Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

UEFA Cup: Gooch, Standard Crush Sampdoria

December 4, 2008

Standard Liege continues to punch above its weight this season, this time with a 3-0 win over Serie A side Sampdoria. With American defender Oguchi Onyewu anchoring a strong Standard defense while the Belgian side’s attack put the Genoa side under pressure early and often.

Igor De Camargo opened scoring in the 23rd minute on a header past Sampdoria keeper Luca Castellazzi, who was a busy man on the tonight. Just over ten minutes later, a De Camargo corner found Onyewu outleaping the rest to head the ball home for a 2-0 lead. Shortly before halftime, a left footed blast from Milan Jovanovic sent both teams to the locker room with the home side leading a 3-0.

Sampdoria had one good scoring chance in the second half but Marius Stankevičius’ shot buzzed just above the bar. Meanwhile Jovanivic and Dieudonné Mbokani continued to lead attacks on Samp’s goal but muffed some well set up chances. With both teams running out of steam, the match faded out like a 1970s pop record.

The win put Standard Liege into the final 32 knockout stage which starts on December 18th and 19th.

Photo courtesy of UEFA.


November 17, 2008

Courtesy of U.S. Soccer Communications:


Guatemala Faces Must-Win Situation in Order to Have a Chance to Advance to Final Round
Match To Be Broadcast Live on ESPN Classic and Galavision at 6 p.m. MT

CHICAGO (Nov. 16, 2008) — U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 20 players to train in advance of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala on Nov. 19 in Commerce City, Colo. Kickoff at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for the USA’s first-ever World Cup qualifier in the state of Colorado is set for 6 p.m. MT, and the match will be shown live on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on’s MatchTracker.

“This match gives us an opportunity to test many of our players in what will be a very hard game,” said Bradley. “Guatemala will certainly be pressing for a victory, and we want to end this round on a positive note. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is one of the finest soccer facilities in the country, and we are looking forward to our first appearance there.”

Brian Ching leads a mostly domestic-based group, the Houston Dynamo forward having amassed four goals in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni is the leading capwinner on the roster, the two-time World Cup veteran having 61 international appearances to his credit. He is joined by Rapids teammates Conor Casey and Cory Gibbs, who are both making a return to the national team fold after long absences. Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan has made a career-high seven appearances for the full team this year, and is one of five players on the roster who represented the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan is one of five foreign-based players called into Colorado. The former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year has posted two shutouts in World Cup qualifying so far. Former U.S. Olympic team members Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu return after making starts in the USA’s previous World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago. Troy Perkins and Clarence Goodson, both of whom were part of the training camp in Commerce City last week, round out the European-based contingent.

Three players on the roster are in search of their first cap with the full team, including the 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year in Sean Franklin. He is one of three players on the roster to have earned that honor, along with fellow defenders Jonathan Bornstein and Michael Parkhurst.

In addition to Ching, there are two other players who finished in the top 10 in scoring in MLS this year. FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper finished one behind Golden Boot winner Landon Donovan with 18 goals, while Chris Rolfe scored nine for the Eastern Conference finalists Chicago Fire.

The U.S. has locked up first place in Group 1 of the Semifinal Round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, holding 12 points from five matches. The other participant from the group to advance will be determined on the final matchday, as Trinidad & Tobago holds a three point lead over Guatemala. The Guatemalans will be pressing for a victory against the U.S. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, needing a win to keep their dreams of advancement alive. T&T will be hosting Cuba on the same day.

The draw to determine the placement of teams in the CONCACAF Final Round hexagonal for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying will take place on Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. local time in Johannesburg. Teams will learn their opponents as well as home and away dates for all 10 Final Round qualifiers that will determine the three automatic berths for CONCACAF in 2010 in South Africa. The United States, Costa Rica and El Salvador have already advanced to the Final Round, with the remaining three teams to be determined on Nov. 19 on the final matchday of the semifinal phase.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF), Matt Pickens (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (6): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Sean Franklin (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Colorado Rapids), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Drew Moor (FC Dallas), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John Thorrington (Chicago Fire)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire)

Can I Get An Amen?

September 5, 2008

I was going to sit down and write something interesting, perhaps funny, and hopefully relevant last night with lots of ideas and a few imported Tecates swimming through my head. Then I saw what my buddy Greg Seltzer wrote about MLS management and heard myself saying “yeah, yeah” over and over.

So, instead of my cheeky offerings today, I offer you Greg’s excellent description of how MLS continues to shoot itself in the foot. Check it out here.

Thuram Retires Due To Heart Condition

August 2, 2008

France’s all time most-capped player, Lillian Thuram, called an end to a distinguished career Friday afternoon at a press conference in Paris. The central defender was in the process of transferring from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain when a medical exam uncovered a heart defect which led to Thuram’s decision to end a highly successful career.

He had considered trying to fulfill at least part of the two-year deal at PSG but the 36 year-old was talked out of it by his mother who had already lost one son to a heart condition. Reflecting on the decision, Thuram remarked that “There are family reasons which have also been taken into account,” he said. “I wanted to be the Paolo Maldini of PSG but that has not been possible. It’s sad to end a career like this.”
Thuram was capped 142 times and was a key member of the French teams which won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European championship. He most recently played for France in the Euro 2008 tourney. His 17-year playing career started at Monaco in 1990 before he moved to Serie A in 1996 where he played for Parma who he helped to win the UEFA Cup in 1999, and then to Juventus where he played on two scudetto winning sides. In 2006, he joined Barcelona where he stayed for two years before attempting to transfer back to France this summer.
Rumors out of Paris indicate Thuram will likely be offered a high profile position within the French Football Federation sometime before the summer ends.

Monaco Still After Bradley

July 23, 2008

According to Le Parisien, now that a deal to bring Freddy Adu to the Rock is sealed, Monaco boss Jerome De Bontin is now focused on signing Heerenveen starlet Michael Bradley. Recent reports from Le Figaro and Nice Matin indicated that Monaco had offered €8.5 million euros for the high scoring American midfielder but that Heerenveen was demanding a price closer to €10 million. Previous reports had Middelsbrough offering circa €5 Million while Germany’s Bild had Bayer Leverkusen’s offer at €4.5 million.

With only 20 days left until the French transfer deadline, Monaco will need to resolve the Bradley transfer soon. If they cannot afford Heerenveen’s asking price, they’ll need the time to sign another attacking midfielder – namely Bordeux’s Alejandro Alonso from Argentina.

A few Spanish clubs are also interested in Alonso so Monaco may be keeping him on the back burner until they know the outcome of their Bradley gambit. With four goals in 80 appearances, Alsonso is not quite the goal scoring threat that Bradley is but he does come with a good understanding of the French game, UEFA Cup experience, and (most likely) a lower price tag.

It remains to be seen whether another club is able or willing to match Monaco’s offer for the 20-year-old American and whether Heerenveen will accept it. The Stade Rennais FanZine Da’Squad mentions that Bradley is among the options the club (which recently signed Carlos Bocanegra) is considering to fill a hole at attacking midfielder.

Either way, if the leaks and rumors turn out to be true, he could be the most expensive American player ever which (at today’s exchange rates) would price his transfer at circa $13.7 million. This would surpass the previous record of $10 million Spanish side Villareal paid for the New York Red Bulls’ Jozy Altidore just over one month ago.

Altidore Sees First Action For Villarreal

July 22, 2008

Villarreal got a good look at its four new signings, including American Jozy Altidore in a Sunday friendly against third division side Navata. The match turned out to be a 12-0 romp for the primera side and the club’s faithful got its first look at Altidore before he departs to participate in the Olympics for the USA.

Yellow Submarine coach Manuel Pellegrini has indicated that Altidore will remain with the first team until at least January due to an injury to veteran forward Nihat Kahveci. Kahveci suffered a thigh injury during the Euro 2008 tourney while playing for Turkey and eventually required surgery, keeping him out of action for the first half of the Spanish season.

So, Altidore will have a chance to prove his worth as Villarreal faces a tough run of Spanish league and Champions’s League matches during the fall. Regardless of how well he does at the Olympics, he’ll need to work extra hard to integrate into his new club team after missing so many weeks of preseason training. Opportunity is knocking – will he be ready to answer?

Cherundolo Reports In At Hannover Training Camp

July 22, 2008

US and Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo has now reported into his club’s training camp after being given a bit more time to rest after three tough international matches for the USA. During the break, he also changed agents, from his longtime representaive Dr. Michael Becker to the Hannover based Harun Arslan. Arslan also represents other players for Hannover plus German national team coach Joachim Löw.

As you can see in the photo here, assistant coach Ingo Geissler put Cherundolo to the test early in a drill to maintain balance on a training ball while heading the ball back repeatedly. Who needs the 10 minute abs video when you can do this drill?

Benfica: Adu Transfer To Monaco Complete

July 21, 2008

According to the official websites of both Benfica and Monaco, American Freddy Adu has been loaned to AS Monaco (French first division) for one year with an option to buy. The deal was struck Monday night after several weeks of negotiations. Adu is expected to join his teammates at “The Rock” after the Olympics.

He will be one of three Americans playing in Ligue 1 this year, along with Carlos Bocanegra at Stade Rennais, and Andrew Jacobson at FC Lorient.

Monaco last won the French championship in 2000 and most recently were finalists in the 2004 UEFA Champion’s League beating Real Madrid and Chelsea along the way.

What remains to be seen is whether Monaco will continue to pursue Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley, who at last report was too expensive Monaco’s taste (the club was asking 8.5 million Euros). Bradley is also being pursued by several English and German clubs, including Middelsbrough, Hamburger SV, and Bayer Leverkusen.

Agorsor: A Natural Replacement For Altidore At New York?

July 20, 2008

Hot young Maryland prospect Chris Agorsor proved again last week why he could be one of the most exciting young prospects in US Soccer, helping his team win the Development Academy U-17/18 championship at the Home Depot Center in southern California. Jaime Cardenas of the LA Times has a great writeup on the tournament here.

So now Agorsor faces the same decision many young Americans have; play in college for awhile, go to MLS, or try your luck in Europe. Reportedly, the 5’9″ forward has a firm offer from the University of Virgina and a number of European teams have show interest in him including NAC Breda, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers. He would be an instant starter at UVA but in Europe he would likely start out with the reserve team. The NY/NJ Red Bulls have also reportedly expressed interest in him where he could be a natural replacement for Jozy Altidore, who was sold to Spanish side Villarreal for $10 million.

From what I’ve seen over the years, I think Agorsor should start out with the Red Bulls where his chances at advancement would be much greater. He could do well at UVA but he would not be challenged at a level to accelerate his advancement. On a European reserve side, he could languish for years and never get his shot with the first team. Look at the fate of Donovan, Twellman, and others – seldom has an American teenage prospect risen from the ranks of a European reserve team to play first team soccer for the same club.

For a player like Agorsor, the “Clint Dempsey method” of earning your professional spurs in MLS, then going abroad will serve him better in the long run, provided MLS makes him a serious offer. After selling Altidore to Villarreal (not to mention losing Claudio Reyna to retirement), the league owes the Red Bulls an allocation like Agorsor. One more thing MLS should bear in mind is to offer him a real professional contract which reflects his true value and potential. If they offer him a low-wage developmental contract, its either bon voyage and off to Europe or hello Charlottesville.

Totti Hints At Azzurri Return

July 20, 2008

AS Roma captain Francesco Totto has hinted he may come out of retirement to help the Italian national team in World Cup qualifying. The 31-year old who was a member of the 2006 World Cup winning team had retired from international play due to the effects of grueling league, European, Coppa Italia, and international schedules. Now, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport:

“If I’m well and I don’t have problems, it will be possible to address this issue in six months or a year.” The main reason Totti appears ready to return is due to the return of Marcello Lippi, with whom he got along well in 2006.

At the same time Totti has ambitions for Roma, second place finishers in Serie A the past two years, to make a more concerted run at the Scudetto this season. To do so, he figured they need to make two more key signings. Roma had been hoping to bring Julio Baptista to Stadio Olimpico on a loan but Real Madrid did not agree to terms. Roma is in desperate need of a quality winger following the departure of Amantino Mancini for Inter. Without a dangerous winger, their 4-2-3-1 system is not potent enough to stay near the top of the Italian game, let alone win it all. The Giallorossi have their eye on several options at winger. One is Fiorientina’s Mario Alberto Santana but the Viola appear to be counting on him to fulfill their own Champion’s League aspirations this year.

Another is Chelsea’s Florent Malouda who was a star for France and Lyon but has had trouble carving out his own role at Stamford Bridge. The English side may be willing to loan or sell him but there is a catch, another big club is also interested; Barcelona. If it comes to a bidding war, the deep-pocketed Catalans will have the edge over the Romans.

Finally, some Roman newspapers and radio commentators indicate that the most realistic option may be Atletico Madrid’s Jose Antonio Reyes. The vagabond Reyes, after bouncing to a new club almost every year looking for more playing time, seems to be the odd man out at Atletico. Thus, a move into a starting role at Roma may be just what he, and the Giallorossi, needs.