Archive for the ‘Serbia’ Category

Some Great Soccer Writing

January 25, 2009

As we do every now and then, its time to point out some of the great soccer writing out there these days.

Here is piece of brilliant writing by Rob Hughes on how after a terrible storm took the lives of four boys in Barcelona, the team gave the grieving city something to cheer about.

Also, this one is three weeks old but its still worth pointing out Brent Lathem’s insightful article on Neven Subotic’s decision to play for Serbia instead of the USA. Brent offers some perspectives few others have been privy to (including yours truly) which I’ve got to say has opened my eyes. So, In my humble opinion, Brent’s piece is must reading for anyone who wants to know what happened.

And for you Liverpool fans out there enjoying the club’s success after the doldrums of the 1990s, the Observer’s Andy Hunter does a great job of examining the downfall of Kenny Dalglish in “The Day The Magic Walked Out Of Anfield.”

If you want to nominate some great soccer writing you’d like us to feature, just drop us a line here.

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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.

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.

Update: USA Loses Out On Subotic? Not So Fast!

November 15, 2008

Fox Sports is citing a Serbian news source indicating that Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic has decided to play for Serbia, not the USA. I’m skeptical of this report for a few reasons; first, if Subotic was going to make such an announcement, his club would be among the first to release the news (and BVB insiders tell us that Subotic has said nothing about any such decision). Secondly, similar reports have been floating around in the Serbian media for the past six months and none have turned out to be true. So, my spidey sense tells me its not a done deal.

Of course his father, Zeljko Subotic, told Goal.com last month that he would prefer his son played for the White Eagles when he said: “My heart tells me that Neven should decide on Serbia…for me, I would get much satisfaction out of seeing him playing in a Serbian jersey.” Despite his father’s wishes, which must weigh heavily on the young superstar’s mind, there is still no official announcement from Subotic, his club, nor the Serbian football association.

If this rumor turns out to be true, US fans will surely be sad to see yet another promising national team player get away. That said, this fan understands that Subotic may choose to honor his family over his adopted homeland. If given the choice, what would you do?

In any case, LFV would love to see Subotic in USA jersey but if he chooses Serbia, we wish him the best. Meanwhile, Subotic just scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in Dortmund’s 4-0 romp over Eintracht Frankfurt this afternoon.

Subotic: Has The US Lost Him Already?

August 28, 2008

After last night’s excellent showing by Oguchi Onyewu in Standard’s 1-0 Champion’s League loss to Liverpool, his stock is peaking at just three days before the transfer deadline. Another American defender in Europe is also on the rise as young Neven Subotic continues to show he is a force to be reckoned with in the Bundesliga. This weekend, he marked Bayern Munich’s Italian international Luca Toni out of the match in a 1-1 draw at Subotic’s Borussia Dortmund. His play this year indicates Subotic has confidence and tactical competence beyond his years – yet he continues to improve.

While Subotic continues to impress and Onyewu appears poised to make a jump to the next level, this pair could evolve as a high quality central defense for the United States – one which could have a very positive impact on the US team making some noise at the 2010 World Cup. A pairing of the 6’4″ twin towers of Onyewu and Subotic could form the nucleus of a back line opponents would dread. Alas, Onyewu is a national team regular while Subotic has yet to be called up.

A month ago, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle (a friend of LFV) reported that US coach Bob Bradley “refused to take any questions regarding Subotic’s situation.” So, it remains unclear whether US coach Bob Bradley is already considering calling up Subotic or has already tried and been rebuffed. Word on the street in Germany is that Subotic was unhappy with with his US youth team experience and was actually pining to play for Germany (which is looking less likely).

Whispers here in Europe also indicate that one coach who does seem interested in calling up Subotic is new Serbian coach Radomir Antic, who took the reins of the White Eagles last week. The former Real Madrid boss has been charged with guiding Serbia to World Cup qualification from a tough group which includes France and Romania. After Serbia’s disappointing showing at the Olympics, their federation is looking for new blood and Subotic’s work this season has been too hard to ignore. Antic has already gone after Barcelona’s uncapped teenage striker Bojan Krkic (who can play for Serbia or Spain) so don’t expect him to be shy about Subotic.

So, if US Coach Bob Bradley and the USSF cannot soon convince Subotic to play for the Stars and Stripes, it may be too late to bring in this rising young star. After losing Giuseppe Rossi to the Azzurri last year, I’m afraid letting another starlet go could be more that the US faithful could bear.

Last winter Subotic said he would make a decision about which national team to play for; the USA, Serbia, or Bosnia-Herzegivina. While it is not clear yet what he decided, since Serbia plays the Faroe Islands on September 6th, and France four days later – we may find out Subotic’s decision soon enough.