Archive for March, 2009

Slowing Down For A Bit

March 25, 2009

As you’ve probably noticed, your loyal Vagabond is slowing down for a bit since my father passed away last Sunday. We’ll be up and running again soon but in the meantime, you can find great soccer updates on the Friends Of LFV links on the left side of the page.

Bernardo Scores Against Ancona

March 22, 2009

In Italian primavera (reserve) action, Vincenzo Bernardo played in the second half of Napoli’s 5-0 romp over Ancona, scoring one goal and assisting on another.

Coaching Change At Napoli Could Benefit Bernardo

March 17, 2009

After a superb five year coaching stint at Napoli, Edy Reja brought the Partenopei from the depths of Serie C all the way back near the top of the Serie A table. He did so with shrewd purchases and strong attacking football – all with a budget dwarfed by the bigger clubs in Italy.

But in 2009 with whispers of Champions League in the air, Napoli’s tires went flat with an eight game winless streak and an unsettled clubhouse. Sometimes the one who got you where you are isn’t necessarily the one to take you to the next level so Napoli’s management opted to replace Reja with former AC Milan great Roberto Donodoni.

Of course Reja was the one who took a shine to young American primavera striker Vincenzo Bernardo last fall after watching him score against his first team while causing some unexpected trouble for his defense in practice. Reja had the club sign Bernardo to a professional contract and has since had the New Jersey native train with the first team almost every day.

Now with Reja out of the picture, we’ve got to wonder what this will mean for Bernardo’s future chances at Napoli. In January, the club turned down several loan offers from Serie B clubs as well as teams in England, Belgium, and Romania since they wanted an ironclad deal that he would play (and were even willing to provide financial incentives to ensure he saw plently of playing time). Instead, the 19 year old remained at Napoli training with the first team while making occasional appearances for the primavera (reserve) side.

When asked about the new coaching situation at Napoli, Bernardo stated: “I’m grateful to coach Reja both for the chance with Napoli and for all I’ve learned from him. I’m looking forward to learning from Coach Donadoni and I remember watching him back he he was playing for the Metrostars.”

Word out of the Napoli camp is that Donadoni has seen Bernardo in training with the first team and it appears he is remaining with that group for now – a good sign.

As Napoli’s chances for earning a Champions League and UEFA Cup positions start to fade, the chances that Bernardo could actually suit up at least once for the Napoli first team seem to be increasing. When teams hit the end phase of the season well clear of the relegation zone and out of the running for a European spot (the limbo zone), managers are more likely to experiment with young players and to start laying the groundwork for the future. After last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Reggina (which was nearly a loss before Ezequiel Lavezzi saved a point), Napoli now appears more firmly entrenched in the limbo zone.

While this does not mean Donadoni is ready to start experimenting yet, don’t be surprised to see him give a few more young players a runout in the San Paolo as the season fades. Whether one of them is Bernardo remains to be seen but hey, you never know.

Bradley’s Two Goals Lead Gladbach Past Cologne (Video)

March 14, 2009

Michael Bradley has found his scoring touch again and all signs are that he is not letting it go anytime soon. Tonight against 1FC Cologne, he opened up a 1-0 lead for Borussia Moenchengladbach with a left footed tap from a Marko Marin pass in the 25th minute (see Morin’s brilliant run in the video below). Later, with Gladbach up 3-2 in the final minutes, Bradley scored again on an 87th minute penalty – this time with his right foot.

Check it all out here:

Bradley now has five goals in 18 appearances and tonight’s 4-2 win helped Gladbach inch closer to escaping the relegation zone. Currently, they are in 16th, with 22 points and will have a chance to leave the drop zone next week with a win against 15th place VFL Bochum. Realistically, Gladbach could vault as high as 12th place by the end of the season, provided Bradley, Marin, and Alexander Baumjohann keep producing.

U.S. CLINCHES BERTH IN UNDER-20 WORLD CUP WITH 2-0 VICTORY OVER EL SALVADOR

March 11, 2009

BACOLET, Tobago (March 10, 2009) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team secured a place at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 2-0 win against El Salvador on Tuesday evening in their final Group A match of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Bacolet, Tobago. The 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup will be held from Sept. 24-Oct.16 in Egypt. The trip to Egypt marks the CONCACAF-record 12th appearance for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the seventh straight.

First-half goals from Brek Shea and Tony Taylor combined with Brian Perk’s third shutout in as many games provided the U.S. with a 2-0-1 record in group play and the top spot in Group A. The U.S. advances to the semifinals where they will face the second-place finisher from Group B, which rounds out play on Wednesday night in Trinidad.

The kickoff time for the semifinal will be determined after the conclusion of the Group B matches. Honduras, who defeated Jamaica 4-0 in the other Group A game of the night, clinched second place in the group and also advanced to the World Cup. The other two CONCACAF berths will come from the top two finishers in Group B.

The U.S. finished the game with only nine players after Shea received his second yellow card in the 60th minute. Shea’s first yellow came in the 26th minute after a foul on Diego Jose Chavarria. In the 60th minute he was shown a second yellow when the referee judged him to have tripped up a Salvadorian player on a 50-50 ball. With only nine players against El Salvador’s full squad, the U.S. was able to hold on for the shutout victory. Jorge Flores was sent off in the 84th minute on a straight red card for a foul that occurred away from the ball.

It was the first time that the U.S. defeated El Salvador in the U-20 qualifying tournament outside of the United States. The U.S. evened their record against the Central American side all-time in qualifying at 3-3-1.

“Even though we only needed a tie tonight, we wanted to be aggressive,” said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. “We did a very good job in the first half of playing together and scoring the two goals. We played three tough games and put ourselves in a position to get to Egypt, which we did. We were able to determine our own fate in this game and I couldn’t be happier with this team as they showed a lot of character through some adversity tonight.”

The game started out at a high pace, with the teams exchanging possession in the early stages. El Salvador got the first good chance of the night in the 12th minute when Fabricio Alfaro unleashed a well-struck shot from long range that looked destined for goal, but Perk responded in time to make the lunging save.

From that point on, the U.S. took control of the game, forcing several corner kicks and winning dangerous free kicks in El Salvador’s final third, but it was a nice build-up in the run of play in the 30th minute that gave them the lead. Brian Ownby, who provided tireless effort down the right wing all night, received a lofted pass from Dilly Duka, cut around his defender and struck a driven cross into the penalty area. Jared Jeffrey dummied the ball to force El Salvador goalkeeper Diego Cuelller to over-commit and leave his net wide open for Shea to easily place the pass inside the far post. Taylor entered the game in the 20th minute, marking his first international appearance, and immediately created one of the numerous dangerous chances he would have on the night, flicking a header just off target.

Five minutes before halftime, Taylor had another opportunity and this time he didn’t disappoint to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Peri Marosevic slipped a through ball behind El Salvador’s back line and into the box, providing the speedy Taylor time to take a touch and look up before slotting the ball inside the far post. Ownby, who was named ussoccer.com Man of the Match, continued his spectacular play into the second half, creating two opportunities early on. In the 47th minute, Ownby pounced on a deflected ball and ripped a first-time shot that went just high of Cuellar’s net, and three minutes later smacked a hard shot that deflected off a defender and nearly snuck into the goal.

The two teams combined for 44 fouls during the game, but after the U.S. went down to 10 men in the 60th minute they were content to possess the ball and maintain the lead. With rough play continuing, the U.S. went down to nine men in the 84th minute and therefore played with four defenders, four midfielders and no forwards to close out the game. With 12 FIFA U-20 World Cup appearances, the U.S. has qualified more than any other CONCACAF nation, but has never won the regional crown. In 2005 and 2007, when CONCACAF qualifying was held as two groups at two separate venues, the U.S. has won their group. In the previous three editions in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the U.S. qualified for the World Cup as the second-place finisher in their respective group.

U.S. UNDER-20 MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F USA 2 0 2 SLV 0 0 0 USA – Brek Shea (Brian Ownby) 30th minute USA – Tony Taylor (Peri Marosevic) 40

Lineups:
USA: 24-Brian Perk; 4-Sheanon Williams, 22-Gale Agbossoumonde, 2-Kyle Davies (capt.),11-Jorge Flores; 15-Brian Ownby, 8-Jared Jeffrey, 10-Dilly Duka (5-Aaron Maund, 82), 23-Brek Shea; 9-Peri Marosevic (7-Danny Cruz, 69), 14-Sam Garza (13-Tony Taylor, 21) Subs not used: 1-Sean Johnson, 6-Amobi Okugo, 18-Josh Lambo, 12-Bryan Arguez, Subs not available: 3-Anthony Wallace, 16-Billy Schuler Head coach: Thomas Rongen

SLV: 1-Diego Andres Cuellar, 2-Cesar Antonio Lopez, 2-Andres Eduardo Menendez (14-Herbert Arnoldo Sosa, 77), 4-Moises Xavier Garcia (capt.), 6-Juan Carlos Alas, 8-Diego Jose Chavarria, 9-Andres Alexander Flores, 11-Ricardo Jose Orellana (13-Irza Romel Santos, 66), 12-Mark Lester Blanco, 15-Fabricio Alfaro (17-Gilberto Arnulfo Baires, 70), 20-Jaime Enrique Alas Subs not used: 5-Alexander Enrique Mendoza, 10-William Antonio Maldonado, 18-Oscar Daniel Arroyo, 19-Jorge Luis Moran Subs not available: 7-Irving Arnulfo Flores, 16-Nelson Ismael Rivera, Head Coach: Jose Norberto Huezo

U.S. UNDER-20 MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM DRAWS HONDURAS 0-0 TO STAY ON TOP OF GROUP A AT CONCACAF U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP

March 9, 2009

BACOLET, Tobago (March 8, 2009) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team played to a scoreless draw against Honduras in Group A action on Sunday night at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago.

The draw keeps the U.S. atop of the group with four points. Jamaica, after a 2-1 win against El Salvador, has three points, Honduras has two points and El Salvador has one. All four teams are still in the running to advance to both the semifinals of the tournament and the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

The U.S. controls its own fate and can secure advancement as one of the top two teams in the group with a win or tie against El Salvador on Tuesday, March 10. Kickoff for the USA’s final group match is 7 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET). Before the U.S. kicks off, Jamaica and Honduras will play their final group game and the match could have major implications for the Americans. If those two teams tie, the U.S. would also be able to advance with a loss to El Salvador.

“As we had anticipated, the game against Honduras was very tough,” said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. “We are happy that we were able to put ourselves in a good position to determine our own fate heading into our last game against El Salvador.”Honduras kept the U.S. under pressure throughout the game and in just the fifth minute, Roger Rojas nearly gave the Central Americans the lead. Mario Martinez, who was dangerous on the left wing throughout the game, hit a low driven ball across the goal mouth. Rojas got a foot to it but ussoccer.com Man of the Match Brian Perk made a great reaction save, the first of many for him on the night, to keep the game scoreless.

The U.S. was able to regroup during a break in play in the 35th minute when the stadium lights went out, leaving the venue completely dark. Following the 10-minute delay, the U.S. came out firing, creating some of their best opportunities of the night. Sheanon Williams created three dangerous opportunities with his long throw-ins, but Honduras did well to defend in their own goal area to clear them away. Brek Shea earned a U.S. free kick in the 36th minute, setting Dilly Duka up from about 25 yards, but Duka’s shot missed the target.

Continuing the pressure, Peri Marosevic set up Jared Jeffrey by holding the ball up and laying it off to the midfielder about 20 yards from goal. Jeffrey smacked a one-timer that went high over the net, leaving the game scoreless heading into the half. Similar to the start of the game, Honduras came out of the locker room firing. This time it was Erick Salvador Andino who ripped a shot from long range that forced Perk into a one handed save as he was able to tip the ball over the crossbar. Honduras would finish the game with 11 corner kicks. In the 60th minute, midfielder Billy Schuler, who had entered the game just minutes earlier, was issued a straight red card for a tackle against Jose Israel Fonseca, forcing the U.S. to play a man down for the remainder of the game.

Despite being down a man, second-half substitute Brian Ownby was able to spark the U.S. attack with his speed down the right wing. In the 70th minute, he dribbled through a pair of Honduras defenders and played the ball across the goal looking for Shea, but it was just out of reach. Honduras had an opportunity to take a late lead when Jose Francisco Valladares surprised the U.S. defense by hitting a shot from long range that just missed the far post. In stoppage time, a pair of corner kicks were cleared out by the U.S. defense just seconds before the final whistle ended the game scoreless.

The match was the eighth meeting at the U-20 level between the USA and Honduras in CONCACAF qualifying. Honduras has won half of the encounters, while the United States has been victorious just once.The U.S. will be looking to secure a berth in a record seventh-straight FIFA Under-20 World Cup. The 2009 edition of that tournament will be held from Sept. 24-Oct.16 in Egypt.

The U.S. has also clinched the top place in Group A and will advance to the semifinals on March 13 at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad, against a Group B opponent to be determined. Group B consists of Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago. The third-place game and final will be held on Sunday, March 15. With 11 FIFA U-20 World Cup appearances, the U.S. has qualified more than any other CONCACAF nation, but has never won the regional crown. In 2005 and 2007, when CONCACAF qualifying was held as two groups at two separate venues, the U.S. has won their group. In the previous three editions in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the U.S. qualified for the World Cup as the second-place finisher in their respective group.

Lineups:

USA: 24-Brian Perk; 4-Sheanon Williams, 22-Gale Agbossoumonde, 2-Kyle Davies (capt.), 3-Anthony Wallace; 8-Jared Jeffrey, 10-Dilly Duka, 12-Bryan Arguez (16-Billy Schuler, 53); 7-Danny Cruz (15-Brian Ownby, 58), 9-Peri Marosevic, 23-Brek Shea Subs not used: 5-Aaron Maund, 6-Amobi Okugo, 11-Jorge Flores, 13-Tony Taylor, 18-Josh Lambo Subs not available: 1-Sean Johnson, 14-Sam Garza Head coach: Thomas Rongen

HON: 1-Francisco Javier Reyes; 3-Angel Gabriel Castro, 4-Wilmer Crisanto Casildo, 5-Jose Israel Fonseca, 7-Mario Roberto Martinez, 8-Reinieri Joel Mayorquin (capt.), 10-Erick Salvador Andino, 11-Roger Fabricio Rojas (19-Jose Francisco Valladares, 83), 13-Ronald Edgardo Martinez (6-Esdras Isai Padilla, 54), 16-Johnny Harold Leveron, 20-Alfredo Antonio Mejia Subs not used: 2-Porfirio Andres Boquin, 12-Jose Alberto Mendoza, 14-Cristhian Josue Altamirano, 17-Erick Ernesto Zepeda, 18-Julio de Jesus Ocampo, Subs not available: 9-Julio Ernesto Canales, 15-Antony Ruben Lozano Head Coach: Eugenio Emilio Umanzor

Szetela, Brescia Fall To Rimini 1-0

March 7, 2009

Young American midfielder Danny Szetela played the second half of Brescia’s 1-0 loss to Rimini in Serie B action tonight. Brescia is currently in 6th place in Serie B with 46 points – three points out of the promotion zone.

Brescia’s enduring problem this year has been its finishing and this week’s result is just another example. The midfield is strong and well organized but Lombardians tend to choke once they have posession in and around their opponent’s penalty area. Brescia has enough quality to make the jump to Serie A, but this lack of scoring punch has been the story of their season. If they can’t find their scoring touch soon, Brescia can look forward to spending another year in Serie B.

Rennes Fans Vote Bocanegra Mr."Sex On Legs"

March 7, 2009

You couldn’t make this one up…

Courtesy of Ligue 1:

Carlos Bocanegra’s flawless displays at left-back for Rennes this season have won him many admirers, but it appears that the Californian’s surfer-boy good-looks have also not gone unnoticed.

The 29-year-old American has been voted the Breton club’s most sexy player in an Internet poll, and to celebrate his victory, all female spectators at Rennes’ match with Auxerre on Sunday – which is also International Women’s Day – will be given an eight-page publication with photos and a biography of the USA international.

Donovan to wrap up Munich tenure and rejoin Galaxy in MLS

March 6, 2009

Bob Wagman has a great piece on Landon Donovan’s return to MLS over at Soccer Times. Chcek it out here.

Arena: That’s Madness!

March 4, 2009

You’ve got to hand it to LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who is not one to sit quietly and let the Beckham circus distract his new club any further.