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No Surprise: Messi Recongnized As Europe’s Finest

August 28, 2009

Courtesy of UEFA:

Lionel Messi, a key figure in FC Barcelona’s march to UEFA Champions League glory last season, has more to celebrate after collecting the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year prize at the UEFA Club Football Awards in Monaco. The Argentinian international was also selected as Best Forward while team-mate Xavi Hernández took the Best Midfielder trophy. Manchester United FC’s Edwin van der Sar was nominated Best Goalkeeper and Chelsea FC captain John Terry completed the honours list as he received his third Best Defender gong from Paolo Maldini.

Sensational season
Messi had scored Barcelona’s second goal – his ninth of the 2008/09 competition – in the UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United in Rome, as the Catalan side became the first Spanish team to lift the Liga, Copa del Rey and European Champion Clubs’ Cup titles in one season. If the headed goal from Messi that capped his sensational campaign was a collector’s item, his presence on the scoresheet was more predictable: the 22-year-old struck 38 goals in all competitions last term.

‘Important award’
Messi succeeds Cristiano Ronaldo as the Club Footballer of the Year and is the second Argentinian international to land the prize after Fernando Redondo in 2000. “It is an enormous joy to be able to receive such an important award as this,” he said. “And it’s also a pleasure to be able to thank all the people who voted for me and who decided I should get this award.”

Bradley Selects US Team For WC Qualifier Against Cuba

October 3, 2008

Courtesy of the USSF:

U.S. Can Clinch Spot in Final Round with Victory on Oct. 11 at RFK Stadium
Match to be Broadcast Live on ESPN Classic and Galavision

CHICAGO (Oct. 3, 2008) — U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley has named a roster of 23 players that will train in advance of the FIFA World Cup Qualifying game against Cuba on Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C. Kickoff for the USA’s first match in the nation’s capital in four years is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the match will be shown live on ESPN Classic and Galavision. Fans can also follow the match live on’s MatchTracker.

Currently leading Group 1 with nine points from three matches, the U.S. can clinch a place in the final round of qualifying with a victory against Cuba at RFK Stadium. The team will begin gathering on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C., in preparation for the match. Following the game and the weekend MLS matches, Bradley will announce the travel roster for the qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago, which takes place Oct. 15 at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. That match can be seen live on ESPN and Galavision at 8 p.m. ET.

Fourteen leagues from 12 different countries are represented on the roster as the U.S. seeks to extend their five-match shutout streak in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Each of the starters from the last two victories against Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago return, led up front by Fulham striker Clint Dempsey, who has already amassed four goals in the four World Cup qualifiers he has played this year, including the lone goal in the USA’s 1-0 win on Sept. 6 in Cuba. Houston Dynamo forward Bring Ching has three goals to his credit in the current campaign.

At the other end of the park, the defense is backstopped by goalkeeper Tim Howard, the Sierra Mist Man of the Match against Guatemala, who has posted an impressive six shutouts in five all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra anchors a backline that has not conceded a goal in a team record six straight matches, dating back to the 0-0 draw against Argentina on June 8 in New Jersey.

Landon Donovan, who became the fourth youngest male player in history to reach 100 caps when he went 90 minutes on June 8 against Argentina, leads the roster with 24 all-time World Cup qualifying appearances. His eight career goals in World Cup qualifying are also a team best. Meantime, midfielder Michael Bradley and Heath Pearce are the only two U.S. players to start all five of the World Cup qualifiers in 2008.

A total of nine players from the 2008 Olympic Games link up with the full team, with eight of those players plying their trade overseas. Bradley, who scored the game-winning goal in the 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago while also earning Sierra Man of the Match honors, leads the full team in minutes played in 2008. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored two goals in China, while Maurice Edu, recently transferred to Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League, played all three games in the U.S. backline. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan returns to the fold having collected consecutive shutouts against Barbados in the second round series, while Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore wear the U.S. colors for the first time since Beijing. Michael Orozco, one of three uncapped players on the roster, is joined by fellow Mexican Primera Division midfielder José Francisco Torres. The Longview, Texas, native is making his first appearance in a U.S. national team camp.

RFK Stadium is no stranger to the U.S. National Team, having hosted 17 matches since 1977. The U.S. has collected a 10-3-4 record in the nation’s capital, including a 3-1-1 record in World Cup qualifying. With an average attendance of over 30,000, Washington, D.C., has witnessed several memorable matches, including a 4-0 victory against Mexico in 1995 and a 1-0 win against Argentina in 1999. RFK last hosted the U.S. men on Oct. 13, 2004, when an Eddie Johnson hat trick paced the United States to a 6-0 victory against Panama to close out the semifinal phase of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

(A Detailed Roster is Available at
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 2/2 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 6/5 SO), Troy Perkins (Valerenga IF: 0/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 16/2), Danny Califf (FC Midtjylland: 2/0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96: 17/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC: 1/0), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew: 13/1), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege: 11/0), Michael Orozco (San Luis: 0/0), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock: 5/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco: 1/0), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers: 19/4), Michael Bradley (Borussia Moenchengladbach: 5/2), Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers: 3/0), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA: 3/0), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 0/0)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal C.F.: 0/0), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 9/4), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF: 0/0) Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC: 11/4), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 24/8)
*numbers indicate all-time World Cup Qualifying caps/goals

Quick Hits:

-Adu needs to stay at Monaco so he can work his way into the starting lineup – they can easily win without him.
-Dempsey needs the playing time, let’s see if he has been able to stay sharp.
-Orozco…here’s to hoping we see more disciplined play than we saw in the Olympics, assuming he is even capable of playing ahead of Pearce (doubtful).
-Szetela…US fans will be pleasantly surprised to see a more polished version of him this year.
– Ching…needs to produce a goal or two, otherwise he’ll soon be dropped like a hot potato.