Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Happy New Year Vagabonds!

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year to all of our readers wherever you are; from Dubai to New Jersey and from Korea to Texas – thanks for stopping by this year.

2009 should be an exciting year and here is just a bit of what we can look forward to:

– The USA taking on Sweden on January 24th
Gooch perhaps finally making the jump to a new club
– Players like Marvell Wynne and Sacha Kljestan possibly moving across the pond
Vincenzo Bernardo and Jozy Altidore possibly being loaned out
– Young Giuseppe Nazzani getting a chance with Bologna’s first team
– The Confederations Cup and U-20 World Championships
– Seeing if Clint Dempsey can keep his hot touch into the spring
– Waiting for Freddy Adu to establish himself as a first team player at Monaco
– Michael Bradley finding his stride and tearing his way through the Bundesliga
– Carlos Bocanegra continuing his strong play at Rennes and earning a CL spot
– Danny Szetela continuing his solid left midfield play at Brescia – with few at home noticing
– Seeing if Landon Donovan can prove that he can hang with the big boys every week
– Whether DaMarcus Beasley heads home to play in MLS or finds a new European club
– Watching Maurice Edu assert himself as a key player in Rangers’ title run
– Watching Bruce Arena turn the LA Galaxy into a winner
– Watching juggernaut Barcelona dominate La Liga all the way to the title
– Seeing if TSG Hoffenheim can keep the dream alive and win the Bundesliga championship
– Seeing if anyone can challenge Olympique Lyon’s dominance of Ligue 1
– Whether Cristiano Ronaldo can avoid the burnout syndrome that comes with being the world’s hottest player
– Wondering when Brad Friedel is finally recognized as one of the best keepers in Europe
– Whether Steven Gerard goes to jail for some recent brawling (doubtful)
– Whether Juventus can catch Inter from running away with another Scuddetto
– Whether Real Madrid qualifies for a UEFA Cup spot, much less a CL one
– Whether Fiorentina sells all of its talent (again) or makes a run for the top three
– Seeing how far Edy Reja can take his bargain-basement priced Napoli team…all the way to the Champion’s League?
– Seeing how far AS Roma will continue to slide, especially now that Francesco Totti is injured
– Watching and enjoying how well Seattle (a great soccer town) supports the return of the Sounders
– Wondering when the scary young talent on the Argentina side starts to gel into a world-beater

Here are some fun highlights from 2008 which we hope you’ll enjoy:

Best Goals:

Best Keepers:

Best Skills:

Flops and Follies (Multisport):

Summer Transfer Season: Far From Over

July 13, 2008

This summer we’ve already seen some major trades at a number of big clubs but some of the biggest deals have yet to be made. Where will Arsenal’s now discount priced Emmanuel Adebayor end up? Will Zenith St Petersburg’s Russian phenom Andrei Arshavin be sold or is he about to be priced out of the market? Will Cristiano Ronaldo go to Real Madrid or stay at Manchester United? What about Chelseas’s bid for AC Milan’s Kaka? First, let’s take a look at the top five spenders so far this year:

1. FC Barcelona €77.5 million
2. Fiorentina €50.3 million
3. Olympique Lyon €45.200.000
4. Tottenham Hotspur €39 million
5. Liverpool €32.1 million

When you consider the huge sums which have been discussed for Kaka (€94 million), Ronaldo (€100 million), and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres (€65 million) – you’ll know immediately that the transfer season is just getting started. You’ll also note that you don’t see Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid, or Inter Milan on this list (to name a few). My experience tells me that Fiorentina, Lyon, and Tottenham are pretty much set while Barcelona and Liverpool may still pick up a player or two. The truly big spenders this year have yet to draw from their war chest so you can expect this list to change. There are still quite a few top players up for grabs and plenty of deep pocketed teams available to bid for them.

Another point to consider is that not all transfer deadlines are created equal. The French League, which does not have the financial bidding power of some others, ends its transfer period on August 17th. So, if Americans Freddy Adu, Michael Bradley, Oguchi Onyewu, or any other players are headed for Ligue 1, we’ll know it by then.

The clash of the titans will occur in the coming weeks as the deadline approaches on August 31st for Italy’s Serie A, the Spanish Primera, and the English Premier League (and others). For each big player sold to another club, they’ll need to replace them so the domino effect can also tip which way a club is moving. For example, Britain’s Sunday Express reports that Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is looking hard at Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Moutinho as a replacement for Frank Lampard (who is a likely transfer to Inter Milan). So, when you see Stamford Bridge making a strong move for Moutinho, you can expect that Lamps will be packing his bags for Inter.

In the meantime, with so much cash flying around, we won’t get a true sense of where the big teams stand until the dust settles on September 1st – which also happens to be the Champion’s League roster deadline.

Transfer Facts and Rumors on Americans Abroad:

– According to Corriere Dello Sport, Gabriel Enzo Ferrari of Sampdoria reserves has been loaned o Perugia of Serie C1 (3rd division).

– Vincenzo Bernardo of SSC Napoli is still waiting to see if he will be loaned to a Serie B team or if he’ll stay onboard in the reserve (primavera) side.

– In an article for Tutto Mercato, Francesco Letizia recommended that Bologna pursue American defender Oguchi Onyewu, figuring he was just the type of physical presence they’ll need in central defense. Bologna has yet to express interest in Onyewu but has looked into acquiring Freddy Adu.

Cagliari: Interested in Mastroeni?

July 6, 2008

Serie A side Cagliari are reported to be interested in US and Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni. The 31-year-old veteran has been keen to play in Spain or Italy and according to Napoli Affari, Cagliari is interested in signing him. Originally born in Argentina, Mastroeni’s international performances have been seen positively here the past few years since he seems to fit the mold Italian coaches are looking for.

The Sardinian side finished 14th in the league last year and is looking for experience in the midfield but does not have the resources to buy big-name talent. So, Mastroeni may be just what they need (and the price is right).

Meanwhile, there seems to be renewed interest from Bologna for the services of Benfica’s Freddy Adu, who is also reportedly being courted by AS Monaco and Genoa. Fellow American Oguchi Onyewu of Standard Liege is also in talks with a few teams; the Bundesliga’s FC Cologne and Fulham of the English Premiership.

Real Madrid, Barcelona In The Hunt For Drogba

July 5, 2008

As the transfer wheels turn, new and exciting scenarios continue to unfold. With Barcelona seeming to fade in the race to sign Russian phenom Andrei Arshavin (probably bound for Stamford Bridge), they are now in the hunt for Chelsea’s Didier Drogba. But wait, their arch rivals Real Madrid have alreadt been courting the Ivory Coast international and appear to have the upper hand thus far. Barcelona has already spent €77 million on transfers for the 2008/09 season and may be near their limit.

That said, Drogba is a personal friend of Barça’s Sammy Eto’o and the club has deep financial reserves so its too early to count rhe Blaugrana out of the running. The club was also in the running for Arsenal’s 25-year-old striker Emmanuel Adebayor, but the Gunners’ price tag for him is identical to Drogba’s (but whose proven abilities are not nearly the same). With 80 goals in four seasons at Chelsea (which has him under contract though 2010) and an estimated price tag of €45 million, only the biggest clubs will be in a position to bid for Drogba.

There was much speculation that the 30-year-old Drogba was heading to Inter Milan, where he would be reunited with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho but the recent Spanish interest appears to have changed the game. Last week Drogba’s agent, Pierre Frelot, stated that a move to Spain could be an attractive proposition. Expect the bidding war to be fierce.

Ronaldihno To Man City? Don’t Hold Your Breath

July 4, 2008

There is a reason they call this the silly season. Brazilian superstar Ronaldihno, currently with FC Barcelona, has been linked with AC Milan, the LA Galaxy (which no one took seriously), Chelsea, and now Manchester City is being mentioned. AC Milan boss Silvio Berlusconi is ready to sell the family silver for Ronnie and only one club can probably outbid him, Chelsea. He does does not fit their style, a lesson they should have learned from the purchase of Michael Ballack. Its doubtful Manchester City can come up with the $40-50 million transfer fee and still have resources left to meet his salary demands. So, look for Ronnie to be wearing black and red this fall.

Monaco: "We Really Want Freddy Adu"

July 4, 2008

The latest word out of the AS Monaco camp is that they “really want” to sign young US international Freddy Adu, currently with Benefica. According to Monaco president Jerome de Bontin, they not only want Adu for his potential on the field but also to “export the image of the club to a wider international audience.” According to the club’s web site, Monaco and Benefica are getting closer to working of the details of the transfer with a fee running circa 4 million euros.

The deal may be a bit easier to work out given that current Monaco coach Ricardo Gomes played for Benefica for five years during his playing days. Gomes may also be quite understanding of Adu’s Olympic aspirations since he himself won a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, playing as a defender for the Brazilian team.

Ronaldihno in Talks with LA Galaxy? Doubtful

July 3, 2008

The Spanish sports daily Sport is reporting that the LA Galaxy have made an offer to Barcelona to buy Brazilian star Ronaldihno for a 3-5 year deal paying nearly $30 million (18 million Euros) per year. With $48 million being the minimum transfer fee Barcelona would accept, its hard ti imagine MLS could outbid the deep pocketed AC Milan, which has been pursuing Ronaldihno for the last year. Even if it did, they would have a difficult time justifying sending him to the LA Galaxy, where truckloads of money are already being spent on David Beckham. If anywhere, a player like him would go to New York.

According to Sport, Ronnie’s agent (and brother), Roberto de Assis, will be meeting with Galaxy officials in Houston in the next few days. Since MLS negotiates player contracts, this statement smells fishy. Thus, the whole rumor is hardly plausible and only seems intended to put upward pressure on the pay package AC Milan has on offer.

Blatter: Plan B for 2010 World Cup?

June 30, 2008

As many suspected, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, admitted yesterday that while he still believed in South Africa as the 2010 World Cup host, he does have a “Plan B.”

Blatter told Austrian state broadcaster ORF that there were some concerns about infrastructure and security and stated that the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa will be the test run. If it is not satisfactory, it would be time to look at alternatives.

“But at the moment an earthquake would have to occur to prevent the World Cup from being held in South Africa. However, I would be a negligent Fifa boss if there was no plan B in the cupboard,” Blatter said.

Moving the World Cup from South Africa (which would be the first ever held on the continent) could be politically impossible unless it was to another African nation(s). But where? Egypt (not enought stadia), Nigeria (similar security concerns), or a combination of two countries? If FIFA must hold the 2010 World Cup outside of Africa, a few options do exist:

1) See if Brazil (the 2014 host) is ready to go early, perhaps swapping dates with South Africa.

2) Look elsewhere.

Could this perhaps be an option for England to throw their hat in the ring instead of facing a strong US bid for 2018. For that matter, could the US be sniffing around to be the backup plan for 2018?