Friday, July 01, 2011

Women's World Cup Scuttlebutt

Current Standings
In Germany, Women’s Team Is Winning Fans
Monica Ocampo's 30-yard effort earns Mexico draw against England
England striker Eniola Aluko affected by Twitter abuse
Ed: And to think we were worried that there was something Twitter couldn't ruin...

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The Rumor Mill

Copa America Preview

It just doesn't stop, this footballing year in Argentina. Gimnasia played the second leg of their own relegation playoff on Thursday night, after which the domestic season ended, and you might think after Velez Sarsfield's title win, Martin Palermo's retirement at Boca Juniors, and River Plate's historic relegation, that the country would be looking forward to a nice break. Not a bit of it. Because Friday night sees the opening game of the 2011 Copa America.

Hosts out to break Brazil stranglehold

The five Premier League stars who can light up Copa America 2011

After much speculation, Sergio Batista will drop Angel Di Maria to the bench in favor of Carlos Tevez, who will join up with Lionel Messi and Napoli star Ezequiel Lavezzi in attack for the opening contest.
Argentina/Bolivia Preview

MLS Forecast: Trouble in the Fort

Three familiar words prompted the recent incident better known as Fortgate, but one emotion best sums up why the incident still rankles New England's hardcore fans: frustration.

Ed: I guess Bob Kraft didn't realize that when his paying customers were yelling "You Suck, Asshole!" they were actually directing it at the opposing keeper.

PSG Implement 5 Year Plan

PSG's new Qatari owners have implemented an ambitious 5 year plan with the aim of becoming a fully industrialized nuclear-armed global super power while continuing to supply much of Eastern Europe with grain. Oh wait, it's nothing that ambitious, they just want to qualify for the Champions League and win Ligue 1.

Arsenal Exodus

This isn't the way things were meant to pan out, not in the short term, not in the long term. Long term Arsenal were meant to move to a huge new stadium, sell the old one as flats for loads of cash, watch other debt-ridden clubs with rich benefactors suffer under new financial regulations, all the time supporting Wenger's philosophy of winning trophies with a young team. Well, they have a new stadium, but not one that's quite as big as they wanted. Short term, Gunners fans were looking forward to Wenger finally bringing in some top players. Instead, Arsenal look like losing three of their best players, while bringing in another guy from France who might do well and a youngster from Southampton.
In fairness, both plans may still work out well. The financial regulations could hit other clubs hard and Wenger could yet buy brilliantly in the coming weeks.
What is certain is that Arsenal have been poorly run over the past couple of years. A couple of weeks ago I was having a drink with two friends of my girlfriend, both big Gunner fans. I mentioned that I thought Arsenal's board were bunch of chumps, that losing Dein was a mistake and that the club may regret not going for Osmanov rather than Kroenke. One of them said I might have a point with Dein, but for the other points they thought I was crazy. Well, the board have let contracts run down but don't have enough money to hold on to players by bringing in top stars or increasing wages. Instead of concentrating on the club, the emphasis has been on bickering and bitching. Last week ex-board member Lady Bracewell Smith said the board should go - that would be the board you sold your shares to, right? If Kroenke doesn't get a grip of things, doesn't spend some money, how long until van Persie goes, or even Wenger?

Arsenal face player exodus
After Clichy now Man City go for Nasri
Gervinho 'chooses Arsenal' as Lille switch edges closer

EPL Round Up

Jol opens with win for Fulham, Spurs reopen interest in Rossi, Sunderland close in on O'Shea, Liverpool close door behind Sammy Lee and other snippets of juicy Premier League news...

Jol opens with comfortable Europa win
Spurs ready to rekindle interest in £35m Rossi after Barcelona drop out
Sunderland close in on O'Shea
Sammy Lee leaves Liverpool
Liverpool chief insists he won't be held to ransom over Downing and Adam
Newcastle to let Barton run down his contract

De Gea talks success, Gill talks bollocks

New Man Utd Keeper believes his club shouldn't be fazed by Champions League challenge, his chairman believes the club are being victimised, the world can't believe Fergie is now a doctor...

De Gea eyes European success
Gill slates FA for victimisation of United
Dr Fergie

Carson Yeung Gets Prison Blues

Since winning the Carling Cup things have just got better and better for Birmingham City fans. First their team was relegated and then their manager left for their city rivals. Now their chairman is under investigation for money laundering almost £60 million.
Yeung charged and bailed
No league sanctions yet for Yeung

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Norman Hubbard: Jobless Hughes misjudged own appeal

Mark Hughes surprised Fulham by submitting his resignation after a solitary season in charge. The impression offered was that bigger and better things awaited; instead, nothing has materialised. It leaves his opinion of his own abilities looking inflated.

Brazil: Will it be ready for the World Cup?

One of the big challenges for Brazil is to transport the spectators between the 12 host cities across the country.

The burgeoning middle class in the country has been taking to the air in ever increasing numbers. The number of internal flights has risen by 80 million in the past five years and the same increase is predicted by 2014.

That can't be correct. 80 million internal flights...?

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Thursday's Rumours


Jonathan Wilson: Copa America Preview

The horror for Argentina would be not just failing to win the South American championship at home, but Brazil succeeding.

Argentina approach Copa América less in hope than trepidation.

River Plate accused of allowing ultras to threaten referee at half-time

A video has emerged of a senior River Plate official appearing to encourage a leader of the club's hooligan gang to threaten the referee at half-time of their crucial match against Belgrano on Sunday in which they were trailing 1-0. River Plate, Argentina's most decorated club, went on to lose the match 2-0 and were relegated to the second division for the first time in their history.

A prosecutor has opened an investigation into the disturbances which followed the match and said he would be "checking all the material" from security cameras.

In his report the referee, Sergio Pezzotta, alleged that he had been threatened with death when a number of men gained access to the referee's room at River's Monumental stadium at half-time.

Needing funding, Jay DeMerit film tells story of his unlikely rise

A decade ago, DeMerit went undrafted by MLS. Not ready to give up on soccer, DeMerit went to England and stayed in his friend Kieren Keane's mother's London flat, with DeMerit sleeping in the attic and surviving off the £40 a week he was paid by Southall Town, a team on the lowest rung of the English soccer hierarchy.

After failing at tryout after tryout, DeMerit eventually found a spot with seventh-division Northwood FC, where he was spotted by the manager of FC Watford, who gave DeMerit a trial and eventually a contract. From there, DeMerit enjoyed a stunning rise, scoring a crucial goal to get Watford promoted to the English Premier League and eventually being awarded the captaincy of the club.

MLS: Toronto FC signs Frings, Koevermans

Toronto FC bolstered their squad with some experienced European players by signing former Germany midfielder Torsten Frings and ex-Netherlands forward Danny Koevermans, the Major League Soccer club said on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Frings and 32-year-old Koevermans became two of the club's "designated players" who are paid mainly outside the team's salary cap and will begin playing after July 15 when the MLS transfer window opens.

First XI: Fat Footballers

It's the time of year when many footballers pile on the pounds on their summer break, so this week's First XI looks at some of the game's great overweight players.

Howard Apologetic Over Outburst

"I would like to apologise for my language," the Everton goalkeeper said in the Liverpool Echo. "I am the father of young children and I certainly do not believe profanity is appropriate in public comments. I was caught up in the heat of the moment."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Love Me as Much as You Love Chicharito? Adu, Adu …

After the 2011 Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico, Freddy Adu was widely considered the best American player on the field because of his work rate and willingness to take on defenders. For the past four years, he has been out of favor on his pu pu platter of second-tier European club teams. On Saturday, Freddy potentially "got his swag back" and might have earned a role on the national team in the next World Cup qualifying cycle. While this was probably a "feel-good story" because he finally "won over" American soccer fans for his performance on the field instead of for his teen acting skills in Sierra Mist commercials, I'm not sure if this is the prevailing storyline that the American soccer fan would like to take from the Gold Cup.

Women's World Cup: North Korea's coach blames loss to U.S. on his players getting struck by lightning

"When we stayed in Pyongyang during training our players were hit by lightning, and more than five of them were hospitalised," said coach Kim, without naming the affected players specifically.

"Some stayed in hospital and then came to Germany later than the rest of us. The goalkeeper and the four defenders were most affected, and some midfielders as well. The physicians said the players were not capable of participating in the tournament"

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Wednesday's Rumours


Zonal Marking: European Team of the Season 2010/11

A self-explanatory list of eleven starters, and eleven substitutes.

Theo Janssen, FC Twente

New Egypt sees old sporting rivalry resume

As Cairo's biggest football clubs – Zamalek and Ahly – prepare for the local derby, the revolution is bringing change to the sport.

Mexico suspend eight players for six months after hotel incident

The players involved are forwards Marco Fabián de la Mora, Javier Cortés and Néstor Calderón, midfielders Jonathan Dos Santos, Jorge Hernández and David Cabrera and defenders Nestor Vidrio and Israel Jimenez.

Mexican media reported the players had told the coach, Luis Fernando Tena, that they had belongings stolen from their rooms after inviting "female guests" to stay. Tena told reporters: "It's lamentable, I didn't expect it, I was surprised. Now we must start again."

The hotel's manager, Robert Ramia, told the Ecuadorean news programme Ecuavisa: "We have video of women entering the rooms area of the hotel."

David de Gea completes move to Manchester United on five-year deal

De Gea is United's third new signing of the summer, following the deals for Phil Jones and Ashley Young.

De Gea told MUTV: "I feel very proud and I can't wait to start playing here. When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you it obviously makes you very, very happy.

United States National Team: Hard Lessons

Losing 4-2 to Mexico in the Gold Cup final was the best thing that could have happened to the United States men's national soccer team. It's time for the USMNT and its fans to grow up and realize that progress is not measured by narrow victories over Central American countries or avoiding embarrassment at the World Cup. The solution to what's wrong with the team is bigger than putting Jonathan Bornstein on a slow boat to Honduras. It's even bigger than firing Bob Bradley.

What should the goal of the national team be? Should it be to win as many games as possible? To defend the country's honor and foster a sense of civic pride? To get Landon Donovan on late-night talk shows? The goal of the USMNT should be very simple: To win a World Cup. Every single decision Bob Bradley and U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati make should be considered with that idea in mind. Instead, the minds in charge of the USMNT have consistently employed a strategy based around quick fixes and short-term victories.

Onyewu Makes Sporting Switch

United States international Oguchi Onyewu has officially joined Portugal's Sporting Club on a free transfer.

Who You Should Buy: Sunderland

Sometimes as a soccer fan it must be hard to fathom the goings on at your club. Sunderland is a case in point. Mackem fans, after having seen their team reach respectable mid-table mediocrity last year, have been heard to cry 'what the fuck!' with increasing regularity and volume as the transfer period has progressed. 'We're selling youngster Jordan Henderson - what the fuck?!' ''We're getting £20 million for him - what the fuck?!!' 'We're getting David Ngog - what the fuck?!!!' 'We're getting Ngog and Darren Gibson - what the FUCK?!'. At least their manager should have plenty of money at his disposal after the sales of Henderson and Darren Bent. But how will he use it.? Will it be the Bruce that bought Asamoah Gyan, or the Bruce that bought David Healy? Despite having Sessegnon and Cattermole on the books and having brought in Seb Larsson recently, Bruce seems intent on bringing in more midfielders. That's fine, but if your main source of creativity last season came from old-timers Malbranque and Zenden, maybe Charlie Adam or Stephen Ireland would be better choices than Craig Gardner and Gibson. Getting one of them would cost a bit, but Sunderland have the funds, and with such proven players the risk would be minimal. Or they could really go crazy and buy Charles N'Zogbia. But it's an English manager we talking about. Why take a risk on one of those unreliable, moody creative show ponies, when you could buy an overpriced guy who runs around?
Sunderland will also be on the look out for a replacement for Bent. Crouch would fit the bill if they want experience, Wickham if they want youth. Nzog it'll be then [actually it wont].

Signing No.1 should be Charlie Adam. A good fit for both parties.

Signing No. 2 is a new central defender. Anton Ferdinand gets plenty of paying time - enough said. Scott Dann would do a better job. Wes Brown? Yeah, he would too.

Signing No. 3 a replacement for Bent. Crouchie or Wickham could pick up some tips from Niall Quinn.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uli Hesse in Germany

About nine years ago, somebody named Andrew sent a mail to ask if I would be interested in writing columns for ESPNsoccernet, dispatches from Germany about, well, whatever happened to catch my fancy.

Or maybe not literally whatever happened to catch my fancy, as Andrew added the pieces should, ideally, meet two conditions. First, they should have at least a fleeting connection to football. Second, they should tell foreign readers a bit about that mysterious country known as Germany, its mores and rites, tribes and regions.

Andrew has long since left the Soccernet building - to explore the world, I gather - while, 240 columns later, I'm still trying to meet his requirements as best I can.

I'm confident I have usually delivered on the first count, despite the odd piece about cyber vandalism, David Hasselhoff, or the origin of family names. I'm not sure, however, about the second stipulation.

Roberto Gotta in Italy

When Genoa unmercifully sacked Gian Piero Gasperini last November, after a defeat at Palermo left them with just 11 points from ten matches, it marked the end of an era for what is now the city's only Serie A side. Genoa had played arguably their best football in decades in getting promoted from the Serie B at the end of the 2006-07 season then finishing 2008-09 in fourth place, when only a worse head-to-head record to Fiorentina prevented them from gaining a place in the Champions League preliminary round. Their rapid, flamboyant rise had sent the red-and-blue half of town into rapture and inspired owner Enrico Preziosi to generate a nickname for Gasperini (who signed a two-year contract with Inter on Saturday) that spread like bushfire among the Genoa fans: "Gasperson".

The Big Interview: Kevin Keegan

Footballing legend Kevin Keegan talks about his record as a player, his managerial career and the corruption crisis facing Fifa.

Steve Davis on MLS

Know your Major League Soccer --

Five things we learned from Week 15:

Tim Vickery in South America

I am heading down to Argentina not looking forward to the intense winter cold - quite frankly, it is the kind of thing I crossed the Atlantic to avoid - but with a warm glow in anticipation of the 43rd Copa America, which kicks off on Friday.

The tournament has a double-edged beauty. It is a pilgrimage to a place where football history was made, and a fascinating opportunity to witness history in the making.

The world's oldest continental tournament, the Copa was first staged in Argentina in 1916. There are times during the competition's 95-year history that it can claim to have showcased some of the best football ever seen at that point.

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Tuesday's Rumours


Richard Williams: Only pettiness makes us sneer at Olympic football

Football may soon be the one stadium-based Olympic sport available to the walk-up British public, and it is one of the best.

Joel Richards in Argentina

After 110 years in the first division, the millonarios were relegated marking both for the club and for Argentinian football the end, and beginning, of an era.

River Plate problems run deeper than just relegation.

Sam Kelly in Argentina

The great Konrad Adenauer, who led West Germany as chancellor after the end of the Second World War, once said that "history is the sum total of things that could have been avoided." Football fans in Argentina might reflect on that, if they've heard it. Because I type, on a Monday morning, in the aftermath of an historic event in football. Here in Buenos Aires, something happened that many of Argentina's football fans literally never thought they'd see in their lifetimes; River Plate have been relegated from the country's top flight.

Monday, June 27, 2011

U.S. Soccer: Jurgen Klinsmann and 6 Candidates to Replace Under-Fire Bob Bradley

It is more apparent now than it ever has been. Bob Bradley must be sacked as manager of the United States.

Enough is enough. Bradley seems content to let the United States be second best while the likes of rivals Mexico and other CONCACAF teams get stronger. Right now, Americans should be asking themselves a very worrying question: Will we even qualify for the 2014 World Cup?

River Plate & The Top 10 Shock Relegations

On Sunday, River were relegated from the Argentine Primera Division in one of football's biggest ever shock demotions.

Below are 10 other relegations that stunned football.

Monday MLS Breakdown

MLS dished out $16,000 in fines for three separate transgressions involving D.C. United striker Charlie Davies, New York and Los Angeles. Two large clubs and a prominent striker felt the wrath of MLS on what turned out to be a very expensive Friday afternoon. Although all three incidents deal with separate and unique infractions on and off the field, they are linked by the fact that the prominence of the parties involved essentially forced the league to take significant disciplinary action in order uphold its regulations. D.C. United striker Charlie Davies procured the most discussed of the three fines after the Disciplinary Committee fined him $1,000 for his penalty-winning tumble in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake.


France: Focus on Paris Saint-Germain

Seeing Paris Saint-Germain plastered all over the French media is nothing new, but for once their monopoly of the sports pages has got nothing to do with fan violence, murky transfer dealings or on-pitch underachievement. Instead, the club's takeover by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) has turned them into major players on the European transfer scene and sparked hope among supporters that a return to the glory days of the mid-1990s might be just around the corner.

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Monday's Rumours


Argentina: River Plate fans riot after relegation

River Plate were relegated to Argentina's second division for the first time in their 110-year history on Sunday, sparking ugly street battles between police and fans.

More violence as River go down

Marcela Mora y Araujo: River Plate's descent into madness

USA’s Howard livid after Spanish ceremony

“CONCACAF should be ashamed of itself,” Howard told Yahoo! Sports. “I think it was an [expletive] disgrace that the entire post-match ceremony was held in Spanish. You can bet your [expletive] if we were in Mexico City it wouldn’t all be in English.”

Except is was not entirely in Spanish. Ease up, Timmy...

CONCACAF Gold Cup: Final Reports & Analyses

Mexico 4 - 2 United States

Jonathan Wilson: Mexico exploits porous U.S. defense

Five U.S. Points

Steve Davis:
Player Ratings

Ives: Mexico just too good

Grant Wahl:
Three Thoughts

Andrea Canales:
Mexico shows newfound resilience


UEFA European U-21 Championship: Spain Trio Torment Swiss

Central midfield trio Ander Herrera, Thiago Alcantara and Javi Martinez were the stand-out performers in an impressive Spain performance as they clinched the UEFA Under 21 European Championship title on Saturday night. Switzerland had not conceded a single goal going into the final, but Herrera and Thiago scored either side of half-time to finish off Switzerland 2-0 in Aarhus.