Saturday, June 30, 2007

MLS Week 13: A week of interesting moves makes for a week of interesting games.

Saturday, June 30th

Houston vs. FC Dallas
Pizza Hut Park

Yes, the Texas shootout - with a little added flavor. It will be Houston's newfound and newly bolstered offense (with the return of Ching) against FC Dallas' makeshift defense due to a caution-accumulation suspension for Chris Gbandi, Drew Moor's appearance in the Copa America, and a nagging hamstring strain for Alex Yi. The projected back four will be: Wagenfuhr on the left, Bobby Rhine in the middle, A strong incentive for Houston for the three points is the snatching of first place in the West and as it stands, that looks like a strong possibility.
PREDICTION: HOU 2-1, Dallas starts strong at home but Houston takes over and grabs 2 goals late in the game. DeRo helps out and late sub Corey Ashe gets his first.

New York vs. Columbus
Columbus Crew Stadium

RBNY had a week off and Arena made the most out of that time. Dismantling his defensive roster was his first priority, releasing all the dead weight in Regan, Graham, and McDonald (although truth be told, Hugh never even got a chance with the first team). Arena has since brought in a still youthful bench spark named Santino Quaranta (a name we have all heard of). Quaranta has been mired in unfulfilled potential his whole MLS career and I would like to think New York is the place to shed that label. Kevin Goldthwaite has been recruited from BMO Field to take the place of ailing US international Todd Dunivant. Goldthwaite is somewhat shaky but can produce good things and with a good amount of help on the left wing with Van den Bergh it should work out nicely. The other names thrown around are Mariano Fernandez and former US nat Tony Sanneh. Either way, however, the process has just begun - and with Dema Kovalenko out with a groin strain and not making the trip to Columbus, the problem could decide to persist. Columbus is coming off 2 consecutive dramatic wins and have pulled offense out their ass. Moreno keeps finding the net with Schelloto's help and the Crew could again be very dangerous. Juan Pablo Angel plans to put a wrench in their momentum and my guess is he'll do it.
PREDICTION: RBNY 2, Columbus 1 - another away win for the weekend is sparked Angel and a "I really like to play performance" from journeyman John Wolyniec.

New England vs. Chivas USA
Home Depot Center

On paper, it doesn't look to good for the Goats who will be missing three big components of their starting XI. Bornstein, Guzan, and Kljestan are gone on Copa America duty. However, Panchito Mendoza, Maykel Galindo, and Razov remain. That is enough to get the job done especially when you throw Nagamura in there as his play has been decent as of late. New England still crave the return of their goal-man Twellman, but Andy Dorman and Adam Cristman continue to produce. If the Revs play like the Revs, they will win but if Chivas can score goals early - New England won't be coming back anytime soon. Maybe, Preki can dress Lester More and just throw in there a bit (I know, just trials so far).
PREDICTION: Chivas USA 2, New England 2. Goals all around. Dorman scores again and Wells Thompson adds his 2nd, while Galindo adds two to his resume and prompting Preki to draft contracts immediately for Maykel's Cuban counterparts.

Sunday, July 1st

Colorado vs. Chicago
Toyota Park

A battle at Bridgeview between two struggling squads, but someone will possibly get a boost today. Colorado will have new acquisition Facundo Erpen after shipping Greg Vanney the other way. The Rapids needed to shake up that defense due to its' inconsistencies - massive highs and lows - and unfortunately, Erpen is known for just that kind of fluctuation. Maybe a new location will whip him into shape. Either way, the Fire will be hoping it doesn't work out for the Rapids and they can rebound at home. Mapp is still missing and, as of late, their only chance at firepower comes from recent acquisition Willian Oliveira from W Connection.
PREDICTION: Chicago 3, Colorado 1 - this score will stand unless Conor Casey decides to break out of his shell and put a few in the net (or maybe he's just extremely overrated and not suited for this league), Oliveira puts on a show.

Toronto FC vs. Kansas City
Arrowhead Stadium

Toronto is hoping to erase the crap that was their 3-0 dismantling at the hands of New England. The ups and downs in this team locker room must be excruciating. Going from 4-0 over Dallas to 3-0 down against New England is enough to drive even the sanest fan insane. Jimmy Conrad and Eddie Johnson are out for KC and Toronto has all the senior internationals back, but will miss the talent of Wynne on the right side and much-coveted young sub Andrea Lombardo who will be helped the Canadian U-20s at the World Cup. Movsisyan had a break out match against RBNY a while back and has shown spirited play since then, but still no production. TFC just have to get it clicking outside of the their home fortress of BMO Field. Dichio is probable for the game with that ankle sprain, but if injuries are a concern - KC has the problem. Three solid guys are banged up and might or might not suit up for them. They are: Marinelli, Burciaga Jr., and Sealy. This will be a fight.
PREDICTION: KC 1, TFC 1 Cunningham scores first and there will be many chances but not much in the way of goals after that. Late in the second half, however, Movsisyan breaks his mini-drought.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Yallop Begs, Beckham Listens?

David Beckham has decided to cut his family holiday a bit short so he can link up earlier with Los Angeles in order ease the pain that is intensfying at the Home Depot Center. There is no word yet as to whether or not Beckham made that decision himself or both Alexi Lalas and Frank Yallop got down on their knees to beg for it. My guess is the groveling, but nevertheless the July 13th date is thrown out the window and this certainly would not have been revealed if Beckham was not, in fact, fully healthy right? I hope so, but it seems yes. I am also positive this had something to do with the fact that Posh Spice (she has re-adopted that name) has linked back up with the Spice Girls and are about to announce a global tour. Looks like the Beckhams really are trying to take over the world. Oh...and yes the picture below is not real.


Put Beckham and Donovan in the mix and you have two guys capable of gluing this team back together. That's not to say there won't be more losses before the wins start coming though. Is hole small enough to get out of? There is no real world as to how much earlier Beckham is arriving, but Yallop would probably be happy with even an hour earlier as his injury problems and on field confusion has got the Galaxy looking pitiful. I am guessing the most a week or some rumors have it as early as July 4th.

In other news, the Premiership "race" for relegated Charlton Athletic goal poacher Darren Bent has narrowed itself to one significant bid. A $33 million tag from the Tottenham Hotspur has apparently struck the fancy of Bent and Charlton and he could well be on his way to White Hart Lane very soon. Not confirmed yet however.


Despite Fabio Capello's label of "braver than a bullfighter with no knickers on" by former Miami Fusion head coach Ray Hudson, the Italian Real Madrid coach has been firmly axed. A tumultuous year was too close for comfort in Madrid. On the bright side, Chris Coleman - the American lover and former Fulham gaffer - has found his niche at Real Sociedad a recently relegated La Liga squad. Could he call on some Americans for the journey?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Welcome to Ibrox Damarcus Beasley


The news has been out for a while, but I wanted to express my excitement at the prospect of Beasley in the SPL. A league not terribly known for speed on the wings, DMB has found a home - a place I truly think he can shine. The $1.5 million spent to snap him up from PSV will one day be seen as a steal as Beasley, if healthy, will run fullbacks ragged on the wings in the Scottish Premier League. His deal is for three years and he is Walter Smith's fifth signing of the summer as he has also sprung for Scottish prospects Krik Broadfoot, Graeme Smith, Alan Dow and a veteran in Jean-Claude Darcheville.

American fans are undoubtedly happy about this move (although some might rather want to see him in the EPL or La Liga), but no one's discontent could match Atletico Madrid's faithful. They are protesting and rioting due the potential exit of young'un Fernando "El Nino" Torres to any one of the Big Five in England and other suitors. I think you'd have to trade away the whole of an MLS team for that to happen. But wait...hasn't Mo Johnston done that?

Good luck Damarcus.

USA vs. Argentina tomorrow on GolTV at 8:45pm. No doubt, between the Copa America and the U-20 World Cup in Canada, we will certainly be seeing some Yanks moving abroad sometime soon.

David Beckham vs. Reggie Bush

I will have Copa America recaps after the whole first round is finished, but for right now go on over to The Beautiful Game and watch the Futbol meets Football commercial featuring David Beckham and Reggie Bush. It's entertaining, funny, and amazing all rolled into one.

At the end of his quick post, Mr. Mayers sums it up nicely, "Ah, I love it. Soccer needs to blow up."

Couldn't have said it much better.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mr. GolTV Commentator

Juan Carlos Arce is not 17 years old - he's 22.

Those Copa America Players You Might Not Have Heard Of...but probably should have

Juan Arango (Forward)
Venezuela
Club: Mallorca (ESP)

One of the most famous goalscorers to come out of Venezuela with 20 goals in 53 international caps. He has carved himself out a small legacy at Mallorca in La Liga having hit for 26 goals in over 100 appearances. The Copa America is important to Arango due to his impending contract expiration on July 1st. La Liga big guns Valencia are the leaders in that courtship as of now, but his stock could rise or fall depending on his performance at home.


Afonso Alves (Forward)
Brazil Club: Heerenveen

Yes, most of us might have heard of him but the truth his this past year in Eredivisie was undoubtedly a breakthrough. The Heerenveen sniper struck for 34 goals in 31 games with the Frisians in all matches, but will most likely lose the World Golden Boot to Didier Drogba as the the league is considered easier, and rightfully so, (a 1.5 coefficient I think) than England, Spain, or Germany. His goalscoring rampage didn't start in Holland. Instead, Swedish goalkeepers were terrorized by Alves when he played for Orgryte and Malmo FF scoring 52 goals in 94 games collectively. He has been linked heavily with Benfica and, at times, Chelsea but his Copa America coupling up front with Fred or Julio Baptista will determine where he ends up. Like Ruud Van Nistlerooy and Klaas Jan Huntelaar before, Heerenveen will be hoping he stays at least another year (as he was their record signing) but the suitors are lining up as his numbers speak for himself.


Jorge Valdivia (Midfielder)
Chile
Club: Palmeiras (BRA)

Considered the most technically gifted on the Chilean squad and within his. Venezualan born but Chilean-raised, Validivia has been extremely loyal to playing in South America as his talent and age (only 24) still appeal to European clubs (several La Liga clubs have been in contact). His two previous stints, however, at Servette in Switzerland and Rayo Vallecano (old Kasey Keller club) ended somewhat disappointingly. Success came for Valdivia after his move to Palmeiras and his first season and a half has found him productive at attacking midfield with 7 goals in 26 appearances. Valdivia will be the playmaker in Chile's attack-laden team (you could say that about all of the South American teams though) and his skill and vision needs to be on point in a group consisting of Brazil, Mexico, and Ecuador.


Edgar Barreto
Paraguay
Club: NEC Nijmegen (HOL)


Barreto, an attacking midfielder, has already made the trek eastward and found success. His career started Paraguay's Cerro Porteno until Dutch scouts found the youth talent and at one point he was close to signing for Ajax, but that deal never materialized. He ended up signing for NEC Nijmegen in 2004 and has fought injuries while serving as the attacking engine of the squad. His play has often linked him to both Ajax again, PSV, and AZ Alkmaar as well as several teams in the Bundesliga. Barreto was on Paraguay's roster for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and played in both.

Monday, June 25, 2007

10 Bright Spots of Week Twelve

1. Robbie Findley – the Oregon State product highlighted inspiring play from Real Salt Lake (and by inspiring I mean just a notch better than DC United on that given day; the braced speedster took two through balls and stayed composed enough to beat former RSL’er Jay Nolly confidently; it really was nice to watch Findley make a statement after LA so rudely abandoned them in Salt Lake (although maybe it’s a blessing in disguise?)

2. Brad Davis – should a hat-trick trump Findley’s brace? Nah. Everything connected for Davis against Chivas USA however and Houston motored to a 4-0 shutout; a penalty and two long range blasts were still not enough to grab him a Copa America roster spot, although his timing was a bit off as Benny Olsen got his spot partially thanks to his trick against RBNY a little while back

3. Andy Dorman – the whole beginning of the game the commentators (Greg Lalas, go figure) could only talk about how crappy his first touch was and how uninterested in the game he was; Dorman replied (as if he actually heard them) with two goals, granted his teammates did a lot of the work and Dorman provided the finishes – but truthfully the goals were all that mattered in a 3-0 drubbing a Toronto FC

4. Eddie Robinson – has been real solid for Houston this whole year and often escapes the media’s praise; I salute you Eddie Robinson plus you are the only defender I know that somehow gets fouled more times than 95% of the attackers in this league…Eddie, you’re almost 200 lbs., how do you get fouled so much?

5. Bouna Coundoul and Dario Sala – both the Colorado and FC Dallas keeper had great outings this past Saturday, Coundoul probably a little bit better; he is gradually getting a bit more consistent, whereas Sala is showing why Shaka Hislop will no longer see time in between the posts; Juan Carlos Toja spoiled Coundoul’s party however and scored his fourth of the season in the 62nd minute (after a Coundoul save no less) to put Colorado away

6. Guillermo Barros Schelloto – I bet you Steve Ralston can’t wait to get back and play for the Revs as his Schelloto is starting to heat up that MLS assist leaderboard (now tied with Ralston at 6); Schelloto’s instruction and exemplary vision on the field as started to pay dividends with other Crew players; his patience is key and when he doesn’t get rattled his team normally follows suit…Terry Cooke who?

7. Ezra Hendrickson – yea, the dude that got the red card. His absence kicked the Crew in the ass and Columbus under the tutelage of Schelloto became counter-attack extraordinaire. Grabavoy missed a PK, but got that elusive goal in the 58th minute and Moreno added the clincher in the 84th. Some credit and a smack in the head to Hendrickson for the dumb tackle that forced Columbus to play well. Interesting how that works out.

8. Wells Thompson – gets the #8 position for smothering Andy Welsh and keeping him silent all game; he also had a couple nice runs and along with Adam Cristman, these two are making noise for the best 1-2 rookie punch in the league

9. Eddie Gaven – two assists and a goal in the last two games, he also had a hand in the botched PK attempt by Grabavoy; his recent form has pushed Columbus to two consecutive wins and although he might no deserve the call-up to Copa America due to his recent history of underperforming the wheels are turning the right direction

10. Patrick Ianni – in a game that was mostly dominated by the Wizards and at a level at which he hasn’t grown accustomed to playing yet (50 min his whole career before this game), Ianni found a way to muscle home his header to put Houston ahead in the 81st minute.

Because I Think's Worst of the Week: In a week where nobody really stood out on the bad side, Facundo Erpen was mediocre. He was a symbol of the mediocrity that was D.C. United's defense this week. Los Angeles' backline was probably worse though with Quavas Kirk (why is he playing back, I thought he was a wing midfielder?) not doing so hot. It didn't help that in order for Yallop to find some goals, he went from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 (or some variation). That gave the 10-man Crew more space and they took advantage of it scoring two goals a man down.

Note to Red Bull New York

Get rid of Todd Dunivant and you're stupid.

Especially for Kevin Goldthwaite.

Geez - we could have sent him to Los Angeles for Nathan Sturgis and Robbie Findley! Why settle for Dunivant.

Don't worry RBNY fans - it's not set in stone. Just rumors flyin' about - first reported by MLSU.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Holy Feilhaber! (Thanks Matt.)

(MLS Recaps below this post, 10 Bright Spots of Week 12 out Monday)

United States 2, Mexico 1
Soldier Field
Gold Cup Final

The USMNT pulled it off in dramatic fashion Sunday night with another PK conversion from Landon Donovan and arguably the best goal of the tournament from Benny Feilhaber (his second international strike). Overall, it was a game in which although Mexico was pressuring and had some real nice looks at Timmy Howard's net, you could feel the Americans oozing confidence and chomping at the bit. It was raw but gradually as the game went on, a somewhat polished team finished a tough two goal turnaround to win 2-1 over Tricolores. Hugo Sanchez must be feeling the pressure now as two losses in a CONCACAF tournament spells "re-evaluation" for the Mexican legend. Bob Bradley pulled it off and it seems the team is starting to mesh well and learn each other. Feilhaber, Bradley, and Mastroeni all work well together - Rico Clark did add energy, but also some unforced errors (not that Bradley and Feilhaber did supply a good many of those either). Howard solid in goal, expected no less. Yes, we need a striker - but the reserved look for Dempsey or Donovan is working well. While Beasley, in form, is fantastic on the wing and showed it several times this cup (his finals performance was a little weak though). Gotta love the depth and, even more so, you have to be somewhat excited to see the young Copa America take on such quality teams. At least we'll get a sense as to where our depth stops...

Anyways the picture about sums up the win...

5 BRIGHT SPOTS of the MATCH

1. Benny Feilhaber - a text I received from a friend after his impressive strike, "Holy Feilhaber!". Couldn't have said it any better - but the truth is, everyone saw the progress and talent emanating from the HSV young'un and despite some errant touches/crappy passes he seemed to know what he had to do to make that midfield functional. Mastroeni did well to adjust quickly to Feilhaber and was his usual no holding back self although the midfield were getting the run around from; it will be nice to see him continue to get time against real big guns in the Copa America

2. Brian Ching - he might not have been the greatest but he certainly showed flashes of brilliance; that turn on the Mexican defender and the ensuing post-clanker was well-executed (although a finish would have been nice); also his work rate was Brian McBride-ish and was what allowed him to draw that penalty kick in the 62nd minute; now to return to help Houston continue their run of good form

3. Andres Guardado - he didn't turn us around like he did in the last meeting, but his goal was well read and his industriousness on the wing inspired "veterans" like Nery Castillo and Carlos Salcido to decent showings; his collision with Jonathan Spector was unfortunate and I only hope he is alright (big balls not to come out)

4. Jonathan Spector - filled in real well for Frankie Hejduk and made a good case for the starting role, although Frankie Simek (his sub after the collision with Guardado) played admirably as well; it will be nice to have depth at that position (both are not on the Copa America squad as Danny Califf and Marvell Wynne will be looked at instead)

5. Tim Howard - that close range save on Bofo Bautista was amazing and his performance, although a tad shaky at times, was typical of an American GK vs. Mexico; silent confidence is Howard especially when you compare him to the douche-bag that is Oswaldo Sanchez (still bitter about that swipe he took at Eddie Johnson in their last encounter); can't wait to see him have another solid year with Everton as the number one and even England great Phil Neville thinks Timmy will leave himself a "legacy" at Goodison Park!

MLS Game Recaps

Here are some great recaps from various contributors at Top Drawer Soccer. If you want a light read and want the intricacies of each match, take a look at'em.

New England 3, Toronto FC 0

Welshman Andy Dorman starts slow but finishes strong with two goals to bring his season tally to 5 and dispatch of the shifty Toronto Reds. Match Recap.

FC Dallas 1, Colorado 0

Juan Carlos Toja provides the offense...again...as FCD overcomes adversity and a strong home presence to defeat the Rapids. Match Recap.

Real Salt Lake 2, D.C. United 1

Oregon State product and Galaxy castaway Robbie Findley welcomed himself to Salt Lake with 2 goals to douse the hottest squad in MLS. Match Recap.

Columbus 3, Los Angeles 2

LA's woes continue as Gaven continues his form and uses his Copa call-up as an excuse to help the Crew dismantle the Galaxy for their second straight win. Match Recap.

Houston 1, Kansas City 0

De Ro and Onstad were back but it was former U-20 USMNT star Patrick Ianni that took the spotlight with a strong header to open his MLS scoring account and sink the Wizards for the second consecutive time. Match Recap.

Freddy Adu is ready to lead USMNT U-20s to Canada

MLS recaps will be on there way tonight, but in the meantime - if you didn't catch it - the US U-20's beat a solid Chilean squad 2-1 at Giants Stadium yesterday afternoon. It was part of a doubleheader with the USA WNT vs Brazil (a dominating 2-0 win for them). A healthy crowd appeared and Freddy Adu, Robbie Rogers, and Jozy Altidore didn't disappoint as all three put in fantastic matches. For Chile, the man to watch was Alexis Sanchez as he had the crowd reeling throughout the whole match.

Here is my full game report for Top Drawer Soccer


Other tidbits:

How about the Crew hanging on/dominating Los Angeles 3-2 at HDC?

Esky and Findley lit up DC United for a 2-1 scrapper.

Juan Carlos Toja shut out Colorado at home, which I predicted somewhat blindly. It was just a feeling Allen...I had absolutely no reason to do so, your logic was definitely spot on

Also this week I will highlight some kids to watch out for in the upcoming U-20 World Cup in Canada - if you want some information on anyone in particular, let me know (BonnWM3@hotmail.com).

The David Suazo transfer to AC Milan officially fell through. They are looking to peck a top-class striker from someone else in the coming month. It all fell through when both Inter and AC Milan reported that they, in fact, were the ones to capture Suazo. There is no confirmation yet, but it seems the Honduran target man will sign for Inter once all the intricacies are worked out (i.e. Italian officials get their heads on straight).


Chelsea is closing rapidly in on Alexandre Pato, the 17 year old Internacional striker will try and make his case at the U-20 World Cup as not only Chelsea are interested in heisting him. Alexander the Duck in England? Could be fun...



Saturday, June 23, 2007

MLS Weekend Preview: Will the Wizards take the East? Can Klein spark the Galaxy?

Saturday, June 23rd 2007

Toronto FC vs. New England

Gillette Stadium

The main headline here for both sides is the unfortunate absence of TFC's Danny Dichio to a sprained ankle as well as the opening of two roster spots for New England when the Revs placed Joey Franchino on injury reserve and waived Daniel Hernandez. The Revs will also continue to survive without Taylor Twellman and Michael Parkhurst, but with the Reds hungry to avenge a 4-0 shutout loss earlier in the year it looks to be a tough day for New England. None of it will mater however if Adam Cristman can find the net consistently again.
PREDICTION: TFC 2-1, the Reds keep reeling as Cunningham continues his run of good form with a goal or two.

FC Dallas vs Colorado
Dick's Sporting Goods Park

Drew Moor looks to leave his Hoop teammates with a good showing before he heads down to Venezuela for Copa America in search of his first international cap. Dax McCarty and Anthony Wallace are with their U-20 teammates in New York for a tune-up against Chile before they head to Canada. The Rapids, however, are missing Pablo Mastroeni to Gold Cup duty, while Herculez Gomez like Moor wants to leave his team with a win as Gomez just received his first international call-up. FCD looks to make a statement, however, after the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Toronto FC.
PREDICTION: Oduro will have a big game, FCD 2-0

Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United
Rice-Eccles Stadium

After a week of wheeling and dealing, RSL's task of finding that ever elusive victory still stands. Nathan Sturgis, Freddy Adu, and Chris Seitz are out with the U-20s, while Jaime Moreno is out for DCU at Copa America. RSL needs Atiba Harris or Esky to break out of their shells and start scoring or at least putting shots on frame. United has been real dangerous as of late and Moreno's absence will give the young striker crop (Mupier, Addlery, etc.) a chance to shine up there with Emilio, who clearly has found his form again. Perhaps Robbie Findley can find
PREDICTION: 3-1, Emilio strikes for two more

Columbus vs. Los Angeles
Home Depot Center

The more I look at the Chris Klein trade, the more I see some sort of merit in it, but youth potential is a hard thing to just cast aside. Alexi Lalas and Frank Yallop have promised more new faces before the transfer window closes and Beckham arrives. Abel Xavier will try and help the Galaxy stop Columbus' momentum. Frankie Hejduck's still at the Gold Cup, Robbie Rogers, Danny Szetela, and Tim Ward all are on U-20 duty, but the Galaxy are still missing Donovan (although they are thrilled I'm sure that he won't be heading to Venezuela). Both teams want to dig themselves out of a hole, therefore this should be a decent match-up. Can Eddie Gaven show that he warrants his Copa America call-up?
PREDICTION: Tie, 0-0

Sunday, June 24th 2007

Houston vs. Kansas City
Arrowhead Stadium

The Wizards want to celebrate their opening of their new Swope Park training facilities and keep first place in the Eastern Conference with a win over Houston. The Dynamo will certainly make it difficult as their 4-0 dismantling of Chivas USA showed. Brad Davis got overlooked for Copa America, but the roster was decided before his hat-trick special. Dominic Kinnear gets his Canadians back (Onstad and De Rosario), but Rico Clark and Brian Ching still remain in Chicago. The Wizards were surprised by Columbus and Eddie Johnson's absence was painful. Young'un Movsisyan needs to call upon the two goal performance he had against the Red Bulls in order to beat Houston.
PREDICTION: 1-0, Ngwenya buries a sitter.



Friday, June 22, 2007

A Sad Day for the Gunners: Thierry the Talisman a Barca Boy

Busy Transfer Window Friday, but there is nothing out there that tops this...

Thierry Henry is on his way to Barcelona.


The 30 year old French striker and Arsenal Gunner for 8 years will be at Nou Camp next year in exchange for $32 million. Barcelona has been courting Henry for a year now and hints kept piling up with the last straw being Henry's friend and Barcelona striker Samuel E'too seeming rather positive Henry would sign. Unfortunately, does that seal E'too's fate as potential transfer bait?

Henry appeared 254 times for the Gunners and under Arsene Wenger's tutelage (who is now linked with a possible Real Madrid opening) scored an amazing 174 goals. No doubt he will prosper with Barcelona and this most likely dispels any rumors that Ronaldinho would be on his way to AC Milan (as Ronaldinho has wanted to play with Henry for a long time now). Thierry had just recently inked a long extension with Arsenal, but Barcelona's persistence and financial clout seems to have nullified that. Barcelona, Spanish newspapers, radio stations (the infamous Cadena Ser station which reported first Real Madrid's Beckham and Ronaldo signings), and even Skysports and Soccernet have confirmed it, but Henry's agent still contends that there has been no agreement made yet.

Imagine: Deco, Ronaldinho, Messi, E'too, Xavi, Henry. With Henry transplanting to La Liga, thousands of fans undoubtedly go with him. The Real Madrid/Barcelona battle next season will be a spectacle yet again.

In other news
- Manchester United's Italian target Fabio Quagliarella is now fully an Udinese player. The Sampdoria player was co-owned by Udinese and due to Udi's loss of Vincenzo Iaquinta to Juventus recently, they needed a striker desparately.

Destinations found for Tiago, Tuncay, Juan, and Givet.

Sergio Almiron (Empoli) and Tiago (Lyon) have signed for Juventus.

Garry O'Connor (Spartak Moscow) signed for newly promoted Birmingham City.

Sanli Tuncay (Fenerbahce) has signed for Middlesbrough. The Turkish winger/striker has all the right tools to become a solid winger in the Premiership. Could this mean Stewart Downing is looking to move elsewhere or is THIS the replacement for Viduka?

Bayern Munich continued their spending (trying to get that dismal season out of their minds) by bringing back Ze Roberto from Santos.

Oguchi Onyewu will still be a Standard Liege player at the beginning of the 2007-08 season according to Yanks Abroad.

Roma have signed consistent Brazilian fullback Juan from Bayer Leverkusen on a four-year contract through 2011.

Olympique Marseille has swooped for three. Gael Givet, established fullback/midfielder for Monaco and internationally capped, has signed as well as Laurent Bonnart (Le Mans) and Benoit Cheyrou (Auxerre).


Quick Game Recaps:

USA 2, Canada 1

Gold Cup Semifinal

On to the Gold Cup final thanks to a well-struck Frankie Hejduk goal (his first in 7 years) and a Landon Donovan PK. Not really much to say about this game, except that up until Michael Bradley's 89th minute send-off, the kid was having a good match. As were Dempsey, Donovan, and at times, Beasley. The problem is they stopped the momentum too early and the last 10 minutes were mostly dominated by the Canadians. A bogus offsides call, and it was rather bogus, in the end saved our boys from an extra 30 minutes with a man down. The Canadians didn't threaten much, but when they did it was normally Ali Gerba at the forefront. It was former Leicester City man Iain Hume that cut the lead in half with some time to go with a nice 20 yard shot.

The US will play Mexico this Sunday for the championship. It should be said that based on momentum heading into the game - the US have been all over the place form-wise, whereas Mexico has steadily been finding their groove. I would love to think our shakiness is due to the fact we need some tough competition.

MLS Primetime Thursday

Houston 4, Chivas USA 0

There really wasn't much dominance. Maybe some, but none that showed Houston could do that to Chivas USA 9 times out of 10. Brad Davis provided the unlikely scoring touch - hitting two long-range efforts and supplying penalty kick composure. His first hat-trick no less as he must have been inspired by fellow "defensive" midfielder Ben Olsen's recent hat-trick against the New York Red Bulls. Maybe the Dynamo want to ask Ching, Clark, Onstad, and De Rosario to take another week off - these guys are playing opportunistically and with vigor. Regardless, just like Frank Yallop is excited to get back Jazic and Harmse, Kinnear will be happy as hell to get back De Ro and Onstad.

HOU: Davis 3 (3), Mullan (1)
CHV: NONE

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Findley and Sturgis to RSL. Klien in return. Santino Quaranta out?

Ives Galarcep, credible soccer guru and New Jersey man to boot, has thrown some more trade information our way. In light of Honduran striker Carlos Pavon's signing, which despite his age is all-in-all the right move for the Galaxy, Ives has said that yet another move is in the works. Nathan Sturgis and Robbie Findley, both talented and formidable prospects (one can say Sturgis has already found his niche) have been shipped to Real Salt Lake for well...31 year-old Chris Klein. Klein's worth about 5 goals a year and a solid veteran presence, but haven't we seen the raw and exciting potential of both Sturgis and Findley? I mean, Klein for one those guys and a draft pick maybe, but both? That's leaving Quavas Kirk as your only solid prospect...regardless, we'll see in the coming days if the rumors are substantiated. However, Ives was right about Pavon so need to question the Sturgis/Findley/Klein deal. Although, words from other camps see Nathan Sturgis heading to Rangers, possibly joined later this summer by Damarcus Beasley - could Rangers head coach Walter Smith have gotten the Chris Coleman American bug?

Who would be the winner in this deal? Galaxy or RSL?

Steve Goff is calling for a possible Quaranta trade. Santino is still rather knew to the Galaxy organization spending only one full year with the squad after his trade from D.C., but like Eddie Gaven, he was expected to really shine - but expectations got the best of him. Now he is seen as sloppy, unfit, and albeit without drive. Yallop, if you're cleaning out the attic, why not send Jaqua packing as well? Just a rumor...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Miglioranzi the Portsmouth Castoff Strikes for MLS Goal #1

Columbus 2, Kansas City 0
Columbus Crew Stadium

Hey, it wasn't a pretty win - but three points is exactly what the doctor ordered for Sigi Schmid and this frustrating Columbus squad. And was that a smile on Guillermo Barros Schelloto's face I saw - or was it a shadow playing tricks on me? Two "first goals of the season" several minutes apart were the deciders in this match-up of first vs. last in the Eastern Conference. Eddie Gaven (sometimes I think we forget that this kid is still young enough to make a difference) and Stefani Miglioranzi scored the winners for Columbus. The game was borderline ugly and Kansas City didn't look great, which is why I haven't understood their rise in the power rankings. They haven't dismantled teams like the Red Bulls or ahem...D.C. United, but instead they have capitalized on opponents' mistakes (Movsisyan's 2 goals against RBNY). I can explain myself if someone wants to argue with me. Regardless, Columbus gave them a taste of their own medicine and won in front of a scant and somewhat unfortunate home crowd.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Alejandro Moreno, the guy is a frickin' workhorse and although Schelloto had another performance warranting a standing ovation from the Columbus crowd, it was Moreno's runs and determination is what kept the Crew from slowing down.


CMB: Gaven (1), Miglioranzi (1)
KCW: NONE

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More poll results and Iaquinta, Suazo, Lalas, etc.

Out of the four last contenders for the Gold Cup title, here is what people think...

United States 81% (51 votes)

Mexico 16% (10 votes)

Canada 3% (2 votes)

Not much of a surprise here...but overwhelmingly (although I don't have many Mexican readers) Too Much About Soccer...'s reader think the Yanks will come out on top.

Quick news:

Alexi Lalas threw some shots at the Premiership and the English media. Read the story here.

Milan have won the race for big Honduran target man David Suazo. A cool 11 million Euros is what it took (although new reports from Soccernet are now saying the deal is not fully complete). Juventus countered with a forward acquisition as well, snapping up Vincezo Iaquinta from Udinese for some $22 million. Iaquinta has been consistently phenomenal within Serie A and is looking forward to perform on an even bigger stage.

Finally some rumors involving an American. BBC Sport is reporting that the newly promoted Birmingham Blues are interested in securing Oguchi Onyewu for their attempt at staying in the Premiership.

Middlesbrough has signed Frenchman and Arsenal castoff Jeremie Alliadiere for $3 million. Gareth Southgate's first signing of the off-season.

In somewhat of a coup, Atletico Madrid has signed promising Spanish young'un Raul Garcia from Osasuna for a $17.5 million. With an Intertoto Cup spot in hand, Atletico will be looking to reboud from a somewhat disappointing season with the injection of quality talent (and hopefully keeping Fernando Torres).

Monday, June 18, 2007

10 Bright Spots of Week Eleven

1. Yura Movsisyan – the Azerbaijani young’un came from Pasadena Community College and it’s probably true that no one has said a word about him until now; the kid however has been slated as having the most potential on the team based on pure work ethic and quality decision-making despite such a young age; Movsisyan was glad to hit for a brace after coming as a sub for Scott Sealy right after half-time, his goals didn’t have a hint of inexperience on them and helped spearhead a "I hate goalkeepers" statement for Week 11

2. Juan Pablo Angel – the machine keeps scoring and these aren’t “right time, right place” goals (although positioning is a part of it), Angel is creating many of these chances with soft touches, wicked shots, dominance in the air (see goal #1 against KCW), and decent service from his fellow teammates. RBNY’s defense as a whole team, not just the back four, was disgusting though – most notably, Claudio Reyna’s missed 50/50 tackle with Carlos Marinelli led to Kerry Zavagnin’s curler that switched momentum KC’s way

3. Carl Robinson – a hand in three goals and a keen eye for hitting Danny Dichio square on the head with the ball is exactly what Toronto needs right now; the Reds are heading on a long-haul six game road-trip and more inspired play is going to need to come from the Welsh international for them to come out of it still in the playoff hunt; Robinson also bagged his first MLS goal – here’s what Carl had to say about TFC's progress.

4. Guillermo Barros Schelloto – Sigi Schmid is predicting a turnaround and you know what? I believe him. Not because he’s Sigi (because let’s be honest, Sigi is wrong…a lot), but because he has this guy. Schelloto might be getting increasingly pissed at the inconsistencies that transpire on this tie-crazy Columbus squad, but he recognizes the undeveloped talent here and ultimately leads by example – providing a goal and an assist in a 3-3 tie with New England

5. Adam Cristman and Pat Noonan – the two were expected to make up for Taylor Twellman’s absence and they did; problem was, clearly Michael Parkhurst’s absence is a lot more important than Twellman’s because the Revolution defense looked in utter disarray at times – Cristman and Noonan helped the Revs have a good night sleep at least

6. Luciano Emilio – he’s regaining steam and although his goals WERE “right place, right time” goals, we’ve seen him strike for prettier so we now know he has a decent sense of positioning and knack (although not shown lately) for scoring attractive goals; regardless, an Emilio brace (damn, there were a lot this weekend – 4 to be exact) keeps D.C. moving up in the standings

7. Brad Guzan – a fantastic showing from Guzan ensured the clean sheet against the Rapids; it certainly helps that he is getting consistent scoring from the Chivas front, but Guzan has time and time again shown us why he is the American goalkeeper for the future; although if he keeps this progress up, he could potentially challenge for that starting spot by 2010…

8. Abel Xavier – have to give the debutant a nod for his formidable efforts in his first game with Los Angeles; his long through pass found a streaking Edson Buddle (who also had a good first game post-trade) for the game-winning goal against Real Salt Lake; his fundamentals you could tell were on point, but it was his awareness that was a tad shifty…he looked like an oaf on that first goal by Chris Brown

9. Maurice Edu – the first pick of the 2007 Superdraft is starting to settle in the Toronto midfield as he provided sound distribution, some quality touches, and a natural fitness that makes everything he does seem somewhat effortless; if that isn’t singing his praises, then I don’t know what is; he’s like Marvell Wynne, raw talent and rough edges that need to eventually be smoothed out; though I don’t think it will be anytime soon, at what point does Bradley take a look at Edu on the international stage?

10. Chris Brown – two goals in the 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy is enough to make anybody’s day bittersweet, but Brown kept RSL in this until the bitter end; what is the answer for Real Salt Lake though? Will they play better (and was the 60 Adu-less minutes indicative of how they’ll play?) without Adu?

Because I Think…’s Worst of the Week (WoW) – RSL’s Danny Torres provided that errant backpass that led to last week’s "WoW" Nate Jaqua’s goal in the 4th minute of their HDC 3-2 clash. Instead of singling him out, how annoying must it be for the RSL defense to swing and miss a clearance in the really late stages of Thursday night’s game losing 1-0 on the ensuing goal by Oduro? And then, to have Torres give that goal up right away at the beginning of your next match? If I was Alecko, I’d hitchhike back to Toronto.

HONORABLE MENTION: A special award to David Beckham, thought not officially part of the MLS yet, he did deserve every little bit of fun he had in Madrid Sunday night. The man helped spark an uninspired Real Madrid squad to a 3-1 win over Mallorca on Sunday. They were down 1-0 when he left, but it seemed not a player on the team was worried that they would lose. Barcelona thrashed Gimnastic 5-1, but Madrid had the head-to-head advantage and with a win, took the crown for the first time in Beckham's career in Spain. Tom Cruise was there looking a like an idiot as usual, think he'll come to a Galaxy game? Vacation for Becks will also be recuparation as it was the ankle that forced the Galactico out of the Mallorca tie in the 66th minute.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The goalfest continues: Xavier's Debut a Win, FC Dallas Outplayed


First off, the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2007 are set.

It will be USA vs. Canada at 7pm on Thursday, June 21st (Telefutura)
and Mexico vs. Guadeloupe at 10pm on Thursday, June 21st (Telefutura)

Gold Cup Quarterfinals:

Canada 3, Guatemala 0
USA 2, Panama 1
Mexico 1, Costa Rica 0 (AET)
Guadeloupe 2, Honduras 1

Clearly, the stunner here is Guadeloupe beating a Honduras team that really looked as if it could cause some damage in the latter rounds of the knock-out round. Bocanegra's header fueled the US over a scrappy Panamanian squad, while Mexico beat the Ticos in dramatic but extremely ugly fashion. Even if Mexico comes through and wins this tournament, I gotta think Sanchez could still be on his way out. Canada looked the strongest of the four advanced, dispatching Guatemala 3-0. Sorry for the lack of coverage but, as of late and maybe some people agree, the MLS has been much more entertaining to watch.

Sunday, June 17th
Toronto FC 4, FC Dallas 0
BMO Field

The last home game before a six game road trip (thanks to the U-20 World Cup) could have ended any better for the Reds. Steve Morrow must really be confused. Four separate scorers got in on the action, while Carl Robinson stood out as a player much looking forward to being the fulcrum of this Toronto squad. Edu, Dichio, Robinson, and Cunningham all got on the board as the veterans clearly set the tone for Toronto FC. Once again BMO Field was teeming with energy and electricity and now I truly understand what the pundits mean when they say, "[so-and-so's team] wants to make their home field a fortress". Was it a Giants/Eagles game? No. But could it be someday? Possibly - without the unnecessary violence and "accidental" beer spilling. Regardless, TFC shows their colors yet again. Downside: six game road trip awaits and some of it might have to be without Danny Dichio who was taken off just after halftime.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Carl Robinson, the Welsh international made every good chance he had worth it; he had a hand in three of the four TFC goals and helped pick apart an unusually disorganized FC Dallas backline


TFC: Edu (2), Dichio (4), Robinson (1), Cunningham (5)
FCD: NONE

Los Angeles 3, Real Salt Lake 2
Home Depot Center

Daniel Torres set the tone for RSL in the 4th minute gifting a goal to the struggling Nate Jaqua when he tried half-assedly to pass the ball back to keeper Joe Cannon. Jaqua still almost managed to mess it up. Veteran Chris Brown tried desparately all game to keep Salt Lake in this, equalizing in the 6th minute and making it 3-2 in the 73rd. New acquisition Abel Xavier had a functional first showing for the Galaxy but looked a tad off his mark (especially if you had seen him play before M'brough). It was good to see Edson Buddle get a goal and you could tell he was relieved as well as he wore his emotions on his sleeve by falling to the ground afterwards and pumping fists of determination. Buddle, immensely talented, has been the league's journeyman as of late being used as trade bait extraordinnaire. Cobi celebrated his 37th birthday with a goal fed by Kyle Martino. Overall - RSL needs to find a couple pieces to right the ship, while LA needs Beckham and another good physio.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Edson Buddle


LAG: N. Jaqua (1), C. Jones (2), E. Buddle (1)
RSL: C. Brown 2 (3)

That was one h

Saturday's MLS Action: Cristman hits two, Movsisyan follows suit, and Angel as well

Columbus 3, New England 3
Gillette Stadium

The Crew only hit for three goals when they need to tie or come back from behind. It's been a while since I've seen them hit for three and take a 3-0 lead over anybody. Regardless, the Argentinian maestro Schelloto had one hell of a game with a goal and an assist while Robbie Rogers scored his first MLS goal and then provided his first MLS assist on the game-tying goal. It was never really a seesaw game, as New England looked to produce (save Schelloto) much of the controlling play. Rookie Adam Cristman and Pat Noonan provided the offensive threat in light of Taylor Twellman's absence. Moreno scored his second of his fledgling Columbus career.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Maybe the rookie Cristman deserves it, but Schelloto is taking a crap team and placing all burdens squarely on his shoulders.


CMB: Rogers (1), A. Moreno (2), Schelloto (1)
NER: Cristman 2 (3), Noonan (1)

D.C. United 3, Chicago 1
RFK Stadium

Yikes. The Fire continue their frustrating ways with a makeshift line-up no less. Floyd Franks and Jordan Russolillo found their way into the starting lineup but didn't provide anything comparable to what Justin Mapp could have done. On a solid note, rookie Jerson Monteiro scored his first professional goal, but his sub appearance was overshadowed by the growing ever dangerous Luciano Emilio. The Brazilian scored 2 and is gradually climbing the scoring charts, matching United's progress up the league standings. Rod Dyachenko, who got the nod to start in place of Jaime Moreno scored his first of the season only 6 minutes into the match. I will search on YouTube to see if I can get highlights from this as it was a crappy HDNet "broadcast". By the way, if you people haven't seen the video from BobbyBoswell.com of Emilio singing "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt, please do yourself a favor and click here.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Luciano Emilio, big forehead man is scoring goals again and they're coming in droves. Clearly, if he continues scoring and that Latin triangle resumes functionality, we could see pre-season DC once again. Still some kinks to work out however.


DCU: Dyachenko (1), Emilio 2 (5)
CHI: Monteiro (1)

Red Bull New York 3, Kansas City Wizards 3
Giants Stadium

Two records went down in this game - one involving Angel and the MLS and another involving Clint Mathis and the Red Bull/Metrostars franchise. Some bad news as the Bulls have now let up 11 goals in 4 games. Claudio Reyna had his worst game in a Red Bull uniform. The full match report is right here.
Because I Think...'s MVP: I could give it to Angel again, but nobody matched the tenacity and drive of Yura Movsisyan. The kid was all over the place.


RBNY: Angel 2 (9)
KCW: Zavignin (1), Movsisyan 2 (3)

Chivas USA 2, Colorado 0

Home Depot Center

Chicago meet Colorado. The two most inconsistent sides of this MLS season. At least RSL and Columbus tie/lose regularly. Chicago will beat a good team, lose to a bad team (sounds like the Phillies). Colorado is quickly following suit. The only effective player for Colorado recently has been Herculez Gomez and no service has found big man Conor Casey for anything. On the other side, Chivas has Maykel Galindo who brilliantly beat Prideaux with speed and then right when he entered the penalty box the Cuban cut in front of Prideaux forcing him to either wipe him out for a penalty or let him roam free. Needless to say, Galindo slotted it past Coundoul and doubled the Goats' lead. The first goal came off a cross that hit off Terry Cooke (who has been quiet as of late). If Lester More can be even half as effective as Galindo, MLS teams should be salivating to get him in for a trial. (Good luck to More and Osvaldo Alonso on whatever they choose to do in this great country and congrats to NJ player Nick LaBrocca on getting his first MLS start).
Because I Think...'s MVP: Maykel Galindo shares it with Brad Guzan who made some spectacular saves to keep this win a clean sheet.


CHV: M. Galindo (6)
COL: NONE

Friday, June 15, 2007

USA's Under-20 Hopefuls and Request for the Speed Golfer

So we all saw that Dominic "Birdman" Oduro crushed Real Salt Lake's hopes for their first MLS win of the season. It was Oduro's 2nd of the season. What I want to know and please someone help me...

Who was that dude speed-driving in the small clip of Thursday night's half-time that ESPN aired? 98 golf balls in one minute. That is amazing and it blew me away...couldn't find him on YouTube, but then again, what the hell would I search for?


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brian Perk (UCLA), Steve Sandbo (SMU), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (UCLA), Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution), Ofori Sarkodie (Indiana University), Nathan Sturgis (Columbus Crew), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Arguez (D.C. United), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Dax McCarty (F.C. Dallas), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew), Anthony Wallace (F.C. Dallas)

FORWARDS (6): Andre Akpan (Harvard), Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Gabriel Ferrari (Sampdoria), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Johann Smith (Bolton F.C.), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)

Three UCLA boys and an Ivy Leaguer join established young'uns Altidore, Adu, and Smith in probably the best U-20 squad the United States has ever assembled. Thomas Rongen has plenty of weapons to lead the charge but his greatest asset is the depth at each position. Altidore and Smith are complemented well by Ferrari, Zizzo, and Rogers, while in the midfield Arguez and Wallace can stand-in (although not MLS tested yet) for the probable four of Bradley, Adu, McCarty, and Szetela. Overall, this will be a fun one and for all the UCLA boys - if performances are up to standard, the pros will come a-knockin' whether across the pond or domestically.

I will be in Ottawa on July 6th for the USA vs. Brazil match-up and my hope is to give an in-depth report on it. I won't have press access (unless someone wants to get me it), but I will have clearance for their upcoming friendly vs. Chile on July 23rd. I will try and gauge their thoughts and expectations then. On the way should also be an in-depth preview of the competition.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who are the "Big Five" linked to? Defoe, Torres, Sneijder, Villa?

Link Central:

Manchester United has been linked to...

Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid) - $40 million
Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria) - $20 million
Jermaine Defoe (Tottenham) - no figure reported
Eidur Godjohnsen (Barcelona) - $16 million and starlet Gerard Pique
Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham) - no figure reported
Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax) - $20 million
Javier Saviola (Barcelona) - passing interest
Nicolas Anelka (Bolton) - $12 million


As you can see, Man Utd is looking for a strike partner that can work well with Wayne Rooney. The only domestic candidate seems to be Defoe who fell down the pecking order at Tottenham, behind Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov. That rumor has been a bit stronger than the Berbatov to Old Trafford possibility. Alan Smith could be on his way out and Anderson, Nani, and expensive Owen Hargreaves have already made the jump to Manchester. As far as strikers go and with the recent surgery that Louis Saha decided to have, another option Alex Ferguson has is to give Guiseppe Rossi a chance. Whatever is chosen, you can bet there will be more spending.

Chelsea has been linked to...

David Villa (Valencia) - $60 million
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid) - $40 million
Carlos Tevez (West Ham United) - $60 million
Marko Pantelic (Hertha Berlin) - $5 million
Alex (PSV Eindhoven) - figure undisclosed
Daniel Alves (Sevilla) - figure undisclosed
Alexandre Pato (Internacional) - passing interest


After capturing Steve Sidwell, Claudio Pizarro, and now Isreali Tal Ben-Haim, Chelsea looks to find somebody to keep Dider Drogba and Andriy Shevchenko honest. Unfortunately, Villa has already said he wishes to stay at Valencia and where Carlos Tevez ends up is one big crap shoot. I expect him to move to Italy or Spain, not within the Premiership. Marko Pantelic is an interesting rumor as he is industrious and prolific everywhere he goes but can he withstand the Premiership and the competition of a strong Chelsea squad?

Arsenal has been linked to...

Samuel E'too (Barcelona) - $50 million
Ryan Babel (Ajax) - $12 million
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid) - $40 million
David Trezeguet (Juventus) - figure undisclosed
Curtis Davies (West Bromwich Albion) - passing interest
Bakari Sagna (Auxerre) - passing interest


Clearly, every one and their mother is linked to the young Fernando Torres who has hit a two-year lull at Atletico Madrid. Samuel E'too is also heavily coveted by Rafa Benitez and Liverpool. The established young'un Ryan Babel is a recent development after his performances so far in the U-21 European Championship. All the transfer talk, however, has been a leaked rumor that Thierry Henry might be on his way to Barcelona and Nou Camp. Naaaaah.

Liverpool has been linked to...

Florent Malouda (Lyon) - $34 million
Yossi Benayoun (West Ham United) - $6 million
Simao (Benfica) -$24 million
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid) - $40 million
Samuel E'too (Barcelona) - $50 million
Diego Forlan (Villareal) - $32 million


Rafa Benitez has already rid Anfield of Chilean Mark Gonzalez, long-time great Robbie Fowler (to the MLS?) and Bolo Zenden and he has stated that he plans on much roster turnover. Malouda is a great possibility and after 6 consecutive Ligue One championships with Olympique Lyonnais, he has issued a "come and get me" plea to Liverpool. There are some other Spanish young'un links (like Marc Crosas of Barcelona) that Benitez will most likely act on. Liverpool's cash will be concentrated on Malouda and, as it was released today, Isreali Yossi Benayoun.

Tottenham has been linked to...

Ludovic Giuly (Barcelona) - figure undisclosed
Darren Bent (Charlton Athletic) - $30 million
Wesley Sneijder (Ajax) - figure undisclosed
Leighton Baines (Wigan) - passing interest
Harry Kewell (Liverpool) - passing interest
Michael Owen (Newcastle) - passing interest
Nicky Shorey (Reading) - $10 million
Curtis Davies (West Bromwich Albion) - passing interest


The best link out of these is Sneijder as the Hotspur need someone to counter last year's loss of Michael Carrick. Didier Zokora was supposed to do that, but it hasn't worked out as of yet. Wesley Sneijder, however, is the heart of a great Ajax Amsterdam midfield and has been linked with Barcelona and Inter Milan in the past. Darren Bent is a goalscorer for a bad team - but why go for Bent when you have Berbatov and Keane (whose age is getting up there). Baines, Kewell, and Owen will most likely stay where they are but rumors have been thrown out there by English papers. Tottenham needs a playmaker because Aaron Lennon is too young and too inconsistent to do it. Also in Martin Jol's sights is a quality left back seen through links with Shorey of Madjeski Stadium and Leighton Baines of Wigan Athletic.

Other important links:

West Ham United has also been linked to Darren Bent for a heftier $36 million transfer fee. Apparently, it has been turned down by Bent, but not Charlton.

Newcastle has gotten Joey Barton and Mark Viduka, but new boss Sam Allardyce wants to keep adding. Preferably, with out-of-favor Frenchman Ludovic Giuly (Barcelona) and Turkish maestro Karadeniz Gokdeniz (Trabzonspor). Gokdeniz, a wing midfielder, would be a nice addition to an ailing Toon midfield. Kevin Nolan (Bolton) has also caught Big Sam's eye.

Portsmouth, with their hefty transfer kitty, is looking to have a second stint with Ayegbeni Yakubu (Middlesbrough). The price would be big at around $25 million because Southgate and M'brough know they can't lose both Yakubu and Viduka (who already left for Newcastle).

Middlesbrough is linked to probably the most cost-efficient transfer target of the bunch. Sanli Tuncay has been a rising star in Turkish football for several years now and finally Western Europe is taking notice. Tuncay is out of contract July 1st and Middlesbrough's interest could mean other front office's coming to their senses eventually.

Aston Villa is looking hard at Hamburg's Nigel De Jong. He had the "rising star" label pinned on him early at Ajax Amsterdam and made a quick move to HSV where some of his appeal shed a little. He still is an established Dutch international and a move could be the best thing for him, meaning Villa could come out winners with this possibility.

RSL for a win? Barton to bother another club? and the Gold Cup...

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday. I had to take a night off and head into Philly for some fun.

ESPN2's MLS Primetime Thursday Match-up

Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas
Rice-Eccles Stadium

In this one, Dallas has all the injury problems as Kenny Cooper is out for two months with a broken tibia and Ramon Nunez might have to miss the game due to a nagging groin strain. The defense is intact though as a bunch of excuse me, but mediocre, defensive players have begun to mold together forming a tight-knit group that has served the Hoops well as of late. Real Salt Lake should be ready to go as Alecko Eskandarian tries to settle down with the winless franchise and Freddy Adu tries to jumpstart his game. Dallas will most likely have Toja attacking again with Pablo Ricchetti in the holding midfield position, and much to RSL's dismay, I think we'll see it work once again. Abe Thompson might not be THE answer to Kenny Cooper's absence but he certainly is a damn good temporary fix.
PREDICTION: FC Dallas are propelled once again by the organization of Juan Carlos Toja and Dominic Oduro's speed troubles the slow RSL defense, Esky bags a goal though in a 2-1 Hoop win


English Premiership News:

Controversial and somewhat annoying Joey Barton (if he was on the Revolution, he would punched Joey Franchino to) has joined Newcastle as the replacement for Scott Parker who opted for West Ham United.


Israeli defender Tal Ben-Haim, a somewhat hot transfer target in the Premiership, has joined Chelsea on free transfer. This seems a little mediocre for the Blues - a kind of Khalid Boulahrouz move (which hasn't panned out yet). We'll see - he has done real well for the Bolton Wanderers.

CONCACAF Gold Cup:

The United States will play Panama in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup. Panama was third in Group C after Mexico needed a late goal from Carlos Salcido to push them through the group. In other action - Honduras dispatched of Cuba 5-0. Panama's a pretty tough squad and they'll be tough to get by.

The quarterfinals look like this:

16.06.2007 S1 : Canada - Guatemala
1 p.m.
Te
- : -
Boston, Foxboro
16.06.2007 S2 : USA - Panama
4 p.m.
Uni
- : -
Boston, Foxboro
17.06.2007 S3 : Mexico - Costa Rica
2 p.m.
Uni
- : -
Houston
17.06.2007 S4 : Honduras - Guadalupe
5 p.m.
Te
- : -
Houston

If the US wins, they'll take on the winner of Canada-Guatemala. Mexico has a hard play-off opener against Costa Rica - I feel another upset a-brewin'.

I will have much more tonight as I sit down to the delights of FCD/RSL. I love Thursday Primetime.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Each Game a Little Better than the First

I think I saw Bob Bradley smile tonight. I'm serious.

Anyways - a 3-0-0 group stage for the USMNT with wins against Guatemala 1-0, Trinidad and Tobago 2-0, and El Salvador 4-0. The results from tomorrow's Group C match-ups will determine if the US takes on cinderellas Guadeloupe or the third place team from C.

BRIGHT SPOTS

1. Benny Feilhaber and Michael Bradley - a couple errant passes here and there certainly doesn't ruin the fact that their work ethic, composure (pretty good for two guys averaging 20 years of age), and vision were above par; once their technical and tactical abilities catch up somewhat and mix it in with some stiff competition from Rico Clark and a little down the road Dax McCarty or Sacha Kljestan and we have ourselves a decent midfield; it will be interesting to see the reactions to a Mexico, Costa Rica, or Canada.

2. Clint Dempsey - we need a tad more creativity in the line-up and somebody other than Deuce has step up and I'm not talking about Oguchi Onyewu's creativity (how many ways to get a red card); Duece also came back into the midfield and fought for the ball while showing a dare I say, veteran presence on the field

3. Damarcus Beasley - his play against El Salvador was sensational; DMB knew he was going to get chopped, hit, battered, and bruised but held steadfast and tucked the ball away twice (the first one looked like a mishit). Beasley has regained his form (could be cause he's looking actively for a club) and it was evident throughout the group stage

DARK SPOTS

1. Short Passing - the passing up until the third game (and even then there were some weird choices being made) was somewhat atrocious; I understand the squad has been still working on getting a feel for each other but a lot of the reason the USMNT had a bittersweet group stage was because execution was at a recent low; the 4-0 win vs. El Salvador was promising however

2. Oguchi Onyewu - he played better against El Salvador but overall, I think his stock took a tiny nose dive into the middle Premiership realm - instead of Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Liverpool looking at him, you can expect Onyewu to be courted again by Fulham, Bolton, Middlesbrough, the likes of an Osasuna or Real Zaragoza, or maybe even a Siena or Catania - he still has the quarterfinals and hopefully beyond to make his mark

3. Referees - again against El Salvador it seemed the game was under control - but Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago were iffy; and even this last game, El Salvador were taking pot shot after pot shot upon Damarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey

Next Game: Quarterfinal vs. TBA - Saturday 6/16, 4:30pm, FSC

Monday, June 11, 2007

10 Bright Spots of Week Ten

1. Ben Olsen – playing lights out is somewhat of a Ben Olsen thing to do, normally it’s “lights out” in terms of heart, determination, and work rate but let’s be honest, none of us expected “lights out” in finishing, positioning, and vision. Olsen's performance helped D.C. United grab another three points from a formidable opponent in New York and start the journey up to the tables

2. Juan Carlos Toja – it seems like every week Toja finds his way onto this list, but not many people can argue with it; he is solid to the point that coach Steve Morrow even allowed him to push up more this game – Toja responded with a goal, a great solo effort; we also have to remember Toja is young and already his influence on the field has helped turn FC Dallas into a Western Conference contender after a shaky start.

3. Brad Guzan – a couple of his saves made the difference in Chivas USA’s 1-0 shutout of the Fire; this number three spot is more or less a tribute to his form so far this season; he has the potential to displace Timmy Howard at number one for the USMNT but it would most likely take a move abroad and a couple years experience

4. Joseph Ngwenya – I don’t particularly enjoy watching Ngwenya and nor do I see him as a great striker, but no one can argue with his recent run of 3 goals in 3 games; he supplied the opening goal in a 2-1 win over his former team Columbus; his goals have also helped Houston go 2-0 without their big three

5. Paulo Nagamura – his performances with the Los Angeles Galaxy, in my opinion, were enough to keep him in their line-up but LA left him open for the expansion draft and subsequently taken by Toronto FC; he then earned the tag of journeyman when he was shipped after a Toronto pre-season and first couple games to Chivas USA; Nagamura has found his niche back in Los Angeles with the Goats and showed that by providing the only goal (his first ever within the MLS) in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire

6. Toyota Park – the place was packed during Chivas USA’s 1-0 win over home-team Chicago; despite a rocky beginning attendance figures have looked promising for the Fire and a couple surprises on the player-front have kept fans interested; Mapp continues to dazzle (without results unfortunately) and new acquisition Willian Oliveira has made critics, commentators, and fans alike happier than they would be without him

7. David Beckham – Ramon Calderon (Real Madrid president) and Fabio Cappello (coach) have thrown a curveball to the Los Angeles Galaxy and stated they would really like Mr. Beckham back in white for next season; Calderon never stated but certainly insinuated that there existed a clause that would allow Beckham to opt out of his new contract with the Galaxy and sign with another team (i.e. back with Real). What was the point of this little ruse? And why not, for once, instead of being a fickle and disloyal to your players, try manning up to your mistakes and apologizing for 1. the benching of Beckham 2. the degradation of Beckham in the media 3. and the little potshots at American soccer (well that apology will never come). Anyways, thank you to Beckham for being a stand-up guy and choosing to go through with this contract, not to mention having actual enthusiasm for it too.

8. Brian Mullan – his presence on the field was getting on a lot of Columbus player’s nerves; Mullan was good stepping into whatever role Dominic Kinnear needed of him in trying to plug the holes left by the absence of Clark, De Rosario and Ching; in Houston’s Thursday win, Mullan even moved on up to striker

9. Real Salt Lake – congratulations on getting that first win, albeit against the Chinese National Team in a game that doesn’t count towards the MLS standings but hey, a win is a win and maybe this one will help jumpstart the stagnant RSLers. Alecko Eskandarian scored his first goal in a Real Salt Lake jersey and looks to add to it.

10. Juan Pablo Angel – yes, I know, the Red Bulls didn’t win and I might just be putting on here for the hell of it – the truth is, he’s got 7 goals in 6 appearances with the Red Bulls and if he can score against D.C. (even if they’re up 4-1 at the time), Angel can score against anybody in this league; for his efforts, Angel met the Colombian president as well as Bill Clinton.

Because I Think…’s Worst of the Week: Los Angeles Galaxy, on one hand, the line-up is sputtering and doesn't look to get much better as veteran presence Tyrone Marshall will surely be punished for his tackle on Kenny Cooper, but on the other hand the Galaxy are setting up a dramatic/Hollywood-type comeback for when Landon Donovan returns and Abel Xavier and David Beckham arrive; but for right now Frank Yallop can't be happy - he can't even salvage a point; the play of some of the youngsters like Sturgis and Quavas Kirk at times has been a bit promising but nothing that has produced concrete results