Friday, August 05, 2011
If he fulfils his rich promise, Barcelona B's 19-year-old midfielder could turn out to be the bargain of the season for Chelsea.
Chelsea's new signing Oriol Romeu has 'the greatest potential'.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C.United), Tim Howard (Everton).
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Edgar Castillo (Club America), Timmy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Heath Pearce (Chivas USA), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), José Torres (Pachuca).
FORWARDS (5): Freddy Adu (Benfica), Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy).
"Can I get my Hotel California test?" he said to the person on the other end. "Crank it up, too."
Within seconds we were hearing in remarkable booming, bass-lined clarity what seemed like a live performance of the Eagles. The 37-year-old Heineman, one of the cutting-edge 30-something owners in MLS -- Portland's Merritt Paulson is another --flashed a proud smile. "We were out here a couple nights before the opening with a few friends," he said, "just sitting here drinking a couple beers with nobody in the stadium, listening to this and saying, 'Wow, this is awesome.'
Or incredibly lame...
Most German teams are following Dortmund's lead and putting their faith in youth, but can anyone stop big-spending Bayern?
Arsenal's testing summer took another bad turn on Friday morning when the draw was made for the final round of Champions League qualifying and they landed Udinese. Progress from the qualifying round would bring in as much as £17.4 million to the Arsenal coffers, but it is not assured against an Udinese side who came fourth in Italy's Serie A and sold three of their star players - Alexis Sanchez, Cristian Zapata and Gokhan Inler this summer.
Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, a Sheffield Wednesday XI are spanked 14-0, Mario Balotelli is on the receiving end of a rotten prank, Joey Barton keeps us entertained on Twitter while Rio Ferdinand gets a dose of his own merking medicine.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Jürgen Klinsmann's introduction as new national team coach lands as better news for some than others. Here's an early analysis of who stands to benefit most from this week's huge news -- along with a shortlist of those who might not fare as well -- as the freethinking German innovator prepares for his first match on the U.S. sidelines.
We can only hope this spells the end for Bornstein...
In the days before it was named the FA Community Shield, the FA Charity Shield was the first chance to pick up silverware in the English leagues. In 1968, reigning First Division champions Manchester City played host to FA Challenge Cup winners West Brom at Maine Road and it proved to be one of the highest scoring games in the competition's history.
Qatar Sports Investments - established in 2005 by son of the Emir and heir to the Qatari throne, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani - bought a 70% stake in PSG on 30 June and quickly installed former Inter Milan coach Leonardo as general manager.
Now PSG are threatening to do in France what Manchester City have been doing over the last couple of seasons in England - blow all and sundry out of the water when it comes to the transfer market.
Nikica Jelavic's goal had levelled the tie in the 23rd minute, but red cards for Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra hit Ally McCoist's side. The Swedes were reduced to 10 men when Ferreira Ricardinho saw red, but an 80th minute goal from Jiloan Hamad put the tie out of reach.
Rangers now drop into the final round of Europa League qualifying.
The 20 teams who go into the play-off round hat in Nyon on Friday are split based upon how they earned the right to play in the 2011-12 competition, with the champions of the smaller leagues separated from the major nations' teams who did not win their domestic competition.
UEFA announced on Thursday that Benfica, Lyon and Villarreal will join Bayern and the Gunners in the lead pot of teams, who will be drawn to face one of FC Twente, Rubin Kazan, Udinese, FC Zurich and Odense.
When asked how he would fix the American team, he answered: "I don't think there's anything wrong with the team. They lost a Gold Cup final against a very, very good Mexico team that over the last couple of years became one of the top 10 teams in the world."
You'll have to forgive Klinsmann for being disingenuous. If there wasn't something wrong with the U.S. team he wouldn't have been sitting at the Nike store in midtown Manhattan answering questions.
And his answer to that particular question was proof and declaration of what's wrong with the U.S. team. While Mexico -- a team that could reasonably be called the United States' equal a few years back -- has quickly evolved into one of the globe's top teams, the Americans have become stagnant. The Mexican resurgence has been fueled by dazzling young players.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Hey, Tim Ream, you’ve played against two of the biggest and best teams — Manchester United and Arsenal — in English and world soccer in the past week. What do you do for an encore?
There was always a suspicion that River Plate's relegation was going to prompt radical changes in Argentinian soccer. There was a hope that it would lead clubs to accept that sensible financial management is a must and a recognition that places in the top flight must be earned. But no. The Argentinian Football Association -- at least initially -- did what it did last time one of the Big Five was relegated (San Lorenzo in 1981) and decided that the system of relegation itself must be at fault. Yesterday, though, the president of AFA, Julio Grondona, in the face of mounting public pressure, backtracked.
Let’s start off with a piece of history. The only team that denied Bayern from winning at least one Bundesliga shield in two consecutive seasons was Borussia Dortmund. Does Dortmund have enough to beat Bayern this season? We will find out.
Sam Wallace: Trouble in Paradise as Spanish league turns into two-horse race, just like the Old Firm
Over the 2009-10 Spanish season, Barcelona earned £139m and Real Madrid £119m from TV deals that they negotiated individually. Getafe, who finished 16th, earned £5m from their deal. In November, a group of clubs put a proposal to Barcelona and Madrid that instead of taking 48 per cent of TV revenues, they accept 34 per cent. It was rejected. No agreement has since been reached.
His City team-mates have got their own back on the 20-year-old before they headed across the Atlantic on a two-week tour, with the kippers creating a right stench in his plush set of wheels.
'The smell really made him sick. It was revolting,' said the source.
'There were flies in the car and the leather seats in the back had rotting fish all over them.'
Thus, something fairly important slipped below radar over the weekend when FIFA drew up groups for World Cup qualifying around the globe -- a process that landed about as sweetly for the U.S. as anyone could have hoped.
Is the "Klinsi" magic at work already? The bottom line for the U.S. is the Road to Brazil is wide open, and something will have to go horribly askew if the U.S. stumbles fails to qualify for World Cup 2014.
But we pretty much knew that anyway; the CONCACAF region is a cuddly little kitten for the United States compared to what most teams in Europe and South America face.
"I remember when this was football fields," says Lee Young-Pyo, as he looks out at the crowded streets of eastern Seoul."Where we sit now," he adds referring to the coffee shop situated on the ground floor of one of a number of high-rise office/apartment blocks that tower above a large shopping mall called Star City,"is exactly where I played football for Konkuk University for four years. This is where the pitch was."
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Klinsmann and the USA were handed a dream run through qualifying last weekend, when the World Cup draw in Rio de Janeiro gave the Americans what would appear to be a trouble-free passage toward the finals in 2014.
Instead of being pitched into a semifinal group including the likes of Costa Rica or Panama (which beat them in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup), the Americans’ presumed list of opponents is Jamaica, Guatemala and Haiti. If Klinsmann could have hand-picked a set of foes for his first competitive round, it would probably have looked something like that.
Arsenal fans cannot nourish themselves so easily on memories now they have been starved of a trophy for six years.
A George Orwell quoting Joey Barton has been made to train alone this morning following his bust up with manager Alan Pardew and subsequent transfer listing.
Yet, for one part of the country, supporting your local team has largely become a labour of love with little to cheer.
The majority of clubs in Yorkshire and neighbouring Lincolnshire have lurched from well-publicised financial disaster to despair in recent years, tumbling down the divisions and, in several cases, out of the Football League altogether.
It's not always been this way, though.
Paul Marshall: A new era for Ligue 1
Ben Lyttleton: Ten storylines to follow entering the French Ligue 1 season
The United States, featuring new coach Juergen Klinsmann, was drawn with Jamaica in a qualifying group from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
England was placed with 2012 European Championship co-hosts Ukraine and Poland in Group H. Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino also are in the group.
Only 11 out of 104 clubs in England and Scotland will offer adults the chance to enjoy a day at the football for less than £20 during the new season.
A survey by the BBC Sport website of every club in the four English divisions and Scottish Premier League showed that fans in the north west have some of the cheapest deals available for matchday tickets.
The most expensive pie in English football...
HOW DOES FOOTBALL COMPARE TO THE CHEAPEST DAYS OUT AT OTHER LIVE EVENTS?
Iron Maiden at the MEN Arena: £43.10
Hull FC Super League match: £27
England v India at Trent Bridge: £41.10
Nottinghamshire CCC: £21.60
Mamma Mia, Prince of Wales Theatre: £29
But a switch of national team coach is far from being the most significant change taking place in Argentine football as a result of the fact that Grondona is seeking another term. Electoral year also provides the backdrop for the plan to merge Argentina's first and second divisions into a giant 38-team structure in a new-look league to kick off in a year's time. The immediate suspicion raised was that this is a manoeuvre to reinstate River Plate in the first division.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Maybe it's the enthralling cricket series against India, with yesterday's piece of sportsmanship, or the impending world doom, but no one in England seems to have any really interest in the start of the new EPL season. So it's hard to believe anyone outside the country will care either. Today's headlines certainly aren't going to stir much interest. Balotelli is now homesick, Barton rants on twitter, Spurs may actually sell Modric, Sneijder could go to ManU, Arsenal throw away a lead - not exactly shocking infomation. There was one piece of really revelatory news though, and it comes from Frank Lampard: England will struggle at the world cup.
Balotelli: I'm not happy in Manchester
Modric has his price says Spurs' Bond
Gunners throw away another lead as Henry lifts Cup
Barton's Twitter tirade
Barton free to leave
United move a possibility, says Sneijder
Lampard: England will struggle in 2014