Archive for June, 2009

Fiorentina, Palermo Enter The Race For Onyewu

June 28, 2009

According to press reports from Italy and Belgium, two Italian Serie A clubs are interested in acquiring American central defender Oguchi Onyewu. Fiorentina and Palermo now join Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Fulham, Besiktas, and Fenerbahce for the 6’4″ player who is available on a free transfer from Standard Liege in July.

Personally, I’d love to see him go to Fiorentina, a club which always plays with a good attacking style and appears on the verge of regaining a potentcy not seen since the Batistuta era.

The Viola had been aiming to sign Barcelona’s Mexican defender Rafa Marquez but since he signed a new deal with the Spanish champions on Thursday, Onyewu has emerged as an option. Their other option is Napoli central defender Fabiano Santacroce – a player also targetted by the deep-pocketed Juventus. This entire scenario also indicates that Juve could end up taking a look at Onyewu if Napoli (a club normally reluctant to sell key talent) decides to keep Santacroce.

The Gooch connection with Palermo looks less likely to result in a a serious bid since the club just made an offer for Sao Paolo central defender Andre Dias and a deal appears to be in the making.

Onyewu has been drawing ever more attention for his dominant play in Belgium’s Jupiler League and strong performances at the Confederations Cup, in particular for his heroic defensive efforts alongside Jay DeMerit in the USA’s 2-0 win over European champions Spain.

If Gooch can turn in another such performance tomorrow in the final against Brazil, expect the list of interested clubs to grow and don’t be surprised to see a few Champion’s League trophy contenders on the list.

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Still Speechless

June 24, 2009

USA beats Spain 2-0 to make it to the Confederations Cup Final.

Livorno Crushes Brescia’s Serie A Dreams

June 21, 2009

Livorno crushed Danny Szetela’s Brescia side 3-0 in the final leg of their promotion playoff and will return to Serie A next season. Livorno’s win capped a 5-2 aggregate win in the Serie B playoffs. Lingering injuries kept Danny Szetela out of the side which will remain in Serie B for at least one more season. Szetela’s loan deal to Brescia expires at the end of June and its still not clear whether he’ll stay with the club, move back to Racing Santander, or be picked up by another European side.

Francesco Tavano, Alessandro Diamanti and Martin Bergvold were the goal scorers for Livorno, which returns to the top flight after finishing the 2007-08 Serie A campaign bottom of the table.

US Soccer: Which Way Ahead?

June 19, 2009

In case you’re wondering why your loyal vagabond has yet to comment on Team USA’s woes at the Confederation’s Cup, I’m watching the matches again and trying to put some emotional distance between these events (and see how they respond against a strong Egypt side) before offering my views on where we stand and where to go from here.

In the meantime, what do you think? Do we need a change of direction, leadership, or both?

Are we developing the kinds of players we need or are we churning out players with big hearts but little imagination or technique?

Have your say in our comments section.

Brescia Draws Livorno 2-2 in Promotion Playoff

June 16, 2009

American midfielder Danny Szetela did not play in Brescia’s 2-2 draw with Livorno yesterday, the first leg in a home-and-away series to determine who will play in Serie A next year.

Given that the away goals rule does not apply and the higher seeded team (Livorno) advances if the goal aggregate is tied, Brescia faces a must-win situation on the road next week at Livorno.

Americans Score Three, But Lose To Italy 3-1

June 16, 2009

Ugh!

Great job by Tim Howard!
Carlos Bocanegra – please get well soon!
Landon Donovan – please stop taking free kicks. I have yet to see you create something dangerous with one. But, please keep taking penalties.
Jozy Altidore – good work, keep it up!
Michael Bradley and Oguchi Onyewu – help is on the way and his name is Jermaine.
Bob Bradley – please take Phil Schoen’s advice and give the young creative kids a chance. Otherwise, I predict your stint as the US team’s coach will end in summer 2010.

More Great Soccer Writing

June 13, 2009

Its been about six months since we’ve featured some great soccer writing so here are a few as we start the summer.

Sometimes great soccer writing can be found in the business pages as Bloomberg London’s Christopher Elser shows us this week in an insightful piece on the big gamble Real Madrid is making with its future with some of its current transfer deals. Elser does a fine job of reminding readers that far from being a rich club, Real Madrid is now so mired in debt that if Ronaldo and Kaka do not significantly up the club’s revenues, it may start to resemble a teetering US bank considered too big too fail.

I contrast Elser’s piece with a recent contribution by the AP’s Jim Litke constrasting traditional US sports club owners with the wheelers and dealers of European football. Its always refreshing when someone can translate European soccer phenomena into terms American non-soccer fans (like Mr. never-played-sports-in-his-life Jim Rome) can understand…OK, maybe not Jim Rome (unless we get Jim Everett to make him read it). I’d love to see Jim do a follow-up article on how those European wheeler-dealer owners manage to do so well without acting like American sports team owners who blackmail cities (and their taxpayers) to build them a new stadium, lest they move to another city.

Finally, LFV reader Kevin Quinn passed along Al Needham’s 1998 World Cup diary which he tells us pushed him from being a casual fan into becoming an “obsessive one.” Reading Al’s passionate commentary, I can see why.

So I Guess Chelsea Won’t Be Spending Much This Year

June 13, 2009

…since Abramovich just bought a huge yacht for $550 million. Buying the world’s largest yacht, complete with a helipad and its own submarine, doesn’t exactly leave much money to buy Franck Ribery from Bayern – leaving the door open for Real Madrid to swoop in.

Szetela, Brescia On The Brink

June 13, 2009

American midfielder Danny Szetela and his Brescia teammates have a chance to earn promotion to Serie A if they can get past Livorno in a home and away playoff series which starts tomorrow.

The first leg will be played June 14 in Brescia with the return leg on June 20 in Livorno. In the Italian promotion playoff scheme, the away goals rule do not apply so if tied on aggregate goals, the higher seeded team (Livorno) would be promoted.

The 21 year-old Szetela has made 16 Serie B appearances this season (scoring one goal) after facing a spate of injuries all year. He did not play in last week’s 3-0 win over Empoli but is expected to suit up as a substitute for tomorrow’s first leg.

On loan from Racing Santander through the end of June 2009, its not yet clear whether he’ll stay with on with Brescia, go back to Racing, or move to another club (since some interest exists in Poland and elsewhere). If Brescia can earn promotion and the New Jersey native stays with the club, he would be become the first American to play in Serie A since Alexis Lalas‘ last appearance for Padova in 1996.

Here We Go! U.S. Team Confederations Cup Update

June 13, 2009

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer:

U.S. Men’s National Team Confederations Cup Update
Tshwane/Pretoria
June 12, 2009

CONFED CUP KICKS OFF AGAINST ITALY: Less than 72 hours remain before the U.S. begins play in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, with no less than defending World Cup champion Italy waiting to greet them. Kickoff at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria is set for 2:25 ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN and Telefutura. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The U.S. will then face five-time World Cup champion Brazil on June 18 in the same venue (9:55 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and Telefutura) before closing out group play against two-time defending African Nations Cup champion Egypt on June 21 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenberg (2:25 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and Telefutura).

OFFICIAL U.S. CONFEDERATIONS CUP MEDIA GUIDE AVAILABLE ONLINE: Both media and fans alike now have free access to the USA’s 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup media guide. The reference tool includes player bios, the team’s history in the tournament, a look back at the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup, and more.

The free media guide can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking here.

QUICK HITS:

The U.S. team has been together in part since training camp opened on May 26 before two FIFA World qualifiers, at Costa Rica and home against Honduras. The team departed from Chicago on June 8 for South Africa, arriving on June 9 into Pretoria.

The U.S. is without several regulars due to injury. Defenders Steve Cherundolo (Hanover 96) and Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), midfielder Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers) and forward Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) are all unable to participate due to injury.

The U.S. is the reigning champion of CONCACAF, qualifying for the FIFA Confederations Cup via a 2-1 defeat of Mexico on June 24, 2007, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

South Africa marks the U.S. team’s fourth appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup. The U.S. also appeared in Saudi Arabia (1992), Mexico (1999) and France (2003).

The U.S. has twice finished third at the FIFA Confederations Cup. In 1992, the U.S. was third out of four teams, and it 1999 they were third of eight teams.

Bruce Murray and Brian McBride lead the U.S. with two goals each in Confederations Cup play. Overall, Mexico’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brazil’s Ronaldinho hold the record with nine career goals in the tournament.

The FIFA Confederations Cup is the 48th FIFA men’s competition in which the U.S. has participated. Only Brazil (61st) has participated in more.

If a player accumulates two yellow cards in the FIFA Confederations Cup, he will miss his team’s next game in the tournament. Yellow cards do not carry over into July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, however, if a player receives a red card in the final Confederations Cup match for the U.S., he will be suspended for the Gold Cup opener.

Following the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, the U.S. returns to home soil to defend the Gold Cup title from July 3-26 in 13 venues across the United States.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Average Age: 24.8
Average Caps: 27
Most Caps: 110 (Landon Donovan)
Least Caps: 0 (Luis Robles)
Oldest: 30 (Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra)
Youngest: 19 (Jozy Altidore)
Play professionally in: USA (6), England (5), Germany (3), France (2), Denmark (2), Spain (1), Sweden (1), Belgium (1), Mexico (1), Scotland (1)