Archive for December, 2008

Finally! Dempsey’s Long Awaited Breakout Performance

December 28, 2008

Your loyal vagabond is off skiing in the Alps so we’ll turn this weekend’s recap over to LFV friend Ives Galarcep, who has a nice piece on Clint Dempsey’s breakout performance for Fulham.

Also, our Amsterdam connection Greg Seltzer goes one better and provides videos. Check them out here.

It was also a banner day for American skiers today with five Americans finishing in the top ten in the downhill at Val Gardena. Bode Miller finally got off the schneide and onto the podium this year finishing second to Austria’s Michael Walchhofer.

Advertisements

Canadian Ace Signs For ‘Gladbach

December 26, 2008

Michael Bradley’s Borussia Moenchengladbach side is making some shrewd deals this winter to keep themselves afloat in the Bundesliga during the second half of the season. Canadian vet Paul Stalteri, who last played in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen, has been signed from Tottenam Hotspur. The versatile 31 year-old can play in defense or midfield and his playing style is uniquely suited to the forceful play of the Bundesliga. He has been out on loan to Fulham this season and his deal with Gladbach will keep him at the club until 2011.

Gladbach had also expressed interest in Standard Liege’s American defender Oguchi Onyewu but now it appears that they’ve settled for his central defense partner Dante (from Brazil). This move could make it even more difficult for the club to now sell Onyewu, unless the price is right.

Gladbach also signed Belgian keeper Logan Bailey and Czech midfielder Tomas Galasek. American fans may remember the veteran Galasek as the hard-tackling holding midfielder for the Czech Republic during their 3-0 win over the Stars and Stripes during the 2006 World Cup.

Marseille Still Eying Onyewu

December 26, 2008

Olympique Marseille coach Eric Gerets is still keen to possibly sign Stantard Liege central defender Oguchi Onyewu. According to France Football, Gerets was at Standard’s recent UEFA Cup match against Sampdoria to observe Onyewu, who scored in his team’s 3-0 win.

Gerets is looking for help to strengthen his team’s central defense which has been a disappointment, despite the club’s current fifth place standing in Ligue 1. Their defensive softness was most vividly displayed last weekend in a 3-0 loss to Nancy. During that dismal performance, the central midfield and defense did not communicate well and L’OM was overall weak in one-on-one challenges. Observers have noted that this year’s edition of L’OM is strong on paper but mentally weak. The addition of Onyewu, a player Gerets referred to as “intense and strong” could be just what the team needs to challenge for one of the league’s top places this season.

Any move for Onyewu would likely be tied to the fate of central defender Ronald Zubar, a player once linked to Arsenal and Olympique Lyon but who has had a disappointing season. The trick for Gerets is whether he decides he can bring the once-promising French U-21 player back into form or sell him off and go after Onyewu.

But L’OM is also interested in Onyewu’s teammate Milan Jovanovich to strenghen their attack. So, talks between the two teams won’t necessarily mean that Gooch is in play although a package deal is remotely possible. With a price tage estimated at 12 million euros, Jovanovich may be too pricey for Marseille so they may settle for bringing in veteran striker Henrik Larsson from Helsingborg (for an estimated 5 million euros).

Its Official: Subotic To Play For Serbia

December 24, 2008

Well, its official now that Neven Subotic has decided to play for Serbia and has informed both the US Soccer Federation and the European press. Its a shame that this rising defensive star won’t suit up for the Stars and Stripes but I’m not really that bothered by it given the wave of talent we have coming forward. Our central defense is still very healthy with Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra playing some of the best soccer of their careers right now.

When I look at the quality of the US U-23 and U-20 players coming up these days, it is obvious that enough talent will be available to make up for the loss of players such as Subotic. Our Olympic team had enough quality last summer to have won the gold medal – something we couldn’t always say in the past. Instead of European clubs hiring our proven vets, they are scooping up our young talent – can anyone say Altidore, Adu, Bradley, Zizzo, Szetela, Bernardo, and soon Kljestan, Wynne, and others?

I know some of you will want to blame Thomas Rongen, who reportedly rubbed Subotic the wrong way – please don’t. Rongen is a respected coach because he knows the game well, trains his players hard, and calls them like he sees them. Besides, he is Dutch – a people known for their blunt honesty and disdain for doublespeak (yet another reason to love them). Does anyone really think if Rongen had given Subotic the “Barney” treatment he would be suiting up for the USA? Please!

So my fellow US soccer fans, let’s wish Neven the best of luck playing for his father’s homeland and not get too whiny over this development. There are still lots of hungry young players busting their tail every day for a chance to one day pull on that US jersey (and bring home some silver for a change). Let’s focus on supporting them.

Kljestan in Milan – And Playing In The San Siro!

December 22, 2008

Sorry folks but it does not look like Sacha Kljestan is in Milan for talks with either of the city’s two powerhouse clubs, AC and Inter. Instead, he is in Milan to play for the Ambassadors of Peace team in a charity match against the Iraqi national team. Kljestan didn’t show any jet lag and was quite active in midfield during the second half, causing problems for the Iraqi defense.

The event was organized by the group Un Goal Per La Pace (A Goal For Peace) and the proceeds will go to aid the children of Iraq. AC Milan coach Carlo Anceloti’s Ambassadors of Peace team ended up beating the young Iraqi side 2-1.

Now, it remains to be seen if Kljestan takes a detour out to Bergamo for a chat with Atalanta (a side which has been interested in him), or jumps on a plane and heads home for Christmas. Of course, that trip home could always make a stop elsewhere in Europe on the way back…

Beasley’s Car Vandalized in Glasgow

December 22, 2008

Now this is just plain cold. It looks like he is the fourth Rangers player to have his car vandalized this way. Too bad they picked a guy who has only made a handful of appearances this year.

No wonder Da Beas’ may be be interested in a move to someplace warm like Osasuna, Espanyol, or Wolfsburg (where he can see more playing time and keep his BMW in one piece).

Where Are They Now? Melchior Arnold

December 21, 2008

This is our first installment of a new series of short articles on former players and what they are doing now that their playing days are over. This time, its Melchior Arnold, an American defender/midfielder who in recent years was playing for Swiss sides Lucerne, Lugano, and later Chiasso before retiring from the game. He then went over to Korea where he was an assistant coach at Pusan before moving on to a career as a life coach and soccer consultant.

I started with Melchior because these days he is living the true vagabond lifestyle touring the world on a journey which would make Jack Kerouac look like a homebody. Right now he is somewhere on the west coast of India.

You can follow his travels here.
Is there abother former player you are curious about? Let us know and we’ll hunt them down.

Sacha Kljestan Closer To A Deal In Europe?

December 21, 2008

Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan has been on the radar of more than a few European clubs since his strong showing at last summer’s Olympic Games. A few Dutch and German clubs have reported interest in the young American along with Moncao, Zenith St Petersburg, and Greek side Piraeus.

Word out of LA this weekend is that Kljestan is about to board a plane headed for Milan. What is not clear is whether he is going for talks with a nearby club, catching a connecting flight to Monaco, or playing in a charity match which could raise his profile even higher on this side of the pond.

If we recall the Courtney Rule that for every known European club interested in a player, there is at least one more quietly working a deal in the shadows, don’t be surprised if Kljestan is drawing more attention south of the Alps.

Sorting Out The Onyewu Transfer Rumors

December 19, 2008

It seems every few months we need to debunk a few transfer rumors about where Oguchi Onyewu could be going if Standard Liege decides to sell him in January. As we’ve reported before, there has always been strong interest from France (Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Marseille in particular) but little has come of this interest.

There has also been interest from nearby Borussia Moenchengladbach, which is struggling to stay up in the Bundesliga this season. If Gladbach has any chance for Onyewu, it would not be until next summer. Another nearby Bundesliga club, 1FC Cologne was also interested but whether they still have Gooch in their cross hairs remains to be seen. So, the French clubs appear to be the front runners (barring any English club which could swoop in, most likely Fulham).

Right now, Marseille’s number one target for central defense is Fiorentina’s Brazilian Manuel Da Costa. Gooch is also on their short list, along with Galatasaray’s Servet Cetin and Atletico Minerio’s Leandro Almeida. Fiorientina are keen to secure a Champion’s League spot and may not be ready to let go of Da Costa, leaving Onyewu and Cetin as the most likely options.

PSG never truly solved their central defense problem after the sudden retirement of new signing Lillian Thuram due to a heart condition. Onyewu could certainly fit into the side well but given Standard’s strong showing in the Jupiler League and UEFA Cup competition this year, the club will drive a hard bargain before they give up the man who has become the team’s talisman.

In short? Still few facts but lots of rumors.

More Subotic Rumors

December 19, 2008

Local paper Il Mattino is reporting that SSC Napoli is close to acquiring Neven Subotic from Borussia Dortmund. The 20 year-old defender seems to be part of Napoli’s plans to strengthen the squad after securing a Champions League berth during the home stretch of the season. He is expected at Castel Volturno in June where your loyal vagabond will be sure to have a word with him….if he shows up. Given the number of unfounded rumors which find their way into the local papers, I’ll believe this one when the clubs make an official announcement.

And guess who may actually be coming to Napoli (and could play alongside Subotic in central defense)? None other than hometown boy Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 World Cup MVP currently under contract with Real Madrid. Current word in Napoli is that he may show up a January transfer to play alongside little brother Paolo Cannavaro who currently plays central defense. The idea that a dream central defense of the hometown Cannavaro brothers could be spoiled by signing Subotic also tells my spidey sense that he may not be coming to town.

Fabio has made it clear he’d like to finish his career in Napoli and the sputtering Real Madrid may want to let the ageing Italian international go to make room for new talent. If Subotic actually does arrive in June, it could get crowded talent-wise in central defense. Its not clear yet how coach Edy Reja would organize the influx of talent but one thing is clear, Napoli’s ambitions for the coming year are clear.

While the local papers are referring to Subotic as a “young American player,” Serbian coach Radomir Antic is now saying that the defender has committed to play for the White Eagles and will make his debut in February against Cyprus. Its hard to tell if this claim is true because Subotic has yet to make an announcement himself and he has been stating for months that he won’t decide on that matter until the end of the season. While it is plausible that he may have changed his mind in the midst of the Napoli deal, I remain skeptical on this one until we hear it from Neven himself.