Archive for the ‘SSC Napoli’ Category

Bernardo’s Napoli Chances Looking Up

April 17, 2009

Napoli primavera striker Vincenzo Bernardo seems to be inching closer to a chance to dress with the first team in Serie A action sometime before the season ends. After practicing most of the season with the first team, the New Jersey native has been spending more time playing each week with the primavera (reserve) squad and but drawing more attention from the Napoli management and local media.

In today’s primavera friendly match against Napoli’s first team, (which normally ends 7-0 for the first team) Bernardo scored in a 5-1 losing effort for the youngsters, drawing praise from Coach Roberto Donadoni in the process.

Donodani has a history of experimenting with young players so the chance that Bernardo could suit up sometime this spring could be on the upswing.

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Bernardo Scores Against Ancona

March 22, 2009

In Italian primavera (reserve) action, Vincenzo Bernardo played in the second half of Napoli’s 5-0 romp over Ancona, scoring one goal and assisting on another.

Coaching Change At Napoli Could Benefit Bernardo

March 17, 2009

After a superb five year coaching stint at Napoli, Edy Reja brought the Partenopei from the depths of Serie C all the way back near the top of the Serie A table. He did so with shrewd purchases and strong attacking football – all with a budget dwarfed by the bigger clubs in Italy.

But in 2009 with whispers of Champions League in the air, Napoli’s tires went flat with an eight game winless streak and an unsettled clubhouse. Sometimes the one who got you where you are isn’t necessarily the one to take you to the next level so Napoli’s management opted to replace Reja with former AC Milan great Roberto Donodoni.

Of course Reja was the one who took a shine to young American primavera striker Vincenzo Bernardo last fall after watching him score against his first team while causing some unexpected trouble for his defense in practice. Reja had the club sign Bernardo to a professional contract and has since had the New Jersey native train with the first team almost every day.

Now with Reja out of the picture, we’ve got to wonder what this will mean for Bernardo’s future chances at Napoli. In January, the club turned down several loan offers from Serie B clubs as well as teams in England, Belgium, and Romania since they wanted an ironclad deal that he would play (and were even willing to provide financial incentives to ensure he saw plently of playing time). Instead, the 19 year old remained at Napoli training with the first team while making occasional appearances for the primavera (reserve) side.

When asked about the new coaching situation at Napoli, Bernardo stated: “I’m grateful to coach Reja both for the chance with Napoli and for all I’ve learned from him. I’m looking forward to learning from Coach Donadoni and I remember watching him back he he was playing for the Metrostars.”

Word out of the Napoli camp is that Donadoni has seen Bernardo in training with the first team and it appears he is remaining with that group for now – a good sign.

As Napoli’s chances for earning a Champions League and UEFA Cup positions start to fade, the chances that Bernardo could actually suit up at least once for the Napoli first team seem to be increasing. When teams hit the end phase of the season well clear of the relegation zone and out of the running for a European spot (the limbo zone), managers are more likely to experiment with young players and to start laying the groundwork for the future. After last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Reggina (which was nearly a loss before Ezequiel Lavezzi saved a point), Napoli now appears more firmly entrenched in the limbo zone.

While this does not mean Donadoni is ready to start experimenting yet, don’t be surprised to see him give a few more young players a runout in the San Paolo as the season fades. Whether one of them is Bernardo remains to be seen but hey, you never know.

Serie A: Napoli Still Winless in Seven Matches

February 22, 2009

I haven’t been blogging quite enough lately, in part because of the dark mood which seems to have taken hold here in Naples. The home team, Napoli, had a strong start to the season and was hovering around 3rd to 4th place in Serie A when “the streak” started – seven games without a win.

In fact, the town’s beloved blue has earned just two points in seven matches and has slid down to mid-table, a place cemented by today’s 1-0 loss to Genoa. From December to January, locals were talking about the squad playing in the Champion’s League and now they are pointing fingers at players like German Denis (who promised 20 goals and a Champion’s League spot). Denis has not quite lived up to expectations but he remains the only decent option for a target man up front.

It seems that things really started to crumble after the team dropped a home match to rivals Roma 3-0, a loss which left the coffee bars full of long faces and hushed tones. Meanwhile, it seems Roma has switched places with Napoli after the slow starting giallarossi have roared back are now sitting on 43 points and poised to grab a Champion’s League spot. The most galling aspect for the Napoli faithful is that they’ve dropped so many points to some of the league’s weaker squads including Udinese, Palermo, and relegation threatened Bologna. Now, Napoli faces a real uphill battle to claw its way back into contention as it faces Juventus, Lazio, Reggina, and AC Milan in the next four matches.

Elsewhere in Serie A, Romanian striker Adrian Mutu was the savior for Fiorentina, scoring an injury time goal to give the Viola a 2-1 win over the pesky Chievo Verona. Chievo players threw a fit and started their own shoving match since their own Davide Mandelli lay injured on the ground while Fiorentina cashed in on its final attack.

Today’s goal of the day in Italy has got to be Catania’s Ciro Capuano in his 34th minute left-footed net ripper against Reggina.

Check it out here (1:03 into the video):

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New York Stars Fall To Dukla Prague in Viareggio Opener

February 12, 2009

The New York Stars (a select team from the metro New York area) fell to Dukla Prague 5-2 today in Pisa during their opening match of the prestigious Torneo Viareggio.

SSC Napoli’s Vincenzo Bernardo, on loan for the tournament, went the full 90, drawing a penalty and then scoring from the PK spot. Later, Bernardo carried deep into the Dukla Prague penalty area again and had his cross cleared out by the Dukla defense. The clearance fell to the feet of Chris Alesci, who cracked an 18 meter shot for New York’s second goal. Alesci normally plays for the PDL’s Westchester Flames.

Today’s two goals were the first ever scored by the New York Stars, a perennial participant. In the past, they’ve normally been beaten 6-0 or 7-0, so a 5-2 losing result is still a sign of real progress.

The Stars face an even stiffer test on Saturday when they take on Fiorentina in the second round.

Bernardo Stays At Napoli But European Interest Remains

February 7, 2009

It looks like American forward Vincenzo Bernardo will be staying with SSC Napoli this spring after turning down several offers from throughout Europe. Bernardo had drawn interest from Spain, England, Romania, Belgium, Greece, and among several Italian Serie B and C teams. The strongest offer came from Serie B side Brescia which offered to buy joint ownership (50-50) of the young player – an offer Napoli refused.

So, Bernardo will stay with the club this spring, training 70-80% of the time with the first team but will be loaned out short term to the New York Stars to play in the prestigious Torneo Viareggio. While he remains available for the US U-20 team, some interesting whispers are coming out of the Castel Volturno clubhouse; that the Italian national team has asked the club for information on Bernardo.

If true, this comes as no surprise since not 48 hours after this article appeared on Soccer Times, a televised report appeared on Sky24 (Italian national news channel) claiming that the US was “calling up young Italian players” in a tone which indicated the Stars and Stripes were poaching foreign youth players. They seem to conveniently forget that the next great hope of the Azzuri, Giuseppe Rossi, was born in the same US state as Bernardo, New Jersey.

It only makes sense that someone from the Italian youth program would want to know more about Bernardo and possibly Nazzani since both are up and coming players within their Serie A teams’ reserve systems. So, I wouldn’t read to much into it…yet.

Bernardo Loan Deal Drawing Closer

January 11, 2009

SSC Napoli primavera striker Vincenzo Bernardo appears even closer to a loan deal for the second half of the season.

The new twist, as he told LFV, is that instead of possibly going to a Serie C side, there is a good chance the 18 year-old New Jersey native could end up in Serie B.

We’ll find out more in the coming weeks as he and his agent consider options, bearing in mind their priority to find a club where he can play every week – but also one which will support any possible callups for US U-20 World Championship qualifiers. Stay tuned.

Speaking of Serie B, American Danny Szetela and his Brescia team were snowed out of their match with Sassuolo which will be rescheduled for January 27th. Brescia has been tinkering with a 4-3-3 formation which may leave Szetela as the odd man out. We’ll find out more this weekend in their match against Pisa. Meanwhile, in Serie C action, Gabe Ferrari and his Perugia team will be looking for three points in today’s road match at Benevento.

In other news, Carlos Bocanagra went the full 90 for Rennes as they vaulted themselves into second place (at least for today) with a 1-0 home win over upstart Grenoble. Freddy Adu did not dress for AS Monaco’s 2-1 loss to FC Nantes. And, rounding out the Americans in southern Europe, Jozy Altidore did not play in Villarreal’s 3-3 draw with Valencia. A late penalty by Villarreal’s other New Jersey native, Giuseppe Rossi, saved the point for the Yellow Submarine.

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.

Lavezzi: Not Going Anywhere

December 2, 2008

Napoli’s Argentine wunderkind Ezequiel Lavezzi is a man in demand these days. The spark he brought to newly promoted Napoli last year kept them in the upper half of the table and this year, along with fellow countryman German Denis and a host of others, has Napoli up to fourth place in Serie A.

“El Pocho” is often compared to Argentina legend (and current national coach) Diego Maradona but he has a style all his own. Lavezzi has blazing speed and technique but his uncanny abilty to change speed and direction (on or off the ball) makes him a danger to any defense. The list of defenders he has faked out of their jock strap this year alone is long and distinguished.

Almost on cue, deep pocketed Chelsea has taken a shine to the Napoli ace but last night he told the Italian press he is not interested. “I am happy at Napoli,” he said. “I like the city of Naples and the team so I’ll stay here – it’s better than going to England.” Not the kind of thing feedback Permiership clubs are used to receiving.

But now Inter president Massimo Moratti is talking about trying to pry him loose from Napoli, a club which can always use the money but one which also values pride and loyalty above all. They’ve been eyeing him along with Chelsea’s Didier Drogba but that deal is looking less likely so their focus is now on Lavezzi. Regardless of Napoli’s statements that he is not for sale, we can expect to see lots of leaks from Inter to the Gazetta Dello Sport with outlandishly high offers for Lavezzi, all in an attempt to put pressure on the Napoli board.

Given his huge impact on the team, his cult hero status in the city, and the throngs of fans who show up every night at Castel Volturno just to get a look at El Pocho, its hard to think of any offer high enough to convince the club to sell.

Napoli’s Bernardo Called Up for US U-20 Team

July 16, 2008

SSC Napoli reservist Vincenzo Bernardo has been called up to the US Under 20 national team to play in the Milk Cup, an international youth tournament held in Northern Ireland. He departs on July 24th and is expected back in Naples in early August.

The US, which won the tournament in 2005, opens against host Northern Ireland on July 28th and later faces Israel and Wales in group play. Coach Thomas Rongen’s US U-20 team beat Northern Ireland 3-0 during their last meeting in April 2008, helped by a goal from Bernardo.

(For last year’s interview with Bernardo, click here.)