Archive for the ‘Bundesliga’ Category

Podolski To Cologne: New Chance For Donovan?

January 9, 2009


Reports out of Germany this morning indicate that Bayern Munich is close to sending Lukas Podolski back to his old club, 1st FC Cologne. The five-million euro deal will open the fourth striker space on the Bayern lineup, a space which Donovan will be filling during his loan period.

This long-expected development could open a new opportunity for Donovan to stay in Munich longer, perhaps until the end of the Bundesliga season (if not longer). Bayern had their eyes on Stuttgart’s Mario Gomez but then opted for Hamburg’s Croat Ivica Olic who will arrive this summer.

Given the constantly clashing personalities at FC Hollywood, there always seems to be a top player asking to transfer out. So, if Donovan fits in and performs well during his loan spell, Bayern may need to make MLS an offer they’ll have a hard time refusing.

Donovan is expected to make his debut in the Bayern jersey tomorrow in a friendly against Al Jazeera in Dubai, where the club is conducting its winter training.

In other news from the Bayern training camp, coach Juergen Klinsmann has quelled the rumors that French ace Franck Ribery may be moving by stating to DPA that “he will stay with the club until at least 2011.”

Bradley Named To Kicker’s Flop List

January 7, 2009

German soccer weekly Kicker has just put out its annual mid season list of “Tops and Flops” and Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Michael Bradley made the list – the wrong one.

The annual list is complied based on interactive results from the magazine’s fantasy soccer managerspiel but the results are usually pretty reliable. This week, Bayern Munich’s French international Franck Ribery was named the best midfielder in the Bundesliga (the Tops) followed by Bayern Leverkusen’s Renato Augusto and Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic.

The list of the three most disappointing midfielders (the Flops) was “led” by Hamburg’s Jonathan Pitroipa, followed by Roda Antar of 1. FC Köln, and Gladbach’s Bradley in third.

Bradley’s ranking is largely due to his Kicker rating average of 4.75 (on a scale of 1-6) in 11 league appearances, including a match against Energie Cottbus in which he was given a seldom awarded 6 – the lowest score possible.

In the grand scheme of things, these ratings are basically meaningless since they are highly subjective and have no bearing on what a player is capable of doing in the next match. That said, consistent low ratings can help apply greater public pressure on a player to step up their game.

Over the years, less than half of the Americans playing in the Bundesliga told me they paid attention to the Kicker ratings while the rest said they ignore them altogether. Either way, let’s hope Bradley can kick it up a notch this spring and re-capture the mojo he seems to have left in the Eredivisie.

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.

‘Gladbach Interested in Onyewu

December 4, 2008

Add another club to the list of teams interested in Standard Liege’s American defender Oguchi Onyewu. Now, Kicker is reporting that Borussia Moenchengladbach (Michael Bradley’s team) is interested in acquiring Gooch.

While ‘Gladbach could certainly use help on the back line, its hard to see Gooch taking a transfer to a team which appears bound for relegation to the Second Bundesliga (unless he is confident enough to think he can help them stay up).

I expect Onyewu and his agent will hold out for a deal (be it in January or June) which takes him to a team competing in the Champions League. Otherwise, as our Amsterdam buddy Greg Seltzer says, why leave Standard – a team competing for another league championship and a European trophy?

Donovan’s Situation At Bayern Looking Up?

December 2, 2008

We’ve all had our questions about how Landon Donovan will fit into the scheme at Bayern Munich when his loan starts in January and the picture may be getting clearer. As it turns out, an unfortunate injury to Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez, who tore a muscle in 2-0 win over Schalke last weekend (in which he scored), may end up impacting Donovan’s playing time at Bayern.

The Munich giants have had their eye on Gomez for some time and the word in town was that the club would pick him up in January and simultaneously dish off Lukas Podolski to his old club, 1FC Koeln. Now, its not clear if Gomez will be in any kind of condition for a January transfer so the Donovan loan is looking more like a prudent move and less like an experiment. Depending on Gomez’ condition, Bayern (not to mention Real Madrid), may now need to wait until the summer transfer window, soon after Donovan heads back to LA.

What this means for Donovan is that he’ll more likely spend his loan period in the striker rotation behind Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose (who will likely need some rest during Champions League weeks). If Gomez had entered the mix, Donovan would have quickly found himself as the number four striker in the mix, provided he continued to outshine Lukas Podolski in practice. So, if Donovan shows up ready to play, he stands a good chance of getting some meaningful playing time. We’ll see.

Bayern To Take Donovan On Loan

November 20, 2008

Bayern Munich has announced they will take the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan on loan until the middle of March. Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann told the Munich press that “Landon made a good impression in the last ten days and we’ve agreed a deal with MLS for a loan starting on January 1st until the middle of March.” Klinsmann did add however that the club is interested in hanging onto the California born forward until the end of the season since they need a fourth striker to fit into the scheme with Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni and Lukas Podolski.

“For me its a perfect setup. I can go into the second half of the season with four strikers.” said Klinsmann. He went on to say; “With Landon. I have another top man in my back pocket and he’ll travel with is to out training camp in Dubai on January 2nd.”

Despite taking Donovan on loan, it looks like Bayern will keep the unhappy Podolski, at least until the end of the season. Remarking on the decision, Klinsmann stated that Podolski will “need to deal with it.”

According to Klinsmann, what sold Bayern on Donovan was his speed (which he called “unbelievable”)and strength in one-on-one situations. In the coach’s words “He is completely different from our other strikers so this will make our attack harder to deal with.”

What do you think? Will Donovan get meaningful playing time, ride the pine, or become a breakout star? Have your say here by leaving a comment or vote in the poll (to the left of this article).

*Special thanks to Germany based Vagabond Keith Richardson for contributing to this report.

A Few Great Articles Worth Reading

November 19, 2008

Here are a few great articles worth reading today:

Bob Wagman’s excellent preview of the USA-Guatemala World Cup Qualifier. Its hard to find many writers who have been covering the US National team (or even US soccer in general) for more years, both at home and on the road.

Rob Hughes, one of the best in the business, provides an insightful look into Bernd Schuster’s lonely situation at Real Madrid.

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger has a great piece on German media coverage of the Bundesliga and in particular, its impact on Bayern Munich.

And while your humble vagabond did not make the finals for the US Soccer Federation’s Best Blog competition (a big thanks to those who did nominate us), be sure to support our friends Du Nord and Soccer By Ives by voting here.

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:

Donovan Training With Bayern Munich

November 11, 2008

Today at Bayern Munich’s 3 PM practice, a new face showed up alongside coach Juergen Klinsmann, a face familiar to many American fans. Yep, that’s right, the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan is in Munich to train with Bayern for a weeek or two to “stay fit.” Hmmm.

Could Donovan, who last left Bayer Leverkusen in 2005 after playing in seven league and two Champion’s League matches, be looking for for a ticket back to European soccer? Donovan’s own web site seems to indicate so when he says “I am pleased that Jürgen Klinsmann and Bayern are giving me this chance to get to know their new performance center and stay fit alongside their great international footballers.”

Kicker speculates that Donovan could fit well into the formation behind Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose, especially if Lukas Podolksi makes a possible mid-season move elsewhere. The question is not so much whether Klinsmann thinks Donovan is ready (by all accounts he does), but whether Donovan can prove his worth to club boss Uli Hoeness who must approve any deal (be it a loan or an outright purchase). My guess is that is exactly why Donovan is training in Munich this week.

Hoeness has made it clear that Podolski isn’t going anywhere unless a suitable replacement is found. For many observers, that replacement appeared to be Zenith’s Russian phenom Andrei Arshavin but if Donovan can prove he has the goods (and is available now), it may just be doable.

Stay tuned because if this is like any of Donovan’s previous transfer sagas, it will get quite interesting.

Pearce’s Rostock Coach Fired

November 10, 2008

Like a few other American players this past weekend, Hansa Rostock defender Heath Pearce had to watch from the bench as his team drew a home match with VFL Osnabruck 2-2 in Second Bundesliga play. The Hansa board and fans, after years spent in the First Bundesliga expected to be further along by now in their quest for promotion back to the top flight, not languishing in 12th place with only three wins in 12 matches.

So, this morning Hansa fired coach rank Pagelsdorf and will look to start anew. The 50 year-old former HSV coach was let go at a press conference this morning in Rostock and according to Kicker, Thomas Doll is ready to step in and take over. Doll, a longtime Hansa player back in the 1980s, is seen as a caretaker rather than a long-term solution given his spotty coaching record.

Pagelsdorf is the third coach to be fired in the Second Bundesliga so far this year, following Thomas von Heesen at 1. FC Nürnberg and Rudi Bommer at MSV Duisburg.

So, what does this mean for Pearce? Pagelsdorf was the coach who brought him on so he’ll need to work even more to prove himself to Doll. That said, recent national team call ups have left Pearce out of the side and he appears to be having a tougher time getting reintegrated. Thus, a fresh start may give Pearce a chance to step up and reclaim his starting position at left back.

Doll has a reputation for being hard-headed coach and not much of a tactician – his substitution decisions at Dortmund last year left many observers scratching their heads. He is capable of motivating some (but not all) of his players but he always gives everyone a chance. One thing with Doll, if you get in his doghouse, there is no coming out. For Pearce, the trick will be to make sure he never gets in there in the first place.