Tuesday, November 13, 2007

USMNT in South Africa

Just in case you missed it, the always-informative, must-read USMNT blog is now easier to find and read. Check it out.

Also, Donovan has been ruled out of the match with the calf strain and Bradley will not be calling in replacements. Interesting.

Anyways, I was going to make a small comment on the blog but it ended up being a big one, so I think I'll relay it here. I miss you guys.


Goalkeepers (2) – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
Defenders (7) –Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Dan Califf (Aalborg BK), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
Midfielders (6) – Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA)
Forwards (2) – Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC)


My post (partially in response to someone whining that Rolfe and Ferrari didn't get called up, and to someone else cheering the squad for being attack-minded):

Rolfe and Ferrari would have been good call-ups. (So would Szetela and Zizzo, for that matter.)

Attack-minded? Not so sure about that. Superficially we have seven defenders, six midfielders, and two forwards. That doesn't sound attack minded to me.

What it does sound like is Deuce floating around up top as target man, and while I argue that Dempsey is the best man for the job, I would also like to point out that he produces his best when he's got plenty of support. He and Freddy seem to have something, but will Freddy start? Not likely.

Here's my lineup:





... though I wouldn't be surprised if Kljestan got the start over Benny. I see Bradley and DMB pinching up for flank support.

Potential subs: Adu for Bradley, Pearce or Bornstein, depending on the score. Jozy for Deuce no later than the 80th. Spector for Bornstein in the 1st or 2nd half, depending on the score. Possibly Califf for Gooch. Possibly Guzan for Timmy, depending on the score.

Can Pearce cross well? I haven't seen him as a mid, though I understand he's had a bit of PT there at Rostock.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Are You a Fan? D.C. United 2 (0) - 2 (1) Chicago

These are the games that try you, the games that test your mettle, your devotion as a fan. I count myself among the truly faithful. This game was nothing less than a valiant loss. DC were fighting poor odds at the half and put in extraordinary effort to recoup. If the game could have been won by dint of whichever team wanted it more, if the winners could have advanced by the sheer magnitude of their hunger, I am positive DC would be the victors. I am so proud of my team.

It's so bittersweet, the taste in my mouth right now. Could be blood because I screamed myself hoarse at the local college bar, the only D.C. fan in a several-hundred-mile radius (Chicago has none up here, haha!), or it could be because I saw my guys come so close and walk away empty-handed.

It hurts.

Fullback says the same, but better.

Other notes:

- The first half was bust. Blanco was effectively kept in check, which freed Carr, Rolfe, and Barrett to shine like the budding young stars they are. It never occurred to me until the moment Addlery stepped onto the pitch for Emilio that Chicago's front line might actually be deeper than ours. Now that I think about it, our front line is fairly shallow and the disparity between the starters, all two of them, and the subs is enormous. Tonight the disparity was insurmountable.

- Who can blame McTavish for blowing a reflex shot with his weaker foot? Remember, it was coming to him off Addlery's shin.

- Carr's poor touch and dive should have been a penalty. Perkins got lucky, both with a free kick and a yellow. I don't know how CJ Brown got a better look than the ref, but he did, or he thought he did, and he would have been correct. It's a shame the non-calls didn't go both ways.

- It's a little buried in all the despair emanating from RFK right now, but Clyde Simms put in the performance of a lifetime. Even without having the sickest volley since Olsen's hat trick, Simms played awesome defense and always had the quickest touch out of DC's defensive third. Clyde Simms is my favorite defender in DC right now. Burch would be second and Namoff third.

- Fred must be feeling weary. I wonder how he feels about the prospect of an offseason after nearly 12 months of constant pressure and effort. He deserves every bit of rest he gets.

- Olsen, you hero, you tried damned hard. I never have and I never will fail to believe in you.

- Moreno and Gomez, you are the fire behind the flag. You're each worth more than all the money in Qatar. I know both of you know exactly how much the two of you mean to DC.

- Tom Soehn, you've made it through with a few bruises, cuts and scrapes. DC has high expectations next season. I'm confident you will fulfill them. I'll get back to you in a second.

- Boswell, McTavish, Burch: there's work to be done. Take some time, let things settle, think it over. You're still three of the most promising young defenders in the league. Don't forget that.

- Namoff: so dependable. Same as Olsen, you have my utter faith.

- Addlery: I won't easily forget all the chances you've missed this season. I hope you have the willpower to find motivation where it won't easily be found.

- Dyachenko, you get a lot of stick about not a whole lot. I like what I see and I hope to see more. You definitely made a difference out there and stepped up when we needed you to. It might be asking a lot, but if you pick up a finishing touch during the offseason, there is a bigger role for you here in the future. I know you know you didn't deserve that red.

- Perkins: you are a rock. You and Namoff and Olsen and Jaime and Gomez: you are the foundation of D.C. United. Never doubt that.

- Pickens reminded me of Perkins except Perkins wouldn't have punched half those crosses and would have saved Gomez' goal.

- Bakary Soumare reminded me of Simms except bigger and less scrappy.

- Forget The Cheat, Calen Carr is one of Chicago's best assets. A lot of energy was spent on Blanco (and it worked), but that gave Carr all the more room to work with and in my opinion Carr ranks as one of the most dangerous lone strikers in the league. Barret and Rolfe are decent, but I think they benefit very much from Blanco's attention-getting. They weren't this good when he wasn't around and they don't scare the shit out of me like Carr does all on his own. What's more, that pass which led to Barret's goal was sublime and well beyond his years. I think I saw Frank Lampard do something similar over the weekend.

- Soehn, a few words: your front line is dangerously thin. Recruit help.


See you in the spring, guys. I'll check in from time to time, but expect updates to center around United gossip, MNT gossip, or something phenomenal concerning Chelsea, 'Gers, Adu or Bradley.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

US Nats Handle Swiss, US 1-0 Switzerland

It's been awhile.

I caught the first thirty minutes of the match via an online feed, but the feed was so shitty that I quit it and took a nap and waited for good news and highlights. They came, and I'm delighted.

Players Who Made Strong Cases For Themselves

First and foremost, Maurice Edu did wonderful for his first cap. What a great effort. Max Bretos indicated that Edu was fulfilling Mastroeni's role on the field, but I disagree; Edu was certainly more useful than that. Edu reminded me a little bit of young Bradley during the U-20 World Cup, except he didn't have as many messes to clean up and he was much more attack-minded. Edu certainly deserves more international minutes in the future. Great job.

Secondly, this Deuce experiment up top is working. Finally Dempsey is in a position where he can utilize his Texas build and Texas pride in tandem. I don't think it would be a stretch to compare Deuce to Zlatan Ibrahimovic: target strikers with an overabundance of pride and physicality. I like it. What's more, I was browsing ussoccer.com earlier today and watch the video spotlight on Deuce and Zimmerman mentioned that Deuce is great at holding up the ball. It's the damn truth. Deuce is a real asset up top, and I only wish Twellman was an adequate partner.

With the sudden fountain of youth flooding the pitch, it's good to see our old faithful standby Eddie Lewis is still able to turn a few tricks. He made a rather flawless jump from League Two to the Premier League and he brings that same kind of character and ability to the international stage as well. It's noteworthy that Bradley had him starting over Pearce.

Szetela has everyone abuzz yet again. Seems that kid never fails to be noticed. He definitely didn't hurt the team and his cross was quite the looker. I have a good feeling Santander will make the most out of him.

I like Brad Guzan. I genuinely like him. I think he will have a successful international career. Rumors that Arsenal are scouting him don't surprise me. As a defender, I would rather see my keeper out smothering a loose ball at the top of the key than wait for it to bounce into the area. Hahnemann is cool, too, but I like Guzan better.

I was asleep so I didn't see much of Adu, but that little beeline straight down the middle was pretty smart. Benfica is rubbing off on him. Between Edu, Adu, Szetela, Bradley and Feilhaber, the US has a healthy midfield corps that will certainly make us proud come time for the Confederations Cup.

I'm Worried About...

I think it's telling that Gooch didn't worry me much this game, certainly not compared to the anger and woe he's incurred in the past. Bocanegra is a reassuring presence, as is Cherundolo; I'm not worried about them, either. The only spot that does worry me is left back. Heath Pearce and Rostock are to the Bundesliga what Feilhaber and Derby are to the Premier League, both promising young lads on a disappointing squad who need more minutes than they're getting. We need a solid option for left back, and if Lewis is starting over Pearce, I can't say that we've found one. I don't think Pearce can become a viable option for us at left back until he cements himself as Rostock's premier option for left back, much like Cherundolo has done at Hannover.

Beasley's ankle worries me. He's been a revelation for 'Gers and he looked great for those ten minutes on the pitch. I hope he recovers soon.

...and that's it.

It's great for our boys to finally pull one out on European soil against a European side. A gritty win, but utterly necessary.

Before I go on hiatus again, I would like to hereby affirm my utter confidence in Bob Bradley as head coach of the USMNT. He has a head on his shoulders and is definitely moving the program in a positive direction, looking at longterm results rather than flashbang status. I don't think Klinsmann or Pekerman would have had the same kind of patience and foresight to turn friendly matches into the developmental tools and benchmarks that they've become under Bradley. My jury's still out on Nowak; I'm reserving judgment until post-Olympics.

Rossi, if you're thinking about joining the fold, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I have two papers due by tomorrow, so this is it for awhile.



Thursday, September 6, 2007


I am on hiatus indefinitely. College is hard. Sorry.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hot to Trot: DCU 4 (!!) - 0 (!!!!) FC Dallas

Who expected that? DCU has been hot as of lately, the team finally showing some awareness of one another, and Perkins has been perfectly good. But against an FC Dallas side in sore need of a win, at their home stadium, with Denilson just waiting to make a big impression?... I didn't dare dream we'd notch our biggest road win since 1998. What a shutout.

I'd like to reiterate the recommendations already permeating the DCU blogosphere: Marc Burch for MotM, Ben Olsen for MLS MVP. Ben the Bearded Bombardier (trademarked by Fullback) has already tallied a career-high goal count for the season and I fully expect another one or two to follow. Equally impressive on the night was our rampant young gun, Marc Burch, sending in crosses Beckham would envy (and you know what, now that Becks is benched, that's no exaggeration). I fully expect not only Ben to score some more, but Burch to tally more assists and possibly a goal. Maybe even a free kick. With Vanney watching in jealousy. Against Galaxy. With Beckham crying. Delicious.

Bobby "What do you believe in?" Boswell cracked the starting lineup again and quickly found his old form. Comments over at DCenters indicate that Boswell looked good because he a) played better defense and b) eliminated the superfluous touches and runs that would leave him stranded upfield. I agree that this is the case. The comments also indicate that these superfluous touches are the bane of Brian Carroll's form of late, and I agree with this also.

Perkins can be happy with himself, earning another shut out and lowering his already-rock-bottom GAA. Despite criticism early in the season, he's an incredibly dependable player to have. After these past few weeks, I expect Soehn to do everything in his power to keep Perkins around for a very long time.

Let's see... Running down the list, we've covered Olsen, Burch, Boswell, Perkins... Ah yes: Fred.

Our boy Fred found the net yet again, taking him up to 5 in his premiere season with MLS. After Fred sprinted thirty yards for a ball which rolled out anyways, Tom Rongen mentioned that he has been playing competitive games non-stop for nearly 12 months, since the start of last season's A-League. Unbelievable. My respect for him doubled, and then nearly tripled when he scored. He is a machine and I can't wait for him to get the rest he deserves, and then come back next season to reiterate to the league that one doesn't need DP status to make a big impact. What a standout, classy player.

As long as we're talking about success stories, let's give a good, long shout out to Clyde Simms. Carroll earned himself a suspension by dint of too many yellows but I'm inclined to think that Simms would have started anyways. Simms plays with a style that is strong and yet humble, as evidenced by his effort to assist Olsen's cracker in the 4th. He scampers up to steal Sala's poor clearance follows his first instinct: pass. How many players do you know that would pass the ball of after stealing it 25 yards out in center midfield? Truly unselfish, Simms.

Emilio was heartily disappointed to step off the field in favor of McTavish around the 60th, and I can sympathize. When four different players find net and none of them are the league-leading goalscorer who needs to defend his bid for the Golden Boot against JPA, a substitution can be very depressing. Furthermore, he nearly found net on the goal which gave Olsen his brace. Better luck next time, Luci. For the record, I also think his early sub has something to do with his hammy. The extra rest will do him good. Let's hope he doesn't get carried away with practice on Monday.

Kudos to Gomez for scoring the kind of goal we'd have expected from him about this time last year. Jaime put in an honest effort as well. Namoff recovered from his poor form a couple games ago to hamper Arturo Alvarez and Dax McCarty's best efforts. Vanney was probably the weakest link last night.

Other notes:

- Soehn has redeemed himself, IMO. As Jeff Popovic rightly points out, we're building momentum going into September rather than losing steam into October. If Vanney could find some way to prove to the world that he's not going to hold the team back, I'd be thrilled about our bid for the MLS Cup.

- Dax McCarty is MLS quality, I'd say, but I really wish he was something more. He works well in Dallas' system, but he's a far cry from being called up to the MNT the same way Adu, Zizzo, and Altidore have.

- Denilson can dribble and could definitely open a defense singlehandedly, but I wonder if he has it within him to make an impact on the team as a whole, the same way Blanco and Beckham have. Furthermore, I challenge any DP we might sign in the future take that role away from Ben Olsen. Not gonna happen.

- Furthermore, I think Olsen has retrospectively proven just why he was called up to the MNT for the Copa. Anyone else hoping he makes the roster for Brazil?


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Game Over, Rangers

I just saw this year's Champs League draw courtesty The Offside: CL.

Group E

That's what the group looks like going into the competition, and that's about how I expect it to look coming out.

Rangers are fecked.

On the upside, they do have the potential to cause some MAJOR upsets, particularly with a Lyon side that aren't the giant giant-killers they were last year. I have hope yet, but I'll refrain from bets about this one.

Recap: 1st Knockout Round, U-17 World Cup

You can see all the highlights for yourself on the FIFA website, right here.

Germany 2-1 USA
Already recapped.

England 3-1 Syria
A penalty and two team efforts saw England advance over the Asians on Thursday. Though he was powerless to stop Syrian MF Ziad Ajouz' wicked strike early in the second half, GK Alex Smithies was again an outstanding presence between the sticks for the English. The man of the match, however, was surely MF Henri Lansbury who buried yet another penalty for the Brits and assisted on the final goal courtesy FW Rhys Murphy. This win sees England move on to the quarterfinals where they are favored to advance again.

Nigeria 2-1 Columbia
The game was nil-nil coming out of halftime and Nigeria and Columbia looked dead even, suffering the same amount of defensive blunders while the scoreline reflected the same. That is, until FW Yakubu Alfa scored his first goal of the tournament off a beautiful strike eight minutes from time. The Nigerians advance to the quarterfinals. However, while they might have superior athleticism, the Nigerian defense this game left much to be desired and much a potential opponent such as Spain could exploit. They don't impress me as a team to advance past the next round.

Argentina 2-0 Costa Rica
Two well-executed Albiceleste corner kicks sent the young Ticos home, each supplied by FW Santiago Fernandez and finished by DF Gaston Sauro (who enjoyed his first 90 minutes of the tournament, no less). Argentina is establishing itself as the most lethal team from a distance this tournament as they look like scoring every time they penetrate their attacking third. These fearsome South Americans are headed to the quarterfinals and surely they have momentum enough to carry them to the semis.

Peru (5) 1-1 (4) Tajikistan
Though the field was sopping wet and the ball quite slippery, 90 minutes and extra time wasn't enough to settle the score between the Peruvians and Tajiks. Though Tajik GK Farrukh Berdiev made more than a few fantastic saves and was quite possibly the only reason the Tajiks survived to penalties, Peruvian GK Eder Hermoza proved the hero by stopping a Tajik penalty, allowing MF Luis Trujillo to step up for the win. Peru are underdogs going into the quarterfinals. Their chances of advancing are slim.

Ghana 1-0 Brazil
A tremendous performance by Ghana's goalkeeper puts the Africans into the next round. While Brazil looked the worst they had all tournament, they still produced several goal-scoring opportunities, none of which they converted. Considering the Brazilians form and performances prior, I'd call this result an upset, but by no means does it imply that Ghana will be ill-equipped to handle their opponents in the next round. They're having a good run this year and I expect it to continue.

Spain 3-0 Korea DPR
FW Bojan bags a brace as Spain shut out North Korea to advance to the quarterfinals. Korea had little to do with the affair, managing just three shots on goal to show for ninety minutes work. Allowing Korea just 38% possession, Spain maintain their impressive and classy form this tournament and remain my firm favorite to become champions.

France 3-1 Tunisia
10-man Tunisia blocked a penalty during regulation only for a brace from FW Damien Le Tallec to put them away in extra time. The resurgent Bleuettes recovered from their poor performance throughout group stage to menace the hence-fearsome Tunisians the whole match long. France advance to the semi-finals in a limbo of form that appears to be a coach's nightmare, but I for one don't think they'll survive long. You'll see why shortly.


You can see them in a nice, graphically-organized display, but here are the quarterfinal matches, my picks to advance in bold.


France v. Spain
Ghana v. Peru


Argentina v. Nigeria
England v. Germany

The ENG/GER match you'll want to watch. Perennial rivals, both sides have looked champion-quality since the beginning. Fireworks, definitely.


And now, a modified Best XI for the quarterfinals:

Bojan (ESP)
Ransford Osei (GHA)

Toni Kroos (GER)
Henri Lansbury (ENG)
Fran Merida (ESP)
Sheriff Isa (GHA)
Kevin Wolze (GER)

Alexis Machuca (ARG)
Nana Ofori-Twumasi (ENG)
Daniel Opare (GHA)

Alex Smithies (ENG)

FW Macaulay Chrisantus (NGA)
FW Damien Le Tallec (FRA)
MF Rabiu Ibrahim (NGA)
MF Reimond Manco (PER)
DF Gaston Suaro (ARG)
DF Mamadou Sakho (FRA)
GK Eder Hermoza (PER)



U-17's Out: USA 1-2 Germany

Hmmm. Highlights here.

The Germans were easily the more dangerous side, outshooting the US 18-10. FW Richard Sukuta-Pasu scored a brace on the day and was nearly joined on the scoreboard by half a dozen of his teammates. Toni Kroos, a member of the Best XI lineup I posted a few days ago, threatened a good many times from midfield.

On a positive note, the US young guns used their dead-ball and box-packing skills to their utmost, captain and defender Mykell Bates scoring another with his head in the box (this one a messy affair, as opposed to the glorious header versus Belgium which put them through). Josh Lambo put in a hero's performance, keeping Kroos out and the US in for much of the game. I would say that Lambo was nearly the most outstanding player on the pitch, second only to Sukuta-Pasu. I'll be keeping tabs on him as he makes his way through the ranks. Likewise young Mykell Bates; he seems a born leader.

In the end, this result was highly predictable as only a few choice sides present at the tournament look capable of stopping or even slowing the Germans enough to beat them.

Sorry, boys. Better luck next time.

Galaxy Could Have Won It: LAG (3) 1-1 (4) Pachuca

Oh, heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking. After the Gals knocked DC out in the semis I wished them a lot of ill luck, but I wouldn't have wished them that. It must feel awful. See for yourself.

After some powerful threats in the first half, Galaxy concedes an own goal. At the tail end of an unproductive season suffered at breakneck pace, the weary Gals are demoralized. At one point Beckham heedlessly charges for a 50-50 ball only to crack his knee by the force of his momentum. He's assisted off the pitch and by the look on his face, you could tell he realized that he would be off for a very long time. (Six weeks, to be exact.) By the end of the match, he's again wearing a suit and tie.

The game progresses like so towards the dying minutes when suddenly Buddle's header is off the crossbar, thena failed defensive clearance-- and then Chris Klein is skyward for the bike to equalize. It was magical football, an audacious display from a team at the rock bottom of their league, tying a championship final with a team at the top. It meant the world to the Galaxy. The fans loved it. The audience loved it. Who doesn't enjoy a 90-minute Cinderella story?

Penalties. Vagenas saved, Pachuca scores. 0-1. Cobi scores, Pachuca scores, 1-2. Cannon saves, 2-2. Then 3-3. Marvin Cabrera steps up for Pachuca-- and eats crossbar. Donovan steps up to seal the win with a trademark penalty-- and fails. 3-3. Pachuca scores and it's 4-3. Finally: Xavier, in his attempt to keep the Gals alive, misses horribly. Game over, trophy's gone. Heartbreaking.


In its inaugural season the Superliga has produced some of the most exciting matches I have ever seen, undoubtedly. It has all of the drama, pace, and action you want to see when you pay $25, $35, $50 for tickets to see a game. It will keep people coming back, I'm sure.

The league's next developments will be expansion and English-language broadcasting rights, and if these two initiatives succeed the prize money will increase and the tournament will be all the more alluring. Great stuff. I'll look forward to it next year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

RIP Antonio Puerta

You've heard that twenty-two year-old Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta collapsed mid-game and later passed away in the hospital. You might not have heard that Antonio's girlfriend is expecting next month. Condolences to family, friends, and the Sevilla community.

Monday, August 27, 2007

US U-17's to Face Germany in Round of 16

Very unfortunate draw for the Americans. Germany is a tough, very physically mature side that has been in hot form throughout the tournament. They finished atop their group with a total of 11 goals scored, second only to the Brazil side which thrashed New Zealand 7-0. I'm no journalist, just a lowly pundit, and therefore I have license to publish my opinion: the US won't succeed this match. If, however, we did manage to upset the rampant Germans (they did concede 5 goals in 3 matches, including 3 vs. Columbia and shutting out only T&T), I would gladly eat my share of humble pie.

Match to watch: Brazil vs. Ghana. ESP-ARG/ENG-BRZ are probably still the matches of the tournament, but we'll just wait and see.

View the full Round of 16 draw here.

MLS Goal of the Week 08/27

Ah, this, my hundredth post. I think I will make it something light and frivolous.

This week's Sierra Mist GotW competition is dominated by awesome assists. Blanco's long distance assist for Barrett, Johnson's acrobatic backheel for Burciaga Jr., and Schelotto's hoodoo feint in the box for Moreno's finish are three of the best assists you'll see all season. Only Jaime, with his penalty to take the MLS record, and arguably Altidore, with his cool finish by the outside of his right boot, caption goals produced by individual effort.

I think I voted for Alejandro Moreno's goal because Schelotto's juke in the box was neat. I might have voted for Burciaga because any time a defender wins GotW is a good time (Erpen, where's the repeat?) and I honestly could have voted for Blanco not only for his footballing skill, but because in spite of his badass reputation, he's a class act and a treasure for Chi-Town fans. I didn't vote for Jaime out of respect that he didn't want to take the record off a penalty. I expect him to score a better goal soon.

Anyways, just wanted to point this out.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Benfica Sells Fernandes to Valencia

Benfica has offloaded another Portuguese talent. Valencia scored the 21 year-old for something between 12-15 million Euros.

My first reaction: wtf is Benfica doing?

My second reaction: Camacho must be at least mildly impressed with Adu to sell Fernandes.

We'll just have to see what happens on Sept. 2nd when Nacional hosts Benfica. According to the poorly-updated uefa.com Benfica profile, Fernandes' sale leaves Benfica's midfield terribly shorthanded with just five mids to their name. Then again, Freddy's listed as a forward so there's bound to be some mix and match.


Recap: U-17 World Cup, Group Stage

I almost included this in the DC/U-17 recap, but there's absolutely too much to mention for this not to be an entirely new post. Again, FIFA's coverage of the tournament is excellent and these young, budding stars are receiving a lot of great press.


Spain is still my pick to win the tournament. Despite a 1-1 draw with Argentina, they play on a different level than the rest of the competition. Argentina scored from distance and distance definitely seemed their preferred style, but Spain drove straight into their defensive third and molested their back line. They scored off a sick cross from the left flank that Daniel Esquino poked in with a diving header. Incredible. I would have loved to be on hand to watch this match.

Tell you what, though, England vs. Brazil is one to remember. England scored a penalty, stopped a penalty, and scored in the second half to take the game, but above everything else, you need to see Tales' free kick to open the game for the Brazilians. Filthy good.

Germany is riding high after bagging 5 against hapless Trinidad and Tobago, each goal a lesson in clinical finishing (Wolze's screamer for the fifth is a beauty).

Nigeria, another fearsome side to watch, finished 100% in group play by cruising past Haiti 4-1.

And yet another perennial African power, Ghana, qualified with a 2-1 win over Columbia. Ghana and Argentina are my joint bids for hardest shots of the tournament. Absolute benders, those things.

France finished second in their group by winning 2-1 versus Japan, but I really don't see them as champions of the tournament. They don't have quite the offense even the US has, and their defense leaves a lot of questions to be answered. I wouldn't put any money on France this time around.


Here's the unofficial list of the Round of 16:

Costa Rica
North Korea

... and Tajikistan. (Wow, I thought the US scraped through: Tajikistan advances because Japan let in just one more goal than the Tajiks.)

Out of these sixteen, I think seven have what it takes to become champions:


And out of these seven, my top three would be:



And just because it's Sunday and I have too much time on my hands, here's a Best XI of the Tournament so far:

Macauley Chrisantus (Nigeria)
Ransford Osei (Ghana)

Nour Hahria (Tunisia)
Alex (Brazil)
Toni Kroos (Germany)
Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev (Tajikistan)
Ricardo Serna (Columbia)

Mykell Bates (USA)
Fabio (Brazil)
Daniel Opare (Ghana)

Alex Smithies (England)

Bojan Krkic (FW, Spain)
Alex Nimo (FW, USA)
Tales (MF, Brazil)
Greg Garza (MF, USA)
Ganyu Oseni (DF, Nigeria)
Jordan Spence (DF, England)
Luis Ojeda (GK, Argentina)



U-17's Scrape It Out, DC Follows Suit

I don't get Fox Soccer so I didn't see the match yesterday, and honestly, from the sounds of things, I'm rather glad. I saw Fred's goal from the highlights on mlsnet.com and that was about all I needed to see. Shout outs to Clyde Simms for holding down the starting position yet again and to Guy-Roland Kpene, who showed more spark in the second half than Addlery and Dyachenko combined. Perkins, I hear, had an outstanding game. However, it goes without saying that the sooner Olsen and Luci recover, the better.


I really want to talk about our U-17's posting a 2-0 shutout win versus Belgium and Tunisia going 100% in group play for US to take second place and advance to the knockouts. Here's how close it was: the US, Belgium, and Tajikistan are all tied for points with 3 each. The US and Tajikistan both have better goal differentials than Belgium with -1 (!!) each. The US advances over Tajikistan only because we have more goals scored, our 6 beating their 4.

In sum: our last two goals, scored in the last match of group play, are the only reason we advance to the next round. Check it out. Watch the goals here.

Looking at the match, however, our level of play is much improved than the dismal performances we saw versus Tajikistan and Tunisia, who turns out to be a youth-soccer powerhouse. Who knew?

Anyways, we possessed the game (61% possession; see wut i did thar?) and used our technical abilities to their utmost, our second goal a beauty of a set play from the corner. Unstoppable. Let's hope our boys use this win as momentum and motivation for the next round.

Where's Alex Nimo? Much has been made about Nimo and his story as a refugee footballer hoping to make it as a professional, a kid with a big heart and big skills who has the potential to be the next Freddy Adu (caveat emptor...). Why hasn't he shown up yet? Despite playing 269 of 270 minutes total, he's only notched only 0 goals and 1 assists. If the hype about him is true, I'd say he's due for a standout performance sometime in the near future. If it doesn't happen, then I'd say he's got some esplaining to do.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Abramovic Could Be Gone Soon

Just thought I'd pass this along.

My best friend Sergei just got back Stateside from his annual trip home to see his grandparents. He came with interesting news: word on the streets in Russia is that Abramovic is distancing himself from the club and is already moving on, focusing instead on other personal interests.

If you think about it for a minute, this makes good sense. All those rumors you heard about a row between Mourinho and Abramovic, all those rumors you heard about Ballack and Shevchenko leaving, Mourinho switching to more "attractive," wing-based footy... It all makes sense.

Realize this: Abramovic' portfolio is so much bigger than Chelsea that it makes our splendiferous splurges (read: SWP, Sheva, Ballack, Boulahrouz) look like chump change. He doesn't need Chelsea, and now that Chelsea is financially stable and turning a profit once again, Chelsea doesn't need him. Notice that our transfers are more financially sound and some have even paid for themselves (e.g. Sidwell on free transfer, easy money for Ben-Haim and Pizarro, Robben away for a big fee, Belletti on the cheap). My friend Sergei's words are only rumor, but they make complete and logical sense.

Chelsea is still evolving and this renaissance, begat in 2004, will still be termed the Abramovic Era for awhile yet, but Sergei's words confirmed my suspicions that Mr. Abramovic' days with the Blues are slowly coming to an end.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

US U-17's Fall Again: US 1-3 Tunisia

Highlights here.

This result puts Tunisia through to the round of 16. Spain, Brazil, and Nigeria have also qualified early.

With 0 wins and a goal differential of -3, this result also means that out of 24 teams total, only two have worse records than us: Trinidad and Tobago (!!), with 1 goal for and 9 against, and New Zealand (!!!!), with 0 goals for and 12 against.

I stand by my observation that today's U-17's are more technical than our U-17's of the past, but I'm also realizing that they're still pretty amateur. If someone were to cite their performance vs. Tunisia as evidence that our youth development system is in dire need of reform, I would agree.

Three out of the four goals scored in that match were penalties, granted. Yet Tunisia's last goal just before the whistle, the one goal not taken from the spot, was a damn gift. There were only two US defenders minding the backfield and they were practically shoulder to shoulder in the center of the pitch. Tunisia chipped it wide, blasted down the wing, passed it across the face of goal, and buried the sitter. If the game were any higher than U-17 level, I'd say conceding that kind of goal is shameful.

With two straight losses, the U-17's are very hard-pressed to qualify for the round of 16. According to ussoccer.com's write-up:

"With a victory in their final match, the U.S. would be tied with Belgium on three points but would secure third-place in the group due to tie-breakers. At the least, a one-goal victory against Belgium would put the teams tied in goal differential (the first tie-breaker), but the U.S. would have a greater number of goals scored (the second tie-breaker). Whether they would advance as a third-place team depends on the results from the other five groups.
The U.S. could also finish second in the group and secure a spot in the knockout round if they defeat Belgium, depending on the result in the Tunisia-Tajikistan match." Tunisia would have to score an epic win over Tajikstan for this to be true. It's all on the line now.

Jaime Tallies 109th, Sets MLS Record: DCU 3-1 NYRB

Congratulations, Jaime. You deserve the praise.

It was a pretty good day for United fans yesterday.

I understand he didn't want to set the record off a penalty but the onus had been on him to score for several weeks now so I'm glad he took the opportunity. Moreover, I think he's still got it in him to score another two goals at least by the end of the season.

The ball Jaime scored with was presented to his 11 year-old son sitting on the sidelines. Good to celebrate the Atlantic Cup with a bit of MLS history, huh? I was watching Comcast and noticed that it was MLS history indeed: Thomas Rongen, Bruce Arena, and John Harkes were all on hand to witness Jaime make history. Cool.

Let's get to the meat. Player ratings:

Perkins - 7

Burch - 7

McTavish - 6.5

Vanney - 6.5

Namoff - 6

Simms - 7.5

Olsen - 8

Gomez - 8

Fred - 8

Emilio - 8

Moreno - 9
(8 for the game, +2 for the record, -1 for the record by penalty)

Rongen said the first fifteen minutes of the game witnessed DC's best offense all season. I wouldn't go that far, but they were solid for those fifteen and other than conceding a goal, they were solid all game. So much so, in fact, that Mathis almost got the jump on us towards the end. Perkins proved useful yet again.

Other than Jaime's penalty (equal, if not better to, Angel's masteful finish), none of our goals had any class. They found net, true, but only because they bounced of a Red Bull first. However, the fact of the matter is that United consistently produced throughout the match. As exemplified by Clyde Simms, we fought Red Bull for every first, second, and third ball and won the majority of them. Red Bull started and finished by giving us more space than we needed to complete our crosses and slot our through balls. Five out of six Atlantic Cups don't lie: United knows exactly how to break down NYRB's defense and does it on a regular basis. This suits me just fine.

Our chances of reaching the finals at RFK this year just doubled, by the way. Or so I calculate.

Other notes:

- Did you see Burch's lofted give-and-go towards the end of the game? I know you did. It was beautiful. The bonus? He's still our left back. Our left back. The one we'd been missing for half a season. I really appreciate that Burch is regularly going box to box, making a positive contribution on offense while maintaining good presence on defense. It's a good thing we bumped him up to the senior roster ( $30,000 > $17,500) because we're going to have a hell of a time holding on to him during the close season.

- Did you see Burch leg-lock Angel's ankle? I know you did. It was beautiful. This brings up a good point, though. Which would you have preferred-- the penalty, or Burch's ejection? I think I would have preferred the penalty.

- It was a cheap penalty though. Richards went down from a touch softer than Downy. I'm fairly certain that the ref made a conscious decision that instead of punishing United with a red he'd gift Red Bull with a goal. If Richards hadn't gone down and Red Bull hadn't scored on the play, Burch would have been off.

- Speaking of Richards, he's fast as hell but has all the creativity of a blank piece of paper. Other than run with it, Richards never does anything with the ball.

- Sorry to see you sitting out, Gros. Hope you make the best of your time off.


Kallstrom's Rocket Sinks Bradley's Euro Coaching Debut: US 0-1 Sweden

I have a good many things to discuss about this game, more than I expected considering how unenthused I am about the result and how tired I am today.

First, Gooch had one of his best MNT performances in a long time. Gooch really contained Zlatan to the best of his ability. This means Zlatan still had two or three quality chances early on which could have resulted in just as many goals, but considering that Gooch is still plying his trade in Belgium with Standard Liege, I'll give him an A for effort/C+ for achievement. A good result for him, considering the opponent.

Second, Kamani Hill didn't turn the game, but he added more spice than I would have expected. He has more scrap than his slight build would indicate, something I'm sure he's learned from trying to crack a Bundesliga squad week in, week out with Vfl Wolfsburg. Furthermore, he found quite a creative rapport with Charlie Davies late in the game when Davies came on and switched to the left flank. Good for them.

And finally, Zizzo got his first cap making him an official member of the U.S. men's national program. Not that anyone was worried he would jump ship, but he was also eligible to play for the Italian MNT because he parents were born there. Welcome to the fold, Zizzo.

Bruce McGuire over at duNord is concerned that this is the first time the US has lost four straight in ten years. I mean, I'm sorry we lost, too, but considering Bradley's primary concern is breeding and blooding a competitive squad for the 2010 World Cup, let alone the Confederations Cup, dropping a one-nil decision to a side filled with tried-and-true players and veritable international stars is not something to fret about. Howard was outstanding as usual, Gooch played well, Feilhaber played well, Beasley played well, Bradley, Hill, and Davies got their minutes-- we're doing alright. Here's my issue: if we can't score at home, regardless of who we're playing, we've got a scoring drought on our hands and it deserves serious attention. Until then, however, I'm at ease.

Other notes:

- Michael Bradley was particularly ineffective on offense. This is largely due to the fact that it only took four or five Swedes to penetrate our defense, leaving the rest of the squad to defend their half. The consequences were twofold: (a) we needed constantly needed Bradley on defense and (b) no less than two and usually three Swedish defenders were on hand every time Dempsey, Donovan, Bradley, Feilhaber, or Beasley was ready to penetrate their defensive third. Our offense started out as a dynamic, ground-based thing but quickly resolved into useless motions in the midfield and impotent crosses. The only reason I'm singling out Bradley is that he was a revelation during the same strength-in-numbers strategy at home versus both Mexico and Ecuador. Now that Bradley is a legitimate member of the Heerenveen gameday roster, I expect him to learn quickly how to deal with these stifling situations.

- Thinking back on it, though the Swedes do possess more attacking prowess, they didn't capitalize on our poor defending like they should have. On top of that, we got our jabs in, too. The match was largely a back-and-forth affair. It took a piece of individual skill from young Kallstrom to decide the match.

- Gooch is often criticised for his lumbering tackles and excessive body contact ("... he forgets he's not playing American football..."), but I'm of the opposite opinion. I wish he would knock more. There are reasons why he cannot and should not be more aggressive, but these reasons usually amount to card accumulations and juvenile referees blowing on him whenever he touches someone from the other team. If I had my druthers, Gooch wouldn't hold back at all and would be allowed to really step up and seize the role of international bruiser. I want him at the core of our defense, destroying anyone who thinks they're brave enough to come through the middle. I want the Gattuso's and Koller's of the world to realize that while the US' defense might lack anticipation, they'll never beat us for physicality. I really want this. I don't think Gooch will ever really fulfill expectations until he's allowed to perform to the best of his ability, and whenever that should happen, the US' international presence will win at least a hundred times more respect than it has now. Or so I guesstimate.

- Bocanegra is a good defender but he needs to learn to coordinate the entire defense and keep them coordinated throughout the match. Step up and be a leader. Howard, you too. Communication is key.

- Bornstein looked better than Cherundolo for the most part. That's alarming.

- If I haven't made myself clear about this already, let me make this perfectly understandable: JOSMER ALTIDORE SHOULD BE CALLED UP IMMEDIATELY. After watching the US offense scrap with the Swedish defense, I watched D.C. United's defense scrap with Jozy Altidore. He already has more physical presence than many an international and his technical ability is good and becoming great. This makes the formula very simple: the more A-level experience Altidore has, the better 2010 will be.

- Adu also deserves a call-up. He's already been capped (and set the record for youngest A-level call up in US history) but he, like Jozy, needs MNT experience now. His absence from the squad vs. Sweden is obviously excused as not only is he new to Benfica and Portugal, but he's new to Coach Camacho after Santos was fired. After his awesome display against their U-20's, I think there's a strong chance he'll be called up vs. Brazil's senior squad.


Monday, August 20, 2007

U-17 World Cup: US 3-4 Tajikistan

I wasn't going to post about the U-17 WC at all except FIFA is providing excellent coverage of the entire tournament, replete with live online broadcasts of every game and highlights afterwards. Great stuff. US-Tajikistan highlights here.

In a nutshell, US let the Tajiks back into the game. Tajikistans' first two goals were gifts; poor, unmotivated defending is to blame. Their second two strikes were great, no doubt buoyed by the confidence gleaned from their earlier goals. Our young guns look more technical than ever before and their prowess with a dead ball indicates cohesiveness, teamwork, and good practice ethic, but what gives? They face Tunisia on Thursday; to be honest, they look fearsome. Let's hope we get it together and start looking a bit more fierce-- otherwise I predict utter pwnage. Not pretty.

Other notes:

- The hallmark of this year's U-17 WC seems to be bad goalkeeping. I've witnessed only a handful of mentionable keepers and these belong to Argentina (Luis Ojeda, 17, Union de Santa Fe/ARG), Syria (Ahmad Madnia, 17, Teshrin/SYR), and England (Alex Smithies, 17, Huddersfield/ENG).

- There's another team I'd tip as most ferocious in the Cup, and that team is Spain. Bojan Krkic already has a brace, and his teammates ain't no scratch neither. This, of course, assumes that Brazil is a given.

- My picks, top five strongest-looking sides at the Cup: Brazil, Spain, Tunisia, Ghana, and Argentina. Next would be Germany, England, and Japan.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fred Starts, Luci Finishes: DCU 2-0 Columbus

It does the heart good to see Emilio two goals up on Angel for the MLS Golden Boot. And I'll be honest-- to see Altidore up there, albeit at the bottom of the list, warms my heart a bit as well. Glad he didn't double up on us.

(Off topic: Ives reckons Altidore will be the MLS' first ever eight-figure transfer. I'm disagreeing with Ives on this one. I predict that come Christmastime he'll be worth more than what Adu went for, but Adu only went for 2.5 mil. Eight or nine mil for Jozy, methinks, not a stupendous eight-figure transfer fee. How much of that would Red Bull see, anyways? The bigger question is where he'll be a year from now. That's a thinker.)

I am relieved to no end that Soehn stuck Burch immediately back into his starting spot on the left. I'm not so relieved to see Vanney back on the field. He's got a trumped-up sense of how good he is with his left foot, though the bigger threat to United's defense is his trumped-up sense of how well he positions himself under pressure.

Equally worrisome is Gros' early exit from the game. Didn't look like a blowout a la McBride (Fulham will be missing him for three months after he dislocated his knee vs. Middlesborough on Saturday) but it was enough for him to beg substitution after only eight minutes. I'll be waiting for Goff to come back with good news tomorrow.

Fred is magical. I said so this past Wednesday when we lost out to Beckham's team, but today he really endowed my words with the honest truth. It wasn't just his strike, which opened the scoreboard as well as United's attack. It was Fred's urgency, which ensured positive movement up the pitch; it was his persistence, which ensured focused, dynamic attack on goal; and it was his thrilling movement on the ball, which ensured that the audience was at the edge of their seats and that the Crew were at the edge of their collective wits. Simply put, United is better as a team when Fred is on the field. I hope he realizes that his every last effort, no matter how trivial, is bringing United closer to RFK on November 18th. Keep it up, Fred.

This is a great result to have as the playoffs loom close. Thanks to this win, at least Soehn will be sleeping easier. With a real sense that his performance as head coach was under serious scrutiny, his halftime pep talk must have been the stuff of legends. It worked, anyways.

Other notes:

- Moreno looked slow. I'm sorry that this is typical of him these days. Let's hope he breaks his record vs. Red Bulls on Wednesday so Soehn can put him on the bench more often.

- Gomez' form was good last night, another pre-playoff reassurance. We can see he's picking his head up.

- The announcers last night were Thomas Rongen and that guy who announces United's games for 1160AM radio. I wish I knew that guy's name. He was decent.

- When I say that Perkins' bravery gifted us the shutout, I literally mean that Perkins' bravery gifted us the shutout. He has the stones to get behind every ball humanly possible, impending feet and knees regardless. His insurance premiums must be phenomenal.

- Danny Szetela was particularly unremarkable. Is he really headed to AS Roma this winter?

- Alejandro Moreno is definitely an MLS-quality striker, which is to say, he might put his chances away but he won't change the momentum of the game. The Jaime of old was one such game-changer. I want that guy back.

- This question is weighing heavy on my mind these days: if not Veron, then who? It doesn't matter right this minute, but I wonder if, or even when we'll start to regret we never signed anyone this season.

Good night.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I Suddenly Became a Pachuca Fan: DCU 0-2 LAG

Beckham's first goal was a bit of magic. Everyone in that stadium read him to be kicking the classic Beckham swinger: over the wall, curving gently, just brushing the near post in it's short journey to the top corner. Not so, said Beckham, and the ball flew the other way and into the goal. Not much anyone could do about that, except prevent conceding the free kick in the first place.

Lastly: Beckham's every pass opens up the pitch. LAG is never slack when he's around, and he is around. They park him in the center and suddenly he's all over the field, scooping loose balls and feeding the lone option on the other touchline. His crosses are like clockwork. He really elevates the Galaxy to a new level.

I need to hurry through this recap for the sake of my good mood and low blood pressure. I have a good crop of notes, so I'll get right to it.

Other notes:

- Namoff is our right back. He is our man. There is nary a thing I could fault him for this match, or the last few, for that matter. Thank you, Brian.

- Fred is magical. Period. Give him the ball in a tight situation and he'll come up with something special.

- Why did Carroll get the nod over Simms this game? I didn't like it.

- Jaime is still a solid forward, but he didn't compliment our other attacking options at all this game. It seemed like once Jaime received a ball, the ball was either staying at his feet until turned over, or was immediately laid back for someone else to pass wide. In his defense, however, LAG absolutely packed the box from the 1st to the 90th. Through balls were the last thing on United's mind.

- Neither was a ball going to soar in from the wing. Every LAG defender is taller than every DCU attacker. It's almost scientific how ineffective our crosses were. Unfortunately, Ben Olsen failed to realize this and was just as ineffective once Gomez stepped onto the pitch and consigned Olsen to the right wing. Bad day, Benny. Better luck next time.

- Joe Cannon came up big nearly every time a save was asked of him. Emilio from point blank range TWICE and corkers from Gros early and later Carroll were all soundly dealt with. If Goldenballs hadn't tucked away his debut goal, Cannon would be MotM for sure.

- Kyle Martino falls like a little bitch. So does Pavon. I'd even say the same for Cobi when he clipped Gros' shinguard. Grow some cajones, f*ckers.

- Ty Harden bodychecked Moreno so Cannon could collect a loose ball. I'd call this a penalty. McTavish slid late and took out Martino's legs. If the ball didn't look like it was going out anyways, I'd call this a penalty too.

- What's so frustrating about this game is that DCU put forth every effort, every last g****mn effort, and still came up nil. I saw frustration out of Olsen, Kpene, Gomez, Fred, and just about everyone who was desperately trying to eke a goal for the visiting United. I was cussing so bad my dog came downstairs to check on me and left with his tail between his legs. Sorry, buddy. I'm alright now.

- The only thing keeping me from destroying my television were the cute girls Telemundo kept flashing across the screen. I like cute girls. There should be more cute girls during soccer broadcasts. Keeps my temper in check and my interest piqued when DC's two down to LAG.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where are the posts?

Hey, loyal readers. Feel like I've been lacking in posts lately? Well, I'm dealing with a little thing called "going off to college" and it's crunch time now. Sorry for being a bit absent, but some things take precedence.

Expect me to have some post-match analysis for DC's SuperLiga game at LAG tonight, but for the next couple weeks I'll be a bit less active than usual. Hope you don't mind.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

European Recap: Weekend thru 08-12-07

Short takes from the weekend's European action.

Chelsea 3-2 Birmingham

- Shaun Wright-Phillips and Florent Malouda are two crucial pieces of Chelsea's attack. They both figure to have a brilliant season with the Blues this campaign. Sidwell could also make a decisive impact this season should he make the most of his minutes coming off the bench.

- Essien keeps the long bombs coming. He's petitioning the powers that be to reconsider the timing of the African Nations Cup this January; I think he can feel the positive momentum Mourinho's building for the season. Let's hope someone sees the wisdom in holding the tournament over the summer.

- It makes me happy to see that Malouda and Pizarro not only scored on their league debuts, but turned to celebrate with the fans immediately after. Good sign of morale, that.

- Cech is still struggling to regain his status as a world-renowned keeper and I've got to think that we won't really see him back to normal until at least the midpoint of the season.

- Don't know Birmingham and don't much care to learn, but ex-Juventus midfielder Kapo is gun for putting that lefty past Cech at such an angle. No windup at all, just smacked it standing completely erect and put it on in. We'll see him later in the season, I'm sure.

Rangers 2-0 St. Mirren
- Dominant victory in which DaMarcus Beasley was a key component. He's really dangerous in the SPL, a real force to be reckoned with. And after hearing all these reports of his abuse on the pitch, I really think he'll develop as an international presence as well. This trial by fire with the Light Blues will toughen him up for the more physical matches. Italy, England, and Germany are names that immediately come to mind, but we'll cross those bridges if and when we get to them.

- It's interesting to see that with the Gers, Beasley has the freedom to work out of the center of the pitch and apparently it suits him well. Beasley could easily surpass Donovan as America's #1 midfielder if his SPL campaign finishes as it's started.

- Stepping back a bit to view the overall performance, Barry Ferguson and Danny Cousin did well to put Rangers in the lead. St. Mirren's poor keeper stood little chance against the onslaught: Both goals were scored from inside 10 yards.

- Good service from the back line and good orchestration from the midfield are evidence that the Teddy Bears (no joke, check Wikipedia) have built a quality side during the off season. Expectations are rising.

FC Bayern 3-0 Rostock
- You wouldn't expect much less from a lineup that includes Klose, Toni, Schweinsteiger, van Bommel, and Ribéry. Bayern Munich is pure class and utilized all of it to dismantle the visiting debutantes.

- I predict that Ribéry will score one of the top ten Champions League goals this season simply because he has a beautiful way with dead ball situations.

- Heath Pearce made an admirable start to his first Bundesliga season, but I think he should perform better once he's had a month to adjust. On the other hand, Rostock's offense has to learn to penetrate these Bundesliga defenses; one month could be all it takes to permanently sabotage their 07-08 top-flight campaign. Let's hope they learn their lesson sooner rather than later.

Manchester United 0-0 Reading
- This result is flattering; United were abusing the Royals' defense.

- Hahnemann won MotM for his heroics at the back to earn Reading the draw.

- Convey is still recovering from his injury.

- Rooney's foot fracture is very concerning to a good many England supporters.

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham
- Holy sh*t-- van Persie punished the net.

- Healy was gifted that goal, though props for being on top of Lehmann.

- Dempsey had 45 minutes to make an impact but couldn't. Brian McBride was ineffective all match.

- In spite of Fulham's impotent offense, Bocanegra did very well to hold van Persie down the whole match. Good to see that he's asserting himself at the top of a stacked defensive lineup that includes Paul Konchesky, Philippe Christanval, Aron Hughes, and Chris Baird. Too bad Hleb played him like a puppet for a last-gasp winner. We'll see what Lawrie Sanchez thinks of his performance when the Cottagers host Bolton on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

On Beckham's Debut, Emiligol Comes Through: DCU 1-0 LAG

Wow. It was pouring out there. I don't know if you could tell, but for those of us there live, we were amazed by how much the rain fell and how tough the guys were to play through it. (Also: during DC's brief ceremony, Barra Brava/SE held up a sign which read: Good Riddance. Further down the pitch was a sign directed at Mrs. Beckham, reading: We Sing Better Than Your Wife. Classy guys, those BB/SE's.)

About Beckham, quickly: what he did was very tame (not once did I see him sprint) but he was very lethal. One of his crosses forty yards from the box nearly found three (!) different options, and had Perkins not smothered the ball, the game would have been tied. His service is something no MLS player is used to. Defenses will find it hard to cope.

Glad to see Burch rewarded again, but I was even more excited to see that Simms got the nod over Carroll. It must have been a simple decision: recently Carroll has been underperforming while Simms has been solid. It's good Soehn made the switch, too, because not only does Simms cinch the midfield, he occasionally ends up with the ball at the top of the key and he's dangerously unpredictable there.

Fred started and finished in the hole as Gomez sat out with a 'charley horse.' Fred gave us a show, throwing himself around with abandonment. I didn't realize it until I saw him in person tonight, but Fred thinks quicker than anyone on the pitch. He has to: he's one of the shortest guys out there and his feet naturally attract the ball. As soon as it's his turn to dribble, there's one, two, three defenders all at his ankles and he needs to make a crucial pass yesterday. I held him in high regard before, but seeing him provide ground service like that redoubled my respect for his ability as a player. A worthy successor of Gomez.

Emilio's strike sent the crowd into raptures. It was so unexpected: all season long he's played the poacher, finding the odd ball in the box and slotting it home easily. This was the first taste of Emilio long distance, and it was very, very sweet. I couldn't see exactly, but Joe Cannon could estimate neither pace nor placement once the ball was struck and the result was such that he got a piece, but not the whole pie. Sweet, sweet pie. And just like that, Emilio is top of the league for goals. Priceless.

Perkins, along with the rest of the squad, was lucky a ball didn't slip 'n' slide its way into the goal to tie the game, but by the same token, Perkins smothered everything he touched. No more the mushy long distance goals struck sweetly in the rain. Club America, never again.

Other notes:

- Landon Donovan has some wicked pace about him.

- I've never seen RFK so packed nor so intense. It was pouring rain but the folks sitting exposed in the lower seats never budged, refusing to forsake their good view of Gilded Nuts.

- I-66 at QuarterVolley dubbed Landon Donovan "The Scampering Hairline." After witnessing him tonight, that's the funniest thing I've ever heard.

- DCU must really be pushing for Moreno to set the record because when he's out there he hogs service and then fails to produce. It's not always like this, but I've noticed that when Moreno is injured, his decision-making is very labored. He just never unleashes the ball, as if it were glued to his feet.

- Dammit, Vanney's better again. McTavish and Boswell were starting to click and Burch was on the verge of capitalizing with his magic left boot. Vanney's recovery will change this, I'm sure.

- DC United, when turned on, has some of the tastiest attacking flair in the league. Flicks and soft touches, deft traps and beautiful service-- these are the stuff of dreams, boys.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Aha, Well Now... News and Notes 8/07

- It turns out that AS Roma has won the Danny Szetela lottery. Szetela will join fellow U-20 Yank Gabe Ferarri after his Columbus contract runs out midway through the 07-08 Serie A campaign.

What a signing. It seemed to be a crapshoot where Szetela would be headed, from both sides of the Old Firm to Glatasaray in Turkey to EPL mediocrity with Everton and Middlesborough, but Szetela seems to have picked the best of the lot by signing with perennial power AS Roma. No doubt Szetela will mature into a more technical, decisive player in that kind of environment.

- Also, Benny Feilhaber is close to a deal with EPL newcomers Derby County. Seems as if County has a quota of one token American for the coming season, and by God, they're determined to fill it. This, however sudden, is a great chance for Feilhaber to see significant first-team minutes in the EPL immediately. If he can impress England like he has Germany, there is no doubt that he could become a Derby mainstay from the outset. People should be very excited about this.

What's remarkable, though, is that Feilhaber is willing to look at other offers. From what I understand, Hamburg was making moves that placed Feilhaber higher on the depth chart under the theory that Feilhaber would become a crucial piece of the club's '07-'08 campaign. After Alexander Lass left for Wolfsburg, Hamburg's options were to keep Feilhaber, or sell him and buy another like him. Feilhaber was perfectly willing to do whatever it took to impress Huub Stevens, but Hamburg, it seems, are less picky than they seem.

Great opportunity for Benny. Good luck.

- YA's Best XI: Preston Zimmerman is finally out, and it's got some interesting tidbits. Zimmerman informs us that according to what he's heard of the coaches' timetable for his progress, they will be looking to call him up to the first team midway through the season. They are impressed with him and are positive he will do well. This assures me, because for a while I was worried that Rongen might have been keeping Zimmerman on the bench for some kind of rational reason. Also of note: Zimmerman prefers to arrive at each training session an hour early (!) so he can chill and clear his head. Very serene. Good luck to him this season; we're all expecting big things.

- YA also has this curious exclusive, which they're dubbing "Maximum Access." They've given a young American abroad, Max Cream, 19, his own serial in which he'll chronicle his budding European soccer career, currently in the German fourth division with SV Meppen. Max will receive no assistance from YA aside from final editing and he'll receive no accreditation as a member of the YA staff. The only reason this exists, I would think, is because Max Cream has a fascinating life story and YA doesn't think anyone could tell it better than Max himself. But that doesn't matter: it's a good read and I'm waiting for more. I can't help but root for the young gun this coming season.

- General aside: the coming season is a great season for Americans abroad. This is really exciting. DMB is already impressing at the Ibrox, Freddy is finding Benfica a great fit, Zizzo is ready for his Hannover challenge, Zimmerman is set to soar, Ferrari is ready to debut, Heath Pearce is hunting glory, Michael Bradley is positioned to take center stage with Heerenveen, Benny Feilhaber could potentially become a Premier League starlet, and now Danny Szetela is giving America the opportunity to apologize for Alexi Lalas. There is plenty to watch and plenty to be hyped up for. And it all starts in a week.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Van der Sar Denies the Blues: Chelsea (0) 1-1 (3) ManU

I didn't see the match, so my word is reduced to hearsay, but for all intents and purposes, Ives, both Daryl from The Offside and Andy from The Offside: Chelsea, and BlueChampions are as good as my word.

From what I hear, Mikel was shaky, Malouda was brilliant, Cech is slowly and surely recovering his astounding form of two years ago, Tal Ben-Haim looked a natural Blue, Giggs is aging gracefully, and van der Sar was a revelation.

Luci's Brace Does The Trick: DCU 3-0 NE Revolution

Can we label Marc Burch a success now, please? The guy's a real asset in the back. He's got all the touch, pace, vision, and service of a quality left-footed forward while maintaining competent defense. It's not like he's ousting anyone from the left-back position (I'm sure Gros is happy to move up, and judging by the scoreline, so are we), but Marc Burch has made a real name for himself and I don't see him on the bench any time soon. What's more, I think he's poised for a big fat raise at the end of the season because DCU will be fending off big offers by a good many clubs looking for a solid, young left back.

Anyways, this young squad, starting out a 4-3-3, had the best possession in league play I've seen from DCU in weeks. They had vision (Guy Kpene? Clyde Simms? NE had no answer for their long-distance connections) and pace (Rod Dyachenko outpaced just about every member of the Rev's defense; Josh Gros = Khano Smith in my eyes) and an incredible amount of tenacity (McTavish went box to box consistently throughout the game). Arguably the most solid road performance of United's '07 campaign.

The rookies were not without assistance, though: Ben Olsen was everywhere DCU needed him to be and Namoff, though he's still getting back into shape, did just enough to stymie Khano Smith's best efforts. Luci's found his way with the goals again, and I'm hoping this carries over for Thursday's game versus the Beckhamites at home.

Judging by the good performance of the new recruits, Tom Soehn has to feel like his gut was telling him right all along, that these kids have the potential to command a game and that they are in fact solid investments for the future. And I think I would have to agree with Tom Soehn's gut.

Other notes:

- It's painfully obvious that Jaime wasn't ready to play, let alone set the league record for career goals. Take your time, Jaime. We've got you covered.

- Where did Soehn stick Mediate for Namoff? In the back? Why?

- Clyde Simms made an excellent case for some starts in the near future. Carroll, you've been warned.

- Luci now has 12 goals on the season and is tied for first with Eddie Johnson.

- I was very impressed with Dyachenko's performance in Gomez' usual position and this worries me to no end. The team found its best run of form and possession in weeks while Gomez was absent, and furthermore scored all three goals without Jaime on the pitch. I don't think Gomez will be usurped as the team's chief free kicker until Burch scores with his magic left boot, but I do think that Gomez' role as playmaker is under serious scrutiny right now.

- I'll take Comcast's match coverage over ESPN's any day, if only just to hear how cocky Rongen is about his former team.

- Kpene didn't look terribly injured to me and seems to be returning to his old scrappy, resourceful self. I'm hoping this translates into more minutes for him while Jaime recovers.

- If you're thinking that the Revs should have been awarded a penalty for that Olsen-Perkins gaffe, let me be the first to tell you otherwise. There was a serious miscommunication, but the replays make it clear that Perkins was trying to minimize himself and his potential contact with Smith. He didn't splay his arms or slide far at all; Smith, screaming, tried to make the most of a dead situation. In fact, I'll go so far as to say the refereeing was halfway decent this game. But maybe that's pushing it.

- Reis himself proved that Perkins is the better goalkeeper. Pwnt.

- I do think Beckham will play on Thursday, if only for 10-15 minutes. If Gomez puts one in on Joe Cannon while Beckham is on the pitch, I'll laugh until I weep because God had a sublime appreciation of irony.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

BDR's Post-Dynamo Analysis

Check it out. BDR's analysis concerning Soehn and Nowak are spot on.

I am of the opinion that this season was always going to be transitional, Soehn bringing in simultaneously the future stars (Fred, Emilio) and the seasonal gap-fillers (Kpene, Addlery). I think that if Soehn can push the team into a taste of silver with the SuperLiga, or at least a goal-scoring appearance at the final, the team's mediocre league performance will be somewhat counterbalanced and he'll be given the go-ahead to continue next season, where he will make more transfers that suit his system and release more of the players that were the cogs of Nowak's.

Speaking of Nowak's cogs, am I the only one that thinks Boswell is on his way out??

SYN and SuperLiga 2k7

Disappointed with my coverage of the SuperLiga so far? Yeah, I am too. I've been busy on all three matches United has played so far, something I'd call a bit of bum luck.

But mark my words: August 14th there will be a SYN representative in front of a TV watching United beat LAG to move on to the finals. F*** yeah!

I did happen to catch a bit of TiVo'ed United-Dynamo action last night. My thoughts:

- We couldn't string more than three passes together to work it upfield. Then again, someone changed channels right when Moreno was coming on.

- Gomez looked great.

- I'm glad someone realized Dyachenko wasn't doing much. He was exchanged for Kpene around the 35th minute, a move I'd normally praise. Thing is, Kpene was moving around like he was still injured or still afraid of being injured. Whether this continued once Moreno hopped on is a mystery to me.

- Bobby Boswell was the weakest link in our defense. Burch, however, continued to show well. McTavish has a knack for stupendous blocks in clutch situations.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

By the way...

... if you ever find my opinions or articles to be ill informed in any way, please comment me about it. I can't stop being a misinformed jackoff if you don't take the time to correct me.



Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Picks: Next MLS Expansion Sides

San Jose in 2008 is official, making the West Coast just as hefty as the East with a grand total of 3 MLS sides. Here's who I would pick next:

1) Philadelphia

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds are the next expansion side to join USL Div. 2, where the Harrisburg City Islanders have already staked a claim. I am positive there would be financial backing, and if the team were sound enough, I think a significant contingent of southern New Jersey fans and northern Maryland fans (and think about Delaware!) would siphon off the NYRB/DCU bandwagons and head Philly-ward for some MLS action. But here's why PA is on the top of this list: Pennsylvania is a phenomenal soccer hotbed with more than its fair share of youth (read: ODP, Super Y-League) teams in place. With perennial powers NYRB and DCU as rivals right off the bat, I think Philadelphia would blossom not unlike a certain Canadian side that has skyrocketed this season.

2) Portland/Seattle

Footy fans in the Pacific Northwest are positively rabid for an MLS expansion to come their way. Fed up with the hype-fest that is Los Angeles, they've lined up not one but two potential corporate backers, the latter of which displaying typical American panache by using the moniker 'Atlético Seattle.' Furthermore, the Pacific Northwest is a proven soccer breeding ground as the Timbers, Sounders, and Whitecaps all play USL Div. 1 soccer in Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver respectively. The only reason I don't place Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington at the top of this list is because I'm not sure how enthusiastic MLS will be about a fourth team on the West Coast on top of San Jose, Chivas, and LAG.

3) Miami

Well, if we're going to talk about reviving the Earthquakes, we have to talk about reviving the Miami Fusion. There is a fantastic Latino market that yearns to be catered to again, and with the disgustingly impressive amount of disposable income floating around down there, I have to think that Miami is the perfect tropical location for a soccer team to grow. Rather as a side note, Miami F.C. plays USL Div. 1 soccer down there already, though they don't enjoy stellar game attendance.

4) New York

The soccer gluttons in the Big Apple are already clamoring for another team besides the New York Red Bulls, and I happen to know that Red Bull isn't filling the stands at Giants Stadium. NYRB hasn't monopolized the New Jersey soccer market, either: St. Benedict's Prep of Newark, NJ has established itself as the premier high-school soccer development academy outside of Bradenton, and NRYB aren't snapping up all of its graduates. Furthermore, the immigrant and low-income populaces of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens in NYC have foundered a fantastic place for a star to be born, replete with concrete futsal pitches and infinite gringo ankles to be broken. The only reason I don't put NYC higher is because I'm not sure how gung-ho MLS will be about bringing up another side catering to the NYC market-- but hey, it's working for Los Angeles, right?

5) Las Vegas

I'm positive there would be significant financial backing for a potential MLS side in Sin City, but I'm just not sure how much fan support LV could generate. That, and all the potential stadium plans I've heard about, no matter how often they endorse the term "family friendly," involve a casino of some sort. A few intrepid souls have already laid the groundwork for an MLS side to arrive, but really the only thing attractive about an MLS team in Las Vegas, Nevada is Las Vegas, Nevada.

6) Somewhere in the Carolinas

The only reason I say this is because both North and South Carolina boast Div. 1 sides (the RailHawks and Charleston Battery, respectively) which enjoy outstanding fan support. From what I've heard, though, there isn't any corporate backing and the amount of support for both teams seems to have hit a glass ceiling. On the other hand, NC, much like PA, has a healthy amount of youth sides fostering support for the USL teams. I'm on the fence with this one, I guess.

7) Milwaukee

I don't think this is going to happen, but I'll put it on this list if it will help Peter Wilt calm down a bit.


I found this on duNord awhile ago: a map of all the MLS and USL Div. 1 teams in the US and Canada, so you can peruse the concentration of professional teams for yourself.



Peter Wilt Wants Footy at the Racetrack

Bring the beers and get some sunscreen from Costco because Peter Wilt wants to make a racetrack in Wisconsin the next MLS-ready soccer stadium in America.

The idea sounds farfetched: if it's possible that a soccer pitch could be constructed on a movable tray, Peter Wilt and his group, Milwaukee Professional Soccer, want to construct one on the Milwaukee Mile. It's a nifty idea, they say, because the pitch could be kept on the infield of the racetrack on the days a race is scheduled and move the pitch flush to the stands on the days a game is scheduled.

This absolutely confuses me because the last soccer team to play in Wisconsin was the now-defunct Milwaukee Rampage who played in the now-defunct A-League and who ceased to exist in 2002 for lack of financial backing.

Really the only reason I mention this is because Peter Wilt is campaigning hard for this damn stadium to exist. He's scouring the internet for public reaction to the stadium plan and posting on the blogs who make mention. Check it out:

The Offside Rules broke the story yesterday with a rational amount of skepticism and sarcasm. My Soccer Blog did the same thing, albeit with more sympathy, and soon The Offside had posted up TOR's article with some additional commentary of its own. But get this: Peter Wilt, renowned for fan-friendliness during his days as GM of the Chicago Fire, posted on TOR the next day with intimate details of the proposal and a plea for understanding. Furthermore, Thomas Dunmore, a Chicago journalist who blogs at Pitch Invasion and The Offside: Chicago Fire in his spare time, has written a piece vindicating the stadium project and Peter Wilt has posted there, too.

Wilt and the several articles chronicling his current endeavor mention that MLS has sanctioned him to pursue the project. It's now his job to determine whether the stadium would be feasible, attractive, profitable, or all three at once, and to do this he's immersing himself in public reaction and information available through the media. Posting on soccer blogs might be a backwards way of doing this, but he's capturing attention and turning what few heads he can to the possibility of professional soccer in Wisconsin. Indeed, Wilt is touting this stadium plan as "the last chance to bring an MLS franchise to Milwaukee." But if the last chance for MLS in Milwaukee is to graft it onto NASCAR and hope for the best, I think this is already a forgone conclusion.

Thomas Dunmore at Pitch Invasion and TO:CF seems to be the most authoritative source for information and developments concerning this project, so I'll be looking to him and only him for updates as time goes on. I'll post here what I discover.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Next Articles On Deck

Sneak peek:

My Picks: Next MLS Expansion Sides

- The MLS is growing on a yearly basis now. There are several places eager to get in on the action, and I'll lay them down in order of most to least likely.

It's in the Blood: John Hassinger

- A few days ago I met up with a young guy named John Hassinger, a promising player in the Super-Y league with SuperNova F.C. in central Pennsylvania, now quadriplegic through a tragic injury. He's wicked cool and he's got some wicked cool soccer paraphernalia, and I'm excited to tell you his story as soon as I get the chance.

Stay tuned.

The Moar You Know

A humble reference to the popular segment of Encyclopedia Dramatica. Good, old fashioned sophmoric humor, that site.

Anyways, pop quiz. In 2003, who became a star midfielder for the UCLA Bruins after being accepted as a walk-on?

Benny Feilhaber.

How about this: who did the same thing in 1996, becoming a star defender for the US men's national team three years later?

Jimmy Conrad.

And now that Sal Zizzo's over in Germany, I've developed a healthy respect for the soccer program over there at UCLA. Good stuff.

Oh, and by the way, for you Jimmy Conrad fans, which European team did he play for, seven years ago? Answer: Lech Poznan of the Orange Ekstraklasa, Poland's premier division. (I vaguely recall hearing something like that, but it never dawned on me until now. Hm.)


Sunday, July 29, 2007

More Yanks Abroad! Lichaj Signs for Aston Villa, Adu for Benfica!

Words fresh from Yanks Abroad:

"University of North Carolina sophomore defender Eric Lichaj has left school and signed with English Premier League participants Aston Villa." And get this: Eric has a broken foot. Villa liked this kid so much, they signed him injured.

I personally haven't seen this kid. I know that he's only 18 years old and that he debuted for the U-17 MNT at 14. He was the top defender in Parade Magazine's All-American High School picks last year alongside Brian Perk, Jon Villaneuva, and Jozy Altidore. I know he was called up to one of Rongen's prep camps for the U-20 World Cup but I'm assuming his foot injury kept him out of action.

Anyways, this kid is a standout talent. YA says he'll be playing with Aston Villa's reserves by September. He's signed for two years, so he'll have to impress Martin O'Neill in this short amount of time, but more power to him. I hope he makes the most of it.


I don't know if you guys realize, but when I first posted about Freddy's move to Portugal, I kept mum about my prediction that the deal would be finalized by the weekend. Blimey but I was right.

Freddy Adu is finally headed to Europe. And Ives corroborates.

This is good for everyone: Freddy, Benfica, MLS, even United. Real Salt Lake get their 400k and DCU gets 150k as well as a draft pick. I'm mad about one thing though: Sal Zizzo made the jump before Freddy, haha.

Next to go: Danny Szetela. Put money on it. They're already talking about him over in England.


While we're at it, I strongly suggest you check out Parade magazine's All-Americans for 2005. See how many familiar names you count.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top Ten Footballers in the World

... at the moment. This is a really fickle kind of list because many deserving players go unrecognized and many recognized players aren't so deserving. But here goes:

1) Leo Messi

Pure talent, brazen style, and in a great situation with both club and country. People might argue that he's not number one in the world, though they'll all have to conclude he's definately top five, but my instinct tells me that he's probably the most gifted young footballer alive today. He's the first player I thought of when I thought of "top five."

2) Ronaldinho

Still awesome and still talented, though his prime years may be over, Ronaldinho still deserves to be lauded for seducing the world with samba.

3) Cristiano Ronaldo

One could argue that sometimes his flair gets in the way of team play, but has anyone else noticed that C. Ronaldo has sublime attacking vision? He creates plays out of pure fantasy. A joy to watch.

4) Thierry Henry

An absolutely prolific striker, he may be the only attacker on this list also prized for his defensive skills. He's stylish on and off the pitch, an ambassador of the sport, unselfish, and magical with a ball at his feet. I don't think it's possible that he could fail expectations at Barca.

5) Kaka

It's a shame he was absent for the Copa America because he would have shone without a doubt. The way he can morph from omniscient playmaker to lethal striker is stunning.

6) John Terry

Cannavaro's passed the crown of King Defender. Terry has brilliant positioning and more courage than any other footballer I could name. If only he could capture the same glory with England's MNT as he does with Chelsea.

7) Robinho

It's really hard to shine when you're one of the smallest members of the Selecao, but he manages. His performance in the Copa America is indicative of what Real Madrid expects in the fall, after having won La Liga with them in the spring.

8) Michael Essien

The consummate midfielder. A younger incarnate of Claude Makelélé, Essien fulfills tackling duties on defense and the middle third and is the premier choice for a player who can diffuse an attack before it starts. Furthermore, if you can remember his bomb versus Arsenal last season, you know that he can smack a ball with the best of them. Indispensable for both club and country, for whom is captain and standout star.

(ManU fans might accuse me of being biased for putting two Chelsea players on this list and would rather see Scholes here instead of Essien, but I said this is a list of the best footballers in the world. Scholes is one of the best in England, but Essien is unquestionably one of the best in the world. If I put Drogba or Kalou here instead of Essien, then maybe I could be accused of partisanship. For the record, though, Drogba would be my #11.)

9) Zinedine Zidane. Just kidding.

Try Franck Ribéry.

Signed for a club-record fee of $35.6mil, he is quickly becoming a Bayern Munich favorite and for good reason. Not until the World Cup 2006 had I seen someone outfox the Selecao in a serious international competition, a feat Freddy Adu has emulated since. Ribéry has outstanding work rate, outstanding vision, outstanding style on the ball-- and even when he shared the pitch with Zidane, Ribéry still commanded attention. He is only 24.

And now #10. A million names are running through my head right now: Ibrahimovic, Adriano, Gerrard, Deco, Alex, Shunsuke Nakamura, David Beckham, van Nistelrooy, Eto'o, Rafa Marquez, Wayne Rooney, Luca Toni, Dimitar Berbatov, van Persie-- but none of these seem right. Too many arguments against them. I know I'm missing somebody. The tenth best player in the world has got to be somebody who could potentially usurp one of the higher-ups on a good day... Bright, young, stylish... Creative, inventive... Lethal... I got it--

10) Cesc Fabregas

I often forget that Fabregas is only 21. It seems like he's been a staple of the Premiership for years. He's been absent a few times when Arsenal needed him, but in terms of midfield orchestration he's golden. Irrefutably brilliant at sensing, creating, and changing a play. He's defensive when he needs to be and dangerously offensive at the smallest chance-- Fabregas is definitely one of the best footballers in the world.

Some might argue Drogba over Fabregas. I'd say that Drogba, winner of the 2007 African Footballer of the Year and 06-07 Premiership Golden Boot winner, might be one the most physical players in the world, but in terms of creative brilliance, I wouldn't rate him top ten. Technical ability, leadership, humanitarianism, yeah-- but I really feel that he's only average with his creativity and style, and he really hasn't impressed on the international stage either. Sorry, Dids.

And for those disappointed that a keeper didn't make the list, if Didier is my #11, Jose Reina is my #12.