same match, Kaiserslautern’s American keeper Luis Robles kept a clean sheet in a solid 90 minute performance.

BRADLEY NAMES 20-MAN ROSTER FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIER

November 17, 2008

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications:

BRADLEY NAMES 20-MAN ROSTER TO PREPARE FOR FIFA WORLD CUP
QUALIFIER AGAINST GUATEMALA ON NOV. 19 IN COLORADO

Guatemala Faces Must-Win Situation in Order to Have a Chance to Advance to Final Round
Match To Be Broadcast Live on ESPN Classic and Galavision at 6 p.m. MT

CHICAGO (Nov. 16, 2008) — U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 20 players to train in advance of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala on Nov. 19 in Commerce City, Colo. Kickoff at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for the USA’s first-ever World Cup qualifier in the state of Colorado is set for 6 p.m. MT, and the match will be shown live on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

“This match gives us an opportunity to test many of our players in what will be a very hard game,” said Bradley. “Guatemala will certainly be pressing for a victory, and we want to end this round on a positive note. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is one of the finest soccer facilities in the country, and we are looking forward to our first appearance there.”

Brian Ching leads a mostly domestic-based group, the Houston Dynamo forward having amassed four goals in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni is the leading capwinner on the roster, the two-time World Cup veteran having 61 international appearances to his credit. He is joined by Rapids teammates Conor Casey and Cory Gibbs, who are both making a return to the national team fold after long absences. Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has made a career-high seven appearances for the full team this year, and is one of five players on the roster who represented the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan is one of five foreign-based players called into Colorado. The former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has posted two shutouts in World Cup qualifying so far. Former U.S. Olympic team members Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu return after making starts in the USA’s previous World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago. Troy Perkins and Clarence Goodson, both of whom were part of the training camp in Commerce City last week, round out the European-based contingent.

Three players on the roster are in search of their first cap with the full team, including the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year in Sean Franklin. He is one of three players on the roster to have earned that honor, along with fellow defenders Jonathan Bornstein and Michael Parkhurst.

In addition to Ching, there are two other players who finished in the top 10 in scoring in MLS this year. FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper finished one behind Golden Boot winner Landon Donovan with 18 goals, while Chris Rolfe scored nine for the Eastern Conference finalists Chicago Fire.

The U.S. has locked up first place in Group 1 of the Semifinal Round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, holding 12 points from five matches. The other participant from the group to advance will be determined on the final matchday, as Trinidad & Tobago holds a three point lead over Guatemala. The Guatemalans will be pressing for a victory against the U.S. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, needing a win to keep their dreams of advancement alive. T&T will be hosting Cuba on the same day.

The draw to determine the placement of teams in the CONCACAF Final Round hexagonal for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying will take place on Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. local time in Johannesburg. Teams will learn their opponents as well as home and away dates for all 10 Final Round qualifiers that will determine the three automatic berths for CONCACAF in 2010 in South Africa. The United States, Costa Rica and El Salvador have already advanced to the Final Round, with the remaining three teams to be determined on Nov. 19 on the final matchday of the semifinal phase.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire)

Bocanegra and Rennes Top Adu’s Monaco

November 16, 2008

Stade Rennais’ Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 and AS Monaco’s Freddy Adu came on in the 69th minute in a 2-1 home win for Rennes. Bocanegra was among the match’s most efficient players with 73% of his passes being successful. Adu had only a handful of touches in the late going but did manage to take a shot which went wide of the Rennes goal.

Monaco did well to maintain possession but continue to struggle to create dangerous scoring chances, producing only one shot on goal today. Their attack still seems static and without much creative flair.

The win put Rennes into 3rd place in Ligue 1 on 25 points while Monaco continue to struggle in 14th place with 16 points. Bocanegrea has established himself well as the mainstay of the Red and Blacks as they continue to pick up points at a respectable pace but are still five points shy of league leader Olympique Lyon.

Adu continues to struggle for minutes at Monaco, making it less likely the team will decide to take the buy option on his loan deal from Benfica. That said, the longer the team floats in the lower half of the table, the more pressure there will be on coach Ricardo Gomes to shake things up, especially in their lackluster midfield. Whether that shakeup leaves room for Adu remains to be seen.

Bradley Header Saves Point for ‘Gladbach

November 15, 2008

Michael Bradley’s Borussia Moenchengladbach had a real challenge today in trying to claw out of the relegation zone facing powerhouse Bayern Munich. The visitors jumped on top early on a 21st minute Luca Toni goal for a 1:0 lead. A 45th minute Bradley header from a Marko Marin free kick, which could have tied the game for the Foals, just missed sending both teams to the locker room with Bayern up 1:0.

In the second half, Bradley managed to get off a quality shot during the 57th minute which was well stopped by Bayern keeper Michael Rensing. Four minutes later, Marin nearly got ‘Gladbach on the board before Mark Van Bommel tracked back to deflect a shot from near the penalty spot.

In the 65th minute, Bayern’s Franck Ribery was taken down in the area and awarded a penalty which the French midfielder lashed in for a 2:0 lead. For the next 12 minutes, the Foals looked out of gas but seemed to find their stride again in the 77th minute and took the ball to Bayern. A 78th minute corner from Marin was flicked on by Alex Baumjohann, then punched in by Rob Friend to put ‘Gladbach on the board 2:1.

Not three minutes later Baumjohann send a gorgeous back-heel through to Roberto Colautti in the area where the Israeli international held well against Bayern defender Christian Lell before sending a soft crossing ball to an onrushing Bradley who headed it home to make it 2:2.

Bradley went the full 90 minutes and scored his first league goal of the season as he seems to be finding his stride under new coach Hans Meyer. This is good news for the Foals, who are now in 14th place on 11 points but still in a dogfight to get well clear of the relegation zone. They’ll face their next challenge next week in Gelsenkirchen against FC Schalke 04.

After the game, Bradley told the local press: “The team worked well together to earn the point – we worked really hard. At the end, getting the tying goal was such a great feeling. Roberto fought hard and set it up perfectly. We never stopped running, working hard, and fighting for the ball for the whole 90 minutes. And it to play in the kind of great atmosphere we had today, that is why you play soccer.”

Photo courtesy of Borussia.de

Check out Bradley’s goal here:

Update: USA Loses Out On Subotic? Not So Fast!

November 15, 2008

Fox Sports is citing a Serbian news source indicating that Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic has decided to play for Serbia, not the USA. I’m skeptical of this report for a few reasons; first, if Subotic was going to make such an announcement, his club would be among the first to release the news (and BVB insiders tell us that Subotic has said nothing about any such decision). Secondly, similar reports have been floating around in the Serbian media for the past six months and none have turned out to be true. So, my spidey sense tells me its not a done deal.

Of course his father, Zeljko Subotic, told Goal.com last month that he would prefer his son played for the White Eagles when he said: “My heart tells me that Neven should decide on Serbia…for me, I would get much satisfaction out of seeing him playing in a Serbian jersey.” Despite his father’s wishes, which must weigh heavily on the young superstar’s mind, there is still no official announcement from Subotic, his club, nor the Serbian football association.

If this rumor turns out to be true, US fans will surely be sad to see yet another promising national team player get away. That said, this fan understands that Subotic may choose to honor his family over his adopted homeland. If given the choice, what would you do?

In any case, LFV would love to see Subotic in USA jersey but if he chooses Serbia, we wish him the best. Meanwhile, Subotic just scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in Dortmund’s 4-0 romp over Eintracht Frankfurt this afternoon.

Marseille: Renewed Interest in Onyewu?

November 14, 2008

Back in January 2007, Olympique Marseille offered Standard Liege’s Oguchi Onyewu a three-year deal which he spurned in favor of a six-month loan to Newcastle United. Gooch’s roll of the dice did not work out as the Tyneside club decided not to acquire him so he ended back at Standard where he has helped the club win a championship and make some noise in European competition. This past summer, Paris Saint-Germain had taken an interest in Onyewu after the premature retirement of Lillian Thuram but no deal was made.

Now Ouest-France is reporting that Marseille is once again interested in acquiring Onyewu during the January transfer window. They are also looking at Glasgow Rangers’ Madjid Bougherra Lille’s Adil Rami, and Anderlecht’s Roland Juhasz. They may also be looking at Marcos Angeleri of Argentine side Estudiantes. While Onyewu is reportedly still primarily interested in a transfer to England, there seems to be continued interest in him in France.

Others, like longtime expat soccer observer Keith Richardson (who is also the English translator for Borussia Dortmund’s web site) would like to see Gooch playing in Dortmund alongside Neven Subotic in central defense. In this scenario, if Subotic decides to play for the USA, the USA’s twin tower central defense would be playing together every week in the Bundesliga – not a bad thing for USA fans.

The question for many of these clubs is whether to acquire Gooch in January or to wait until next summer and get him on a free transfer.

Donovan in Munich: What Happens Next?

November 14, 2008

After a few days of training with Bayern Munich this week, the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan seems to have made a believer out of Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness who after watching him in practice told the Rheinischer Post “He can play.”

But even though Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann was already sold on the 26 year-old American and Hoeness now appears to be a believer, its still not clear if a deal will be in the offing. The question is not whether Donovan can contribute to the team, its whether he is a better option than Zenith’s Andrey Arshavin, Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez, or Fiorientina’s Adrian Mutu – all in the running to replace the soon-exiting Lukas Podolski.

The German press are calling a move for Donovan “risky” and are having a field day picking through his background with one (Rheinisher Post) even downplaying his recent 20 goal season by saying “…but the American soccer league is only at the level of third division football in Germany.” But even Donovan had to offer his own blunt assessment of MLS when he told the Sueddeutsche Zeiting: “On each team, there are at most 3 players that could hold their own in the Bundesliga and Bayern would easily win the championship.” He also told Spox.com that “All players in the Bundesliga are better than in the USA, from number one to number 22…many in the USA can’t play proper soccer.”

Another newspaper, Munich’s TZ , asked the question with its headline “Are You Good Enough For Bayern Mr. Donovan?” A few even think he can be purchased from MLS for around five million euros ($7 million) which would make him a cheaper option than Arshavin, Gomez, or Mutu – provided he can deliver the goods. This kind of press may not make it easy to explain if FC Hollywood signs this player from the real Hollywood and would put Donovan under a microscope from the beginning if he is signed.

But neither Klinsmann nor Hoeness are the type to make their decisions based on press clippings and both have no issues taking risks, especially Klinsmann. A decision is expected by the time his “guest training” ends next week and it could even be a loan until March, something Donovan did not rule out in an interview with Spox.com. When asked yesterday by the press if he thought he was ready to play for Bayern, Donovan answered in clear German ” Ich bin bereit.” (I’m ready)

Israeli Soccer Coach Fired Via Text Message

November 14, 2008

The business side of the beautiful game can be pretty ugly but this one takes the cake.

A Ruud Interuption

November 13, 2008

Real Madrid hit man Ruud van Nistelrooy will miss the rest of the Primera season after undergoing knee surgery in the US yesterday.

The Dutchman had injured an exterior meniscus in Champions League match against Juventus last month but had seemingly recovered and was playing again until last week. As luck would have it, it was in another Champions League match when he could play nine minutes after the pulsating pain returned to his knee.

Like just about every top athlete facing an injury requiring surgery, he was sent to Colorado to see Dr. Richard Steadman, who had operated on Van Nistelroy before in 2000 during his PSV Eindhoven days. This time around, while performing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Steadman found a partial break of Van Nistelrooy’s kneecap plus further damage to his ACL and cartilage. Instead of a quick ‘scope and recovery, the Real Madrid ace is looking at a six to nine month recovery time – missing the rest of the season.

This news comes at a critical time for the defending Spanish champions, who are currently fourth in the league and just crashed out of the Copa Del Rey on Tuesday, losing to lowly Real Union on away goals. They are already missing winger Arjen Robben, out for six weeks with with a torn muscle, as well as holding midfielder Mahamadou Diarra – out for the next two weeks. Coach Bernd Schuster, already under pressure for the team not meeting the board’s high expectations, will be under even greater pressure in the coming weeks.

Reserve team forward Alberto Bueno looks likely to step up to the first team until the end of December but Real will likely look for a striker in the January transfer window. They seem to have their eyes on Manchester United’s Carlos Tevez, which may prove to be a bridge too far since the Reds are in their own Premiership dogfight and can’t spare the talent.

At the same time, this news comes hot on the heels of Jose Mourinho’s house cleaning announcement at Inter so either Hernan Crespo or Adriano could find themselves with a chance at the Bernabeau.